- This letter is one of Paul’s first works in his early years of being a missionary. The letter is characterized by expressions of intense feelings, demonstrations of concern as a pastor, and warnings of serious consequences. It is a reliable Pauline writing in his classic style written somewhere in the late 40’s AD, after Paul’s first missionary journey through the region of Galatia. Most scholars conclude that Paul wrote this defense of freedom in Christ before the Jerusalem Council since there is no mention of it precedence in the letter (Acts 15). It would be logical for him to use this item if it had been yet decided by the church authorities. Included here in Galatia would be cities of Asia Minor such as Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. We know these places had some strong reaction to Paul’s message of Christ (Acts 13:50; 14:2, 19) and apparently some Jewish Christians entered these areas and began to teach the believers in Christ that they must submit to Jewish law. This strict adherence to Mosaic rules was a false teaching that is at the heart of Paul’s message to the converts in Galatia. These false teachers are known as Judaizers, and their teaching is known as “legalism.”
-The doctrinal section of Galatians teaches that believers are accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works (2:16). Paul explains to them that God had not given the Mosaic law as a means of justification but to prepare them for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ (3:23-24). He places the work of the Holy Spirit as the power that allows for believers to keep God’s perfect law and walk in righteousness (5:5). Therefore, Paul fights a monumental battle, which maintains the free gift of God for salvation apart from works of the law. *Application* We can then see this book as a literary coherence in its thematic contrasts: the true gospel vs. a false gospel, faith vs. works, law vs. grace, liberty vs. legalism, sonship vs. slavery, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit vs. the desires of the flesh. Ponder these issues as you read Paul’s letter to the Galatians
-After his staple introduction and greetings that upheld his apostleship directly from God through Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected to eternal life, he proclaimed peace and grace upon the readers and a quick theology on Christ’s work. Paul then quickly pronounces his astonishment with the Galatians turning away from the truth he had delivered to them about Jesus Christ to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). Some had come and troubled them with a distorted gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:7). The apostle is quick to pronounce his anathema on these deceivers claiming that even if we (his team) or an angel from Heaven should preach a contrary gospel, let them be accursed by God (Galatians 1:8-9). *Application* This reminds me of the false teaching in our time with the Morman cult. A so-called angel from Heaven came and gave a different revelation about Christ that we see in the ancient Scriptures and has led many down the wrong road theologically. Deception is real and must be recognized with all diligence and vigilance. Paul takes a strong stand against false teaching and so should we. Heaven and hell depend on it.
-Paul makes a phenomenal statement: “For am I seeking the approval of man, or of God (good question to ask ourselves, right?)? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).” *Application* What a strong message we need to meditate on here. Our natural desire is to please man and we do want to live peaceably with each other as an admonition of Scripture (Romans 12:8). However, there come many points in our life when we must choose to fear and obey the Lord rather than man in the directional pull that is upon our lives (Acts 5:29). Take the stand that the Lord wants you to take. Have courage to do the right thing and leave the results up to God. He will take care of you. Depend on His strength and protection. Abide in His will. You are His servant bought with a price (1 Corinthians 7:23).
-Paul now develops his call and authority in the Lord by recounting his testimony with his readers in Galatia (Galatians 1:11-24). His emphasis is on how it was solely the Lord’s work in him that has given him his apostleship and that he did not rely on man, but Jesus Christ’s revelation (Galatians 1:12). *Application* There is nothing like hearing from the Lord and knowing that you are sanctified and called out for a specific purpose in His will. In order to understand that will, there is simply no other substitute for quality and extended time in His presence. Take the time for solitude with God, like we see that Paul did. You will have purpose and direction from Him alone that nobody can refute! Seek the approval of the Living God. Let nothing else suffice.
Verses to Memorize- Galatians 1:10, 12