Summary: Message one in our series on Galatians introducing the series.
Chico Alliance Church
“That Old-Time Gospel”
The early church had a strong commitment, a passion, an all-consuming fervor for the
apostle teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and a wide variety of Prayer. This consuming commitment was based on a basic understanding of the freedom found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The more we understand the revolutionary message of our freedom in Christ, the stronger our passion to live the basics.
There was time when a discussion concerning the gospel would assume certain basic understanding of what we mean by the Gospel. Not so today! Just as this early church struggled with those who would pervert the message of our freedom in Christ, so today, we have those who would confuse us and distort the basic message and truth revealed through Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible. By studying this strategic letter written by Paul to the churches of Galatia, I hope to reinforce in our minds and hearts the basic core of the gospel and the accompanying freedom that comes from understanding the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf apart from our keeping of law. This is a letter of Paul to the churches in the region of Galatia. These were churches established by Paul himself through the preaching of the Gospel.
Harrison adeptly summarizes the background to the letter.
Paul's converts in Galatia were in danger of losing their grip on the Gospel of Grace that he had taught them, because of the activities of certain men who were troubling them and upsetting them. One man seems to have been a ring leader. It is customary to describe these agitators as Judaizers, whose aim was to convince Gentile Christians that in addition to putting faith in Jesus as the Christ they must follow the same procedure as converts to Judaism, namely, to accept circumcision and observe the Mosaic law and the customs. In order to attack the Gospel that Paul had proclaimed among these people, it was expedient to attack the legitimacy of his position has an apostle and to make it appear that he was inferior to the original apostles. For this reason Paul found it necessary to defend his apostleship as well as his gospel, to show that he had an independent call directly from the risen Lord and that he had his Gospel from the same unimpeachable source. Further, he was able to demonstrate that when he did confer with members of the apostolate, he was found to be in agreement with them concerning the Gospel.
Paul has a passion for these people because he had invested time and energy in them. These Judaizers disturbed the churches regarding at least three issues.
1 – they questioned Paul’s authority
2 – they advocated circumcision as necessary for salvation
3 – they encouraged keeping the laws and customs of Judaism as necessary to quality of life in Christ.
We have an equivalent of the Judaizers working against the basic truths of this letter.
There are those who would question the authority of the Bible.
There are those who would advocate keeping certain laws as a requirement of salvation.
There are those who would encourage the practice of additional customs of men as necessary to earn God’s favor.
It is my hope that we will reinforce the vital truths concerning grace not only for our salvation but related to our daily walk as well.
In this letter to the Galatian churches Paul addresses at least three main issues.
I. I possess the correct divine credentials 1:6-2:21
II. I reaffirm the correct divinely delivered concept of the Gospel of grace 3:1-4:31
III. I advocate the correct daily conduct of a life under grace 5:1-6:10
Paul asserts his authority as an Apostle to address perversions in the truths regarding our salvation and our sanctification. He addresses the question of genuine freedom. May we too learn what it means to be and live free indeed in the weeks to come!
INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER 1:1-5
This introduction serves as an encapsulation of the message of the letter.
Yes it contains basic information about the source and destination of the letter, but in it, we also gather insight essential to understanding the issues he intended to address.
“Paul an apostle
Not from men
Not through the agency of man
But through Jesus Christ and God the Father
Who raised Him from the dead”
Paul often asserted his divine apostleship in his correspondence to the churches. Here, it is firmly asserted along with three other assertive statements.
First, Paul identifies himself as an apostle.
This was both a narrow and general term. Generally it applied to those who represented Christ. Narrowly it applied to those personally commissioned by Christ and specifically granted authority to speak for Him having personally been instructed by Him and having personally seen the resurrected Christ. Paul here asserts that his apostleship had nothing to do with men. It was not from a man. It was not through any agency or group of men.