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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Galatians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-24

Galatians 1:1. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) —

Paul begins this Epistle by stating his commission as an apostle. In Galatia, he had been subjected to the great sorrow of having his apostle-ship called in question. Does he, therefore, give up his claim to the office, and retire from the work? No, not for a moment; but he begins his letter to the Galatians by declaring himself to be “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” His enemies had said, “Paul was never one of the Saviour’s twelve apostles; he is not like those who were trained and educated by Christ himself. No doubt he has borrowed his doctrine from them, and he is only a retailer of other men’s goods”. No, no,” says Paul, “I am an apostle as truly as any other of the twelve; ‘not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;’” —

Galatians 1:2. And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: —

Paul ever loved to associate others with him in his Christian service. He was not one who wanted to ride the high horse, and to keep himself aloof from his brethren in Christ. He frequently mentions the true-hearted men who were with him, even though they were far inferior to him in talent and also in grace. He often joins with himself such men as Timothy and Silvanus, and here he puts in, “all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:” —

Galatians 1:3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, —

It is the genius of the gospel to wish well to others. Hence Paul begins the actual Epistle with a benediction: “Grace be to you and peace.” Dear friends, may you all have a fullness of these two good things! Grace rightly comes first, and peace afterwards. Peace before grace would be perilous; nay more, it would be ruinous. But may you always have enough of grace to lead you on to a deep and joyful peace! The two things go together very delightfully, — grace and peace, — and it is the best of grace, and the best of peace, since they come “from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,” —

Galatians 1:4. Who gave himself for our sins, —

There is the doctrine of the atonement, which Paul always brings into his preaching and writing as soon as he can: “Who gave himself for our sins.” Well does Luther say, “Christ never gave himself for our righteousness; but he gave himself for our sins, because there was no other way of saving us except by a sacrifice for sin.” The substitutionary character of Christ’s death is always to be noticed: “Who gave himself for our sins,” —

Galatians 1:4-5. That he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself puts away our sin in order that we may rise out of it, and may become a pure and holy people, delivered from this present evil world, and brought into obedience to the will of God. Now we come to quite another topic.

Galatians 1:6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

The Galatians were a very fickle people. Some have said that they were a colony from Gaul, — Galatians, — and that they partook somewhat of the fickleness which is attributed to the character of the Gaul. I know not how true that may be; but, certainly, they seem very soon to have left the gospel, to have adulterated it, and to have fallen into Ritualism, into Sacramentarianism, into salvation by works, and all the errors into which people usually fall when they go away from the gospel.

Galatians 1:7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

“Another gospel: which is not another;” for there are not two gospels, any more than there are two gods. There is one only message from God, of good news to men; and if you turn away from that, you turn away to a falsehood, to that which will bring you trouble, to that which will pervert you, and lead you astray.

Galatians 1:8. 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.

Paul is no fanatic, no raving enthusiast; yet he cannot endure the notion of a false gospel. In his solemn anathema, he includes himself, and all the brethren with him, yea, and the very angels of God if they “preach any other gospel.” Let him be accursed, saith he, and so he is.

Galatians 1:9. 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.

The modern style of speaking is, “Let us fraternize with him; he is a man of original thought. Surely, you would not bind all men down to one mode of speech. Perhaps, if he has made mistakes, you will bring him round to your way of thinking By receiving him kindly into your fellowship.” “No, no;” says Paul, “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.”

Galatians 1:10. 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.

He would not be the servant of Christ if he pleased men. Those whom we try to please, are our masters. If a man tries to please the populace, or to please the refined few, these are his masters, and he will be their flare; but if he tries to please his God, then is he a free man indeed.

Galatians 1:11-12. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul foresaw what would be said about him in the after ages; and truly, to this day, the fiercest attack upon Christianity is always made upon the teaching of the apostle Paul. The men who creep in unawares among us talk glibly about having great reverence for Christ, but none for Paul. Yet Paul is Christ’s apostle; Paul speaks only what was personally revealed to him by the Lord himself; and he is in everything to be accepted as speaking by divine revelation.

Galatians 1:13-14. 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: 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 was an out-and-out Jew. He never took up anything without going through with it thoroughly; so, while he believed in Judaism, he did believe it. He was no hypocrite, no pretender, so he fought for it tooth and nail. This was the man who afterwards preached the Christianity he had received from Christ, Evidently he did not borrow it from his parents, for they had taught him quite differently. His religion was not the product of his training; but it came to him from God, — to him who seemed to be the most unlikely person in the whole land ever to receive it.

Galatians 1:15-16. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

He felt divinely called to preach the gospel Christ revealed himself to him on the way to Damascus. As soon as he was converted, he did not wait for anybody to ordain him, or to teach him further, but he says, “I conferred not with flesh and blood”

Galatians 1:17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but went into Arabia, —

What he did there, we do not know; but probably he had a time of quiet meditation and prayer, all alone: “I went into Arabia.” The best thing we can do, sometimes, is to get away from the voices of men, and listen only to the voice of God: “I went into Arabia,” —

Galatians 1:17. And returned again unto Damascus.

To bear witness for Christ in the very city where he had gone to persecute the saints.

Galatians 1:18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

That is, “after three years,” which showed that he did not go there to receive any commission from Peter. He had been for three years working for his Lord and Master before he ever saw the face of an apostle.

Galatians 1:19. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

He had an interview with the apostle James. He was probably the chief minister of the church at Jerusalem, so Paul went and had a conversation with him.

Galatians 1:20. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

“I did not derive my knowledge of Christ from any one of these holy men, therefore I am not an imitator of any other apostle. I was sent out by Christ himself, and instructed by him by revelation, so I am an apostle of Christ as much as any of them.”

Galatians 1:21-22. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria, and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

They did not know him; it is evident that he had not been there to be taught by them, or else they would have recognized their illustrious pupil.

Galatians 1:23-24. But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.

Brothers and sisters, may you and I so live that Christian people may glorify God in us! May they often wonder at the mighty grace which has wrought such a change in us; and as they see us zealous and fervent, may they marvel at the amazing grace of God which has brought us to be so consecrated to Christ!


Verses 11-24

Galatians 1:11-17. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel that was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly jealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went up to Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Paul was intensely desirous that the Galatian Christians should understand that he was no mere repeater of other men’s doctrines, but that what he taught he had received directly from God by supernatural revelation. They knew that he had been a most determined opposer of the gospel. Indeed, he was a man of such great determination that, whatever he did he did with all his might; so, no sooner did God reveal Christ to him, so that he knew Jesus to be the Messiah, than he earnestly sought to learn yet more of the truth, not by going up to the apostles at Jerusalem, to borrow from them, but by getting alone in the waste places of Arabia? there, by thought and meditation upon the Word, and by communion with God, to learn yet more concerning the divine mysteries.

Galatians 1:18-24. Then after three years I went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.

This exposition consisted of readings from Galatians 1:11-24; Galatians 2.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Galatians 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/galatians-1.html. 2011.

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Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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