The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
PAUL'S MESSAGE WAS FROM GOD
- Last week we
started a new series on the apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians. We noted that Paul wrote this
epistle to defend the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith apart from
- Salvation by
works is called "another gospel" (1:6-9).
- False teachers
were advancing a false gospel of grace plus law, and in doing so they were not
only attacking the true Gospel, but were also attacking Paul's authority as an
apostle (cf. 1:1, 11, 12).
- Paul affirms
that he did not receiver his message from man. He received it directly from God (1:11,
PAUL'S REVELATION (1:12)
revelation was not from man. It did
not originate with man. Mormonism
originated from a man, Joseph Smith.
Islam originated from a man, Mohammed.
- All other
religions are man-made, but not Christianity. Paul's message came directly from God
- Paul was not a
"man pleaser" (1:10).
- The Scofield
Study Bible says, "The Galatians
know Paul, that he is no seeker after popularity (1:10)...He puts his known
character back of the assertion that his Gospel of grace was a revelation from
12)...As for the Judaizers, Paul had been a foremost Jew, and had forsaken
Judaism for something better (1:13,
14)...He had preached grace years before he saw any of the other apostles (1:15-24)...When he did
meet the other apostles they had nothing to add to his revelations (2:1-6)...The
other apostles fully recognized Paul's apostleship (2:7-10)...If the legalizers
pleaded Peter's authority, the answer was that he himself had claimed none when
- Paul set out to
please God, not man. Before my family and I started Bible Baptist Church, we had
prayer cards made up with I Thessalonians 2:4 on them: "But as we were allowed
of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing
men, but God, which trieth our hearts."
- Too often,
pulpits are filled with "man pleasers," instead of "God-pleasers" (e.g., Joel
- False gospels
appeal to the unregenerate, worldly mind, but the true Gospel is fiercely
opposed (cf. 5:11).
- Paul reminded
his readers that before his conversion to Christ he was "exceedingly zealous of
the traditions" of his fathers. He
"persecuted the church of God, and wasted it" (1:13,
- Notice Paul
refers to Judaism as "the Jews' religion" (1:13). God wasn't in it. Scofield says,
"The new dispensation of grace having come in, the Mosaic
system, if still persisted in, becomes a mere 'Jews' religion.'"
- In John 2:13 and 6:4, John refers to
passover," because it was no longer "the Lord's Passover." And in John 5:1 he refers to "a feast of
the Jews," and in John 7:2 to "the
Jews' feast of
- Paul knew and understood the law of Moses
"above many" of his equals in "the Jews' religion"
(1:14). This is why the Jewish
leaders were determined to kill Paul.
- I heard about a RC priest in the Philippines who was
saved and became a Baptist. The RCC
tried to have him killed.
- Elsewhere Paul says he was a Pharisee and a "Hebrew of
the Hebrews" (cf. Acts 26:4, 5; Phil. 3:4-8).
- No one could question Paul's credentials. He knew what he left, and he knew what
he was preaching.
- Or better, he knew Who he was preaching
- How could a fanatical Pharisee like Saul of Tarsus
preach a message so contrary to his religious background and his own natural
inclination? There is only
one explanation: Paul received his message from God. It was "by the revelation of Jesus
PAUL'S SEPARATION (1:15,
- Paul realized
that before he was even born he had been separated -- set apart -- by God for a
special work (1:15, 16).
- God called him
"by His grace" (1:15). Paul was
saved by the grace of God, and he was called to preach by the grace of
- Paul is
referring here to his dramatic conversion and call on the road to Damascus (Acts
- The Lord
confirmed that call to Ananias, when he said, "Go thy way: for he is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children
of Israel" (Acts 9:15).
- Back in
Spurgeon's day, there were some who tried to explain what Paul experienced as
nothing more than an epileptic fit. When that was told to
Spurgeon, he said, "O, blessed epilepsy if it effects a conversion like
- "But when it
pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb..."
- I read in the
newspaper yesterday that a pregnant lady went into the bathroom at Elmhurst
Hospital, gave birth, and then proceeded to throw the baby in a garbage
- She has been
charged with assault, reckless endangerment, abandonment of a child and
endangering the welfare of a child and faces 15 years in
- However, she wouldn't be charged with a crime if she
would have had her baby killed in an abortion clinic. The young woman told police
that she was "confused."
- It's no wonder she is confused! With legalized abortion, she is confused
as to why she got in trouble for killing her baby.
- David said in Psalm 139:13 and 14, "For thou hast
possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully
and wonderfully made."
- The prophet Jeremiah said, "Then the word of the LORD
came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and
before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained
thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jeremiah 1:4, 5).
- Like the apostle Paul, Jeremiah was set apart by God
before he was born.
- So was John the Baptist. The angel of the Lord told Zacharias, John's father, "For he shall
be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong
drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's
womb" (Luke 1:15).
- Luke 1:41 says, "And it came to pass, that, when
Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and
Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost."
- Elisabeth said to Mary, "For, lo, as soon as the voice
of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for
joy" (Luke 1:44).
- God separated Paul and called him by His grace --
"To reveal" the Son of God in Paul, that Paul might
preach him among the heathen (1:16).
- God called Paul to preach the Gospel to the heathen (cf.
2:8, 9). But Paul never lost his
great burden for his fellow Jews.
In Romans 9:2 and 3, Paul said he had "great heaviness and continual
sorrow" in his heart for his "kinsmen according to the
- Paul's "heart's desire
and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Romans
- God called Paul so that Paul might "reveal his Son"
(1:16). God calls all of us to do
the same. We must present Christ to
a lost and dying world.
- Every preacher
needs preparation. A young
man told the dean of a Bible college that he was going to skip Bible college and
would just go out and start preaching.
- The dean asked
him what he would preach, seeing he would have no training. The young man quoted Psalm 81:10, "Open
thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."
- The dean
answered him, "Yes, God will fill it...with hot air!"
- My dean said,
"A call to preach is a call to prepare."
- Many young men
cut short their preparation with the excuse, "The Lord is coming back soon. I need to get out there and win
- But they are
hindering their effectiveness as preachers and soulwinners by cutting short
their training. Besides, no one
knows when the Lord will return.
Especially Harold Camping!
- Paul got his
preparation for the ministry in Arabia and Damascus (1:16, 17).
- The Bible does
not say why Paul did not get his training in Jerusalem. Perhaps it would have been dangerous for
him there. But nevertheless, it was
dangerous for Paul in Damascus too (cf. Acts 9:20-25).
- Like Moses on
the backside of the desert, and David tending sheep on the quiet hills of
Judaea, and John the Baptist in the
wilderness of Judaea, perhaps Paul
- After three years of preparation, Paul went up to
Jerusalem to see Peter, and James, our Lord's brother (1:18,
- This James was the half-brother of our Lord (cf. Matt.
13:54-58). He is referred to by
name in Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; I Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 2:9, 12; James
1:1; and Jude 1.
- Paul did not visit Jerusalem seeking an assignment. That
was not necessary since he received his orders directly from God (cf. Acts 9:6;
18:9, 10; 22:21; 23:11).
- John Newton had been a wicked drunken sailor and slave
trader, adamantly opposed to the things of God.
- During one particularly rough voyage out at sea, he was
- Before he died, he wrote his own epitaph, now engraved
on a plaque on the wall at St. Mary
Woolnoth Church in London, England.
- "John Newton, Clerk, Once an infidel and
A servant of
slaves in Africa,
Was, by the
rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour
and appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had long laboured to
Near sixteen years in Olney, in
And twenty-eight years in this Church."
- Cf. Galatians 1:23.