Galatians 1:1-24 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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To Rescue us From This Present Evil Age
Comments for Study 1

Galatians 1:1-24
Memory Verse: 4

BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN OUTLINE TO GALATIANS.
BEFORE ANSWERING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN INTRODUCTION TO GALATIANS.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW A MAP OF PAUL'S FIRST AND SECOND MISSIONARY TRIPS.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW A MAP OF PAUL'S THIRD MISSIONARY TRIP.

* NOTE: The introduction contains an outline tracing the locations and events during Paul's missionary trips including when he went through Galatia.

I. An Apostle Sent by the Risen Jesus (1-2)

>1. Who is the sender of this letter?

* Galatians 1:1 "Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead"

* "Paul" -Paul persecuted the church until Jesus called him to service for God. He traveled through the Roman province of Galatia on his first missionary trip in his early forties and second missionary trip in his late forties. Paul and Barnabas are considered the pioneers of the churches in Galatia. At the writing of this letter he had been a Christian for around fifteen years. See the Introduction for the time frame and more background information.

* The name that Paul's parents gave him was Saul. Since he was from the tribe of Benjamin it can be assumed that he was named after the first king of Israel, Saul who was also a Benjamite. (1 Sam. 9:1-2) Paul's parents had high expectations for their son naming him such and Paul did all he could not to let his parents down as he himself testified, "though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." (Phil. 3:4-6) However, after he meet Jesus he changed his name to Paul, which is Greek and means little.

* Paul finished this letter by writing himself. His custom was to dictate to a scribe. Here he finishes it himself. The rest of the letter was written by someone else as Paul dictated to them. Paul wrote the ending himself to authenticate the letter. From early on some were writing documents claiming to be someone they were not.

* This letter is unique from other letters by Paul in the fact that he does not thank and praise God for them or anything they did. This is one of the few letters that he wrote that he gave the recipients a sharp rebuke. The reason for the rebuke is that many of them were abandoning faith in Jesus and relying on the law given through Moses especially circumcision. Another different feature is that this is addressed to an large area containing many cities with different congregations. (Ephesians was first written for the city of its name, but copies were also sent to other churches in Asian Minor.)

* The Jerusalem council held after Paul's first missionary trip settled the "law and grace" controversy. Some Jews did not accept it for Paul continually addressed the subject in his letters. Reading the event in Acts 15 will help understand the truths found in this letter.

* Grace verses faith controversy is with us to this very day; not only on a personal level, but entire congregations have either wandered away from "salvation by grace through faith alone" or split apart over arguments on the subject. The greater reason for people falling away from the truth of the gospel of grace is that they either do not study the Bible or reject part of the Bible when they study it. Such people do not live by faith and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

* Some state that Galatians is a rough draft of Romans written later. I believe it is better to accept it as a finished document.

>How did Paul identify himself?

* "apostle"-Apostle means sent on a mission with full authority of representation; an ambassador. Jesus chose twelve to be his apostles during his earthly ministry. (Mark 3:13-19) When Judas betrayed Jesus another was chosen to take his place. (Acts 1:12-26) Then Jesus called Paul, the fourteenth apostle. (Acts 9:1-30) Silas and a few others were also apostles. Apostles are the only ones that display all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to support the mission that God has given them. Apostles were personally sent by Jesus, learning directly from Jesus.

* How we see ourselves is important. Do we see ourselves in the eyes of others, in our own eyes, or the eyes of Jesus? If we see ourselves in the eyes of Jesus he will help us understand ourselves more when we study the Bible and pray. After Jesus came to Paul and called him as an apostle, and after he changed his name (originally Saul), he saw himself in the eyes of Jesus. He later confessed, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11)

>What did he mean by "not sent by men"? (2, 12)

* Galatians 1:12 "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

* "sent not from men nor by man" -This is the only letter that Paul starts out by making this claim (as opposed to thanking and praising God for them). Paul wants and needs to make it clear that Jesus personally sent him for some people had come into Galatia claiming that Paul was not an apostle and not sent by Jesus as the twelve apostles were.

* Paul did not undergo a ceremony like laying on of hands. The other apostles did not lay their hands on Paul before the congregation and say, "Go." Jesus did not come to him in Damascus saying, "You need to go to Jerusalem and be taught by the apostles I chose before you." Paul did not learn the gospel from any man. He probably heard what the Christians were saying before Jesus came to him when he was on the road to Damascus. He definitely heard Stephen's speech. Yet, that is not the same, for he did not accept the message. So Jesus came to Paul and taught him and sent him. The apostles that Jesus chose during his three year ministry were appointed the same way Paul was; by Jesus Christ and God the Father, not by men.

* First, John the Baptist, then Jesus, then Peter and John, and now Paul was challenged with, "With what authority do you do and teach these things.? Who sent you?" To this day many Christians are also challenged in this way too.

* "Jesus Christ" -Jesus is Greek. Y'shua (Yeshua) is Hebrew. Joshua is also Hebrew and almost the same as Y'shua (Some say the two are the same because "Y" and "J" are pronounced the same in Hebrew.) They mean the same, "the Lord saves". The angel told Joseph to name the baby in Mary's womb Jesus. Matthew 1:20-21 records, "...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Christ is Jesus title, not his name. Much like President is a title and Obama is the man's name.

* "God the Father" -Jesus called God his Father, not because Jesus was created for Jesus exists eternal. Rather, Jesus called God his Father, because as quoted above from Matthew, "Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb by the power of God." Joseph was not his physical father.

* According to Matthew 1:16, Joseph is the step-father of Jesus. Thus, from some Jewish points of view, because Jesus was not a physical son of Joseph, legally Jesus was not the son of David. That is, they often did not consider a women's genealogy as important in son's lineage. (Mary was a daughter of David, he was her ancestor, as told by Luke.) However, an adapted son was often considered a son who not only gained a father, but also his ancestors. Thus, from this point of view, Jesus was the adapted son of Joseph, and the son of David from not only Mary's lineage, but Joseph's as well.

* "who raised him from the dead" -God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus' resurrection is the central affirmation of the Christian faith. (Acts 17:18; Rom. 1:4; and 1 Cor. 15:20; and 1 Peter 1:3) Because Paul had seen the resurrected Jesus he was qualified to be an apostle. (Acts 1:22, 2:32; and 1 Cor. 15:8)

>Who was with him?

* Galatians 1:2a "and all the brothers with me"

* As Paul traveled from city to city others came with him. Some were church leaders (i.e. Barnabas and Silas were fellow apostles), but most were young believers (i.e. Timothy, Luke, Mark, etc.). Paul was following the example of Jesus who had a group of disciples following him.

* Jesus commanded us to not only preach the gospel, but to make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:17) How can we accomplish this. As Jesus and Paul traveled they brought the younger generation with them. When Paul, Peter, and the other apostles lived in cities they taught the word of God in homes and halls on a regular basis to anyone who came. The early monasteries were founded on such principles. Then colleges and universities were created on similar principles. So whether we are traveling or living in one location, each of Jesus' followers are to raise disciples by teaching and preaching the word of God, prayer, service, and fellowship.

* What does the modern church look like? How do modern believers in Jesus live? Do we follow Jesus' example as Paul did? How many Christians actively witness to others? How many teach the word of God whether one to one or in small groups? How many actively engage in others lives for the sake of the gospel and kingdom of God? Examine your life and compare it to Jesus' life and the lives of the apostles.

* The Lord Jesus and I were united when I accepted his grace and calling by faith in 1982. Almost three years later led me to Bible study, Christian fellowship, and a personal one-to-one ministry with many young men; following Jesus' example. By the end of 1994 the leadership of the group I was a part of had become caught up in meaningless power struggles, corruption and pride instead of love. I left as David did to avoid Saul's attacks and joined a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation in the city I was living in and still attend to this day. After becoming a member of the congregation the Lord Jesus led me to the same type of ministry I had been in earlier through Evangelism Explosion. The Lord used me in EE through 2001 until a new job that required much travel made a weekly commitment to evangelism one-to-one visits and discipling impossible. Then he directed me to minister to the children of the church I was attending, being a mentor to the next generation. The reason I bring this up is that I and others have noticed a growing trend in many believers. Those who confess Christ seem less inclined to engage in the type of personal ministry that Jesus and Paul did. This is a sad development that we should pray to be changed.

>Who is the recipient?

* Galatians 1:2b "To the churches in Galatia"

* "To the churches" -Churches is plural; Paul wrote this to many congregations. Churches is also and I believe better translated as congregations because of the often misuse and misunderstood word church. The church is often seen as a building. Jesus did not save buildings. Paul did not write buildings. Jesus saved and Paul wrote collections of believers. The word here in Greek is "eklkesia" meaning "assembly" and "congregation". Congregations today are similar to Jewish synagogues in Jesus and Paul's time.

* Unlike most other letters, Paul did not address anyone in particular in this letter.

* "Galatia" -Galatia was in present day Turkey. "Galatia was a "geographical name derived from Gaul because its inhabitants were Celts or Galli (Gauls). The original settlement was in central Asia Minor. King Nicomedes of Bithynia invited the Celtic warriors across the Bosporus River to help him fight his brother in 278 B.C. The invaders fought on their own capturing cities until stopped by Antiochus I in 275 B.C. They then occupied the northern part of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Pontus and Bithynia, on the east by Tavium and Pessinus in the west. For the most part, true Galatians lived in open areas, leaving city occupation to their predecessors, the Phrygians. The true Galatians constantly switched sides in ongoing battles in the area. Finally, in 25 B.C. Rome made Galatia a province of the empire and extended its borders, adding Lycaonia, Isauria, and Pisidia with Ancyra serving as the governmental center. Various Roman rulers added and subtracted territory from the province, so its precise boundaries are difficult to draw." (Holman Bible Dictionary) Jews had moved to Asia Minor when the Greeks invaded Palestine and Judah under Alexander the Great's leadership. Galatia was heavily settled because of its large fertile plateau containing great agriculture. See Introduction for more information.

15th century map of turkey region

* A 15th century map showing Galatia is to the right.

* Many today frown on form letters because they consider them impersonal. Well this is a form letter. Whether one letter was written and meant to be passed around (Perhaps the different congregations were to copy it before they passed it on) or whether many copies were originally made and passed out, is not clear. However, it is clear that this is a form letter.

>How did they hear the gospel? (11; 4:13; Acts 16:6, 18:23)

* Galatians 1:11 "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up."

* Galatians 4:13 "As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you."

* Acts 16:6 "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia."

* Acts 18:23 "After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples."

* See introduction for more information.

II. To Rescue Us From this Evil Age (3-5)

>2. Where can we obtain grace and peace?

* Galatians 1:3 "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,"

* "grace and peace" -Although these words were commonly used in the greetings of secular letters, the words that Paul follows these up with show that he intended a spiritual dimension. He used "grace" twelve times and "peace" seven times in this letter.

* Jesus promised his disciples peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

* "Lord Jesus Christ" -"The main theological point is the close association of Christ with God. Indeed, the use of the word "Kurios", "Lord", as a title of Christ would in itself be sufficient to assure this. Much study has been devoted to this Greek word, the one chosen by the translators of the Hebrew Bible to stand for the divine Name in the original. It varied in meaning from the polite "Dire" an address to a stranger up to the full confession of the deity of Christ. When the early Christians used "Jesus is Lord" as a baptismal confession, they cannot have meant less than this." (Tyndale New Testament Studies and A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Arndit-Gingrich)

>Why list both, why that order, and what does this personally mean to you?

* Grace and peace go together. Without grace there is not peace. Where there is no peace, grace is not present.

* "grace" -Grace is unmerited assistance from God. We were apart from God, aliens of the truth. We made ourselves enemies of God; fighting him off, resisting his love. (Rom. 8:7) Through sin we also mocked and ridiculed him. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Yet God persisted until we could not resist his love. When we were heaped in sin his son died for us, taking away our sin and guilt, the barrier of hostility. He showed us compassion that could only come from the love of God. His love is not like man's love. Man's love is conditional and temporary. God's love is unconditional and permanent. He poured his love on us until we could not resist the taste of its goodness. This is grace.

* "peace" -The peace of God comes from the Spirit of God. The peace of God surpasses understanding; when trouble comes we are calm and don't worry. Peace is more than contentment. Apart from God man's soul is a violent storm spinning in the oceans, turning up giant waves, wind, rain, and lightning. Apart from God man's soul is a violent volcanic earthquake ripping the earth apart, heaving it to and fro, throwing hot ash, melted rock, steam, and gasses. When we allow God to enter our soul the waters of our soul are placid, and the earth is quiet -producing plants; grain, herbs, fruit and vegetables.

* Colossians 1:21-23 "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant."

>How is Jesus identified?

* "God our Father" -Jesus referred to God as his Father not in the sense that Jesus had a beginning, but that Jesus had no human father since Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb. 1 John 5:20 states, "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."

* "Lord" -Lord is "kyrios" in Greek and is also translated "owner" and "master". Jesus is the owner of everything as master and owner. Isaiah 45:18 states, "For this is what the Lord says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the Lord, and there is no other." And John 1:1-3, 14 states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

* "Jesus" -The Messiah's name given before birth to Joseph, his step father, through an angle. (Matt. 1:21) Jesus means salvation in Hebrew.

* "Christ" -Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah". This is not Jesus' sir name. It is a title that means "Anointed One".

* John 20:17 records Jesus saying to Mary after resurrection, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

>Who is Jesus to you?

* This is a very important question to answer. Jesus asked his disciples, "'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matt. 16:13-16)

* Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Can you say, "Jesus is my Savior. Jesus is my Lord. Jesus is my God. Jesus is my Master. Jesus is my friend."?

>What did Jesus do for us? (4-5)

* Galatians 1:4-5 "who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

* "who gave himself" -The fact that Jesus wilfully underwent gave himself over to be crucifies is very important. Philippians 2:6-8 records Paul writing, "Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!"

* "for our sins" -Jesus offering himself as sacrifice for us. In the Old Testament through Moses the Lord set up a sacrificial systems to take away the sins of God's people. That system pointed to Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus took away sins and its effects once for all. The principle is that once a person sins someone must pay the penalty. God told Adam that the penalty for sin is death. Sin is separating oneself with God. Since God is the author and sustainer of life, sin is also separation from life. Jesus paid the penalty of death and separation from God when he was crucified and died.

* "to rescue us from the present evil age" -Human history is broken up into ages. The current age was called by Jesus "the age of preaching the good news of the kingdom of God." (Luke 16:16) Others called it "the church age" and "the age of grace". Here, Paul refers to is as the "present evil age" in comparison to the age to come; the physical reign of Jesus on the earth (the Millennium; the Messianic age). Indeed the majority who still have not had their sins removed by Jesus live in sin. Even those who accepted Jesus' sacrifice for their sins were once part of the sinful age. They accepted the good news (gospel in Greek) of the kingdom of God found in Jesus Christ. Anyone who is rescued from anything or anyone is held captive. Satan and sin held us captive and Jesus rescued us from that captivity.

* Jesus can rescue (deliver) from alcohol, drugs, sexual sins, depression, fear, anxiety, hate, envy, malice, pride, foul mouth, foul mind, foul actions, and all sorts of things that trap and oppress people.

* "according to the will of our God and Father" -God's will from the very beginning was to do what Paul just wrote. God did not suddenly come up with this idea or suddenly changes his mind. It was his will all along. God's will is being done to this very day. We can find comfort in the fact that God's will is being done right yesterday, tomorrow and right now.

* "God's plan all along was to save us by Jesus' death. we have been rescued from the power of this present evil world -a world ruled by Satan and full of cruelty, tragedy, temptation, and deception. Being rescued from this evil world doesn't mean that we are taken out of it, but that we are no longer enslaved to it. We were saved to live for God. Does your life reflect your gratitude for being rescued? Have you transferred your loyalty from this world to Christ?" (Life Application Bible Studies, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.)

* "God can deliver, us but it will not be according to the law. It must be according to the will of God, my friend. The will of God is that when He saves you, you are not to live n sin. He can deliver us and He wants to deliver us. It is His will that you be delivered. My friend, this is a verse that makes you fell like throwing your hat in the air, does it not?" (Thru the Bible Commentary Series, J. Vernon McGee)

* "to whom be glory for ever and ever" -Paul praises God. "Glory" here is "doxa" in Greek. This is not the empty praise that man can give; "doxa" is the Hebrew "kabod", the unutterable effulgence of the divine glory, the "sheknah" that to a Jew denotes the very presence of God. (Tyndale New Statement Commentaries)

* "ever and ever" -"Aion" in Greek meaning "ages".

* "Amen" -Meaning "may it be so" and "I approve" and "with all my heart, that is what I want done".

III. No Other Gospel (6-10)

>3. What is the astonishing truth?

* Galatians 1:6 "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel"

* At this point in his letters Paul prays and thanks God for the people he is writing. He finds something about them that he wants to praise. Not so with this letter. He moved into a rebuke.

* "I am astonished" -Other translations have "I marvel". Often by Greek orators of surprise at something reprehensible. (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

* "you so quickly deserted" -After Paul left them, others came in and began teaching something different than Paul. Then they very quickly accepted the new teachers and teachings, abandoning what Paul had taught. Their apostasy was rapid.

* "the one who called you by grace" -God called them through Paul's teaching of grace through Jesus. Grace means "unmerited divine assistance". In other words, "God helps us even though we don't deserve his help in any way".

* "the grace of Christ" -God's help was through Jesus, the Christ (anointed one). God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

* "are turning" -They were actively doing this; in the process of turning away from the grace found in Jesus. The meaning conveys removing or transferring themselves. "The Greek verb is used elsewhere meaning altering a treaty, changing an opinion, deserting from an army." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

>How should this concern us?

* Many religious teachers in growing numbers are turning away from the grace of Jesus. In fact, they are turning away from Jesus as found in the Bible and are teaching a different Jesus in an false effort to unite the different religions of the world. Anyone who teaches a Jesus other than what is found in the Bible is eternally cursed. Who are these? Mohammed, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons (Church of Latter Day Saints), The Way to name a few.

* At one time the Galatians had accepted the truth of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone. Later, they were deserting that teaching. Anyone who does not deeply root themselves in Jesus, prayer, Bible study, and obedience to his word can be lead astray.

* Our salvation from sin, death, and eternal punishment is a gift, not a reward for good deeds. The gift is made available to everyone, not just the Jews. It is a gift so that we will be eternally grateful and so that God and the Lord Jesus will be eternally praised.

* When people preach salvation as grace plus something else they take away and deny the power of Christ's death on the cross.

>4. What was the problem with the "new" truth? (7a)

* Galatians 1:7a "which is really no gospel at all."

* "gospel" -Gospel is Greek meaning "good news". Anyone who is foolish enough to say we need to do this or that to enter the kingdom of God does not bring good news.

* Anyone who commits even one small sin anytime in their life is disqualified to have a relationship with the pure and holy God. God has nothing to do with the rebellion of sin. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) What does imperfection have to do with perfection? Nothing, never, and always. A sin and the stain of it cannot be undone by our efforts. Thus, the cleansing work of Jesus' blood shed on the cross is all the more important.

* "The Bible says there is only one way to be forgiven of sin; by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. No other person, method, or ritual can give eternal life. Attempting to be open minded and tolerant, some people assert that all religions are equally valid paths to God. In a free society, people have the right to their religious opinions, but this doesn't guarantee that their ideas are right. God does not accept man-made religion as a substitute for faith in Jesus Christ. He has provided just one way 'Jesus Christ.' (John 14:6)" (Life Application Bible Studies)

* The false teachers that came in Galatia did not deny the facts of the gospel; Jesus' death, burial, and physical resurrection as the Gnostics did around forty years later (John 6:64-65; 1 John 4:1-3). They did change the interpretation of the facts.

* Acts 16:30-31 "He then brought them out and asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.'"

* Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

>What is the motivation of the preachers of the "new" gospel? (7b)

* Galatians 1:7b "Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ."

* "some people" -Judaizers, some Jewish converts to Christianity who did not completely convert to Christ's teachings. He is not referring to James, John, Peter, or any of the other apostles who were also Jews. (Acts 15:24) These half converted Jews, Judaizers were blind. In the Bible all spiritual blindness is stated as willful. So these distorters of the gospel were wilfully allowed themselves to be blind.

* "throwing you into confusion" -Some of the Galatians apparently were questioning what the Judaizers were teaching for Paul is talking about a mental confusion. The Judaizers were people who held tightly to the customs and traditions (dietary restrictions, circumcision, cleansing, clothings, etc.) of the elders of the Jews. Jesus rebuked the elders for placing higher emphasis on customs and traditions then the truth of God. Paul is following Jesus' teaching here. Those preaching the false gospel were trying to turn the Christians into Jews.

* "are trying to pervert" -The Greek word is "metastrephe". It is a strong word, used by Dr. Luke in speaking of the sun turned to darkness (Acts 2;20), and by James, speaking of laughter turned to mourning (James 4:9). To attempt to change the gospel has the effect of making it the very opposite of what is really is. This is important to see. (Thru the Bible, J. Vernon McGee)

* The "new" gospel was not merely which type of music to sing or how often to celebrate the Lord's Supper. This concerned the gospel, the core teaching of the meaning of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.

>5. What will happen to those who pervert the gospel? (8)

* Galatians 1:8 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"

* "an angel from heaven" -Satan can appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14-15) Some cults leaders say that an angel of God came to them and gave them a new teaching to add to Jesus' teachings. The Judaizers don't seem to have made this claim. Paul is just stated that however, holy and godly a person may appear, if they teach something other than the gospel they are not from God.

* "let him be eternally condemned" -Those preaching the gospel that is no gospel do not have their sins forgiven and thus remain in the class of the eternally condemned. The Greek word "anathema" originally referred to a pagan temple offering in payment for a vow. Later it came to represent a curse. (1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22; Rom. 9:3)

* "!" -Ancient writers pressed hard when writing so that the letters were bigger and thicker when they wanted to show expression.

* Jesus said following him was not a matter of external things. Rather it is a matter of internal relationship with him and the Father.

* Paul did not reject everything Jewish. He was a Jew and followed Jewish customs and traditions. What Paul was condemning was the teaching that the gospel was only part of Jesus' message and that the other part was following Jewish customs and traditions. "After all," they must have said, "these are in the word of God, and when God gave the law to us we asked him how to obey the law and he gave us all these regulations." Believe it or not, I have read some books by a few Messianic Jews who have stated just that.

* How can we tell if someone is twisting the gospel? My teenage son asked me yesterday, "How can I tell if a group or church is a cult?" Next year he will be going off to college and so this was a good question. Before accepting the teaching of any group, find out what the group teaches about Jesus Christ. If their teaching does not match the truth in God's word, then it is twisted. Then take a look at their lives. Do Jesus' teachings that they claim to believe in and teach bear good fruit in their lives. Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." (John 13:35) And, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8) Up to eighteen years ago (from 2011) I belonged with a group that taught the true gospel and the Bible. However, they did not love each other. They yelled at each other, fought for power and control in ways inconstant with Jesus' teaching, and using those they claim to be shepherds of for personal gains and to be their personal servants. Like the Pharisees before them, they knew the word of God, but did not practice what they preached. To this day these people are yelling and cursing each other over the world wide web. If you are in such a group, and have tried to be a peacemaker without succeeding, then after much prayer leave them.

* Paul used such strong language because he was dealing with life and death matters.

* The outward appearance of the messenger and fine orator does not validate the message. Sadly today outward these things means everything to people. If the messenger is pretty and smartly dressed for success people believe any sweet sounding lies they speak. Such was the case with Hitler.

>What does "other than what you accepted" imply?

* Galatians 1:9 "As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"

* The Galatians had already heard the one and only true gospel and had accepted it.

>6. What does verse 10 indicate the motive of those who preached the "new" gospel?

* Galatians 1:10 "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

* "win the approval of men" -The Judaizers did not want to be condemned by their friends and neighbor Jews who had not yet accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Yet, they also did not want to be alienated from the church of Jesus Christ. The solution to this dilemma they believed was to turn the gentile Christians into Jews by forcing them to change their lifestyle. Many have come to the same solution in their own lives whether Jews or not. They want the gifts of God through Jesus and yet keep on living the lifestyles that the people around them accepts.

* "of men, or of God" -Three times in the gospel of John (7:13, 19:38, 20:19) "fear of the Jews" is repeated as an explanation for many secret believers. Peer pressure is strong in any social group. We want to be loved and accepted by others. Jesus taught and Paul repeated that we must constantly decide who we are to fear, God or men.

>Why isn't the world pleased with the gospel?

* Many reasons and excuses exist when it comes to rejecting the gospel; love of sin, love of money, love of self, and basically love of anything other than God.

* Some say it is to simple. Other say it is to complicated.

* Pride of self and culture.

* Man's nature is to respond to legalism, not grace. Man's conscience witnesses to the law, and legal conviction leads to works. He tried to balance his sins with good works. (J. Vernon McGee) The problem is that one weight of one small sin is greater than an eternity of good works. "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting." (Daniel 5:27) The Holy Spirit witnesses to grace. Grace leads faith and faith to an eternity of good deeds.

* John 3:19-20 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

* Romans 1:21-23 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

>What can we learn about being a man or woman of God?

* "a servant of Christ" -A servant of Christ will not be loved and accepted by everyone. In fact, Jesus told us that the world is going to hate us. (John 15:18-19; 1 John 3:13) He also said that he is sending us out like sheep among wolves. (Matt. 10:16)

* Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

* Matthew 5:44-45a "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

* Matthew 10:23 "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."

* Matthew 24:9-14 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

IV. They Praised God Because of Me (11-24)

>7. What did Paul call the believers in Jesus in Galatia?

* Galatians 1:11 "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up."

* "brothers" -God is our Father. Jesus is our big brother and the only true Son of God. We are all adapted sons whether Jew or Gentile.

* "not something that man made up" -Jesus preached the good news (gospel) of the kingdom of God. Many of Jesus' parables are about the good news. Jesus is God in the flesh. The message he preached was not made up by man. The message he preached was from God. Paul and the other apostles repeated what Jesus taught. As they got older they recorded all the teachings of Jesus that they had been verbally repeating. We now call those writings the gospels writing of the apostles; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

* "the gospel that I preached" -All believers in Jesus are to preach what Jesus preached. We are to study what is recorded in the gospels and the apostles' letters. The gospels and letters were originally written in Greek. The Greek has been translated and still is being translated into every written language. In some cases where a spoken language has no writen form, a written form is being created so Jesus' words can be read by all. Some English translations do not hold true to the original Greek (i.e. Jehovah's Witness' Bible, the Mormon Bible) and some of the early translations are written in an English that is not spoken any more. Be careful to have a proper translation of the original Greek.

>What did he want them to know?

* "the gospel I preached is not something that man made up" -As stated Paul did not make up the gospel. I'm sure the Judiazers also said that their teaching was from God, and pointed to verses in the Old Testament. So how could the Galatians know that Paul's message was Jesus' true message? Paul points to his credentials in the following verses.

* The gospel is truth. The gospel truth is not abstract truth. The gospel is practical and personal. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast." (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21) So next Paul shows the effect of the gospel in his and their lives.

* No one can be educated into the kingdom of God.

* The apostles and no man laid their hands on Paul before he began to preach.

>How then did Paul learn of the gospel he preached? (12)

* Galatians 1:12 "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

* "I did not receive it from any man" -God himself taught Paul.

* "nor was I taught it" -Paul did not attend a Christian school or seminary. It is true he learned the law under a Jewish Pharisee before he accepted Christ. (Paul went to Jerusalem to study under the famous rabbi, Gamaliel. He was probably 13 to 18 years old.) But when Jesus came to him on the road to Damascus he considered all those previous teachings rubbish. (Phil. 3:4-8)

* "I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ" -Jesus Christ taught him directly.

* "by revelation" -Revelation means to unveil. "Not, by Jesus Christ being revealed to me, but, I received the gospel by Jesus Christ's revealing it to me. The subject of the revelation is the gospel, not Christ. Christ was the revealer." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

* Ephesians 3:2-6 "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

* "We do not know the details of this revelations. Paul is referring to something other than his experience on the road to Damascus. His point is that his words are more than his own speculations or ideas." (Life Application Bible Studies)

>8. What can you learn about Paul's way of life before he accepted Jesus and the gospel? (13; Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-2)

* Galatians 1:13 "For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it."

* Acts 8:1-3 "And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison."

* Acts 9:1-2 "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem."

* Paul was not saved in Judaism, but from Judaism. (J. Vernon McGee)

>What was he zealous for? (14)

* Galatians 1:14 "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers."

* Paul loved the Jewish way of life. He loved the praise of men and wealth that it brought.

* "zealous" -Just because a person is zealous does not mean that what they are zealous for is right or from God.

>What was wrong with the traditions of his fathers? (Mark 7:6-8)

* Mark 7:6-8 "He replied, 'Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.'"

* Traditions are outward. Outward does not change inward.

>9. When did God set Paul, the persecutor of the church apart and how does this apply to you? (15)

* Galatians 1:15 "But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased"

* "from birth" -Meaning God had a plan for Paul. The plan was for revealing to Paul the gospel through a personal appearance from God's one and only Son. The plan was completed years later.

* "was pleased" -God does everything for his pleasure, and his pleasure is always good for us, those he loves.

>Why was God pleased to do this? (16a)

* Galatians 1:16a "to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles"

* "to reveal his Son in me" -Paul did not say "to me". Rather he said, "in me". God revealing himself, living and working in man's inner personality. This is the initial stages of God's children's experience and is true to all. God reveals his Son to us personally. Jesus said, "You did not chose me, but I chose you."

* "that I might" -The work of God in Paul had an effect on Paul. This is also true for all believers in Jesus.

* "preach him" -Jesus said we will produce fruit. The fruit will be in our being, and in our actions. We will preach Jesus to others.

* "among the Gentiles" -This is Paul specific mission. Our mission may differ.

* "Gentiles" -Gentiles are non-Jews, and can be also translated as "nations" or "peoples". Sometimes the Bible calls nations "islands". Jews considered Gentiles foreigners and pagan subpar peoples. In Jesus' and Paul's time a Jew was both a descendant of Abraham and one who followed the law of Moses and the traditions of the elders. Although Gentiles could become Jews in religion by undergoing circumcision and by following Jewish laws and customs, they were never fully accepted by natural born Jews. Many Jews had difficulty understanding that God's message spoken through Jesus is for Jews and Gentiles alike. Some Christian-Jews thought that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. But God planned to save both Jews and Gentiles by grace through faith. He had revealed this plan through Old Testament prophets (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 42:6; 66:19), and he had fulfilled it through Jesus Christ. He was proclaiming it to the Gentiles through Paul.

* God choses his people before they are born. He has a plan for them before they are born. He wants those he chose to grow close to him and to fulfill the plan he has for them with a willing, joyful, and thankful heart.

>What did Paul do immediately after Jesus visited him on the road to Damascus? (16b-17)

* Galatians 1:16b-17 "I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus."

* "any man" -Literally this is "flesh and blood". Paul did not receive his message from man. He learned directly from God, Jesus himself by revelation.

* "go up to Jerusalem" -Then considered the seat of Christianity; the mother congregation (church).

* "those who were apostles before I was" -The eleven that Jesus chose (Acts 1:13) and the one that the apostles chose to replace Judas the betrayer (Acts 1:26). Also chosen before Paul was James, Jesus' brother (19; Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18; James 1:1) who replaced James, one of the eleven when the King Herod killed him. (Acts 12:1-2)

* "Arabia" -The Nabatean kingdom in Transjordan (east of the Jordan river) stretching from Damascus south-west to the Suez.

* "and later" -Around two years later according to Acts 9:1-26 and verse 18. See the introduction for a time line of Paul's life.

* "returned to Damascus" -Paul meet Jesus on the way to Damascus.

* Anyone who says that Paul merged Jewdism with Greek philosophy (Hellenize) denies what Paul himself wrote here.

* Some Messianic Jews say that Christianity was Hellenized in the third century, taking away the Jewish roots of Christianity. Some Christians claim that Judaizers exist today. Both are correct in a small way; yet not completely. God has called people in every generation. Satan has always attacked God's people and truth in every generation. That is why the study of Galatians is so important.

>Why might he do this?

* Paul had been taught and believed that living a good life and obeying God's laws made him a good person in God's eyes. He believed that because he was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his ancestors returned from Babylon captivity, he was special because the Jews were God's chosen and special people. He had hated Jesus and those who believed in him because he thought Jesus taught what was contrary to the law and the prophets. Jesus taught salvation by grace through faith. Jesus accepted Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul hated this and was going around arresting and killing Christians. Then Jesus came and told him that he was wrong and needed to repent. This was a shock to Paul. He needed some time with God alone to be taught the truth of what God had said through the Old Testament prophets. He didn't want to learn from men, who had already taught him wrong things.

* We need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit teaches us alone. A person can read and study the Bible all they want to, like Saul had done as a young Pharisee, but if God himself doesn't teach us as we study the Bible our studies mean nothing. Always pray that the Holy Spirit teaches you as you read and study the Bible and as you listen to someone give a message from the word of God.

>10. After three years what did Paul do? (18-21)

* Galatians 1:18-21 "Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia."

* "I went up to Jerusalem" -Acts 9:26.

* "to get acquainted with Peter" -Peter was the most influential Christian at the time. Jesus made it clear several times that Peter would be the main disciple to serve others after he ascended. (John 21)

* "none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother" -James, Jesus' brother (19; Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18; James 1:1) who replaced James, one of the eleven who King Herod killed. (Acts 12:1-2)

* "Syria" -The Roman province north of Galilea. Antioch, the third largest city in the Roman empire was in Syria. Antioch grew to became a strong Christian center. When Jerusalem was destroyed it became the leading Christian center along with Ephesus.

* "Cilicia" -Paul's hometown, Tarsus was in Cilicia. (Acts 9:11) Acts 9:30 says that he left Jerusalem and went to Tarsus. Acts 11:25 says that Barnabas (who had meet Paul in Jerusalem and was the one who brought him to the apostles) went to Tarsus and brought him to Antioch to be a Bible teacher there.

* God sometimes puts his people in strange places to train them. Moses was in the desert. Abraham left his hometown. Joseph was sold into slavery. David lived in caves in exile. Elijah also lived in the desert for awhile. Paul went into the Arabia desert.

>Did anyone in Judea know him personally before this?

* Galatians 1:22 "I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ."

* Paul did not stay long in Judea when he went to Jerusalem. He did not stay long enough to personally get to know those others besides what was mentioned here and in Acts. (9:26-30)

>What report did the believing Jews know about Paul and how did they respond? (23-24)

* Galatians 1:23-24 "They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' And they praised God because of me."

* Acts 9:31 "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord."

* The next chapter explains that the apostles in Jerusalem approved Paul's gospel. In other words, though Paul did not receive any teaching from the apostles they approved of his message. Why? Because as Jesus taught the apostles in Jerusalem for over three years, so Jesus taught Paul in the desert of Arabia for three years.

* Was Paul bragging here? No. So why was Paul talking so much about himself? The true gospel was being attached in Galatia by men who claimed Paul wasn't an apostle from Jerusalem and under Jerusalem's authority; and therefore what he preached wasn't complete. In order to correct Galatia, Paul had to point out how he was an apostle with the same authority as the other apostles; therefore his gospel was complete and true.

>Have people recognized a change in you since you accepted Jesus and what was their response to it?

* D.L. Moody said, "Some people have just enough religion to make them miserable". You may have heard the gospel and you may have accepted it

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