Study Notes on Galatians 1
In my opinion this is Paul's harshest letter in the NT. Why? Because the gospel is a stake and the churches in Galatia were being led astray by judaizing heresy. It's a serious offense to pervert the truth and simplicity of salvation. This is a great book to read straight through in one sitting.
This is one of the earliest letters Paul wrote somewhere roughly in the mid 50's. Most believe it was written from Ephesus.
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul was not selected by a council or voted by men to be an apostle but his commission was received directly from Jesus and God the Father (see Acts 9 & Acts 22:14-15).
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Written to the churches. This was a letter meant to be circulated among the various independent churches in the region.
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
He gave Himself for our sins. Yet some people woefully believe they need to atone for their own sins, or that Christ didn't quite do enough to cover our sins. He paid it ALL.
There's quite a diversity of opinion over what it means that He delivered us from this present evil world. The basic sense of it seems to mean that we are delivered from the power of sin, we have overcome the world by faith in Christ (1 John 5:4-5).
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Paul quickly gets right to business. He comes out swinging. Notice the theme throughout the letter of attacking the idea of going back to the law which Christ has redeemed us from (Galatians 3:10-13).
Paul is astonished that they would have believed the true gospel yet be misled into lies of a false gospel. Don't mix works with grace.
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
There isn't an actual second gospel, only false gospels. The judaizers crept into these churches teaching that it was necessary to get circumcised and keep the law.
See Acts 15:8-10.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
It's repeated here twice to show that absolute severity of corrupting the gospel of Christ.
Accursed in the word αναθεμα.
Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
2 Corinthians 11:3, But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Trying to follow the 613 commands in Israel's Mosaic Covenant is anything but simplicity.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Great verse. It's one or the other: We either serve Christ or serve man. How many preachers stand up trying to please people, to make them happy, rather than boldly proclaiming the entire truth of Scripture whether it offends or not?
The verse stands alone well but it's also good to consider the context that Paul used to be the servant of men (v. 13-14).
1 Thessalonians 2:4, But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Not after man or not according to man. The gospel we all have comes directly from the Lord.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Damascus Road encounter from Acts 9.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Conversation is "manner of life" or behavior. As a Jew, he persecuted the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 8:1).
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
He profited, he exceled and did well because of his zeal for traditions. Same with Jews today and Catholics. Their zeal isn't for the Word of God but for man-made tradition.
Romans 10:1-3, Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Matthew 15:3, But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
Follow the context and we could read the first part as, "But when it pleased God.....To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen". God waited to call to Paul. God does things in His own timing, not ours.
God allowed Paul to live the way he did, planning that he would call him, and knowing how Paul would respond.
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Paul was the apostle to the gentiles, and set apart for this work. Peter was more specifically to the Jews. He made up his mind on the spot. Immediately he believed the Lord and didn't dwell on it getting the opinions of others.
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
He didn't go to Jerusalem at first (see next verse), but went to Arabia. The details of this journey to Arabia are completely unknown and not mentioned in Acts.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
He's demonstrating here his larger point that begun in verse 11. This gospel is directly from God. This is something we all should remember as well.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
You can see some of his work there in Acts 15 and elsewhere.
Syria was between Jerusalem and Cilicia. Antioch was the capital of Syria.
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
He wasn't known personally, but his drastic conversion was apparently well known among the various churches in the region of Judaea.
24 And they glorified God in me.
They glorified God for Paul conversion, and probably also that this meant they would be safe from him now. We should always praise God when someone comes to the faith.
Luke 15:7, I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.