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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 1

Verses 1-24

  1. Intro: The Gospel of Grace
    1. The book of Galatians played such a key role in the Reformation that it was called the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation.
      1. Because its emphasis on salvation by grace through faith alone was the major theme of the preaching of the Reformers.
      2. Slide8 Martin Luther was especially attached to Gal & referred to it as his wife.
        1. He lectured on the book extensively and his Commentary on Galatians was widely read by the common people.
    2. Galatia - a mountainous territory in central Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
      1. 3 cent. BC wandering tribes of Gauls from Europe entered & settled the area.
      2. It became known as the kingdom of Galatia (after the name Gaul, think Gaulatia).
    3. Problem? – Paul had preached the gospel of salv by faith in JC to the Galatians, who were Gentiles (no background in Judaism). They welcomed it w/enthusiasm & many believed. The Judiazers coming behind Paul’s visit to the Galatia churches preached their distorted gospel. Simply believe on Jesus. Grace + anything = nothing/damnation Jesus+nothing=everything
      1. The 5 Solae (alone) of the Protestant Reformation: Sola scriptura. Sola fide. Sola gratia. Sola Christus. Soli Deo gloria.
    4. Probably like most new believers, they were eager to do right to prove their faithfulness. So when they were taught by these traveling teacherswell ok then, if that’s what we need to do.
      1. ​​​​​​​They were ready to add circumcision & the Law to their faith in Christ.
        1. If this goes unchecked, Christianity would lapse into being a cult of Judaism.
    5. Key verses: 2:16; 5:1. [grace in vs.3,6,15]
    6. Outline of Book: The Gospel of Grace Defended (1,2). The Gospel of Grace Explained (3,4). The Gospel of Grace Applied (5,6).
      1. Christian freedom is the liberty to become all that you can in Jesus Christ; it is not the license to do whatever you please. Shepherd’s Notes, Galatians, pg.6
    7. So, Why would a bird set free, return to its cage? Why would an animal caught in a trap, return once it was freed? Why would a slave, return to his shackles? Why would a free nation, want to return to tyranny?
      1. It makes as much sense for - A believer to leave off of working to be saved, and then receive free-grace…only to return once again to works chains.
        1. So many have exchanged their silver handcuffs, for red anodized ones. It’s just a new kind of slavery.
      2. It probes the question, How does a person come into a right relationship w/God?
  2. GREETING (1-5)
    1. ​​​​​​​Letters in the 1st century (Jewish & Greek) included 3 parts: name of sender, name of recipient, & a formula of greeting. [Apostle - an affirmation of his identity]
    2. (3-5) The Gospel in a nutshell.
    3. (3) Galatians begins & ends with Grace.
      1. Slide13 Grace & Peace summarize God’s dealings w/human beings.
        1. Grace is God’s undeserved kind intention carried out on behalf of sinful human beings
        2. Peace is the result of grace received.
    4. (4) He gave Himself for our what? our sins. Spurgeon reminds us…
      1. ​​​​​​​Not for our virtues, but for our sins. Not for our efficiencies, but for our deficiencies. Not for our wealth, but for our lack. Not for what we have, but for what we have not.
        1. It’s not what we can boast of, but what we mourn over that qualifies us to receive the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    5. He didn’t deliver us to be our own, but to be His & His alone.
    6. The believer is delivered from…
      1. Mt.6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
      2. Col.1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
      3. 1 Thes.1:10 wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
      4. 2 Cor.1:10 who delivered us from so great a death (past), and does deliver us (presently); in whom we trust that He will still deliver us (future).
      5. Gal.1:4 that He might deliver us from this present evil age.
    7. Our present evil age whispers: Live for self! Yet, the worse bondage, is living for self, & yielding to the desires of the old nature.
    8. (5) This mini doxology expresses the conviction that God is worthy of our unending adoration and worship.
  3. 1 GOSPEL (6-10)
    1. ​​​​​​​(6) Turning away – deserting.
      1. Was used of, desertion or revolt in a military or political defection. LKGNT
        1. ​​​​​​​He was calling them spiritual turncoats.
      2. Abandon a God-centered message of salvation for a human-centered one? Yep! [How quick we want to run back to earning brownie points with God]
      3. To abandon the gift of grace, is to desert the Giver of it.
    2. I marvel – I’m shocked, I can’t believe it.
      1. ​​​​​​​The gospel was a treasure that Paul guarded. (This is the spiritual hill to die on)
      2. See gospel in vs.6,7,8,9,11.
      3. We don’t have a different gospel today…we have 50 of them…
        1. ​​​​​​​We have the Me Gospel. The money Gospel. The Gospel of do do do. The Gospel of anything goes. The progressive Gospel (i.e. salvation is a process). The pick yourself up by your boot-straps Gospel.
    3. Note, NONE of Paul’s letters start with what we need to do for God.
      1. Instead, always begins w/what God has already done.
        1. To get this the other way around is to miss the gospel.
      2. Eg. Colossians has 4 ch.’s - Ch’s 1,2 describe the glowing & remarkable things God has done for us in Christ. Ch. 3 starts w/then live this way. Seek those things which are up above. Set your mind on things above.
      3. Eg. Eph.’s 1st 3 ch.’s - This is what God in Christ has done for you. Ch.4, Therefore, walk worthy of your calling.
    4. Key: The gospel focus on Jesus’ performance for us, not our performance for Him.
      1. On what He’s done, not on what we can do.
      2. I believe if we understand this, we’ll be less enslaved to our sin & more grateful for Jesus.
        1. And the more grateful we are for Jesus, the more we’ll want to live a life that pleases Him.
      3. So when we identify the Gospel as the death, burial & resurrection, this is true.
        1. What HE DID is the gospel. And our response is with awe, adoration, grateful hearts & a desire to now live out from that a life that pleases our Lord.
      4. And now, because Jesus is Extraordinary, we are free to be ordinary; Because Jesus is Someone, we are free to be no-one; Because Jesus Succeeded, we are free to fail. (Tullian Tchividjian, podcast.)
    5. (7) Slide16Acts 15:1 Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. [What is essential to the Gospel & what is non-essential?]
      1. Unless you are circumcised. Unless you are wealthy. Unless you are healthy. Unless you believe in pre-trib rapture.Unless you worship on Sunday mornings. Unless you belong to our group. Unless you are water baptized. Unless you worship on Saturday.
      2. Today the church still asks…don’t they have to be one of us?
        1. Or, Isn’t acceptance w/God to be obtained by any effort of our own?
        2. Adding something ourselves seems so right, so reasonable, so religious!
          1. ​​​​​​​Do we forget that adding anything to grace, changes grace…to something other than grace?
    6. Slide17a Why do people choose Legalism over Grace?
      1. Legalism is more Appealing.
        1. Faith in Christ requires us to repent & be humble.
        2. If religion can be reduced to regulations I can feel good about my accomplishments.
        3. Christ did it all is a little hard on my ego.
      2. Legalism is more Natural.
        1. Most of our human experiences say, you get what you work for. Not’ins free in dis world
      3. Legalism is more Manageable.
        1. It is easier to do certain well-defined duties, than exercise a life-changing faith.
      4. Legalism is more Safe.
        1. Freedom is dangerous. What, leave matters up to the individuals conscience? :0
    7. Legalists are right in that control is needed. They are wrong about where the control must come from.
      1. Outward restrictions – are ineffective in creating moral living.
      2. Inward convictions – come from being empowered by the H.S.
    8. Think about it…there is no cult that teaches faith in Christ alone will save. (Nope! it is add this, or follow that)
    9. Are you a little Judiaizer? Do you look for anything more than repentance & belief in someone to evaluate their salvation? Do you quietly in your mind question anyone’s eternal destiny if you see them smoking or drinking, cussing or gambling?
    10. (8,9) Let them be accursed/anathema – Paul paints the strongest words possible for this. [harshest statement in the NT]
    11. (10) Paul asks, Do these sound like man pleasing words? Just set your heart on pleasing Christ 1st
  4. CALLING (11-17)
    1. ​​​​​​​Paul said, the gospel I gave you was not from man but from God.
    2. It wasn’t from my religious background (13-17). It wasn’t from the church (18-20). It wasn’t from my tract record (21-24).
      1. It wasn’t Paul’s Religious Background (13-17)
        1. If anyone knew the value & limitations of the law, it was Paul.
        2. There was nothing in his background that could have prepared him for a positive response to the gospel.
          1. It was quite the opposite. He took up arms against the church.
        3. To reveal his Son in me – (Don’t miss that)
          1. God seeks to unveil His Son in you also. Are you displaying & glorifying Jesus on earth?
    3. It wasn’t the Church commissioning Paul (18-20)
      1. He couldn’t have been dependent upon the Jerusalem church or its leaders for his authority…he wasn’t there!
    4. It wasn’t Paul’s fabulous Tract Record (21-24, esp.23a)
  5. CONTACTS (18-24)
    1. ​​​​​​​Paul’s Testimony - When God transforms a life there is always a testimony.
      1. Do you share yours? Often? Who would you like to share it with?
    2. Slide20 Testimony Tips: (Charles Swindoll, Galatians, Bible Study Guide, pg. 22,23.)
      1. Talk, don’t preach – just tell your story.
        1. The gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate. It is an announcement. Paul S. Rees
      2. Be Specific – be clear about the gospel.
      3. Be Clear & Simple – Talk w/plain terms, not Christian-ese.
      4. Be Honest – don’t embellish your story (i.e. create sins or enhance them)
      5. Be Brief – Paul covered 14 years in 13 verses.
      6. Be Selective – only say what’s important.
      7. Be Logical – follow a progression. (your life before Christ, how you came to know Him, & what your life is like now)
      8. Be Humble – Glorify God…not yourself. (vs.24)
      9. Let God do the rest – you just plant/water.
      10. 10.Pray for their salvation.
    3. Think through your testimony. Tell it to someone this week. It doesn’t have to be a total stranger (neighbor, co-worker). May I tell you how I came to know Jesus?
      1. ​​​​​​​Remember you’re not giving a presentation, you’re sharing your story w/ someone.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/galatians-1.html. 2017.