Greetings from Paul: 1:1-3.
(Read Galatians 1:1-3)
Paul begins the letter by claiming his authority as an apostle. The false teachers undermined his authority by claiming that Paul was a self appointed apostle and not one of the twelve apostles of Jerusalem. So Paul defends himself against their false charge by pointing out that he is divinely appointed by Jesus Christ and God the Father (1:1; Acts 9:15). The false teachers said that Paul could not be an apostle because he had not seen the risen Jesus. Paul says that he was called by the risen Christ (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8). Jesus' resurrection was God's Amen to Christ's divinity and his "It is finished" statement. His mission and message were divine and not human. Paul knew nothing about Apostolic Succession. Paul was born in Tarsus in Cilicia of Jewish parents (Acts 22:3; Phil 3:5). Soul was his Jewish name. He was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:27-28). He studied under the renowned Pharisee, Gamaliel. Paul was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee (Act 23:6). He tried to destroy the church. But on the Damascus road, he met the risen Christ and got saved. Paul does not include normal thanksgiving in the introduction of this letter. But he does pray that God will bestow grace and peace upon his readers (1:3). Paul joints fellow workers sending greetings. Local church is the assembly of born again believers. Paul prays that God will give grace and peace to his readers. Grace is the Greek greeting and peace the Hebrew greeting. Grace is the sum of unmerited blessings extended by God in Christ Jesus. God's gracious work of redemption, we see on the cross. By his death Christ purchased the forgiveness of sins and delivered us from the power of this present evil age. The peace is available only because of Jesus death and his forgiveness of sin (2 Cor 5:17-21). The peace Christ provides cannot be found anywhere or earn by human efforts (John 14:27; Rom 5:1). Have you found this peace offered by Christ?
The Purpose of Christ’ Sacrificial Death: 1:4-5.
(Read Galatians 1:4-5)
Christ died to rescue us out of the present evil world (1:4). By His atoning death He purchased us who had been enslaved to sin. Christ came to set us free from this evil world system and its deceptions. The word “evil” means, not only evil in its nature and but also in its influence. Satan is the god of this age and he controls the world. Christ alone can set us free from Sin and Satan. The death of Christ was not an accident but it was according to the determined council and foreknowledge of God (Act 2:23). Paul praises God for His life transforming salvation. In the doxology, Paul includes his usual thanksgiving for his readers (1:5). Have you experienced this life transforming salvation in Christ?
There is Only One Gospel: 1:6-10.
(Read Galatians 1:6-10)
Paul marvels how quickly the Galatians departed from the gospel of grace into a different gospel. They listened to false teachers who distort the gospel of Christ. They taught that, Galatians should obey the law in order to be accepted by God (5:2-6). Paul worries that this transfer from grace to law already began. Their defection is not only from the gospel of grace but from God himself who called them. Their salvation is by grace, through faith and in Christ. Paul fervently condemned the false teachers. They preached a different gospel than what Paul preached. It looks to be good news but is not the gospel at all. Paul was concerned that Galatians were fooled by perverted gospel. The truth of the gospel never changes. God cannot tolerate the perversion of his gospel (1 John 2:2; Rom 3:26). Paul pronounces curse on those who pervert the gospel. Paul has already warned Galatians about false teachers while he was with them. Therefore their defection from the gospel was inexcusable. The unlearned and unstable men always try to pervert the gospel (2 Pet 3:17). The believers should content for the once for all given Word of God (Jude 3).The false teachers try to discredit both Paul and his ministry. He denies their charges. His ultimate loyalty was to God. Paul never tried to please men and sought human approval. He knew that if he tries to please men, he would not be a servant of Christ (1:10). Pray that God would strengthen you to stand up for the faith in Christ and for the gospel.
Paul’s Apostleship and the Message: 1:11-17.
(Read Galatians 1:11-17)
Paul insists that his apostleship and message came from God (Gal 1:11-12). Paul calls Galatians brethren because they have the same heavenly Father. Man has nothing to do with Paul’s apostleship. Prior to his encounter with Christ , he tried to persecute the church (Acts 9:1-7). He was zealous for the traditions of Judaism. After Jesus revealed himself to Paul, he understood that the gospel is the fulfillment of the Jewish law (4:4-5; Rom 10:4). Paul also received his revelation during his stay in Arabia (Acts 9:5-17). Thus Paul became a new man with a new message. He was very religious but lost in sin. He had great zeal for Judaism but not according to knowledge of righteousness (Rom 10:2). Paul’s misguided zeal for Law blinded him but the grace of God found him. Only the Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding of Christ. Christ commissioned him to declare the gospel of grace to the gentiles. Paul was a prepared person to preach the gospel even prior to his birth ( Gal 1:15). The believers are chosen and prepared for every good work (Ephesians 2:10). We are saved to serve. Salvation is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Paul did not preach the plan of salvation but the person of salvation. Christ was the sum total of Paul’s message (Acts 9:15). Paul had no need of man’s approval because he knew that he was chosen by the Lord (Acts 26:14-19). His apostleship did not come from the confirmation of other apostles but from Christ (Gal 1:17). The believers are given the full approval of God to preach the gospel. Paul spent considerable time alone with God in Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Spending time alone with Christ prepare us for his worship and service.
Paul’s Visit to Jerusalem: 1:18-24.
(Read Galatians 1:18-24)
Paul is trying to explain that he did not learn the gospel from the apostles in Jerusalem. He did not meet Peter (Cephas was the Aramaic name of Peter) until three years after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9:26-30). Then he only stayed with Peter for fifteen days. Paul preached the same gospel others apostles embraced. Paul’s visit was interrupted because Jews sought to kill him. The Lord appeared to him and told him to depart from Jerusalem to Gentiles (Acts 9:29; 22:17-21). The purpose of his visit was to become personally acquainted with Peter. Only other apostle he met at that time was James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ. God does not reveal conflicting messages. The Bible is not a book of contradictions. After this visit to Jerusalem, Paul went to the province of Syria and Cilicia and ministered there for about six years. The churches in Judea didn’t know Paul personally. All they knew was that Paul preaches the very faith he tried to root out before his conversion and glorified God. Trust that God does all things well.