Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 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:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.
While Paul was certainly not opposed to obedience, he realized that by insisting on circumcision, individuals within the church were inadvertently making human behavior a prerequisite for salvation, which is legalism. Galatians is Paul’s passionate appeal to the new Gentile believers to stay true to the gospel.
As part of his opening greeting, Paul reminds us that salvation is rooted in what Jesus has already done for the human race in laying down His life as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins—a sacrifice that brings with it not only the forgiveness of sin, but also freedom from its enslaving power (v. 4). This gospel message was not something Paul invented himself. He had received it directly from the Risen Christ when He appeared to him on the Damascus Road, turning him from a persecutor to a follower of Christ himself (vv. 11-24).
How about us? Through our actions and words are we inadvertently replacing the all-sufficiency of Christ for salvation with some form of human behavior? May our time spent in Paul’s letter remind us that the gospel is forever and always about what Christ has done, not about what we must do.
Carl P. Cosaert
Walla Walla University