By Allen J. Huth, President of the Ezra Project |
Let’s look at the first chapter of the Book of Galatians. But first, let’s get a little background on the Book of Galatians. It’s one of the earliest writings of Paul, dated around 48 A.D., which is only about fifteen years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The theme of Galatians is that believers do not have to become Jews or follow the outward ceremonies of the Law of Moses. New Christians are to live in the guidance and the power of the Spirit. Galatians is about freedom in Christ, but not license to sin. Now for Galatians 1:
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
I would like to use the ADDBIBLE® format for Galatians 1 by referring to three of my daily Bible reading journals. The one I wrote in 1999, another one in 2008, and more recently in 2012. I have journaled my daily Bible reading for over 30 years, and I’ve read the Book of Galatians at least 18 times in the last thirty years. So, let’s get started on Galatians 1.
In 1999, I wrote, “Paul defends his credentials in the opening sentence, “…not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ.” He also gives God glory in his greeting. He then gets right to the point. Why are you Galatians turning away from the Gospel so soon? There is one Gospel. It’s simple, but not easy. Man wants to complicate it with religion; Paul is trying to keep it pure.”
I continued writing, “Paul clarifies that the Gospel he preached came directly through Jesus Christ, not man. That’s why he knew it to be absolute truth. After Jesus converted Paul, he went to the desert for three years, not to seminary or to Peter. Jesus formulated Paul’s message. He then went to Jerusalem to meet Peter and James. Then he headed back out into the field.
In 2008, when I read Galatians 1, I kind of personalized it a little more. I wrote, “Paul, not sent from men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father. Do I believe that about myself in the Ezra Project and the Gideons? If so, I better take it way more seriously.” And then I wrote on, “If anyone preaches the Gospel contrary to the true Gospel, he is to be accursed!” That’s according to verses 8 and 9.
There’s a lot of false Gospel being preached today and believed today. It should be accursed. God set apart Paul “from my mothers’ womb” (NASB, verse 15). Do I feel that way about my calling? Again, if so, I need to take it way more seriously.”
A few years later, in 2012, I wrote, “Probably the earliest New Testament writing. Galatians. Before 50 A.D. Within 15-20 years of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul identifies himself as an apostle, which means one who was sent. Not from man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father. Those are his credentials. Jesus Christ ‘Gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age’. That’s verse 4. Paul is ‘astonished’ that the Galatians are so quickly deserting the one true Gospel, not that there is another one.
Much of Christianity today is deserting a Biblical gospel for a different gospel. Paul says, “Let them be accursed” (verse 9). The true Gospel may not please men, but it’s still the unchanging true Gospel. We need to please God, rather than men, and stand for the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I think it’s pretty clear that Paul is saying, I’m “…astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Verse 4). That’s the general theme of this book. And, as Paul states,
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Those are two good themes to think about today. Where did you receive the news about Jesus Christ? Where did you receive your Gospel? Is it man’s view or is it a Biblical view?
Lord Jesus, teach us Your one true Gospel. And help us not turn aside to any other Gospel but the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Teach us Lord. In Your name, we pray. Amen.