6-Week Series: Against All Odds

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Summary: To Paul, the gospel was a miracle he had experienced. The gospel is “the power of God to salvation,” and it brings freedom. Christ died “that He might deliver us.” When Paul trusted Christ, the shackles of sin and legalistic religion were broken!

August 10, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

I. Introduction (1:1-10)

Chapter I.A Salutation (1:1-5)

Galatians 1.1-5 (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Introduction

To Paul, the gospel was much more than a message he preached: it was a miracle he had experienced (vv. 1–5). The gospel is “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and it brings freedom. Christ died “that He might deliver us” (v. 4). When Paul trusted Christ, he became a free man. The shackles of sin and legalistic religion were broken!

In this chapter, after the introduction (v. 1-5), the apostle severely reprimands these churches for their defection from the faith (v. 6-9), and then he proves He is a true apostle, which is something his enemies had questioned, due to what they thought disqualified him for the office of apostle:

(1.) His weak appearance and a preaching style that did not feature eloquent oratory (v. 10).

(2.) He was not taught personally by Jesus, like the other apostles. (v. 11, 12).

The proof he presented in defense of his apostleship was threefold:

(1.) His former life—before his conversion. (v. 13, 14).

(2.) How he was converted, and called to the apostleship (v. 15, 16).

(3.) His current life as an apostle of Jesus Christ. (v. 16 to the end).

Commentary

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Paul,

Paul was his Latin name; Saul was his Hebrew name. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 9:11; 22:3) of Jewish parents (Phil 3:5). His father was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen (Acts 23:6), so Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:27–28). He studied under the renowned Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3).

The first five verses comprise the preface or introduction to the epistle. We are immediately introduced to the person or persons who sent this Epistle-Paul an apostle, etc., and all the brethren that were with him. Paul was the penman; but he wrote while under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, and they perverted Paul’s Gospel of man’s free justification by faith in Jesus and purposely attempted to diminish his character and authority; therefore, the first thing he does is to give a general explanation of both his office and of the manner in which he was called to it (He will enlarge upon it later in this chapter and in Chapter2.).

These Jewish-Christian fanatics who pushed themselves into the Galatian churches after Paul’s departure, boasted that they were the descendants of Abraham, and true ministers of Christ; that they were trained by the apostles themselves, and that they were able to perform miracles. They said to the Galatians: “You have no right to think highly of Paul. He was the last one to come to Christ. But we have seen Christ. We heard Him preach. Paul came later and is beneath us. It is impossible for us to be in error, because we have received the Holy Ghost? Paul works alone. He has not seen Christ, and he has not had much contact with the other apostles either. Besides, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long time.” The Galatians were taken in by such arguments with the result that Paul’s authority and doctrine were drawn into question.

Paul cannot let them get away with it, so he fearlessly defends his apostolic authority and ministry against these boasting, false apostles. Though he is a humble man, he will not now take a back seat. He reminds them of the time when he opposed Peter to his face and took to task the chief of the apostles.

an apostle,

Paul, an apostle was the usual way in which he began his epistles—“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1; KJV)—and it was of special importance to begin this epistle in this manner, because it was his intention that it would serve to vindicate his apostleship and to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus.

An apostle is one who is sent with authority to represent and speak for another. He is given special delegated authority and entrusted with a special divine message. Paul claims to be a messenger, an envoy, an ambassador for Christ. He was endowed with all the credentials of his office. He was owned by Christ, commissioned by Christ, and empowered by Christ. He was an apostle and he is not afraid to characterize himself as such, though his enemies refused to acknowledge him with this title. He responded to their lack of respect by showing them that he did not assume this title without being able to justify his position as an apostle; he explains to them how he was called to this office, and assures them that his commission came directly from Jesus Christ. It should be noted that in two of the earliest Epistles, Thessalonians 1 and 2, through humility, he uses no title of authority; but he names the associates with him "Silvanus and Timotheus"; but here, though "brethren" (Ga. 1:2) are with him, yet he does not name them but prominently puts his own name and apostleship at the top; which shows his desire to vindicate his apostolic commission against those who have denied it.

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