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Week One: 1:1-9 Salvation Presented, And Questioned By Life
Paul is writing to churches in the Roman province of Galatia. The book is identified as Pauline by all but one liberal school of thought. Many identify Galatians as the standard by which all of Paul’s writings are judged. The experts use this to compare all his other work to as they study.
I might suggest that there is no indication that this should be the case, however the fact that the Law is past being the basis of the book, this basis is true for the whole of the New Testament as well.
Some identify the people living in this area as Gallic, others as Gauls.
There is much discussion whether the churches were in the north or the south. Chapter four indicates that he was sick while in Galatia originally thus most agree he wouldn’t have traveled to the remote north, and it was usually his practice to stay near the well traveled roads and byways.
Since the Scripture is silent on the specific churches we are left to speculate. At any rate the churches would have welcomed news from the man that had founded them in their new spiritual life.
Most see him planting these churches on his second missionary journey and that the letter was written sometime during his third journey.
There also is a lot of discussion on the date of writing, though this is normally linked to whether the letter went to Northern or Southern Galatia. Most conservative people date it at 49-50 A.D.
The opposition to Paul is mentioned in each chapter of the book. (see 1:6-7; 2:4-5; 3:1; 4:17; 5:7-12; 6:12-13) He seems to single out one particular individual (3:1; 5:7, 10), can you imagine being that individual sitting in the church when this letter was read? The tension must have been thick as the earth’s surface, and the temperament of the individual must have been that of a stream of lava rushing to the surface!
One must wonder what this individual and his followers went through in the following days after the letter was read.
Dr. Constable in his online commentary quotes a source with a description of the apostle. I include it only for your interest, for it is likely flawed. It comes from the second century so is a hand me down description at best. "The earliest physical description of Paul we have comes from a second-century apocryphal writing. It described Paul as "a man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel." Since Paulus means small, that portion of the description may be accurate.
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Gee, I wish Paul could be clear about what he means here. He is so vague about why he thinks he is an apostle :-) Well, vague is not the word - VERY CLEAR seems to be the term. He is laying out his apostolic authority immediately and very clearly. He is an apostle by authority of Christ and God the Father, not any mere man. Indeed, he is an apostle by authority of the God that raised Christ from the dead - just in case there is any doubt about the power of this God to make him an apostle.
It seems also that this reference to the resurrection might be a deliberate call of the reader’s attention to where we are in the overall plan of God - we are now post cross, operating in the aspect of grace - not the law.
The term "by" indicates a personal face to face relationship to the appointment. The Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary calls Christ the "immediate operating agent" in the call of the apostle. It is clear in the book of Acts that his call was the idea of God, not the vote of man.
You might want to take a quick look at the first verses of Paul’s other books to see how he introduces himself.
1. Might one application be along this line? If someone comes to you with another gospel, let them be accursed - it doesn’t mean you are to discuss, argue, or coddle them into the gospel - "LET THEM BE ACCURSED." Give them the gospel if you like - that would be good, but drop it at that and allow them your leave - depart - don’t encourage - move away from them.
It seems to me that Paul feels these are confirmed in their error and that they will not change from their false doctrine. This false doctrine, by the way, is of their own making, not God’s. They chose to reject God’s truth and add their own methods to what they retained of the truth. Sound’s rather like a cult to me.
2. What a responsibility each of us has, not only for ourselves, but for our families if we have one. It is our responsibility to watch every moment for false teaching that creeps into the lives of those we love and be assured that they do not retain that false teaching.
Years ago we were in a church that had a young seminarian as pastor. He was a great preacher and we often discussed his good sermon points on the way home.
As time went on, the seminary’s effects began to show. Toward the end of our time in that church we found we were talking to the kids more and more about the error that we had heard in the message. I felt that we were undermining the pastor, but it was his own error that required it. It was quite encouraging to see toward the end that the kids were picking out the error and were able to bring them up in our discussions after church.
See to it that you protect those that God has placed in your care.
This requires something from the father/husband - paying attention to what is going on in the service, what is going on in the Sunday school classes, and what is going on in the youth groups. You’d better be discussing all of these areas with your children/wife as you go through life.
Not only in the church setting, but beware what your family is exposed to in their relationships with the lost world.
all areas of life
3. We touched slightly on how we glorify God, but let’s take a further look at this. Just how, in this life, can we glorify God?
a. Living a separated life so that those around us know that we follow Him and honor Him in our everyday life.
b. Giving of your material blessings - He gave you all you have so why not give a little back to Him to bring glory to Him?
c. Use your spiritual gift. The gifts were given to train the church for the work of the Lord, and through this we glorify Him. We acknowledge that we are gifted by Him and that we want to serve Him in this manner.
d. Children glorify God by being obedient, wives glorify God by submitting to your husbands, and husbands glorify God by loving your wife and raising the children in a proper manner.
e. As a church we glorify Him in all we do - at least that is the plan. In our worship services, in our Bible studies, in our potlucks - all should be done to shine forth upon Him.
f. In our personal relationships with the lost - all we do should reflect upon Him that has saved us, Him that has equipped us, and Him that has blessed us.
4. It seems that Paul is very serious about this - he even exaggerates to emphasize the seriousness of what he is saying. He says, even if an angel comes, even if an apostle comes to you, even if I come to you with another gospel - and then he repeats the end result of the false teacher twice when he brands them as accursed.
If he was this serious about it in the first nine verses, don’t you think that it ought to be a very high priority with you in your personal life and/or your family life? If not, then you are to be warned of impending danger to yourself and to your family.
Many are the broken families in the church - families that accepted the standards of the world, families that trusted deficient teachers and preachers for truth in their working with the family.
The church’s divorce rate is equal to if not worse than the worlds - we bought what we were hearing in the media and what we weren’t hearing in the pulpit. If we are trusting false teachers for our marriages, then surely we are trusting them for our child rearing and our personal spiritual lives.
Indeed, are we not trusting our salvation in some cases to the fluff and muff of the feel good preaching of our day? We have lost people coming into our congregations and hearing how they can fluff and puff their way through the spiritual life - what they aren’t being told is that the fluff and puff life usually ends in a big poof or explosion somewhere down the line.
5. There is a term in verse two that in today’s society may need some explanation. Church. Today there are some that suggest this term means local assemblies of believers and nothing else. Others suggest that there are local assemblies that are local representations of THE CHURCH the body of Christ or the universal church.
Those that reject the teaching of the universal church are quite serious in their doctrine. So serious as to limit the ordinances to those of their particular local church or at best those that are members of another local church of their persuasion.
I have seen in their writings that they believe that there are other believers, that there are dead believers, and that there are the believers in their particular churches. They do not, however recognize the universal church - that teaching which recognizes all believers, of all faiths, of all times. Now, realize both sides recognize the existence of all these believers, but one sees this assemblage or faith as the body of Christ and those that reject the universal church teaching do not recognize all believers as belonging to one body or church.
Christ told the people that He would build his church - singular, not plural, thus we know He had a universal concept in mind as well as the local outworking of that one body.
6. It is of note to many that most of Paul’s epistles commend the believers he addresses in some way, but the Galatians received none, thus indicating this man was on a serious kick to communicate something quickly and completely.
They say you can take a lot from what isn’t said. It would be obvious to most that Paul is not really top notch proud of the way these people are living.
Does that give rise to how a pastor/teacher should communicate with his people - especially when they are living incorrectly? I think the real sin in the church today is due to the lack of the people being told that they ought not be doing what they are and telling them what they ought to be doing when they aren’t.
We attended a church for the first time and the pastor really blasted the people for the way they were living their lives in the neighborhood. He ended by mentioning the broken window that the church had experienced that week. He said something to the effect of the following, "Those people that broke out that single window should have broken every window in this church, maybe then you would have gotten the message that things need to change here."
I called him later in the day and asked him if he still had a job. He had laid it on the line - he had called the people up short on their sin. Oh how this is needed in our churches across the country!
7. Consider the false teachers. They know who it was that planted these churches - Paul himself. They may even have known Paul personally. They considered his teaching and found it lacking, they considered his life and found it lacking (else why would they devalue his message), and they considered their own understanding and assumed they were superior in teaching to Paul.
How did they move from knowing a man of God and his message to rejecting that message and dreaming up their own gospel and then teaching that gospel fully knowing that it was counter to what an apostle had taught?
How did they make those decisions? How did they come to such conclusions? How did they justify placing themselves above one that was appointed by the Lord Himself?
Know two things. First there are those today that will set themselves up as above the pastor and church leaders. Secondly, know that there must be a quick reckoning or else false doctrine will spread quickly through your assembly.
Know one more thing. In our society, be very careful to consider the claims of one that questions pastoral leadership. Many pastors in our country need to be questioned. Don’t reject a detractor just because they are detracting, but consider what is being set forth and compare it to the Word - then make a decision based on the Word.
8. To conclude this section I would like to share some information that I found in a commentary by Robert Deffinbaugh where he quotes Harold Bussell and his book Unholy Devotion: Why Cults Lure Christians. (Galatians: The Gospel of God’s Grace; Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M.; Deffinbaugh@bible.org; Biblical Studies Press; 1998 )
Deffinbaugh via Bussell relates a truth that is not uncommonly held by many others that cults often are spawned by the orthodox protestant community. This is true via observable facts of history.
Bussell lists some of the men that had roots in normative Christianity that found themselves leaders of cults. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church was raised in a Presbyterian home. Jim Jones of the People’s Temple, the group that committed mass suicide in South America was not only a pastor of a Disciples of Christ church and had at one time attended a Nazarene church. David Berg, the head of the Children of God was raised as a believer and was associated with a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. Paul Wierwille the founder of The Way came from reformed roots. He goes on to tell that Mary Baker Eddy and Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were both reared in Christian homes.
There are other minor cults that have leaders with similar backgrounds.
I trust that the church realizes the urgency of excising these aberrant teachings immediately before they spawn other isms and cults. The church can’t stop all of it, but stopping it in the early stages and warning the believers will be a good start to stopping the growth of false teaching.
This atmosphere of acceptance of all the philosophies of our day into the church has had its detrimental effects to be sure. Humanism is strongly entrenched in the church’s thinking even though we on the surface say we abhor its teaching. Indeed, it has replaced Godly principles in many cases.
Bussell suggests that though doctrine is usually critically different between truth and a cult, that the practice is often similar. I would go a step further and suggest that most of the cults, in their living, are more Scriptural than most churches. They are loving, caring and accepting communities that want to minister to the needs of those they contact.
Yes, you can say my church is that way, but really, is it? I have observed so many churches today that are closed to any outsiders coming into their midst. They may be tooth baring greeters, and they may even have their greeting times, but seldom is there any further contact with one that might wander into their midst.
There are others that push away new people with their hobby horse doctrines that don’t really assist anyone that might want to fellowship with them. If you don’t buy their hobby horse, you will certainly hear about it every service, and you might even get a double dose of it if you attend two services.
To finish this study I would suggest that Deffinbaugh has a seriously long study of Acts 15:1-41 and its relation to Galatians if you are interested. It can be found at http://www.bible.org in the Bible study section.
I might suggest that if you haven’t been to this site you should give them a visit. It is a real work of love and a work that is outstanding in its effort to make information available to the believer. Some of the studies are geared to pastors but there is much to be gleaned by the layman as well.
He draws from this passage a definition and the characteristics of a cult. In short the cult is a group that thinks that they are truth and the only truth, usually brought to them by the leader. All others are damned. This is quite true. Most also from my experience are defective in the deity of Christ and/or the Trinity.
9. I would that we understand something about the Roman Catholic church. They seem to be part of our Christianity, or so our leaders are telling us, but as you consider what relationship the Roman church has with Protestants in general remember some of the following information. Also as you see great comings together of the Romans and the evangelicals, remember some of the following information. (Comings together as THE PASSION movie by Mel Gibson, a truly Catholic movie that was seized upon by millions of evangelicals and put millions of dollars in Gibson’s pockets - nothing against him - great marketing!)
Many popes have reaffirmed in one way or another the declarations of Trent, or as we should view them the anathemas against us by the Catholic church. Gibson, during the turmoil over the movie admitted that he agreed with the issues of Trent.
The current Pope declared at the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Trent that all their declarations were of value.
In 1566 the church listed the approved doctrines of Trent and they included the rejection of salvation by faith alone, the teaching that Christ’s presence was in the Eucharist, that the elements of communion were symbolic only, that the host is not to be adored and praised, and that the only requirement for salvation is faith in the work of Christ.
Pope Pius IV (1559-1565) declared a summary of the Council’s findings and declarations.
In this summary he restated that one must adhere to the seven sacraments, one must believe that the sacrifice in the Eucharist is propitiatory for the living and the dead, that the body and blood are substantially within the Eucharist elements as well as the soul and divinity of Christ. One must also believe in purgatory and the assistance of the faithful to those contained there in.
If this isn’t enough to suggest evangelicals ought not buy the flurry of catholic ecumenism, one must also believe that the saints that are reigning with Christ are to be prayed to and that their relics must be venerated. Humm, if you want to venerate my hair you’d better get some quickly :-)
You must hold to the ever virginity of Mary and that images of Mary and Christ are to be honored and venerated. You must hold to the whole system of indulgences, as well as swear obedience to the Roman Pope. (This rather tightly relates to the supremacy of the Roman church over all other churches.)
The acceptance of the findings of councils is to be considered truth and all other teaching is to be anathematized as heresy and rejected.
I don’t know how we are to relate to a church that teaches that the basis of salvation is other than faith in Christ work. I don’t know how we can CO-OPERATIVELY work with a system that rejects the basics of our faith, in any form whether to evangelize or any other work.
Some work with the Roman church on the anti abortion plain - this even seems to be a disgusting union that is based on mutual disrespect and disagreement - how does this look to the lost that knows that the Roman church has anathematized the Protestants - how foolish can they think the Protestants are?
And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Here we see a departure from Paul’s other introductions. In others he names the people that are with him, but here he simply mentions the brethren. It seems that he might want to draw the attention of the reader to him and his authority and not muddy the waters with what others might have taught, while calling attention to the fact that ALL that are with him are in agreement with what he is about to say.
We see that this book was written to the churches in Galatia. We don’t know how many churches there were, but to all that are in the area.
We need to remember that we aren’t talking about a dozen church buildings where believers gathered on Sunday to worship with four hymns, prayer and a sermon, but these were gatherings of believers meeting where they could. Many most likely met in homes when they had opportunity. Many on Sunday, but I’d guess since some believers were slaves the meeting opportunity may have been limited, and at varied times of day.
Paul was writing to believers that were struggling to make ends meet financially while attempting to raise families in ruff situations - while witnessing for their Lord and Savior. We say we don’t have time to witness, but our lives are much less complicated than theirs I’d guess. If our lives are too complicated to share the Gospel, then we are allowing too much into our lives.
One further aspect of this verse is worth exploring. "brethren which are with me" seems to jump out at me in our present day. Here is an apostle, a leader and teacher of the church that is ministering where he can - and he has other men with him assisting him in his ministry.
Some would say, "So what?’’ Consider the many pastors you have known in your life - how many of them have other men assisting them in the ministry? Many have boards that do some of the work, but there are few that allow other men to "minister" with them. Many pastors will hardly turn their pulpit over to a missionary for twenty minutes, much less turn it over to another man in the church for a series of studies or a few messages.
We, in our modern church have nearly eliminated lay preachers from our minds. Men that know the word, men that know the Lord, men that love the Lord, men that want to serve the Lord and men that ought to be ministering in our churches.
I had the privilege of filling in as pastor for a Bible church in the mid-west. I talked with one of the men several times about ministry and ideas for running a church. One of the things he told me was that he had a real burden to teach the Word, and to minister to people, but he just didn’t feel that he had the talents or abilities to minister to people on a personal level such as visitation, counseling etc.
He was sitting on the side-line in Christ’s church because the church has boxed all people into categories. We have closed people out of ministering when God has gifted them to do so.
I personally identified with this man because this is true of my own situation in life. I am gifted as a teacher and helper, but I do not work all that well with people on a personal basis, thus I have basically nowhere to minister in the modern church.
What would be wrong if we had men that ministered the Word from the pulpits and lecterns and others that ministered to the personal needs of the folks? Nothing, in my mind, indeed, it seems from the Word that this is how God set things up in the first place.
Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ,
The term translated "grace" is the normal term for grace, but many limit it to mean something that is given that is not deserved, and that is a good definition when used of Salvation and a gift, but this is a much broader term. It is Strong’s number 5485 if you’d like to look it up for the complete listing. It can mean that which gives pleasure, joy sweetness, charm and delight.
The term here that is translated "peace" has the thought of the lack of turmoil - turmoil of war, of strife of argument, thus we might surmise that there were some heavy feelings about this teaching that Paul is about to embark upon.
Years ago we were in a situation where we were asked to take on a certain ministry. We began getting advice from some, while others started telling us what to do. We had our own ideas that did not relate to what we were being told.
We were in great turmoil as we knew what God had laid on our hearts, but yet the church people were telling us to do differently. We discussed the situation and of course decided to follow the Lord’s leading.
We braced for the fire storm - which never developed - no person came to us to confront us or give further advice - what peace we had knowing that God had given us the ideas and that He had provided the peace to face what would come - even though nothing came - peace - that which the believer needs to find in God rather than the dictates of man.
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
"Who gave himself for our sins" - the term gave is of note - it relates often to the giving of or granting of, thus indicating Christ offered Himself to the crucifiers, He granted them the opportunity to take His life. 1 Timothy 2:5 "For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
The term translated "sin" has the thought of missing the mark. The term is the Greek word "hamartia" which is the term from which we gain the name for the study of sin in theology "Hamartiology." It seems to have the thought also of knowing the mark and aiming for the mark but at the same time missing it. It isn’t that man doesn’t know God’s standard, it is that he decides to reject that standard. We know where the mark is, we know how to hit the mark, but we choose to miss the mark and strike our own mark.
"Deliver us from this present evil world" The term present is in the perfect tense indicating that this was and is and ever will be an evil world right up to the end of it. The world will not have its good days and its bad days, it will always have only bad days. It isn’t a good world now and then, it is always and ever will be an evil world.
Now, to apply that to our everyday life, we might consider that the lost world is against God and as a result against believers. We are to understand this so that we can operate in a manner consistent with God’s will.
"According to the will of God and our Father" Here we see a great truth. God the Father determined the path of Christ during His time on earth. God willed that Jesus go to the cross for sinful men. This also shows a hierarchy within the Godhead. God planned it and Christ completed it. There is a subservience of Christ to the Father’s will - Christ was not less than God, He was equal to, but subservient to the Father.
To whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I would assume this is one of the passages that would back up the thought that we will be giving God glory for all eternity. Not necessarily will we be verbally glorifying Him constantly, though that will be part of it, but mostly we by our presence with Him will be a glory unto His name forever - we are purchases of His to display for all eternity, we are examples of His grace for all eternity and we are examples of Christian living on earth for all eternity.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
It isn’t a large surprise that these new believers were led astray, but that they were persuaded by another gospel. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be sidetracked or to take on another life after accepting the Gospel, but to be taken in by a false gospel is not that common.
When first a believer, I was not discipled and for about five years I continued on in my normal course of life not knowing of the Christian life. I entered the Navy and became a typical sailor.
After several years the Lord turned me around and I began to learn of Christianity and its requirements. During this time I was confronted with other spiritual overtures, but none made any sense to me nor did they have any draw.
The word translated "removed" has the idea of something taking the place of another or substituting one for another, thus the thought of leaving Christ and following another gospel. These folks were leaving the gospel of grace, and replacing it with a gospel of another sort - in this case a gospel of works.
Our calling to salvation is shown here to be a one time calling, an aorist tense is used - called at a point in time, not something that continues on and on every time you hear a stirring message, but once and for all time we are called into the gospel that brings us to Christ.
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Paul seems to be confused - he says they are taken away to another gospel, but it is not another gospel. So, how is that? I think what he is saying here is that they thought they were called away from the gospel of grace to another gospel, a gospel of works. However, in truth there is no other gospel than the gospel of grace, so the gospel of works is not really a gospel.
If this is what he is saying, then apply that one to our society today. How many ways are there to heaven? One, through the gospel of grace, and you can label all other gospels as gospels not being gospels - all are false teaching, and false gospels.
He goes on to explain that the people that they are listening to are PERVERTING the gospel of Christ. Their gospel was not true - it was a perversion of the true gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ is pure and simple, but these Judaizers were perverting that simple and pure gospel by adding requirements to what God had set for the ages before the foundation of the world.
Humm, does that seem a little arrogant to you - someone looking at the gospel that God set down before the foundation of the world and saying it isn’t quite good enough - I think we have to work a little for it as well - in essence, God isn’t able to define and institute a gospel that can save, but we - those that need to be saved - know what is lacking and we can supply it - I hope that sounds ludicrous to you for indeed it truly is ludicrous for man to be able to assist God in his own salvation.
These will "trouble" you - or cause commotion within, to disquiet, to strike with fear, or to render anxious or dreadful. This word describes well the emotions of one that has accepted the gospel of Christ, and has been given teaching that brings into question that simple and pure gospel.
One that questions their salvation, is often fearful of loosing their salvation, anxious about how they are living their life - afraid that they are disappointing God. In reality many brought up in the 50-60’s Bible belt environment were as described - fearful and anxious about their salvation and their life before God. Many questioned whether they were even saved, many thought they were total failures in their Christian lives.
The cure to all this fear was to stop listening to that inner voice that troubles you - that voice of doubt in the God that said He had saved you. He designed it, He instituted it, and He delivered it to you and you sit in your arrogance and question whether He did it right or not! Please, have confidence in the God that called you unto Himself for His own glory.
Please, also do not allow a mere man or mere book bring total upset to your soul when they try to add to the requirements that have already been met for your salvation - God did it all and no matter what someone tells you, HE DID IT ALL and YOU CAN DO NOTHING TO ASSIST HIM - NOTHING. He did it in the past and it is complete, so how in the world can you do anything to help in the completed process? You simply and unequivocally cannot.
The thought of the word "troubled" is the exact opposite of the term translated peace in the previous verses. They were taking away the peace that the Gospel can give to the soul. They were causing turmoil in the lives of the believers when they should have been enjoying peace and tranquility.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Oooops, sorry Mormon readers - that was God speaking, not me!
I had a professor in graduate school that loved puns, so he was one of my favorite professors. He read this passage once as follows: "But though we, or an angel, (affectionately called phony Morony) from heaven, preach any other gospel...." Neither he nor I mean any disrespect to the Mormon follower, but would wish to point out that if you have even an angel from heaven telling you that what is recorded in the Word is not the complete gospel, let HIM BE ACCURSED.
Anyone that adds to the Word of God is accursed. This applies to all that follow traditions, confessions, versions, etc. that are over and above the Word. Many today set tradition, books and teachings above the Word of God - these are accursed according to Paul.
I have seen reformed people that do not really teach that the confessions are above the Word, but they practice it. They speak of teaching their confessions to their families, rather than teaching them the Word of God. Indeed, their gospel at times seems to be another gospel, for they seem to require following of the creeds as the standard of acceptance rather than the obedience to the Word.
The term "heaven" is used of the sky, the universe or the dwelling place of God. In this context it would indicated God’s dwelling place, in that the angels have access to all, but dwell in the same place as God Himself.
As a complete side note, take a few moments and contemplate the life of an angel, able to transit from God’s throne, though the galaxies, through the atmosphere and to earth - how much like those wonderful dreams when we fly above the ground and go where we will to and fro with little if any effort - this is the normal life of the angel - and just why would an angel turn against God and give all this up to follow Satan - another topic of contemplation!
Some fine points from the verse:
1. The preaching of another gospel is a present tense as opposed to the gospel preached by Paul which is an aorist. The gospel of Christ was preached once and they accepted it, but this false gospel is continually being preached to them.
Once and for all your salvation was sealed at one point in time. To sway you from that truth takes persistence - don’t allow persistence of error to rob you of truth.
2. The language used here is of interest. Loosely translated it runs along this line: But though we, or an angel from heaven, EVANGELIZE unto you than that which EVANGELIZE unto you let him be accursed. The American Standard version states "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema"
The force of this is that these people are attempting to evangelize just as Paul had evangelized them - equal force is the thought - as I evangelized you so they are evangelizing you - even though they appear to be as I - though they seem to be concerned with your spiritual health - let them be accursed. In essence isn’t Paul also implying that the Judaizers felt that the people were lost and in need of their gospel - that without Christ and the Law, they would be lost to hell? I think that is the direct implication.
Now, such language - this Paul ought not be so mean and rude to these people, after all they have my best interest at heart and he is telling me they are accursed. Where does he get off being so judgmental? Does this sound like some you have run into? Paul says these that mislead, these that teach falsely, these that would remove you from your peace, and these that would substitute the gospel of grace are accursed!
I suggest we use the same tactics that Paul used - call these false teachers what they are - accursed. The Mormon’s that mislead are accursed, they are not part of Christianity, they are not just another way to God, and they are accursed.
Those that would have you work for your salvation are accursed.
Those that would have you do more than accept Christ are accursed.
Those that would have you replace the work of the cross with works of your own are accursed.
I think that is plain enough for now!
3. The term translated accursed is the Greek word "anathema" which means to put under a great curse. The Net Bible ends this verse with the thought of condemned to hell. A footnote suggests that not only is the curse in view but the result as well. If the person is accursed, they are definitely on their way to eternal punishment.
Paul uses the same term again in the next verse when he restates his curse. The word is also used in the following texts.
Acts 23:14 "And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul." I won’t comment on the priests and elders but this might be a little exaggeration for effect on their part. They had sworn to not eat until they killed Paul. To them a noble effort, to God a foolish effort, but I’m sure they wanted him dead - not just sure they would have starved to death if they couldn’t have killed him.
Romans 9:3 "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:" Here we see the word used in the reality that if it were true it would result in hell for the one accursed. Paul would give himself up to hell if his brethren - the Jews - could be saved.
1 Corinthians 12:3 "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Again, we see the thought of the one accursed ending in hell (not that Christ could).
1 Corinthians 16:22 "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha." Here as in the last three verses the result of the accursed is hell. The word is not translated here, just presented in its original Greek form.
A moment of application if we might. Paul tells them that the Judaizers were accursed - they are trying to live by keeping the law for salvation - they are on their way to hell, so anyone trusting in keeping the law is damned. Remember that. Indeed, it would seem that trusting anything but the blood of Christ for salvation is trusting the wrong thing and places the person on a fast track to eternal damnation.
A sincere warning to anyone trying to keep the law or any list of do’s and don’ts to gain salvation - you won’t be able to based on Paul’s teaching here. Consider carefully what you trust for salvation, since only the blood of Christ will do. If you want to work and/or keep something feel free to do so as a way to please God, but don’t you dare expect salvation from it.
4. Even if Paul or the apostles come teaching - don’t you believe them. No matter what they say, if they preach another gospel than the one preached originally - don’t you believe them.
Application: Question ALL you read and hear and trust nothing unless it lines up squarely with the Word of God. Even if it comes from a trusted friend, a trusted teacher, a trusted preacher, or a trusted acquaintance, don’t you accept it unless you first compare it to the Word of God.
As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Ahhhhh, Paul realizes some need to have warnings repeated - some just don’t listen carefully when Paul speaks so he adds a little emphasis. I say again! Get it this time if you missed it the last time - let the person that preaches a different gospel be accursed. I don’t think there was any doubt in Paul’s mind as to what he wanted to say.
Week Two: 1:10-24 Paul’S Account Of His Qualifications To Present Truth
If you will remember in the pervious study, we saw that Paul was rather put out at the people for setting aside the gospel plainly given to them, for one that would call them unto and under the law. He is not particularly appreciative of the false teachers either, as he says let them be damned.
In this section he continues on by being rather plain of tongue as he reminds them that this gospel that he had taught was not of his making, but that it was the simple truth from God Himself - not an arrogant statement of who he was, but rather a plain and simple statement that they hadn’t forsaken his gospel, but that they had forsaken God’s gospel.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
A simple statement that if Paul made people happy he then would not be serving Christ. Now, that is a mouth full from the man that should know. This man spent time with Christ, this man spent time walking the earth preaching Christ, and this man served only Christ.
What is the truth he conveys? If you are pleasing the lost, you aren’t serving Christ. Another way is to say if you are pleasing the lost you aren’t pleasing Christ.
My, how I would shudder if I were one of those pastors that had poled his community to see what they liked in a church and then designed a church to meet the "likes" of his community. They are pleasing the lost, thus one must wonder how they are pleasing Christ.
Ought we not see what Christ says about doing church and pattern our ministry after his thoughts rather than the thoughts of the lost? Do you think? This is not to say that these pastors don’t have numerical success, financial success, and at times even seemingly spiritual success, but how successful are you if you please not Christ?
I might make further comment - the term translated "please" relates to make excitement, and another phrase the Lexicon suggests is "to accommodate oneself to the opinions, desires and interests of others" - now if that doesn’t describe many today I don’t know what would. They mold themselves into whatever they think the lost might respond to so that the lost will feel comfortable in the church.
I think enough is said to make it clear that we ought to please and serve Christ and not our community. Many try to make their worship service palatable for the unbeliever. I suggested to one congregation that was only a few blocks from a large Catholic church and was surrounded by many Catholic families, that if we used this concept we would have to have mass on Sunday mornings - not an option that would please God, so why would having church the way pagans feel comfortable please Him?
Well, maybe just one more observation from this verse before we move on. It is obvious that pleasing men is in stark contrast to being the servant of Christ. The term translated "servant" has a very interesting contrast to be added to our discussion. It means to give up ones interest to another, or devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest. In relation to Christ, it is placing oneself to naught and doing all for Him. The contrast here is that these pastors are giving up their own interest to the lost, instead of to the Lord.
1. Consider the statement of Paul’s where he declared that his gospel was not according to man. Can you imagine someone preaching something of his own rather than the message of God? Consciously deciding that he is not going to teach the truth of Scripture and setting about to assemble his own method of saving their soul.
What arrogance to think your attempts to gain salvation are better than those laid out in the Scripture.
Just imagine for a moment that you decide the Bible is wrong, that you believe there is a God and you want to please him and find salvation. What would you set to paper as worthy to accomplish these goals? How would you begin? What steps might you take? What works might you include?
Take a few moments and consider what you might decide your way of salvation might be.
My, how frustrating that would be to try to set a format toward salvation. An added frustration would be to try to communicate this format to others, to attempt to convince others that what YOU say is TRUTH.
Of course no one is going to sit down and make a list and start preaching it as truth as is implied above, but they are going to gradually grow into believing their interpretation of the Bible is the proper one.
This makes the point very clearly that we need to be a part of a local assembly that is going to be watchful over us. The pastor needs to be watched over as well as the people. Both need the common goal of seeking what the Scriptures say. Not to say that the church has final authority over your interpretation, but that they keep you straight in what you do with it.
Where is that line between my interpretation of the Bible and the churches interpretation of the Bible? We know what has been taught through the centuries, thus if we start to come up counter to that we need to seriously consider where we are going in our use of the Word.
Those that have gone off into cult mode surely gave some indication as to their deviation from truth before they were wholly gone off into error. If they had been part of a church that was watching over the sheep maybe someone would have seen this and could have changed the thinking that caused heresy.
On the other hand when you come to feel you are Biblically counter to the norm, how long do you stay within the norm? It is a difficult road to travel to remove yourself from what has been the norm and go elsewhere to find a comfortable church to fellowship in.
I’ve run into many on the internet that have gone through this struggle - they are changing from where they once were to another line of thought. These normally were changing in some are of doctrine to another line of thinking such as from Dispensationalism to reform or vice versa. If they are going in a different direction than any norm of the centuries of church history then something needs to be done.
2. The fact that the believers were accepting of Paul’s conversion and preaching is good indication of how believers should react to similar situations in the church today. They were accepting of sinners born into the church, rather than standoffish and cliquish.
They not only accepted him but gave God the glory for the change in Paul’s life.
3. The fact that he was preaching in three years is of note as well - it doesn’t necessarily take seven years of college and seminary to be prepared to preach. Anyone that knows the gospel can go forth preaching it, you don’t have to have a degree to do so. Oft times the "clergy" of our churches look down upon those that would preach and teach at a very young spiritual age.
Yes, be careful of what they are preaching/teaching, but if God has called someone in salvation and called them to a ministry, allow them freedom to exercise that call and ministry.
I have said before that often is the time that I have been blessed spiritually by men that were teaching that had no formal education. They had been digging in the Word for years and their pastors saw that the depth of their plowing was more than adequate for teaching. Indeed, I have seen these men fill a pulpit better than some "trained" preachers.
There is a growing elitism in the graduates of our seminaries. They see little use for anyone that has not gone the route that they have gone. They have little use for anyone that attends a school that is not accredited by their pet accrediting association. They often are quite critical of anything but the very "best" - in their eyes of course.
Secular elitism is to be expected, the people are lost and totally self centered, while the religious elite out to know better. They act as the lost in their condemnation of all but "their" track to educated nirvana.
4. When I was in high school a pastor of a little Bible church took an interest in my worthless, hoodish, soul and saw to it that I heard the gospel. I accepted the Lord, but went into the Navy shortly after. The pastor did not explain the Christian life, nor did he disciple me in anyway - not that I would have allowed it most likely, had he asked.
I went off to the Navy for the four year enlistment and lived as if nothing had changed. I had no idea what I should be doing as a believer, so went on with my life of sin. I often wondered why God had allowed all this in my life, why save me and leave me in sin several years before tapping me on the shoulder and saying - I want you!
Reading this passage concerning Paul seems to answer that question. He was allowing me the time I needed to learn those things which would make me open to His will and His direction. Had God called me into the ministry in high school, I shudder to think what would have happened. The shock of my friends several years later when I told them I was going into the ministry was bad enough - I am not sure they could have taken it had I told them in high school. Further, I doubt that I would have answered a call at that point in my life. A call must land on fertile ears, not barren rock.
5. What was Paul doing all this time between his conversion and meeting with Peter? I am sure there may have been direct training from the Lord Himself, but I have to wonder if he wasn’t spending a lot of time reading through the Old Testament to glean the Messianic information from it - the prophecies about Messiah and what He would be like, what he would do and the result of His coming.
6. See Acts 9:1-7; Acts 22:6-10; Acts 26:12-16; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 for the rest of Paul’s life as well as the rest of Galatians. Also you might find a study of the call of Jeremiah and its similarities to Paul of interest.
7. In verse nineteen Paul mentions James the Lord’s brother. There are three main positions on this. There is the orthodox churches position that it was a son of Joseph and his previous wife, while the Roman church holds that the brothers mentioned in Scripture are children of Mary’s sister. Most Protestants feel that these siblings were just that - brothers and sisters of Christ - children of Mary and Joseph.
There is no need for the "perpetual virginity" of Mary - the fact that she had children following Christ does not detract in any way from the Lord’s virgin birth.
Mark 6:3 seems to be quite clear on the subject of Christ’s family. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."
8. The calling and ministering of Paul is not the same as that experience that other believers go through. His calling was to be an apostle, but each and every believer does have a calling and a message that we are to be availing ourselves of. Matthew 28:19-20 is a clear message to preach and disciple the lost. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen."
While we see our call in Matthew, we see further indication of our work in 2 Corinthians 5:20 "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God." Our message is salvation by faith in the work of Jesus Christ, completed and finished. 1 Corinthians 15:1 ff pictures for us the simple gospel and relates somewhat to this discussion of Paul versus the other apostles.
9. In verse ten there is a little three-letter word that is of interest "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." The word "yet" is a bold declaration of Paul against his accusers. He is no longer a men-pleaser which he had been in the past as he was persecuting the church, but NOW he is pleasing God. The Judaizers seemingly had accused him of trying to please men but giving a gospel that would be acceptable to those that he was preaching to - this was as far removed from the truth as possible. Paul was a man preaching Christ, for Christ’s glory and with no thought to his own gain or popularity.
10. Verse fourteen mentions that Paul was zealous relating to his persecution of the church. Most anyone would admit that he was later zealous of his preaching of the gospel. Zealousness is not a four-letter word. Many today suggest that anyone that is totally committed to his ministry is too zealous. God views zealousness in a positive way when it is related to serving him. There is a study on zeal online at my site if you are interested (http://www.thedericksons.com)
Paul’s life should be a challenge to our personal spiritual lives. He was totally lost and about as against the gospel as he could get, but when converted, he became just as committed to the gospel. He committed his entire life to serving God and spreading His message.
11. Not only is Paul’s conversion and following lifestyle important as an example to us, it seems to be relating as well to the argument against the Judaizers. This Paul, the man that lived and persecuted FOR the law, was converted and was preaching freedom from the law. What a picture of the difference that salvation brings to lost man. We, in our flesh, attempt to gain favor with God, but in our salvation realize that it is His grace that does the trick not our sweat and efforts.
Additionally, the Judaism of Paul’s day was about as "men pleasing" as is possible - they were doing all they did to show off to their peers. A further contrast is that Judaism did not produce righteousness of soul - it could only produce works.
I trust that some of our associations and movements today will learn this lesson. It seems that to be used in these groups you must please the men of the groups. You must agree with them, you must act like them, and you must follow them. If you fail in some of these areas, you will find that you will never pastor a church in their particular group. You will be an outsider until you conform.
This ought not be so. Even among the apostles there was a wide variety of men. Educated, uneducated, finished and unfinished, great speakers and others that are not held forth as great speakers, and yet they got along as a group.
12. The thought that believers in the churches accepted this change in Paul and accepted his preaching is proof of His authority as well. This passage just screams to the authority of Paul and seems to scream about as loud of the falseness of the Judaizers.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Paul certifies that the gospel he preached was not from man. Certify has the thought of make known the fact. It relates to assuring others of a fact. There is the idea of guarantee as well. When a company certifies something in relation to their product, they are desirous of your trust in what they say. One usually assumes some amount of guarantee with this certification.
Paul uses the term in Ephesians 1:9 in his introduction of his letter. He tells the Ephesian believers that God has made His will KNOWN to us - a revelation based on truth. The Greek word does not imply the certification idea, but does have the thought of a complete knowledge, thus certification is implied.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Imagine, if you will, anyone thinking that Paul had heard a gospel from the talk around the fire, accepted it and gone out into the world preaching it. That is what the people would have had to have believed of him to leave his gospel, the one that he declared from Christ Himself, for a gospel that had been substituted by the Judaizers.
He declares that he didn’t gain his gospel from the teachings of men, but by the revelation of Christ. The term translated "taught" is the same thought of the gift of teaching - the communication through discourse of information - the emphasis is on the teaching of man to man. This is held in stark contrast to the revelation or revealing of information from God Himself to Paul personally. The term translated “revelation” is "apokalupsis" a related term to the title of the Revelation of John - indeed, the very same word is used in Revelation 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John:"
The book of Galatians was probably the first book Paul wrote, so predates the Revelation to John by many years, but we can know that the gospel Paul taught was received from the same Christ that revealed the future to John many years later.
Paul now launches off into his resume, as he lays ground work for his authority to preach the gospel that he preached. He tells them that he is an example of the Grace that he so clearly preached, that he was chief of all sinners and yet God reached down and touched his life in salvation. He continues to illustrate what he has just said, that he was preaching a gospel from Christ Himself, not men.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Conversation has the thought of way of life. It is used of the wife that might win her husband by her conversation. They knew what he was like when he was out arresting Christians and hauling them off to prison. They knew of the hate that he had for believers, for Christ and Christianity.
It is not a misuse of terms when he says "in the Jews’ religion" - he seems to contrast a "religion" with his present gospel. He divorces completely the "Jews’ religion" from his belief in Christ. This would be a direct dig at the core of the teaching of the Judaizers. They were teaching that you had to mix the Old Testament Jewish concepts with the new teaching of the Messiah.
Note also for the purpose of application - Judaism is a religion in contrast to true Christianity which is a life style and relationship with Christ. We need this distinction in our witness to the world in our day. We aren’t sharing the Baptist religion, the evangelical religion or some other "religion" we are sharing the gospel that Paul shared with the Galatian people, the shed blood of Christ on the cross and his resurrection.
You can go to the early part of Acts to see the persecution that he mentions. Acts 7:58 pictures Stephen’s clothes being laid at the feet of Saul when Steven was stoned. In 8:1 it states that he consented or agreed with Stephen’s death. In 8:3 we read "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison." Then in 9:1 just before his conversion we read. "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."
And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
He doesn’t leave the former life alone - he continues to lay out what kind of a Jew he was - a good one - one that was "exceedingly zealous" of the teachings of the Jewish fathers. He followed the traditions of his sect most zealously and profited in the religion - he prospered in what he was doing, even over and above his equals in the sect.
He was a Pharisee according to Acts 23:6 "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men [and] brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." and in 26:5 "Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."
Again we see this strong statement of "the Jews’ religion" as if he is driving home a point a second time.
I would be remiss if I did not point out the obvious point here that some make profit in religion. We know that some of the media hucksters do quite well with their efforts, some more than their equals on the air. we also know that many in the liberal isms of Christianity do the same, but we might take a moment to seek application closer to home.
Some preachers today make a killing at the work of the pastorate. I don’t say these words lightly. They are taking more home than many big executives. I saw an article on the pay packages of preachers in the evangelical camp and while there were many being abused by their churches in the lack of the support given, there were many that were abusing the Lord’s treasury by what they were giving to tickle their itching ears.
Pay package to many seeking a church is the prime information they seek when considering a church. They want to be sure the pay package is sufficient to their desires before going into what the needs of the church might be or the desires of the leadership.
True, finances must be a part of the equation, but when someone finds a friend has gotten a better pay package than he and becomes down in the pockets about it I think there is something askew and it isn’t the price of eggs in China.
Yes, I am biased, yes, I have had a unique situation in my life, but I don’t think I have ever decided on a ministry because of the finances. I don’t even recall considering finances except for one situation where we were going on missionary support - we knew we would have a certain pledged support and if it all came every month we thought we would be able to make ends meet with the Lord’s help - based on that assurance of mind we considered all other details having set finances out of our minds.
We have never relied on the giving of the people we ministered to for support, we have always relied on God to supply the needs via work, and the giving of the saints. Usually my full time work was adequate to the need though God certainly supplied extra along the way from His people which made our life much easier.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called [me] by his grace,
The term translated "pleased" is used in Matthew 3:17 at the baptism of Christ "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This must indicate that God was pleased - well pleased in relation to His Son.
When? When it pleased God. Not before, not after, but when - God has a plan, and it is on schedule no matter what we do, no matter what the world does, no matter what the Devil does - God is on track with His desire and plan for the ages. What a comfort that ought to be when things aren’t going well, when we seem out of control, when all the world is against us - we have Him on our side and His plan for us is steady and on course.
Years ago I found a little greeting card with a haggard little man with the whole world on his back, and he is saying to his bedraggled wife "I guess it’s you and me against the world!" At that time it was quite fitting for our life. It continued to say something like "And personally I think we are going to get creamed!"
Those days were long, haggard and lonely, but we knew God was on our side and that all would come to pass in His time.
Note. The time of God being pleased wasn’t when Paul was born, not when he was converted, and not when he was in the wilderness with Christ, but while he was yet in his mother’s womb. A note of realization might be in your mind. From the womb Paul was called, but it was after he was mature that he was actually called, it was after he was high up in the Jewish religion that he was actually called, and it was after he was a persecutor of Christians that he was actually called - think of the implications here.
God had His mark on Paul in the womb, but he allowed Paul to go his natural course by himself for many years before marking him with salvation. He allowed sin to run its course in Paul’s life so that he would truly and fully understand the grace that he was receiving in salvation.
So it is with many believers - He allows sin to have its reign over them, but ultimately saves them for His own glorious use. I have met many that were saved late in life and all were bent on following God to the best of their ability. Not, that people saved in their childhood or their youth can’t be just as dedicated, but many are not.
When a person sees sin running rampant in their life, it is easier to see grace when it is coming down the road and it is easier to be open to yielding your life to the Lord and His plan.
"Separated" has the thought of divide off, one way to translate it is to divide off from others with boundaries. There is not only the thought of separation, but also a thought of isolation from. God had separated this man from the womb - had isolated him for His own purpose.
This was a separation that Paul did not know about, nor sense in any way. This is obvious from his reaction on the road to Damascus when he met the Lord. He didn’t act as if he expected any of this apostle stuff - he was out persecuting Christians with a vengeance, why would he think forward to the time that he would be one of them.
He was separated for the purpose of God and when it was time to go to work for God his sin was stopped in its place and he became the servant of God that he had previously been destined to be.
God "called" the apostle to His service in the womb. God not only calls, but he separates his ministers to the ministry that He has planned for them. The passage mentions the purpose of this separation and calling - to reveal His Son to the world.
The person called to the ministry is to reveal Christ through his/her life - not make big bucks, not make a big name, and not make a huge church --- reveal Christ in your life - that is what you are called to do and nothing more. What God does with that revelation in people’s lives is His business - it is your business to do it.
This believer must admit that in later life the pulpit filling and interim pastorates had stopped coming his way. There was a long time when great question was in mind. Why have you stopped using me Lord? Then one day a light bulb moment awakened stupid from his stupor. All my life I have said if I had my perfect choice of things to do in life it would be to study and research for others.
The dawn enlightened a foggy mind to the reality that with all this retirement time on the hands of one trained to study and research that it might be that God has changed His methodology and wanted some study and research put down in writing to assist others in their ministries.
A number of books have come forth from this minor redirection. Be open to what God might want to do in your life, maybe you can connect with His best a little quicker than slow one did.
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Preach to the heathen or the gentiles. Preach is a term to show the giving forth of good tidings - the preaching of the good news. He was separated to this ministry, he was called to this ministry and as soon as he knew of this calling, and the good news, he went forth to do as he was directed.
He didn’t seek out man for guidance, he sought out God. What a truth for those called today - so many are out there seeking council from man when they should be in their prayer closet holding audience with the Person that can really direct them, for it is only He that knows the direction the person is going.
How outrageous for a man to attempt to direct another man in his coming ministry, when only God Himself knows what He wants the man to do! How out of step with reality is that?
Yes, seek the counsel of godly men, but see to it that it is just counsel, not direction. Seek knowledge of situations and seek knowledge from the wise men that have gone before, but seek your direction from God and only God.
(The term flesh can relate to the meat on your bones, or it can relate to the type of spiritual person that you were before salvation. I think Paul was relating to the meat side of the term since it is related also to blood. Dr. Thomas L. Constable suggests, and quite possibly rightly so, that it relates to more than just flesh and blood, but also to the wider concept of humanity. Paul did not go to mankind would be his thought. He suggests the following references to back up his line of thinking. (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:29)
The phrase "reveal his son in me" can also be stated "reveal his son to me" since the preposition can be translated either way. The context is the determining factor. Most translations go with "in." "To" seems to be the better easy reading, though I don’t know that it makes a lot of difference. Both are equally Biblical in concept in my mind.
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Paul did not go to man for direction, and he did not go to the apostles. It would seem from that statement that he realized the apostle’s importance, and possibly even their authority, but did not seek that option of direction but went into Arabia. I suspect that this was a twofold decision. I suspect that he knew this confrontation with Christ was a life altering deal and that if he was going to do this he had better get the best information possible - from the Lord - and I rather think that the Lord was directing him in a very real way - directing him in his everyday steps toward his ministry future.
Now, I am a firm believer in the authority of the local church over missionaries - not that this is the method used today in most of evangelicalism. A missionary should be under the authority of a local church for accountability, wise council and support, but when it comes to direction of ministry, the missionary must come under the authority of the one that called him - God. Yes, seek the help of your church but if the church seems to be running counter to God, be careful to follow God. Local churches have been known to falter in their direction finding for themselves and this often translates to erroneous direction for a missionary.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
Acts 9:26 mentions this visit "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple."
The Greek suggests the idea of getting to know Peter rather than to just see him. The word is "historeo" and relates to examine, to find out and to know, thus get to know Peter. The Net Bible notes suggest an even stronger usage of the word here and it is well within the meaning - to gain information. This would indicate more than a social, get to know visit and would suggest that he was there to gain some information of some sort.
Acts 22:17 was also a part of the trip to Jerusalem. " And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
Just some historical facts that again picture the fact that he was not seeking out the apostles for the sake of gaining information or direction. It seems he had direction from the Lord. He may have been consulting with Peter about what the Lord had told him, indeed, may have been relaying a message from the Lord, or at least informing Peter of his plans to evangelize.
One might draw application from the disciples standing afar off from this former persecutor of the brethren. One might say that you should be questioning of people, but others in hind sight would suggest that the disciples might have missed great blessing by not talking and welcoming Paul - not that they did not have reason to be standoffish. We should great all comers, and allow time and the Lord to show us whether there is danger or not.
Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
A clear declaration of his honesty as he lays groundwork for the authority of what he had been teaching and what he was going to teach.
Picture this for a moment - standing before God Himself, the One that is truth, the One that lies not, the One that cannot lie, the One against which all knowledge is compared for truth -- what kind of idiot would lie in such a situation :-) and Paul declares that even in that situation he would tell the truth. I would have added, especially in that situation I would not lie.
In a sense he is swearing before God that he speaks the truth.
Oh, that all Christians would have this attitude toward truth. Many today lie at the drop of a hat - they lie as if it was an integrated part of their nature. I have seen believers lie when the truth would have been a better course.
The term "behold" calls a special attention to what he is going to say. He really wants them to get this message and get it as clearly as possible.
Let that phrase ring loudly in your ears the next time you are tempted to lie, tempted to deceive another person, or even God.
Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in me.
He was not recognized by the believers of Judea - since he had evidently not been there. The believers in the churches had heard of his conversion and of his preaching and gave God the glory for the transformation in his life.
My what an encouragement that must have been to the apostle, to know that some of the churches that knew well of his persecution of believers were now accepting of his conversion and his preaching and were giving God the glory for this wonderful change in a not so nice man.
Now, if I understand the sequence of things here we have him several years after conversion visiting Jerusalem and Peter - we see that the apostles don’t trust him, yet when he goes out into the world believers have heard of him and glorify God due to what they have heard. Now, one must wonder what the church folk had heard that the apostles hadn’t. There must have been a bit of a communication gap between the two geographical areas or the apostles weren’t as trusting as the common believer.
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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter