Galatians 1:11-17 ** Our regular sound guy was away this Sunday, so the message was not recorded. Below are the full notes.
Setting the Record Straight: God is the Source of the Gospel
ILLUS: I have to set the record straight on something– when I told some teens at church it was o.k. to cheat as long as you don’t get caught… I only meant while playing Euchre!
It seems false teachers from Jerusalem are undermining Paul and adding OT requirements to the NT believers in Galatia. Judging from Paul’s response, it appears these agitators are the self-claimed representatives of the Jerusalem apostles, and seem to be insisting that the Galatians listen to them instead of Paul.
The first Christians were Jewish, with centuries of strict laws and traditions, very separated, required to be separated from non-Jews. So at first they really struggled with accepting Greeks and other Gentiles into the church.
And even when they did accept them, many Jewish Christians struggled with the Gentiles not observing the Jewish ways of worship, or doing the main things that the people of God had done since Moses.
It would take time and prayerfulness and God interceding in the hearts of the apostles and God inspiring Scriptures like Galatians and Romans for the new Christian community to accept the centuries old Laws and traditions were not necessary to make someone a child of God. To be part of God’s chosen family all that was required was faith in His Son.
The Jewish representatives who came to Galatia after Paul apparently made quite a strong case, no doubt using OT Scriptures, to put these new Gentile believers under the OT, or at least part of it.
So as we read Galatians, we see from Paul’s tone and what he writes about, that the false teachers came, saying the apostles in Jerusalem are the “pillars” of the church. They are all circumcised. They still keep the Sabbath. They don’t eat certain meats. “You need to add these OT elements into your Christian life if you want to truly be part of the people of God.
The Galatians probably explained, “but Paul didn’t tell us that. He said, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified and risen from the grave.’ And we did. We’ve turned from idols to follow Jesus.”
But it sounds like the agitators reply was, “Paul? You mean the one who used to be Saul, the former Pharisee and Persecutor of the church? We follow the true apostles, from Jerusalem, who were actually with Jesus. Paul must’ve misunderstood when they explained the gospel to him. Now, let’s get back to applying Leviticus to your lives.”
So Paul is setting the record straight. This isn’t man’s gospel. Paul didn’t invent it. Nor was he taught by the original apostles, as important as they might be.
God is the Source of the Gospel.
I. “God showed me the gospel” (vv. 11-12).
“received it”– it was given
“through a revelation of Jesus Christ”– Acts 26:9-18
II. “The gospel changed my life” (vv. 13-14).
From pursuing the prestige of becoming a Pharisee: an honored expert of the Law and Jewish traditions.
– living for it
– tying to make myself right with God- “my own righteousness” (Ph. 3:9)
– impressing others- “blameless” (Ph. 3:6)
– attacking others who followed Christ instead of keeping the Law
“But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9:1)
“I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” (Acts 26:10-11)
III. “God saved me” (v. 15).
– “set me apart before I was born”– i.e. this was not my plan, nor that of the other apostles; this is God’s plan.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
– “called me”– while I was in my pride and sin, and trying to be a Law enforcer
* “by His grace”— not because I was a Pharisee and had earned righteousness, but by His goodness, kindness, undeserved favor.
– “revealed His Son [God the Son] to [lit, in] me”– Jesus met Him, the risen, living, powerful Lord Jesus. The One who had fulfilled all the Law Himself. It was God the Father who revealed Jesus to Paul.
– “in me”—he met the Lord in bright light on the way to Damascus, Jesus “enlightened his whole soul” (Chrysostom).
Paul is saying, “I know what it means to be saved by grace—saved from trying to keep the Law—and that is the gospel I preach: it’s all about Christ and His grace (cf. 1:6, the grace of Christ).
God is the Source of this gospel.
IV. “God gave me this gospel message to give to the nations (like Galatia)” v. 16.
“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you” (Rom. 1:14-15)
– “preach Him [“His Son”] — lit., “preach the good news of Him”
“preach the gospel” = “preach the good news” = Preach Christ!
“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles– to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'” (Acts 26:15-18).
V. “God’s Word is the greatest direction I have” (vv. end of 16-17).
He didn’t rush to consult with the apostles or compare notes.
Those first apostles received their gospel message directly from Jesus. So did Paul.
Message from Paul to the Galatians (and to us): “you received the gospel just as I received it from Jesus. You have believed the True Gospel because it is the very one God revealed to me when I met and spoke with His risen Son. And when we talked—He made no mention of Gentiles having to keep the OT Law. Rather—“turn from darkness to light and receive forgiveness of sins and a place [in God’s family] by faith in [Jesus]” (from Acts 26:18).
LUTHER: “As if he would say, I will not burden the Gentiles with the law, because I am the apostle and evangelist of the Gentiles, and not their lawgiver. For my office and ministry is to bring the gospel to you, and to show you the same revelation which I myself have had. Therefore ought you to hear no teacher that teacheth the law. For among the Gentiles, the law ought not to be preached, but the gospel: not Moses, but the Son of God: not the righteousness of works, but the righteousness of faith. This is the gospel that properly belongeth to the Gentiles.”
As we examine Paul’s message of salvation, we see the source of his gospel is God. God revealed His risen Son to Paul. And this is the good news: Jesus is risen from the dead to save us from our sins.
- Do you know the gospel?
- Has the gospel changed your life?
- Are you saved?
- How are you helping get the gospel to the nations?
- Is God’s Word your most important guide?