Churches of Galatia
Galatians 1:1-10. Using today's thermology, Paul is not a happy camper. The gospel message Paul preached in the churches of Galatia and his character are under attack. Judaizers, professing to be true followers of Christ came from Jerusalem and were telling the followers of Christ in the churches of Galatia the teachings of Paul were incorrect and he was a liar because he based his calling on a revelation of the glorified Christ on the road to Damascus.
Introduction to churches of Galatia
In his introduction of the letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul makes it very clear his apostleship and his coming to the churches was not through the agency of men but through Jesus Christ and God the Father of Jesus Christ.
Paul closes his introduction with an apostolic benediction, "Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father--to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." Grace includes God's good will and His good work of redemption through Jesus Christ, and peace implies the inward comfort that comes from God to the true followers of Jesus Christ. We need to note in the benediction, mercy comes first and then peace, for there can be no true peace in the heart of the follower of Jesus Christ without the grace of God.
Like a true follower of Jesus Christ, Paul cannot move on in the writing of this letter without giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, "who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father--to whom be the glory forever and ever." Like Paul, we must never get so caught up in what we are doing, even if it is working in the harvest field of the Lord, we forget Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice to make atonement for us.
Justice of God
We must never forget the justice of God requires the full penalty for disobedience be paid, and Jesus freely submitted to the paying of the penalty for all mankind. His sacrifice on a cross outside the walls of Jerusalem, not only redeemed us from the wrath of God and the curse of the law, but also delivers us from the corruption that is in the world and rescues us from the evil practices and customs of the world to which we are enslaved. This present world is an evil world because of man's rebellion against God and the rejection of His love that was revealed in the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross.
Closing his introduction, Paul gives the reason for writing to the churches in Galatia.
In verse six and seven, Paul tells the Galatians, "I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different "good news"; and there isn't another "good news."
What is the good news
What is the good news Paul is referring to? The good news Paul refers to is not the penalty for sin has been paid in full by the shedding of the blood of Christ on a cross and His resurrection, this was stated in his introduction. The good news Paul refers to is the good news justification is by faith only. The different good news that Paul says isn't another good news is the adding to the good news justification is by faith only the Mosaic Law.
The Judaizers were claiming it was necessary the Galatians, who were mostly Gentiles, be circumcised before they could receive the gift of justification. The Judaizers were not denying the gospel of Christ, they were adding to it; they were altering what Paul and the other apostles preached and taught. Paul, in this letter, makes it very clear when man adds to the gospel of Christ he perverts the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ preached by Paul and the other apostles was complete; adding to the gospel denied its perfection, alters its character, and corrupts it.
In this letter to the Galatians, Paul is not referring to a doctrine that denies the doctrine he preached and taught. Paul is referring to the adding to the doctrine that he preached and taught that would make the teachings of the Judaizers more deceptive. The doctrine the Judaizers preached and taught was creating confusion and division in the churches.
In verse six, Paul refers to the gospel message preached by the Judaizers as a different gospel, which is not a gospel. There is no good news in the gospel preached by the Judaizers because it brings the Galatians, who were not under the law, under the bondage of the law.
In Galatians 1:8, Paul makes a very strong statement concerning the preaching of a gospel contrary to what Paul and the other apostles have preached "let him be accursed." Note in verse eight Paul said even if an angel from heaven preached a gospel contrary to what Paul and the other apostles have preached he is to be accursed. The angel Paul refers to is a deceiving spiritual being. What Paul is doing here is putting down the claim made by those who claim they have received a doctrine that is contrary to Paul and the other apostles preached from a messenger sent by God. In verse nine, Paul said, "if any man preaches to you any "good news" other than that which you received, let him be cursed."
Paul uses these strong words because he is dealing with a situation he considers a life and death struggle. The Judaizers were challenging the foundation of the Christian faith. Paul did not condemn the Judaizers because they opposed him; he condemned them because they were enemies of the gospel.
In the first nine verses of Paul's letter to the Galatians, we see a man with a broken heart; he is filled with sorrow for a people who were rejecting the doctrine of justification by faith only for a doctrine of faith and works. Paul's heart was filled with sorrow because he knew the rejection of the doctrine justification by faith only was causing those who rejected the doctrine of justification by faith only to drift away from the teachings of the apostles and worst from the One who gave Himself for their sins. Rejecting the doctrine of justification the Galatians were rejecting the blessings and privileges purchased by Christ. They were rejecting reconciliation with God, eternal life, and the joy and peace that comes with an intimate relationship with God and His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Doctrine of justification
The doctrine of justification by faith and works as taught in local churches today is the gospel message preached and taught by Paul and the other apostles, it is the different gospel taught by the Judaizers in Paul's day that goes beyond what the Judaizers were teaching and preaching. The merit salvation taught in local churches is not the gospel of Christ. Jesus said the poor in spirit is blessed because theirs is the kind of heaven (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit are those who realize there is nothing they can do to receive the blessing promised them. They are spiritually bankrupt. There is nothing they can offer the Lord in order to gain their freedom from bondage in the kingdom of Satan; their only way out of bondage is faith in Jesus and His sacrifice made on Calvary.
Justification is a judicial act by God. All humanity stands before God guilty. However, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the blood He shed is accepted as payment for the penalty enacted for humanity's rebellion against their Creator. There is an old so-called outdated song that asks the question, what would you give in exchange for your soul. You have nothing that you can give in exchange for your soul.
There comes a time when we must follow Paul's example and speak out against those who are leading millions away from the truth and Christ. In this present evil age, multitudes are living in darkness because false prophets and teachers are deceiving them with a different gospel that is not really a gospel. Instead of tolerating the dangerous practices that exist in far too many local churches by those who hide behind a pulpit we need to identify them and denounce their evil ways. This does not mean we are to declare curses upon them or condemn them, it means we must condemn the doctrine they are preaching and teaching and point the lost to the real source where the love of God is revealed and deliverance from the bondage of sin and death is found.
Paul asked the questions, "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?" Paul was not seeking the favor of men, he was seeking the favor of God; can we do anything less. Paul was not striving to please men and he gives the reason why he was not striving to please men; "For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn't be a servant of Christ." If we are a true servant of Christ we will stop trying to please men and strive to please our Lord Jesus Christ.
Quotes from World English Bible unless otherwise noted