The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Galatians 1

Gal 1:1

See Lesson, Paul the man.

See Lesson, Paul's ecclesial letters.

"This epistle has been like 'living fire' again and again in quickening men to vital thinking when the deadening influence of ritual was destroying spiritual life" (CGal 142). Paul's "angry voice".

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Notice: no words of praise, in ct 1Th 1:1; 1Co 1:2; etc.

Paul's changing self-image: (1) an apostle (Gal 1:1; etc), (2) least of the apostles (1Co 15:9), (3) less than the least of all the saints (Eph 3:8), (4) worst of sinners (1Ti 1:15). As Paul drew nearer to Christ, so his self-esteem decreased.

BY JESUS CHRIST: To counter criticism that Paul's apostleship was derived and secondary.

Gal 1:2

TO THE CHURCHES IN GALATIA: This was what we might call a "circular" letter -- being sent to the "churches" of Galatia. From that we should conclude that all meetings in Galatia needed the same issues covered.

We must be aware that different ecclesias have differing problems and needs. So what may be a problem in one ecclesia may not be in another. From this we conclude that ecclesial problems are best resolved by those who are in the area rather than by outside involvement by those who only have limited knowledge of the needs.

Notice that the ground-breaking letter which was generated at the "Jerusalem council" (Acts 15:30) was only sent to the ecclesia where there was a problem with the integration of Gentiles into the ecclesia, though its contents must have been well known throughout Asia because of the two references to it in Rev 2:14,20.

Gal 1:8

AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN: How could this happen? But a man could claim angelic visitation as a pretense for teaching error (cp the old prophet in 1Ki 13:18: "an angel said to me").

LET HIM BE ETERNALLY CONDEMNED: "A man denies an obvious mathematical statement, and he displays dullness of intellect. But if a man denies the essential truths of salvation when they are made known in a revelation authenticated as true by many evidences, his fault passes from the intellectual to the moral plane. As it is a moral fault to deny God's way, it becomes a moral necessity to uphold it. Its defence and maintenance is nothing less than taking the side of God, and a refusal to do so is joining the enemies of God" (CGal 35).

Gal 1:9

ETERNALLY CONDEMNED: Note contrasting attitudes: the teacher is cursed (cp Tit 1:11; 1Ti 1:3,20), but misled followers are reproached and warned (Gal 1:6; 3:1).

Gal 1:10

Paul is prob quoting his critics: "win approval", "please", etc.

SERVANT OF CHRIST: "Doulos" = bond-slave. This description emphasizes submission and dependence on their Lord. It is not a technical reference to a specific office, but characterizes their willing service of Christ, their divine Master. The same designation appears in the letters of James, 2Pe, and Jude.

Man's slave becomes free in Christ, and a freeman (like Paul) becomes Christ's slave (1Co 7:22).

The use of the term "slaves" also suggests the "redemptive" work of God in Christ: the Israelites were "slaves" in Egypt, who were "bought" or "redeemed" out of their slavery to become the "purchased possession" of the Father (Exo 15:16). (See Lesson, Redemption.)

Gal 1:13

DESTROY: "Portheo" = "make havoc" (sw Act 9:21; Gal 1:23).

Gal 1:17

ARABIA: Perhaps even as far as Sinai, in view of Gal 4:25.

Gal 1:20

Paul's honesty had been called in question.

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