Galatians Chapter One
The epistle to the Galatians sets before us the great source of the afflictions and conflicts of the apostle in the regions where he had preached the glad tidings; that which was at the same time the principal means employed by the enemy to corrupt the gospel. God, it is true, in His love, has suited the gospel to the wants of man. The enemy brings down that which still bears its name to the level of the haughty will of man and the corruption of the natural heart, turning Christianity into a religion that suits that heart, in place of one that is the expression of the heart of God-an all-holy God-and the revelation of that which He has done in His love to bring us into communion with His holiness. We see, at the same time, the connection between the judaising doctrine-which is the denial of full redemption, and looking for good in flesh and man's will, power in man to work out righteousness in himself for God-in those who hindered the apostle's work, and the attacks that were constantly aimed against his ministry; because that ministry appealed directly to the power of the Holy Ghost and to the immediate authority of a glorified Christ, and set man as ruined, and Judaism which dealt with man, wholly aside. In withstanding the efforts of the judaisers, the apostle necessarily establishes the elementary principles of justification by grace. Traces both of this combat with the spirit of Judaism, by which Satan endeavoured to destroy true Christianity, and of the maintenance by the apostle of this liberty, and of the authority of his ministry, are found in a multitude of passages in Corinthians, in Philippians, in Colossians, in Timothy, and historically in the Acts. In Galatians the two subjects are treated in a direct and formal way. But the gospel is consequently reduced to its most simple elements, grace to its most simple expression. But, with regard to the error, the question is but the more decisively settled; the irreconcilable difference between the two principles, Judaism and the gospel, is the more strongly marked.
God allowed this invasion of His assembly in the earliest days of its existence, in order that we might have the answer of divine inspiration to these very principles, when they should be developed in an established system which would claim submission from the children of God as being the church that He had established and the only ministry that He acknowledged. The immediate source of true ministry, according to the gospel that Paul preached to the Gentiles, the impossibility of uniting the law and that gospel-of binding up together subjection to its ordinances and distinction of days-with the holy and heavenly liberty into which we are brought by a risen Christ, the impossibility, I repeat, of uniting the religion of the flesh with that of the Spirit, are plainly set forth in this epistle.
The apostle begins, at the very outset, with the independence, as to all other men, of the ministry which he exercised, pointing out its true source, from which he received it without the intervention of any intermediate instrument whatsoever: adding, in order to shew that the Galatians were forsaking the common faith of the saints, "all the brethren which are with me." Also, in opening the subject of his epistle, the apostle declares at once, that the doctrine introduced by the judaisers among the Galatians was a different gospel (but which was not really another), not the gospel of Christ.
He begins then by declaring that he is not an apostle either of men or by man. He does not come on the part of men as though sent by them, and it is not by means of any man that he had received his commission, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. It was by Jesus Christ, on the way to Damascus; and by the Father, it appears to me, when the Holy Ghost said, "Separate to me Barnabas and Paul." But he speaks thus, in order to carry up the origin of his ministry to the primary source of all real good, and of all legitimate authority.  He wishes, as usual, to the assembly, grace and peace from God in His character of Father, and from Jesus in His character of Lord. But he adds here to the name of Jesus, that which belongs to that character of the gospel which the Galatians had lost sight of, namely, that Christ had given Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil age. The natural man, in his sins, belongs to this age. The Galatians desired to return to it under the pretext of a righteousness according to the law. Christ had given Himself for our sins in order to take us out of it: for the world is judged. Looked at as in the flesh, we are of it. Now the righteousness of the law has to do with men in the flesh. It is man as in the flesh who is to fulfil it, and the flesh has its sphere in this world; the righteousness which man would accomplish in the flesh is directed according to the elements of this world. Legal righteousness, man in the flesh, and the world, go together. Whereas Christ has viewed us as sinners, having no righteousness, and has given Himself for our sins, and to deliver us from this condemned world, in which men seek to establish righteousness by putting themselves on the ground of the flesh which can never accomplish it. This deliverance is also according to the will of our God and Father. He will have a heavenly people, redeemed according to that love which has given us a place on high with Himself, and a life in which the Holy Ghost works, to make us enjoy it and cause us to walk in the liberty and in the holiness which He gives us in this new creation, of which Jesus Himself, risen and glorified, is the head and the glory.
The apostle opens his subject without preamble: he was full of it, and the state of the Galatians who were giving up the gospel in its foundations forced it out from an oppressed, and I may say, an indignant heart. How was it possible that the Galatians had so quickly forsaken him, who had called them according to the power of the grace of Christ, for a different gospel? It was by this call of God that they had part in the glorious liberty, and in the salvation that has its realisation in heaven. It was by the redemption that Christ had accomplished and the grace that belongs to us in Him, that they enjoyed heavenly and christian happiness. And now they were turning to an entirely different testimony; a testimony which was not another gospel, another true glad tidings. It did but trouble their minds by perverting the true gospel. "But," says the apostle, reiterating his words on the subject, "if an angel from heaven, or he [Paul himself], preached anything besides the gospel that he had already preached to them, let him be accursed." Observe here, that he will allow nothing in addition to that which he had preached.
They did not formally deny Christ; they wished to add circumcision. But the gospel which the apostle had preached was the complete and whole gospel. Nothing could be added to it without altering it, without saying that it was not the perfect gospel, without really adding something that was of another nature, that is to say, corrupting it. For the entirely heavenly revelation of God was what Paul had taught them. In his teaching he had completed the circle of the doctrine of God. To add anything to it was to deny its perfection; and to alter its character, to corrupt it. The apostle is not speaking of a doctrine openly opposed to it, but of that which is outside the gospel which he had preached. Thus, he says, there cannot be another gospel; it is a different gospel, but there are no glad tidings except that which he had preached. It is but a corruption of the true, a corruption by which they troubled souls. Thus, in love to souls, he could anathematise those who turned them away from the perfect truth that he had preached. It was the gospel of God Himself. Everything else was of Satan. If Paul himself brought another, let him be anathema. The pure and entire gospel was already proclaimed, and it asserted its claims in the name of God against all that pretended to associate itself with it. Did Paul seek to satisfy the minds of men in his gospel, or to please men? In no wise; he would not thus be the servant of Christ.
 Not "of men" what calls itself the clergy would freely admit, but not "by man" they cannot. It strikes at the root of their existence as such. They boast its descent from man, but (it is remarkable enough) none from Paul, the true minister of the assembly, and, where most insisted on, from Peter, the apostle of the circumcision. Peter was not the apostle to the Gentiles at all, and, as far as we know, never went to them.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Galatians》
The apostle Paul asserts his apostolic character against such as lessened it. (1-5) He reproves the Galatians for revolting from the gospel of Christ under the influence of evil teachers. (6-9) He proves the Divine authority of his doctrine and mission; and declares what he was before his conversion and calling. (10-14) And how he proceeded after it. (15-24)
Commentary on Galatians 1:1-5
(Read Galatians 1:1-5)
St. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was expressly appointed by him, consequently by God the Father, who is one with him in respect of his Divine nature, and who appointed Christ as Mediator. Grace, includes God's good-will towards us, and his good work upon us; and peace, all that inward comfort, or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us. They come from God the Father, as the Fountain, through Jesus Christ. But observe, first grace, and then peace; there can be no true peace without grace. Christ gave himself for our sins, to make atonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to this he freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinite greatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appear plainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by no means be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He that considers these things well, understands that sin is a thing the most horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, and make us afraid indeed. Especially mark well the words, "for our sins." For here our weak nature starts back, and would first be made worthy by her own works. It would bring him that is whole, and not him that has need of a physician. Not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also to recover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we are naturally enslaved. But it is in vain for those who are not delivered from this present evil world by the sanctification of the Spirit, to expect that they are freed from its condemnation by the blood of Jesus.
Commentary on Galatians 1:6-9
(Read Galatians 1:6-9)
Those who would establish any other way to heaven than what the gospel of Christ reveals, will find themselves wretchedly mistaken. The apostle presses upon the Galatians a due sense of their guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; yet he reproves with tenderness, and represents them as drawn into it by the arts of some that troubled them. In reproving others, we should be faithful, and yet endeavour to restore them in the spirit of meekness. Some would set up the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corrupted Christianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, every one who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospels than that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering to self-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, are devices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the moral law as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroy true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for justification on good works, whether real or supposed, is as fatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for good works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of Christ's righteousness, and not to advance any thing which may betray others into so dreadful a delusion.
Commentary on Galatians 1:10-14
(Read Galatians 1:10-14)
In preaching the gospel, the apostle sought to bring persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. But Paul would not attempt to alter the doctrine of Christ, either to gain their favour, or to avoid their fury. In so important a matter we must not fear the frowns of men, nor seek their favour, by using words of men's wisdom. Concerning the manner wherein he received the gospel, he had it by revelation from Heaven. He was not led to Christianity, as many are, merely by education.
Commentary on Galatians 1:15-24
(Read Galatians 1:15-24)
St. Paul was wonderfully brought to the knowledge and faith of Christ. All who are savingly converted, are called by the grace of God; their conversion is wrought by his power and grace working in them. It will but little avail us to have Christ revealed to us, if he is not also revealed in us. He instantly prepared to obey, without hesitating as to his worldly interest, credit, ease, or life itself. And what matter of thanksgiving and joy is it to the churches of Christ, when they hear of such instances to the praise of the glory of his grace, whether they have ever seen them or not! They glorify God for his power and mercy in saving such persons, and for all the service to his people and cause that is done, and may be further expected from them.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Galatians》
 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul, an apostle — Here it was necessary for St. Paul to assert his authority; otherwise he is very modest in the use of this title. He seldom mentions it when he mentions others in the salutations with himself, as in the Epistles to the Philippians and Thessalonians; or when he writes about secular affairs, as in that to Philemon; nor yet in writing to the Hebrews because he was not properly their apostle.
Not of men — Not commissioned from them, but from God the Father.
Neither by man — Neither by any man as an instrument, but by Jesus Christ.
Who raised him from the dead — Of which it was the peculiar business of an apostle to bear witness.
 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
And all the brethren — Who agree with me in what I now write.
 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
That he might deliver us from the present evil world — From the guilt, wickedness, and misery wherein it is involved, and from its vain and foolish customs and pleasures.
According to the will of God — Without any merit of ours. St. Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving; but, writing to the Galatians, he alters his style, and first sets down his main proposition, That by the merits of Christ alone, giving himself for our sins, we are justified: neither does he term them, as he does others, either saints," elect," or churches of God."
 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
To whom be glory — For this his gracious will.
 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
I marvel that ye are removed so soon — After my leaving you.
From him who called you by the grace of Christ — His gracious gospel, and his gracious power.
 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Which, indeed, is not properly another gospel. For what ye have now received is no gospel at all; it is not glad, but heavy, tidings, as setting your acceptance with God upon terms impossible to be performed.
But there are some that trouble you — The same word occurs, Acts 15:24.
And would — If they were able. Subvert or overthrow the gospel of Christ - The better to effect which, they suggest, that the other apostles, yea, and I myself, insist upon the observance of the law.
 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
But if we — I and all the apostles.
Or an angel from heaven — If it were possible.
Preach another gospel, let him be accursed — Cut off from Christ and God.
 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
As — He speaks upon mature deliberation; after pausing, it seems, between the two verses.
We — I and the brethren who are with me.
Have said before — Many times, in effect, if not in terms.
So I say — All those brethren knew the truth of the gospel. St. Paul knew the Galatians had received the true gospel.
 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
For — He adds the reason why he speaks so confidently.
Do I now satisfy men — Is this what I aim at in preaching or writing? If I still - Since I was an apostle.
Pleased men — Studied to please them; if this were my motive of action; nay, if I did in fact please the men who know not God.
I should not be the servant of Christ — Hear this, all ye who vainly hope to keep in favour both with God and with the world!
 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
But I certify you, brethren — He does not till now give them even this appellation. That the gospel which was preached by me among you is not according to man - Not from man, not by man, not suited to the taste of man.
 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For neither did I receive it — At once.
Nor was I taught it — Slowly and gradually, by any man.
But by the revelation of Jesus Christ — Our Lord revealed to him at first, his resurrection, ascension, and the calling of the gentiles, and his own apostleship; and told him then, there were other things for which he would appear to him.
 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
I Persecuted the church of God — That is, the believers in Christ.
 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Being zealous of the unwritten traditions - Over and above those written in the law.
 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
But when it pleased God — He ascribes nothing to his own merits, endeavours, or sincerity.
Who separated me from my mother's womb — Set me apart for an apostle, as he did Jeremiah for a prophet. Jeremiah 1:5. Such an unconditional predestination as this may consist, both with God's justice and mercy.
And called me by his grace — By his free and almighty love, to be both a Christian and an apostle.
 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
To reveal his Son in me — By the powerful operation of his Spirit, 2 Corinthians 4:6; as well as to me, by the heavenly vision.
That I might preach him to others — Which I should have been ill qualified to do, had I not first known him myself.
I did not confer with flesh and blood — Being fully satisfied of the divine will, and determined to obey, I took no counsel with any man, neither with my own reason or inclinations, which might have raised numberless objections.
 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Neither did I go up to Jerusalem — The residence of the apostles.
But I immediately went again into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus — He presupposes the journey to Damascus, in which he was converted, as being known to them all.
 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Then after three years — Wherein I had given full proof of my apostleship.
I went to visit Peter — To converse with him.
 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
But other of the apostles I saw none, save James the brother (that is, the kinsman) of the Lord - Therefore when Barnabas is said to have "brought him into the apostles," Acts 9:27, only St. Peter and St James are meant.
 And they glorified God in me.
In me — That is, on my account.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Galatians》
Counterfeit money is lacking in authority—it does not have the backing of the federal government. A good counterfeiter cane dupe some people into accepting his copywork as legitimate currency. But eventually, when the fake money is brought before the authorities, it will be found false and sentenced to destruction.
Likewise, a false gospel lacks something very important: the authority of Christ. The preacher of a false gospel may believe it himself and persuade men to accept his message. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, there is no salvation in his gospel. Paul tells us that such a preacher will be apprehended by the courts of heaven and judgment pronounced: “Let him be accursed!”
Sometimes a counterfeit can be deadly, though the
real thing it imitates is harmless or even beneficial. In the
Chapter 1. The Revelation of God
Approval of Man
Win the Approval of God
I. No Other Gospel
II. How Paul Became Apostle
III. First Visit to Jerusalem
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter One General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To understand the divine origin of Paul's apostleship
2) To appreciate the danger of twisting the gospel of Christ
Paul begins his letter to the churches of
addressing a key issue of the epistle: that he is an apostle "not from
men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ..." (1). Joined by
unnamed brethren, he sends grace and peace from God and Christ, making
reference to the deliverance made possible by Jesus' death for our sins
in keeping with God's will (2-4). This in turns leads to a short
Without any thanksgiving or prayer for his recipients as found in other
epistles, Paul expresses his amazement that they are so soon turning to
a different gospel being offered by those who wish to pervert the
gospel of Christ (6-7). This is followed by a condemnation repeated
for emphasis of anyone, even an apostle or angel, who would preach a
different gospel than they had already received (8-9). Strong words,
yes, but as a servant of Christ Paul is seeking to please God, not man
The gospel preached by Paul was being twisted by those who challenged
his authority as an apostle. Therefore Paul proceeds to defend both
the gospel and his apostleship by stressing that his gospel was by
revelation, and not from man (11-12). As evidence, Paul relates his
conduct prior to his conversion, and how by the grace of God he was
called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (13-14). That his gospel
was not from man is supported by the scarcity of opportunities he had
to be around Peter or the other apostles (15-20). In the early years
after his conversion, most of his time was spent in
with the churches of
Judeaknowing Paul only by what they heard. And
what they heard led them to glorify God (21-24)!
I. INTRODUCTION (1-10)
A. SALUTATION (1-5)
1. From Paul, an apostle, and those with him, to the churches of
2. With a desire for them to have grace and peace from God and
3. With mention of Christ's sacrifice for our sins, designed to
deliver us from this evil age, in keeping with God's will, to
Whom be glory forever (4-5)
B. REASON FOR THE LETTER (6-10)
1. He is amazed that they are turning from the One who called
them in the grace of Christ, to a different and perverted
2. A repeated condemnation against anyone (man, apostle, or
angel) who would preach a different gospel than what they had
already received (8-9)
3. Strong words, yes, but coming from one who seeks to serve
Christ, not man (10)
II. PAUL'S DEFENSE OF HIS APOSTLESHIP (11-24)
A. THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF HIS GOSPEL (11-17)
1. His gospel was not according to man, or from man, but directly
from Jesus Christ (11-12)
2. A review of his conduct in Judaism prior to conversion (13-14)
3. Upon his conversion, an act of Divine revelation itself, he
did not confer with man, especially the apostles in
4. But went to Arabia, and then returned to
B. HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER APOSTLES (18-24)
1. After three years he went to
to see Peter, and only Jerusalem
then for fifteen days (18)
a. He saw none of the other apostles, except James, the Lord's
b. With a solemn declaration he affirms these things to be
2. Then he went to the regions of
a. Remaining unknown by face to the churches of
b. They heard only of his preaching brought about by his
conversion, and they glorified God in him (23-24)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Introduction (1-10)
- Paul's defense of his apostleship (11-24)
2) In identifying himself as an apostle, what point does Paul stress?
- It was not from men nor through man
- But through Jesus Christ and God the Father
3) To whom is this epistle written? (2)
- To the churches of
4) Why did Jesus give Himself for our sins? (4)
- That He might deliver us from this present evil age
5) Why did Paul marvel? (6)
- That the Galatians were turning away so soon from God to a
6) What were those who were troubling them actually doing? (7)
- Seeking to pervert the gospel of Christ
7) What does Paul say of those who would preach a different gospel?
- Let them be accursed
8) Who was Paul seeking to please? Why? (10)
- God, not man
- Otherwise he would not be a servant of Christ
9) What does Paul stress about the gospel he preached? (11-12)
- It is not according to man (neither received from man, nor was
- It came through the revelation of Jesus Christ
10) What did Paul remind them concerning his former conduct in Judaism?
- How he persecuted the
and tried to destroy it churchof God
- How he advanced in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries
11) Why did God call Paul and reveal His Son in him? (15-16)
- To preach Christ among the Gentiles
12) Where did Paul NOT go after his conversion? (17)
and the apostles who were there Jerusalem
13) How long was it before Paul saw any of the apostles in
Which ones did he see? (18-19)
- Three years
- Peter, and James, the Lord's brother
14) Where did he go then? (21)
- The regions of
15) What three things are said about Paul's connection with the
- He was unknown by face to them
- They were only hearing about his preaching
- They glorified God because of Paul