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Galatians was a powerful letter Paul wrote to his converts in the Roman provenance of Galatia.
There is some disagreement about the area that is referenced as Galatia due to the fact that land borders changed through history and its difficult to be precise.
There is some consensus about among scholars that the Paul is referring to the Roman provenance which would have put the establishment of these churches squarely within Paul’s first missionary journey.
(Acts 13 &14)
This would put the writing of this letter after the important watershed meeting we know as the Jerusalem Council found in Acts 15.
Date of the letter
It is probable that Galatians 2:1–10 recounts events which took place (but were not recorded in Acts) on the occasion of the Acts 11:30 visit, when Paul took famine relief to the church in Jerusalem.
Within this reconstruction, Galatians is dated just after Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13; 14) and just before the Acts 15 council.
Thus, the disruptions in Antioch described in Galatians 2:11–14 are regarded as the same as those of Acts 15:1, and are the immediate reason for calling the council.
Jerusalem Council
Jerusalem Council.
Meeting described in Acts 15:6–29, held about AD 48–50.
Acts records that the conference was held to deal with the question of the requirement for gentile salvation raised by Jews first in Antioch (14:26–15:1) and later in Jerusalem (15:3–5).
The matter was subjected to lengthy consideration by “the apostles and the elders” (15:6), with Peter (vv 7–11), Paul and Barnabas (vv 12, 22, 25, 26), and James the brother of Jesus (vv 13–21), who seems to have been the moderator.
Acts gives only a summary of the conclusion (v 6, “after there had been much debate”).
The major points clarified and emphasized include: (1) God makes “no distinction” between Jewish and gentile believers (v 9); (2) salvation is by grace through faith (vv 9, 11); (3) God has confirmed his acceptance of Gentiles through signs and wonders (vv 8, 12); (4) inclusion of the Gentiles among his people was a part of the divine intention revealed in the OT (vv 15–18; quoting Am 9:11, 12).
The assembly also issued a list (called “the decree”) instructing gentile Christians to abstain from (1) “the pollution of idols,” (2) “fornication,” (3) “things strangled,” and (4) “blood” (vs 20).
The decision was circulated by letter to churches in “Antioch, Syria and Cilicia” (v 22; cf.
The Early Church - Brief Summary
Began with primarily Jewish converts
Peter receives a message from the Lord that the Gospel is for all people - the door is open to the Gentiles
The Church is persecuted and scattered
Jewish HQ in Jerusalem
Gentile HQ in Antioch
Early Church leaders disagreed about how to handle these Gentile believers
This disagreement led to the Jerusalem council and several of Paul’s most important Epistles
The epistle to the Galatians links very intimately with that to the Romans.
There seem to be good reasons for believing that both of these letters were written at about the same time, probably from Corinth while Paul was ministering in that great City.
In Romans we have the fullest, the most complete opening up of the Gospel of the grace of God that we get anywhere in the New Testament.
In the letter to the Galatians we have that glorious gospel message defended against those who were seeking to substitute legality for Grace.
There are many expressions in the two letters that are very similar.
They are summarized in one Old Testament text found in Chapter 2 of the book of Habakkuk: "the just shall live by faith."
Romans - Question - How shall a man be just with God? - The answer is, "the just shall live by faith."
Galatians - Question - If one has been justified by faith how is he maintained in that place before God? - the emphasis is upon the next two words, "the just shall live by faith."
Hebrews - Question - But what is that power by which men are made just and by which they live?
The epistle to the Hebrews answers that by putting the emphasis upon the last two words of the same text, "the just shall live by faith."
Theme of the Letter - Liberty in Christ!
Justification vs Sanctification - Paul is dealing with a distortion of both of these foundational truths
Declaration: The message of the gospel is central to everything in our spiritual life
Proposition: Could we be guilty at times of forgetting its significance and allowing its purity to become contaminated?
Transition: Notice as Paul begins his letter to these churches in Galatia, he reminds them of the gospels purity and contrasts it with the perversion they were hearing
Notice first....
The Purity of the Gospel
Illustration: For anything to be pure it must contain proper ingredients - How I make Chili - the ingredients are never quite the same - it is not that way with the gospel!
The pure gospel contains the same ingredients and if it does not then it is not pure!
Paul needed to remind these Galatian believers where they started and they started with the Pure Gospel!
A. The purity of the gospel contains the grace of God
“grace be unto you”
Grace is unmerited favor - We did nothing to earn the grace of God!
Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker both had churches in London in the 19th century.
On one occasion, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon's orphanage.
It was reported to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself.
Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit.
The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town.
People flocked to Parker's church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal.
"I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage.
I suggest we take a love offering here instead."
The crowd was delighted.
The ushers had to empty the collection plates 3 times.
Later that week there was a knock at Parker's study.
It was Spurgeon.
"You know Parker, you have practiced grace on me.
You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed.
Moody Monthly, December, 1983, p. 81.
B. The purity of the gospel contains the peace of God
“…and peace from God the Father”
We are no longer “at odds” with our creator
We are no longer separated from him
C. The purity of the gospel contains sacrifice of God
“who gave himself for our sins”
D. The purity of the gospel contains deliverance of God
“that he might deliver us from this present evil world”
Eternity in Heaven
Deliverance over sin - this present evil world!
E. The purity of the gospel contains the will of God
“according to the will of God”
The gospel is for all - according to the will of God!
D. The purity of the gospel contains the glory of God
“to whom be glory forever”
Paul goes on to expound this thought more later in the letter- but the gospel is not about the glory of man
Not about how many notches we have in our belt or how many people we have led through a prayer
It’s all about him and his glory!
Paul moves from the Purity of the gospel to....
The Perversion of the Gospel
Paul was so concerned for his converts that he said “I marvel” - he was literally amazed at their course of action.
A. The perversion was a shift
“removed from him that called you”
The person of Christ is central to the message of the gospel
When we move away from him we have started to pervert the message
B. The perversion was subtle
“but there be some that trouble you”
Those who were troubling these Christians seemed to be holy and Godly men - but they were not!
Why do you think these Christians were so duped by these false teachers?
C. The perversion was serious
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