Paul opens his letter by defending his authority and his gospel. He argues you can recognize the true gospel by its source and its substance.
Paul wrote this letter around 49 AD, about 15 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus to churches he founded during his first missionary journey. After Paul left, the Judaizers began teaching the Galatians they must keep the law to be fully Christian. Paul wrote this letter in response.
1Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—2and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.—Galatians 1:1-5
- New Testament letters typically began: author(s), recipient(s), greetings.
- In his greeting, Paul introduces two themes of the letter: the gospel and Paul’s apostleship.
- Paul argues there is only one gospel which you can recognize by its source and its substance.
- Its substance is grace, the free, unmerited favor of God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Its source is divine revelation from God. The true gospel is the gospel preached by Jesus and his apostles.
- As an apostle, Paul is one of a select group authorized to speak for Jesus in his absence.
- Paul is an apostle because God chose him. He was not elected, nor did he earn it.
- The death and resurrection of Jesus is central to the gospel. Christ died to deliver us for from our sins, just as God planned.
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.—Galatians 1:6-10
- Paul is so confident that he taught them the complete gospel he vows: May God curse anyone who teaches a different gospel, including me.
- Paul does not say you’ve deserted a theory about the truth or changed your religious affiliation. He says you have deserted the God who called you by the grace of Jesus Christ.
- A false gospel removes the cross or minimizes its effect.
- Paul’s unwillingness to say what his readers want to hear adds to his credibility.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
Previous: 01 Galatians Introduction
Series: Galatians: Living by Faith
Study: Galatians Resources
Season 23, episode 02