1:1-9 The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ
Memory Verse: Galatians 1:6-8
1:1-5 Paul Introduces Himself And Greets The Churches
- 1:1a The book of Galatians opens up with the first word being the name of its author: Paul. Then immediately it gives his position: apostle. The word “apostle” means “messenger.” It refers to the twelve men whom Jesus chose to fulfill this special position which would help lay the foundation of the church. Paul at a different time than the original twelve was also chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle. This means, that as an apostle he had a unique position of authority to teach and edify the churches—they could write scripture.
- 1:1b Paul was not among the original twelve, so he felt a need to defend himself and his position as an apostle. Judas, who was one of the original twelve, forsook Jesus, because he was a false believer. This left the position of the twelfth apostle to be fulfilled. The other apostles decided they would choose another apostle. The requirement was the man would have had to been with them from the baptism of John until the day of Jesus’ accession. They picked two men who met the requirements and prayed asking God for wisdom and cast lots which fell on Matthias and he was chosen as the twelfth apostle. Paul makes it clear that him becoming an apostle was “not of men, neither by man” like Matthias was, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (who raised Jesus from the dead). He is making it clear that his position and authority is equal to that of the original apostles.
- 1:2a Paul includes those traveling with him (all the brethren which are with me), showing they are also in agreeance with what Paul is going to write.
- 1:2b The audience of the book of Galatians is the churches of Galatia. The province of Galatia was a region of central Asia minor. This letter then was written to the local churches located in that region. It is assumed then that this letter would circulate among the churches there to address the problems address in this book.
- 1:3-5 Paul greets (grace be to you and peace) the churches with the gospel of grace. This type of greeting shows us four things: (1) The uniqueness of the true gospel—it only comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) The message of the gospel—Jesus gave himself for (in our place) our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. We need to realize that we are in a helpless condition because of our sin and we need to be rescued. Only Jesus can rescue us. (3) The motivation of the gospel—it is all according to the will of God. He decided to love us and send Jesus to rescue us, not because we deserved it but because of grace. Thus He is worthy of glory for ever and ever. (4) Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ—the bases of their relationship is rooted in the same God and the same gospel. The gospel is the foundation of fellowship. Paul wishes nothing more than they understand and continue in the grace and peace offered through the gospel.
1:6-7 Paul Introduces The Main Problem
- 1:6a Paul marveled that the Galatian believers were so soon removed from the true gospel. He even says that they have deserted God who called them into the grace of Christ. Thus Paul here is clarifying what the true gospel is: God calling a person to the grace of Christ. The grace that Jesus offers is the payment for our sins by his death on the cross and power to be declared righteous through His resurrection. It is “by grace” because He is offering us something that we don’t deserve. We have no merit to offer God for our salvation, but Jesus will give us His merit if we accept it through faith. Thus the true Gospel is by grace through faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
- 1:6b-7a The Galatian believers turned to another gospel. But there is no other gospel. Any change to the true gospel, whether you add too it or take away from it, will change it into a false message that can only condemn. Accepting this as the only gospel may be extremely hard. It might sound prideful. But the reason this is the only true gospel is because it is the only gospel by grace offered to man by God himself. All other “gospels” are “gospels of works”—meaning they teach the way to become righteous includes works. This gospel of Jesus is truly unique—meaning it teaches the way to become righteous is through faith alone (excluding works). Understanding the uniqueness of the gospel motives us in all we do: (1) our individual salvation depends on it; (2) the salvation of others depend on it because we will be proclaiming it; (3) we can’t live for our selves but live for the glory of God for this great gift of salvation He has given to us.
- 1:7b The reason the Galatian believers turned away from the true gospel was because there were some people who had entered the church and started giving them trouble. They wanted to confuse them. Their teaching perverted or reversed the gospel of Christ. Instead of teaching the true gospel which says, “Not by works of righteousness, but by faith alone in Jesus for salvation,” they wrongly declared, “not by faith in Jesus alone, but also by works of righteousness for salvation.” They taught the believers to put their confidence in their own works instead of the works of Jesus.
1:8-9 Paul Introduces The Punishment Of False Teachers
- 1:8a-9a Paul warns Galatian believers against false teachers who preach a false gospel. Paul even says that it doesn’t matter what authority a person claims or who the person is (including him, the other apostles, an angel and every else in-between) if they change the gospel of grace as deliver by Paul and the Apostles then they should be accursed. Paul makes the statement so strong that if he ever changed his mind he would be a heretic.
- 1:8b-9b Thus Paul is making the highest standard or the basis for understanding what truth is and for evaluating who is a real teacher from God—all based on the truth of the gospel as it was originally delivered (that which we have preached unto you / that ye have received). This true gospel is that standard that declares if a person is a true or false believer, a true or false preacher, a true or false church. The apostles don’t verify the gospel, but the gospel verifies them. Today, the standard is the same.
- 1:8c-9c Finally, the punishment that Paul say for those who preach a false gospel is “to be accursed” which literally means “let him go to hell.” They preach a message of condemnation, thus they themselves will be condemned.
- Who is the author of Galatians?
- How does the author greet the churches?
- What is the main problem the author introduces?
- What does the author warn against?
- What is the punishment for false teachers?