Summary: A sermon introducing a series on the Epistle to the Galatians
(an introduction to Paul's Epistle to the Galatians)
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Recently, I officiated a funeral for a man who spent most of his life in prison. He would serve his term and be freed, then after a while he would commit another crime and eventually find himself back in custody. From what I understand when he died he was facing charges that would land him back in prison. The odd thing was that prison is where he wanted to be. He told his friend that prison is all that he knew and that he was more comfortable locked up than he was free. He would purposely commit a crime in order to be arrested and sent back to what he knew best. - That mindset may seem strange to us, but it is more common than you would think. Even more confusing is someone who has experienced the freedom that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then desiring to return to the bondage that they have been delivered from.
Among the Galatian believers were traditional Jews who thought that the Galatians (mostly gentiles) should be circumcised. Instead of basing salvation on faith in Christ alone, they wanted to add works to their salvation. Certain Jewish groups were still trying to convert the Gentiles into the Jewish customs. Though circumcision is not a common point of contention in our day, the mindset of “works+ faith” is still present. We find this in many of the cults that are among us today.
Even more so, there are countless believers who have received the great freedom that comes through Jesus Christ and have willingly returned to the bondage of sin. Tonight I would like to begin to walk through Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. An “Epistle” is a formal letter, with the intention of providing instruction. The Apostle Paul authored many of the Epistles we have in the Word of God:
I & II Corinthians
I & II Thessalonians
I & II Timothy
The overriding theme of Galatians is the freedom we possess in Christ. Galatia was the central region of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)Paul and Barnabas traveled there on their first missionary journey. There they preached the Gospel message among the Gentiles. As a result countless souls were saved and churches were established in various towns.
Pisidia - Acts 13
Iconium - Acts 14:1
Lystra - 14:21-23
Derbe - 14:21-23
The Epistle to the Galatians was written to the Jewish & Gentile believers in the churches in those cities. These were some of the first people to trust in Christ as a result of Paul’s ministry. Now, years later some false teachers had begun to lead those believers away from the truth of the Gospel. For the next few weeks I would like to look at this Epistle and see many great facts concerning Christian liberty.
Tonight I would like to look use Paul’s salutation as an introduction to this series and gather some “Important Information”. We will see:
i. Some Important Information Concerning This Letter
ii. Some Important Information Concerning The Lord
Join me as we examine preach on the subject “Galatian Information” Look with me to verses 1-3 as we see:
I. SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS LETTER v1-3
In order to understand the context of Paul’s address to the people of Galatia, we must start at the very beginning. Notice:
A. THE AUTHOR - v1a “Paul, an apostle”
We have already mentioned that Paul is the author of this Epistle. There is some debate as to the exact date of this epistle but it ranges from the years A.D 48- A.D 58. I tend to believe that it was written soon after Paul's second visit to Galatia - (Acts 18:23). I base my opinion on the context of verse 6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”. Regardless of the when, we know the who...The Apostle Paul, the greatest Christian who has ever lived!!
In some Epistles Paul would dictate to an associate, but we find that this letter was written by Paul himself -Galatians 6:11 ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.Paul was a man, chosen by Jesus Christ to accomplish many great things for the sake of the Kingdom. In fact that is something that Paul defends here in his salutation. Notice:
B. THE AUTHORITY- v1b “an apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”
This is a rare occasion where Paul asserts his “Apostolistic authority”. Apostle - One who is called and commissioned by Jesus Christ. We have record of Paul being called as an Apostle of Jesus Christ in Acts Chapter 9. One common trait of the 12 Apostles is that they all witnessed first hand the resurrected Christ. Paul declares that he was not called by men, but by Jesus Christ!