Galatians and Paul 1
Charlyene Heydinger


Galatians and Paul 1

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Galatians 1 Text

Paul’s letter to the Churches in Galatia

What were the issues facing the Galatian Churches that Paul addresses here?

  1. Some Jewish Christians preached that Gentiles had to follow Jewish law and tradition as a prerequisite to being Christian.  This group was called “Judaizers” or “the Circumcision Party.”  To Paul, this completely misses the point of Jesus’ death on the cross, and the diversity of Christians throughout the world;
  2. MOST IMPORTANT TEACHING:  Blessings that accompany salvation were earned by Jesus’ perfect faith and obedience, not by efforts to follow law.  Jesus makes restitution for all sin on cross and fulfills completely God’s requirements
  3. We cannot earn these blessings by works of law or ceremony or benevolence.  To live in salvation is freedom, but that doesn’t mean we get to ignore the law either.  It means we follow Jesus and live in the Spirit

Galatians Outline
6 chapters of incredibly relevant information

  1. Greeting, 1:1 – 5
  2. Rebuke, 1:6 – 19
  3.  Paul’s personal history,  1:20 – 2:14
  4.  Justification by faith, 2:15 – 4:31
  5.  Freedom and encouragement, 5:1 – 6:19

Greeting, Chapter 1:1-5

Paul reaffirms his position as apostle because Judiazers (the Circumcision Party), by questioning the Gospel as taught by Paul, were also questioning Paul’s credibility and authority. 

When Paul says:  “Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father…” he is pointing out that he:

  1. Saw the Risen Jesus
  2. Received his apostleship directly from Jesus (was not appointed by church council)
  3. Is more than an envoy from apostles, he was an apostle.  
  4. Has important authority to speak on behalf of Jesus (unlike the Judaizers who were self-appointed)
  5. Paul’s authority is Jesus and the Gospel

Rebuke, 1:6-9

  1. Paul expresses his astonishment that the new Christians were so quickly turned away from the message that Jesus called upon Paul to preach to them.  He criticizes them for believing that they were required to follow all the extra Jewish rules of law (food, circumcision, etc. first to be Jesus followers
  2. The key thing to note here is that the attack on the fundamental principle - our salvation comes from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross - didn’t come from outside forces.  This attack came from inside the church
  3. Jewish Christians wanted to impose a bunch of rules and laws that made Christianity harder.  They completely missed the point Jesus is the sole source of our salvation (not the law)
  4. Do some Christians today add requirements that are not in the Bible? Do these extra rules prevent people from coming to Christ or growing their faith?

Paul’s Resume, 1:10 – 2:14

As we saw in Corinthians, Paul constantly had to defend himself as an apostle who saw Christ. 

  1. Paul sacrificed earthly pleasures and comforts to travel around the Mediterranean starting new churches everywhere he could. 
  2.  How miserable and challenging it must have been to establish groups of new believers only to be followed by false teachers who misled them by challenging Paul’s pure message of Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation. 
  3. As in other letters, Paul lays out his resume. In Galatians, describes how he won the debate with the Judaizers/Circumcision Party. 

Paul’s Resume – Galatians

  1. 11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
  2. 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
  3.  Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Paul’s resume cont. – Galatians

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

  1. 2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
  2. 6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas[c] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

This is the Best Part –
Justification by faith, 2:15 – 4:31

  1. Justification by faith is the heart and soul of the Gospel
  2. “He redeemed us in order that the blessings given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” 3:14
  3. We obtain blessings because we are united in Christ through faith; we identify with Christ; we are associated with Christ. 
  4. Jesus sent Paul to build a diverse church.  “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, Slave nor free, Male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 3:26-28

FREEDOM! What Paul encourages,
5:1 – 6:18 

  1. Jesus redeemed us and sets us free from being slaves to the law
  2. Paul urges the Galatians not to use this freedom to sin. Instead, he urges them to use their freedom to serve one another in love. Paul reminds them:  The entire law is summed up in a single command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (5:13-15)

The choice is between sin and the fruits of the spirit. Compare 5:19-21 and 5:22-23

  1. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…
  2. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law

Q & A

  1. Why was it so hard for Jewish Christians to let go of the rules of the Torah?  Why did they work so hard to impose them on Gentile Christians?
  2. How can we avoid placing our manmade rules on other Christians or people who might otherwise become Christians?
  3. The main message of Galatians is that our salvation is the direct result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are saved through faith in Him.  Is it hard to accept this single truth as the total message?
  4. How did Paul’s faith keep him serving God when he was challenged at every turn by both Christians and non-Christians? 
  5. What is your main take away from this study of Galatians?

What other questions do you have?