1 2 3 4 5 6

Galatians chapter 1

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

New King James Version

What does Galatians chapter 1 mean?

Galatians begins more abruptly than most of Paul's other letters in the New Testament. Rather than giving an extended prologue, Paul launches immediately into his reasons for writing. This letter is directed to believers in the region of Galatia, also known as Asia Minor.

Paul identifies himself and makes a quick defense of the fact that he is, in fact, an apostle because Jesus Christ and God the Father made him one. He's not a man-made or self-made apostle (Galatians 1:1–3).

Apparently, Paul's credentials were under attack in Galatia. A group known as the Judaizers were trying to persuade those who believed in Christ, after hearing the gospel from Paul, that they were not truly saved. The Judaizers said they must also follow the Law of Moses. Their message was, in essence, to add a component of "works" to the requirements for salvation.

Paul was furious when he heard some of the Galatian Christians were actually starting to believe this. They had so joyfully received the good news that Jesus died to pay the full price for their sin that Paul is astounded by how quickly they are deserting Christ to follow this "other gospel."

Paul quickly clarifies: There is no "other gospel," only a distortion of the true gospel. With all of his authority as an apostle, Paul declares that anyone who teaches any other gospel other than what Paul taught them is "accursed" or eternally condemned. That stands even if Paul himself or an angel from heaven would try to teach them a different gospel. Paul stands on the truth that salvation comes by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ's payment for our sin on the cross (Galatians 1:4–9).

To defend the true gospel, Paul must also defend the fact that he is truly an apostle. In New Testament terms, an apostle was someone who spent time with Christ and was officially sent by Christ to be His representative in the world. The Judaizers apparently were saying that Paul didn't qualify; he wasn't one of the original 12 disciples. In fact, they said he was merely taught by those other apostles, giving him no authority to speak for Christ on his own. Paul answered their charges by showing, from the story of his life before and after his conversion, that none of the other apostles trained him. Instead, Christ was revealed to him, as was the truth of the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul emphasizes that he knows just as much about Judaism as any of his accusers. After all, he persecuted and tried to destroy Christianity as a zealous young Pharisee. But then God showed His Son to Paul, and everything changed. Paul understood that he had been selected even before his birth to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. After his conversion, he didn't go to the apostles, he went off by himself for three years, coming to know the truth of the gospel through special revelations from God. Even after that, he preached in Syria and Cilicia for a time. Though he had met with Peter and Jesus' brother James at one point, he was unknown in the region around Jerusalem and Judea. All that was known about him was the radical change from Jesus-persecutor to Jesus-preacher (Galatians 1:10–24).

Paul stands on the fact that he is indeed an apostle in every sense of the word. The Galatian Christians can trust his message.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: