Galatians 1 Commentary


NOTE: This Verse by Verse Commentary page is part of an ongoing project to add notes to each verse of the Bible. Therefore many verses do not yet have notes, but if the Lord tarries and gives me breath, additions will follow in the future. The goal is to edify and equip you for the work of service (Eph 4:12-13+) that the Lord God might be glorified in your life (Isa 61:3b, Mt 5:16+)

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Overview Chart - Galatians - Charles Swindoll
Another Overview Chart

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Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead),

  • an (KJV): Ro 1:1 1Co 1:1
  • not (KJV): Ga 1:11,12,17
  • neither (KJV): Ac 1:16-26 13:2-4
  • but (KJV): Ac 9:6,15,16 22:10,14-21 26:16-18 Ro 1:4,5 2Co 3:1-3 Eph 3:8 1Ti 1:11-14 2Ti 1:1 Tit 1:3
  • and (KJV): Mt 28:18-20 Jn 5:19 10:30 20:21
  • raised (KJV): Ac 2:24-32 3:15 Ro 4:24,25 10:9 14:9 Eph 1:19,20 Heb 13:20 1Pe 1:21 Rev 1:5,18 2:8
Gospel of Grace
Gospel of Grace
Gospel of Grace
Defense of the
Gal 1:1-2:21
from Legalism
Gal 3:1-4:31
to Love and to Serve
Gal 5:1-6:18
Labor Liberty Life
Not Opinion
Not Bondage
Not Flesh
Paul the

(Gal 1:1-24)

(Gal 2:1-21)
Justified by Faith not Works
(Gal 3:1-9)
Justified by Faith not the Law
(Gal 3:10-4:20)
Grace and Law Cannot Co-Exist
(Gal 4:21-31)
Position and Practice of Liberty
(Gal 5:1-15)
Power of Liberty

(Gal 5:16-26)
Performance in Liberty

(Gal 6:1-18)
Vindication Exposition Application
Testimonial and
Doctrinal and
Practical and
of Liberty
for Liberty
of Liberty

Style or Tone: Vigorous, blunt, aggressive, direct, corrective, confrontative, forceful, urgent, brief, righteous anger, strong wording

Theme: Justification by Faith and not by Works of the Law

Author: Paul in large letters (Gal 6:11)

Recipients: Churches in Galatia (Gal 1:2) (Most likely the Southern Region)

Christ in Galatians: Jesus is the Source and Power for the believer's New Life (Gal 2:20, 5:16)


(From Irving Jensen & Merrill Unger)




Lost in Adam all die
Physically in Adam
Another Gospel (false)
Man's Reasoning
Saved in Christ all live
Spiritually in Christ
The Genuine Gospel
God's Revelation


Law Works curse of death
Condemnation by Works
Servants in Bondage (Defeat)
Old Covenant
(Symbolized by Hagar)
Grace Faith blessing of life
Justification by Faith
Sons in Freedom (Victory)
New Covenant
(Symbolized by Sarah)


Living in the Flesh
Works of the Flesh
Falling from grace
World or self object
of glorying
Walking by the Spirit
Fruit of the Spirit
Standing Firm in Grace
The Cross the sole object
of glorying

Magna Carta of Christian Liberty

Paul's letter to the Galatians has been called the the Magna Charta 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." (Gromacki) Galatians is the only letter of Paul that is specifically addressed to a number of churches (“To the churches of Galatia” in Gal 1:2).

Date: Most favor 48/49 AD, so that only the letter to James is earlier (45 AD). James addressed the error of Antinomianism (anti = against + nomos = law. See another short discussion or here)

Wilkinson - The Epistle to the Galatians has been called “the charter of Christian liberty.” It is Paul’s manifesto of justification by faith and the liberty it produces. Paul directs this great charter of Christian freedom to a people who are willing to give up the priceless liberty they possess in Christ. Certain Jewish legalists are influencing the believers in Galatia to trade their freedom in Christ for bondage to the Law. Paul writes to refute their false gospel of works, and to demonstrate the superiority of justification by faith. (Talk thru the Bible)

John Piper told his congregation in 1983 (he retired in 2012) the reason he had "chosen to preach from Galatians over the next several months is that more than any other New Testament letter, this one is alive. I mean that in Galatians Paul is at his most vigorous. The sheer emotional force of the book has captured me again and again over the years. You can’t read the first ten verses without feeling that something utterly important is at stake. You can’t read Galatians and think, “Well this is an interesting piece of religious reflection”—any more than you can examine a live coal with your bare hands. Galatians is a virile statement of the central truths of Christianity. If we as a people can make these truths and this vigor a part of our thinking and our willing, the bones of our faith will be strong and not brittle, and the emotional force of our life in Christ will not be lukewarm but ardent and intense and undivided. The Scottish minister, P. T. Forsythe, said, “The secret of the Lord is with those who have been broken by his cross and healed by his Spirit.” Galatians exalts these two things: the cross of Christ as the only way a person can get right with God, and the Spirit of Christ as the only way a person can obey God. Anything that diminishes the beauty and all-sufficiency of what happened on the cross of Christ is anathema to Paul. Anything that puts our willing or running where the Holy Spirit belongs is witchery to Paul. And the reason we sense a kind of compassionate rage running beneath this letter is that someone had bewitched the Galatians to put themselves where the Spirit belonged and the works of law where faith in the cross belonged. My hope is that you will study this great book with me. That you will marry it and that “the two will become one.” There is nothing that I would rather be over the next several months than a spiritual cupid to help you fall in love afresh with the magnificent Christ of Galatians."

Outline of Galatians 1 (John Butler)

A. The Commencement of Paul (Galatians 1:1–5)

B. The Concern of Paul (Galatians 1:6–12)

C. The Change in Paul (Galatians 1:13–24)

To better understand the epistle to the Galatians read Luke's account of Paul's First Missionary Journey, which was primarily to cities in Southern Galatia. (Acts 13:1-14:28, the journey actually commencing in Acts 13:4. For reference the Second begins in Acts 15:35 and the Third in Acts 18:23) This area of Southern Galatia is what most commentators feel was the "target" audience of this relatively "scathing" letter, one which is unusual for Paul in that it includes no commendation.

M R DeHaan - “GOOD things come in small packages,” is a popular saying, which may or may not always be true. It is, however, true in the case of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, which we are studying. It is not one of the longest epistles, containing only six comparatively brief chapters, but they are jammed full of most important doctrines and practical truths. No one can fully understand the relationship between Law and Grace, faith and works, Israel and the Church, without knowing the teaching of the grace of God as set forth in this and the Roman epistle.

Jerry Bridges - In the year 1215, English barons forced King John to sign a historic document, the Magna Carta, giving his assent to a charter of civil liberties for the English people. He did not do this freely and voluntarily, but actually under duress from the English nobles who had confronted him about his totalitarian and unjust rule. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians has been called the great charter of religious freedom, the Christian Declaration of Independence, and the Magna Carta of the church. The FREEDOM set forth in Galatians is not freedom from God, but from those who insist on some form of legalism in the life of a believer. (Transforming Grace- Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love)

Christian Freedom is
not the right to do as I wish,
but the power to do as I should

KEY WORDS IN GALATIANS (Note: Stats are based on NASB77) Just from the key words, can you begin to see what the letter to the Galatians is about?

  • Christ (38x/33v) - Gal 1:1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 12, 22, 2:4, 16 (3x), Gal 2:17(2x), Gal 2:20 (2x), 21, 3:1, 13, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 4:14, 19, 5:1, 2, 4, 6, 24, 6:2, 12, 14, 18 (Note that Christ is found in the first and last verse of Galatians! Indeed, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the All in All, Everything we need for life and godliness. Amen).
  • Grace (7x/7v) - Gal 1:3, 6, 15, 2:9, 21, 5:4, 6:18
  • Law (32x/25v) - Gal 2:16 (3x), Gal 2:19 (2x), Gal 2:21, 3:2, 3:5, 10 (2x), Gal 3:11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21 (3x), Gal 3:23, 24, 4:4, 5, 21 (2x), Gal 5:3, 4, 14, 18, 23, 6:2, 13
  • Gospel (11x/11v) - Gal 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 2:2, 5, 7, 14, 3:8, 4:13,
  • Faith (21x/19v) Gal 1:23, 2:16 (2x), Gal 2:20, 3:2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 22, 23 (2x), Gal 3:24, 25, 26, 5:5, 6, 6:10
  • Believe (4x/4v) Gal 2:16, 3:6, 9, 22
  • Promise (11x/10v) - Gal 3:14, 16, 17, 18 (2x), Gal 3:19, 21, 22, 29, 4:23, 28
  • Justified (8x/6v) Gal 2:16 (3x), Gal 2:17, 3:8, 11, 24, 5:4
  • Spirit (18x/18v - 16 refer to Holy Spirit) Gal 3:2, 3, 5, 14, 4:6, 29, 5:5, 16, 17, 18, 22, 25, 6:1 (not Holy Spirit), Gal 6:8, 6:18 (not Holy Spirit)
  • Flesh (16x/14v) - Gal 1:16, 2:16, 2:20, 3:3, 4:23, 29, 5:13, 16, 17, 19, 24, 6:8, 6:12, 6:13 (Note: Some uses refer to physical flesh, others to our fallen, "anti-God" nature inherited from Adam)
  • Circumcision/circumcised (13x/12v) - Gal 2:3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 5:1, 3, 6, 11, 6:12, 13 (2x), Gal 6:15
  • Bondage (8x/7v) - Gal 1:10, 2:4, 4:3, 22, 23, 30, 31

KEY VERSES: Galatians 1:4, Galatians 2:16-note, Galatians 2:20-21-note, Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:16-note

THEME: Justification by faith apart from works of the Law is the theme of this urgent and corrective book.

PURPOSE: To counter and correct the false teaching that living under the Mosaic Law (the Message of Legalism and Works Mindset) was a requirement of the Christian faith (the "Christ life", the Gospel of Grace). Paul clearly wanted believers to understand that they can live the supernatural Christian life ONLY by surrender to and reliance upon the life of Christ and the power of the Spirit and His enabling, transforming grace (cf Gal 2:20, 3:2, 3, 5, 14, 4:19, 5:4, 5:16-25). The key to walking in the freedom (from law, works, world, devil, flesh) is to walk directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit rather than by trying to keep the law or a list of rules, for law and rules only "stir up" the works of the flesh (cp Ro 7:5). How do you know that you are walking by the Spirit? Are you boastful, oppositional, envious? (Gal 5:26) Are you joyful regardless of the circumstances (Gal 5:22-23-note)? How are your relationships (cf Gal 5:13-16,  20-26)?

APPLICATION: Before you begin Galatians, take a few moments and ask the Spirit to search your heart and see if there is any hurtful way in you, anything that is impeding the flow of rivers of living water from your innermost being? (Ps 139:23-24, Jn 7:37-39-note) Do I have a works mentality or even subtle tendencies in this direction? Do I follow a list of do's and don'ts that if I keep, I think I have merited God's favor and blessing? Do I have a "do" mentality by which I am seeking the applause of others? Do I experience joy when circumstances dictate otherwise? Am I living according to the lusts of my flesh or in the power of the Spirit?


D L Moody - Five aspects of Crucifixion in Galatians:

  • I crucified in Christ. Gal 2:20.
  • Christ crucified for me. Gal 3:1.
  • The flesh crucified in me. Gal 5:24.
  • The world crucified unto me. Gal 6:14.
  • I crucified unto the world. Gal 6:14.


A. The Commencement of Paul (Galatians 1:1–5)

1. The Greeter (Galatians 1:1,2)

• The identity of the greeter. (Galatians 1:1)

• The individuals with the greeter. (Galatians 1:1-2)

2. The Greeted (Galatians 1:2)

3. The Greeting (Galatians 1:3–5)

• The grace in the greeting. (Galatians 1:3).

• The gift in the greeting. (Galatians 1:4).

• The glory in the greeting. (Galatians 1:5).

B. The Concern of Paul (Galatians 1:6–12)

1. The Marvel in the Concern (Galatians 1:6)

2. The Matter of the Concern (Galatians 1:6,7)

• The perverting of the Gospel. (Galatians 1:6).

• The perturbing of the Redeemed. (Galatians 1:7).

3. The Malediction in the Concern (Galatians 1:8,9)

• The cause of the malediction. (Galatians 1:8).

• The character of the malediction. (Galatians 1:8,9).

• The crowd for the malediction. (Galatians 1:8,9)

4. The Message in the Concern (Galatians 1:10–12)

• The speaking of the message. (Galatians 1:10).

• The source of the message. (Galatians 1;11,12).

C. The Change in Paul (Galatians 1:13–24)

1. His Conduct (Galatians 1:13,14)

• The awareness of his conduct. (Galatians 1:13).

• The awareness of his conduct. (Galatians 1:13).

• The allegiance in his conduct. (Galatians 1:14).

2. His Calling (Galatians 1:15,16)

• The Person in his calling. (Galatians 1:15).

• The pleasure in his calling. (Galatians 1:15).

• The planning of his calling. (Galatians 1:15)

•The passion in his calling. (Galatians 1:15).

• The preaching in his calling. (Galatians 1:16).

• The place of his calling. (Galatians 1:16).

3. His Creed (Galatians 1:16–19)

• The seeking of his creed. (Galatians 1:16,17).

• The source of his creed. (Galatians 1:17).

• The support of his creed. (Galatians 1:18,19).

4. His Confinement (Galatians 1:21–24)

• The place of his confinement. (Galatians 1:21)

• The period of his confinement. (Acts 11:25).

• The product of his confinement. (Galatians 1:22).

• The praise in his confinement. (Galatians 1:23,24).

(John Butler)

I. Introduction (Gal 1:1–10)

A. The salutation (Gal 1:1–5)

B. The denunciation (Gal 1:6–10)


II. Personal: A Defense of Paul’s Authority (Gal 1:11–2:21)

A. He was independent of the apostles (Gal 1:11–24)

1. Thesis: Paul’s gospel was a revelation (Gal 1:11–12)

2. Events before Paul’s conversion (Gal 1:13–14)

3. Events at Paul’s conversion (Gal 1:15–16a)

4. Events after Paul’s conversion (Gal 1:16b–24)

B. He was recognized by the apostles (Gal 2:1–10)

C. He rebuked the reputed chief of the apostles (Gal 2:11–21)

(Bible Knowledge Commentary)

1. Introduction (Gal 1:1–10)

A. Salutation (Gal 1:1–5)

B. Occasion for Writing (Gal 1:6–9)

C. Review of Accusations (Gal 1:10)


2. Paul and the Nature of His Apostleship (Gal 1:11–2:21)

A. Pre-conversion Days (Gal 1:11–14)

B. Conversion (Gal 1:15–17)

C. First Meeting with Jerusalem Leadership (Gal 1:18–24)

(Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary)

I. AUTHORITY: The Apostolic Gospel—Gal 1:1–2:21

A. Greeting—Gal 1:1–5

B. Paul’s Astonishment—Gal 1:6–10

C. Paul’s Call by God—Gal 1:11–17

D. Paul’s Brief Meeting with Leaders—Gal 1:18–24

E. Showdown: Conference in Jerusalem—Gal 2:1–5

F. Apostolic Agreement—Gal 2:6–10

G. Showdown: Conflict in Antioch—Gal 2:11–14

H. Apostolic Conclusion—Gal 2:15–21


II. ARGUMENTS: Law Vs. Faith—Gal 3:1–4:31


III. APPLICATION: Living for Freedom—Gal 5:1–6:18

(College Press)

I. Introduction (Gal 1:1–10).

A. Paul greets the Galatians and reminds them his commission came from God (Gal 1:1–5).

B. Paul reprimands the Galatians (Gal 1:6–10).

1. They are turning to another gospel of a different kind (Gal 1:6).

2. There is no other (true) gospel than the one he preached to them (Gal 1:7).

3. People who preach another gospel are to be accursed, eternally condemned (Gal 1:8–9).

4. Paul seeks to please God and not other persons (Gal 1:10).


II. Paul Defends His Gospel (Gal 1:11–2:21).

A. He received his gospel directly from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11–12).

B. He recounts his previous life in Judaism (Gal 1:13–14).

C. He reminds them of his calling to preach to the Gentiles (Gal 1:15–17).

D. He visited Jerusalem for 15 days (Gal 1:18–24).

E. After 14 years he made a second visit to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10).

F. He confronted Peter at Antioch for withdrawing from Gentile believers (Gal 2:11–14).

G. He summarizes his understanding of the true gospel—faith alone justifies (Gal 2:15–21).

(Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

Paul - Paul is his Latin name. He was originally called by His Hebrew name Saul (Acts 13:9), was of the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe of Israel's first king also named Saul. As Butler says "One (King Saul) had a good start and bad ending, the other (Apostle Paul) had a bad start but a good ending."

Apostle (652)( apostolos from apo = from + stello = send forth) means one sent forth from by another, often with a special commission to represent another and to accomplish his work. It can be a delegate, commissioner, ambassador sent out on a mission or orders or commission and with the authority of the one who sent him. (Another Discussion of Apostle) Apostolos referred to someone who was officially commissioned to a position or task, such as an envoy. Cargo ships were sometimes called "apostolic," because they were dispatched with a specific shipment for a specific destination. In secular Greek apostolos was used of an admiral of a fleet sent out by the king on special assignment. In the ancient world a apostle was the personal representatives of the king, functioning as an ambassador with the king’s authority and provided with credentials to prove he was the king's envoy. Paul is an apostle sent out by the King with the King's authority!

Not sent from men - "Not" is ouk which signifies absolute negation, no exceptions. No man served as the source of authority by which he was appointed an apostle.

Nor through (Gk prep dia - points to the medium by which authority is ordinarily conveyed) the agency of man - "Nor" is oude which is also the strongest negation and which more literally is "not even." The point is that not only was Paul's apostleship not given directly by men (Not sent from men), neither was it mediated through any man "but through Jesus Christ and God the Father." The Father and the Son made Paul an apostle and shared this work together.

C H Spurgeon - Paul begins this Epistle by stating his commission as an apostle. In Galatia, he had been subjected to the great sorrow of having his apostle-ship called in question. Does he, therefore, give up his claim to the office, and retire from the work? No, not for a moment; but he begins his letter to the Galatians by declaring himself to be “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” His enemies had said, “Paul was never one of the Saviour’s twelve apostles; he is not like those who were trained and educated by Christ himself. No doubt he has borrowed his doctrine from them, and he is only a retailer of other men’s goods”. No, no,” says Paul, “I am an apostle as truly as any other of the twelve; ‘not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;’” (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Kenneth Wuest explains that "Not only does Paul say that his apostleship did not find its ultimate source in mankind, but it did not find its intermediate source in man. Man was not even the agent of God in conferring that apostleship. By is the translation of dia, the preposition denoting intermediate agency. It denotes the means or instrument in the hands of an individual by which an act is performed. Thus Paul not only denies that he was made an apostle by men, but also that God used the intermediate agency of man to constitute him an apostle. His apostleship was not derived from a human source or given through a human channel. The reason why Paul changes from the plural word men to the singular word man, is that titles and offices which emanate from a body of men are conferred by their single representative. The acts of the Roman senate took effect through the reigning monarch, those of the Sanhedrin, through the high priest. (The word "but" in "but through Jesus Christ") is from alla the stronger of the two adversatives, de being the milder one. Paul is very strong in his language when contrasting the divine origin of his apostleship with the human origin of the apostleship of the false apostles." In short, in the strongest way (linguistically) possible Paul denies any human involvement in his appointment as an apostle." (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online

Raised Him from the dead - While the resurrection is a crucial component in the Gospel (), the fact that this is the only direct reference to the resurrection in Galatians suggests that false teaching on the resurrection was not a major or immediate concern. The other apostles were commissioned by Jesus still on earth, but Paul's commission was unique in that it was from the resurrected, ascended Lord Jesus (Acts 9:3-8).

Wuest paraphrases Galatians 1:1...

Paul an apostle, not from man (as an ultimate source), nor even through the intermediate agency of a man, but through the direct agency of Jesus Christ and God the Father, the One who raised Him out from among the dead.

Galatians 1:2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:

  • All: Php 2:22, Php 4:21)(Churches: Acts 9:31, Acts 15:41, Acts 16:5,6 Acts 18:23 1Co 16:1

All the brethren - Paul's use of the word "all" suggests that there were a considerable number who were in agreement with his letter.

C H Spurgeon - Paul ever loved to associate others with him in his Christian service. He was not one who wanted to ride the high horse, and to keep himself aloof from his brethren in Christ. He frequently mentions the true-hearted men who were with him, even though they were far inferior to him in talent and also in grace. He often joins with himself such men as Timothy and Silvanus, and here he puts in, “all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:” (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Brethren who are with me - We don't know definitely 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. This suggests that he consulted with others (not excepting God of course) as to the best course of action to address the reports of "another gospel" being promoted in the Galatian churches. Indeed, there is victory in an abundance of counselors (Pr 24:6).

Wuest adds an interesting explanation that...

persons who join in the address prefixed to a letter, are persons whose authorization is required and conveyed in it. They are indicated as joint-authors. The letter, though composed by Paul, is a letter of Paul and those named with him. These all stamp with authority what is said in the letter. Accordingly, where Paul associates anyone with himself in the prefatory superscription of his letters, it is always some person who stands in a position of authority and influence towards those addressed.(Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online

To the churches of Galatia - 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!"

Churches of Galatia (See Map of churches in southern Galatia) - "Galatia was not a city, but a Roman province located in what is now north central and northeastern Turkey. It had earlier been overrun by Gauls, for whom the area was named, and was later incorporated in the Roman empire. Several of the cities reached on Paul's first missionary journey (Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe) were in the area just south of Galatia proper. They could be considered as Galatian churches, but there is no internal evidence to that effect. Possibly the churches Paul was writing to were certain unknown churches in Galatia proper, churches that Paul had reached on his second missionary journey." (Morris)

John Trapp on the Churches of Galatia - They are not unchurched though much corrupted. Uzziah ceased not to be a king when he began to be a leper; the disease of his forehead did not remove his crown. (Ref)

Churches (1577)(ekklesia from ek = out + klesis = a calling, verb = kaleo = to call) literally means called out and as commonly used in the Greco-Roman vernacular referred to citizens who were called out from their homes to be publicly assembled or gathered to discuss or carry out affairs of state. Here ekklesia refers to the local assemblies of believers in Galatia.

As someone said the church is the fruit of the gospel, but Paul sees those churches in Galatia as rotting fruit!

Galatians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

  • Ro 1:7-15 1Co 1:3 2Co 1:2 13:14 Eph 1:2 Php 1:2 Col 1:2 1Th 1:1 2Th 1:2 2Jn 1:3

Grace was the Greek greeting and peace the Hebrew greeting.

Grace (favor) (5485)( charis from chairo = to rejoice. English = charity. Beggars need "charity" even as sinners need grace, for we are all spiritual paupers outside of Christ, but "God gives where he finds empty hands"-Augustine cp Mt 5:3-note)e in simple terms is 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 (Ro 8:32-note where "freely give" is charizoma from charis = a grace gift!). Grace addresses man's sin, while mercy addresses man's misery.

Peace (1515)(eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together) 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, dissension or war.

Even this opening greeting directly confronts the false gospel that had spread like leaven through the Galatian churches. Law offers no grace and in fact negates it! It follows that a legalistic system will bring no peace because peace flows from God's grace! If you want peace with God, you first must accept the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

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. It is interesting that even though Paul is upset that the Galatians have listened to and begun to follow a false gospel, he does not hesitate to offer them God's grace and peace. Sadly, I must confess that my fleshly tendency, when someone rejects me in some way, is to withhold kind, edifying words like "grace and peace to you" (cp Eph 4:29)!

C H Spurgeon - It is the genius of the gospel to wish well to others. Hence Paul begins the actual Epistle with a benediction: “Grace be to you and peace.” Dear friends, may you all have a fullness of these two good things! Grace rightly comes first, and peace afterwards. Peace before grace would be perilous; nay more, it would be ruinous. But may you always have enough of grace to lead you on to a deep and joyful peace! The two things go together very delightfully, — grace and peace, — and it is the best of grace, and the best of peace, since they come “from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Wuest - The salutation proper as given in this verse is the uniform one found in all of the Pauline church letters, but it has special significance in the Galatian letter since the recipients were turning away from the doctrine of grace toward the legalistic teachings of the Judaizers. The grace spoken of here is sanctifying grace, the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the saints. The Galatian letter reveals the fact that the Galatian saints were being deprived of the ministry of the Spirit by the teaching of the Judaizers to the effect that growth in the Christian life was to be had by obedience to the legal enactments of the Mosaic law (Gal 4:19), and thus coming under the Mosaic economy in which there was no provision for an indwelling Spirit whose ministry it was to sanctify the believer, they substituted self-effort for their former dependence upon the Spirit. The salutation therefore is the out breathing of a Pauline prayer that the Galatians might again become recipients of the full work of the Spirit in their lives. The peace here mentioned is heart peace which is the result of the ministry of the Spirit. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online

From God our Father 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). Thus 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.

Lord (Master, Owner)(2962)(kurios) signifies that one is supreme, sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. Jesus is referred to as Lord (Kurios) more frequently than by any other title. Lord is not merely a name that composes a title, but signifies a call to action so that every saint should willingly, reverently bow down to Jesus Christ. If Christ is our Lord, we are to live under Him, consciously, continually submitting our wills to him as His loyal, loving bondservants ("love slaves"), always seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33-note). According to this practical working "definition" beloved we all need to ask ourselves "Is Jesus Christ my Lord?". "Do I arise each day, acknowledges this is the day the Lord hath made?" (Ps 118:24-note) "Do I surrender my will to His will as I begin each day?" (cp Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note) Beloved, don't misunderstand. None of us have "arrived" in this area of Jesus as Lord of our lives. And it is precisely for that reason that Peter commands us to continually "grow (present imperative) in the grace (unmerited favor, power to live the supernatural, abundant life in Christ) and knowledge (not just intellectual but transformational) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2Pe 3:18-note) So do not be discouraged. Don't "throw in the towel" as they say. Keep on keeping on, pressing (continually = present tense) "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:14-note)

James Montgomery Boice adds that "Citizens of the empire were required to burn a pinch of incense to the reigning Caesar and utter the words Kyrios Kaisar (“Caesar is Lord!”). It is this that the early Christians refused to do and for which they were themselves thrown to the wild lions or crucified. It was not that Christians were forbidden to worship God. They were free to worship any god they chose so long as they also acknowledged Caesar. Romans were tolerant. But when Christians denied to Caesar the allegiance that they believed belonged to the true God only, they were executed." (Daniel: An Expositional Commentary)

Today in the Word - Galatians 1:1-5 - In 1976, Vie Carlson bid $400 for the angry letter Frank Sinatra wrote to Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko. Twenty years later, that letter was valued at more than $15,000. In the letter, Sinatra promised Royko $100,000 if he could prove that Sinatra punched the elderly man Royko claimed he did. He could double his earnings if he could pull Sinatra’s alleged hairpiece. “Quite frankly,” Sinatra fumed, “I don’t understand why people don’t spit in your eye three or four times a day.”

It is always telling how a person responds to criticism and personal attack, and Paul began his letter to the Galatians having to do just this. Conspicuously absent are the customary greetings and blessings of his other letters. Rather, Paul had to immediately assume a defensive posture.

Much more is at stake than Paul’s personal reputation. His critics wanted to subvert the gospel he had been preaching, and their first line of attack was to discredit Paul as an apostle. If Paul was to defend the gospel he preaches, he must also defend the validity of his apostleship. He reminded the Galatians that he had been sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father. No man commissioned him, not Peter or any other elder of the church. He had a divine call, and therefore he had legitimate apostolic authority. The forcefulness of his defense, which becomes even clearer as we read on in chapter one, helps us to realize the critical nature of the attack.

The gospel is what matters most. The Galatians had to understand the gospel rightly, and these opening verses summarize the gospel. The theology of Galatians is Trinitarian: the gospel is a shared work of the Father, Son and Spirit. In these opening verses, Paul exalts the work of the God the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ. Both have willingly expressed their love for humanity. God the Father sends Jesus for our rescue; God the Son lays down His life as payment for our sins. By the end of this letter, we’ll see even more clearly the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. For this spectacular mission to save the world, God deserves glory forever and ever.

Contemporary Americans pride themselves on personal freedom. They have much to say about the Constitution's guarantees of freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. They want ""free love"" and freedom from all moral standards. For a nation that puts so much stress on personal freedom, the book of Galatians has a contemporary relevance. Its message is liberty--freedom from the law. This appeals to our ""freedom-seeking"" society. We welcome the chance to be free from any personal or moral restraints. But Galatians doesn't encourage that kind of liberty. As we will discover in our study of this key book, the world's idea of freedom is very different from true freedom in Christ.

TODAY IN THE WORD - A few years ago a popular series of posters initially looked like a jumble of patterns and colors. As one looked intently at them, the apparent chaos would suddenly resolve itself into a well-defined three-dimensional image. While it may not be immediately obvious, a long look at Galatians shows that this epistle fits nicely into the theme of wisdom that we have been studying throughout the year. Galatians represents the apostle Paul’s teaching on living wisely in light of the gospel message.

Galatians 1:4 Who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father: tou dontos (AAPMSG) heauton huper ton hamartion hemon, hopos exeletai (3SAMS) hemas ek tou aionos tou enestotos (RAPMSG) ponerou kata to thelema tou theou kai patros hemon:,

  • gave (KJV): Ga 2:20 Mt 20:28 26:28 Mk 10:45 Lk 22:19 Jn 10:11,17,18 Ro 4:25 Eph 5:2 1Ti 2:6 Tit 2:14 Heb 9:14 10:9,10 1Pe 2:24 1Pe 3:18 1Jn 2:2 3:16 Rev 1:5
  • from (KJV): Ga 6:14 Isa 65:17 Jn 12:31 14:30 15:18,19 17:14,15 Ro 12:2 2Co 4:4 Eph 2:2 6:12 Heb 2:5 6:5 Jas 4:4 1Jn 2:15-17 5:4,5,19 1Jn 5:20 Rev 5:9 7:9
  • according (KJV): Ps 40:8 Mt 26:42 Lk 22:42 Jn 5:30 6:38 14:30,31 Ro 8:3,27,32 Eph 1:3,11 Heb 10:4-10)
  • our (KJV): Mt 6:9 Ro 1:7 Eph 1:2 Php 4:20 1Th 3:11,13 2Th 2:16)


In a parallel passage Paul wrote that God has...

delivered us from the domain of darkness (~ "this present evil age"), and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:13-14)

Comment: Notice that in Col 1:13 it is the Father Who delivers un. In Gal 1:4 the Son.

Phillip Ryken observes four significant truths about Jesus' "rescue operation" on the Cross

First, it shows the willingness of Jesus to go to the Cross. The crucifixion was a voluntary self-sacrifice. Jesus gave the most precious gift of all. He "gave Himself" (Gal. 1:4). He "gave Himself up" (Eph. 5:25), or He "gave Himself for us" (Titus 2:14). No one took Christ's life away from Him; He freely gave it away: "I lay down my life"—Jesus said—"that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord" (John 10:17-18). This is also emphasized in the Gospel of Matthew, where an unusual phrase is used to show that at the moment of his death Jesus "yielded up His spirit" (Matt. 27:50).

Second, this verse shows the purpose of the Cross. The reason Christ gave himself away was "for our sins" (Gal. 1:4). A transaction took place on the cross. We were the ones who deserved to die because we owe God an infinite debt for our sin. But Christ took our place on the Cross. He became our substitute, our sin-offering. He gathered up all our sins, put them on His own shoulders, and paid for them with His death. Thus the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not merely an example of supreme sacrifice, but an actual atonement for sin. It enabled God to forgive us by satisfying His pure justice....

Third, this verse shows the effect of the Cross. Christ was crucified "to deliver us from the present evil age" (Gal. 1:4). When we think of the cross, we usually think first of the atonement. As we have seen, Christ died to pay for our sins. But Christ was also crucified to emancipate us from this evil age. The Gospel is a rescue, like being released from servitude or freed from prison....

Fourth, this verse shows the origin of the Cross. Christ died "according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal. 1:4). The execution of Jesus of Nazareth was not an unforeseen tragedy, a mere accident of history; it was part of God's plan for the salvation of sinners. The apostle Peter said as much to the very men who nailed Jesus to the cross. In his famous sermon in Jerusalem, he declared, "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23). (Galatians Reformed Expository Commentary- Philip Graham Ryken - Recommended Resource)

Wuest comments on the phrase "Who gave Himself for our sins"

Here Paul brings to the attention of the Galatian Christians who were practically ignoring the substitutionary character of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, a declaration of the true ground of acceptance with God (Gal 2:21; 5:4). This was purposely added because the Galatians were falling back on works as the ground of such acceptance. The voluntary aspect of the death of our Lord is brought out here. He said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Who gave Himself - The Father gave the Son. The Son gave Himself. "Purposely added with reference to the Galatians' falling back on the works of the law as the ground of acceptance with God." (Vincent) "He gave Himself-a gift impossible without incarnation-a gift valueless without a mysterious union with divinity." (John Eadie) " Since the nature of love is giving, the greatest gift is that of self. Christ gave Himself! (cp Jn 15:13, Jn 10:11, every husband's model = Eph 5:25)" (Robert Gromacki) "He thus reminds the Galatians, who wished to return to the bondage of the law, of the great object of the Atonement, which they had forgotten. Gal 3:13 is but a restatement, in more precise terms, of this." (Henry Alford)

"We like novels in which the protagonist survives to fight another day, but in real life the hero sometimes perishes. A plaque at a makeshift memorial at the World Trade Center read, “All gave some. Some gave all.” Jesus gave all of Himself for us." (Bridges)

Spurgeon comments on Who gave himself for our sins — There is the doctrine of the atonement, which Paul always brings into his preaching and writing as soon as he can: “Who gave himself for our sins.” Well does Luther say, “Christ never gave himself for our righteousness; but he gave himself for our sins, because there was no other way of saving us except by a sacrifice for sin.” The substitutionary character of Christ’s death is always to be noticed. If our Lord's bearing our sin for us is not the gospel, I have no gospel to preach. The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Ridderbos - By way of exception to the usual pattern of the salutation, the apostle attaches a long description of the work of Christ to his mention of the name of Christ. This at once thrusts the purpose of the letter to the fore: the issue between Paul and the Galatians is the significance of Christ.

Jesus Himself testified to the voluntary nature of His sacrificial gift...

John 10:17 “For this reason (What reason? see Jn 10:16) the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for (huper) us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Titus 2:14 Who gave Himself for (huper) us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

1 Timothy 2:6 Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.

Matt 20:28 (cf Mk 10:45) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Jesus' action fulfilled the OT High Priest's actions on the Day of Atonement, with one exception. In His giving Jesus functioned in the same manner as the Jewish High Priest who brought the blood of the sacrifice into the Holy of Holies. However the pronoun "Himself" signifies that Jesus was the sacrifice! (Jn 1:29). Jesus, our Great High Priest, was both the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice! Amazing love for those who were so unlovely in their sinful state! Hallelujah! Thank You Lord Jesus!

For (huper - see also uses below) can mean "on behalf of" and thus pictures the substitutionary aspect of Christ's sacrifice. He did not become a sinner on the Cross, but our sin bearer (Jn 1:29, 1Cor 5:7, 1Pe 2:24, Isa 53:4-6)

Wuest explains the word "huper"

The preposition for is huper, a word that speaks of substitution, which was its usual meaning in the secular world of the first century. The professional letter writer acting in behalf of and instead of the illiterate, would put that fact at the close of a document which he wrote, using this word; for instance, “Heraikleios Horou; I wrote on behalf of him who does not know letters.” This is the usual formula which makes the contents legal. Two instances in the New Testament where huper in its substitutionary usage is as plain as in the secular documents are: John 11:50, where Caiaphas uses it to speak of a political substitution, not a theological, although John finds that too; and II Corinthians 5:14, 15 in the words if one died for all, that is, instead of and in behalf of. Thus Paul brings over against the Judaizers’ bloodless religion, the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement which teaches that the Lord Jesus took our place with relation to our sins and gave Himself as the Sacrifice that would perfectly satisfy the just demands of God’s holy law which the human race has violated. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Our sins - On account of them.

Sin (noun) (266)(hamartia) literally conveys the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow (in Homer some hundred times of a warrior hurling his spear but missing his foe). Later hamartia came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Hamartia in the Bible signifies a departure from God's holy, perfect standard of what is right in word or deed (righteous). It pictures the idea of missing His appointed goal (His will) which results in a deviation from what is pleasing to Him. In short, sin is conceived as a missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is the Triune God Himself. As Martin Luther put it "Sin is essentially a departure from God." Ryrie adds that sin "is not only a negative idea but includes the positive idea of hitting some wrong mark." Hamartia is a deviation from the straight line, marked off by the "plumb line" of God's perfect, pure Word. As someone has well said ultimately sin is man's (foolish) declaration of independence of God, of the "apostasy" of the creature from his Creator! Woe! Puritan John Bunyan minced no words when he defined sin as "the dare of God's justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power and the contempt of His love." Hamartia is what happens when we err (err is from Latin errare = to wander!) which means to wander from the right way, to deviate from the true course or purpose and so to violate an accepted standard of conduct.

Martin Luther comments that "these words (Christ died for our sins) are very thunderclaps from heaven against all kinds of righteousness (i.e., all forms of self-righteousness)."

John Stott - Once we have seen that Christ ‘gave himself for our sins’, we realize that we are sinners unable to save ourselves, and we give up trusting in ourselves that we are righteous.

Spurgeon - Christ died for our sins, not for our virtues. It is not your efficiencies, but your deficiencies which entitle you to the Lord Jesus. It is not your wealth, but your lack. It is not what you have, but what you have not. It is not what you can boast of, but what you mourn over that qualifies you to receive the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John Eadie - The doctrine taught is, that Jesus Christ did spontaneously offer Himself as the one propitiation, so that He is the source of grace and peace; and the inference is, because He gave Himself, the oblation is perfect as also the deliverance secured by it, so that obedience to the Mosaic law as a means of salvation is quite incompatible with faith in Him. (Commentary on Galatians)

Barry Horner - The Christ who “gave himself for our sins” is the same Christ who, on the ground of this justification, has rescued us from this present evil age; it is the same grace that justifies which also sanctifies as a consequence. We are not only clothed in righteousness (justification) (Ro 9:30; Phil. 3:9) whereby our sin is pardoned, but also rescued from unrighteousness (sanctification) that the world represents, solely on the basis of the Son of God’s atonement, and the power of the Gospel. Having been initially saved by the Gospel, we are consummately saved by the Gospel (Phil 1:6).

Warren Wiersbe - Christ paid the price that He might achieve a purpose-delivering sinners from bondage. “Liberty in Christ” is the dominant theme of Galatians. (Check the word bondage in Gal 2:4; 4:3, 9, 24–25; 5:1.) The Judaizers wanted to lead the Christians out of the liberty of grace into the bondage of Law. Paul knew that bondage was not a part of the message of the Gospel, for Christ had died to set men free.

A J Gordon - Attachment to Christ is the only secret of detachment from the world.

That (hopos) means in order that and points to the purpose of Christ's sacrifice.


In a sense the Biblical narrative stretching from the expulsion from Eden to the reestablishment of the New Jerusalem can be viewed as one long rescue story.

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Much of the NT is an explication of the significance of the cross and resurrection in this grand rescue, and how a rescued people can live as those who will one day inherit and inhabit a rescued creation. But the Bible also contains numerous and smaller episodes of rescue, some of which foreshadow the grand rescue of the cross and resurrection. Rescue is in many ways synonymous with deliverance, though the image of rescue frequently carries a sense of immediate or impending danger, of a hazardous predicament and of bold and decisive action. It speaks of courage, strength, skill and risk. Rescue easily evokes more concrete scenes than deliverance or salvation. Many Americans will never forget the television image of a man risking his life by jumping into the ice-choked Potomac River to rescue a flight attendant from the wreckage of a crashed plane. Rescues involve hapless victims who are in over their heads and cannot help themselves. They face awful consequences, often death. Rescuers take risks. They plunge into the fray.

Rescue - "deliver" (KJV), "set us free," (NRSV, TEV), "to free us" (NCV), "to liberate us" (NJB)

Rescue strikes a keynote of Galatians for the Gospel is indeed a rescue from danger, an emancipation from a state of bondage. In context rescue speaks primarily of a deliverance of saints from the power of the ethical characteristics of this present evil age. Christ died not to improve us, but to rescue us!

Webster says "rescue" means to set free from confinement, danger or evil. To liberate from actual restraint, or to remove or withdraw from a state of exposure to evil. To rescue is to actively deliver someone out of danger. This implies that the one being rescued passively receives the rescuing.

Rescue - Deliverance from people or forces that are overwhelming. It implies a liberator with strength and wisdom to ensure true freedom. God’s physical rescue of the Israelites points to the spiritual deliverance obtained by Jesus Christ. (Manser)

Freedom as the result of emancipation is the great blessing of the Gospel (See Gal5:1, 13, cp. John 8:32–36) and is a keynote of Galatians.

Rescue (deliver) (1807)(exaireo from ek = out + aireo = to take, remove, seize) literally means to take out (used literally in Lxx of Jdg 14:9KJV "he took the honey out of the mouth of the lion"). In some context it means tear out or pluck out (Mt 5:29, 18:9, Lxx = Lev 14:40). To take out from a number. To select.

In the middle voice (most of the uses in the Lxx and NT are middle voice) it means to take out for oneself and hence to rescue or deliver someone from a perilous or confining circumstance, setting them free. Spicq adds that "This idea of extracting or removing is indicated by the reflexive meaning of the middle voice, which places the beneficiaries of the act of deliverance in the hands of the agent of deliverance (Ed: Which in Gal 1:4 is Jesus!)."

Vine adds that "the middle voice, suggests that He who thus delivers us has an interest in the result of His own act. Thus in Ephesians 1:4 there is the thought that God “chose us for Himself” in Christ, i.e., that we might be His sons, verse 5. So here. The words may be paraphrased, “Who gave Himself for our sins, in order that He might deliver us out of this present evil age that so we might belong to Him.”

Exaireo signifies to deliver by rescuing from danger! In some secular uses exaireo meant to choose for oneself or to carry off as booty.

J. B. Lightfoot writes that the exaireo, rescue, ‘strikes the keynote of the epistle’. ‘The Gospel is a rescue, an emancipation from a state of bondage.


Guzik has an excellent explanation of this rescue or deliverance - The idea behind the word deliver is not deliverance from the presence of something, but deliverance from the power of something. We will not be delivered from the presence of this present evil age until we go to be with Jesus. But we can be experience deliverance from the power of this present evil age right now.

John MacArthur says that exaireo "was used by Stephen in his sermon before the Sanhedrin as he described the divine deliverance of Joseph and the children of Israel from Egyptian affliction (Acts 7:10, 34). Peter used the word to describe God’s deliverance of him from prison (Acts 12:11), and the Roman commander Claudius Lysias used it of his rescue of Paul from the belligerent mob in Jerusalem (Acts 23:27; cf. Acts 23:10). Galatians 1:4 contains the only metaphorical use of the term in the New Testament."

John Eadie on exaireo - In other passages of the New Testament it has the sense of rescue from peril by an act of power, as of Joseph (Acts 7:10); of the Hebrews out of slavery (Acts 7:34); of Peter from the hand of Herod (Acts 12:11); of Paul from the mob in Jerusalem (Acts 23:27); and it is the word used by the Divine Master to the apostle in reference to his frequent deliverances from danger (Acts 26:17). Compare Genesis 32:11, Isaiah 42:22, Psalms 140:1.

Exaireo - 8 verses in NT - pluck(1), rescue(2), rescued(3), rescuing(1), tear(1).

Matthew 5:29 "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out (aorist imperative) and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Comment: Depicts a violent extraction. The right eye was presumed to be more precious, so it was the one to go after in an enemy: “that I gouge out the right eyes of all of you” (1Sa 11:2; Zech 11:17); “to gouge out their right eyes” (Josephus, Ant. 6.71)

Zodhiates: These functions (tear it out) symbolize actions we should perform at the inception of temptation. The second we are conscious of it, we must cut off the temptation. When we lose the function of our hands or eyes, we are severely handicapped. So if that which causes us to sin is destroyed, sin loses its power over us. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

Matthew 18:9 "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out (aorist imperative) and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

Acts 7:10 and rescued him (Joseph - Acts 7:9) from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.


Acts 12:11 When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

Acts 23:27 "When this man (Paul) was arrested by the Jews and was about to be slain by them, I came up to them with the troops and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.

Acts 26:17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,

Galatians 1:4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Exaireo - 113x in 111v in the Septuagint (Lxx) -

Gen 32:11; 37:21f; Ex 3:8; Ex 18:4, 8ff; Lev 14:40, 43; Num 35:25; Deut 23:14; 25:11; 32:39; Josh 2:13; 9:26; 10:6; 24:10; Jdg 10:15; 14:9; 1 Sam 4:7f; 7:3; 10:18; 12:10f, 21; 14:48; 17:37; 26:24; 30:8, 18, 22; 2 Sam 14:6; 19:5, 9; 22:1f, 20; 23:12; 1Kgs 1:12; 2Kgs 17:39; 18:29f, 34f; 19:12; 1Chr 16:35; 2Chr 25:15; 32:17; Job 5:4, 19; 10:7; 36:21; Ps 31:1f; 37:40; 50:15; 59:1; 64:1; 71:2; 82:4; 91:15; 116:8; 119:153; 140:1, 4; 143:9; 144:7, 11; Eccl 7:26; Isa 16:12; 31:5; 38:14; 42:22; 43:13; 44:17, 20; 47:14; 48:10; 50:2; 57:13; 60:16; Jer 1:8, 17, 19; 15:21; 20:13; 21:12; 22:3; 31:11; 34:13; 42:11; Ezek 33:5, 9, 12; 34:10, 27; Da 3:15, 17, 29; 6:14ff; Hos 2:10; 5:14; Mic 5:8; 7:3; Nah 2:1; Zeph 1:18; Zech 11:6

Exodus 3:8 (cf Ex 18:8,9,10) "So I have come down to deliver (Lxx = exaireo) them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

Comment: Notice how the purpose of the deliverance by God was to bring about a people of His own. That OT "shadow" is fulfilled in the NT where Jesus' delivers us that we might be His possession. (Titus 2:14, 1Pe 2:9, cf 1Cor 6:19-20)

2 Samuel 22:20 "He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued (Lxx = exaireo) me, because He delighted in me.

Comment: Keep the context in mind - for at least 10 years David had been in "tight" places.

David's bold prayer for deliverance - Psalm 31:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver (Lxx = aorist imperative) me. 2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue (Lxx = aorist imperative) me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me.

Spurgeon on "rescue me quickly": We must not set times or seasons, yet in submission we may ask for swift as well as sure mercy. God's mercies are often enhanced in value by the timely haste which he uses in their bestowal; if they came late they might be too late—but he rides upon a cherub, and flies upon the wings of the wind when he intends the good of his beloved.

Psalm 37:40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him.

Psalm 50:15 (Ps 50:14 - context is offering spiritual sacrifices from the heart, not dead ritual) Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor (KJV = glorify which is supported by the Greek verb used in; Lxx = doxazo = to glorify) Me."

Spurgeon: Oh blessed verse! Is this then true sacrifice? Is it an offering to ask an alms of heaven? It is even so. The King himself so regards it. For herein is faith manifested, herein is love proved, for in the hour of peril we fly to those we love. It seems a small think to pray to God when we are distressed, yet is it a more acceptable worship than the mere heartless presentation of bullocks and male goats. This is a voice from the throne, and how full of mercy it is! It is very tempestuous round about Jehovah, and yet what soft drops of mercy's rain drop from the bosom of the storm! Who would not offer such sacrifices?

Troubled one, haste to present it now!

Who shall say that Old Testament saints did not know the Gospel? (cp Gal 3:8) Its very spirit and essence breathes like frankincense all around this holy Psalm.

I will rescue (Lxx = exaireo) you. The reality of your sacrifice of prayer shall be seen in its answer. Whether the smoke of burning bulls be sweet to Me or not, certainly your humble prayer shall be, and I will prove it so by My gracious reply to your supplication. This promise is very large, and may refer both to temporal and eternal deliverances; faith can turn it every way, like the sword of the cherubim.

And thou you glorify Me (cf Gal 1:5). Your prayer will honour Me, and your grateful perception of My answering mercy will also glorify Me. The goats and bullocks would prove a failure, but the true sacrifice never could. The calves of the stall might be a vain oblation, but not the "calves" of sincere lips. Thus we see what is true ritual. Here we read inspired rubrics. Spiritual worship is the great, the essential matter; all else without it is rather provoking than pleasing to God. As helps to the soul, outward offerings were precious, but when men went not beyond them, even their hallowed things were profaned in the view of heaven.

Psalm 59:1 For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him. Deliver (aorist imperative) me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me. (PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE)

Psalm 64:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; Preserve (aorist imperative) my life from dread of the enemy. (PRAYER FOR PRESERVATION)

Psalm 71:2 In Your righteousness deliver (Lxx = rhuomai - aorist imperative) me and rescue (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me; Incline Your ear to me and save me.

Spurgeon: “Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape.” Be true, O God, to thy word. It is a righteous thing in thee to keep the promises which thou hast made unto thy servants. I have trusted thee, and thou wilt not be unrighteous to forget my faith. I am taken as in a net, but do thou liberate me from the malice of my persecutors. “Incline thine ear unto me, and save me.” Stoop to my feebleness, and hear my faint whispers; be gracious to my infirmities, and smite upon me: I ask salvation; listen thou to my petitions, and save me. Like one wounded and left for dead by mine enemies, I need that thou bend over me and bind up my wounds. These mercies are asked on the plea of faith, and they cannot, therefore, be denied.

Psalm 82:4 Rescue (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. (PRAYER FOR RESCUE)

Spurgeon: “Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” Break the nets of the man-catchers, the legal toils, the bonds, the securities, with which cunning men capture and continue to hold in bondage the poor and the embarrassed. It is a brave thing when a judge can liberate a victim like a fly from the spider’s web, and a horrible case when magistrate and plunderer are in league. Law has too often been an instrument for vengeance in the hand of unscrupulous men, an instrument as deadly as poison or the dagger. It is for the judge to prevent such villainy.

Psalm 91:15 "He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

Spurgeon: “I will deliver him, and honour him.” The man honours God, and God honours him. Believers are not delivered or preserved in a way which lowers them, and makes them feel themselves degraded; far from it, the Lord’s salvation bestows honour upon those it delivers. God first gives us conquering grace, and then rewards us for it.

Psalm 116:8 For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

Spurgeon: “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” The triune God has given us a trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from dishonor. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of these deliverances. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried, and fears are banished when the Lord is near.

Psalm 119:153 Look upon my affliction and rescue (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me, For I do not forget Your law. (PRAYER FOR RESCUE)

Psalm 140:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. Rescue (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me, O LORD, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men (PRAYER FOR RESCUE)

Spurgeon: “Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man.” It reads like a clause of the Lord’s prayer, “Deliver us from evil.” David does not so much plead against an individual as against the species represented by him, namely, the being whose best description is—“the evil man.” There are many such abroad; indeed we we shall not find an unregenerate man who is not in some sense an evil man, and yet all are not alike evil. It is well for us that our enemies are evil: it would be a horrible thing to have the good against us. When “the evil man” bestirs himself against the godly he is as terrible a being as a wolf, or a serpent, or even a devil. Fierce, implacable, unpitying, unrelenting, unscrupulous, he cares for nothing but the indulgence of his malice. The persecuted man turns to God in prayer; he could not do a wiser thing. Who can meet the evil man and defeat him save Jehovah himself, whose infinite goodness is more than a match for all the evil in the universe? We cannot of ourselves baffle the craft of the enemy, but the Lord knoweth how to deliver his saints. He can keep us out of the enemy’s reach, he can sustain us when under his power, he can rescue us when our doom seems fixed, he can give us the victory when defeat seems certain; and in any and every case, if he do not save us from the man he can keep us from the evil. Should we be at this moment oppressed in any measure by ungodly men, it will be better to leave our defence with God than to attempt it ourselves.

Psalm 140:4 Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; Preserve (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me from violent men Who have purposed to trip up my feet. (PRAYER FOR PRESERVATION)

Spurgeon: “Preserve me from the violent man.” His intense passion makes him terribly dangerous. He will strike anyhow, use any weapon, smite from any quarter: he is so furious that he is reckless of his own life if he may accomplish his detestable design. Lord, preserve us by thine omnipotence when men attack us with their violence. This prayer is a wise and suitable one.

Psalm 143:9 Deliver (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. (PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE)

Spurgeon: “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies.” Many foes beset us, we cannot overcome them, we cannot even escape from them; but Jehovah can and will rescue us if we pray to him. The weapon of all-prayer will stand us in better stead than sword and shield. “I take refuge in You.” This was a good result from his persecutions. That which makes us flee to our God may be an ill wind, but it blows us good. There is no cowardice in such flight, but much holy courage. God can hide us out of reach of harm, and even out of sight of it. He is our hiding-place; Jesus has made himself the refuge of his people: the sooner, and the more entirely we flee to him the better for us. Beneath the crimson canopy of our Lord’s atonement believers are completely hidden; let us abide there and be at rest. In the seventh verse our poet cried. “Hide not thy face,” and here he prays, “Hide me.” Note also how often he uses the words “unto thee”; he is after his God: he must travel in that direction by some means, even though he may seem to be beating a retreat; his whole being longs to be near the Lord. It is possible that such thirstings for God will be left unsupplied? Never, while the Lord is love.

Psalm 144:7 Stretch forth Your hand from on high; Rescue (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me and deliver me out of great waters, Out of the hand of aliens (PRAYER FOR RESCUE)

Spurgeon: Make a Moses of me,—one drawn out of the waters. My foes pour in upon me like torrents, they threaten to overwhelm me; save me from their force and fury; take them from me, and me from them.

Psalm 144:11 Rescue me and deliver (Lxx = exaireo - aorist imperative) me out of the hand of aliens, Whose mouth speaks deceit And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. (PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE)

Spurgeon: Because of what the Lord had done, David returns to his pleading. He begs deliverance from him who is ever delivering him. “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children.” This is in measure the refrain of the song, and the burden of the prayer. He desired to be delivered from his open and foreign adversaries, who had broken compacts, and treated treaties as vain things.

Jeremiah 1:8 Do not be afraid of them, for (term of explanation - What does Jehovah explain to Jeremiah?) I am with you to deliver (Lxx = exaireo) you,” declares the LORD.

Present evil age - The KJV says we are rescued from this "present evil world" but this is not as accurate as "age." The grand 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. Our rescue is from an ethical system, a way of thinking under the dominion of the Evil One and thus diametrically opposed to God. Our holy purpose now in this world which is passing away (1Jn 2:17) is to be salt (Mt 5:13) and light (Mt 5:14-16, cp Php 2:14, 15). So yes, for the present, we are in the world but we are no longer of the world (Jn 17:11, 14-18, Php 3:20-21, 1Jn 5:5.) And so now

The present evil age is under the domination of "the prince of this world" (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), the "Evil One," (1Jn 5:19) which helps understand why it is so evil.

"The faithful Christian life is the heavenly life lived on earth." (John MacArthur) (Yes, even in the midst of a present evil age.)

"This age is evil, corrupt and corrupting, deceived and deceiving." (Hindson)

Ron Dunn - 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" (Phil. 3:20) and that already he is "seated... with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). As a believer he has been delivered "from this present evil age" (Gal. 1:4) and has "tasted... the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 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.

Robert Rapa explains that exaireo in Gal 1:4 - “denotes not a ‘deliverance from,’ but a ‘rescue from the power of’ ” (Boice, 426). Thus, defeat of the power of this “age” (ainos) to incite and exacerbate human sinfulness is included in humanity’s rescue in Christ’s self-sacrifice. God’s power in Christ is available to the believer not only to rescue from eternal death but also to energize an obedient life as a dependent disciple of Jesus (cf. Ro 6:12–14). (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11)

John Stott agrees - 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.

William MacDonald - Christ died to deliver us from this present evil age. This includes not only the moral and political corruption of this age, but also the religious world which mixes rituals and ceremonies with faith in Christ. It was especially timely, therefore, for the Galatians to be reminded that they were going back into the very system from which Christ had died to rescue them!

Alan Cole - The division between ‘the present age’ and ‘the age to come’ was familiar to every Jew, and therefore to the Christian.

Timothy George - The notion of two ages, borrowed from Jewish apocalyptic thought, juxtaposes a present age of sin and decay and a future age of blessing and peace. For Paul, however, the death and resurrection of Jesus has radically punctuated this traditional time line. The Christian now lives in profound tension between the No Longer and the Not Yet. The coming of Christ has drastically relativized, though not completely obliterated, former distinctions of race, class, and gender. It also has placed in a totally new perspective such former requirements as circumcision, food laws, and feast days. Christ has rescued us from this present evil age through justifying us by faith and pouring out his Spirit in our lives. This is an accomplished fact, and we must not be drawn back into “a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). But while Christ has rescued us from this evil age, he has not taken us out of it. Thus our liberty must not degenerate into license nor the gift of the Spirit be abused by selfish carnal behavior (Gal 5:16–26). (The New American Commentary)

Wayne Barber - Now this strikes the key note of the whole epistle. He has taken us out from under something that has been pulling us down for quite a while. Christ came to die for our sins to deliver us. And from what? A state of bondage. Bondage to what? This present evil age. (KJV = "present evil world") Now I don’t know if you’ve studied Romans, but Romans focuses more on the fact that Jesus saved us from the penalty of sins. Yes, He did. And He saves us from the power of sin. Yes, He did. But Galatians has a slightly different focus on what Jesus came to do, which is germane to the remainder of the epistle. He wants them to understand this very thing. Our sins are simply indications of our bondage, bondage to a system of living and thinking that is found in this world. You turn a television on, you’re listening to that system. You turn the radio on, and I hear stuff on that thing, I’m thinking good grief! Get a clue people! But, you know, it’s interesting. I love to listen to it to kind of keep up with what the system’s doing to people’s minds. Christ not only delivered us from our personal sins, but He from the pull and the power of a system, which is the way the world does what it does.

We live in a spiritually (and morally) dark time, but God promises that this night (present evil age) is almost spent and the Day of the Lord is near (Ro 13:12-note). The possibility that Christ could come at any time and the certainty that He will come at some time should motivate us to holy living right now!

Note that Gal 1:4 does not promise that Christ will deliver us from all of our present earthly problems.

Evil (4190) (poneros from poneo = work or toil, Robertson says the idea is that labor is an annoyance, bad, evil; Noun poneria derived from poneros) means evil including evil, malignant character, pernicious (see Webster 1828 definition below), that which is morally or socially worthless, wicked, base, bad, degenerate. Poneros denotes determined, aggressive, and fervent evil that actively opposes what is good. Poneros is not just bad in character (like kakos - see below), but bad in effect (injurious)!

Poneros describes evil in active opposition to good. It means not only evil in its nature but viciously evil in its influence and actively harmful. Poneros used to describe Satan (ho poneros = "Evil one"), the god of this age, who is corrupting man and dragging him to destruction. This denotes someone who is not content in being corrupt themselves. They seek to corrupt others and draw them into the same destruction.

Age (aion) is used in this context to refer to the popular culture and manner of thinking that is in rebellion against God and which will try to conform us to its ungodly pattern (cf use of aion in Ro 12:2-note). Bengel adds that "aion" is that "subtle, informing spirit of the world of men who are living alienated and apart from God." Aion conveys the sense of "the spirit of this age" in which we live. It describes a lifestyle in which people follow the ways of the world and the evil ruler of the world system. It is dominated by the humanistic philosophy that seeks to eliminate God from every aspect of life.

Trench in his classic definition for age (aion) writes that "age" is...

All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale. (See Trench's analysis of kosmos versus aion)

Why would we ever want to go back into this foul environment after being miraculously rescued by grace, grace in which we now stand and which enables and transforms us? In context the Galatians were believing a false teaching (a teaching originating from this present evil age) and were going back up under the Law and the old dead works based mentality.

Barry Horner - By way of application the New Testament picture of this age is that of a ship run aground on rocks, breaking up. Some are rescued since they confess their plight and cry out to be delivered, but others are foolishly trying to patch the vessel up and cast off once again, only to encounter further tragedy after tragedy! We might name this ship, “this present evil age.”

Rescued Twice - A wealthy English family once invited friends to spend some time at their beautiful estate. The happy gathering was almost plunged into a terrible tragedy on the first day. When the children went swimming, one of them got into deep water and was drowning. Fortunately, the gardener heard the others screaming and plunged into the pool to rescue the helpless victim. That youngster was Winston Churchill. His parents, deeply grateful to the gardener, asked what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, "I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor." "We'll pay his way," replied Churchill's parents. Years later when Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. Greatly concerned, the king summoned the best physician who could be found to the bedside of the ailing leader. That doctor was Sir Alexander Fleming, the developer of penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had rescued Winston from drowning as a boy! Later Churchill said, "Rarely, has one man owed his life twice to the same person."

Rescuer's Marred Hands - An orphaned boy was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy's cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drain pipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck. Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town's wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad's eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hand from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man's neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue. And so it is with Jesus. His nail-pierced hands remind us that he has rescued us from sin and its deadly consequences.

Rescue the Perishing - One time Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, visited the McAuley Mission in New York. She asked if there was a boy there who had no mother, and "if he would come up and let her lay her hand on his head." A motherless fellow came up, and she put her arms about him and kissed him. She went from that meeting and wrote: "Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave, Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save." Some time later, when Mr. Sankey was about to sing this song in St. Louis, he related the incident. A man sprang to his feet in the audience and said, "I am the boy she kissed that night. I was never able to get away from the impression made by that touching act, I have become a Christian."

Our Daily Bread - William D. Matheson, in My Grandfather's War, tells of a veteran who walked through the streets of his hometown with an empty sleeve. When a passerby commented on the loss of his arm, the veteran replied, "I didn't lose it. I gave it." That describes what Jesus did for us. He didn't lose His life on the cross. He gave it. As today's verse says, He "gave Himself for our sins." He paid the penalty so that all who believe on Him would experience forgiveness of sin and have eternal life. In fulfillment of the Old Testament picture of the sacrifice of the lamb, He yielded His life for us. Following Christ's example, we are to give ourselves unselfishly to His service and help others. That makes sense, though it may seem absurd to many Our sacrifices will glorify the Lord and make an impact for Christ on our selfish world. —D. C. Egner

When the Word Dawned - When Dr. Willis R. Hotchkiss went to Central Africa, he had great trouble to find a word that would explain to them the Saviour who died to save them. Over two years had passed, but this magic word "Saviour" he could not translate clearly and adequately. One night he was sitting with some of the natives around their campfire, when Kikuvi, the most intelligent of the natives, began to tell about Mr. Krieger, who had been attacked by a lion and badly torn. Kikuvi had come to his rescue and had driven the lion away. Kikuvi modestly said, "Bwana nukuthaniwan na Kikuvi [The master was saved by Kikuvi]." The missionary leaped for joy. At last he had heard the precious word. He immediately changed the verb from the passive to the active form, and said, "Ukuthania Bwana? [You saved the master?]" This proving correct, the missionary said: "Why, Kikuvi, this is the word I have been trying to get you to tell me these many days, because I wanted to tell why Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth." "Oh," Kikuvi interrupted, his black face lighting up as he turned to the missionary: "I see it now. I understand! Jesus came to kuthania [save] us from our sins, and to deliver us from the hands of Muima [Satan.]" The moment the word "Saviour" had dawned on his darkened vision, all the scattered fragments of truth that had been floating through his mind became one glorious revelation. (Union Seminary Magazine)

Lawrence Lemieux: Rescue the Perishing (as told by Rob Morgan) - One of the most incredible stories coming from the Olympics occurred during the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea. There was a young competitor there whose whole life had been in pursuit of an Olympic medal. The 1988 games represented his best chance. He was a Canadian named Lawrence Lemieux, and his event was in sailing. Off the coast of Korea, he was racing for the Gold. The sea was stormy and rough, but Lemieux was in second place with an excellent shot at first. Suddenly his attention was drawn aside by an overturned boat, and he saw a sailor draped over the hull, desperately trying to hold on. Another sailor was bobbing in the water. The tides and winds were pushing both men further out to sea. They were Olympians, too, and were competing in another event. The man who was draped over the overturned hull of the boat had cut his hand in the accident and was rapidly losing strength. The crewman in the water was drifting away from the boat and going down. Lemieux had a heart-rending decision to make. If he didn’t stop to help the men, they would likely drown; but if he did stop and help them he would lose his lifelong dream of winning an Olympic Gold Medal. Well, it might have been a heart-rending decision, but it didn’t take the young champion long to make it. He turned his boat toward into the screaming wind and paddled toward the desperate men. As he approached the man who was thrashing in the water, the man gasped, “Please help me! I can’t last much longer.” “Grab onto my boat when I come past you,” said Lemieux. “I can’t,” said the man. “I hurt my back and I can’t pull myself up into your boat.” Lawrence leaned over and grabbed the man’s vest and tried to haul him aboard, but the effort almost capsized the little craft. “Just try to hold on until we get to your boat,” shouted Lemieux. Somehow he managed to navigate his boat through the crashing waves and he managed to rescue the other man as well. He held them both until a patrol boat arrived. But the delay cost him any chance he had of winning an Olympic medal. He resumed the race, but finished in 21st place. In its place, the International Olympic Committee awarded him The Fair Play Award of the 1988 games in Seoul. And when he returned home, the members of Northwood Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington, had a special medal cast for him and draped it around his neck while the Canadian National Anthem was played. He told the congregation, “You spend your whole lifetime trying to achieve a goal, and my goal was winning a gold medal. I didn’t win a gold medal, but I won something more valuable—the love you’ve shown me here today.” While everyone else in the world is trying to win medals, accomplish goals, accumulate prizes, and achieve status, we have only one mission, don’t we—to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. (Going for Gold- A Sermon About the Olympics)

This one life will soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

According to the will of God and our Father - God's will is the ultimate cause and law. Redemption is its fulfilment. Hence our Lord declares that He came to do the will of Him that sent Him. John 4:34, 5:30, and Jn 6:38–40. The Son became man and entered the world to do the will of God (Heb 10:7). As He approached the time of His crucifixion, He prayed, “not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). "This places the credit where it belongs—not in man’s puny efforts, but rather in the sovereign will of God. It emphasizes that Christ is God’s way of salvation and that there is no other." (MacDonald)

Guzik - False doctrine was a real problem in the Galatian churches, and their false doctrines robbed God of some of the glory due to Him. By emphasizing the rightly recognized glory of God and His plan, Paul hopes to put them more on the right track.

Will (2307)(thelema from thelo = to will with the "-ma" suffix indicating the result of the will = "a thing willed") generally speaks of the result of what one has decided. In its most basic form, thelema refers to a wish, a strong desire, and the willing of some event. (Note: See boule for comments relating to thelema).

Galatians 1:5 to Whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

  • whom (KJV): 1Ch 29:13 Ps 41:13 72:19 Isa 24:15 42:12 Mt 6:13 Lk 2:14 Ro 11:36 16:27 Eph 1:12 Php 4:20 1Ti 1:17 2Ti 4:18 Heb 13:21 1Pe 5:11 2Pe 3:18 Jude 1:25 Rev 4:9-11 5:12 7:12 14:7
  • Amen (KJV): Mt 28:20)

Will Metzger - In a God-centered gospel, grace is central—God is exalted at every point.

Trapp - The benefit of our redemption should make us lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to God.

Glory to Jesus is the ultimate, consummate purpose of all things. Indeed, all heaven declares...

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. (Rev 5:12-note)

Galatians 1:6 - I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel

  • marvel (KJV): Mk 6:6 Jn 9:30)(so (KJV): Ga 3:1-5 4:9-15 5:4,7 Ps 106:13 Isa 29:13 Jer 2:12,13
  • that called (KJV): Ga 5:8 1Co 4:15 2Th 2:14 2Ti 1:9 1Pe 1:15 2Pe 1:3
  • the grace (KJV): Ac 15:11 Ro 5:2 1Ti 1:14 2Ti 2:1 Rev 22:21
  • unto (KJV): Ro 10:3 2Co 11:4)


I am amazed - Present tense signifies he is continually amazed. Paul considered the defection of the Galatian Christians as an extra-ordinary thing. His use of thaumazo conveys a rebuke similar to our expression, “I can hardly believe what I am hearing about you!”

Henry Alford on amazed - It is a word of mildness, inasmuch as it imports that better things were expected of them,—and of condescension, as letting down the writer to the level of the readers and even challenging explanation from them. Still, like many such mild words, it carries to the guilty conscience even sharper rebuke than a harsher one would.

Oswald Chambers - There is nothing attractive about the gospel to the natural man; the only man who finds the gospel attractive is the man who is convicted of sin.

Amazed (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment. Thaumazo describes the human response when confronted by divine revelation in some form (Mt 9.33). Be surprised (Gal 1:6). It denotes incredulous surprise

Thaumazo was a rhetorical device used in law courts and politics to attack things done by the opposition party.

See studies on other NT verbs translated amaze - ekplesso and existemi

NIDNTT on Thaumazo in Classic Greek - The word-group associated with thauma is found in Gk. from the 8th and 7th centuries, to designate that which by its appearance arouses astonishment and amazement. The root is cognate with theaomai, to look at.

TDNT on Classic Greek uses - The group has first the sense of astonishment, whether critical or inquisitive, then admiration, with a nuance of awe or fear at what is unusual or mysterious, e.g., miracles or oracles in religion, also magical acts or media, and certain phenomena (prior to their explanation) in philosophy.

Luke uses thaumazo to express reaction to miraculous events or to teaching (cf. Lk 1:63; 2:18; 4:22; 7:9; 8:25; 9:43; 11:14; 20:26).

W E Vine - Thaumazo means surprise at the unexpected, whether regretful, as here in Gal 1:6, or pleasurable, as at 2Th 1:10, the only occurrences in Paul’s epistles; but see also Acts 13:41.

Ralph Earle - Thaumazo is found most frequently in the Gospels (33 times), where it expresses the wonder and amazement caused by Jesus' miracles. It seems clear that the idea of wonder or aston­ishment is inherent in the term.

Vincent - Thaumazo is often used by Greek orators of surprise at something reprehensible. So in N T, Mk. 6:6; Jn 7:21; Lk 11:38; Jn 4:27.

In the KJV thaumazo is most often translated as marvel which Webster says means to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity. Webster says to amaze is to fill with wonder or transitively to cause astonishment and suggests an effect of bewilderment. To be astonished implies that one is surprised so greatly as to deem something incredible.

Thaumazo is used as a Hebraism in Jude 1:16 literally "admire the face" (thaumazo + prosopon) which signifies to flatter or to praise insincerely

John tells us "Do not be surprised (marvel), brethren, if the world hates you." (1John 3:13)

MacArthur says: The expression not be surprised translates the present active imperative form of the verb thaumazo, a term that has the connotation of wonder, astonishment, or amazement. Rather than being shocked by the world’s opposition, believers should instead expect it (cf. Acts 14:22; 2Ti 3:12; 1Pe 4:12), because the world has nothing in common with the kingdom of God (cf. 2Co 6:14–15), and the lives of the righteous rebuke those of the unrighteous.

BDAG says the two basic meanings of thaumazo are (1) to be extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something - (a) intransitively to wonder, marvel, be astonished (the context determines whether in a good or bad sense) (Mt 8:10) or (b) transitively to admire, wonder at, respect (persons) with accusative and (2) to wonder, be amazed (to be filled with wonder), (Rev 17:8).

Thaumazo - 43x in 43v in NAS -Translated - am amazed(1), amazed(15), amazement(1), astonished(3), being amazed(1), flattering(1), marvel(4), marveled(5), marveling(2), surprised(2), wonder(2), wondered(4), wondering(2).

Matthew 8:10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

Mt 8:27 The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

Matthew 9:33 After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."

Comment: Thaumazo means to be greatly amazed and astounded, to be overcome with awe. The intensified forms of the verb found in Matthew 27:14 (see below) and Mark 12:17 (Here the verb is related verb "ekthaumazo" which means to wonder or marvel greatly) carry an even stronger meaning. As Jesus’ miracles increased so did the astonishment of the crowds. They became amazed beyond amazement.

Matthew 15:31 So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

Comment: They were struck with awe. The people were seeing something that defied human explanation.

Matthew 21:20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, "How did the fig tree wither all at once?"

Matthew 22:22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Matthew 27:14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

Comment: Here the sense is surprised that he received no response. The adverb quite (Gk = lian) means to a high degree, very much or exceedingly. See comment on Mt 9:33 above.

Mark 5:20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Mark 6:6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

Mark 15:5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.

Mark 15:44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.

Luke 1:21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.

Luke 1:63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished.

Luke 2:18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.

Luke 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?"

Luke 7:9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith."

Comment: Would you like to amaze and astonish Jesus? There are two ways to do it—one is recommended, the other is not. There are only two times when the Gospels record Jesus being “amazed” or “astonished” at something, and, amazingly, both have to do with faith. Here in Luke He is amazed that the Centurion believed and in Mark 6:6 "He wondered at their unbelief," their failure to believe!

Luke 8:25 And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

Luke 9:43 And they were all amazed (ekplesso) at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling (thaumazo) at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples,

Comment: Ekplesso is the stronger word than thaumazo. Ekplesso suggests a strong, sudden sense of being astounded. Ekplesso means to strike a person out of his senses by some strong feeling and is used 13x in the NT - Matt 7:28; 13:54; 19:25; 22:33; Mark 1:22; 6:2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18; Luke 2:48; 4:32; 9:43; Acts 13:12

Luke 11:14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.

Comment: Thaumazō can be positive or negative, depending on its context. People can be amazed and still not like what they see. In fact, despite the amazement, Jesus’ work splits the crowd. Luke 11:15 mentions the skepticism of some, while Lk 11:16 mentions the uncertainty of others.

Luke 11:38 When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal.

Luke 20:26 And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

Luke 24:12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"

John 3:7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

John 4:27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"

Comment: Thaumazo denotes incredulous surprise (MM). Ingressive impferfect, “they began to wonder.” The surprise arises because He was talking to a woman, which was held to be improper, esp. for a rabbi. One does not talk to a woman publicly on the street, not one’s own wife, and particularly not to another woman, due to the gossip of the people.

John 5:20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.

28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,

John 7:15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?"

21 Jesus answered them, "I did one deed, and you all marvel.

Acts 2:7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

Comment: Luke wants us to sense what a strong impact the Pentecost event had on the onlookers. They marvel that by a miracle of speaking or hearing, or both, they can understand Galileans, who were disdained for their indistinct pronunciation.

Acts 3:12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, "Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?

Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

Acts 7:31 "When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord:


Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;

2 Thessalonians 1:10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.

Comment: Christ will come again with power and great glory and at the "shining forth of His Parousia, at the Second Advent."

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

Jude 1:16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

Comment: The expression is used to translate the Hebrew idiom, “to take, or raise, a man’s countenance,” i.e., to do honor or show favor to him. The formula had its origin in the oriental custom of making one to rise from the ground as a token of welcome. This imagery soon disappeared and the expression meant “to show favoritism toward” or “to curry favor w.” (Kelly).

Revelation 13:3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;

Revelation 17:6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.

7 And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.

8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.

Thaumazo - 30x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 19:21; Lev 19:15; 26:32; Deut 10:17; 28:50; 2Kgs 5:1; 2Chr 19:7; Esther 4:17; Job 13:10; 21:5; 22:8; 32:22; 34:19; 41:9; 42:11; Ps 48:5; Pr 18:5; Eccl 5:8; Isa 9:15; 14:16; 41:23; 52:5, 15; 61:6; Jer 4:9; Dan 3:24; 4:17, 19; 6:12; Hab 1:5

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting - They were deserting the Gospel of grace to retreat into law, which is a "heteros" "Gospel," one that was distinctly at odds with the former true Gospel. Furthermore, while you might blame the false teachers, in fact the Galatians bore the responsibility for their defection. They could have refused to listen to the false teachers, who would then have no power or influence. Doctrinal error is still rampant today, and the hearer is still responsible to turn away from such teaching.

Quickly (tacheos) means quickly, speedily, hastily, rashly, suddenly (1Co 4:19; Ga1:6; Php 2:19, 24; 2Ti 4:9; Jdg 9:48; Isa 8:3) Tacheos in 1Ti 5:22 warns against ordaining an elder "too hastily." By using tacheos Paul is emphasizing how speedily the Galatians were "jumping ship" from the Gospel to that which was not a Gospel. Notice that the addition of "houtos" (so) even further emphasizes Paul's astonishment at the speed of departure to a counterfeit gospel!

Spurgeon — The Galatians were a very fickle people. Some have said that they were a colony from Gaul, — Galatians, — and that they partook somewhat of the fickleness which is attributed to the character of the Gaul. I know not how true that may be; but, certainly, they seem very soon to have left the gospel, to have adulterated it, and to have fallen into Ritualism, into Sacramentarianism, into salvation by works, and all the errors into which people usually fall when they go away from the gospel. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Deserting (3346)(metatithemi from metá = change of place or condition + títhemi = place) means to transpose two things, one of which is put in the place of the other. To transpose, put in another place hence transport, transfer, translate. To change from one place to another. "In classical Greek metatithemi was used of a turncoat. The word is used of one altering his opinion or becoming of another mind. The word was also used of desertion or revolt, frequently of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals." (Wuest)

New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament - The word was used of desertion or revolt in a military or political defection and frequently had the idea of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals

Here in Gal 1:6 the verb is in the Middle Voice which means to transfer oneself, and metaphorically speaks of a change sides or parties, of deserting or of turning away from someone.

Metatithemi is in the present tense which indicates that when Paul wrote this letter, the Galatians were in the process of defecting. Defection was in progress. If Paul had instead used the perfect tense, Kenneth Wuest observes "that would have indicated that the Galatians had actually and finally turned against grace and had come to a settled attitude in the matter. The mind of Paul wavers between fear and hope as to the outcome. Paul was trying desperately to arrest the progress of this new doctrinal infection if he could. The Judaizers had not yet achieved any decisive success, although the Galatians were disposed to lend a ready ear to their insinuations."  (Wuest)

Him who called you - Called is aorist tense which in context points to a past, completed "historical" action, which would point to the previous time when the Galatians received the Gospel. As an aside, this indicates that Paul considered them genuine believers despite their desertion.

Called (2564)(kaleo) can have several meanings but one distinctive use "is to call a person for a definite purpose. Hence, it is synonymous with to select or choose. It refers to the act of calling someone so that he may hear, come, and do that which is incumbent upon him. It thus is a word that becomes a technical term for special relationships. In secular Greek it was used of a summons in the law courts. It denotes in the New Testament a call from God or in God’s Name, a call to participate in the revelation of grace. Paul’s use of the word in general suggests that he thought of those only as called who obeyed the divine summons. Of a rejected call he never speaks." (Wuest)

By the grace - This is literally "in the grace" (of Christ) which is "locative of sphere" signifying that God's call to the Galatians was in the sphere ("atmosphere") of grace, of unmerited favor! Wuest goes on to explain that when God "effectually summoned them to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross, it was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by them and freely bestowed, offered out of the pure generosity and love of the heart of God, with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. This put the Galatians in a position in relationship to God in which they were the objects of His everlasting favor. In speaking of the change of position on the part of the Galatians, it would be more natural for Paul to refer to the state in which God’s call they are or should be than to emphasize the basis or instrument of God’s call. The Galatians were abandoning the position of grace, the relation toward God which made them the objects of the grace of Christ and participants in its benefits, to put themselves under law which could only award them their sad desserts."

Grace (favor) (5485)(charis from from chairo = to rejoice. English = charity. Beggars need "charity" even as sinners need grace, for we are all spiritual paupers outside of Christ, but "God gives where he finds empty hands"-Augustine [cp Mt 5:3-note]) in simple terms is God's unmerited favor and supernatural enablement and empowerment for salvation and for daily sanctification. Grace is everything for nothing 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 (see Ro 8:32-note where "freely give" is charizomai from charis = a grace gift!). Grace addresses man's sin, while mercy addresses man's misery. The gift of grace makes men fit for salvation, miraculously making separated strangers into God's beloved sons (1Th 1:4-note, 1Jn 3:1-note).

Different (2087)(heteros) another of a different kind. A "strange" one. The true gospel is centered on "the grace of Christ." The "heteros" Gospel ("good news") is in fact bad news!

A different gospel - "Don’t be misled by a forgery. Only the original saves our souls." (Rob Morgan)

James Denney - As there is only one God, so there can be only one gospel.

Roy Gustafson - Religion is the story of what a sinful man tries to do for a holy God; the gospel is the story of what a holy God has done for sinful men.

Vance Havner -The gospel makes some people sad, some mad and some glad. It is better that people should go out of church mad than merely go out, neither sad, mad, nor glad.

Wuest - Arthur S. Way in his excellent translation of Galatians renders heteros gospel, an opposition gospel, allos gospel, an alternative gospel. Thus, the Galatians were turning to an opposition gospel diametrically opposed to Paul’s message of grace, and this opposition gospel was not an alternative one!   (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Butler - Any theology that requires one to do good works or be baptized or circumcised or be a church member to be saved is legalism and is condemned in Scripture.

Gospel (2098)(euaggelion from = good + aggéllo = proclaim, tell) is literally good news or glad tidings. In secular Greek it originally referred to a reward for good news and later became the good news itself. The word euaggelion was commonly used in the first century as our words "good news" today. The idea then and now is something like this - “Have you any good news (euaggelion) for me today?” This was a common question in the ancient world.

Euaggelion was commonly used in the Greco-Roman culture as "a technical term for "news of victory." The messenger appears, raises his right hand in greeting and calls out with a loud voice: "rejoice …we are victorious". By his appearance it is known already that he brings good news. His face shines, his spear is decked with laurel, his head is crowned, he swings a branch of palms, joy fills the city, euaggelia are offered, the temples are garlanded, an agon (race) is held, crowns are put on for the sacrifices and the one to whom the message is owed is honored with a wreath...[thus] euaggelion is closely linked with the thought of victory in battle. " (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) This is a convicting definition - here a pagan messenger radiantly announces good news of an earthly victory. How much more radiant should we be who are the bearers of the great news of Christ's eternal triumph over sin, Satan, and death!

Swindoll - (Their desertion) could be compared to your rearing your children in a healthy environment. They grow up in your home, and because it is a good home, they develop a security and a stability as they pick up your authenticity and unguarded lifestyle. They communicate openly and freely. They learn how to confront and handle problems. In short, they learn the basics of real living . . . which include knowing Christ and loving God and walking with Him and relating well to one another—all those things that represent integrity, vulnerability, authenticity. Once they grow up, they move far away. Time passes and you begin to miss them, so after three or four years you go visit them. You’re shocked! You find them living cramped, closed, dirty, and emotionally crippled lives. You’re amazed to find them struggling with problems, evidencing negative attitudes; they’re even suicidal. Naturally you ask, “Who got to you? Who twisted your mind? What’s happened over these past few years?” It is with that same kind of passion that Paul writes his concern to his Galatian friends. (The grace awakening: believing in grace is one thing. living it is another)

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

G Campbell Morgan - To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him.—Gal. 1.6 - The experience which the Apostle thus described was at once the inspiration of his preaching, and the secret of that conviction as to the authority of his Gospel which called forth this letter. To him the Gospel was infinitely more than a doctrine, a truth heard from others, and intellectually accepted. It was his very life, and the deepest thing therein. In this first chapter he made three references to his experience, which are revealing. First he wrote of a "revelation of Jesus Christ." Then, in our verse, of a revelation of "His Son in me." And finally he declared that the churches of Judaea glorified God in him. The first of these references was undoubtedly to that wondrous hour in which Jesus of Nazareth was unveiled before his astonished soul, as risen, and active in the affairs of His people. The experience on the road to Damascus was one of revolution. To this man the whole scheme of things was turned upside down. Then, in the quiet seclusion of those waiting days in Damascus, that which had been an arresting and blinding revelation from without, became a convincing and quickening revelation within his own soul. Christ was unveiled within him. That is the secret of preaching. A consciousness of Christ which is purely objective is fundamental, but it is not enough to equip any man for preaching. There must be this deeper knowledge of Christ, the subjective unveiling of Him within the life. A man who knows much about Christ, may talk about Him, A man who knows Him, can preach Him. (Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)

Scammed By Spam - Have you ever been scammed by spam? Spam is a computer term that refers to junk mail on the Internet. It’s a common problem for people who use personal computers. Sometimes it’s harmless, but sometimes it’s not.

You open your e-mail, and you get a note saying someone wants to help you. Your credit card is invalid, the message says, and your number has to be reentered to reactivate your account. So, you type it in and hit “send”—thinking you’re doing the right thing. Later you get a bill for a bunch of items you didn’t buy. You’ve just been scammed by spam! What appeared to be helpful is no help at all. You trust the message, do what it says, and you end up losing.

We can also be scammed spiritually. It happens when supposed teachers of the Bible distort the gospel and proclaim a false message that they call the truth (salvation by works, for example). But it’s “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). How can you avoid such a scam? By knowing from the Bible what the true gospel is. Eternal salvation is available only by grace, through trusting in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Don’t be fooled. Any other message is a scam! — by Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread)

There's no better news than the Gospel—
spread the word!

A Different Gospel - What is the greatest challenge to us as Christians in the 21st century? Is it rampant immorality? Is it divisive social issues? Is it increasing hostility toward God? Those are dangers, for sure, but I would venture to say that our biggest threat is religion—religion that draws us away from the gospel.

Some religions openly oppose Christ, but others are more subtle. They use language Christians already know, giving their faith a familiar sound. Then they add to it their own twisted brand of thinking.

If such groups sound Christian, how can we know if they are preaching “a different gospel”? (Galatians 1:6). Here are some false teachings to watch out for.

1. Salvation through anything other than faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross (Acts 4:12).

2. A refusal to see Jesus as the eternal God in the flesh, our only Savior (John 1).

3. Giving more importance to the word of man than to the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).

4. Leaders who do not provide Christlike guidance through careful biblical instruction (1 Timothy 4:6; Jude 4).

There are those who want to lead you into another gospel. Learn God’s Word, so you won’t be deceived. — by Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread)

The Word of God provides the light
We need to see the way;
So if we learn what God has said,
We'll not be led astray. —Sper

Apply yourself to the Scriptures
and the Scriptures to yourself.

Theodore Epp - Don't Minimize God's Grace - Galatians 1:1-10

The basic error the Apostle Paul was dealing with was the mingling of Law with grace. There are three grave errors that arise out of this.

First there is what we call "legalism." This is the teaching that people are saved by works or human effort. That, in this case, would include the keeping of the Law and observing the rituals and ceremonies found in the Old Testament covenant God made with Israel.

This same error is reflected today when someone claims to have done his best to keep the Ten Commandments. This to him is the way of salvation.

The second error that can undermine true faith in Jesus Christ is what we may call "false liberty."

The Christian is called unto liberty, but that liberty is defined for us in the Scriptures and not left to our imagination. Yet there are those who teach that because they are saved by grace, it makes no difference how they live or behave.

This Satanic error is answered in the Book of James. He wrote: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (2:17). In other words, a faith that does not produce works is not real faith.

The third error is the one Paul deals with in his Letter to the Galatians. In fact, the error itself is often named "Galatianism." This false doctrine teaches that we are saved by grace but are kept saved by the Law.

In reality this makes salvation dependent on our works. Our works of righteousness are to be a supplement to our faith for ultimate salvation. One must endure to the end by keeping the works of the Law if he is going to be saved.

This is the error of Galatianism, the error that Paul combats in this brief letter.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Galatians 1:7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ

  • but (KJV): Ga 2:4 4:17 5:10,12 6:12,13,17 Ac 15:1-5,24 20:30 Ro 16:17,18 2Co 11:13
  • pervert (KJV): Ga 5:10,12 Jer 23:26 Mt 24:24 Ac 13:10 15:1,24 2Co 2:17 4:2 1Ti 4:1-3 2Ti 2:18 3:8,9 4:3,4 Tit 1:10,11 2Pe 2:1-3, 1 Jn 2:18,19,26 4:1,  2 Jn 1:7,10 Jude 1:4 Rev 2:2,6,14,15,20 12:9 Rev 13:14 19:20 20:3

Not another - In Gal 1:6 Paul had used heteros (another of a different kind), but here Paul uses allos which means "another of the same kind." Jesus uses allos to refer to the Spirit telling His disciples "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (another Helper of the same kind - just like you have experienced My help, teaching, protection, comfort, the Holy Spirit will in the future provide those things to you), that He may be with you forever." (Jn 14:16).

Spurgeon — “Another gospel: which is not another;” for there are not two gospels, any more than there are two gods. There is one only message from God, of good news to men; and if you turn away from that, you turn away to a falsehood, to that which will bring you trouble, to that which will pervert you, and lead you astray. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Augustine - If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

The "gospel truth" is that we don't change the Gospel, but the Gospel changes us! If we change the Gospel to another "gospel," it has no power to change us. There's a saying in Texas "Don't Mess with Texas!" Paul was not a Texan but I think if he were, he would say "Don't Mess with the Gospel!"

Some - Probably the Judaizers. Whoever they were they preached a message of "Bad News", a heteros (different) "gospel" of works and legalism diametrically opposed to the Good News of Grace found only in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Disturbing (troubling, stirring up) (5015)(tarasso) literally means to shake back and forth and therefore to agitate and stir up (like the pool in John 5:4,7, Lxx = Ezek 32:2, 13, Isa 51:15). To shake together, stir up, disturb, unsettle, throw into disorder (Lxx = Ps 46; 2Sa 22:8 = of earth shaking). In secular Greek tarasso was used of political agitators who cause confusion and turmoil. Most of the NT uses of tarasso are figurative and describe the state of one's mind as stirred up, agitated or experiencing inward commotion. Tarasso is a strong word, meaning “to deeply upset,” “to deeply disturb,” “to perplex,” or “to create fear.” Here in Gal 1:7 (and also in Gal 5:10) tarasso describes the effect of false doctrine on the minds and hearts of the Galatians.

False doctrine had "mentally disturbed" the Galatians! And it will do the same for any saint who partakes of this false fetid fair!

Tarasso - 17x in NAS - Matt 2:3; 14:26; Mark 6:50; Luke 1:12; 24:38; John 5:7; 11:33; 12:27; 13:21; 14:1, 27; Acts 15:24; 17:8, 13; Gal 1:7; 5:10; 1 Pet 3:14. Translated in NAS - disturbed(1), disturbing(2), stirred(3), stirring(1), terrified(2), troubled(9).

Tarasso conveys the idea of to disturb mentally or to cause a deep emotional disturbance and thus refers to an unsettled mind, as when Herod heard of the birth of Jesus (Mt 2:3), Zacharias' fear when he saw the angel (Lk 1:12), the terror of the disciples when they witnessed Jesus walking on the water (Mt 14:26), Jesus' reaction to the lack of faith among the people before He raises Lazarus (Jn 11:33), in Jesus' command to not let their hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1) and of disturbing the faith of someone (Gal 5:10). Tarasso emphasizes the intensity of the Lord's reaction to His impending death (Jn 12:27) and His response to Judas' imminent betrayal.

Tarasso in Gal 1:7 is in the present tense they (the "some" presumably the Judaizers) are even at the time of the writing of this letter on the scene continually stirring up the Galatians with their false gospel, their "heteros" gospel. The active voice indicates that they are doing this as a definite choice which is emphasized even more by the following verb "want."

Want (thelo) indicates the false teachers have a desire, a motive, even a resolve to distort the true Gospel. And again the present tense indicates that this was their present, continual wish and desire, that the actions were still in progress. They are determined to distort the truth! Wow! Watch out for false teachers! Kenneth Wuest draws an interesting conclusion based on Paul's use of thelo writing that "the perversion was yet only a wish of the Judaizers, and that the Galatians had not completely succumbed to their influence."


Distort (3344) (metastrepho from meta = change + strepho = to twist) means to turn about or turn around. Transform into something of an opposite character. Corrupt. Pervert. Reverse. The idea is to turn something (here the true Gospel) to it opposite state, so altering it and causing it to be different, so that it really no longer a gospel of Christ and of His grace. Metastrepho was also used as a political term, with revolutionary action in view

In this passage the aorist tense indicates a complete and thorough change or perversion of the true Gospel of Grace! The intent of the Judaizers was to pervert Paul's message of grace by adding salvation by works instead of by faith alone.

Wuest - It was not merely to derange Paul's gospel of grace or to turn aside its true meaning. It was to transform it into something diametrically opposed to what it was originally, into something of an opposite nature. Thus the actions of the Judaizers themselves testify to the mutual incompatibility of law and grace. These two systems have nothing in common; as Paul says, “If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Pervert - to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right; to twist the meaning or sense of; To turn from truth, propriety, or from its proper purpose; to distort from its true use or end; as, to pervert reason by misdirecting it; to alter from its original meaning or state to a corruption of what was first intended.

Distort - to twist out of the true meaning or proportion; to twist out of a natural, normal, or original shape or condition. To mar or spoil by or as if by twisting.

Paul is describing Spiritual Warfare 101! The cults in one way or another will always center their "stealth attack" on the most vital aspect of our faith, the Gospel of Christ.

The only other NT use of metastrepho is in Acts where Peter declares...


Metastrepho - 17x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex 14:5 (of Pharaoh having "a change of heart") ; Deut 23:5 ("God turned the curse to blessing"); 1 Sam 10:9 ("God changed his [Saul's] heart"); 2 Chr 36:4 ("changed his name"); Ps 66:6 ("turned the sea into dry land"); Ps 78:44 ("turned their rivers to blood"), Ps 78:57 ("They turned aside like a treacherous bow"); Ps105:25 ("He turned their heart to hate His people"), Ps 105:29 ("He turned their waters into blood"); Jer 6:12; 21:4; Lam 5:2; Hos 7:8 ("like a cake not turned"); Hos 11:8 ("My heart is turned over within Me"); Joel 2:31 (Quoted in Acts 2:20 above); Amos 8:10 ("I will turn your festivals into mourning"); Zeph 3:9 ("then I will give [turn to an opposite state] to the peoples purified lips [instead of impure speech - this is an act of grace, and the timing is most likely at the beginning of the Millennium]");

Gospel of Christ -

D L Moody on Choosing a Church - Salvation is obtained solely by faith in Him and quite apart from any works or human merit (Galatians 1:6-9). Be sure to find out what is taught concerning His precious blood. Apart from that blood there can be no remission of sins.

Ray Pritchard - The church had to hammer out its faith on the anvil of doctrinal controversy. That's why you find so many warnings in the New Testament concerning false teachers in the church. Virtually every New Testament book contains one. Some of the major references are: Matthew 24:4–5, 24; Acts 20:29–30; Romans 16:17–19; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15; Galatians 1:6–9; Philippians 3:1–2; Colossians 2:4, 8, 18, 20–23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3; 1 Timothy 1:3–7; 4:1–6; 2 Timothy 3:1–9; 4:3–4; 2 Peter 2:1–3; 1 John 2:18–19; 2John 7–11; Jude 3–4; Revelation 2:6, 14–15, 20–24. Clearly, the early church took very seriously the threat posed by those who would add to or subtract from the original faith handed down from the apostles. (Stealth Attack)

TODAY IN THE WORD - A second-century Christian heresy was ""rediscovered"" in 1945. That year, archaeologists recovered a number of documents from an Egyptian monastery, among them a book called ""The Gospel of Truth"" by a theologian named Valentinus (or one of his followers). Once a candidate for bishop of Rome, Valentinus (Gnostic) was excommunicated when he emerged as leader of a gnostic heresy. Gnosticism denies that the spiritual has anything to do with the physical, a heresy with which other ages of the church have also wrestled. Valentinus interpreted the Bible in a strange, allegorical way. His teachings blurred the line between Christianity, mysticism, philosophy and Judaism. He rejected the incarnation, crucifixion and bodily resurrection of Jesus. Church leaders attacked Valentinus' heretical ideas and defended biblical truth.

Heresies and cults have always threatened the church. When falsehoods are exposed, the church must do all it can to defend the truth. In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul is defending the truth of Christianity against false theology. He criticizes the Galatians for neglecting Christian liberty and for focusing instead on the error of legalism. The Galatians may have been startled when the apostle accused them of turning from God (Gal 1:6). No doubt they thought they were pleasing the Father by keeping the law, as did the Jews and Paul before his conversion. But God had extended to the Galatians grace through Jesus Christ, the instrument by which He brings us to salvation. The Galatians had set aside that important truth, and distorted the simple truths of the gospel (Gal 1:6-7)

TODAY IN THE WORD - The neighborhood kids decided to organize themselves into a playgroup and little Danny was their leader. All the members had bicycles and decorated them the same way so that everyone in the neighborhood would know who they were. When Sarah’s family moved in, she too wanted to be part of the group. “You can join,” Danny told her, “but only if you have a bicycle and decorate it just like ours!” This story reflects something of the situation in Galatia. (Galatians Devotionals)

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

  • Even if: Ga 1:9 1Co 16:22 2Co 11:13,14 1Ti 1:19,20 Tit 3:10 Rev 22:18,19
  • He is to be: Ga 3:10,13 Ge 9:25 Dt 27:15-26 Jos 9:23 1Sa 26:19 Ne 13:25 Mt 25:41 2Pe 2:14
  • accursed: Mk 14:71 Ac 23:14 Ro 9:3 1Co 12:3 16:22)

But (alla) the strongest adversative conjunction. Emphasizes how strong the contrast is between Paul's gospel and the counterfeit.

We (plural) shows that Paul is not alone in his strong feelings concerning the integrity of the Gospel of grace. Indeed, we today should be just as zealous to "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to" us (2Ti 1:14-note) Wuest adds "He wants to show the Galatians that the controversy is not between one teacher and another, but between truth and error."

Even if: Subjective with ean expresses a Third class condition which views the condition as a possibility.

Spurgeon — Paul is no fanatic, no raving enthusiast; yet he cannot endure the notion of a false gospel. In his solemn anathema, he includes himself, and all the brethren with him, yea, and the very angels of God if they “preach any other gospel.” Let him be accursed, saith he, and so he is. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Preach...a gospel (2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo) to announce or bring good news, to "evangelize," making known God's message of salvation with the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Paul S. Rees - The gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate. It is an announcement.

Contrary (3844)(para) has the root meaning of "beside." In the present context para is used adversatively which signifies against, contrary to or without regard for (cf this sense in Ro 4:18, Heb 11:11).

Will Metzger - A gospel that elevates man and dethrones God is not the gospel.

A doctored gospel by C H Spurgeon - In “Babbage’s Economy of Manufactures,” we are told that some years ago a mode of preparing old clover and trefoil seeds, by a process called “doctoring,” became so prevalent as to attract the attention of the House of Commons. By this process old and worthless seed was rendered in appearance equal to the best. One witness tried some “doctored” seed, and found that not above one grain in a hundred grew. Is it not to be feared that a “doctored” gospel is becoming very common among us; and if so, it is no wonder that conversions are but few. Only pure truth is living seed. (The Biblical Illustrator)

John Marshall - God and his truth cannot be changed; the gospel is not negotiable.

Accursed (331)(anathema from anatíthemi = to place, lay up) means strictly speaking something set up or placed so as to be kept, such as a votive [free will] offering which is "set up" in the temple. It describes that which has been dedicated to divinity, in the positive sense as a free will offering, in the negative sense as one delivered over to divine wrath or dedicated for destruction! Read Acts 23:14 for a forceful illustration of the meaning of this word. Most of the NT uses are by Paul who uses anathema in a negative sense of delivering ("setting up" or "placing") someone under divine wrath or a curse, "devoted to the direst woes." (Thayer)

Vine - Anathema anathema is translated from the Greek, occurs frequently in LXX, where it is used to translate the Hebrew cherem, a thing devoted to God, whether, a, for His service, as the sacrifices, Leviticus 27:28, or, b, for destruction, as an idol, Deuteronomy 7:26, or Jericho, Joshua 6:17. Then later, cherem took on a wider, more general meaning, the disfavor of Jehovah, see Isaiah 34:5; Zechariah 14:11; Malachi 4:6. This latter is the New Testament sense of anathema.

Wuest - Anathema cannot refer here to ecclesiastical excommunication, for angels are included. The epistles of Paul attach to the word the idea of spiritual death. Its use in Romans 9:3 where Paul says that he could wish himself accursed from Christ for his brethren’s sake, associates it with the further idea of separation from Christ and destruction for all eternity, which is the fate of the unsaved. The word does not, like excommunication, pronounce a judicial sentence on particular convicted offenders, but solemnly affirms general laws of the spiritual kingdom. In I Corinthians 16:22, those who love not the Lord Jesus are declared to be outcasts from the Faith. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Wayne Detzler - Not only are all accursed who do not love the Lord, but those who preach a false gospel are under a special curse. Paul aimed part of his Galatian letter at counterfeiters of the Christian message. Anyone who does not preach the same Gospel as Paul is accursed (Gal. 1:8–9). In this day of wildly divergent theologies, it is good to remember how important Gospel purity is. (New Testament Words in Today’s Language)

Jerry Bridges - Paul reacted against all forms of legalism with force and focus, calling for those who teach such lies to “be accursed” (Gal. 1:8–9) and even wishing that those who were unsettling the Galatian Christians would “emasculate themselves” (Gal. 5:12). This is strong language. But such attacks by Paul do not seem shocking when we pause to consider what is at stake. By substituting man centered performance as the basis for acquiring righteousness, the very essence and foundation of redemptive truth is compromised. (The Great Exchange)

Kevin Backus (Gal 1:8) - Do Mormons believe in Jesus? Yes, make no mistake about that. But the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the historic Christian faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints proclaims a Jesus who is radically different from the Christ of Scripture. (The Journal of Modern Ministry, Volume 5, Issue 1, Winter 2008)

TODAY IN THE WORD - If you ever watch sports, you’ve seen this scenario: a time-out is called, and the players gather breathlessly around the coach. The coach’s words are punctuated with urgency. He doesn’t smile. He gestures emphatically at his clipboard. The outcome of the game hangs in the balance. Paul is like this coach on the sidelines. His words are urgent. The situation, as he sees it, is tenuous. Paul doesn’t waste any time in his letter to the Galatians before addressing the dire problem he sees in their churches. False teachers have been given standing in the churches, and the Galatians have been deceived. The error of the Galatians actually threatens their standing in Christ. Paul accused the Galatians of having abandoned God the Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have deserted the One who called them and embraced another gospel.

What Paul wants to emphasize is that the message that the Galatians have now believed is really no gospel at all. The Galatians, of course, didn’t see it that way. Most likely, the false teachers hadn’t asked the Galatians to renounce their faith in Christ. No, their message was probably much more subtle. They’ve criticized Paul’s ministry, trying to discredit him and expose what they see as the error of his preaching and teaching. They’ve elevated their teaching as the “true” gospel. To Paul’s horror, they’ve preached the necessity of circumcision to Gentile believers (cf. 5:2).

Paul answers back emphatically: May all of God’s curses fall on them, or on anyone in fact who preaches anything other than the gospel of Jesus Christ! Paul was not going to cede any ground to these false teachers. He would not compromise the gospel, nor would he give up on the Galatians so easily.

What we start to see in this letter is Paul as a man who’s fiercely committed to the Galatians and who wants to secure their total commitment to Christ. Like a coach explaining a key play in the game, Paul carefully outlined an argument in his letter for the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Beecher - No matter how infidel philosophers may regard the Bible: they may say that Genesis is awry, and that the Psalms are more than half bitter imprecations, and the Prophecies only the fantasies of brain-bewildered men, and the Gospels weak laudations of an impostor, and the Epistles but the letters of a mad Jew, and that the whole book has had its day, I shall cling to it until they show me a better revelation. The Bible emptied, effete, worn out! If all the wisest men of the world were placed man to man, they could not sound the shallowest depth of the Gospel of John. O philosophers! break the shell, and fly out, and let me hear how you can sing,—not of passion, I know that already; not of worldly power, I hear that everywhere: but teach me, through your song, how to find joy in sorrow, strength in weakness, and light in darkest days; how to bear buffeting and scorn; how to welcome death, and to pass, through its ministration, into the sphere of life; and this, not for me only, but for the whole world that groans and travails in pain. And, until you can do this, speak not to me of a better revelation.

But even IF As we have before said, and now again I say, IF
we or a heavenly angel should
preach a gospel to you
Anyone is preaching
a gospel to you
besides that which we preached besides that which you received
let him be accursed. let him be accursed

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

  • so: 2Co 1:17 13:1,2 Php 3:1 4:4
  • Contrary: Dt 4:2 Dt 12:32 Dt 13:1-11 Pr 30:6 Rev 22:18,19)


We have said before (4280)(prolego from pro = before + lego = to say, declare) means literally to say before, to foretell or predict, to speak in advance. Foretell or predict in the sense of prophetically (Mt 24:25, Mk 13:23, Acts 1:16, Ro 9:29, 1Th 3:4, Heb 4:7, 2Pe 3:2). In the simple sense of something that someone has said to someone before, so that it represents a repetition. (2Cor 7:3, Jude 1:17). Something spoken before as a warning (that a future event is dangerous) (2Cor 13:2, Gal 5:21, 1Th 3:4 - both a foretelling and a forewarning).

The use of prolego here in Gal 1:9 emphasizes that Paul had spoken to the Galatians before (since it is used contrast to the word "now") about the dangers of a false gospel and the destruction decreed to those who propounded it. Furthermore, Paul used the perfect tense, which points to the abiding authority of that say previously-what Paul had said in the past still stands. The verb expresses the communication of authorized Christian teaching (Guthrie).

Prolego - 13x - Translated - foretold(2), forewarned(1), previously said(1), said before(3), spoken beforehand(2), advance(2), told...before(1).

Matthew 24:25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.

Mark 13:23 "But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

Acts 1:16 "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.


2 Corinthians 7:3 I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.

2 Corinthians 13:2 I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone,

Vine: the idea is not so much that he had prophesied a certain result if such things were permitted, but that he had told them, and now repeated his warning, of the inevitable consequence of permitting such things.

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Galatians 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Vine: the meaning in Gal. 5:21 is not so much that Paul prophesied the result of the practice of the evils mentioned but that he had told them before of the consequence and was now repeating his warning, as leaving no possible room for doubt or misunderstanding

1Thess 3:4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.

Vine: the subject told before was the affliction consequent upon the preaching of the Gospel

1 Thessalonians 4:6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.

Vine: the warning was as to the consequences of whatsoever violates chastity.

Hebrews 4:7 He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."

2 Peter 3:2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

Jude 1:17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,

If - not ean which would signify an unfulfilled condition, but ei which speaks of a fulfilled condition (see Vine's comment).

Vine comments on the phrase "is preaching to you"

whereas in the previous verse the verb is in the subjunctive mood, here it is in the indicative; the former is purely hypothetical, = “if by any chance anyone should preach,” whereas the latter is more direct and concrete, = “if, as a matter of fact, anyone is preaching.”


Received (3880)(paralambano from para = beside + lambano = appropriate, receive) means to receive from another, to receive alongside or to take to oneself (into close association). There are two basic ideas - to take or to receive. To receive something transmitted, as spiritual instruction or truth (see 1Cor 11:23, Gal 1:9) or a ministry (Col 4:17-note). Paralambano also meant to take someone along as a traveling companion. (Lk 9:10)

Vine adds that "The gospel for which he was so jealous was not merely that which he had proclaimed at the outset, it was that which they had accepted, which had lightened their darkness, and freed them from their sins, cp. 1 Corinthians 15:1.

Robertson says paralambano was "a common verb meaning to welcome." We see this use in Paul's epistle to the Thessalonians...

1Thess 2:13 (note) And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received (paralambano) from us the word of God’s message, you accepted (dechomai) it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

The Galatians had appropriated Paul's Gospel for themselves, even as a host would extend a warm welcome to a guest (this is another sense of paralambano). Paralambano also means to receive as authoritative teaching what was passed on. Cleon Rogers says "The word corresponds to the technical term in the rabbinical literature, quibbel, meaning to receive tradition which has been passed on. (New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament )

Anathema - Why the repetition? Vine suggests "the repetition of the curse shows he had pronounced it not passionately but deliberately, as a matter not of feeling but of judgment."

John Piper - Scripture alone is the final authority for revealing and defining the gospel of Christ

Chuck Swindoll - I don’t think there is any disagreement . . . the man was hot!

Jay Adams, Christian psychologist - Self-esteem doctrine is a Christian heresy which is an enemy of the true good news. Self-esteem is a modern form of the ancient heresy of Pelagianism which Augustine and the church repudiated....

James Scudder - Living Water Devotional - Making It Clear - Galatians 1:8-9 1 Corinthians 14:8 Have you ever tried to speak to someone who didn't understand your language? When I travel, I frequently encounter this problem. I forget that the entire world does not speak English. I will only get a smile or a blank stare. No matter how vital my conversation is, the other person cannot comprehend it. When we share the Gospel with people, we often speak in a language that the unsaved cannot comprehend. We talk with words that they've never heard. The Apostle Paul stressed in his letters that we must make the presentation of the Gospel as clear as crystal. Often, we add confusing terms and conditions that only confuse the issue. This reminds me of a story about the Chevy Nova. This was a moderately successful American car for many years. The company, encouraged by the sales, began marketing this vehicle throughout the world. Unfortunately, the car didn't sell so well in Spanish-speaking countries. The company could not figure out the reason for the decline in sales. That was, until they discovered that the word "Nova" in Spanish means, "no go." Not a very good name for a mode of transportation. When we confuse terminology in presenting the Gospel, we may be sending a false message to the world without realizing it. That is why it is so important to present a clear gospel message every time we share our faith with someone. We want to make sure we are speaking their language. I do not frustrate the grace of God. = Galatians2:21

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

  • now: Ac 4:19,20 5:29 2Co 5:9-11 1Th 2:4
  • seeking favor: 1Sa 21:7 Mt 28:14 Ac 12:20 Ro 2:8: 1Jn 3:9
  • seek: 2Co 12:19 1Th 2:4
  • for if: Mt 22:16 Ro 15:1,2 1Co 10:33 Eph 6:6 Col 3:22 Jas 4:4
  • bondservant: Ro 1:1)


Wuest paraphrase - For, am I at this present moment seeking to win the favor of men rather than the approval of God? Or, am I making it my business to be constantly pleasing men? If I still were pleasing men, in that case, Christ’s bondslave I would not be.

For (gar) is a term of explanation (always stop and determine "What is being explained?" See term of explanation). In this case "For introduces a justification of the severe language just used." (Vincent) He is going to justify why he is speaking so strongly.

Vine explains Paul's use of "now (arti)" - the contrast is not with his life before his conversion, when, indeed, he showed no conciliatory spirit, but rather with the general course of his ministry. His traducers (those seeking to expose Paul to shame by means of his having misrepresented himself) suggested that he was a trimmer (one who modifies a policy or position out of expediency) who sought to ingratiate (gain favor for) himself by “becoming all things to all men,” 1 Corinthians 9:22. In support of this contention they could point to the circumcision of Timothy as a bid for Jewish favor, and to his repudiation of law as an attempt to conciliate the Gentiles. So the emphasis is thrown on “now,” as though he would say, “never mind the past, at least in this repeated statement my meaning is not to be mistaken or misrepresented.”

Seeking the favor (3982)(peitho) means to cause to come to a particular point of view or course of action. To win over. To persuade. To bring about a change of one's mind by the influence of reason or of moral considerations (cp 2Cor 5:11-note, Acts 13:43 urge).


Am I striving to please men - Before his conversion this was undoubtedly Paul's aim. "Is what I have just now said a sample of men-pleasing, of which I am accused?" (Jamieson) "I have been charged with conciliating (seeking to gain as goodwill by pleasing acts) men. Does this anathema of mine look like it? Is it a time for conciliatory words now, when Judaizing emissaries are troubling you (Gal 1:7) and persuading you to forsake the true Gospel?" (Vincent)

1Thess 2:4-note but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.

2Cor 5:9-note Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.


George MacDonald - When one has learned to seek the honour that cometh from God only, he will take the withholding of the honour that cometh by man very lightly indeed. ()

Puritan Thomas Watson - Do not preach so much to please as to profit. Choose rather to discover men’s sins than to show your own eloquence. That is the best looking-glass, not which is most gilded but which shows the truest face.

Spurgeon — He would not be the servant of Christ if he pleased men. Those whom we try to please, are our masters. If a man tries to please the populace, or to please the refined few, these are his masters, and he will be their flare; but if he tries to please his God, then is he a free man indeed. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Not men but God - The answer of course is God is the One he was striving to please. How can fallen men be pleasing to a Holy God? This is something that can only be done as one relies on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:8-note, Ro 8:9-note). Are you relying on your own strength to please God or have you come to the point where you recognize the futility of the flesh to do anything pleasing to God and so you throw your weight so to speak in total dependence on the Spirit? Paul had learned this secret through easy times and hard times (Read Php 4:11, 12-note) so that he could finally conclude from experience...

I can do (present tense = continually) all things (Paul's responsibility as well as each believer's responsibility) through Christ Who strengthens (God's provision - endunamoo in present tense = CONTINUALLY infuses with dunamis, dynamic power, supernatural power, His power via His indwelling Spirit in) me. (Php 4:13-note)

Wiersbe - When Verdi produced his first opera in Florence, the composer stood by himself in the shadows and kept his eye on the face of one man in the audience-the great Rossini. It mattered not to Verdi whether the people in the hall were cheering him or jeering him; all he wanted was a smile of approval from the master musician. So it was with Paul. He knew what it was to suffer for the Gospel, but the approval or disapproval of men did not move him. “Therefore also we have as our ambition... to be pleasing to Him” (2Co 5:9). Paul wanted the approval of Christ. The servant of God is constantly tempted to compromise in order to attract and please men. When D. L. Moody was preaching in England, a worker came to him on the platform and told him that a very important nobleman had come into the hall. “May the meeting be a blessing to him!” was Moody’s reply, and he preached just as before, without trying to impress anybody. Paul was not a politician; he was an ambassador. His task was not to “play politics” but to proclaim a message. These Judaizers, on the other hand, were cowardly compromisers who mixed Law and grace, hoping to please both Jews and Gentiles, but never asking whether or not they were pleasing God. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Bondservant of Christ - One who seeks to please the Master in all things (See Eph 6:6-note, Titus 2:9-note; Col 3:22-note). When we submit to Christ as Master, we will not be popular with men, a fact Paul knew all too well, for immediately after entering the bond service of Christ, his former friends took counsel to kill him (Acts 9:23), and persecution for the sake of Christ had not ceased even as he wrote this epistle (Read Gal 5:11). Beloved, if we truly yield to Him as Master, we can expect similar treatment! Paul preached the genuine gospel, the "real thing," which did not curry people’s favor nor please their fallen flesh, but instead brought him great suffering. In marked contrast, his opponents’ false (man pleasing) "gospel" helped them avoid suffering! This begs several questions - "Have I ever been "persecuted" for the message my life and lips preach? Is my Gospel the same as Paul's Gospel? Am I seeking to please fallen men on earth or my exalted Father Who is in Heaven?"

Bond-servant (1401)( doulos from deo = to bind) is an individual bound to another in servitude. Doulos conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to him, desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master. Indeed, a bond-servant is one who surrendered wholly to another’s will and thus devoted to another to the disregard of his own interest. Paul was not his own but had been bought with the price of the blood of Christ (1Cor 6:19-note, 1Cor 6:20-note). He was now and forever the property of our Lord (Kurios means "Master") Jesus Christ and was His slave exclusively. No man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24-note). Paul (as have all of believers before regeneration) had been a slave to the harsh task master, "King Sin" (who desires to reign and gives orders to "lust" cf Ro 6:11, 12, 13, 14-note - see note on "the Sin" ) by their birth into Adam's likeness (Ro 5:12NLT), but now they are slaves of Christ by their new, second birth. They had no will of their own, no business of their own, no time of their own and were acting for their Master, Christ; dependent upon Him and obedient to Him.

Somerville writes - The success syndrome says that you must achieve your own goals; you must achieve the approval of men. God says we must choose to seek to please Him. Rather than seeking to be a man pleaser, I need to be like Paul, who did not seek the favor of men but God. (The Journal of Modern Ministry, Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2005)

Swindoll - There was a time in my ministry, many years ago, when a single verse of Scripture jolted me back to a place of confidence, delivering me from the trap of telling a group of influential people what they wanted to hear. I realize now it was a turning point in my leadership pilgrimage from “slave to others” to “servant of Christ.” It reads, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). A leader who wants to be respected can afford flattery no more than he can deception. As someone once said, “I don’t know the secret of success, but I do know the secret of failure— try to please everybody!” (Start where you are)

Swindoll - "The Conviction: Nonconformity of the Christian Upheld -

A. Those who seek to please only God become invincible within. When we serve the Lord diligently, our minds and hearts will not wander or become victimized by spiritual counterfeits. Our souls will become like steel, firmly cemented in the foundation of the Christian gospel. How solid is your foundation? Is it reinforced with a commitment of steel, bent on pleasing God only? Can it withstand the weight of counterfeits? Or does it crumble under pressure? If so, maybe you need to take an engineer's look at your life to determine whether pleasing God is truly an undergirding motivation (2 Cor. 5:9).

B. Those who stop striving to please people are not intimidated by them.

There will always be those who try to lead us astray. But if our lives are centered on pleasing God rather than people, we will be able to stand strong when the lures come our way. Are you able to look intimidation in the face and stare it down?...

C. Those who are true servants of Christ think and act independently." (Quote from Paul Apple)

WHAT OTHERS THINK - Am I trying to please man? (GALATIANS 1:10) - Often we don’t enjoy our freedom in Christ because we’re afraid of what others will think. We do or don’t do certain things because of a fear that we’ll be judged by others. But standing firm in our freedom in Christ means resisting that fear. In Galatians, Paul wrote, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Surprisingly soon after the death of my first wife, God brought into my life another godly lady—a single woman who had been a family friend for many years. As our friendship deepened into a romantic relationship, I became concerned about what people would think. I knew I would be violating the culturally accepted maxim of “don’t make any major decisions the first year.” I also sensed an inner compulsion in my spirit, which I felt was from God, to move ahead. My journal during those days records numerous times when I struggled with God over this issue. One day I wrote, “I wonder if God is pushing me along faster in this relationship than I want to go because of fear of what people will think.” I’d put God in the box of our culturally accepted norm. Surely He wouldn’t do anything in my life that would be unacceptable to my friends. God was actually doing a wonderful thing, but instead of fully enjoying His work of grace, I was struggling with Him because of what people might think. If you’re going to experience the joy of your freedom in Christ, you have to decide whether you’ll please God or people. (Jerry Bridges - Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey)

The Mouth of Gold - His name was John of Antioch, but history knows him as Chrysostom, a word which means “Mouth of Gold.” His sermons in the fourth century are among the most eloquent in the history of the church. He was the Billy Graham of his day, combining careful exegesis of Scripture with incisive moral application to everyday life. His popular sermons were taken down in shorthand as he preached them and have been preserved through the centuries, making him the most quoted of the church’s ancient preachers. But Chrysostom often found himself in the crosshairs of Roman rulers who resented his powerful and unflinching message. In such times, he kept Galatians 1:10 close to his heart. His archenemy was the Empress Eudoxia. Furious over Chrysostom’s attacks on sin, she determined to rid Constantinople of him. He countered by preaching a blistering sermon about Elijah and Jezebel with obvious overtones. Eudoxia struck back and Chrysostom found himself deposed and shipped into exile. But the people of Constantinople rioted, angrily insisting on the preacher’s return. At the same time an earthquake shook the city. Eudoxia, trembling, admitted defeat, and Chrysostom returned in triumph. He later expressed his feelings in these words: "When I was driven from the city, I felt no anxiety, but said to myself: If the empress wishes to banish me, let her do so. The earth is the Lord’s. If she wants to have me sawn asunder, I have Isaiah for an example. If she wants me to be drowned in the ocean, I think of Jonah. If I am to be thrown into the fire, the three men in the furnace suffered the same. If cast before wild beasts, I remember Daniel in the lions’ den. If she wants me to be stoned, I have before me Stephen, the first martyr. If she demands my head, let her do so; John the Baptist shines before me. Paul reminds me, “If I still pleased men, I would not be the servant of Christ.”"

Our Daily Bread - At one point in his ministry, English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) received a vicious letter accusing him of wrongdoing. His reply was brief and courteous: "I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me. With love in Christ, George Whitefield." He didn't try to defend himself. He was much more concerned about pleasing the Lord. Such an attitude prevailed in the life of the apostle Paul. He said, "For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10). He also prayed that the Colossian believers would be "fully pleasing" to God (Col. 1:10). If we are faithfully serving Christ, we don't need to waste time defending ourselves when harsh, hurtful, and untrue things are said about us. We can take comfort in knowing that we are walking "worthy of the Lord" (Col. 1:10).

What God knows about us is more important
than what people say about us.

TODAY IN THE WORD - Since it was selected for Oprah's Book Club, New-Age spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, has sold over 3.5 million copies. When Tolle and Oprah launched a series of “webinars,” over two million people participated. Tolle preaches a message that many people want to hear. According to Tolle, our basic problem is living out of our “false” self, which is ego-centered. Overcoming our false self involves discovering our “oneness” with God, who is everywhere and in everyone. Thus finding God and finding our true self is essentially the same thing, because God is in us, just as He is in everyone. It's easy to see why Tolle's message is so successful: the hard truth about sin and judgment is nowhere to be found. The situation wasn't much different in Paul's day. There were plenty of traveling philosophers who went from town to town preaching whatever people wanted to hear and often making good money by doing so. Speakers were considered to be good if they could persuade, not necessarily if they told the truth. Such individuals often used clever-sounding arguments or trickery, but when their deception was discovered, they frequently had to leave town quickly. Apparently, some in Thessalonica were accusing Paul of doing the same thing. They may have noted that Paul had to flee Philippi just as he had left Thessalonica. This probably explains why Paul defends himself and his ministry at several points in 1 Thessalonians, including today's passage.

Henry Blackaby - Pleasing God, Pleasing Others.—Galatians 1:10 - At times you will have to make a choice between pleasing God and pleasing those around you, for God's ways are not man's ways (Isa. 55:8–9). As important as it is to strive for good relations with others, it is even more important to maintain a steadfast and obedient relationship with Christ. Disobeying God to keep peace with other people is never wise. Peace with God is always paramount. Jesus warned that obeying Him might cause division in your relationships (Matt. 10:35–36). If Paul's primary goal had been to please others, he would never have become an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul went completely against the wishes of his colleagues in order to obey Christ. At times, obedience to God sets family members at odds with each other (Matt. 10:35–36). When you follow Jesus' Lordship, your family may misunderstand, or even oppose you, yet your obedience to God reflects your identity as His child. Jesus said that those who obey His will are His brothers and sisters (Luke 8:21). God does not intend to divide the home, but He places obedience before domestic harmony. It is important to get alone in quietness with God so that you understand what pleases Him. The world's thinking will mislead you more easily when you are not clear about what God desires. It broke Peter's heart to know that the opinion of a servant girl had mattered more to him than the approval of his Lord! If the desire to appease others tempts you to compromise what you know God wants you to do, learn from Peter's mistake. Determine that you will please your Lord regardless of the opinions of others. (Experiencing God Day by Day)

James Scudder - Living Water - Devotional - Dressing Up Sin - Galatians 1:10 - A man in a beat-up Volkswagen once scraped the side of a brand-new Porsche as he got out of his car at a parking lot. Noticing several people watching, he quickly took out a piece of paper and pen and began writing a note. When he was done, he placed it on the windshield. Do you know what it said, "The people watching think that I'm writing down my name and address, but I'm really not." How many times are we more concerned with our image than with our character? We live in an age shaped by opinion polls and surveys rather than by principle. The president, before making a tough decision, calls in his advisors and asks, "What will the media say? How will the people react?" Business leaders weigh their decisions by their effect on the bottom line. There's an old saying, "Be good and you'll look good." I think that is very true. Sometimes we work so hard on the impression we're giving but ignore our real spiritual needs inside. It is important to have a good testimony, but more important to have genuine Christian character. Even if you're the best at putting on a show, the real you is eventually revealed. People and polls are not our final authority. Our main objective is to please God. When we do that, our image will not only be good, but also genuine.

Character is what you are in the dark.
-D. L. Moody

Galatians 1:11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

  • that: Gal 1:1 1Co 2:9,10, 1Cor 11:23 1Cor 15:1-3 Eph 3:3-8)

John Brown's exposition of Gal 1:11

John Eadie's exposition of Gal 1:11

"Certified Public Apostle"

For - Paul continues his explanation of his credentials as an apostle.

Wiersbe explains - Paul’s enemies pointed to his nonconformity as proof that his message and ministry were not really of God. “He claims to be an apostle,” they argued, “but he does not stand in the apostolic tradition.” It is this misrepresentation that Paul answers in this section of Galatians. His nonconformity was divinely deliberate. God had chosen to reveal Himself in a different way to Paul.

Have you know (KJV = certify) (gnorizo) means make known with certainty, to certify (thus KJV = "I certify"). Gnorizo was is used to introduce matters of great importance (1Cor 12:3; 15:1; 2Cor 8:1) Paul is defending his authority as an apostle and the authenticity of his message and so he uses this emphatic word so as to leave no doubt in his hearers that what follows is "gospel truth," so to speak! In context, gnorizo also conveys the sense of reminding the Galatians of truths regarding which they had already become convinced.

R A Cole - What follows is a declaration of more than usual solemnity. Paul has a variety of ways with which he introduces such ‘statements at law’; this is one of them. Once again, it is noteworthy that the apostle does not try to defend some theological position; he simply appeals to the sort of gospel which they, as well as he, know to have been preached in Galatia with well-remembered results. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)

Spurgeon — Paul foresaw what would be said about him in the after ages; and truly, to this day, the fiercest attack upon Christianity is always made upon the teaching of the apostle Paul. The men who creep in unawares among us talk glibly about having great reverence for Christ, but none for Paul. Yet Paul is Christ’s apostle; Paul speaks only what was personally revealed to him by the Lord himself; and he is in everything to be accepted as speaking by divine revelation. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

To certify (KJV) - to attest authoritatively: to confirm or attest as being true or as represented or as meeting a standard. To guarantee that the required standards have been met. "I certify to you with certainty" In other words, a certified statement of facts is about to follow..

MacArthur adds that gnorizo "was often used, as here, to introduce an important and emphatic statement that immediately followed. In vernacular English the phrase could be rendered, “Let me make it perfectly clear.”

Lehman Strauss - His opponents argued that Paul was not of the original twelve who met with the risen Christ before His ascension, therefore he could not possibly be one of Christ's true apostles. It is the old satanic method of discrediting the man. The devil used this same approach against Job (Job 1:9).

Brethren (adelphos) means literally from the same womb. Adelphos (here in the plural) is a reminder that they were members of the same family, Paul's brethren, who are in Christ with the same Father (1Jn 3:1-note).

KJV Bible Commentary - They are deceived, disturbed, and defecting in their devotion and duty to Christ. But they are still regarded as brethren, brethren needing Paul’s Spirit-inspired counsel.

The Gospel which was preached (euaggelizo/euangelizo) by me (Literally, "the gospel gospelled by me") - "Paul uses the word “gospel” of two closely allied but quite distinct things, a, of the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as in 1 Corinthians 15:1–3; b, of the interpretation of these facts, as in Gal 1:8; 2:2, and here, cp. “my gospel” in Romans 2:16, et al. In a the gospel is viewed historically, in b doctrinally. Not the facts but the interpretation of them was in dispute among the Galatians. Hence b is the meaning here."

Not according to man ("It rests on no human foundation" - Barclay; "something that man made up." NIV) - The Greek word for "not" is "ou," the strongest adverb to negate an allegation. Paul is seeking to "set the record straight!" The gospel I preach is not "man-made." "I did not invent it or alter it!" It is not according to a human standard and is not even in harmony with ideas of men! Human wisdom would not come with such a message. By implication, this message is completely divine in origin, and as such it counters all theories of salvation contrived by the fleshly wisdom of fallen men (who in some form always add works as a means of attaining salvation; i.e., a works based righteousness, a "religion" instead of a "relationship.") "Both his mission and his message are independent of man, both received by direct divine revelation." (KJV Bible Commentary)

"Not after a human standard and so he does not try to conform to the human ideal. Paul alone (1Cor 3:3; 9:8; 15:32; Ro 3:15) in the NT uses this old and common idiom." (A T Robertson)

Paul is dominated by a Gospel that is God and grace centered.

Man is dominated by a "Gospel" that is man and works centered.

MacArthur - The gospel Paul preached was not human in origin or it would have been like all other human religion, permeated with works righteousness born of man’s pride and Satan’s deception...Man’s sinful pride is offended by the idea that only God’s mercy and grace can save him from sin, and he therefore insists on having a part in his own salvation. The very fact that Paul preached a message of salvation in which works play absolutely no part was itself evidence that his message was from God and notman.

John Piper - The point of Galatians 1:11–24 is to argue that Paul was not a second-hander. He was not a Johnny-come-lately to the apostolic band. He argues that there is enough public information about his life before and after his encounter with the living Christ that no one can reasonably assert that he is a second-hander. He makes a persuasive case (as we saw last week) that his apostleship and his gospel came to him independently from the Jerusalem apostles, and that he stands on an equal footing before Christ with Peter, James, and John.

Religion Or Relationship? - Two kinds of religion exist in our world: Religion A and Religion B. The first is “faith” in name only (2 Tim. 3:5). It’s the outward practice of Christianity without genuine faith in the living Lord.

Religion B, on the other hand, is a life-transforming, destiny-changing experience. It’s a definite commitment to the crucified and risen Savior, which establishes an ongoing personal relationship between a forgiven sinner and a gracious God.

This difference explains why for many years British author C. S. Lewis had such great difficulty in becoming a Christian. Religion A had blinded him to Religion B. According to his brother Warren, his conversion was “no sudden plunge into a new life, but rather a slow, steady convalescence from a deep-seated spiritual illness—an illness that had its origins in our childhood, in the dry husks of religion offered by the semi-political churchgoing of Ulster, and the similar dull emptiness of compulsory church during our school days.”

Are you bogged down in the empty ritual of Religion A? If so, you must receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then make sure your relationship with Christ is growing deeper and more vital every day.— by Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread)

You only are true life—
To know You is to live
The more abundant life
That earth can never give.

You can have tons of religion
without one ounce of salvation!

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

John Brown's exposition of Gal 1:12

John Eadie's exposition of Gal 1:12)


This verse is straightforward. Regarding the Gospel Paul preached, no man gave it to him or teach him, but it came for a direct "Coram Deo" (before the face of God) encounter, an encounter with the resurrected, ascended, glorified Christ, Whose radiant majesty blinded Paul (Acts 9:5-7,8,9). It is notable that the revelation of Jesus Christ was only to Paul and not to those who were with him (Acts 9:7).

I - This is the specific pronoun ego which adds emphasis (because a separate pronoun was not needed for the verb received which by itself is translated "I received.") (More discussion by John Brown)

John Stott - This is why Paul dared to call the gospel he preached ‘my gospel’ (cf. Rom. 16:25). It was not ‘his’ because he had made it up but because it had been uniquely revealed to him. The magnitude of his claim is remarkable. He is affirming that his message is not his message but God’s message, that his gospel is not his gospel but God’s gospel, that his words are not his words but God’s words.

Wuest - Paul uses the personal pronoun here to show that he is laying emphasis upon the special education he had received for his ministry of the gospel. He had not, like his converts, learnt it from human teachers, but by direct communion with God, as the Twelve had learnt it from Christ’s teaching. Paul is studiously careful to show his independence of the Twelve....The entire tenor of this section indicates that Paul’s commission had been declared inferior to that of the Twelve, and that he had this in view when he was defending his apostleship from the attacks of the Judaizers. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Neither (oude)...Nor (oute) are the strongest Greek words for negating what follows. He absolutely denied reception from a man (e.g., he had heard Stephen's sermon in Acts 7) or teaching by a man. The gospel of Christ is not a gospel "after man."

Harrison comments on the contrasting "but" - Paul's repeated "but" carries the antithesis of a crisis experience. No trends here; no groping for something better. He knows himself taken out of the column of self-effort (Php 3:3) and flesh-confidence to the column of God's beneficiaries in the bestowment of His righteousness. It was a clear-cut break with OUR SIDE over to HIS SIDE.

Comment: As an aside, always take time to study the terms of contrast (but, yet, on the other hand) - Observe carefully and interrogate the text (interrogate with the 5W/H questions), asking questions like what the writer is contrasting? why now? how does it impact the flow of the argument? when does it occur? who is being contrasted? etc.

Received (3880)(paralambano) speaks of communication received directly from another. - See other use of paralambano in Gal 1:9.

For this reason (Stop! Always ask "What reason?" which will force you to re-read preceding context) I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship (Paul was "appointed manager" over the Gospel and knew he would be held accountable one day by the "Owner", his Master, Jesus Christ! Talk about motivation!) of God's grace (The Message of the Gospel of Grace, the same one he had preached in Galatia) which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery (believing Jews and Gentiles would be equal heirs in the one body of Christ, the Church), as I wrote before in brief. (Eph 3:1-3)

Taught (1321)(didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. While the reception of specific teaching was the primary means most of the believers as well as the Christian teachers of Paul's day received the Gospel of Grace, such was NOT the case with Paul.

John MacArthur makes the excellent point that Paul's reception of the Gospel from Jesus was "in contrast to the Judaizers, who received their religious instruction from rabbinic tradition. Most Jews did not study the actual Scriptures; instead they used human interpretations of Scripture as their religious authority and guide. Many of their traditions not only were not taught in Scripture but also contradicted it (Mk 7:13).

Comment: Dr MacArthur's preceding explanation begs the question, beloved student of God's Word -- Do I go directly to the Word of God to be taught Truth by the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Holy Word? If not, how can I honestly, accurately comment on the veracity of the commentaries? I am thankful you are reading these notes. I try to be as diligent as possible in rightly dividing the Word of Truth (because I have a strong fear of doing otherwise - all teachers read 2Ti 2:15-note, 2Cor 5:10-note, Jas 3:1, Pr 30:6-note), but only the Word is inerrant and infallible. So be sure to perform your own inductive study of the Scriptures so that you can discern whether these or any other commentator's notes are an accurate interpretation of the inspired inerrant Word!


Revelation (602)(apokalupsis from apó = from + kalúpto = cover, conceal, English = apocalypse) literally means "cover from" and so the idea is to remove that which conceals something. Apokalupsis conveys the idea of "taking the lid off," removing the cover and exposing to open view that which was heretofore not visible, known or disclosed. In all its uses, revelation refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible and now made fully known. In this case it was the Gospel which had been a mystery to Paul until he had been regenerated and given specific revelation from Jesus, the Highest Authority! The gospel was not an invention, or a tradition, but a revelation. How then could the Galatians question his own authority and the authenticity of the Gospel he proclaimed?

Vine says Paul got "a direct communication of the mind of God."

What the Christian faith needs is a return to its birthright -- the authoritative revelation. Take it, or leave it! That is, leave it alone!

Wuest - Revelation therefore is the act of God the Holy Spirit uncovering to the Bible writers truth incapable of being discovered by man’s unaided reason, this revelation being accompanied by the imparted ability to understand what is uncovered.

Criswell: "This message is a sermon on dogmatism, on finality, on authoritarianism, which is an unusual message to hear today in the midst of our studied broad-minded liberalism... The revelation of the Lord is not double-faced nor is it deceptively speculative. It is not as though we were selecting opinions. It is not as though we were in dilemmas choosing theories. It is not as though we were listening to blind, metaphysical gropings. The sound of the trumpet is clear in the Word of God. It is final. It is superlative, never comparative. The authoritarianism of the Gospel! 'My brethren, though I or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than ye have heard, anathama esto. Let him be accursed.' One faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father for us all, one Book, one way -- just one!" (Quote from Paul Apple)

Of Jesus Christ - That is to say Christ was the One who did the revealing of the Gospel to Paul. Most commentators favor that the time of this revelation of the gospel of grace to Paul was during his sojourn in Arabia (Gal 1:17) which served to supplement his initial revelation on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-22). Recall that in Gal 1:1 Paul had asserted the divine origin of his apostolic mission and now adds that his message was also of divine origin. Neither his mission nor his message had been from man, but both were from God! God also spoke to Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:9), at Jerusalem (Acts 23:11), and even in the instructions concerning the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:23).

John Phillips comments on Paul's Damascus Road encounter with Jesus

"I am Jesus!" the voice had said (Acts 9:5). His instant response had been to enthrone Him. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 22:10) He was already a saved man when he said that, saved and ready to serve his new found Lord to the end. It had all been of grace. The risen Jesus had extended unmerited favor to him, the chief of sinners. That was what had saved him! Grace and grace alone! In a flash, the light dawned. It was not law; it was grace. It was not works; it was simple faith. It was not Moses; it was Christ. It was not Sinai; it was Calvary. It was not to be earned; it was to be received. It was not trying; it was trusting. It was not by means of the rules and rituals of religion, however hedged about with both truth and tradition; it was by means of the undeserved, undiluted, undying grace of God. His gospel was received on the Damascus road "by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Noel Due - It came not through the agency of man, but through a revelation of the man, Jesus Christ. We must allow the word ‘revelation’ to have its full force. The gospel was not apprehended by Paul’s intellect, or attained by his moral power. Rather it was a revelation, a sovereign work of God in unveiling the truth to him. (Galatians Commentary)

KJV Bible Commentary on the phrase "of Jesus Christ" - This can mean either Christ is revealing or Christ is revealed; both interpretations make good sense....Christ revealed Himself to Paul. Christ was the subject, sum, and substance of that revelation with the result that Paul became a new man with a new message to proclaim. Paul was not a man-made apostle. He received his commission and his message from Christ.

Puritan John Brown said that "Jesus Christ took him (Paul) under His own immediate tuition (instruction)."

Ryken - Not surprisingly, the religions that human beings invent always end up glorifying human beings. There is some law to keep, some teaching to follow, some ritual to perform, some penance to endure, or some state of consciousness to achieve that will bring salvation. One way or another, we can climb up to heaven and reach God. Christianity is different. What distinguishes it from other world religions is that it actually comes from God. The one true gospel is not man-made, which is why it gives all the glory to God. The good news of the cross and the empty tomb could come only from God because it is about what God has done to save us through Jesus Christ. It does not teach that we can reach up to heaven; it teaches that God has come down to earth. In Christ, God has entered human history and the human heart.

Irving Jensen has an well done summary of the sometimes confusing Chronology of Paul's "autobiography" in Galatians and the parallel passages in Acts...

Click Chronological Diagram to enlarge

John MacArthur's offers a caveat regarding "revelation" which is occasionally claimed by preachers and teachers in our day

It is one thing to claim direct revelation from God but another to prove it. Throughout the history of the church many people have falsely claimed such revelation, as many do today. But Paul was not content merely to make the claim. Nor did he expect his readers to believe him simply on the basis of personal assertions. In the next 12 verses (Gal 1:13-24), therefore, the apostle proceeds to substantiate his claim by presenting irrefutable evidence of that divine revelation and of his apostolic credentials.

Swindoll - Paul asserted that Christ directly revealed redemptive truth to him (Gal. 1:11–12). Paul had instantaneous understanding of this imparted wisdom. (Understanding Christian theology)

John Bunyan - A little from God is better than a great deal from men. What is from men is often tumbled over and over; things that we receive at God’s hand come to us as things from the minting house. Old truths are always new to us if they come with the smell of heaven upon them.

Norman Harrison - The chief enemy of the Gospel is human nature. Man is proud. Especially is he proud of his own thinking. He does not want to be told what to do or believe! He dislikes having a supernatural revelation handed to him; it leaves to room for speculation. He likes to "discover truth"; then it is HIS truth, something he can be proud of.

Many of us who willingly acknowledge that man's MORAL nature is perverted by sin -- the evidence is incontrovertible -- still refuse to realize that man's MENTAL processes are likewise warped, biased and undependable because of sin. The Corinthians prided themselves on their thinking. Read 1 Corinthians 1-2 for God's estimate of human thinking that set aside divine wisdom, climaxing in a statement of man's utter incapacity for spiritual things: unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Corinthians 2:14).

It is to be feared that the average preacher of our day is feeding his mind upon human thoughts; and, naturally, these mould his own thinking and preaching, when the charge is, "Preach the Word."

I was in a metropolitan preachers' meeting when the visiting speaker, a popular pastor, advocated preachers reading a BOOK A DAY (preparation for book reviews). Only a sense of courtesy restrained me from asking what he would advise as to habits of reading the Bible.

On a transcontinental trip I was thrown in with a preacher who had just pocketed a call to a pulpit under the eaves of an outstandingly modern university. He had with him a case containing a dozen to a score of books. From them he was busy gleaning the latest "trends" of thought. Later I came to know his ministry. His people testified that it lacked the Gospel. Human thought crowded it out.

The reason men of our day repudiate Paul's theology and turn with preponderant emphasis to the teachings of Jesus is crystal clear. By ridding themselves of a supernatural interpretation of those teachings, climaxing in His death and resurrection -- an interpretation which is rigidly unsusceptible of alteration -- they leave themselves free to give their own interpretation. They are free to speculate as to what those "teachings of Jesus" SHOULD mean for "the modern mind."

What Christendom needs is a renewed fear of God's anathema upon all perversions of the pure Gospel. It seems that nothing but such fear will bring us back to its unadulterated purity. (Amen!)

And we, with our very best intentions, need to exercise great care lest our ministry be but Galatianizing our people, through exhorting them to a goodness of life which is not definitely the expression of an inliving Presence. (Galatians 1:11, 12, 2:2 A Revelation versus a Reasoning)

TODAY IN THE WORD - Towards the end of his second term, President George W. Bush set a record for the highest disapproval rating in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll. But in his recently published memoir, the former president resolutely affirms, “I had always done what I believed was right.” Being popular and being principled don’t always go hand-in-hand. The apostle Paul realized this in the context of his own ministry. To be faithful to the call of God and the truth of the gospel would make him wildly unpopular in most places. Early on, Paul had to settle in his mind the answer to these all-important questions: Whom am I trying to please? Whose approval do I seek? As a faithful minister of the gospel, his answer had to be Christ and Christ alone. He could not simultaneously seek the approval of people and of God. He had to surrender the desire to be liked, to be understood, and to be approved. This, as we’ll see later in the letter, was not true of the false teachers.

Paul’s ministry is accredited by the fact not only that he exclusively sought the approval of Christ, but also that he received a divine message and call. The gospel Paul preached is not of “human origin.” That is to say, Paul hadn’t learned the gospel secondhand from Peter or any other leaders of the early Christian church. He was not making it up to suit his own purposes, either. Paul received his commission directly from Jesus Christ, the crucified Messiah. His Damascus Road experience made him a true Apostle.

If the gospel Paul had received were of human origin, it would weaken his message and his authority. The gospel would be subject to human ratification or amendment. And it would put Paul under the authority of his teachers. But because Paul received the gospel directly from Jesus, the message was guaranteed to be true. As such, it would be protected. As well, Paul could claim a divine authority in his ministry.

TODAY IN THE WORD - One of the great leaders of the Protestant movement in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Russia was Ivan Prokhanov. His career in ministry was not unlike that of the apostle Paul. Ivan consciously followed Paul's "tent -making" example, earning a living as an engineer but using all of his remaining time to evangelize and teach. Like Paul, Ivan suffered persecution for his faith under both Czarist and Communist governments. And like Paul, Ivan's achievements were enormous, in areas including publishing, education, and even hymn-writing! As Paul reviews his career in ministry for the Galatians, he moves into a defense of his right to preach the gospel of grace and Christian liberty. He must clearly vindicate his apostleship before he can vindicate his message.

He has already made it clear that salvation is by grace alone and that one can enjoy true Christian liberty by the power of Christ alone. As was to be very clear from Paul's experience, preaching of that sort would not please men (Gal 1:10) and would not lead to an easy life. Paul insists that his presentation of the gospel is not "something that man made up" (Gal 1:11), nor does man give the gospel its authority. Furthermore, Paul did not receive his message from man--that is, he had not learned it from human teaching as his converts had. He obtained his message by direct revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12).

TODAY IN THE WORD - “You may not run in the hall!” shouted the teacher. “Says who?” the defiant ninth-grader retorted. “Says the principal, and if you don’t obey, you’ll spend time in detention!” Challenge authority, and you’ll face the consequences. We don’t know exactly what was said by those to whom Paul is responding in this epistle, but it seems likely that they were challenging his authority. We can imagine them saying something like, “Who gave Paul the authority to spread a gospel that extends salvation to Gentiles apart from obedience to the Law?” They might have added, “Isn’t Paul’s gospel just a compromise intended to please people by making salvation available without requiring them to follow the practices prescribed in the Law?”

Paul’s pointed response appeals to the highest authority–he is doing what he is doing and saying what he is saying because of his direct encounter with Jesus. His radical transformation in attitude and action (he changed from one who persecuted, to one who propagated the churches of Jesus) showed beyond doubt that his appeal to the authority of Christ was genuine and not a human fabrication (Gal 1:11–12, 20–23). In the end, his encounter with Jesus resulted in praising God (Gal 1:24), a sure mark that God was at work.

Paul’s appeal to Jesus is important not only because it helps him establish his authority, but also because it builds up the confidence of those who read his letter, both then and now. As Christians we are committed to the belief that God speaks in all of Scripture. We are committed to the authority and truth of what we now call the Old Testament. Yet a little reading in the Old Testament raises the issue of how Gentiles can be acceptable to God apart from obedience to the Law prescribed there.

Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;

You have heard: Ac 22:3-5 Acts 26:4,5)(how Ac 8:1,3 9:1,2,13,14,21,26 22:4,5 26:9-11 1Co 15:9 Php 3:6 1Ti 1:13)

John Brown's exposition of Gal 1:13

John Eadie's exposition of Gal 1:13)

For (gar) (term of explanation) - This "formally commences the historical proof."

Luke records Paul's pre-conversion testimony before the Jews at the time he was first taken into Roman custody...

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today. 4 “And I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished. (Acts 22:3-5)

You have heard - The aorist tense points to a past historical event, presumably when he first preached the Gospel to the Galatians. It follows that the Galatians knew he had formerly been a vicious persecutor of the church. The supernatural transformation that took place in Paul's life after meeting Jesus serves as proof of the statement that the life changing Gospel was not of human but of divine origin.

Witmer - Paul's story must have been familiar to the Galatians and served to show how divine his conversion had been. Only God could change the heart of one who had been such a terror to the church.

Wuest - Paul’s argument in this verse is that his early education is a proof that he did not receive the gospel from man. He was brought up in a rigid school of ritualism directly opposed to the liberty of the gospel. He was a staunch adherent of the principles of that school, and as such, relentlessly persecuted the Christian Church. No human agency could therefore have brought about the change. It required the direct interposition of God. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

My former manner of life in Judaism - Prior to his conversion.

J. C. Ryle - There are no incurable cases under the gospel. Any sinner may be healed if he will only come to Christ.

Spurgeon — He was an out-and-out Jew. He never took up anything without going through with it thoroughly; so, while he believed in Judaism, he did believe it. He was no hypocrite, no pretender, so he fought for it tooth and nail. This was the man who afterwards preached the Christianity he had received from Christ, Evidently he did not borrow it from his parents, for they had taught him quite differently. His religion was not the product of his training; but it came to him from God, — to him who seemed to be the most unlikely person in the whole land ever to receive it. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Judaism (Ioudaismos) describes the religious system of the Jews that had its basis in the OT teachings, especially the Law of Moses and the traditions of the elders. The main emphases of Judaism are circumcision and Sabbath keeping. The word occurs in II Maccabees where it refers to the Jewish religion as opposed to the Hellenism that the Syrian kings were imposing upon the Jews.

Wuest - the Judaism with which Paul was acquainted and in which his life had been immersed, was apostate. He knew nothing before his conversion, of the supernatural Judaism in which the Levitical sacrifices were the outward expression of an inward faith in a coming substitutionary atonement for sin. Judaism in Paul’s time was a mere ethical cult basing salvation on good works, and observing the sacrifices as a mere form. But when he was rethinking the Old Testament economy in the light of the revelations received in Arabia, the supernatural significance of it all opened up to him. But in this verse he is speaking of the apostate Judaism of his early life. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Manner of life (conduct) (391)(anastrophe from ana = again + strepho = to turn) literally describes a turning around or turning back and is used figuratively to refer to one's conduct, especially focusing on our daily behavior and our general deportment. Anastrophe deals with the general ordering of one's conduct in relation to others. The point is that Paul had related his history as a persecutor of the church to the Galatians. Wuest adds that "It was Paul’s habit to include in his preaching the history of his past life as a persecutor (Acts 22 and 26)."

Persecute (1377)(dioko from dío = pursue, prosecute, persecute) means to follow or press hard after, literally to pursue as one does a fleeing enemy. It means to chase, harass, vex and pressure and was used for chasing down criminals. Dioko speaks of an intensity of effort leading to a pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain. To go after with the desire of obtaining or in Gal 1:13 the desire was to harm. Dio gives us a picture of hounds on the hunt, relentlessly tracking and pursuing their victim (fox).

Paul uses the imperfect tense which speaks of his persecution of the church as relentless up to the time of his conversion.

The church (ekklesia) of God - Prior to his conversion Paul's sole purpose in life had been to destroy Christianity which he now willingly recognizes as the church of God. "The possessive genitive (the theou) points out strongly the sinfulness and audacity of his career (Ed: because it was the possession of God he was attacking!)." (Eadie)

1Cor 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Early persecution of Christians by C H Spurgeon - “Oh!” said Caesar, “we will soon root up this Christianity. Off with their heads!” The different governors hastened one after another of the disciples to death; but, the more they persecuted them, the more they multiplied. The pro-consuls had orders to destroy Christians; the more they hunted them, the more Christians there were, until, at last, men pressed to the judgment-seat, and asked to be permitted to die for Christ. They invented torments; they dragged saints at the heels of wild horses; they laid them upon red-hot gridirons; they pulled off the skin from their flesh piece by piece; they were sawn asunder; they were wrapped up in skins, and daubed with pitch, and set in Nero’s gardens at night to burn; they were left to rot in dungeons; they were made a spectacle to all men in the amphitheatre; the bears hugged them to death; the lions tore them to pieces; the wild bulls tossed them upon their horns: and yet Christianity spread. All the swords of the legionaries which had put to rout the armies of all nations, and had overcome the invincible Gaul and the savage Briton, could not withstand the feebleness of Christianity; for the weakness of God is mightier than men (1Cor 1:25). (The Biblical Illustrator)

Beyond measure (kata huperbole) (5236)(huperbole from hupér = above + bállo = cast, put ) means literally a throwing beyond and figuratively expresses an extraordinary degree (amount, quality) of anything (2Cor 4:7); superiority, excellence, preeminence. BDAG - "a state of exceeding to an extraordinary degree a point on a scale of extent (the context indicating whether in a good or a bad sense)." Paul used huperbole in 2 Corinthians 1:8 of the afflictions which he suffered at the hands of others.

Eadie - What the apostle says of himself is abundantly confirmed—Read Acts 8:3;Acts 9:1; Acts 9:2; Acts 9:21; Acts 22:4; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:10-11. No wonder, then, that he uses those two verbs (persecute and destroy), and prefixes to the first beyond measure kata huperbole, one of his favorite phrases. Ro 7:13; 1Co 12:31; 2Co 1:8; 2Co 4:17. It was no partial or spasmodic effort, either feeble in itself, or limited and intermittent in operation. It was the outgrowth of a zeal which never slept, and of an energy which could do nothing by halves, which was as eager as it was resolute, and was noted for its perseverance no less than for its ardor. And he distinctly sets before his readers the heinousness of his procedure, for he declares the object of his persecution and fierce devastation to have been the church of God...The object of this statement is to show that the apostle, during his furious persecution of the church, could not be in the way of learning its theology from any human source; its bloody and malignant enemy could not be consorting with the apostles as a pupil or colleague. (Eadie)

Destroy (making havoc) (4199)(portheo) means to attack and cause complete destruction. To pillage. To devastate. To Reek havoc. To annihilate. Portheo applied not only to cities and lands but also to people. Used in secular Greek of besieging a town or of soldiers ravaging. Paul uses the imperfect tense which speaks of continuous attempt by Paul not just to ravage but to ruin and destroy Christianity.

Although Acts 22:4 does not use portheo it does portray the effect Paul sought ("to the death" for the "Way" = Christians).

Portheo - 3x in NT - destroy(2), destroyed(1).

Acts 9:21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?"

Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;

Galatians 1:23 but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy."


  • Raised in Tarsus (Acts 21:39)
  • A Roman citizen (Acts 21:39)
  • Studied under the famous rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)
  • Studied in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3)
  • Of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil 3:5)
  • Of the sect of the Pharisees (Acts 23:6)
  • Originally named Saul, probably after King Saul (Acts 9:1)
  • His sister's son resided in Jerusalem (Acts 23:16-22)
  • Probably had a wealthy father
  • Was advancing as a leader in Judaism (Gal. 1:14)
  • Was zealous for his Jewish traditions (Gal 1:14)
  • Set out to destroy the church of God (Gal 1:13)
  • Was given authority by the chief priests to murder Christians (Acts 9:1, 14)

TODAY IN THE WORD - Yigal Amir was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in 1970. His mother was a kindergarten teacher, his father a Jewish scribe. As a university student, Amir became actively involved in right-wing protests against Israel’s signing of the Oslo Accords. On November 4, 1996, Amir shot and killed Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Later at his trial, Amir defended himself very simply: “According to the Halacha [Jewish legal code], you can kill the enemy.” We could compare Saul of Tarsus to Yigal Amir. Saul belonged to the strictest sect of the Pharisees, a group whose concern wasn’t simply personal piety but also political revolution. Zeal for the Jew, in this first-century context of Roman occupation, called for violent overthrow of the Roman regime. As one scholar described it, “For the first-century Jew, ‘zeal’ was something you did with a knife.”

Galatians 1:14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

  • advancing: Isa 29:13 57:12
  • being: Ac 22:3 26:5,9 Php 3:4-6
  • traditions: Jer 15:2 Mt 15:2,3,6 Mk 7:3-13 Col 2:8 1Pe 1:8

John Brown's exposition of Gal 1:14

John Eadie's exposition of Gal 1:14

Advancing (making progress; present tense = continually)(4298)(prokopto from pró = before or forward + kópto = cut) means literally to cut forward or cut down in front. The idea is to remove the obstacles from a road so that straight and uninterrupted progress is possible. Comparing prokopto to the verb auxano, with Jn auxano the growth is caused by factors outside oneself or by the element of life placed there by God Himself, whereas with prokopto the advance is by one's conscious effort.

Saul kept "cutting his way forward" (imperfect tense) through Judaism and would let nothing stand in his path, especially Jewish Christians.

Beyond my contemporaries - "The persons referred to are those (Jews) of similar age and standing,-fellow-pupils, it may be, at the feet of Gamaliel." (Eadie)

More extremely (perissoteros) means more superabundantly, more earnest, more exceedingly, more frequent, much more, more earnestly. "Being more exceedingly a zealot for the traditions of my fathers."

False zeal - A false zeal in religion is always, in some respect or other, a misdirected zeal, or a zeal not according to knowledge; a zeal seeking some false end, or, while proposing to itself a good end, seeking its promotion in some unauthorized way. Jehu had a good zeal, which he called zeal for the Lord of Hosts. His fault was not that he was too zealous, but that his zeal was really directed to his own advancement. The Jews, in the days of Christ, had a zeal for God; but it was so misdirected as to fire them with a frenzy to destroy the Son of God, and extinguish the Light of the world. There are countless forms of false zeal now at work; but, in all cases, they sin not by excess, but by misdirection. Some are flaming with a zeal to spread some of the corruption of Christianity, and to carry men away from its great and cardinal truths. Some are equally zealous to build up a sect or a party on other foundations than those which God has laid in Zion; and that which taints their zeal is the purpose to which they employ it, and not any excessive fervour of their zeal itself. (Dr. Bonar.) (The Biblical Illustrator)

Zealous (2207)(zelotes from zeloo = be zealous in turn from zeo = to boil, figuratively "boiling" with envy) describes one burning with zeal. Jealous. Most eagerly desirous of or zealous for, a thing. Used in Lxx to describe God (Ex 20:5, Dt 4:24). To defend and uphold a thing, vehemently contending for a thing (zealous for). Can convey the sense of an enthusiastic adherent of a person or a cause. Of a Jew zealous for the Law (Acts 22:3) A member of a fanatical patriotic group of Jews who sought independence from Rome (Luke 6:15).

Dictionary Articles: Zealot

Thayer - From the time of the Maccabees (105-63 B. C.) there existed among the Jews a class of men, called Zealots, who rigorously adhered to the Mosaic law and endeavored even by a resort to violence, to prevent religion from being violated by others; but in the latter days of the Jewish commonwealth they used their holy zeal as a pretext for the basest crimes, Josephus,

Zealous - means intense emotion compelling action and implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause. Passionate ardor in pursuit of anything. Excessive zeal may rise to enthusiasm. In general, zeal is an eagerness of desire to accomplish or obtain some object, and it may be manifested either in favor of any person or thing, or in opposition to it, and in a good or bad cause. Zealous speaks of filled with fervent or enthusiastic devotion, often extreme or fanatical in nature.

Zelotes - 8x in NAS. 6x in Septuagint (Lxx)- Ex 20:5; 34:14; Deut 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; Nah 1:2

Luke 6:15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;

Acts 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

Acts 21:20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;

Acts 22:3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.

1 Corinthians 14:12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

Galatians 1:14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

1 Peter 3:13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

MacArthur comments: Zealous (zēlōtēs) means “intensity” or “enthusiasm” and describes a person with great ardor for a specific cause. In New Testament times, there was a radical political party of Jewish patriots, called the Zealots (from zēlōtēs), which pledged to free the Jews from all foreign rule by whatever extreme measures (lying, stealing, assassination) were necessary, even if those efforts resulted in their own deaths

Being (5225) (huparcho) means to be from the beginning.

More extremely zealous - Read Paul's own testimony in Php 3:4-6

Ancestral traditions (KJV = traditions of my fathers) - These traditions are of the same "genre" which Jesus classified as “the tradition of men," presumably rabbinic exposition of the law which was in conflict with God’s Word and will. The point is that by using the word "ancestral" Paul is making it clear that he is not referring to the Mosaic law. As Jesus stated the manmade traditions were in direct conflict with the Word of God, for He accused his Jewish Pharisees and Scribes, saying that you are "neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (Mk 7:8)

MacArthur - Ancestral traditions refers to the body of oral teachings about the Old Testament law that came to have equal authority with the law commonly known as the Halakah, this collection of Torah interpretations became a fence around God’s revealed law and all but hid it from view. Over a period of several hundred years it had expanded into a mammoth accumulation of religious, moral, legal, practical, and ceremonial regulations that defied comprehension, much less total compliance. It contained such vast amounts of minutiae that even the most learned rabbinical scholars could not master it either by interpretation or in behavior. Yet the more complex and burdensome it became, the more zealously Jewish legalists revered and propagated it.

NET Note - The traditions of my ancestors refers to both Pharisaic and popular teachings of this time which eventually were codified in Jewish literature such as the Mishnah, Midrashim, and Targums.

Stott comments on Paul's zealous devotion as a Pharisee - Now a man in that mental and emotional state is in no mood to change his mind, or even to have it changed for him by men.…Only God could reach him-and God did!” (The Message of Galatians)

Eadie - It cannot therefore be supposed that the apostle would be learning Christianity during the period when his progress in Judaism was so marked, when his zeal for patristic traditions so far outran that of his contemporaries,-a zeal in utter and burning antagonism to the new religion. He had kept from all contact with it, save the contact of ferocity with the victim which it immolates. Luther touchingly applies this verse to his own previous history.

Wuest has an interesting note - Had Paul lived in his unsaved state in the thought world of the Mosaic economy instead of having his thinking dominated by the Pharisaic traditions, his act of receiving Christ as Saviour would have had some reasonable background, for the Mosaic institutions pointed to a need for Christ and also to the Christ who was needed, the moral law serving the first purpose, the Levitical sacrifices, the second. But Paul is at pains to show his Galatian converts that his salvation and his appointment to the apostleship broke completely with all his background and all his traditions. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Traditions (3862)(paradosis from paradidomi = deliver in teaching) refers to that which is handed down or transmitted from generation to generation; injunction delivered or from one to another. Paradosis "means literally “to give from the presence of,” thus “to give personally.” It signifies an act of transmission or that which is transmitted. In the New Testament it is used in the latter sense, without indicating the method of transmission or implying any lapse of time such as is usually associated with the English word tradition." (Wuest)

THOUGHT - As an aside, whenever I hear the word "Tradition" I recall one of the most memorable songs from the musical Fiddler On The Roof in the Prologue of Act One where “Tradition” introduces the story of a Jewish family and community living in the small village of Anatevka, Russia, during the harsh era of Tsarist rule (Watch the youtube version of Tradition - you'll love it). The main character, Tevye, complains to God about the difficulty of being a “chosen people” during an era of pogroms the systematic elimination of Jewish villages. He concludes, however, that without tradition their lives would be as unsteady as a “fiddler on the roof.” Tradition plays a role in the Jewish community and in all of our lives. Customary ways of thinking and acting give structure to daily living and a sense of connection from one generation to the next. 

Eadie - The noun paradosis, “giving over,” is literally employed as with enemy (Thucydides, 3:53; Josephus); then it signifies handing over or down an inheritance (Thucydides, 1.9), and by a natural trope (use of the word) it is used of narration.

Paradosis is a giving over either by word of mouth or in writing; objectively, what is delivered. Paradosis refers to that which is passed along by teaching. It can have a negative (man made teachings passed on) or positive sense (divine teachings passed on) depending on the context. In the present context (Gal 1:14) paradosis refers to "man made" Jewish traditions (See similar negative sense in Mt 15:2, 3, 6;Col 2:8 Matt 15:2, 3, 6; Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13). Paul’s teaching that was passed on to the saints at Thessalonica and Corinth reflects the positive (doctrinally acceptable) sense of paradosis (2Th 2:15; 3:6; 1 Cor. 11:2).

Dictionary Discussions: Tradition

Patzia - Customs and beliefs that are handed down (Gk paradosis, “tradition”), such as the “traditions of the elders” referred to in the Gospels (Mt 15:2–3; Mk 7:5, 13) or the “human tradition” that Paul contrasts with a revelation from Christ (Col 2:8). Paul valued Christian traditions that he “received” (paralambano) from his early Christian predecessors and in turn “delivered” (paradidomi) to his congregations (1Co 11:23–25; 15:3–4). (Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies).

New Unger's Bible Dictionary - It is also used of the body of precepts, especially ritual, which, in the opinion of the later Jews, were orally delivered by Moses and orally transmitted in unbroken succession to subsequent generations. These precepts, both illustrating and expanding the written law, as they did, were to be obeyed with equal reverence (Matt. 15:2–3, 6; Mark 7:3, 5, 9, 13; Col. 2:8). “My ancestral traditions” (Gal. 1:14) are precepts received from the fathers, whether handed down in the OT books or orally. Meyer, in his Com. on Matt. 15:2, says: “The Jews, founding upon Deut. 4:14; 17:10, for the most part attached greater importance to this tradition than to the written law. They laid special stress upon the traditional precept, founded on Lev. 15:11, which required that the hands should be washed before every meal. Jesus and his disciples ignored this tradition as such, which had been handed down from the men of olden time.”

Paradosis - 13x/13v in NAS - All translated tradition(s). (Note: 2 uses in Lxx Jer 32:4, 34:2, neither with same sense as used in the NT).

Matthew 15:2 "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."

3 And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Mark 7:3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;

5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"

8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."

9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

Comment: Here paradosis refers to the inspired apostolic teaching of Paul which was passed on to the Corinthians and to which they were firmly adhering.

Galatians 1:14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm (present imperative - command to keep on standing firm) and hold (present imperative - command to keep on holding firm) to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Comment: Again, here and in the following passage paradosis refers to the inspired apostolic teaching of Paul which was passed on to the Thessalonian believers and to which they were firmly adhering. In this verse Paul clearly shows that paradosis could be passed on to others either orally or in writing.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

Galatians 1:15 But when God, Who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

  • it: Dt 7:7,8 1Sa 12:22 1Ch 28:4,5 Mt 11:26 Lk 10:21 1Co 1:1 Eph 1:5,9 3:11
  • who: Isa 49:1,5 Jer 1:5 Lk 1:15,16 Ac 9:15 13:2 22:14,15 Ro 1:1
  • and: Ro 1:5 Ro 8:30 Ro 9:24 1Co 1:9,24 1Cor 15:10 2Th 2:13,14 1Ti 1:12-14 2Ti 1:9 1Pe 5:10)

But when God - (Always ask what God is contrasting. See term of contrast) The contrast with the preceding (Gal 1:13-14) is striking and is reflects God’s intervention in the life of Saul of Tarsus, most graphically described in Acts 9. And so here Paul alludes to his conversion. Look at some of the other great uses of "but God" - Ge 8:1, 21:12, 48:21, 50:20, Ps 49:15, 73:26, Mk 2:7, Acts 13:30, Ro 5:8, 1Cor 1:27, 3:6-7, 1Cor 7:15, Gal 3:18 and my all time favorite Eph 2:4 (see preceding context Eph 2:1-3)

Set me apart even from my mother's womb - Clearly Paul did not choose God. God chose Paul for salvation even as He chose him to be His apostle.

We see a similar divine choosing in the lives of two OT prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah

Isaiah said " The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me." (Isa 49:1) and "formed Me from the womb to be His Servant." (Isa 49:5)

Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Set apart (873)( aphorizo from apó = off from, apart + horízo = place a limitation upon, fix limits around) means to mark off the boundaries, to appoint, set one apart for some purpose. It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Matt. 13:49; 25:32); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Luke 6:22); and of the setting apart of apostles to special functions (Acts 13:2). Setting apart indicates the separating of an individual for specific service. Paul was set apart to God for His service (cp 2Ti 2:21 describing men as sanctified by the Master for good works.) Compare “chosen vessel,” Acts 9:15.

Ro 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart (aphorizo) for the gospel of God (Note Paul had a clear delineated purpose).

Paul's testimony before King Agrippa...

And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 “And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. 12 “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ 19 “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. (Ac 26:10-20)

A T Robertson - The Pharisees were the separatists who held themselves off from others. Paul conceives himself as a spiritual Pharisee “separated unto the gospel of God” (Ro 1:1, the same word aphōrismenos) Before his birth God had his plans for him and called him.

Called (invited, summoned) (2564)(kaleo) in this context refers to God's effectual call in the sense of His choosing so that one might receive some special benefit or experience (salvation and apostleship). God's effectual call was realized on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-22). The Westminster Shorter Catechism states "Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel."

Divine calling - A river flowing with rapid and majestic current to the sea would defy the efforts of the whole world to turn it back again to its source; yet, by the returning tide it is not only arrested in its course but driven up again with great rapidity towards its fountain head. It is thus that a sinner is stopped in his career of sin, and turned towards high and heavenly things. (Charles Simeon.) (The Biblical Illustrator)

Through His grace (charis) - The basis for God's calling of Paul was grace, God's unmerited love, kindness and favor (See Ro 8:30-note, 2Ti 1:9-note). Paul (like all of us) deserved death, but God called him to life and into a life of service as an apostle and proclamation of the life giving Gospel of grace.

Ryken - This ("set apart") was a clever phrase because the Pharisees (Ed comment: Greek pharisaios is from Aramaic "peras" meaning to separate, taking on a different manner of life from that of the general laity) considered themselves set apart by keeping God's law. Paul had been a Pharisee himself, but God did not set him apart merely to keep the law after all; he set him apart to preach the gospel. Literally, he set him apart "from the womb." Paul was like some great Old Testament prophet (see Jer. 1:5): God claimed his life and ministry while he was still in his mother's womb. Many years later, when the time was right, God was pleased to call Paul "by his grace" (Gal. 1:15). Calling refers to the life events that lead a person to repentance for sin and faith in Jesus Christ. Such effectual calling is always by grace because the call shows God's undeserved favor. Yet calling also refers to God's special plan for someone's life work. What God had planned for Paul to do was to take the gospel to the Gentiles

John Piper - Jesus has chosen Paul long before Paul chose Jesus. In fact Paul says in Galatians 1:15 that God had set him apart before he was born. And since he is chosen by Jesus, Jesus does not speak as though Paul might not go along with it. He will. So Jesus speaks of the great ministry Paul is going to have with kings and nations and Israel. And he speaks of how much he must suffer—not might suffer. So it is clear that this conversion is a work of divine, sovereign grace. God moved in on Paul's life and, as C. S. Lewis said, surprised him with joy—and with suffering.

Rob Morgan - You have been foreknown from the beginning of time. God has always known in advance exactly what you would look like. He has always known your innermost thoughts, your background, your history, your problems, your struggles, your strengths, your weaknesses, and the course of your life. He has always known His plans for you. With a single glance He knew all about you, long before the earth launched its maiden orbit around the sun. This was profound and praise-worthy to the psalmist. He exclaimed in Psalm 139:6, "This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me."

Wayne Detzler - To the Galatians who were bothered by legalism, Paul explained that the call of God was a product of grace (Gal. 1:15). (New Testament Words in Today’s Language)

Oswald Chambers - The vocation of the natural life. But when it pleased God … to reveal His son in me … Gal. 1:15–16 . - The call of God is not a call to any particular service; my interpretation of it may be, because contact with the nature of God has made me realize what I would like to do for Him. The call of God is essentially expressive of His nature; service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature. The vocation of the natural life is stated by the apostle Paul—“When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him” (i.e., sacramentally express Him) “among the Gentiles.” Service is the overflow of superabounding devotion; but, profoundly speaking, there is no call to that, it is my own little actual bit, and is the echo of my identification with the nature of God. Service is the natural part of my life. God gets me into a relationship with Himself whereby I understand His call, then I do things out of sheer love for Him on my own account. To serve God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is expressive of that which is fitted to my nature: God’s call is expressive of His nature; consequently when I receive His nature and hear His call, the voice of the Divine nature sounds in both and the two work together. The Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I serve Him in the ordinary ways of life out of devotion to Him. (My utmost for his highest)

Galatians 1:16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,

  • reveal: Mt 16:17 1Co 2:9-13 2Co 4:6 Eph 1:17,18 3:5-10
  • that: Ga 2:7-9 Ac 9:15 22:21 26:17,18 Ro 1:13,14 11:13 15:16-19 Eph 3:1,8 Col 1:25-27 1Th 2:16 1Ti 2:7 2Ti 1:11)
  • immediately: Ga 1:11,12 Gal 2:1,6 Dt 33:9 Lk 9:23-25,59-62 Ac 26:19,20 2Co 5:16
  • flesh: Mt 16:17 26:41 1Co 15:50 Eph 6:12 Heb 2:14

John Brown's exposition of Gal 1:16)


Pleased to reveal (apokalupto) His Son in me (see Acts 9:1-31, esp 9:3-6, Acts 22:21) - This revelation was supernatural, reminiscent of Paul's statement to the Corinthians...

2Cor 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.


John Eadie - Revelation unlike reasoning - Revelation is opposed to knowledge gained by prolonged and patient thought. It is unlike the common process by which an intellectual conclusion is reached, the inference of one syllogism forming but the premise of another, till by a series of connected links, primary or abstract truth is reached. For it is sudden and perfect illumination, lifting the receptive power into intensest susceptibility, and so lighting up the whole theme disclosed, that it is immediately and fully apprehended in its evidence and reality. We know not, indeed, what the process is, what the waking up of the higher intuition is, or what the ecstasy which throws into momentary abeyance all the lower faculties. It may resemble that new sphere of vision in which genius enjoys gleams of unutterable beauty, or that “demonstration of the Spirit” which gives the truth new aspects of richness and grandeur to the sanctified soul in some mood of rapt meditation. But still it is different and higher far both in matter and purpose. It was God’s revelation of His Son,--not glimpses of the truth about Him, but Himself; not merely summoning His attention to His paramount claims, so as to elicit an acknowledgment of them,--not simply presenting Him to his intellectual perception to be studied and comprehended,--nor even shining an image of Him in his heart to be loved and cherished,--but His Son unveiled in living reality; and in him--in his inner self, not in any distinct and separate realm of his being--with the conscious possession of all this infallible and communicable knowledge which was given, perhaps, first in clear and vivid outline, and then filled in surely and gradually. (The Biblical Illustrator)

Life in the revelation of Christ - A man often passes through many stages before he becomes truly converted to God. When he is first awakened to serious impressions, and sees the folly of intently pursuing worldly things, to the neglect of the more durable riches, he resembles a boy emerging from childhood, who throws aside his trifles and playthings for amusements of a higher and more intellectual kind. He now sets himself with all diligence to working out his own salvation in his own strength; multiplies his religious duties, and reforms his bad habits; yet all this while he is like one who has been employed in new painting and varnishing a wooden statue--it has no life within. But when the Holy Spirit influences his heart, and reveals Christ in him, he is in the state of one who has awakened from a dream, in which he has been acting a fictitious part, to live and move and use all his faculties in reality, and enter on the great business of life. (H. G. Salter.)

The inner revelation of Christ - Education refines and elevates but does not save and sanctify the soul; law civilizes but cannot change the heart and the will; science and philosophy give power and endless resources to enlarge the faculties of the mind, but they leave the problems of sin and pardon unsolved. The revelation of Christ fills the soul with light, and life, and joy; is the only solution of the problems of our moral being; the only deliverer from the law of sin and death; the only pledge of everlasting life, and indeed the beginning of a Divine education which ennobles and saves, and the dawn of a heavenly day which brings wisdom, and righteousness, and peace. (T. Goadby.)

In me - MacArthur comments that "in me does not force us to interpret the revelation as a purely internal, subjective feeling but can mean “to me” and carry the idea of objective experience." (See Brown's note)

That - In order that. Expresses purpose. Learn to stop and question this conjunction. What purpose? Why? Who? etc. This discipline will help you learn to observe and meditate on the Scriptures. In this case we see it is a revelation for proclamation. In other words God supernaturally revealed the truth respecting His Son to Paul's heart and mind for the express purpose that he might preach Jesus among the Gentiles.

By way of application, it is important to remember that God does not call individuals to salvation just to keep them out of hell and get them into heaven, but to be useful in His service, for every believer has been "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared (specific, special works for them), that (they) should walk in them." Indeed, very believer is given the good work of proclaiming "the excellencies of Him who has called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are redeemed to give a witness of our Redeemer!

Personal conviction - What we need is the revelation of Christ within us; not the communication of truths yet unrevealed, as was necessary in the case of the founders of our religion, but the communication of truths already made known; the removal of the veil from our hearts, and the giving of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Each of us must for himself discover the hid treasure; whether the light flashes upon us in an instant, as with the woman at the well of Jacob, or comes to us as the result of long search and patient inquiry, as in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, we must find the Messiah, we must hear Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. It will not suffice, in this day at least, to take religion upon trust, to accept the popular faith, just because it is popular. Such belief will not stand in the day of trial; it certainly will exercise no constraining influence upon our hearts and lives. Whether for our peace or for our usefulness, Christ must live within us; the reasonable mind must apprehend Him, the heart must cleave to Him. Thus our lives will tell upon the world around us. There will be a living power within, full of holy joy, and peace, and comfort; whilst a living power will go forth from us, and act silently, it may be, but effectually, upon the world without. (Emilius Bayley, B. D.) (The Biblical Illustrator)

John Brown has a "weighty" quote by Perkins...

Ministers of the gospel must learn Christ as Paul learned him. They may not content themselves with that learning which they find in schools; but they must proceed further to a real learning of Christ.

They that must convert others,
it is meet that they should be effectually converted

John must eat the book (Ed: I love this picture! Not books but THE BOOK!!!), and then prophesy; and they who would be fit ministers of the gospel, must first themselves eat the book of God. And this book is indeed eaten, when they are not only in their minds enlightened, but in their hearts are mortified, and brought in subjection to the Word of Christ. Unless Christ be thus learned spiritually and really, divines shall speak of the Word of God as men speak of riddles, and as priests in former times said their matins (morning prayers, first canonical hour in the Romish church), when they hardly knew what they said.

Preach (2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo) - same verb in Gal 1:8 (2x), Gal 1:9, 11, 16, 23. The present tense is “continuous” while the revelation was aorist, at a point in time. While the revelation was a definite and completed act, the commission to preach was for his lifetime. The middle voice is reflexive ("I myself might preach") indicates Paul initiates the action and participates in the process.

Paul’s mission

I. His great motive. To preach Christ.

II. His prompt surrender.

1. Personal.

2. Decisive.

3. Final. (A. F. Barfield.)

Among the Gentiles - Two Jewish missionaries - Peter to the Jews. Paul to the Gentiles.

Preach Him - He preached "Christ crucified to Jews a stumbling block," because they expected a political savior, and to the Greeks it was foolishness because they considered anyone who would be crucified of no account. (1Cor 1:23). Paul adds...

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1Cor 2:1-2)

Readiness for service - Brutus visiting Ligarius found him ill, and said, “What! sick, Ligarius?” “No, Brutus,” said he; if thou hast any noble enterprise in hand I am well.” So should the believer say of Christ; what might excuse us from other labour shall never prevent our engaging in His service. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Immediately (2112)(eutheos from euthus = immediate) means instantly, forthwith. See notes on Gal 2:1,6.

Consult (4323)(prosanatithemi from prós = towards, in addition to + anatithemi from ana = up + tithemi = to put) means to lay up in addition, to impart or communicate further (Gal 2:6) or by way of consultation, to confer with, consult as in the present passage.

Prosanatithemi is used only in Gal 1:16 and Gal 2:6 ("contributed").

The root verb anatithemi means to set forth one's cause (Acts 25:14), to expound with a request for counsel, approval, or decision, to communicate (anatithemi in Gal. 2:2). The shorter form anatithemi, is the less intensive word simply signifying the imparting of information, rather than conferring with others to seek advice.

To go to someone for advice. To present one's cause to another as for approval or judgment (Gal 1:16). In other words in Gal 1:16 the idea is “to lay a matter before others so as to obtain counsel or instruction." (Vine)

John Brown - The word translated “conferred (consult),” properly signifies ‘to impose a new burden.’ In the classics, the middle voice is used in the sense,—‘I allow a burden to be imposed on myself—I undertake some difficult affair.’ It is sometimes used by the later writers with the dative of a person, to signify ‘to take counsel or advice of a person,’ as he who asks advice lays a burden on the person consulted. This is its meaning here. (Original Reference)

Thayer says "with a dative of the person to put oneself upon another by going to him (pros), i.e. to commit or betake oneself to another namely, for the purpose of consulting him, hence, to consult, to take one into counsel. (Gal 1:16)" To contribute or add something to someone. To add from one's store (the force of the middle voice), to impart, to lay before (Gal 2:6).

Vine - prosanatithemi, lit., “to lay upon in addition,” came to be used in the sense of putting oneself before another, for the purpose of consulting him; hence simply “to consult, to take one into counsel, to confer.” With this meaning it is used only in Gal. 1:16. In Gal. 2:2, a shorter form, anatithemi, is used, which means “to lay before” (kjv, “communicated unto”). This less intensive word may have been purposely used there by the apostle to suggest that he described to his fellow apostles the character of his teaching, not to obtain their approval or their advice concerning it, but simply that they might have the facts of the case before them on which they were shortly to adjudicate. Prosanatithemi was also used to signify “to communicate, to impart.” With this meaning it is used only in Gal. 2:6, in the middle voice, the suggestion being to “add” from one’s store of things. In regard to his visit to Jerusalem the apostle says “those who were of repute imparted nothing to me” (kjv, “in conference added”), that is to say, they neither modified his teaching nor “added” to his authority.

BDAG - (1) to add something to an existing amount, add or contribute (Gal 2:6). (2) to take up a matter with, consult with (Gal 1:16)

Wuest - The word conferred (consult) deserves careful study. It is prosanatithemi. It means “to betake one’s self to another for the purpose of consulting him.” In pagan writers it was used of consulting soothsayers and the like. It was as if Paul said, “I did not consult with anyone in order to learn the opinion of others as to this revelation I received, or to obtain instruction from them, or guidance, or advice.” (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Flesh and blood - Human nature in general. Paul did not consult with other human beings, other people, probably especially other human authorities. Paul asserts that his commission and message came to him directly from God, and that neither was affected in any way by human intervention. As John Brown expounds this...

‘I neither consulted my own reason or inclination, nor did I seek instruction from others: I committed myself entirely to Divine guidance and teaching. I did not consult with any man. I did not seek instruction from any man. I did not inquire at other Christians if the views of Christianity which had been conveyed into my mind were correct or not. I asked at no man what I was to preach, or where I was to preach. I gave myself up to the guidance of the Divine impulse; and immediately commenced speaking the things of the Spirit, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.’ (Reference)

F B Meyer - It pleased God … to reveal his Son in me. - O soul of man, has this revelation ever been thy experience? Dost thou know that Christ is in thee? If thou truly believest in Him, there is no doubt of it. “Know ye not as to your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” And yet thou mayest be in ignorance of this transcendent possession. Ask God to reveal His Son in thee, to make thee know experimentally the riches of the glory of this mystery. He will rend the veil of the inner life in twain from the top to the bottom, and in the most holy place of thy spirit disclose the Shekinah of His eternal presence. Two conditions only must be fulfilled. Thou must be prepared to yield thine own will to the cross; and to wait before God in the silence and solitude of thy spirit.

Oswald Chambers - When in doubt, haul yourself up short and concentrate on God and every time you do, you will find that God will engineer your circumstances and open the way perfectly securely, the condition on your part being that you concentrate on God....You feel amazed at the sense of God’s call, and in your eagerness you talk to someone else about it, and you find that they much prefer to talk about their breakfast. Then comes the danger that you are apt to become contemptuous. Keep that profound relationship between your soul and God.

F B Meyer - Galatians 1:15–16 It was the good pleasure of God … to reveal his Son in me.

If you have truly believed in the Son of God, it is certain that He, by the Spirit, has taken up his abode in your heart. But perhaps He is hidden in the deeps of your nature, as the young Joash in the heart of the Temple. He is, therefore, unable to exert that influence on your inner thought and outward life that He should. Is it not befitting that you should ask the Father to reveal his Son in you? He has been revealed to you as the Divine Substitute, but not in you as the source and spring of holiness,

Beneath the body with its physical existence, and the mind with the play of intellect, lies the spirit of man, like the most holy place in the Temple of old. That is the shrine in which the Shechinah of Christ’s presence shines, and in which we can hold fellowship with Him face to face. Alas, that so heavy a veil of unbelief, of absorption in the world around us, of inattention, hangs between Him and us! Would that the strong hands which rent the veil in twain when our Savior died would rend in twain all that deprives us of this inspiring and most helpful vision of the Son, so that we might anticipate the eternal years!

But such revelations are only given that we may better help others. Not for selfish enjoyment, but for ministering help. Hence the apostle says, “that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.” Be pleased, O Father, to give us that revelation, that we may speak as those who have seen the great sight, and need no further conference with flesh and blood! Then, like the apostles of old, we shall go forth among men, saying, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily)

Galatians 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

  • went (KJV): Ga 1:18 Ac 9:20-25)(returned (KJV): 2Co 11:32,33)

Go up to Jerusalem - "Went up is from anerchomai. It was used especially of visiting Jerusalem which was situated in the highlands of Palestine. Katerchomai was used of the descending journey from the city. The religious position of Jerusalem as the seat of the Temple and the mother-city of the Church, and its geographical position on the central heights of Palestine, were the factors that suggested the expressions “going up” and “going down,” when a journey was made to that city and then back to one’s home." (Wuest)

Before me (pro emou) - This short clause would intimate that Paul was then an apostle as well as those in Jerusalem, and the only difference was in the priority of the date of their apostleship. As an aside


1Co 15:9 (55AD) For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Eph 3:8 (61AD) To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

1Ti 1:15 (63-66AD) It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Went away to Arabia - When did this occur? This period in Paul's life probably fits between Acts 9:22 and Acts 9:23 (See Jensen's chronological diagram ). Arabia is the transliteration (spelling) of a Hebrew word meaning “an arid, thus a sparsely populated place.”

Acts 9:22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Acts 9:23. And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him

John Brown - he went into Arabia, for the purpose, it may be, of yielding himself up in its solitudes to solemn meditation and communion with his divine Master. No proof can be derived from these words that Paul preached in Arabia. There is no trace of that in the Acts of the Apostles. (Reference)

Spurgeon — What he did there, we do not know; but probably he had a time of quiet meditation and prayer, all alone: “I went into Arabia.” The best thing we can do, sometimes, is to get away from the voices of men, and listen only to the voice of God: (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Wuest supposes that Paul "needed to be alone with God. He needed time and isolation in order to think. The revelation of the Son of God had blasted away the foundations of the Pharisaic thought structure which he had been building up with such consummate skill and zeal, and it had come tumbling down in ruins about his head. This revelation also furnished him with another foundation upon which to build a new theological structure. But the replacement of the ruined structure with a new one could not be the work of a day or a month. There in Arabia, isolated from all human contact, alone with God, the great apostle restudied his Old Testament scriptures, not now with the Pharisaic traditions vitiating his thinking, but, led by the Holy Spirit, with the central fact of the Cross of the Lord Jesus as the controlling factor in his meditations. Out of all this study emerged the Pauline system of doctrine as we have it presented in Romans. (Word Studies from the Greek New Testament online)

Oswald Chambers - The nutriment of a man’s life comes when he is alone with God; he gets his direction in the desert experiences.

Dennis Egner - As we run the race of the Christian life, we need to end well. The apostle Paul is an example of a good finisher. He received Christ on the Damascus road. He attended "seminary" in the Arabian desert (Galatians 1:17-18). He served Christ in spite of hardship and persecution. He opened Europe to the Gospel. And at the close of his life, he could say with confidence, "I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). What about us? What stalls our spiritual engines? What causes us to break down? When we find ourselves out of the running, we need to diagnose the problem, make the necessary repairs, and get back into the race. God needs people He can count on to cross the finish line.

Returned once more to Damascus - "After continuing in Arabia for some time, he returned to Damascus, which at that time was under the government of Aretas, the king of Arabia (2Cor 11:32). During all this time he had never met with one of the apostles, nor does it appear that he had intercourse with any individual of note among the Christians. And when, after three years, he did at length go up to Jerusalem, he received neither instruction nor authority from the apostles." (Brown)

The significance of this episode for us - In the busy mart, amid life’s dusky lanes and accumulating cares, we lose and forget our God. Our books are too much with us; friends and social life make the hours busy with what is human; and the claims of business are of increasing urgency. We must find for ourselves a desert place, where, occasionally for prolonged seasons, and daily for a short season, we may receive the Lord’s anointing. (S. Pearson, M. A.)

Meditation (See Meditate or Primer on Biblical Meditation) is the life of the soul; action is the outcome of meditation, honour is the reward of action. So meditate that thou may do; so do that thou may be honored; so accept honour as to give God the glory. (The Biblical Illustrator)

Galatians 1:18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

  • I went up: Acts 9:26-29 Acts 22:17,18)

Then - Marks time sequence (See importance of expressions of time).

Three years later - It is interesting to recall that the original apostles had been taught by Jesus for three years. This would include Paul's time in Arabia and Damascus, but how long in each location is not clear from Scripture. Jensen's chronological diagram ). Brown notes that " It is impossible to say certainly whether these three years are to be dated from Paul’s departure from Jerusalem to Damascus, or from his return from Arabia to that city. This is probably the visit of which we have an account, Acts 9:26, 27. His object was to “see Peter.” (Brown)

Oswald Chambers - Think of Paul after three years in Arabia, where he was altogether broken and then re-made by the grace of God, coming to Peter and being with him for fifteen days—can you imagine what happened? How Peter would go over the whole story, beginning with the scenes on the lake right on to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Cross; and Peter would take Paul to the Communion service, and they would see widows there, made so by Paul. Think what a memory like that would mean to a man of acute sensitiveness. It takes great courage for a forgiven man to come in contact with those whom he has wronged.

Luke describes an event which would be compatible with Paul's first visit to Jerusalem...

Acts 9:26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. (See also Acts 22:17-18 which could be during the first visit, although one cannot be dogmatic)

To become acquainted with Cephas (Simon Peter - Cephas = Greek spelling of a Chaldaic word meaning “a rock") - As Paul had stately earlier his message was not obtained from men, but here he emphasizes that was still in the mainstream of apostolic tradition of men like Peter.

Spurgeon — That is, “after three years,” which showed that he did not go there to receive any commission from Peter. He had been for three years working for his Lord and Master before he ever saw the face of an apostle. (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Galatians 1:19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

  • James: Mt 10:3 Mk 3:18 Lk 6:15 Ac 1:13, James the son of Alphaeus, Jas 1:1 Jude 1:1)(the Lord's: Mt 13:55 Mk 6:3 1Co 9:5

James the Lord's brother - James was the recognized leader of the first church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17, 15:13,19; Acts 21:18, Galatians 2:9), and also the most widely accepted author of the epistle of James (James 1:1). He was not one of the Twelve however, since the brethren of our Lord did not believe on Him at the time of the choosing of the Twelve.

Paul confirms that James is one of the human brothers of Jesus. Recall that Christ's brothers ("His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas" did not believe in Him initially (John 7:5), but later joined their mother Mary in fellowship with the other disciples (Acts 1:14). James had been among those who had seen Christ after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). The same would then apply to Jude (Jude 1) since both James and Jude are named as among Jesus' brothers (Matthew 13:55).

Galatians 1:20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)

  • Ro 9:1 2Co 11:10,11,31

What I am writing to you - This refers primarily to what he had just written in Gal 1:18-19, as these were facts Paul felt clearly showed his independence from those who had been apostles prior to his call.

I assure you before God - This was a solemn oath given "Coram Deo" before the face of God. Presumably the Judaizers had promoted various lies and falsehoods regarding Paul's dependence of the other apostles. Wuest adds that "The logical inference is that they had circulated statements to the effect that Paul had spent much time at Jerusalem with the apostles there. He denies this charge most vehemently."

John Eadie - Augustine, in loc., enters into the question of the lawfulness of swearing. One can scarcely suppose that the apostle would have used this solemn adjuration, unless the statement had been liable to be questioned, or a different account of his early Christian history had been in circulation. It would seem that a totally different account of his visits to Jerusalem after his conversion, and of the relation he sustained to the elder apostles, had been in use among the Judaists, to undermine his independent authority and neutralize his teaching. And because what he now tells would contradict received opinion as to his earlier actings and journeys, he confirms what he says by a virtual oath

John Brown - This is a plain intimation that oaths, on proper occasions, are not unlawful. We have similar declarations equivalent to oaths, Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 11:31; 1 Thess. 2:5. (Brown)

Paul repeatedly stated that he was not lying, but that his teaching came directly from God (Ro 9:1; 2 Cor. 11:31).

Spurgeon — “I did not derive my knowledge of Christ from any one of these holy men, therefore I am not an imitator of any other apostle. I was sent out by Christ himself, and instructed by him by revelation, so I am an apostle of Christ as much as any of them.” (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Galeazius, a gentleman of great wealth, who suffered martyrdom at St. Angelo in Italy, being much entreated by his friends to recant, replied, “Death is much sweeter to me with the testimony of truth than life with its least denial.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

TODAY IN THE WORD -""Staking a claim"" in the Old West was serious business. Doing so gave a person the rights over a mine or a piece of land. If a prospector found gold or silver on his claim, others would rush to stake claims nearby in hopes of striking it rich. It was not uncommon for fights to break out over who had staked a claim first or over where one claim stopped and another started. Men were known to lie, cheat, gamble, steal and even kill to get and keep their claims. ""Staking a claim"" is exactly what Paul is doing in today's reading: a claim to apostleship and apostolic authority. Not to elevate himself, but for the sake of the gospel, he proclaims his God-given authority. The Galatians must not take his words lightly!

Galatians 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.

  • I went: Ac 9:30 11:25,26 13:1 15:23,41 18:18 21:3
  • Cilicia: Acts 6:9 Acts 21:39 Acts 22:3 Acts 23:34

Click to enlarge

Then - Marks time sequence (See importance of expressions of time).

Acts 9:29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea (not C. Philippi - see map - he probably went by ship to Tarsus) and sent him away to Tarsus.

Syria and Cilicia - Paul's birthplace was in Tarsus which was in the region of Cilicia - just north of Syria. We cannot ascertain from the Scriptures exactly how long Paul remained in these regions. Wuest notes that "Here we have about ten years of Paul’s life passed over in silence, between his flight from Jerusalem to Tarsus and his return to the former city for the Apostolic Council. These years were spent around Tarsus and Antioch, in Cyprus and Asia Minor." MacArthur feels that Paul " preached there until Barnabas called for him to come to Antioch in Syria."

Eadie - The apostle is not stating his tour with geographical precision, but is merely showing how far he traveled away from all Judean influence and recognition.

Galatians 1:22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;

  • the churches: Ac 9:31 1Th 2:14)(in: Ro 16:7 1Co 1:30 Php 1:1 1Th 1:1 2Th 1:1

I was still unknown (agnoeo) in the present tense signifies that Paul continued to remain unknown to them. "I remained unknown."

By sight (literally "by face") - Even if they had seen Paul's face, they would not have known who he was. They had not seen him "in person." This fact is distinguished from the churches in Jerusalem, many of whom had a knowledge of his person, and could recognize him if they saw him, for he had been “going in and out” among them, “speaking out boldly,” having sojourned fifteen days with Peter. (Acts 9:28)

The churches (ekklesia) of Judea - They are distinguished from the church at Jerusalem. Their only knowledge of Paul was by report, and that report was somewhat "mixed" as explained in the next verse. So what point is Paul making here? He had left Jerusalem after only a short time. Had he been there a long time under the tutelage of the other apostles, he almost assuredly would have visited the surrounding churches of Judea. The fact that they did not know his face supports his independence from the other apostles.

In Christ - Recall that ekklesia is a general word for assembly, and so here Paul points specifically to the ekklesia in Judea who were "in Christ" and thus composed of believers, in contrast to assemblies of Jews who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah and Redeemer.

Relation of Churches to Christ:

I. They are FOUNDED on Christ (Mat 16:18; 1Co 1:2).

II. They are BUILT by Christ (Eph 4:16).

III. They are the BODY of Christ (Eph 1:23; Eph 4:12).

IV. They are REDEEMED through Christ (Act 20:28; Eph 5:25).

V. They are CONSECRATED to Christ (Eph 5:26).

VI. They will be GLORIFIED in Christ (Eph 5:27). (The Biblical Illustrator)

Galatians 1:23 but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy."

  • he who: Acts 9:13,20,26, 1Co 15:8-10 1Ti 1:13-16


They kept hearing - In the present tense which signifies the churches in Judea were hearing continually about Paul. "Our former persecutor is now our preacher!"


I. The persecutor--full of pride--false zeal--bitterness--destroying the faith.

II. The preacher--full of humility--devotedness--love--glorying in the crucified Jesus. (J. Lyth.)

(The Biblical Illustrator)

Conversion reverses men’s lives - There was a man, while Messrs. Moody and Sankey were in London, who got out a little paper called “The Moody and Sankey Humbug.” He used to have it to sell to the people coming into the meeting. After he had sold a great many thousand copies of that number, he wanted to get out another number; so he went into the meeting to get something to put into the paper; but the power of the Lord was present, and the arrow of conviction went down deep into his heart. He went out, not to write a paper, but to destroy his paper that he had written, and to tell what the Holy Ghost had done for him. (Nye.) (The Biblical Illustrator)

The scoffer turned preacher - One evening a young man who had been educated for a barrister was seated with some merry making companions in a London tavern, when his companions, knowing he was a clever mimic, requested him to go and hear Mr. Wesley preach, and then come and mimic the whole affair for their amusement. He went. The text, “Prepare to meet thy God,” (Amos 4:12) frightened him like a bursting shell, and conviction deepened during the sermon. On his return to his friends they inquired, “Well, have you taken him off?” He replied, “No, gentlemen; but he has taken me off.” He left his companions, gave his heart to God, and became one of Mr. Wesley’s most useful preachers. (The Biblical Illustrator)

Preaching (2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo) - This verb is clearly a key word in chapter 1 and one Paul wants to make sure his readers understand. It is used six times in 24 verses - Gal 1:8 (2x), Gal 1:9, 11, 16, 23.

The faith - Wuest favors this as the faith which they had in Jesus, whereas Robertson says " the faith " is "used in the sense of “the gospel” as in Acts 6:7." For more discussion see "the faith (pistis)".

Destroy (making havoc) (4199) (See Gal 1:13 for discussion of portheo) in the imperfect tense indicating that over and over Paul was wreaking havoc.

Warren Wiersbe sums up Paul's refutation of the accusations of his opponents and the opponents of his divinely delivered Gospel by reminding us that...

Modern-day “Judaizers,” like their ancient counterparts, reject the authority of Paul and try to undermine the Gospel which he preached. In Paul’s day, their message was “the Gospel plus Moses.” In our day it is “the Gospel plus” any number of religious leaders, religious books, or religious organizations. “You cannot be saved unless...” is their message (Acts 15:1); and that “unless” usually includes joining their group and obeying their rules. If you dare to mention the Gospel of grace as preached by Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles, they reply, “But God has given us a new revelation!” (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Galatians 1:24 And they were glorifying God because of me.

  • Nu 23:23 Lk 2:14 7:16 15:10,32 Acts 11:18 Acts 21:19,20 2Co 9:13 Col 1:3,4 2Th 1:10,12

More literally - And they were glorifying God in me.

John Eadie comments on the phrase "in me" - The change wrought within him, with its marvelous and enduring effects-they glorified God. Not only did his conversion give them occasion to glorify God, but they glorified God working in him, and in him changing their malignant and resolute persecutor into a bold enthusiastic preacher. They were thankful not simply because persecution had ceased, but they rejoiced that he who did the havoc was openly building up the cause which he had laboured to overthrow. On hearing of a change in so prominent and terrible an adversary-a change not leading merely to a momentary check or a longer neutral pause, but passing into unwearied activity, self-denial, and apostolic pre-eminence-they glorified God in him, for in him God's gracious power had wrought with unexpected and unexampled might and result. They did not exalt the man, though they could not but have a special interest in him; but they knew that by the grace of God he was what he was (1Cor 15:10). If the churches even in Judea were so grateful to God for His work in Paul, were they not a rebuke to the Judaizers, who now questioned his apostleship and impugned his teaching?

To glorify God is a favorite Pauline phrase: Acts 11:18; Acts 21:20; Romans 1:21; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 9:13.

Vance Havner - Any man touched by Jesus Christ is good publicity for the gospel.

Because of me (literally "in me") - This prepositional phrase is translated with a causal force ("because of me") which conveys the sense of on account of what God had done to Paul, and was doing through Paul. Paul's life gave powerful testimony of the power (dunamis) of the Gospel to save from the "uttermost to the guttermost" which stimulated the saints to give all the glory to God! Is your life giving testimony to others (both lost and saved) of the power (dunamis) of the Gospel to save (Ro 1:16-note), not just at the point of conversion (justification - "Past tense salvation") but to save daily, even moment by moment (sanctification - "Present tense salvation")? See Jesus' desire for the lives of His disciples in Acts 1:8-note where we see our absolute [100%] need for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to live such Gospel centered, Christ exalting, God glorifying lives!

The proper effect of an accurate apprehension of "the faith" and an appreciation for God's appointed proclaimer of that faith is to glorify God!

Glorifying (doxazo in the imperfect tense = over and over and over they were glorifying) God - Paul fulfilled his purpose to bring glory to God and so should we (cf Mt 5:16-note, Php 2:14-15-note). To whom does your ministry draw attention? Yourself? God? See F B Meyer's story below.

Spurgeon — Brothers and sisters, may you and I so live that Christian people may glorify God in us! May they often wonder at the mighty grace which has wrought such a change in us; and as they see us zealous and fervent, may they marvel at the amazing grace of God which has brought us to be so consecrated to Christ! (Spurgeon's Exposition)

Barnes comments on their glorifying God because of Paul - We may still glorify and praise God for the grace manifested in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. What does not the world owe to him! What do we not owe to him! No man did so much in establishing the Christian religion as he did; no one among the apostles was the means of converting and saving so many souls; no one has left so many and so valuable writings for the edification of the church. To him we owe the invaluable epistles—so full of truth, and eloquence, and promises, and consolations—on one of which we are commenting; and to him the church owes, under God, some of its most elevated and ennobling views of the nature of Christian doctrine and duty. After the lapse, therefore, of eighteen hundred years, we should not cease to glorify God for the conversion of this wonderful man, and should feel that we have cause of thankfulness that He changed the infuriated persecutor to a holy and devoted apostle. Let us remember that God has the same power now. There is not a persecutor whom he could not convert with the same ease with which he changed Saul of Tarsus. There is not a vile and sensual man that he could not make pure; not a dishonest man that his grace could not make honest: not a blasphemer that he could not teach to venerate his name; not a lost and abandoned sinner that he cannot receive to himself. Let us then without ceasing cry unto him that his grace may be continually manifested in reclaiming such sinners from the error of their ways, and bringing them to the knowledge of the truth, and to a consecration of their lives to his service. (Barnes' Notes)

Ridderbos makes an excellent point: The final thought, namely, that these churches glorified God in Paul, incidentally suggests that these churches did not doubt the genuineness and integrity of Paul's calling and preaching. And that, if you please, from those who had suffered so much on his account! How different the attitude in the churches of Galatia, even though these had experienced only good from him, and had not the slightest reason to doubt his apostolic calling and authority!


Swindoll - To give glory to God is to believe in Him and to regard Him as the only wise, righteous, merciful, and almighty God. It means acknowledging Him as the only Source and Donor of every good and perfect gift. “Worshiping God,” Luther believed, “is nothing else than glorifying God,” and glorifying God is to be the chief aim of Christians. (Understanding Christian theology)

John Brown aptly summarizes this section of Galatians...

It appears, then, from these statements, that Paul was engaged for three years in preaching the gospel before he had any intercourse with a Christian apostle; that, when he did see them, he saw only two of them; that he went, not to learn from them as a scholar, but to visit them as an equal; that he was only fifteen days in Jerusalem upon that occasion; that he then went into Syria and Cilicia, where there were no apostles, and where he exercised all the powers of an apostle—planting churches; and that the churches of Judea, though he stood in no peculiar relation to them, and was not even personally known to them, glorified God on account of his being converted from one of the most furious persecutors, into one of the most devoted supporters, of the faith of Christ, and of course considered him as having a title to the name and place he occupied in the church: all which particulars were obviously fitted to answer the apostle’s object—the assertion of his dignity as an apostle, and of his integrity as a man. (Brown)

God Glorified in You and Me - It should ever be the end of the Christian man, not only to promote the glory of God by his works, but to illustrate the glory of God in his character; in this, as in nothing else, are the goodness and power of God seen most strikingly. An architect rears a building. It is admired for its beauty in detail, and its grandeur as a whole; but the praise belongs not to the building, but to the builder. A tutor takes a youth under his care, and sends him forth to attain eminence and distinction in the early struggles and in the highest positions of life, but the tutor is glorified in the pupil. So the creation is the result of the Almighty hand, and He is glorified in it. Impressions of His glory are left upon the largest and upon the least; upon the stars in their courses discovered to the telescope; and on the minutest specimens of organized life which the microscope opens to our startled eye. And shall my God be less glorified in the new creation than He is in the old? Shall He not be glorified by the humblest Christian, just as He was glorified by the great apostle? All stars shine by His will, and one star differs from another star in glory, for this is His will; but each renders to Him its measure of praise. God, who is glorified in Saul of Tarsus pre-eminently, must be glorified in each of us, as Christians, according to our position and opportunity. If we have a Christian’s hope, it is to the glory of His name; if we have a Christian’s life, it is to the glory of His cross; if we have performed a duty, it is to the glory of His grace; if we have borne a trial, it is to the glory of His support; if we have overcome a sinful habit, or the lust which led to it, it is to the glory of His power which gave us self-mastery. (C. J. P. Eyre, M. A.) (The Biblical Illustrator)

F B Meyer - Some young men belonging to the Salvation Army came to old Andrew Bonar, and they said:

" Dr. Bonar, we have been" all night with God. Can't you see our faces shine? "

The old man said: "Moses wist not (was not aware) that his face shone,"

When you have got the real article you do not need to advertise it, the public will come for it; but the man who has got what we call in England, Brummagem ware, a sham, must puff it. If you have got Christ in you, people will not glorify you, they will glorify Christ in you, and they will say: "Teach us about Christ who has made you so fair."

"They glorified God in me." Dear brother ministers, when you get this, they will not glorify your sermons, they will not glorify your intellect, and they will not glorify your eloquence; but they will glorify God who shines through you as the Shekinah shone through the temple of old.