Summary: This a message in an expository series from the book of Galatians.
“No Catch…No Rules”
The Good News of the freedom that is available through Jesus Christ seems almost too good to be true. The fact that there are no rules is perhaps the most exciting and yet at the same time the most puzzling fact about being a Christian. There are so many who hold the view that being a Christian is about keeping a lot of rules for which God will reward us, and if we do not keep every one of them we can expect to be punished. So immediately when someone becomes a Christians they ask, “Okay, what are the rules?” As you will see throughout this study Paul’s main theme in this letter is the incomparable freedom we have in Jesus Christ. In every chapter Paul examines a different aspect of this unbelievable freedom. The message of Galatians is quite simple: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm and do not let yourself be put back into slavery again. No catch…No rules. Over and over again Paul returns to this central idea: God wants you free. The Galatian letter explains how life without overbearing rules is possible.
I. God’s desire for our freedom is evident in the opening words of the letter.
A. Paul uses a very authoritative tone beginning here and throughout the rest of the letter.
1. By adding the word "apostle," Paul at once highlights his claim to be commissioned by Jesus to preach the gospel with authority and to plant Christianity.
2. Paul is an apostle in the fullest sense of the word, commissioned apart from any human intervention.
3. An apostle is a messenger sent to deliver a message from the sender, with no authority on his own but delegated power from the one he represents.
4. Notice that Paul’s statement here about being chosen by Jesus Christ and God the Father does two things.
a. It sets Paul apart as a special apostle, chosen by Jesus Christ himself through the encounter on the Damascus road.
b. It subtly but distinctly “sets Christ in a category apart from ordinary man”. It was not any man that chose Paul—it was Jesus Christ!
5. Paul never wavers in the fact that he was sent to the Gentiles as surely as Peter was sent to the Jews.
B. Paul is challenging the Judaizers in the Galatian churches who are calling his authority into question.
1. The Judaizers rejected Paul’s commission and teachings. They would not accept his credentials as being valid.
2. The Galatians needed to develop a more discerning approach to those who claimed to speak for God.
3. Paul wants to emphasize that in contrast to the local distortion of the gospel in Galatia, “all the brothers” elsewhere stand together with Paul in the true gospel.
4. The churches in Galatia likely included several cities (Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe) Paul visited on his missionary journeys.
5. The word “church” is used as it is here in Galatians to refer to local congregations of baptized believers who regularly meet for worship and witness.
6. Galatians issues a strong warning! None of God’s faithful will ever utterly or finally fall away, and the gates of hell certainly will never prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as “eternal security” especially for a local congregation that has lost its first love.
II. The Christ that makes this freedom possible.
A. Paul packs a lot of information about Jesus into these opening verses.
1. He is Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, raised in the home of Joseph the carpenter, circumcised on the eight day, presented in the temple in His twelfth year, baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, a true member of the nation of Israel and the tribe of Judah, fully human, fully man, fully one of us.
2. He is the Christ, (Messiah in Hebrew), the chosen one of God like kings, priests and prophets of old, the Promised Savior of the world.
3. He is the Son of God the Father who raised Him from the dead on the third day.
4. The resurrection is crucial to the good news of freedom.
B. Paul is eager to establish the core of the gospel truth in his opening verses.
1. Jesus gave himself to save us from our sins and God the Father confirmed the validity of that sacrifice by raising him from the dead.
2. It is by this act of grace, not by any works of law, that the Galatians are saved.
3. Paul wants to establish from the beginning what the important theme of Christianity is. Salvation is not based on man’s ability to keep God’s rules, but on Christ’s ransom, paid with his blood.