In our study, we will look at Paul's qualifications to be an apostle and his passion for the pure gospel of justification by grace.
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Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead -
Paul opens this letter by presenting his qualifications for being an apostle. He says that he was "sent not from men" meaning he did not complete some course or get a college degree or any other learning program. He then says that he is not an apostle "by man" speaking to the fact that he did not have to go through some type of ordination service, election, or any other ritual. Then, he explains that it is simply by the call of Jesus and the Father who has the power.
and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia:
Paul was not alone and he was not looking for glory for himself but includes those with him in the greeting. The letter is addressed to the churches in Galatia and not a single church. When he says churches, he is talking about groups of believers in different areas of the Roman province that was known as Galatia.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Having gotten straight his qualifications, he now greets the people with the authority that was granted to him as an apostle. The greeting puts grace before peace and that is a good reminder to us that it is only by the grace of God that we can have peace with God. That point is crucial to our understanding of this letter.
who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen
Paul continues the opening greeting to this letter with a reminder that Jesus willingly died for our sins. It is important to understand that Jesus was willing to die and go to hell for us because He knew that it was the Father's will. In doing so, He rescued (delivered) us from the evil that is around us today. We do not have to live in disbelief and defeat because we have the victory and have been delivered by our Lord Jesus. That victory includes overcoming addictions and all other evil of this age.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Paul gets right to the heart of the matter as he says that the believers have abandoned the gospel and accepted a fake. There were people among the believers that wanted to add works to grace to get salvation. We, as people, have a tendency to want to do something to get something but, if you add works for salvation then it is no longer a gift and grace.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Paul says the same thing here twice and we should remember that the number two is the number of witnesses. He warns them that no matter who trys to tell them a different way to be saved (even if it was an angel from heaven) they must be ignored. Those that preach another gospel are eternally condemned and that may sound like strong words and judging someone's salvation. The simple fact is that Jesus said that He was the only way to be saved and God confirmed it with Jesus' resurrection. Those that preach anything but the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ stand condemned already because they do not believe that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient and there is no other way.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul is making the point that he works for God and not a man. If he was trying to please men, then he would not be able to share the truth with them because they wouldn't want to hear it. We have to ask ourselves who we are trying to please.
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.
Paul begins to explain the origin of the gospel that was given to him to preach by saying that it is not something that man came up with. Men, will always make rules and want to do something to be saved but the true gospel is that we are saved only by God's grace.
I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Paul continues to explain that it is not even from man but by God. He did not go to some Bible college or other program to learn the gospel. Jesus showed up and he was changed and immediately qualified for the work that God had prepared for him. Today, more than ever, Christians are searching for some new program, title or something else to qualify them to serve God but the simple fact is that it still comes from God.
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. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
Paul reminds the Galatian churches of his testimony and of how he actively opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ. He reminds them that he was following the traditions of his forefathers and defending them instead of following Jesus Christ.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,
When Jesus showed up and changed Paul from a murderer to an evangelist, he did not go check with anyone to get permission. He understood that he had been set aside even before his birth for this purpose and he simply embraced what God would have him to do. That is the same for us as we all have been saved for a purpose and that purpose was set even before we were born. If we listen to God and not the words of men, He will tell us what He has designed for us to do. We can also be sure that it is better than anything we could come up with on our own.
nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Paul goes on to explain that he didn't even have to check in with religious leaders because he already had his instructions from God. He first went into what is now Saudi Arabia but we do not know much about what he did there. We can only guess that God was preparing him for his upcoming missionary journeys.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles - only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
Paul goes on to explain that, even when he went to Jerusalem, he did not go there for approval or permission from them. There are many that forget that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and not a man but Paul never forgot that important fact. He went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter as he was known as a leader in the faith.
Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
Paul lets us know that he went out to do what God had called him to do without even being known by the churches in Judea. This is a sharp contrast to what he did before as then he had authorization from the Jewish leaders to hunt down Christians. Now, we see that he has the very authority of God to call Gentiles to be saved and did not seek any other approval.
They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' And they praised God because of me.
When Paul went on his travels spreading the gospel, people heard the news that he had been changed. They praised God as they could see the very power of God at work to change this man. We, too, should cause people to praise God because of the change that they see in us through that same power.