1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul Called by God
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Galatians 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Freedom. Across this globe, there is a longing for freedom from tyranny. There is a desire to be free from the underbelly of sex trafficking. There are uprisings for freedom in places where the poor and needy are oppressed and they wait many times with little hope of anything changing.
The longing for freedom can also be deeply personal. People desire greatly to be set free from their addictions. Some dream of the day when the financial undertow that afflicts so many can be set free from debt. The longing for freedom also comes to those who are in abusive relationships or relationships which are unfulfilling. There are aspects of freedom we all can identify with.
Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey took them to many places where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed and lives were transformed. One of the areas they invested was in modern-day Turkey known then as a province of Rome. This southern border was littered with cities of which they visited and saw tremendous response: Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
Some of the first to receive this message actually were Jews who had resettled in this fertile land. These would, in turn, become church leaders. But their heritage brought conflict. They had been taught to follow the Law and now there was a liberty in Jesus that was awesome and overwhelming.
Add to this, Gentiles were coming to Christ in droves. Lives were being transformed. Spiritual freedom was granted to those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Incredible, right? Oh, it was. But what would take place would be a continual pain in Paul’s neck as headstrong Jews, known as Judaizers, a crazy extreme faction that taught the Gentile converts they had to come under the strict Jewish Law system. In essence, these had to still follow the Law system in order to be saved. They had freedom in Christ but were still in bondage to the Law.
Paul wrote a letter. This would be shared among the churches in Galatia where he did not mince words. He called out the Judaizers who were perverting the Gospel. He wrote of a face off he had with Peter and other church leaders concerning the subject. Then Paul boldly claims that salvation comes by faith in Jesus. He recounts Old Testament writings which point to this new freedom available to all… including Gentiles. This freedom of which he speaks is we are to love and serve one another. We are to carry one another’s burdens and not place more upon. He defended the Gospel and rejects those who would twist it to their own liking.
Paul’s words ring true today. Jesus brought freedom to all, no matter heritage, upbringing and past mindsets. The Gospel of Jesus is for all people. God grace through faith is all that’s required. Faith in Christ means nothing else but absolute all encompassing grace.
If the Son has set you free – you are free indeed!
Galatians 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Just like we see today in the political sphere, Paul was battling against two extreme views within the Christian movement. There were the Judaizers who were local Christians (Gentiles) that had succumbed to the pressure to adopt Jewish law and tradition. Then there were the libertine radicals who were also Gentile Christians but were passionate about severing all ties with Judaism.
There is speculation that the Judaizers were only Jews trying to win over the Gentiles. However, there is evidence of judaizing activity at least as far as Antioch and Syria-Cilicia (NIC – New Testament) signifying that many Gentile believers were leading the front. Whatever the case, it was a blended mess. Paul was about to set the record straight both in Galatia and beyond. He doesn’t waste any time. He comes out with strong words against those who have abandoned the true faith for another version.
Galatians 1:6-7 HCSB I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah.
Paul essentially calls them “turncoats.” Not only did they desert Jesus quickly, but easily. The latter is probably more concerning to Paul because it shows the lack of wisdom and discernment that comes from a relationship with Christ.
Verse 11 is where Paul’s first letter really picks up steam. If anyone was qualified to distinguish between what is old Jewish tradition and what is the true Christian gospel, it would be Paul. He outlines these credentials in making his point that his message came directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father.
- Paul’s Gospel did not come from human thought but came from Jesus Christ Himself.
- Paul was against Christianity, but when Jesus appeared to him, he stopped everything he was doing and went to Nabatean Arabia, a wilderness desert, to study this new revelation for 3 years.
- After that, Paul went directly to Jerusalem to talk with the original disciples and compare his Gospel to theirs.
- Paul personally stayed with Peter for 2 weeks. Imagine the conversations that Paul and Peter had reminiscing about everything Jesus had done for both of them!
- He then went to see James, the brother of Jesus. James and Paul would have shared the most common experience with Christ because they were both initially against the Gospel of Jesus and were converted later when Jesus personally appeared to them (1Co 15:7-9).
Paul’s goal in this opening letter is the attack the false doctrines that were beginning to overtake the early church. He uses Galatians 1 to establish his credibility. It would have been horrifying for the Gospel to be preached to the dreaded Gentiles, so Paul is backing his Gospel with facts that cannot be ignored.
This is how God works in our lives. He takes us through circumstances in which we struggle and grow so that we can turn around and glorify Him. Had Paul not been a Pharisee and persecutor of the Church, he would not have had the leverage to preach such a strong message. God will use our past to bring glory to His Kingdom!