Personal: Defense of Paul’s Apostleship
Galatians 1 – 2
Galatians 1 – 2
- Introduction and Salutation (1:1-5)
- The Strong Rebuke (1:6-10)
- The History of Paul’s Conversion and Commission (1:11-17)
- Paul’s first Encounter with Peter (1:18-24)
- Paul’s Second Encounter with Peter (2:1-10)
- Paul’s Third Encounter with Peter (2:11-13)
- Paul’s Public Response to Peter (1:14:21)
A personal section. Most epistles go Doctrinal >> Practical, but Paul has to insert this personal section at the beginning because they were denying his apostleship. If they were going to hear his message, that fact must be established first.
Introduction. Right from the introduction we see the seeds of the doctrine He will address in this epistle. in v.4 it is Christ to took care of our sins and will deliver us from this evil world.
In Chapter 1 we have no Commendation, no confirmation of Love, And NO prayer requests as in other epistles… it is because the subject is so serious.
Introduction and Salutation (1:1-5)
¶ Paul, apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from among the dead, v.1 Paul was accused of being less than an apostle because he hadn’t walked with or received his apostleship from the Lord Jesus on earth. He turns this around to show that his commission excluded all human appointment or recognition, and thus had nothing to do with men or the earth. Resurrection is brought in because God’s satisfaction with the work of Christ is the foundation of all Christian blessings.
2 and all the brethren with me, to the assemblies of Galatia. v.2 The Galatians had gotten out of step with their brethren and the apostles – heterodox – but Paul hadn’t. Notice “the assemblies”. There was a number of assemblies in the region of Galatia. Evil doctrine had spread to an entire region. There were five cities in the Vale of Siddom, all were destroyed together.
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, v.3 Grace is the means, peace is the result. Grace was their area of weakness.
4 who gave himself for our sins, so that he should deliver us out of the present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father; v.4 The Galatian error was twofold; 1) justification is obtained by law-keeping, and 2) a holy life is maintained by law-keeping. This verse shows that Christ meets both those needs. The latter is more commonly taught today (see Acts 15:1). This present evil World began when Cain went out and built a city in opposition to God. Kelly has “present evil age”. “Our Father“… a hint at Sonship (Gal. 4:6)?
5 to whom be glory to the ages of ages. Amen. v.5 Legalism results in the cessation of spontaneous praise and worship. Puts the soul at a distance from God. They could see that there was no distance for Paul.
The Strong Rebuke (1:6-10)
¶ 6 I wonder that ye thus quickly change, from him that called you in Christ’s grace, to a different gospel, v.6 Paul is shocked by the progress of evil. The downward progression begins with “removed” (v.6) → “bewitched” (Gal. 3:1) → “entangled again with a Yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). It starts here with getting away from the Lord. It’s “another” gospel because any improvement to the work of Christ makes it totally different. “SOON” – Within five years of Paul preaching to them. Acts 16:6.
7 which is not another one ; but there are some that trouble you, and desire to pervert the glad tidings of the Christ. v.7 He is not saying “it was originally the same”… rather he is saying “it’s not a gospel at all” Legalism isn’t good news. The false Apostles didn’t deny the gospel outright – instead they perverted it, which is far more dangerous.
8 But if even “we” or an angel out of heaven announce as glad tidings to you anything besides what we have announced as glad tidings to you, let him be accursed. v.8 “we” is Paul and his fellow laborers – hypothetical, this is only possible for an apostate. The angel is “out of heaven” – An elect angel “from God” could never do this but a fallen angel “Out of Heaven” could. “angel out of heaven” = “fallen angel”.
9 As we have said before, now also again I say, If any one announce to you as glad tidings anything besides what ye have received, let him be accursed. v.9 repeated for emphasis. “any” = man or demon. We see the spirit of a father rise up in Paul against those who would take away the children’s bread.
10 For do I now seek to satisfy men or God? or do I seek to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I were not Christ’s bondman. v.10 trying to be agreeable to men is incompatible with serving Christ. This is exactly what the Judaism teachers were doing to gain a following among the Galatians and gain their monetary support See Gal. 4:17, 6:13. The same thing is commonly done in Christendom today.
The History of Paul’s Conversion and Commission (1:11-17)
11 But I let you know, brethren, as to the glad tidings which were announced by me, that they are not according to man. v.11 It wasn’t something men would naturally be pleased with. The gospel makes nothing of man and everything of Christ.
12 For neither did I receive them from man, neither was I taught them, but by revelation of Jesus Christ. v.12 Paul’s Authority was from Heaven as opposed to the Judaizers who got their Authority and instructions from Jerusalem. It is interesting that before his conversion, Paul got his authority from Jerusalem as well (Acts 9:1-2).
13 For ye have heard what was my conversation formerly in Judaism, that I excessively persecuted the assembly of God, and ravaged it; vv.13-14 “Excessive” – it is very rare for a zealot to turn 180⁰ but such is the gospel’s power. Three reasons for mentioning his commission:
- Legalism made Paul an antagonist of grace – it always does that
- it proved that Paul was well versed in Judaism – he was qualified
- It proved that God’s power can deliver anyone, no matter how steeped in religion.
14 and advanced in Judaism beyond many my contemporaries in my nation, being exceedingly zealous of the doctrines of my fathers. v.14 “Jew’s religion” Similar to the way John speaks of “the Jews’ feasts” in his gospel. God no longer owned them as of him.
15 But when God, who set me apart even from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son in me, that I may announce him as glad tidings among the nations, immediately I took not counsel with flesh and blood, vv. 15-16 The primary result of the Gospel is to form the life of the Son of God in The Believer. Practical salvation is not by the law (Galatian error #2) any more than Eternal salvation is. It is by formation of Christ in us. A person – not a religion see v.13.
17 nor went I up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and again returned to Damascus. v.17 It is Significant that Paul was saved away from Jerusalem, and steered clear after conversion. Acts 21:18-29 shows us that when he went back against the Lord’s will he fell under James’s influence and ended up in literal bondage. It is also significant that Paul was an apostle before he went to Jerusalem. Going to Arabia occurs in the gap between Acts 29:22-23.
Paul’s three Encounters with Peter
- 1st Encounter (1:18-24)…. Showing Paul was in harmony with Peter and the other apostles
- 2nd Encounter (2:1-10)….. Showing Paul’s complete understanding of the Christian revelation
- 3rd Encounter (2:11-13)…. Showing that Paul had sufficient authority to rebuke another apostle
Paul’s first Encounter with Peter (1:18-24)
Showing Paul was in harmony with Peter and the other apostles
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Peter, and I remained with him fifteen days; v.18 showing Paul was in harmony with Peter (15 days) and other apostles – not like the Judaizing teachers. Not three years in Arabia, but three years after his conversion.
19 but I saw none other of the apostles, but James the brother of the Lord. v.19 if any Apostle would have taken issue with Paul’s gospel it would have been James who was entrenched and Judaism.
20 Now what I write to you, behold, before God, I do not lie. v.20 Paul isn’t leaving anything out. The purpose of this trip was not for training and Christianity or for authorization – but for Fellowship. See Darby translation of v.18.
21 Then I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. v.21 Paul went to his hometown and established his testimony there. Gift grows as the soul grows. Probably 8 or 9 years before he went abroad again – and when he finally did, it was by divine instruction… see Gal. 2:2.
22 But I was unknown personally to the assemblies of Judaea which are in Christ; 23 only they were hearing that he who persecuted us formerly now announces the glad tidings of the faith which formerly he ravaged: 24 and they glorified God in me. vv.22-24 although they had never seen Paul, the Saints in Judea were generally supportive of Paul and the gospel he preached.
Faithfulness in the private sphere first. From the time Paul was converted on the Road to Damascus (A.D. 34; Acts 9:1-9), his time in Damascus (Acts 9:10-19), three years in Arabia (Gal 1:17), return to Damascus then departure from the city for safety (Gal 1:17; Acts 9:20-25; 2 Cor 11:32-33), his private visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-29; Gal 1:18), eight or nine years in Tarsus (Acts 9:30; Gal. 1:21), to when Barnabas travels to Tarsus in order to seek Saul (A.D. 46; Acts 11:25) is a total of twelve years between his conversion and official public ministry! It is important for the servant of God to be faithful in a local sphere first, before undertaking a broader sphere of ministry.
Paul’s Second Encounter with Peter (2:1-10)
Showing Paul’s complete understanding of the Christian revelation
¶ Then after a lapse of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me; v.1 The Spirit of God brings up the fourteen year lapse between Paul’s visits to Jerusalem to destroy any notion that Paul got either hid doctrine or authority from the twelve in Jerusalem. Any notion of apostolic succession is set aside. See v.3 for why Paul took Titus with him.
— This is the same incident we get in Acts 15:1-35 —
2 and I went up according to revelation, and I laid before them the glad tidings which I preach among the nations, but privately to those conspicuous among them, lest in any way I run or had run in vain; v.2 Here it says that Paul went from Antioch up to Jerusalem “by revelation”, but in Acts 15:2 we find that Paul was asked to up by his brethren. He also had a special word from the Lord to go, whether directly as in Acts 16:9-10, or through a prophet as in Acts 21:10-11. This is how things ought to be in the local assembly. The servants of the Lord should have a word from the Lord to do this or that, and the Lord should also lay it on the hearts of the local brethren! It is wonderful when that is the case. Paul communicated his gospel to those who were of reputation privately, not before the whole assembly, as it was important to get the leaders clear on the issue. The reason he gives for doing it privately was on account of the false Brethren brought in. To blast this out to the whole company before getting those of reputation (who were wavering and unclear) on the same page could have resulted in a split, and all Paul’s labors becoming a big waste. Furthermore, it was critical for the leaders to be clear and united on the issue before the council began (Acts 15:6).
3 (but neither was Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, compelled to be circumcised;) v.3 This verse is a parenthesis, but an important one. Titus was taken as an example of grace, and as a test case; an uncircumcised Gentile that believed the gospel. What would they do? Deny that he was saved? His presence there brought the issue to the surface.
4 and it was on account of the false brethren brought in surreptitiously, who came in surreptitiously to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; v.4 They had been brought in by believing Jews, but they had a plan of their own. It was a strategy of Satan to take these liberated Gentiles who were serving Christ, and bind them in the cords of legalism. Satan “spies out” those who are enjoying true liberty and makes a calculated attack on them.
5 to whom we yielded in subjection not even for an hour, that the truth of the glad tidings might remain with you. v.5 The “we” is Paul, Barnabas, and Titus, with the other apostles, now united in voice. We can’t stand by when evil doctrine is taught, however it isn’t an opportunity to act in the flesh
6 But from those who were conspicuous as being somewhat–whatsoever they were, it makes no difference to me: God does not accept man’s person; for to me those who were conspicuous communicated nothing; v.6 “Those” are the three pillars. Notice Paul is rallying around the word of God (the Revelation to him) not the importance of persons. A good lesson. They “added nothing” to Paul, in that there was nothing more they could add to Paul’s Doctrine.
7 but, on the contrary, seeing that the glad tidings of the uncircumcision were confided to me, even as to Peter that of the circumcision, v.7 Paul’s love for Israel was so strong (Rom. 10:1) eventually he started doing Peter’s work. vv.7-9 They approved of what Paul was saying and doing.
8 (for he that wrought in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision wrought also in me towards the Gentiles,)
9a and recognising the grace given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were conspicuous as being pillars, v.9a James here couldn’t be the Apostle James because he had been martyred, but James the Lord’s brother takes a prominent role in Acts 15. “Pillars” because they were considered by the assembly to have large moral weight.
9b gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that “we” should go to the nations, and “they” to the circumcision; v.9b When the Lord exercises his servant to go out with his work he also exercises his brethren. This is the proper order. But having the right hands of fellowship is not required. The other Apostles couldn’t give him additional light or a commission (ch. 1) but they could offer an expression of their fellowship with him.
10 only that we should remember the poor, which same thing also I was diligent to do. v.10 The most the other Apostles could come up with to add to Paul’s commission was that he should “remember the poor”. And it was redundant because Paul was already disposed to do that. It could be they were saying to remember the poor in Jerusalem (consistent with many Epistles).
Paul’s Third Encounter with Peter (2:11-13)
¶ 11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be condemned: v.11 This event took place a short time later in Antioch. What makes this failure of Peter so sad is how strongly he came out on the side of grace in Acts 15. It was a public failure and it required a public rebuke (1 Tim. 5:20). Not every failure requires a public rebuke. Those who are leaders (Peter was) need to be especially careful, not just about their doctrine but their actions because they have a big effect on others. And yet, Peter received this correction. Since Peter could receive this correction from Paul, it follows that the Galatians ought to be willing to as well… and so should we.
12 for before that certain came from James, he ate with those of the nations; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcision; v.12 Before the legalists came from James, Peter ate freely with the believing Gentiles in the Antioch assembly. But when they came, Peter separated from the Gentiles and refused to eat with them. Peter’s failure was “fearing the circumcision” – the danger of peer pressure. Proverbs tells us that “the fear of man bringeth a snare” (Prov. 29:25). James the Lord’s brother was the most prominent and the most legal of the leaders in Jerusalem, and he carried significant clout. Peter bucked under the pressure. Peter’s change in behavior would have been very obvious and disheartening. The root of this failure is the same as the root of his failure in the hall of the high priest. After this incident, Peter disappears from the pages of history.
13 and the rest of the Jews also played the same dissembling part with him; so that even Barnabas was carried away too by their dissimulation. v.13 “Dissemble” is the opposite word from “assemble”. It is to practically undo what the Spirit of God had done in forming the assembly. The striking thing is that Barnabas had disputed with Paul against these teachers when they came to Antioch (Acts 15:2), AND he was present for the Jerusalem council, but he was led astray back in Antioch when these ones came from James, and when Peter capitulated. We rarely realize what influence we have on each other. Those who are leaders need to be extremely careful.
Satan’s Minor Successes. Satan was unsuccessful at both: (1) bringing the saints under law, and (2) disrupting the unity of the Church as we saw at the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-35; Gal. 2:1-10). However, Satan is a tireless foe, and he will take any advantage he can get. Just after the council of Jerusalem, where Satan’s wiles were evaded, he had two minor yet important successes. First, while he could not bring the saints under law, he was able to get Peter to compromise on the truth of the gospel when he came up to Antioch. That event is not recorded in Acts, but is given to us in Gal. 2:11-13. Second, while Satan was unsuccessful at diving the assembly, he was able to drive a wedge between two faithful servants, Paul and Barnabas, which is recorded in Acts 15:36-41. We are never more vulnerable to defeat than after our greatest success.
Paul’s Public Response to Peter (1:14:21)
vv.14-21 a summary of what Paul said to Peter:
- vv.14-15 Paul develops Peters inconsistency.
- vv.16-17 effect of teaching justification by law.
- vv.18-20 The effect of teaching law as a rule of Life.
- v.21 The net result: God’s grace and Christ’s death are set aside.
the third encounter was very close to home for the Galatians. Before Peter came the Jews were going on eating with the Gentiles in Liberty. When Peter came, he continued with them. But when Judaizers came from James, he dissembles. In the same way, the Galatians had been running well until the JUDAIZERS CAME in using the same tactics on their leaders, which brought them into bondage and thus upheaval.
An Introduction to Next Division
14 But when I saw that they do not walk straightforwardly, according to the truth of the glad tidings, I said to Peter before all, If “thou”, being a Jew, livest as the nations and not as the Jews, how dost thou compel the nations to Judaize? v.14 “Consistently” – straightforwardly. Peter was adding something to the gospel, thus striking against its foundation (vv.16-17). by separating he was stating that believing Gentiles were still unclean when God had called them clean (Acts 10).
15 We, Jews by nature, and not sinners of the nations, vv.14-15 if you, Peter, brought up with ceremonial cleanliness, as a jew, feel that in Christianity you have Liberty to live without the Jewish customs, as the Gentiles do by nature, then why are you reversing the principal in application to the Gentiles? It is inconsistent.
16 but knowing that a man is not justified on the principle of works of law nor but by the faith of Jesus Christ, “we” also have believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified on the principle of the faith of Christ; and not of works of law; because on the principle of works of law no flesh shall be justified. vv.16-17 Paul is applying the principal behind Peter’s actions to see what it does to the truth of justification. Frankly, it slaughters it. You are justified, not by law-keeping, but by letting our case rest with Christ and his work in simple faith. But if, having done this (v.17) we are told by Judaizers that we are still unclean while resting in faith, then Christ is made the minister of sin! By Peter’s actions he was stating that Christ was not in the business of blotting out sins, but of keeping them and manifesting them! NOTE: When you get faith “of” Christ, it is Christ as the object of faith.
17 Now if in seeking to be justified in Christ we also have been found sinners, then is Christ minister of sin? Far be the thought. v.17 If the law can only discover sin, and Christ approve of the use of the law for justification, then Christ has not delivered me from sin but has left me under its bondage. far be the thought! Note: Justified “in” Christ – a righteous standing in Christ’s place before God.
18 For if the things I have thrown down, these I build again, I constitute myself a transgressor. v.18 the gospel head torn down the middle wall of partition: in believing we recognize this in principle. Peter, by his actions, was building again that wall. It was especially wrong because it took the Cross of Christ to bring it down, Eph. 2:14. By rebuilding we are practically saying Christ was wrong to tear it down in fact originally, and I was wrong to tear it down in my mind. He says “I” letting Peter apply it to himself. He stops saying “thou” and “we”… A lesson on how to rebuke.
19a For “I”, through law, have died to law,v.19a In keeping with the way the law works, I realize my other powerlessness. By association with Christ’s death (connect with v.20) I am completely removed from the law’s sphere of influence (Rom. 7:1-6).
vv.19-20 Paul never denied the law its proper place (Rom. 3:31) instead he shows that the law had its full force resulting in death because of sin: that of death under law reaching Christ – and by association – the old “I”. The life to which the Dominion of law was attached has ended at the cross. The law is not dead, but the believer is dead to it (Rom. 7:1-6)
19b that I may live to God.v.19b I am liberated to be occupied with pleasing and God undistracted by law (see Rom. 6:10).
20a I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, “I”, v.20a In God’s sight not only have the sins been paid for (Rom. 3) but the criminal has been executed as well. Now God sees only Christ. This is what Thomas Paine failed to see.
20b but (1) Christ lives in me; (2) but in that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, (3) the faith of the Son of God, (4) who has loved me and given himself for me. v.20b Four things that give us the way of holy Christian living:
- a new life – the life of Christ in me displayed practically by the fruits of the spirit.
- a new principle to live by – faith as opposed to works. “faith of the son of god” – The faith that has the Son of God and his love for me as its object.
- a new object – the Son of God as opposed to self (the law makes me focus on self).
- a new motive – love instead of fear.
v.20b A holy practical life cannot come by law keeping. To impose the law on a Christian is to misunderstand the new life. There is no wrong impulse that needs to be restrained. What the new life needs is liberty, an object, an a motive – then it will perform to a far higher standard – up to the law of Christ Gal. 6:2.
v.20 as christ rose from the dead because his life was holy and mighty (not possible to be held by death’s power, acts 2:24) so we live – leaving the old “i” where it lies. the sentence fully passed – seeing the new “i” as god does and drawing all our resources from a risen, glorified christ.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is by law, then Christ has died for nothing.v.21 the net result of the principle behind Peter’s actions (although he did not comprehend it) in vv.12-13. If I could be made righteous positionally or practically by the law, the Christ’s death was a giant waste. How serious!