THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
|KEY THOUGHT||NO. OF CHAPTERS||KEY VERSE||CHRIST SEEN AS|
|Liberty||6||Galatians 3:2||Our Freedom|
|The Apostle Paul||A.D. 60||Christ is the Deliverer from the law and mere externalism and leads unto glorious liberty.|
Reference material compiled by Ray
Various Authors, Edited as reference material
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS
INTRODUCTION: (From Arthur S. Way's Letters of St. Paul)
Contents: The Gospel Paul preached, a revelation not tradition.
Conclusion: The Gospel declared by the apostles was by revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a Gospel of pure grace, and any message that excludes grace or mingles legalism with grace as a means of salvation is under the curse of God and is to be shunned.
Key Word: Paul’s gospel, v. 7.
Strong Verses: 4, 8.
Christ Seen: v. 4. The cross of the Lord Jesus was designed not only to separate us from the penalty of our sins, but to separate us from the power of them. Shall we who have been saved by His grace deny Him by plunging again into that from which His cross has forever delivered us?
Introduction: Some scholars call this book Paul’s crucifixion epistle while others call it Paul’s explosive epistle. “Every sentence in it is a thunderbolt, and every word in it is a stick of dynamite”.
relation between Law and Grace in the plan of salvation has been a burning
question since apostolic days. The transition from the age of Law which ended at
Calvary, to the dispensation of Grace was not a sudden change without incident,
but a bitter struggle. It was not easy for the believing Jew, brought up under
the law of commandments and ordinances, to except without question the new
message of Grace, not fully revealed or made known before Pentecost. To
reconcile the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” as preached by the apostles in
Law of Moses. Thus, Paul met with violent opposition from these legalists wherever he went.
The letter is in three parts. The first two chapters are personal. Chapters 3 & 4 are doctrinal, and the last two are practical.
Verse 1: Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul, an apostle—in the earlier letters written to the church at Thessalonica, Paul used no such title of authority. In those letters, he mentioned the names of Silas and Timothy in connection with his own, while in this letter he only mentions “all the brethren which are with me.” This has the effect of making Paul more prominent, and seems to have been done intentionally, since the letter explicitly defends Paul’s missionary commission.
not of [from] men—The origin of his apostleship did not come from the commission of any men, nor commissioned by any assembly or council of the apostles.
neither by man—Nor by any one of the apostles; neither by James, who seems to have been president of the apostolic council at Jerusalem; nor by Peter, whom, in a particular manner, seem to be the leader of the apostles.
but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father—After noting that he was not commissioned by men, Paul asserted that he had been called by God. When Ananias laid hands on Paul (Acts 9:17), he did not act as the agent for God, but merely as a sign that Paul had already been called (Acts 13:2, 3), a fact which the Holy Spirit was merely confirming to the other Christians.
who raised him from the dead—Even though Paul had not seen Jesus Christ in his humiliation and crucifixion, a point raised against the authenticity of his authority by opponents, he had seen the risen Christ and been made an apostle by him (1 Cor. 9:1, 2; 15:8, 9). Against this background, Paul focuses on his subject: that justification comes by faith in Christ, and not by following the law.
Verse 2: And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
All the brethren which are with me—this emphasizes the fact that Paul was not alone, but supported by a number of people traveling with him (Acts 19:29; 20:4). They were not co-authors of the letter, but did share the feelings Paul was expressing.
The churches of Galatia—in letters to other churches, Paul had some words of commendation (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1); he has none here. He was concerned at the extent to which they had succumbed to the influence of the Judaizers. 1 Peter 1:1 has a reference to Christians living in Galatia. It is interesting to find Peter and Paul, who had been at odds (Gal. 2:7-15), in a cooperative effort to strengthen the same churches.
Verse 3: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Grace be unto you ... - This is the usual apostolic salutation, imploring for them the blessing of God. Here it has a special significance since the Galatians were turning away from the doctrine of grace.
From God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ: The names of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are governed by one preposition of ultimate source, thus indicating that they are the joint source of grace and peace, and that they cooperate in carrying out of the plan of man’s redemption.
Verse 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:
Who gave himself for our sins—as an offering unto death, on our behalf, to provide for our salvation.
Deliver us from this . . . evil world—the result of the salvation provided by Christ’s sacrifice is freedom from the world (cf. Col. 1:13). Paul implied that the Galatians, in returning to the requirements of the law, were rejecting their God-given liberty. The Greek word for “world” (or, “age”) indicates the present course of this world. God has delivered us from having to live in bondage to whatever “age” (or, “era”) we live in.
According to the will of God and our Father—Christ died in obedience to the plan of God (John 6:38, 39), not because we deserved it. The fact that this was in the will of God, the Creator of the universe and the Father of all Christians, should have kept the Galatians from putting legal requirements in the way of that plan.
Verse 5: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Let him have all the praise and honor of the plan and its execution. It is not uncommon for Paul to introduce an ascription of praise in the midst of an argument. It results from the strong desire which he had that all the glory should be given to God, and showed that he believed that all blessings had their origin in him, and that he should be always acknowledged.
Verse 6: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.
I marvel—Paul was surprised that the Galatians, whom he had thought to be doctrinally sound, had so quickly deserted his teachings, especially since he had spent so much time with them. The Greek verb is in the present tense, implying continuous amazement. If the letter was written from Corinth, only three years would have passed since Paul had been with them. If it was written from Ephesus, the interval would have been about one year.
Ye are so soon removed—lit., “are being removed.” They were in the process of turning away from the gospel as Paul had presented it, but had not yet completely divorced themselves. The term Paul employs has the connotation of military desertion, yet he does not allow the full force of the word to hit them. He implies (by using the passive voice) that they have been tempted by others, and that the chief guilt belonged to these intruders. The spiritual lives of the Galatian Christians were at an early and crucial stage of development, and Paul was concerned that they might suffer complete spiritual disaster.
Called you into the grace of Christ—lit., “in (or, by) the grace of Christ,” as the instrumentality by which God calls us to salvation. Salvation through Christ includes justification, reconciliation, and eternal life, access to which was provided through the plan of God the Father (Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 2:12; 5:24).
Another gospel—The Greek word for “another” (heteros) means “a different gospel.”
Verse 7: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Which is not another—The Greek word for “another” (allos means “another of the same kind.” By using these two words (heteros—1:6; and allos—1:7), Paul was saying that the Galatians had listened to a totally different gospel, though there is really no other gospel than the one he preached. The gospel Paul had preached to the Galatians was the only true gospel; there was no other way to obtain eternal life.
Would pervert—lit., “wish to pervert.” Although these men wished to change (or, distort) the truth, the Greek text makes it clear that they could only wish to do so—even though they could cause much trouble for new converts. These men acknowledged Christ, but insisted on keeping many elements of the Jewish law, primarily circumcision.
Verse 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.
Any new message, even if backed by the performance of miracles, should not be accepted if it was in any way contrary to the message they had already received. The message they had believed came from God, and God cannot contradict himself. The Judaizing teachers had claims that their authority came from the apostles at Jerusalem, but Paul was saying that when the truth was in question, no one should be respected above it, not even angels.
Preach any other gospel—this means any gospel other than that which Paul preached.
Let him be accursed—lit. “let him be a curse [an anathema].” Anyone who distorted and perverted the pure gospel should be cursed, condemned by God. In the other passages where Paul uses this Greek word, it is connected with the idea of spiritual death.
Verse 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.
As we said before. That is, in the previous verse. It is equivalent to saying, "As I have just
said." It cannot be supposed that he had said this when he was with them, as it
cannot be believed that he then anticipated that his doctrines would be
perverted, and that another gospel would be preached to them. The sentiment of
Than that ye have received. In the previous verse it is, "that which we have preached." By this change in the phraseology he designs, probably, to remind them that they had once solemnly professed to embrace that system. It had not only been preached to them, it had been embraced by them. The teachers of the new system, therefore, were really in opposition to the once avowed sentiments of the Galatians; to what they knew to be true. They were not only to be held accursed, therefore, because Paul so declared, but because they preached what the Galatians themselves knew to be false, or what was contrary to that which they had themselves professed to be true.
Verse 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.
The Judaizers had evidently accused Paul of trying to win the hearts of the Gentiles by flattering them, “becoming all things to all men,” so that he could make a following for himself. They further accused him of inconsistency in his actions and teachings by observing the law when he was among the Jews (as in his circumcision of Timothy, Acts 16:3) while persuading the Gentiles to renounce the law (5:11). They said that Paul did this in order to keep the Gentiles in a subordinate state, away from the full privileges available only to those who had been circumcised.
Or God—Paul had been a Pharisee, a sect known by its desire to please men (Luke 16:15); now he was a servant of God, responsible to him alone (1 Cor. 4:3
Servant of Christ—A servant tries to please his master in every way he can (Col. 3:22; Tit. 2:9).
Verse 11: But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
But I certify you. I make known to you; or, I declare to you. See 1Cor 15:1. Doubtless this had been known to them before, but he now assures them of it, and goes into an extended illustration to show them that he had not received his authority from man to preach the gospel. To state and prove this is the main design of this chapter.
Is not after man. Greek, not according to man. See Gal 1:1. That is, he was not appointed by man, nor had he any human instructor to make known to him what the gospel was. He had neither received it from man, nor had it been debased or adulterated by any human admixtures. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus.
Verse 12: For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For I neither received it of man. This is very probably said in reply to his opponents, who had maintained that Paul had derived his knowledge of the gospel from other men, as he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus, or been of the number of those whom he called to be his apostles. In reply to this, he says, that he did not receive his gospel in any way from man.
Neither was I taught it. That is, by man. He was not taught it by any written account of it, or by the instruction of man in any way. The only plausible objection to this statement which could be urged would be the fact that Paul had an interview with Ananias Acts 9:17 before his baptism, and that he would probably receive instructions from him. But to this it may be replied,
that there is no evidence that Ananias went into an explanation of the nature of the Christian religion in his interview with Paul;
Paul had before this been taught what Christianity was by his interview with the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus, Acts 9:5, 26:14-18;
the purpose for which Ananias was sent to him in Damascus was that he might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, Acts 9:17. Whatever instructions he may have received through Ananias, it is still true that his call was directly from the Lord Jesus, and his information of the nature of Christianity from his revelation.
But by the revelation of Jesus Christ. On his way to Damascus, and subsequently in the temple, Acts 22:17-21. He received communications at various times from the Lord Jesus with regard to the nature of the gospel and his duty, The sense here is, that he was not indebted to men for his knowledge of the gospel, but had derived it entirely from the Saviour.
Verse 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:
For ye have heard of my conversation. My conduct, my mode of life, 2Cor 1:12. Probably Paul had himself made them acquainted with the events of his early years. The reason why he refers to this is to show them that he had not derived his knowledge of the Christian religion from any instruction which he had received in his early years, or any acquaintance which he had formed with the apostles, he had at first been decidedly opposed to the Lord Jesus, and had been converted only by his wonderful grace.
In the Jews' religion. In the belief and practice of Judaism; that is, as it was understood in the time when he was educated. It was not merely in the religion of Moses, but it was in that religion as understood and practiced by the Jews in his time, when opposition to Christianity constituted a very material part of it. In that religion Paul proceeds to show that he had been more distinguished than most persons of his time.
How that beyond measure. In the highest possible degree; beyond all limits or bounds; exceedingly. The phrase which Paul here uses is one which he frequently employs to denote anything that is excessive, or that cannot be expressed by ordinary language.
I persecuted the church, and wasted it. Destroyed it. The word which is here used means, properly, to waste or destroy, as when a city or country is ravaged by an army or by wild beasts. His purpose was too utterly to root out and destroy the Christian religion.
Verse 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.
And profited. Made advances and attainments. He made advances not only in the knowledge of the Jewish religion, but also he surpassed others in his zeal in defending its interests, he had had better advantages than most of his countrymen; and by his great zeal and characteristic devotion, he had been able to make higher attainments than most others had done.
Above many my equals. This is the true sense of the original. It means that he surpassed those of the same age with himself. Possibly there may be a reference here to those of the same age who attended with him on the instructions of Gamaliel.
Being more exceedingly zealous. More studious of; more ardently attached to them; more anxious to distinguish himself in attainments in the religion in which he was brought up. All this is fully sustained by all that we know of the character of Paul, as at all times a man of singular and eminent zeal in all that he undertook.
Of the traditions of my fathers. Of the traditions of the Jews. Mt 15:2. A large part of the doctrines of the Pharisees depended on mere tradition; and Paul doubtless made this a special matter of study, and was particularly tenacious in regard to it. It was to be learned, from the very nature of it, only by oral teaching, as there is no evidence that it was then recorded. But in the time of Paul they were to be learned as they were handed down from one to another; and hence the utmost diligence was requisite to obtain a knowledge of them. Paul does not here say that he was zealous then for the practice of the new religion, nor for the study of the Bible. His object in going to Jerusalem, and studying at the feet of Gamaliel, was doubtless to obtain knowledge of the traditions of the sect of the Pharisees. Had he been studying the Bible all that time, he would have kept from the fiery zeal which he evinced in persecuting the church, and would, if he had studied it right, have been saved from much trouble of conscience afterwards.
Verse 15: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
But when it pleased God. Paul traced all his hopes of eternal life, and all the good influences which had ever borne upon his mind, to God.
Who separated me. That is, who destined me; or who purposed from my very birth that I should be a preacher and an apostle. The meaning is that God had in his secret purposes set him apart to be an apostle. It does not mean that he had actually called him in his infancy to the work, for this was not so, but that he designed him to be an important instrument in his hands in spreading the true religion. Jeremiah (Jer 1:5) was thus set apart, and John the Baptist was thus early designated, for the work which they afterwards performed. It follows from this,
That God often, if not always, has purposes in regard to men from their very birth. He designs them for some important field of labour, and endows them at their creation with talents adapted to that.
It does not follow that because a young man has gone far astray; and has become even a blasphemer and a persecutor, that God has not destined him to some important and holy work in his service. How many men have been called, like Paul, and Newton, and Bunyan, and Augustine, from a life of sin to the service of God?
God is often training up men in a remarkable manner for future usefulness. His eye is upon them, and he watches over them, until the time comes for their conversion, His providence was concerned in the education and training of Paul. It was by the Divine intention with reference to his future work that he had so many opportunities of education, and was so well acquainted with the "traditions" of that religion which he was yet to demonstrate to be unfounded and false, he gave him the opportunity to cultivate his mind, and prepare to grapple with the Jew in argument, and show him how unfounded were his hopes. So it is often now. He gives to a young man an opportunity of a finished education. Perhaps he suffers him to fall into the snares of infidelity, and to become familiar with the arguments of skeptics, that he may thus be better prepared to meet their arguments and to enter into their feelings, His eye is upon them in their wanderings, and they are suffered often to wander far; to range the fields of science; to become distinguished as scholars, as Paul was; until the time comes for their conversion, and then, in accordance with the purpose which set them apart from the world, God converts them, and consecrates all their talents and attainments to his service.
We should never despair of a young man who has wandered far from God. If he has risen high in attainments; if his whole aim is ambition; or if he has become an infidel, still we are not to despair of him. It is possible still that God "separated" that talent to his service from the very birth, and that he means yet to call it all to his service, how easy it was to convert Saul of Tarsus when the proper period arrived. So it is of the now unconverted and unconsecrated, but cultivated talent among the young men of our land. Far as they may have wandered from God and virtue, yet much of that talent has been devoted to him in baptism, and by parental purposes and prayers; and, it may be--as is morally certain from the history of the past--that much of it is consecrated also by the Divine purpose and intention for the noble cause of virtue and pure religion. In that now apparently wasted talent; in that learning now apparently devoted to other aims and ends, there is much that will yet adorn the cause of virtue and religion; and how fervently should we pray that it may be "called" by the grace of God, and actually devoted to his service.
And called me by his grace. On the way to Damascus. It was special grace, because he was then engaged in bitterly opposing him and his cause.
Verse 16: To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
To reveal his Son in me. This is to be regarded as connected with the first part of Gal 1:15: "When it pleased God to reveal his Son in me," i.e., on the way to Damascus. The phrase evidently means, to make me acquainted with the Lord Jesus, or to reveal his Son to me. The revelation here referred to was the miraculous manifestation which was made to Paul on his way to Damascus. That revelation was in order to convince him that He (Christ) was the Messiah; to acquaint him with His nature, rank, and claims; and to qualify him to be a preacher to the heathen.
That I might preach him. In order that I might so preach him; or with a view to my being appointed to this work. This was the leading purpose for which Paul was converted.
The heathen. The Gentiles; the portion of the world that was not Jewish, or that was destitute of the true religion.
Immediately. The evident sense is that he was at once decided. He did not take time to deliberate whether he should or should not become a Christian. He made up his mind at once, and on the spot. He did not consult with any one; he did not ask advice of any one; he did not wait to be instructed by any one. He was convinced by the vision in an overpowering manner that Jesus was the Messiah, and he yielded at once. The main idea is, that there was no delay, no consultation, no deferring it, that he might see and consult with his friends, or with the friends of Christianity. The object for which he dwells on this is to show that he did not receive his views of the gospel from man.
I conferred not. I did not lay the case before any man; I did not confer with any one.
Flesh and blood. Any human being: for so the phrase properly signifies. This does not mean here that Paul did not consult his own ease and happiness; that he was regardless of the sufferings which he might be called to endure; that he was willing to suffer, and was not careful to make provision for his own comforts which was true in itself; but that he did not lay the case before any man, or any body of men, for instruction or advice, he acted promptly and decisively, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but resolved at once to obey. Many suppose that this passage means that Paul did not take counsel of the evil passions and suggestions of his own heart, or of the feelings which would have prompted him to lead a life of ambition, or a life under the influence of corrupt desires. But however true this was in fact, no such thing is intended here. It means simply that he did not take counsel of any human being; he resolved at once to follow the command of the Saviour, and at once to obey him. The passage shows,
That when the Lord Jesus calls us to follow him, we should promptly and decidedly obey.
We should not delay even to take counsel of earthly friends, or wait for human advice, or consult their wishes, but should at once resolve to follow the Lord Jesus. Most persons, when they are awakened to see their guilt, and their minds are impressed on the subject of religion, are prone to defer it; to resolve to think of it at some future time; or to engage in some other business before they become Christians; or, at least, they wish to finish what they have on hand before they yield to God. Had Paul pursued this course, he would probably never have become a Christian. It follows, therefore,
That when the Lord Jesus calls us, we should at once abandon any course of life, however pleasant, or any plan of ambition, however brilliant, or any scheme of gain, however promising, in order that we may follow him. What a brilliant career of ambition did Paul abandon! And how promptly and decidedly did he do it! he did not pause or hesitate a moment; but, brilliant as were his prospects, he at once forsook all--paused in mid-career in his ambition--and, without consulting a human being, at once gave his heart to God. Such a course should be pursued by all. Such a promptness and decision will prepare one to become an eminent Christian, and to be eminently useful.
Verse 17: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to
them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Neither went I up to Jerusalem. That is, I did not go there at once. I did not go to consult with the apostles there, or to be instructed by them in regard to the nature of the Christian religion. The design of this statement is to show that in no sense did he derive his commission from man.
To them which were apostles before me. This implies that Paul then regarded himself to be an apostle. They were, he admits, apostles before he was; but he felt also that he had original authority with them, and he did not go to them to receive instruction, or to derive his commission from them. Several of the apostles remained in Jerusalem for a considerable time after the ascension of the Lord Jesus, and it was regarded as the principal place of authority.
But I went into Arabia. Arabia was south of Damascus, and at no great distance. The line indeed between Arabia Deserts and Syria is not very definitely marked, but it is generally agreed that Arabia extends to a considerable distance into the great Syrian Desert. To what part of Arabia, and for what purpose Paul went, is wholly unknown. Nothing is known of the circumstances of this journey; nor is the time which he spent there known. It is known, indeed, Gal 1:18, that he did not go to Jerusalem until three years after his conversion; but how large a part of this time was spent in Damascus we have no means of ascertaining. It is probable that Paul was engaged during these three years in preaching the gospel in Damascus and the adjacent regions, and in Arabia. Comp. Acts 9:20,22,27.
And returned again unto Damascus. He did not go to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles after his visit to Arabia, but returned again to the place where he was converted, and preached there, showing that he had not derived his commission from the other apostles.
Verse 18: Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Then after three years. Probably three years after his departure from Jerusalem to Damascus, not after his return to Arabia.
Went up to Jerusalem. More correctly, returned.
To see Peter. Peter was the oldest and most distinguished of the apostles. In Gal 2:9, he, with James and John, is called a pillar. But why Paul went particularly
to see him is not known. It was probably, however, from the celebrity and distinction which he knew Peter had among the apostles that he wished to become particularly acquainted with him. The word which is here rendered to see is by no means that which is commonly employed to denote that idea. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and properly means, to ascertain by personal inquiry and examination, and then to narrate, as an historian was accustomed to do, whence our word history.
And abode with him fifteen days. Probably, including three Lord's days. Why he departed then is unknown. Some
believe that it was on account of the plots of the Grecians against him, and
their intention to destroy him,
Verse 19: But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
In Acts 9:27, 28, “apostles” are mentioned. This verse shows that these apostles were Peter and James, the others probably having fled after the martyrdom of Stephen. Peter himself soon left on a preaching tour of Judea (Acts 9:32).
James the Lord’s brother—this name was given to him as a means of differentiating him from James (the son of Zebedee) who was also an apostle who had been killed by Herod. Later (2:9, 12), Paul refers to him only as “James.” This James was the leader of the church of Jerusalem, and the probable author of the NT epistle.
Verse 20: Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Behold, before God, I lie not. This is an oath, or a solemn appeal to God The design of this oath here is to prevent all suspicion of falsehood. It may seem to be remarkable that Paul should make this solemn appeal to God in this argument, and in the narrative of a plain fact, when his statement could hardly be called in question by any one. But we may remark,
That the oath here refers not only to the fact that he was with Peter and James but fifteen days, but to the entire group of facts to which he had referred in this chapter. "The things which I write unto you." It included, therefore, the narrative about his conversion, and the direct revelation which he had from the Lord Jesus.
There were no witnesses which he could appeal to in this case, and he could therefore only appeal to God. It was probably not practicable for him to appeal to Peter or James, as neither of them were in Galatia, and a considerable part of the transactions here referred to occurred where there were no witnesses. It pertained to the direct revelation of truth from the Lord Jesus. The only way, therefore, was for Paul to appeal directly to God for the truth of what he said.
The importance of the truth here affirmed was such as to justify this solemn appeal to God. It was an extraordinary and miraculous revelation of the truth by Jesus Christ himself. He received information of the truth of Christianity from no human being. He had consulted no one in regard to its nature. That fact was so extraordinary, and it was so remarkable that the system thus communicated to him should harmonize so entirely with that taught by the other apostles with whom he had had no intercourse, that it was not improper to appeal to God in this solemn manner. It was, therefore, no trifling matter in which Paul appealed to God; and a solemn appeal of the same nature, and in the same circumstances, can never be improper.
Verse 21: Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Afterwards I came, In this account he has omitted a circumstance recorded by Luke,
The regions of Syria. Syria was between Jerusalem and Cilicia. Antioch was the capital of Syria, and in that city and the adjacent places he spent considerable time.
Cilicia. This was a province of Asia Minor, of which Tarsus, the native place of Paul, was the capital. Acts 6:9.
Verse 22: And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
And was unknown by face, Paul had visited Jerusalem only, and he had formed no acquaintance with any of the churches in the other parts of Judea. He regarded himself at the first as called to preach particularly to the Gentiles, and he did not remain even to form an acquaintance with the Christians in Judea.
The churches of Judea. Those which were out of Jerusalem. Even at the early period of the conversion of Paul, there were doubtless many churches in various parts of the land.
Which were in Christ. United to Christ; or which were Christian churches. The design of mentioning this is to show that he had not derived his views of the gospel from any of them. He had neither been instructed by the apostles, nor was he indebted to the Christians in Judea for his knowledge of the Christian religion.
Verse 23: But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
But they had heard only, They had not seen me; but the remarkable fact of my conversions had been reported to them. It was a fact that they could hardly be concealed.
Verse 24: And they glorified God in me.
In my case” or “because of me.” Paul used this as a small needle to
prick the Galatians. These churches, which had never seen Paul, rejoiced because
of his conversion, while the Galatians, who had been converted under Paul’s
ministry, questioned his authority.
This lesson was prepared using the following: Brooks, Keith I., The Summarized Bible; Clark, Adam, Commentary on the N. T.; Henry, Matthew, Commentary on the N. T.; Green, Oliver, Commentary on Galatians; Walvoord, John, Commentary on the Book of Galatians
All scripture is from the King James Version.
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