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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Galatians 1

Verse 1


From Paul. When we know the attempt to discredit Paul that had taken place in Galatia, these opening words seem stark! Whose call to be an apostle. Paul emphasizes, that like the Twelve, his appointment as an apostle came directly from the Lord! [If Paul makes thirteen apostles, remember there were thirteen Tribes, since Levi was not counted.] The false teachers must have said that Paul’s appointment came through the church at Antioch (from man) and that he received the Holy Spirit through Ananias (by means of a man). Who raised him from death. “After his resurrection God sent Jesus Christ from heaven to make me an apostle!”

Verse 2


All the brothers. “These brothers, by joining with me in this letter, affirm the truth of what I am writing.” To the churches of Galatia. This letter goes to an area, rather than a single congregation.

Verse 3


May God. Paul’s greeting is sincere, even though he has some harsh things to say to them later.

Verse 4


In order to. At the time of Christ, Jews spoke of two ages of time: the present evil age meant the time they were then living in; the New Age they viewed as a time when sin and death would no longer rule, and they expected it to come with the (first) Advent of the Messiah. Paul writes to tell them Christ has set us free from this present evil age. That means that the New Age is here!!! Compare Romans 8:1-4; Matthew 19:28 and notes. In obedience. God himself ACTED in Christ-on-the-cross!!! That is, God sent his Son, and his Son obeyed by dying to set us free!!!

Verse 5


To God! Paul is affirming the glory of God, and his “Amen” rings with faith!!!

Verse 6


I am surprised at you! Both the TEV and NIV bring out the shocked amazement of Paul. The strength of his feeling is shown by his choice of words in Galatians 1:8-9. You are deserting the one. These seem to say they are deserting Paul, but since he always seems to say it is God who calls you by the grace of Christ, this must be the meaning here. Compare John 6:44-45. Paul is saying: “By deserting the gospel I preached to you, you are really deserting the God who called you by the grace of Christ!!!”

Verse 7


Actually, there is no. “There is no other message from God! I say it this way because some are claiming that God told them to turn you to the Law of Moses.”

Verse 8


But even. “They tell you that Peter, and even I myself, preach that you can be put right with God through the Law. But even if we ourselves, or an angel from heaven (if such a thing were possible), would dare to preach a different gospel, may he be condemned to hell!” The TEV correctly brings out the emphatic curse inherent in ANATHEMA! This is not profanity, but a solemn curse from God himself! The “eternally condemned” of the NIV is also correct, but doesn’t sound as emphatic. ANATHEMA = condemned to hell = eternally condemned. Paul wants to make this as strong as possible to shock them into awareness of the horrible sin the circumcision party is doing!!! Compare Peter’s language in Acts 8:20.

Verse 9


We have said it before. He points back to warnings which Silas and Timothy, as well as he himself, have given about this in the past. Now I. Here he repeats what he said in Galatians 1:8. Some say Paul is not using the spirit of 1 Cor. ch 13 here. But this is a crisis situation! What Paul shows is a holy jealousy for the honor of God and the message of Christ-on-the-cross!!!

Verse 10


Does this sound? “I have been accused of saying whatever anyone wants to hear. Does this sound like it??? God will be my judge! If I were trying to be popular with men, I would never have become the servant of Christ!!!” [Some think still trying implies that as a Pharisee, he had tried to be popular with men.]

Verse 11


Let me tell you. “The circumcision party says I preach a second-hand gospel, which I have distorted. Let me tell you this is not true!!! My gospel has no human origin!!!”

Verse 12


I did not. “There is nothing second-hand about my gospel!” It was Jesus Christ himself. Paul is probably thinking of Acts 26:14-18.

Verse 13


You have been told. “You know all about my old life. I told you about it myself.” Paul would have to defend himself to the Jews everywhere he went. Everyone would want to know why Paul the Destroyer suddenly became Paul the servant of Christ. Nothing in his background and past would imply selfish motives for his converting to Christ!!! Perhaps it was for this very reason that the Lord allowed Paul to experience such weakness (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28), to prove to the world that he was not acting from selfish motives.

Verse 14


I was ahead. Paul had been an unusually brilliant and eager student of The Law, and probably had been a missionary of Judaism. Compare Acts 22:3-5. Traditions. Those unique beliefs which made him a Pharisee.

Verse 15


Chose me. Compare Romans 8:29-30 and notes. Paul is thinking of his unique background and training. By his birth he became at the same time, a Hebrew, a Greek, and a Roman citizen. He was educated in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Septuagint, and in all the Greek learning and literature. He was shaped by an intense, but mistaken, spiritual discipline. All of this prepared him for the day he would learn the truth and become a follower of Christ. He had all the qualities needed to be the apostle to the Gentiles.

Verse 16


To reveal his Son. To qualify as an apostle, Paul had to actually see Jesus (compare 1 Corinthians 9:1). As an apostle, Paul stands DISCRETE, and does not depend on any man for his authority and appointment.

Verse 17


Nor did I go to Jerusalem. “Those who were apostles before I was appointed did not teach me the gospel of Christ.” Since the Twelve stayed on in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), that city was the center of: Christianity; Judaism: the circumcision party. Instead. MacKnight has Paul say: “But I went away into Arabia, where there was no apostle; and having there received further revelations from Christ, and studied the (Old Testament) Scriptures by the light of these revelations, I again returned to Damascus without having seen any of the (Twelve) apostles.” As an apostle, Paul had been baptized with the Holy Spirit in the same way that each apostle had been. The Spirit taught the apostles directly John 14:26). Therefore Paul did not receive his gospel second-handedly.

Verse 18


Three years later. “Not until three years after my being made new in Christ did I go to Jerusalem to compare notes with Peter.” This may imply that Paul stayed in Arabia for three years, coming back just before the trouble mentioned in Acts 9:23 and note. Two weeks = fifteen days as Jews count.

Verse 19


Any other apostle. It seems that James, the Lord’s brother, was an apostle, but not one of the Twelve. However, scholars are divided on this. James was an important person in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18). It may be Paul affirms he only saw these two, because Jews believed ten men were necessary to form a quorum, and he wants to prove that they did not appoint him an apostle.

Verse 20


What I write is true. Paul affirms that he is in fact a divinely appointed apostle of Christ, and calls God to be his witness that he speaks the truth!!!

Verse 21


Afterward. See Acts 9:26-30 and notes.

Verse 22


The Christian churches. In standard English, both Christian church and church of Christ mean the church which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18 and notes). Paul means he was personally unknown to the messianic community in Judea.

Verse 23


They knew only. Although they did not know Paul personally, they had certainly heard of him and what he had tried to do in the past (Acts 9:1-2). Try to imagine how they must have felt when they heard Paul the Destroyer was now preaching Christ!!!

Verse 24


And so they praised God. This shows they accepted Paul’s conversion to Christ as genuine!!! This contrasts with the attitude of the circumcision party!

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.