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Galatians 1:1-6: The Christian’s Declaration of Independence

Never surrender the liberty of your new life in Christ to the bondage of religious legalism.


God is the author of Galatians using the pen of the Apostle Paul. “I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me by revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12).

The conversion of Paul was one of the most significant conversions in the history of the church. And he was a most unlikely prospect, no one would ever have picked Saul of Tarsus to be a leader in God’s church.

“No single event, apart from the birth of Christ itself has proven to be so determinate for the course of human history as the conversion and commissioning of Paul. God took this man, Paul…from an exclusive Jewish beginning to shake the Western world…in the space of a generation.” –F.F. Bruce

1:1: Paul establishes his authority: “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead…”

Paul describes his heritage: “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6).

“Paul's letter to the Galatians has been called the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty as well as the Christian Declaration of Independence. "Out of its pages grew the Protestant Reformation, for it was by the study in Galatians that Luther’s heart was opened to the truth of justification by faith alone.” –Robert G. Gromacki

Martin Luther said, “the little book of Galatians is my letter; I have betrothed myself to it; it is my wife.”

Galatians derives its title (pros Galatas) from the region in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) where the churches addressed were located. It is the only one of Paul’s epistles specifically addressed to churches in more than one city (1:2; cf. 3:1; 1 Corinthians 16:1).

“In Paul’s day, the word Galatia had two distinct meanings. In a strict ethnic sense, Galatia was the region of central Asia Minor inhabited by the Galatians. They were a Celtic people who had migrated to that region from Gaul (modern France) in the third century B.C. The Romans conquered the Galatians in 189 B.C. but allowed them to have some measure of independence until 25 B.C. when Galatia became a Roman province, incorporating some regions not inhabited by ethnic Galatians (e.g., parts of Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Pisidia). In a political sense, Galatia came to describe the entire Roman province, not merely the region inhabited by the ethnic Galatians.

Paul founded churches in the southern Galatian cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 13:14–14:23). These cities, although within the Roman province of Galatia, were not in the ethnic Galatian region. There is no record of Paul’s founding churches in that northern, less populated region.” –MacArthur

Some believe that Galatians was written from Syrian Antioch in 48–49 after Paul’s first journey and before the Jerusalem council meeting (Acts 15). Others say that Galatians was written in Syrian Antioch or Corinth between 51 and 53.

Verse 2a: “All the brethren who are with me.” We don't know for sure who these brethren were, however the omission of their names shows that the Galatians must have known who they were. Clearly Paul's point is that he is not a lone ranger" in regard to his concern for the integrity of the gospel of grace in Galatia.

Verse 2b: “To the churches of Galatia.” There were at least four churches, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. There is no commendation or thanks offered as Paul did for all the other churches to whom he wrote. Needless to say, Paul is not pleased with their defection from the Gospel of grace! Wuest adds “he did not address them as saints, although they were!”

Verse 3a: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Grace” is charis in Greek, meaning, God's unmerited favor and supernatural enablement and empowerment for salvation (justification, past tense salvation) and for daily sanctification (present tense salvation). Grace is everything for nothing (albeit to procure grace for sinners cost God His only Son's life, so there is no such thing as cheap grace!) to those who don't deserve anything. Grace is what every man needs, what none can earn and what God Alone can and does freely give…Grace addresses man's sin, while mercy addresses man's misery.” –Precept Austin (edited slightly)

Verse 3b: “…and peace…” Grace always precedes peace. There can be no peace without grace. To experience peace with God, we must first accept the free gift of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word for “peace” is eirene, meaning, join or bind together. It literally pictures the binding or joining together of that which had been separated or divided. The result is a setting at one again, which is conveyed by the common expression of “having it all together”. Peace is a state of concord and harmony and is the opposite of division or dissention.

“Peace” is, a state of tranquility, like a lake or river. When we observe a lake or river, we say, “isn’t it peaceful.” The Hebrew greeting, “shalom,” a greeting that says, “hello” or goodbye.” Luke 10:5, “whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’”

When Christ moved into my life the war ended. Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And the Apostle writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And is Romans 8:6, he writes, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Verse 3c: “From God our Father…” All knowledge comes from the Father, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out…For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33;36).

Verse 3d: …and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The source of grace and peace is both the Father and the Son (the single preposition “from” links both Father and Son as the unified Source). So this passage shows us the co-equality of the Godhead. “Lord Jesus Christ,” Lord implies His authority. Jesus speaks of His mission (Deliverer), and Christ denotes His Messianic anointing.

Verses 4a: “Who gave Himself for our sins…”

“Paul here touches on the doctrinal, as in Galatians 1:1 he touched on the personal, point of controversy with the false teachers. He holds up at once before the Galatians, who were returning to the bondage of the law, the picture of the dying Savior, who, by the one sacrifice on the cross, fully and forever accomplished our redemption, so that we need not resort to any human means of salvation or go back to a preparatory dispensation.” –Philip Schaff

Verse 4b: “…that He might deliver us…”

“Deliver”means to pluck out or rescue, to set free from confinement, danger or evil. to liberate from restraint, or to remove or withdraw from a state of exposure to evil.

Verse 4c: “…from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…”

So the whole purpose of the rescue is to deliver us from the dominion of this godless age. We have been rescued from the enslaving power of this present evil age—a world ruled by Satan, full of cruelty, tragedy, temptation, and deception.

This “present evil age” is under the domination of "the prince of this world.” “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who

“The Christian lives in two worlds. He is resident of this ‘present evil age’ and of the Age to Come. Though he is a citizen of this world, the Bible says his ‘citizenship is in heaven’ (Philippians 3:20) and that already he is ‘seated... with Him in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 2:6). As a believer he has been delivered ‘from this present evil age, and has ‘tasted... the powers of the age to come’ (Hebrews 6:5). Eternal life is a present possession. The Christian lives simultaneously in the physical world and in the spiritual world, in the seen and in the unseen, in the present and in the future, on earth and in heaven.” –Ron Dunn

“The purpose of Christ’s death, therefore, was not only to bring us forgiveness, but that, having been forgiven, we should live a new life, the life of the age to come.” –John Stott

We who know Jesus as Lord and Savior are looking forward to the “sweet by and by.” But the truth is while we are waiting to go to that glorious place, we have to live in the nasty now and now!

Verse 5: “…to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” We are to give glory to the one who rescued us! All heaven declares, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12). “All glory to Him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are His before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen” (Jude 1:25 NLT).

If you could see where Jesus brought me from to where I am today

Then I know the reason why, I love Him so.

–Jimmy Pearce–

Verse 6a: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ…”

The Greek word used for “marvel” is thaumazo, Webster’s Dictionary says it means “to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity, o be astonished implies that one is surprised so greatly as to deem something incredible. The English Standard Version translates it, “I am astonished…” The New American Standard Bible uses the words, “I am amazed.”

It is astonishing that a person would turn from the gospel after seemingly accepting it. It is astonishing that one who seems to understand what the gospel can do for them would reject it, and place themselves under the curse of God. It is astonishing that one would refuse to go back to a life without God after knowing the benefits of the gospel.

Paul warns his son in the faith, Timothy about this “turning away.” (Apostasy). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith…” (1 Timothy 4:1). “(Some) Strayed from the faith…” (I Timothy 6:10,21). “(some will) Resist the Truth…” (2 Timothy 3:8). “(Some will) Turn their ears away from the Truth…” (2 Timothy 4:4).

“Apostasy” in Greek is aphístēmi, which is derived from apó, “away from” and histémi, “stand, departure, implying desertion;” literally, “a leaving, from a previous standing.”–Strong

All religions cannot be true! We, as true believers in Christ must reject all religions that do not faithfully preach and teach god’s inspired (God breathed) word. Is Jesus the only way to heaven, or are there other ways to be saved? Can anyone, even the best people, those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless, those who are examples of good works go to heaven without accepting Christ? The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5).

Do not listen to those who say,

•“There are many roads to heaven, it doesn’t matter which one you choose.”

•“As long as you do the best you can, you’re safe.”

•“Just follow the golden rule.”

•“Just keep the ten commandments.”

•“You have to keep an open mind about religion.”

•“It really doesn't matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.”

It is our God-given duty to expose every religion that teaches that there are many roads to heaven. Jesus, who is the Truth, says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one” (Acts 4:12 MSG).

Paul had faithfully preached the truth to the Galatians, and they had received it, believed it and lived it. Then false teachers came in after he had gone. Just as he had warned the Ephesians, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Ephesians 20:29-31). The false teachers had not only attacked the message, but also the messenger. They had convinced some that Paul was not a true apostle, that may be why he establishes his authority in the first verse of this epistle.

Verse 6b: “…to another gospel…”

We live in the most theologically confused generation in the history of the church. In America alone there are over 240 denominations and all are claiming that their group has the truth. Some of these groups disagree as to the method or way of salvation in the Christian religion.

Spurgeon said, “We have not only ‘another gospel,’ but we have fifty other gospels now preached.”

What is the gospel: Paul writes, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:1-3).

So if anyone claims to be a preacher, a teacher, or a minister of the gospel, they must be very careful to preach the biblical gospel, and that alone. There are to be no additions to it, and no subtractions from it. So any message that does not include the death of Christ for our sins, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Any other message is “another gospel.”

2 Corinthians 11:4 Phillips, “For apparently you cheerfully accept a man who comes to you preaching a different Jesus from the one we told you about, and you readily receive a spirit and a Gospel quite different from the ones you originally accepted.”

Matthew 7:21-25, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.’ Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

What was the problem in the Galatian church? This problem was so great that Paul writes this entire letter to correct it. The problem was returning to bondage. He writes, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). To surrender to the “Judaizers” (Those who adopted Jewish religious practices or sought to influence others to do so) was to negate the cross of Christ and to make the death of Christ of no effect.

Paul is not astonished that false teachers would pervert the gospel. But he is bewildered that the church that he established, the church to which he had taught biblical truth could follow “another gospel.” He is amazed that this perversion was not some heresy from people from other nations, but this other gospel was being taught by professing Christians. Remember what the prophet told the Israelites, “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:16 NLT). Paul writes, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Talking Dog for Sale:

“This guy sees a sign in front of a house: ‘Talking Dog for Sale.’ He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a dog sitting there, ‘You talk?’ he asks. ‘Yep,’ the dog replies. ‘So, what’s your story?’ The dog looks up and says, ‘Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies eight years running. The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and I wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.’ The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. The owner says, ‘Ten dollars.’ The guy says, ‘This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him, and so cheap?’ The owner replies, ‘He’s such a liar. He didn’t do any of that stuff.’

Cults are a little like the talking dog. People are sucked in by what seems to be some amazing thing, only to find out that it just ain’t true.” – Rich Cathers,

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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