INTRO TO GALATIANS
Date: Dake’s Study Bible places the writing of Galatians at A.D. 68, while the Davis Dictionary of the Bible ascribes it to A.D. 55-58. The New International Version Study Bible presents two views that date the letter between A.D. 51 and 57. The only thing that is certain is that this was written shortly after one of Paul’s visits to the churches of Galatia.
About the Letter: Galatians is written to the churches in Galatia and is Paul’s defense of the true Gospel. This letter provides some of the clearest statements about grace found anywhere in the Bible. Paul had taught the Galatians the new covenant, but had been talked out of justification by faith by the judaizers. This letter is Paul's correction to the change of direction taken by the Galatians.
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),
- Right away, Paul is establishing who he is and the position he holds. He is an apostle who was called “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.
- God is the only one who can call you into your purpose. You can’t allow the opinion of men push you into something that is not what God has called you to.
- Before I became a pastor, people would hear me teach and tell me that I needed to start a church. I stood on this verse and refused to allow what people told me to sway the decisions I was making. It took 3 years before I was confident that God was calling me into the position of a pastor.
- Apostle means “sent one.” It’s original meaning was not Christian but it was used in the world society; the Greeks would send someone to colonize a territory. That person was used to expand the empire and his authority was based upon the authority of the One who sent him. The apostle had 2 primary responsibilities: First, to subdue every enemy that opposes the kingdom that sent them. Second, the apostle would stay there until he brings about the culture of the kingdom that sent him.
2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
- Paul mentions “all the brethren which are with me.” Although Paul was the composer of this letter, he was not alone in stating the doctrinal truths set forth in this letter. He wasn’t just a rogue messenger of the gospel, he had the support of other people.
- Paul uses the plural “churches” in addressing the Galatians. This was a circular letter that went not to a city but rather to a region. There were four major cities in this area: Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
- Paul was writing this letter to people who had fallen from grace, meaning they had mixed law (or self effort) with grace. From the very beginning of this letter, Paul is establishing that grace can only come from “God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Many people are looking for peace in many different places, but real peace can on come from God. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” If you don’t have peace, it means your mind is not on the Lord, but on your circumstances.
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
- Although it’s true that what Jesus accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection is to help us in our present lives, Paul is talking about delivering them from the age of the law and into grace. In Galatians 4:3, Paul says they were “in bondage under the elements of the world.” And in Galatians 4:8-9, he addresses that they “served those which by nature are not gods” and questions why they would go back.
- Jesus didn't only give Himself for our sins, but so we could be delivered from this PRESENT evil age. God is the Great I AM, not the Great I Will Be. We don't have to wait until Heaven to be delivered from the things that happen in this world. We can see victory TODAY through a relationship with God and a revelation of our identity in Christ. (See John 16:33)
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
- Paul typically opens his letters on a positive note, through thanksgiving, prayer, and praise for the saints within his salutation. But, in this epistle, He quickly gets that out of the way in one quick sentence and moves on to what he really wants to say.
- Clearly, the Galatians had been taught new covenant grace, but had allowed the law to creep back into the church.
- Galatians 1:6-7 (Passion Translation) I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from the Anointed One who called you to himself by his loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true. There is only one gospel—the gospel of the Messiah! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies.
- The only true gospel is the gospel of the grace of Christ. Anything outside of grace is not the gospel. You’re either saved by grace or by works, but not both.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
- Let HIM be accursed - Under the Law, there were blessing and curses. If you didn’t live under the guideline set forth in the Law, there was consequences. Galatians 3:13 says “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)” So how can Paul place a curse on someone when there is no longer a curse? Paul is saying that if people want to live under the law, let THEM be accursed. If you are trusting in the law for your righteousness, you will experience curses. It’s not God causing them, it’s your own self-righteousness.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
- Paul is obviously not trying to flatter men, he’s being as blunt and bold as he can be so there’s no mistaking what he’s trying to say.
- According to “Galatians in the Greek New Testament” by Kenneth S. Wuest, the Greek word for “persuade” here is “peitho,” and it means “to win over, and render friendly to one’s self” Paul was not trying to win people over and make friends by preaching what they wanted to hear. If that were the case, he would not have been a true apostle of Christ.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- Paul didn’t receive this message from men, but from Jesus Himself!
- The new testament wasn’t around yet, Paul helped create it!
- Galatians 1:11-12 (Passion Translation) - 11 Beloved ones, let me say emphatically that the gospel entrusted to me was not given to me by any man. 12 No one taught me this revelation, for it was given to me directly by the unveiling of Jesus the Anointed One before my eyes.
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
- In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says he was the chief sinner! Few people have worse pasts than Paul did, but thankfully our past doesn't disqualify us!
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
- God's call on your life started before you were born and, despite poor decisions on our part, that call never changes. We disqualify ourselves by thinking our past changes God's call on our lives, but not even Paul's past of persecuting Christians could pull him from God's call on his life!
- Paul was called to reveal Jesus while he was still in his mother’s womb, but he didn’t walk in that calling right away (Verse 16)
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
- It wasn’t until his trip to Damascus that Jesus revealed Himself to Saul. (Acts 9)
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.
- From Andrew Wommack Living Commentary: There may be a couple of reasons that Paul mentioned this visit: (1) He was only with Peter a brief period of time and could not possibly have been instructed fully in the Gospel so quickly. The Judaizers were saying that Paul had learned his Gospel from the apostles and had now defected from its original message. This makes Paul’s point that the Gospel was revealed to him not by man but by God (Galatians 1:11). (2) The Judaizers could claim Paul’s message was different than Peter’s, and Paul wanted his readers to understand his acquaintance and harmony with Peter and James, the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19), who was the overseer of the Jerusalem church.
19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)
- Apparently, people were not believing that this message came from God because Paul has to continuously state the small amount of time that he was with Peter and James.
- Some religions place a lot of emphasis on Mary, even say that she remained a virgin and is still a virgin. Jesus had siblings. This verse calls James "the Lord's brother." Some will say that it's a term used as we would say a brother in the faith, but Paul separates James from the other disciples.
21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me.
- John 15:8 says that God is glorified by our fruit. The people saw the change that God had made in Paul and they began to glorify God in him. When you catch on fire for God, the world will come and watch you burn.
- True biblical humility is believing what God says about you. When you have confidence in who you are and what God has called you to do (which is exactly what Paul explained in this first chapter), people will see it and glorify God in you.
Breakdown of Galatians 1:
- Galatians 1-5 - Paul introduces who he is and that he is called by God to be an ambassador of the gospel.
- Galatians 6-10 - Paul gives his reasons why he’s writing to them; they’ve gone away from the only true gospel of grace.
- Galatians 11-24 - Paul explains how he came to know the gospel, not through men, but through Jesus Himself.