Sunnyside First Baptist Church
Bible Study Galatains 1
- Galatians1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
1:1 Paul, an apostle
Using the typical formula of ancient letter writing (“X to Y, greetings”), Paul identifies himself by name and by position of authority.It is important to Paul that the Galatians remember his apostolic authority. While it is true that he and Barnabas were once “sent out” by men at Antioch as missionaries, this is not the foundation of his authority. Paul is an apostle in the fullest sense of the word, commissioned apart from any human intervention.1.2The churches in Galatia likely included several cities (Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe) Paul visited on his missionary journeys. While Galatia is often identified on Bible maps as the ethnic area to the north of any journeys Paul made, the Romans designated both the northern area and the southern area including these cities as “Galatia.”4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,As noted above, Paul wants to establish from the beginning what is the important theme of Christianity. Salvation is not based on man’s ability to keep God’s rules, but on Christ’s ransom, paid with his blood.“Will of our Father” —It is God’s will that we be saved! We do not need to do some heroic act to convince an unwilling God that he should change his mind about us. We do not even need to initiate some contact with him to apply for salvation. He has loved us; he has wanted us to be saved; he has sent his Son to pay for our pardon.5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.In none of Paul’s other letters does he add a benediction like this to the end of his salutation. Perhaps it helps take the place of the missing thanksgiving.New Section Gal 1.6-106 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—“Astonished”25.213 θαυμάζω: (derivative of θαῦμαa ‘wonder, amazement,’ 25.212) to wonder or marvel at some event or object—‘to wonder, to be amazed, to marvel’ (whether the reaction is favorable or unfavorable depends on the context). ἐθαυμάσθη ὅλη ἡ γῆ ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου ‘the whole earth marveled and followed the beast’ Re 13:3; ὁ δὲ Μωϋσῆς ἰδὼν ἐθαύμαζεν τὸ ὅραμα ‘Moses was amazed by what he saw’ Ac 7:31.There can be no word of thanksgiving here, as in all Paul’s other letters, because Paul found so little in the Galatian situation for which to be thankful. Like a grieving parent to a wayward child Paul can only blurt out his shock and dismay: “I am astonished at you!”“deserting”Paul’s word carries a strong flavor of reproach.In this verse and the next, Paul shows his shock over what his Galatian converts have done. It has been no more than perhaps a matter of months since Paul has been with them in Galatia. How appalling:— to desert so quickly.— to desert from so much.— to desert to so little.“And turning to a different Gospel...”Now if this is what “gospel” is—the good news of deliverance by God’s own hand—then what is a “different” gospel? To answer this question we must first note the distinction in two separate Greek words for “different” (ἕτερος, heteros and ἄλλος, allos). A heteros gospel would be something very different from the original, something that is not the same at all. An allos gospel would be one that is another of the same type as the first. What Paul says literally is that the Galatians have turned away to a gospel that is completely different from the “good news” kind of gospel (v. 6), one which is not at all another gospel of the same kind (v. 7). They had turned from salvation by God’s hand to an attempt at salvation by their own hand.7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 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! 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! 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.They have turned from salvation by God’s grace to salvation by human works.This is no innocent misunderstanding of the gospel. Their calculated objective is to alter the message in such a way as to pervert the gospel of Christ. To “pervert” (μεταστρέφω, metastrephō) is to change something from what it is to a different state or form. When something is already perfect, the change can only be destructive. As Paul has noted earlier in this same verse, the Judaizers’ form of the gospel is no longer a gospel at all.11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.C. PAUL’S CALL BY GOD (1:11–17)Despite the formality of “I make known to you” (γνωρίζω, gnōrizō), the section has a friendly, personal tone, as seen in Paul’s reference to his readers as “brothers.” In the course of six chapters Paul will call them “brothers” a total of nine times (1:11; 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18).Revelation points to a divine implanting of knowledge in Paul’s mind, not a fallible human effort to memorize and understand a body of facts. God revealed; Paul received. By this method none of the truth of the gospel depended on Paul’s efforts to learn or remember. As with the other apostles, inspired truth was not a human work, but a work of the Spirit (John 14:26).Last “from” — either “from” or “of” Jesus Christ13 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. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 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.In order to underscore the fact that no man had a hand in teaching Paul the gospel, it is necessary to recount how Paul came to know the gospel. They may have heard of his early life from Paul’s own lips, but the defection of Gamaliel’s star pupil to Christianity was probably a well known event among Jews everywhere. To the extent that the Galatian audience included former Jews and those heavily influenced by former Jews (cf. v. 7), they knew all about Paul’s background.Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”Following his baptism by Ananias (Acts 9:18) Paul did not seek out Christian leaders to learn the gospel from them. He did not consult “any man” (literally “flesh and blood” as in Matt 16:17). God’s plans for him called for a period of three years away from any of the leaders of the church, as proof that his message was from heaven. The remainder of this chapter proves that Paul was never in a position to obtain his doctrine from the other apostles, which would have made his a second-hand gospel.Arabia probably refers to the Nabatean kingdom, stretching from just outside Damascus down to Petra (its capital, 50 miles south of the Dead Sea) and beyond. Paul later notes that King Aretas, known from other sources to be king of the Nabateans, was ruler of “Arabia” in 2 Cor 11:32. Arabia was well populated with Gentiles, the people to whom Paul was commissioned to preach. It would be a hasty assumption, therefore, to conclude that Paul went to a distant land and for three years did no preaching. Since Acts 9:20 says Paul immediately began preaching the gospel in the synagogues of Damascus, he did not need three years of solitary discipling.18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
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