1:1 Paul [the author of the letter], an apostle [means “one sent forth”] — sent not from men nor by man [Paul denied that his calling was from any human source], but by [the true source of authority for his office] Jesus Christ [Paul affirmed that Jesus Christ called him to be an apostle] and God the Father, who raised him from the dead —
Note: What distinguished an apostle from other Christian leaders? First, an apostle was personally called by Jesus Christ to carry the gospel (1 Cor. 1:1). Second, an apostle was an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 9:1; Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8). Third, an apostle produced spiritual fruit (1 Cor. 9:2).
1:2 and all the brothers [unidentified traveling companions, possibly Barnabas and Titus] with me, To [Galatians written around A.D. 49 or 50, sometime after first missionary journey] the churches in Galatia [a geographical area in Asia Minor]:
1:3 Grace [God’s special favor made available through Christ; use of word significant because the Galatians were questioning and even denying the sufficiency of God’s grace] and peace [the result of accepting God’s grace] to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Note: Those who depend on works, rather than grace, for salvation can never know peace because they can never be certain when they have done enough works to merit salvation.
1:4 who [a reminder of Christ’s role in God’s plan of salvation] gave [voluntarily and sacrificially] Himself for our sins [our sins made His death necessary] to rescue [deliver from great danger] us from the present evil age, according to the will [this redemptive plan is according to God’s will] of our God and Father,
1:5 to whom [God] be glory [praise for God’s work in rescuing human beings through Christ] for ever and ever. Amen.
Note: Reflecting on what God has done for us through Christ should lead us to praise Him.
The occasion for Paul’s letter.
1:6 I am astonished [dumbfounded; utterly astonished and deeply disappointed] that you are so quickly deserting [a military term that means “revolt”] the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to [embracing] a different [“another of a different kind”] gospel [turned from the gospel of grace to embrace a contradictory gospel based on works] —
Note: Galatians is a testimony to Paul’s concern for his friends. What responsibility do Christians have for the spiritual welfare of their friends?
1:7 which is really no [not the same gospel they had received from him] gospel [good news; gospel of the Judaizers was “bad news” because it could not bring salvation] at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion [to “agitate, stir up, and confuse” — describes the impact of the false teachers on the Galatians; those who are spiritually immature can be easily thrown into confusion by false teachers] and are trying to pervert [disturb or distort] the gospel of Christ.
Note: The word “pervert” means “to turn upside down or to reverse.” The false teachers sought to reverse the gospel of grace by stressing the necessity of works for salvation. Any teaching that seeks to add to the work of Christ is a perversion of the gospel.
1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, [Paul pronounced a divine curse on anyone guilty of perverting the gospel of Christ by adding to it or subtracting from it] let him be eternally condemned [Gr. anathema, refers to something that has been devoted to destruction]!
1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again [Paul repeated warning of v. 9; issue important to Paul because eternal welfare of many souls at stake]: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned [anyone guilty of twisting and perverting the gospel is destined for destruction]!
Note: There cannot be two gospels — one centered in grace and another in works. We must be discerning. Sound doctrine is the best antidote to false doctrine. We must evaluate every message about Christ on the basis of sound doctrine. When the truth of the gospel is at stake we must not give our ground to false notions.
1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men [Paul accused of making salvation too easy for Gentiles], or of God? Or am I trying to please men [by not requiring circumcision]? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ [Paul would have remained in Judaism if he were interested in pleasing men].
1:11 I want you to know [Paul wanted to make clear an important matter], brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up [the gospel Paul preached did not have a human source].
1:12 I did not receive it from any man [the divine message was not passed on to Paul by any human messenger], nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ [the gospel Paul preached had a divine source].
1:13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
1:14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
1:15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased
1:16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,
1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
1:18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
1:19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.
1:20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
1:21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.
1:22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
1:23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
1:24 And they praised God because of me.