2:1-10 The Gospel Of Grace Results In Liberty
Memory Verse: Galatians 2:4-5
2:1-5 Paul Defends The Liberty Of The Gospel Of Grace
- 2:1 After Paul tells us about his early years in 1:16-14 he picks up here in chapter 2 starting 14 years later. At this time he went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus.
- 2:2 Paul, by revelation of God, goes to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church there. He was going to discuss the gospel that he was preaching among the gentiles and to report all that God was doing. Paul knew the gospel he was preaching was the true gospel, but there were false teachers entering the church and teaching false things. The gospel radically changed how things worked in the Jewish system, mainly that of including gentiles, but also not requiring believers to keep the law. The gospel freed people from the law, it didn’t bind them to it. Paul didn’t want there to be conflict that would cause a divide in the church because people didn’t understand the full application of the gospel. He didn’t want his ministry to be ruined because of this lack of understanding, so he met with leaders to discuss all of this.
- 2:3-4a Paul uses Titus as an example. He is a Greek not a Jew. Therefore, he didn’t get circumcised as a child like the Jewish children did. Paul says Titus wasn’t compelled or forced by anyone in Jerusalem to get circumcised after believing the gospel of grace to be seen as a real Christian. The message was clear: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. There are no external behaviors that we can add to our faith in Jesus that are required to be saved. This is where the false teachers were wrong: they believed that the new gentile Christians had to become Jewish—that is, they had to adhere to certain external cultural behaviors now that they believed in Jesus or they weren’t really Christians (legalism). Therefore, since Titus didn’t get circumcised, he warns us that we cannot add on anything to faith in Jesus for salvation (such as baptism, speaking in tongues, standards).
- The Misunderstanding: Many Jews didn’t understand the purpose of the law. They thought they could be made holy through trying to keep the law. But the law was given to show them that they couldn’t be made holy on their own. The parts of the law that dealt with offering gifts and sacrifices or deal with meats, drinks, divers washings, and carnal ordinances were imposed on them until the time of reformation—the time of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled what the law couldn’t do, make us holy and thus we don’t need the law anymore—it has been fulfilled.
- The Liberty: Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been made holy, not through the things that we do or by keeping special ceremonial laws in the Old Testament. They were given to point us to Jesus, not to do to make us holy. Now, we are in Christ, and in Him we have liberty. We are no longer a slave to the law, because Jesus has freed us from it. Therefore, we have no obligation to keep any of the ceremonials laws of the Old Testament or any Jewish traditions or cultural mandates.
Colossians 1:22, 2:16
- 2:4b-5 Paul also shows us the attitude we are to have towards false teachers. In the first chapter he tells us they should be accursed—that is because they preached a damning message they themselves should be damned. Here he says the false believers came into the church to spy on their liberty in Jesus and try to bring them back into bondage—to take away the liberty that Jesus brought and make them slaves again to the law. To these type of false brethren Paul said that he didn’t give them any of his time. Instead he guarded the gospel truth so that it would continue on unto the Galatian churches. He spent his time teaching and preserving the gospel. We should do the same. We are not to entertain those who preach a false gospel, spend time arguing with them or even give them consideration about teaching another gospel. The gospel is not up for debate and we are not to waste time debating it with those who don’t believe it. If you know someone is part of a cult or teaches heresy, then you should not give them any time (not in church, your house, small group, etc) but only declare the truth to them (if they want to listen). In this circumstance, this is a one-way conversation that only tolerates one message: faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
2:6-10 Paul’s Message And Calling Are Confirmed
- 2:6 Because Paul received the gospel by revelation, he was assured that it and the liberty that resulted from it was true. After his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem, Paul’s message didn’t change. They didn’t add anything to the message that Paul was preaching. The message was confirmed by apostles: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. But Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem to get their conformation of the message he was preaching. He was already sure of the message and position. (You can see his confidence in his tone when he talks about the other apostles. Whatever they were made no difference to Paul. He knew God shows no partiality or is a respecter of persons.)
- 2:7-9 Instead of adding to the message Paul was preaching, because he was preaching the same message that they had preached, they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. They realized that the same God that worked in Peter to become an apostle to the Jews (entrusted with the gospel of the circumcision—Jews) worked in Paul to become an apostle to the Gentiles (entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision—Gentiles). Both sides realized that there was only one gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation, but that they had different callings and agreed for Paul (and those with him) to take the gospel to the Gentiles while they (James, Peter, John, and whoever else was with them) took the gospel to the Jews. We learn a few things from their interaction: (1) There is only one true gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. (2) Unity is based on the true gospel. We need to be united and divided over the gospel. If someone preaches a false gospel we need to separate from them. If someone preaches a true gospel we should work to be united. (3) We accept everyone who believes in the true gospel, who is in Christ. There should be no racial attitudes or prejudice in the church. (4) Even in our unity we have different callings. God gives different abilities and gifts to believers to reach different peoples. We fulfill these callings and are in different locations, but we teach the same gospel, we never change it for a certain people group.
- 2:10 After they agreed to separate and each go their way preaching the gospel, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem asked one thing of Paul: to remember the poor. Paul was already willing to do this. We should also remember the poor and show mercy.
- Why did Paul go to Jerusalem?
- Why was Titus a strong example?
- What attitude does Paul have towards false teachers?
- What is the true gospel?
- What are some things we learn from Paul’s interaction with the other apostles?
1:10-24 Paul’s Life Changing Testimony
Memory Verse: Galatians 1:15-16a
1:10-12, 16b-17a Paul’s Motivation: Man Or God Pleasing?
- 1:10 Paul is challenging the Galatian churches because they have left the true gospel. He continues by sharing his testimony about how he became a believer, but first he addresses his motive. He asks a rhetorical question: “For do I now persuade men, or God?” The answer is obvious, Paul is seeking the approval of God. Paul’s tone in writing this letter shows us that Paul is not trying to get man’s approval. He has been freed by the gospel and now he lives a life that tries to win God’s approval. He ask the question another way and says, “Do I seek to please men?” Again, the answer is an obvious “No.” Paul then continues to tell them that anyone who lives to please men instead of God cannot be the servant of Christ. Believers cannot live for the approval of men. Our joy, happiness, satisfaction and salvation are all found in God alone. Our desire to live for God comes out of our gratitude for salvation. Thus Paul’s motivation was to please God and to win His approval, therefore He wouldn’t change the truth to unite and please men, but stands against false teaching to please God
- 1:11-13a, 16c-17a Paul confirms to the Galatian churches that the gospel of grace that he is preaching was received directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ—meaning it came directly from the source itself. This is important because Paul is claiming to be an apostle and this establishes his authority. Paul emphasizes: (1) He didn’t receive the gospel from any person. He wasn’t taught the gospel by any person. This gospel is not man’s gospel. (2) He didn’t come to the realization of the gospel on his own. He hated the church of God before his conversion. (3) He didn’t receive the gospel from the other apostles or believers. After his conversion he didn’t talk with anyone or go to Jerusalem to discuss it.
1:13-16 Paul’s Conversion And Calling: God’s Amazing Grace
- 1:13-14 Before Paul was converted he was an extremely religious man in the Jew’s religion. He was very zealous. He was better at keeping the rules, traditions and morals than those who were his equals. He violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He was filled with a passion to serve God but without the knowledge of the truth. He was so self-righteous and prideful through his moral righteousness that He was blinded to his need for God; and at the same time, so evil and violent that his hands were bloodied with evil works. Paul was the perfect candidate for grace.
- 1:15-16a There is only one person who could have saved Paul and that was God. God showed His grace to Paul and called him to salvation. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God that makes a way for our sins to be forgiven. Paul was completely undeserving of God’s salvation, but that is what makes it by grace. God chose to save Paul, not because he tried to keep all the rules and God didn’t reject Paul because he murdered Christians, but God called Paul by His grace because it pleased God to do so. Paul responded to the gospel call, repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. This means there is hope for you. It doesn’t matter what you have been trusting in or wether you are the worst of sinners, by God’s grace, you too can be saved. Repent of your religion, rule keeping and sin—turn from everything else and trust solely in the grace of God. He invites you to a personal relationship with Him—no religion, just Jesus.
- 1:15b Paul says that God separated him from his mother’s womb. This means that ever since Paul was conceived that God had an awesome plan for Paul’s life and everything in Paul’s life has been working towards the fulfillment of that plan. God not only has a plan for Paul’s life but also for your life. God has an amazing plan for your life. God through His grace can use you to do great things, not because you are great, but because He is.
- 1:16b Not only did God call Paul to salvation, but also called him to service. The gospel of grace completely changed Paul’s life and God wanted him to now use his life to preach Jesus among the heathen. God also wants to use your life to preach Jesus to the world.
1:16-14 Paul’s Growth: The Early Years
- 1:16c-17 Paul knew what God wanted him to do. He did not consult about his conversion or calling with any of the other Apostles because he had direct revelation from God. Instead Paul had a time of growth for at least three years before he met with the others. We are not sure what Paul did, but we know that He was ready for ministry after spending time there. God used that time to grow Paul’s relationship with Him. Even though He was religious before, he never had a personal relationship with God. God wants you to do great things for Him and He wants to do great things through you, but we have to put the importance on our personal relationship with Him. We need to spend time developing this relationship more than just focusing on the works we can do for Him.
- 1:17-19 He went to Arabia and Damascus. After three years Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and abode with him for fifteen days. He didn’t meet any of the other Apostles except for James, Jesus’ brother. Paul’s message would be confirmed by them because what He was preaching was the same as what they were preaching.
- 1:20 Paul’s testimony before he became a believer was so radical that it would be hard for other believers to believe He really converted. Therefore, he goes so far to say, “Before God, I lie not.” He wants those he is writing to, to understand how serious he is being. He isn’t trying to deceive them and infiltrate their churches to persecuted them more. He wants them to know that the glorious gospel of grace really changed his life.
- 1:21-24 Afterwards he went to the region of Syria and Cilicia. The christian churches in Judaea didn’t know Paul by face—meaning they didn’t know him personally nor what he looked like; but they did hear of Paul’s life changing testimony. They heard that the one who persecuted the christian churches in the past was now preaching the faith he once destroyed. Because of this the churches responded by glorifying God. If you are a true believer then you also have an amazing testimony. Our stories might be different but the gospel is the same. We all can say we were undeserving sinners called by the grace of God through His Son’s (Jesus) death and resurrection and today by faith we live to serve Him. Every testimony we hear of God’s grace should cause us to glorify Him.
- What was Paul’s motivation?
- What is grace?
- What is Paul’s conversion story?
- What did God call Paul to do?
- What happened when others heard Paul’s testimony?
1:1-9 The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ
Memory Verse: Galatians 1:6-8
1:1-5 Paul Introduces Himself And Greets The Churches
- 1:1a The book of Galatians opens up with the first word being the name of its author: Paul. Then immediately it gives his position: apostle. The word “apostle” means “messenger.” It refers to the twelve men whom Jesus chose to fulfill this special position which would help lay the foundation of the church. Paul at a different time than the original twelve was also chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle. This means, that as an apostle he had a unique position of authority to teach and edify the churches—they could write scripture.
- 1:1b Paul was not among the original twelve, so he felt a need to defend himself and his position as an apostle. Judas, who was one of the original twelve, forsook Jesus, because he was a false believer. This left the position of the twelfth apostle to be fulfilled. The other apostles decided they would choose another apostle. The requirement was the man would have had to been with them from the baptism of John until the day of Jesus’ accession. They picked two men who met the requirements and prayed asking God for wisdom and cast lots which fell on Matthias and he was chosen as the twelfth apostle. Paul makes it clear that him becoming an apostle was “not of men, neither by man” like Matthias was, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (who raised Jesus from the dead). He is making it clear that his position and authority is equal to that of the original apostles.
- 1:2a Paul includes those traveling with him (all the brethren which are with me), showing they are also in agreeance with what Paul is going to write.
- 1:2b The audience of the book of Galatians is the churches of Galatia. The province of Galatia was a region of central Asia minor. This letter then was written to the local churches located in that region. It is assumed then that this letter would circulate among the churches there to address the problems address in this book.
- 1:3-5 Paul greets (grace be to you and peace) the churches with the gospel of grace. This type of greeting shows us four things: (1) The uniqueness of the true gospel—it only comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) The message of the gospel—Jesus gave himself for (in our place) our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. We need to realize that we are in a helpless condition because of our sin and we need to be rescued. Only Jesus can rescue us. (3) The motivation of the gospel—it is all according to the will of God. He decided to love us and send Jesus to rescue us, not because we deserved it but because of grace. Thus He is worthy of glory for ever and ever. (4) Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ—the bases of their relationship is rooted in the same God and the same gospel. The gospel is the foundation of fellowship. Paul wishes nothing more than they understand and continue in the grace and peace offered through the gospel.
1:6-7 Paul Introduces The Main Problem
- 1:6a Paul marveled that the Galatian believers were so soon removed from the true gospel. He even says that they have deserted God who called them into the grace of Christ. Thus Paul here is clarifying what the true gospel is: God calling a person to the grace of Christ. The grace that Jesus offers is the payment for our sins by his death on the cross and power to be declared righteous through His resurrection. It is “by grace” because He is offering us something that we don’t deserve. We have no merit to offer God for our salvation, but Jesus will give us His merit if we accept it through faith. Thus the true Gospel is by grace through faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
- 1:6b-7a The Galatian believers turned to another gospel. But there is no other gospel. Any change to the true gospel, whether you add too it or take away from it, will change it into a false message that can only condemn. Accepting this as the only gospel may be extremely hard. It might sound prideful. But the reason this is the only true gospel is because it is the only gospel by grace offered to man by God himself. All other “gospels” are “gospels of works”—meaning they teach the way to become righteous includes works. This gospel of Jesus is truly unique—meaning it teaches the way to become righteous is through faith alone (excluding works). Understanding the uniqueness of the gospel motives us in all we do: (1) our individual salvation depends on it; (2) the salvation of others depend on it because we will be proclaiming it; (3) we can’t live for our selves but live for the glory of God for this great gift of salvation He has given to us.
- 1:7b The reason the Galatian believers turned away from the true gospel was because there were some people who had entered the church and started giving them trouble. They wanted to confuse them. Their teaching perverted or reversed the gospel of Christ. Instead of teaching the true gospel which says, “Not by works of righteousness, but by faith alone in Jesus for salvation,” they wrongly declared, “not by faith in Jesus alone, but also by works of righteousness for salvation.” They taught the believers to put their confidence in their own works instead of the works of Jesus.
1:8-9 Paul Introduces The Punishment Of False Teachers
- 1:8a-9a Paul warns Galatian believers against false teachers who preach a false gospel. Paul even says that it doesn’t matter what authority a person claims or who the person is (including him, the other apostles, an angel and every else in-between) if they change the gospel of grace as deliver by Paul and the Apostles then they should be accursed. Paul makes the statement so strong that if he ever changed his mind he would be a heretic.
- 1:8b-9b Thus Paul is making the highest standard or the basis for understanding what truth is and for evaluating who is a real teacher from God—all based on the truth of the gospel as it was originally delivered (that which we have preached unto you / that ye have received). This true gospel is that standard that declares if a person is a true or false believer, a true or false preacher, a true or false church. The apostles don’t verify the gospel, but the gospel verifies them. Today, the standard is the same.
- 1:8c-9c Finally, the punishment that Paul say for those who preach a false gospel is “to be accursed” which literally means “let him go to hell.” They preach a message of condemnation, thus they themselves will be condemned.
- Who is the author of Galatians?
- How does the author greet the churches?
- What is the main problem the author introduces?
- What does the author warn against?
- What is the punishment for false teachers?