Introductory points for Galatians
All scripture quoted below is used from the New King James Version of the Bible.
Galatians is one of the earliest, if not the earliest book written by the the apostle Paul. Galatians was written around 49-51-AD.
I believe Galatians was written in light of a transitional period in human history.
God's prophecy program for Israel is temporarily being set aside, and God is ushering a new dispensation in through the apostle Paul.
When Paul had traveled through Galatia during his first missionary trip the Judaizers moved in shortly after.
During his first missionary trip, Paul came to the Galatians preaching the gospel of grace, and teaching the mystery doctrines pertaining to the church age body of Christ.
Some of these revolutionary doctrines first taught by Paul for the church age body of Christ includes: salvation by faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, one spiritual baptsim where the believer is placed into union with Christ and into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit upon the moment of salvation, Jew and Gentile believers being on equal footing both forming one body (the body of Christ), and Christian liberty by means of the Holy Spirit and apart from the Mosaic Law.
The Judaizers followed after the apostle Paul from town to town, trying to thwart his efforts in the spreading of the gospel of grace.
I believe that for the most part the term Judaizer refers to Jewish unbelievers who had rejected Christ as the Messiah.
The Judaizers preached salvation by works, in particular, circumcision and the keeping of the Mosaic Law.
In a short period of time, after Paul's first visit, the believers at Galatia began succumbing to the influence of the Judaizers. They began leaving the life of faith and grace, which was taught by the apostle Paul, and they began embracing a life of legalism.
During this transitional period in human history, Jewish believers prior to the salvation of Paul, were carrying out the commission of the kingdom gospel. They had yet to realize that God had temporarily set aside His prophetic plan for Israel (the gospel of the kingdom) and had ushered in a new dispensation, the dispensation of the grace of God, which centers around the church (the body of Christ). In the midst of this there was also a group of Jewish unbelievers (the Judaizers) who preached a gospel of works, or salvation by works of the Mosaic Law.
Before Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, he was one of the Judaizers (see Acts 9). But by the grace of God Paul was saved and commissioned to preach Christ to the Gentiles. It is my belief that with the salvation of Paul that God temporarily set aside His plan for Israel and the then coming tribulation followed by the earthly Messianic kingdom, and introduced a new dispensation with the apostle Paul. This interruption of God's prophecy program has lasted for over 2,000 years, and will end with the rapture of the church (body of Christ). After the rapture of the church, God will resume fulfiilment of all prophecy related to His plan for Israel, which will include the seven year tribulation period followed by a literal kingdom on earth where Christ will reign as King for 1,000 years.
The below commentary is meant to be for a study aid only; it is not exhaustive.
1Paul, an apostle (not one of the Jewish apostles, but the apostle to the Gentiles) (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him (Jesus) from the dead), (Paul was commissioned to be the apostle to Gentiles by God and not by man or any man.)
It was important Paul remind his readers of the authority granted him by God, as it was constantly being downplayed and challenged by the Judaizers.
The resurrected Christ Himself ordained Paul apostle to the Gentiles.
Reference verses: Acts 9:1-16, 13:46-47
2and all the brethren who are with me (Paul) ,To the churches ("called out assembly" assembly of believers) of Galatia:
Paul is writing this letter to the believers at Galatia, but it is very much applicable to believers still today.
Reference verse: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
3Grace to you and peace (The grace of God always precedes the peace of God) from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, (God is always the source of grace and peace.)
Reference verses: Ephesians 2:8-9, 13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
4who gave Himself (Jesus) for our sins ( a reference to Christ's sacrificial death on the cross) , that He (Jesus) might deliver us (believers in Christ) from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (It is the Father's plan that all men be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, by trusting by faith that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead on the third day. Faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the gospel of grace.)
Reference verses: Romans 4:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14
5to whom (God the Father and God the Son) be glory forever and ever (all eternity). Amen.
Reference verses: Philippians 2:10-11
6I (Paul) marvel that you (the believers at Galatia) are turning away so soon from Him (God the Father) who called you into the grace of Christ (through the gospel of grace) , to a different gospel (the message of legalism pushed by the Judaizers)
The Judaizers came to town shortly after Paul left Galatia.
Paul is in utter disbelief that the believers who had just been saved by grace through faith just a short time earlier are leaving the life of grace for a life of legalism and bondage.
7which is not another (The gospel of grace is the only true gospel for this dispensation; the Judaizers were spreading a false gospel.) but there are some (the Judaizers) who trouble you (the believers at Galatia) and want to pervert (try and mix law with grace, a gospel of oil and water) the gospel of Christ (same as the gospel of grace).
When the gospel of grace is perverted in any way, shape, or form by adding works, it then becomes a gospel of oil and water. When it comes to salvation, faith plus works do not mix.
The gospel of grace and the Christian way of life for this dispensation are outlined in Paul's epistles (Romans through Philemon). Paul refers to these doctrines as the revelation of the mystery.
Anything outside of Paul's epistles should be studied in light of Paul's epistles. We should always keep in mind that the books outside of Paul's epistles are directed towards the Jews and are written in view of God's prophecy program for Israel.
All scripture is profitable for us, but all scripture is not written for us instructionally. You will not find anything pertaining to the body of Christ outside of Paul's epistles.
This is why Paul commands believers to "rightly divide" the Word of God.
Reference verses: Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17
8But even if we (Paul and his companions) , or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel (anything outside or a perversion of the gospel of grace) to you than what you have received (the gospel of grace) , let him (anybody that preaches a gospel other than Paul's gospel) be accursed.
9As we (Paul and his companions) have said before (when he first came to the Galatians) , so now I (Paul) say again (at the writing of this letter) , if anyone preaches any other gospel (anything outside or a perversion of the gospel of grace) to you than whatt you have received (the gospel of grace) , let him (anybody that preaches a gospel other than Paul's gospel) be acursed
Paul makes it pretty clear here. If somebody ever tries telling you to live by something other than the gospel of grace and the doctrines taught by Paul, don't buy into it! That false teacher is headed for trouble. Instruction for salvation and the Christian way of life is found in Paul's epistles.
Paul never downplays the authority of the Jewish apostles, but he always makes it clear that he is seperate from them. And this is rightly so because Peter and the eleven were commissed to preach the kingdom gospel, and this is not what Paul was commissioned by the Lord to do. He makes it clear that his message is not the same and did not come from the Jewish apostles. In this current dispensation it is God's will that we follow Paul's teaching in accordance to the revelation of the mystery.
The only gospel that is to be preached today is the gospel of grace, that is, trusting in Christ that He died for our sins,was butried, and rose from the dead three days later.
Reference verses: Romans 2:16
10For do I (Paul) now persuade men, or God (Paul seeks to please only God) ? Or do I (Paul) seek to please men (NO!) ? For if I (Paul) still pleased men, I (Paul) would not be a bondservent of Christ (Paul would have still been persecuting Jewish believers, now he has become the persecuted.)
Reference verses: Acts 16:22-25; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
11But I (Paul) make known to you, brethren (believers at Galatia) , that the gospel (of grace) which was preached by me (Paul) is not according to man (any man, and particularly, not from Peter and the eleven)
The revealtion of the mystery (gospel of grace and doctrines for the body of Christ) were given to Paul by direct revelation from the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, while Paul spent most of three years in Arabia.
12For I (Paul) neither recieved it from man (any man, not even Peter and the eleven) , nor was I (Paul) taught it (nobody taught it to Paul, it was a completely new revelation) , but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ (the resurrected Christ gave the gospel of grace and the mystery doctrines to Paul by direct revelation. Paul was the first to recieve these.)
Paul wants to make it crystal clear that he is not preaching the same gospel as Peter and the eleven were commissioned to preach.
The gospel Paul preaches is a new gospel for a new dispensation in human history. The gospel of grace was given to Paul by direct revelation from the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
Reference verses: 1 Corinthians 15:1-10; Romans 2:16, 16:25; 1 Timothy 1:11; 2 Timothy 2:8; Ephesians 3:1-9
13For you have heard of my (Paul) former conduct in Judaism (Before he was saved on the road to Damascus) , how I (Paul) persecuted the church of God (Jewish believers under the kingdom gospel) beyond measure and tried to destroy it (Paul persecuted the Jews who believed Christ was the Messiah).
14And I (Paul) advanced in Judaism (religion of the Jews) beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation (the nation of Israel) , being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers (Jews before him)
Paul later understood that he played the part of a hypocrite and distorted the ways of Judaism, which he lived so zealously for. It is probably safe to say that Paul had a hard time forgetting all the hurt, harm, and persecution he inflicted on his own people. It is interesting to note that Christ uses Paul, the great persecuter of Christ, to bring His name to the Gentiles. God can do anything with anyone, He's glorious!
Reference verses: Acts 8:1-3, 22:3-5, 26:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:9
15But when it pleased God (the Father) , who seperated me (Paul) from my mother's womb and called me (Paul) through His (God the Father) grace ( God in His grace had a plan for Paul since eternity past) ,
Reference verses: Romans 16:25
16to reveal His (God the Father) Son (the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ) in me (Paul) , that I (Paul) might preach Him (Christ) among the Gentiles (to be the apostle to the Gentiles and preach Christ according to the revelation of the mystery. A Gentile is anybody who is not a Jew and a Jew is anybody who is from the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.) , I (Paul) did not immediately confer with flesh and blood (Paul did not seek approval from the other apostles or anyone else.)
Reference verses: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 9:15
17nor did I (Paul) go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me (Peter and the eleven) ; but I (Paul) went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
I believe that it was during this three-year period (spent mostly in Arabia?) that the Lord instructed Paul in the revelation of the mystery by way of direct revelation.
At some point in time after the salvation of Paul, the Lord revealed these doctrines to Paul for this new dispensation. I believe this would have been the most likely time.
18Then after three years (after Paul was saved and still had not conferred with man) I (Paul) went up to Jerusalem to see Peter (one of the Jewish apostles) , and remained with him (Peter) fifteen days.
19But I (Paul) saw none of the other apostles (the eleven) except James, the Lord's brother.
By this time many of the Jewish believers were being scattered abroad due to increasing persecution. Also, James was taking on a more prominent role at the church at Jerusalem.
20(Now concerning the things which I (Paul) write to you (the Galatians) , indeed, before God, I (Paul) do not lie.)
Reference verses: Romans 9:1
21Afterward (the fifteen days at Jerusalem with Peter) I (Paul) went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22And I (Paul) was unknown by face (by the Jewish believers) to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.
23But they (Jewish believers) were hearing only, "He (Paul) who formerly persecuted us (Jewish believers) now preaches the faith which he (Paul) once tried to destroy (faith in Christ) ."
24And they (Jewish believers) glorified God in me (Paul) .
The Jewish believers were amazed at what God had done with Paul, formerly known as Saul, the one who persecuted Christ. I'll say it again, God is glorious!
Reference verse: See Acts 9:19-30
Paul wanted to make it abundantly clear that he was not preaching kingdom gospel.
Peter and the eleven were commissioned by the Lord to preach the kingdom gospel. The core of the kingdom gospel was faith in who Christ is: Son, Messiah, Anointed, Redeemer, and King. Only a small portion of the Jews accepted this message. The larger portion of Jews rejected Christ as the Messiah. Under the kingdom commission the Jews had to accept their Messiah before the good news could be brought to the Gentile world. This didn't happen.
The kingdom gospel was not based on faith in the crosswork of Christ.
The Lord commissioned Paul to shed light on the Gentile world. Paul's gospel is based on the crosswork of Christ, believing in what Christ did with his death on the cross, burial, and resurrection. This was a totally new revelation, which was first given to Paul by direct revelation from the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
The Judaizers were coming in after Paul, and preaching a gospel of works. An example would be: you must be circumcised to be saved. Today, faith plus any work for salvation is a false gospel, a lie. It is faith alone in Christ alone for salvation.