What does Galatians 1 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Galatians 1:1–5 begins Paul's letter to the Christians in Galatia with a brief greeting. Paul immediately defends the fact that he has been made an apostle of Jesus Christ by the same God that raised Christ from the dead. He is not a ''man- made'' apostle, as his accusers are saying. His authority is genuine. Next, Paul gives a quick, beautiful explanation of the trustworthy gospel that he preaches: Jesus gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this age of evil according to God's will.
Galatians 1:6–10 is unusual; Paul's letters usually open with some kind of praise or thanksgiving for his readers. Not Galatians. He immediately expresses how baffled he is that these people who received the good news about salvation by God's grace and through faith in Christ have so quickly deserted Christ. Anyone who teaches any other gospel than the one Paul taught to them is cursed and/or will be eternally condemned. Paul points to that harsh statement as evidence that he is not trying to please any men. He serves and lives for the approval of God.
Galatians 1:11–24 begins with Paul's statement that he did not receive the gospel which he taught to the Galatians from any man-made religion, nor training from other people. He received it from Christ Himself. God revealed His Son Jesus to Paul, by His grace, even after Paul spent years as a Pharisee trying to destroy the Christian church. After Christ commissioned Paul to preach the good news to the Gentiles, he went off by himself for a few years and came to know the gospel through Christ directly.
Chapter Summary:
Paul begins his letter to the Galatian churches abruptly, compared to his other writings. He has heard they are deserting the gospel which he preached and they believed: the good news that Jesus died to fully pay for all our sins on the cross. The Judaizers taught that these Gentiles must also follow the law of Moses to be saved and openly questioned Paul's authority. Paul makes the case that he has been made an apostle by Christ, who appeared to him and revealed the truth to him apart from the other apostles.
Chapter Context:
Galatians 1 begins one of the most-loved books about God's grace in all of Scripture. This and the following chapter detail Paul's biography, as he makes the case that he has been made an apostle by Christ and therefore his message is trustworthy. Chapters 3 and 4 go into depth about exactly what the gospel of God's grace is and why it is true. In chapters 5 and 6, Paul teaches about how Christians should live in the world as people who have received the grace of God through faith in Christ.
Book Summary:
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
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