21/06/20 – Galatians 1:1-5


The province of Galatia was in the middle of what we call Turkey today, probably including Ankara (Turkey’s capital city today). Its capital city was Ancyra or Ankyra.

It was named after the Gauls (Celts) who invaded the Balkans (including Greece) in 279 BC (some say 277 or 278 BC) during the times of confusion after the death of Alexander the Great. They then spread further east to the area of Galatia which was so-named after the Gauls. Roman writers called them Galli who lived in Gallia.

In 25 (some say 24) BC Augustus Caesar brought it into the Roman empire; it then became a Roman province. While they were considered to be largely Greek in culture and probably were fluent in Greek language, they spoke a Celtic language called Galatian similar to the Gaulish language. It is extinct today.


As he wrote in Greek, Paul may have been writing in Greek to Greeks living in Galatia or to Galatians who also spoke Greek.


GalatiaGalatia (land of the Galli; Gauls) The Roman province of Galatia may be roughly described as the central region of the peninsula of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Bithynia and Paphlagonia; on the east by Pontus; on the south by Cappadocia and Lycaonia; on the west by Phrygia. (Strongs 1053, Online Bible)

STRONGS NT 1053: ΓαλατίαGalatia, Gallogræcia, a region of Asia Minor, bounded by Paphlagonia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Bithynia. It took its name from those Gallic tribes that crossed into Asia Minor B. C. 278, and after roaming about there for a time at length settled down permanently in the above-mentioned region, and intermarried with the Greeks. From B. C. 189 on, though subject to the Romans, they were governed by their own chiefs; but B. C. 24 [others, 25] their country was formally reduced to a Roman province. (Strongs)


Ancient History Encyclopedia – Celtic migration was already underway by the time the Gallic chieftain Brennus sacked Rome in 390 BCE. (He was defeated again soon after.) It continued down through the 4th century BCE when, around 280 BCE, a group of Celts from Pannonia descended on the region of Greece, offering their services as mercenaries (as they had in Italy almost one hundred years earlier) and living off the land through forage and pillaging towns and cities. (https://www.ancient.eu/galatia/)


From all this we may assume that the Galatians of Paul’s day were descended from a warlike race that fought for financial gain (mercenaries). This may assist in understanding why they took such a strong stand on the law of Moses as their gospel (probably as taught to them by Jews in their community). Being mercenaries who are unlikely to back down in the face of aggression, they would have been likely to have strongly defended any gospel additions they considered necessary.


Galatians 1:1Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)


an apostleapostolos (a delegate; messenger; one sent forth with orders)

the deadnekros (lifeless; deceased; without life; spiritually dead) from nekus (a corpse)


Paul is emphasising his authority to write to them in such strong words. In Galatians 1:7 he accuses them of perverting the gospel of Christ. And in Galatians 1:8-9 he says let him be accursed (anathema)” for preaching any other gospel than the true gospel of Christ. Therefore Paul has to ensure that they don’t see him as just another trouble-maker as no doubt there were those who disagreed with the Galatians’ perverted gospel of Christ.


An apostle may be one of the first disciples, yet Paul was not such. He still claimed an apostleship – that is, one sent forth with orders. He emphasises that his writings are not of or from man’s rulings (teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of menMatthew 15:9), nor are they given by another man (If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have receivedGalatians 1:9), but directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead (note John 10:30I and [my] Father are one.). If quoting names can get the attention of others, then this is the ultimate name-claiming authority. They might be able to argue with the rulings of man; they might be able to argue with Paul if he just presented another gospel to add to what they had; but this is not just any gospel he preaches, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. Barnes says (on Galatians 1:1) that he had the highest possible authority for the office of an apostle; he had been called to it by God himself, who had raised up the Redeemer.


They might be able to argue with what Paul thinks, or with another belief system, but Paul is here saying that if they disagree, their argument must be taken up with both Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead, and there is no greater guarantee of authority than this.

Hebrews 6:13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself


Galatians 1:2And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:


all the brethren which are with me – all those who are travelling with Paul at that time. It was a common form of greeting, much like saying that all the others say hello to you, without actually naming those others.

unto the churches of Galatia – Galatia was a large provincial area with a few large cities such as Ankyra, Tavium and Pessinus. We don’t know how many churches were involved but there could have been at least one in each of the larger cities.


From this we can assume that the false gospel problem was not just with an isolated congregation but generally spread right across Galatia. This thus assumes some measure of cultural influence that may not have been found as readily in other churches not belonging to Galatia. This may relate to the fact that Galatia was largely settled by a people who came from outside that geographical area, a people who had a different culture to those around them. It may explain why the epistle to the Galatians stands out as a denunciation of the use of the law itself as a gospel of salvation.


Note that it is just to “the churches of Galatia” without any apparent commendation. Paul gives other churches commendations. These commendations include beloved of God, called [to be] saints (Romans 1:7); to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2); to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1); I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3); To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ (Colossians 1:2); We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; (1 Thessalonians 1:2); your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Even in 2 Corinthians 1:11 Paul made some effort to commend them by writing Ye also helping together by prayer for us. So why doesn’t Paul say anything good about the Galatians? Possibly because he can find nothing positive at all to say to them?


Galatians 1:3Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ,


Grace be to you and peace from God the Father – Paul uses “grace” and “peace” in all his greetings, also using “mercy” in his letters to Timothy and Titus. The only notable exception is to the Hebrews, yet there is no proof that Paul actually wrote this epistle. In fact, it is the lack of greeting that is often used to demonstrate that Paul could not have written Hebrews.


It was common in middle-eastern tradition to greet people with politeness, offering hospitality, even if you were going to stab that person after the greeting! You could kill your visitor as long as you did it politely and with respect! Note the “Judas kiss”! (thefreedictionary.com describes the Judas kiss as A traitorous action disguised as a show of affection.) Grace relates to the favour of God upon a person and peace is a common middle-east greeting regardless of religion: shalom (Hebrew); salaam (Arabic) sliem (Maltese); Shlama (Syriac-Assyrian); salam (Ethiopean semitic languages).


Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:


gave – give of one’s own accord; give to someone to his advantage; bestow a gift; grant; let have; reach out; supply necessary things. It can have the idea of surrendering your own free will. Here it means that Christ surrendered Himself voluntarily for the sake of achieving our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.

Note Titus 2:13-1413Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


gave himself ….. according to the will of God – It was the will of both Father and Son for Christ to die. John 6:38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. and John 10:30I and [my] Father are one.

Christ came to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) A ransom is the price paid to set someone free from bondage. The ransom can be a person if this is the price demanded for another’s freedom. It is interesting to note that Calvin (in his commentary on Matthew 20:28) states that “many” here “embraces the whole human race”. Calvin also said that “many” in Matthew 26:28 (For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.) meant “not a part of the world only, but the whole human race”. Now that’s something most calvinists deny vehemently today! They hate the biblical teaching that Jesus actually died for the sins of the whole human race!

So, while Calvin contradicted himself on this elsewhere, calvinists must stop making up their own rules to suit whatever doctrine they are trying to defend at the time.


deliverexaireo (pluck out; draw out; root out; choose out for one’s self; select one person from many; rescue; deliver) Translated “pluck out” in Matthew 5:29 & 18:9. It is derived from ek (out of; from; by; away from) and haireomai (take for one’s self; choose; prefer)

Note “shall be caught up” in the following is harpazo (sometimes termed “the rapture” or “the snatching away”) which is also derived from haireomai.

1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

exaireo is translated “delivered” in Acts 7:10And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.


worldaion (for ever; an unbroken age; perpetuity of time; eternity; universe; period of time; age) Here it would mean “this present evil age” or even “this present age of evil”. (Note that “eternal” is aionios.)

that he might deliver us from this present evil world – that is, the world from which we as sinners have to escape in order to be found acceptable in the eyes of God, a world that we should leave behind and never return to.

2 Peter 2:18-2118For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.


Love of the world equates to hatred for God.

James 4:4Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Also note 1 John 2:15-17.

Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

2 Timothy 4:10aFor Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world


according to the will of God and our Father – or “according to the will of God our Father”

willthelema (what one wants or has determined shall be done) This has the idea of purpose, of having a goal in mind when deciding something.


Galatians 1:5To whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.


for ever and evertous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn This is the word aion used for “world” in Vs 4 above. It could be translated as “for the ages of the ages” or even possibly “for ages and ages”.

Because God is eternal, then all His attributes must likewise be eternal. For, if God never changes, then to not have glory continuously for eternity would mean a point in time when something about God changed, and that can never be. Therefore if God is to have glory, then it must be for all eternity.


We have been allocated gifts for service according to 1 Corinthians 12. These gifts (charisma) are for the purpose of using them for God’s glory through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:10-1110As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


As we dig further into Galatians we find that they taught another gospel, a perverted gospel, one based on a rigid application of the law of Moses.

Acts 15:1; 51And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.

The pharisees (Paul had been a pharisee) taught the traditions of men as an addition to the law of God, where the word “tradition” (Greek paradosis) in the following refers to the expanding of the written law (the Babylonian Talmud as opposed to the Torah which was the law of Moses); such additions were to be obeyed with reverence equal to that of the law of Moses.

Colossians 2:8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.


It is likely that the Galatians maintained that their salvation was through the cross of Jesus, yet it appears that they assessed that salvation according to their obedience to the law (according to their tradition). Thus, you were allegedly saved by a confession of faith in Christ, but unless you were also circumcised, you weren’t really saved, or even not saved at all. It is clear in Galatians that the Jews among them (who were circumcised) felt that all the Gentiles should also be circumcised to be on an equal footing with the Jews. Historically the Jews had always looked down upon those uncircumcised “goy” or plural “goyim” as inferior to themselves. Now the Gentiles were being “saved” by confession of faith in Christ, and were being accepted as God’s people yet without the circumcision. So the Jews demanded that in order for the Gentiles to be acceptable, they had to be circumcised.


Thus Paul had a fight on his hands. He told them bluntly, that if the Gentiles were then circumcised simply because the law “demanded” it, then it could be at the expense of their genuine salvation in Christ.

Galatians 5:1-21Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.


He also wrote to the Romans concerning this issue. A real Jew was one who was inwardly circumcised, regardless of an outward circumcision.

Romans 2:24-2924For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.


In many ways the Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) follow the same pathway of the law overruling righteousness by faith. They preach what appears to be the true gospel of salvation in Christ, yet make it clear that breaking the law destroys your salvation. Thus, if you claim to be Christian, yet do not worship on Saturdays, then your faith is declared null and void as a result of your disobedience to the law. It doesn’t matter that the law for the SDAs here isn’t circumcision, but if non-adherence to the law can destroy your salvation, then the law is effectively your gospel. (One has to ask why the Tongan SDAs worship on a Sunday, though. Are they therefore lost in spite of being saved?)


And calvinism isn’t all that different, either, especially this new calvinism which is basically a reformed SDA belief system. They might preach what looks like the true gospel, but unless God has chosen you, you cannot be saved. Effectively their gospel is the election; your salvation rests entirely upon whether or not you have been chosen in the election by the calvinist God! But how does a calvinist assess his salvation? If he is not permitted to pray a prayer or make a decision of any kind toward his salvation, then what does he have that demonstrates his salvation? Thus the calvinist has to preach the works of the law as proof of your election; and therefore it is a puritan lifestyle based upon obedience to the law that determines your elect status.


What about JWs? That’s clear, anyway. If they do not do enough evangelising, then they may not get to heaven. And there may be a limited number who are permitted to live forever, either in heaven or on earth. So, another JW who works harder than you might get in while you miss out. A JW can never know if he is saved until he reaches the end. And this is also the problem of the calvinist. He likewise cannot know whether or not he is saved until he reaches the end of his life and hopefully has not fallen. But how far can he fall before he must be considered lost? It is clear that a Christian must have works or else his faith is dead (James tells us this). But his works demonstrate his faith that he once confessed in a sinners’ prayer sometime in the past. But for the calvinist his works are his faith!


The Galatians were caught up in this same cycle of having to do the works until they died or else. If you got off the train before you reached the destination, then you were never on the train to start with! Once you start on a gospel that has to have works (or else you are declared lost), then you have to aim for perfection or else always be wondering just how much more you might need to do to ensure your salvation. And like the JW you keep slaving away until you die because you can never be sure if you have done enough.

Romans 4:3-53For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.


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