Lesson 54: "Paul, An Apostle. . .' (Galatians 1:1)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. Welcome again! This is lesson # 54. Just as Paul had emphasized in the first verse of Second Corinthians for the benefit of the Judiazers at Corinth; Paul here in the first verse of Galatians, emphasized the same point: Paul was an apostle. However, I tend to hear even a little more emotion in the apostle's voice here in the Galatian letter than before, possibly. Paul, an apostle! That was a most important point, the Galatians must digest that point first and foremost. Clarifying and re—establishing that point, first and foremost, in the Galatian churches had much to do with getting the Galatian Christians back on the right doctrinal track. The parenthesis in the last of v.l establishes at the outset; Paul's apostleship was from God. lack in Second Corinthians (5:20), Paul called the apostles: ambassadors for Christ. Do you remember that? He said there: it was though God did beseech you by us...", i.e. God beseeches us through his ambassadors or apostles. To beseech means to entreat or to ask earnestly. It was through the apostles, the Lord established the church on Pentecost. It was through His apostles and inspired men that the bible, God 's instruction for us and to us, was written. Paul was an ambassador, an official messenger with a special message, i.e. one sent from God. On that Sunday night when Jesus reappeared to the eleven apostles, back in John 20:21; Jesus said: "as my Rather hath sent me, even so send I you." Jesus also said to the apostles "Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained." An apostle is the highest representative of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Paul was a special apostle. He was not one of the twelve. Because Paul was not one of the twelve; that probably had much to do with the Judiazing element not accepting Paul as an apostle. But, the Lord had said Paul was "a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). Paul had received several special visions and revelations. Do you remember II Car. 12:1? Paul told about one those occasions in Acts 22:17. The Lord told Paul there, He would send "far hence unto the Gentiles." Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, i.e. to the uncircumcision or the heathen (Gal. 2:7-8-9). The Lord spoke to Paul at Corinth, Acts 18:9, [do you remember?], and, of course, as I said, at various other times. Paul was a chosen vessel (Acts 9:15). A vessel is a container. Paul was a container of God's message. The Judiazers did not accept Paul's message and that was the problem. I suppose the Judiazing element implied to the Galatians that Paul did not teach the same doctrine as Peter and the other apostles, i.e. the twelve apostles that had been with Jesus. Acts ch. 15 establishes clearly this was not true. Paul did preach the same gospel, the very same thing, as Peter and the other apostles taught. Paul reiterates that point here in Gal. 2-9:). But, let's get back to that parenthesis in v.l. Paul's apostleship was "OF" men and Paul's apostleship was not "BY" men. "BUT", i.e. in contrast: Paul's apostleship came by Jesus Christ, it came by God, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul's apostleship did not originate with men. Ananias, the preacher, was sent to Paul at Damascus. Ananias said to Paul: "Brother Saul, receive thy sight." Paul's eyes were miraculously opened and then Ananias said: "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." Paul saw Jesus after the Lords resurrection. Paul was a witness. Paul was chosen by God the Father. Paul was not an apostle "OF" men, Paul was not an apostle "BY" men. Paul's appointment came from God and that appointment had nothing to do with men. This was a vital point for the Galatians and this is a vital point with us. At first, the Galatians had accepted this back when Paul and Barnabas and Silas had taught them the gospel and they became Christians. More recently, the Judiazing element had taught that Paul was not an apostle and the Galatians were persuaded by that element, and many at least, had been led to reject Paul as an apostle. Thus, as we have said, this was a most vital understanding, that Paul should defend his apostleship with the Galatians as he had done with the Corinthians. It was vital to the Judiazing doctrine that the Judiazers reject Paul's apostleship. For you see, it was only by rejecting Paul and thus rejecting the God of heaven; that these renegade Jews could teach and slip in their doctrine of circumcision and keeping of the Mosaic law. It was only through the rejection of Paul and his apostleship; that this element could bind on the traditions of the fathers or any other of the Pharisaic doctrines. We don't know much about the Judiazing doctrine really. I would assume they taught baptism and keeping of the Lord's supper and some of the teachings of Jesus. I'm not sure just how much. Thus, their doctrine was a mixture of Pharisaic doctrine mixed with some of the teachings of Jesus. For a gentile to become a Christian, according to their doctrine; that gentile must first become a Jew, i.e. in effect, become a Jewish proselyte (i.e. an adopted Jew) and then combine that with the teachings of Jesus to be a Christian, I suppose. A cafeteria—style religion. A religion that did not come from God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit or the apostles.
For some reason it would appear, the Galatian people, being the changeable-type of people they were; apparently latched on to this hybrid religion of the Judiazers; possibly in larger numbers or greater percentages than occurred even at Corinth. This was, a damnable doctrine; a doctrine that subverted and destroyed souls. That's what the apostles at Jerusalem said in Acts 15:24. It was a perversion of the doctrine of Christ. Paul said, "there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" down in v.7; here in Galatians chapter one. Thus, its important to get the picture in perspective and keep it in perspective, as it was at Corinth; not all the Galatians were subverted by this doctrine. "Some", Paul said (v.7). That's very imprecise. We don't know percentages. But, even if one person was lost; that was one too many. However, it's evident from the Galatian letter that the Judiazing doctrine ran rampant in the Galatian churches. Paul did not dignify the Judiazing doctrine by mentioning any person(s) in Galatia by name. However, the apostle reviewed that doctrine in great detail here in this book. There is a great message in the overtone of this book for us. That message might be paraphrased very simply like this: only the pure gospel of Jesus Christ will save. Please take - - just a moment - -, right here, to look at Paul's phrase "the truth of the gospel." What does that thought imply to you? "The truth of the gospel!" That phrase occurs in 2:5, 14. Other places in the book; Paul simply uses the word "truth" as a short form of the same thought. What does this imply to us? Only the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ will save. Some today look at that thought as being narrow minded or too simple to be true. The accepted religious philosophy in America today is: go to any religious cafeteria you like. Stir up any mixture of doctrines you like. Spice it up to suit you. You do your thing, I'll do mine. One is as good as another. I'll accept you! You accept me! All roads lead to the same place. We'll get to heaven by acclimation. It's the unwritten religious code in America today. Scripturally that philosophy will not wash. Man made doctrines and man made concoctions of doctrines will not save. It's the underlying premise of the Galatian letter. Learn it well, here and now! Don't take my word for it! Pry the lid off and study this epistle for yourself.
Jesus Christ was God's Son. Jesus Christ was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). Jesus Christ was God. He was made flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:14). All power or all authority was given to God's Son, Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18). That includes all power in heaven and all power in earth. Jesus came to earth to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That's John 3:16. Just as Jesus Christ came down from heaven he went back to heaven (John 3:13). He foretold that He would be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). As Jesus was lifted up he died for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). The very meaning of his name implies this thought. Joseph was told by the angel (Matt. 1:21) to name him "Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Thus, since Jesus has all power and all authority; he has the right to dictate the rules by which we can be saved and by which we cannot be saved. He gave the Good news by which we can be saved. That good news is called the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ! The truth of the gospel, Paul called it; i.e. the good news that truly will save. Jesus had authority and Jesus selected ambassadors by which to convey the truth of the gospel to us. Any other gospel will not save. Any other gospel is really not good news. Any other gospel is error and not truth. Jesus said: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32). That is, the truth of the gospel shall make you free. What does it mean to be free? Jesus discussed that in the verses that followed. In the next verses (v.33), the Jews asked: "how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?' Jesus answered (v.34) "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." Then down in v.36 Jesus said: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." The Son, in that verse is capitalized; i.e. the Son is Jesus Christ. If the Lord Jesus Christ shall make you free; then you are free indeed. That's another way of saying you can be saved.
Nor, I don't care how rhetorical it is said or how eloquent it may sound; any other gospel will not save. The Lord Jesus Christ appointed ambassadors called apostles to convey, teach and write down that gospel that will save. They did just that, for our benefit. It may seem a small thing for some one to add a few thoughts or a few deviations to that gospel; thinking, I suppose, it might accomplish some other social good or achieve some other beneficial change in conduct that they may deem desirable in our society or some other society. Those Jews who came to Antioch and Corinth and Galatia, that we have called Judiazing teachers, undoubtedly thought by subjecting the gentiles and the heathen to the law of Moses they were going to bring about beneficial change. Who can argue that it would have been a good social change? I don't know! The thing they were overlooking was that it was not Jesus' doctrine. It was not the will of our Lord and Savior. And, without the will of the Lord and Savior no doctrine, no religion, has any saving power. It's just that simple. It was true at the time the book of Galatians was written. It's still true today. Good social changes have no saving power eternally. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a social gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth; when you mix and match truth with manmade doctrines and serve it up cafeteria style, it ceases to be truth. When it ceases to be truth; it will not save. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:18). The truth of the gospel is unique, in that it cannot be manufactured by men. The truth of the gospel can be believed and obeyed by men; but, it did not originate with man. That which originates with man has no eternal consequences in the sense of saving power. Some say, you go to your church and I'll go to mine; but, let me tell you: only the Lord's church will be saved (Acts 2:47).
When one understands the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to save (Rom. 1:16); then understanding the Galatian letter becomes much easier. It's time to read and I want to read with you the first five verses of Gal. ch. one! It says exactly this: Paul was an apostle and Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil world. Do you believe that? Let's read it! "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, Unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 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: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Five verses! One sentence! That sentence carries a lot of thump when you get it inside your head. Learn these five verses well. #1, Paul was an apostle. #2, Paul was an apostle by the will of God; not by the will of men. #3, Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia. We talked about these churches in our last lesson; which we called introduction. #4, Paul sent greetings to the Galatian churches from other brothers in Christ who were with Paul. Paul also sent greeting, i.e. grace and peace, on behalf of God and the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Look at v.3! Ambassadors carry such greetings from their sovereign. #5, Paul in v.4, gave a brief summary statement of the Gospel. Jesus Christ came to earth and gave himself for our sins. Jesus Christ was a sin offering for us. By this means he can and will deliver us out of this present evil world. According to any doctrine you want to follow! Is that what it says? Come on! get your specks on! It says: "according to the will of God and our Father." (end of v.4). Not according to any doctrinal smorgasbord you might choose. But, according to the will of God. Do you remember John 17:17? In a prayer to the heavenly Father; Jesus said: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." The word of God is the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news for mankind. That word of truth will sanctify, i.e. separate and set apart. It's the will of the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus prayed: Father sanctify them through thy truth. Then #6, Paul ascribed to our Saviour and Redeemer glory for ever and ever. "Amen" means: so be it! Jesus Christ our Saviour is worthy; He is the author of the plan of salvation; the means by which he became a sin offering for us and by which he extends to us opportunity for life eternal. Amen.
Why was Paul writing to the Galatians? There was a problem. What was that problem? Some were teaching that one must be saved by other means than by the blood of Jesus. Re-read Acts 15:1, "certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." What does it take to be saved? That was at Antioch of Syria. Obviously the false teachers in Galatia were teaching that same doctrine. They were teaching: it takes more than the blood of Jesus to save. That is not true. It is this proposition to which the apostle Paul devoted these six chapters. He'll get it down to much more detail. We'll get back to that in our future lessons. We'll pick up with v.6 in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.