"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The G.E.P.C. Study Series – GALATIANS 1

Going Through Paul’s epistles to Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossi

As a new believer, being voracious about consuming the Word of GOD, I was a bit impatient because I wanted to “know everything now!”. But the Bible is a big book, and even learning all the names of each of its 66 books, and in the right order was something of a challenge.

I could recite the names of the Gospels, Acts, Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians, but after that, it all got a bit jumbled.
Then someone once said to me, “Great Electric Power Company” and I was like – “What??”

They smiled and said, “Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians!” I always remembered that little bit of help, and having read and studied these small but powerful books for my entire life as a Christian, I feel like I want to dive in and exposit the truth found in them at this time, LORD willing…

I already did a study on EPHESIANS, and so, I have three more to go, starting of course with GALATIANS, and move on from there. GALATIANS has been referred to as the other epistle by Paul and considered “ROMANS-lite”. Many of the same doctrinal issues that were dealt with comprehensively in ROMANS are concisely addressed in GALATIANS. There are also parallels between GALATIANS and HEBREWS as well.

HEBREW ROOTS Movement folk and WORKS-BASED Salvationists don’t like GALATIANS too much. I love it, because it secures my salvation exactly where it should be, where it needs to be, and where it is in a doctrinal and epistemological sense: squarely on the shoulders of my LORD and Savior Who went through unimaginably extraordinary lengths to procure such for me!

So let’s delve into this four chapter epistle with a bit of background.

The primary theme of this book, written about 49-52 AD, is “salvation by grace”. It’s considered by many Bible scholars as the first epistle that Paul wrote (2 TIMOTHY being the last). Galatia was not a city as was Ephesus and the others, but rather a region (think of it as a very large county) located in central Asia Minor (that’s Turkey today).

So it isn’t addressed to one church, but several throughout this region, which included Iconium, Lystra, Derby (southern area of Galatia). On a side note, the land was full of Phrygians who were nature worshipers with a Jewish population peppered in their midst.

The apostle Paul visited Galatia twice, once on his first mission and again on his third mission (ACTS 13:51; 14:8,20 and ACTS 18:23 respectively). His attempt to go there during his second mission was not successful as the Holy Spirit directed him and his team elsewhere (into Europe; ACTS 16:6) where it’s likely he brought Dr. Luke into his entourage. Note the transition in ACTS 16 where the pronoun changes from “they” to “we” in vs.11, which is where Luke joined the team.

The churches in Galatia were enduring a double pronged attack by the enemy: an incursion of impurity to pollute their doctrine, and also their conduct. There were those “perverters” that Paul had to deal with in GAL 1:7; 5:10. These perverters insisted that while the work of salvation was indeed in Christ, works were also necessary to accomplish this work. These have come to be known as the Judaizers, legalistic adherents to the Law as a means of “completing the salvific work” – a belief that the Galatian Christians were beginning to be swayed by (GAL 1:6; 3:1).

Paul deftly answers these problems by pointing out Abraham as the example of being saved by faith by believing GOD, believing His Word from the heart, which begins that transformative work in the saint. He also addresses how sanctification is not a work accomplished by adherence to the Law, but rather the inward working of the Holy Spirit working through the saint, conforming them to Christ Who Himself perfectly, flawlessly fulfilled the Law on our behalf (MATT 5:17).

Now we saints who are born again, baptized into the body of Christ, His church are able to live out the righteousness of the Law, apart from the Law (ROM 3:20-23) and its well over 600 commands that are collectively directed to GOD’s people, Israel.

The Introduction: GAL 1:1-5.
1) The Occasion of the epistle: The Galatians departure from the true Gospel: GAL 1:6-9.

2) Paul’s Defense of His Apostolic Calling: GAL 1:10-2:21.

3) Justification is Entirely by Faith, apart from the Law: GAL 3:1-24.

4) The Rule of the Believer’s Life is Gracious, Not Legal: GAL 3:25-5:1.

5) Characteristics Displayed in the Life of a Christian Justified by Faith Alone: GAL 5:2-26.

6) The Outworking of the New Life in Christ Jesus: GAL 6:1-16.

Conclusion: GAL 6:17-18.
(The above is based on Scofield’s Notes in his introduction of this epistle).

So now with all that out of the way, let’s dig in to Chapter One!



1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Paul is ordained as an apostle by GOD the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. As an apostle, he is a delegate, an ambassador, an official commissioner of Christ (endowed with miraculous powers by the Spirit); he is a messenger who was sent by the Father and the Son, entirely separate from any authorization by men. The brethren that were with Paul at this time was likely Barnabas and his nephew John Mark, perhaps also Silas (all from Jerusalem), Timothy (and Titus as well maybe), and later, Luke (from various regions in the diaspora).

During the days of Christ’s ministry, Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was a young man, studying diligently with the hopes of becoming a Pharisee. One wonders – why didn’t the LORD call Saul to follow Him, as He did with all the other disciples?

There are many reasons I am quite certain, but for those reasons that don’t occur to us, the LORD considered all factors and in His Sovereignty determined that “in the fullness of time” He would bring Saul to salvation, which He did while this Pharisee traveled on the Damascus road, on his way to persecute the (Jewish) church even to the extent of far distant foreign cities (ACTS 26:11).

That’s one reason I can think of at the least – after His resurrection, the LORD told His disciples to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and then to the uttermost part of the Earth (ACTS 1:8). But they didn’t spread out! They stayed put in Jerusalem, and so the LORD had to ‘stir things up’ and set this zealous Pharisee on their heels – they dispersed as the LORD commanded and then they had rest (ACTS 9:31). The LORD’s calling of Paul happened once he (unknowingly) completed this job.

Regarding the resurrection of Christ: here it’s attributed to the Father; in ROM 8:11 the resurrection is credited to the Holy Spirit; and of course in JOHN 2:19. Christ Himself claims the responsibility.

When one examines all of the characteristics, major accomplishments and quintessential works of GOD, whether that is the creation of the world, the inspiration and revelation of Scripture (being the source of all Truth), the indwelling of the New Testament saint, His omnipotence, omnipresence (except for Christ when He became incarnate), omniscience and among many others including the resurrection of Christ – they are all attributed to each of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity in various passages.

For more on The TRINITY, check this video out by Chuck Missler. Or read the article. Or hey! Who says you can't do both if you wanna!

The apostle addresses “the churches” as in all of these local fellowships in Galatia where the saints would assemble for the purpose of receiving teaching and fellowship, ministry in prayer and discipleship (HEB 10:25). Then there is the church universal, speaking of the entire body of Christ that dwells everywhere on Earth (in our current time) and also in Heaven (from the inception of the church and throughout church history, who are absent from [their] body and yet present with the LORD (2 COR 5:8)).

There will come a day when the church universal will experience the grandest “family reunion” in all human history!
What a comfort we have, that the dearly loved saints whose hearts were knit together with ours (and by which we suffer this ‘tearing’ by this separation from them) will one day be with us again, and we shall never part company from each other ever again! I recall a Christian Contemporary song, “Heaven Is A Long Hello”! “Goodbye and Farewell” will no longer be in our vocabulary (And I’m glad because I loathe goodbyes!).



3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The pairing of “grace and peace” are salutatory both by Greeks (grace to you) and the Jews (peace – or shalom).
Doctrinally speaking, due to our sin nature, unrepentant and rebellious, we are at enmity with GOD, being offensive towards His holiness (ROM 4:25; 8:7; JAMES 4:4). As any judge is bound to justice served, how much more so the Holy Judge of all the Earth “do right” (GEN 18:25)?

Therefore GOD must condemn all iniquity (“lawlessness”), abominations, transgressions, and sins perpetrated by fallen humanity. Yet as GOD is holy (ISA 6:3), so He is also love (1 JOHN 4:8).

This seeming dichotomy is something that would leave us baffled to resolve; the Greek philosopher Socrates stated, 
It may be possible for Deity to forgive sin, but I can’t see how.” 
That is an insightful observation!
How can the Holy GOD accept sinners without violating His Holy nature? He can’t simply dismiss our sins – any more than a judge could dismiss an ax murderer who killed an entire family while they slept. You might say, “Well I never did anything as bad as THAT! I wouldn’t think such a thing!” Our sins in the estimation of most people are far less serious than those of an ax murderer! But this is according to our estimation – not GOD’s own: a simple lie to the purely Holy GOD is immensely offensive, to say nothing of the more serious sins, all of which will result in eternal perdition (REV 21:8).

Yet His love for us is so powerful, it compelled GOD to come to our rescue – and He did, through the Person of Christ crucified, who took upon Himself all sin and its subsequent Divine judgment and wrath from us sinners by dying in our place and in exchange provides for us eternal life, bringing us into relationship with GOD as our Father, and we His children. We are no longer at enmity with our Creator but are blessed with “peace with GOD”.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

ROMANS 5:1-2
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

JOHN 1:12-13
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
“…deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

We think of salvation in terms of the redemption of our souls, but Scripture indicates that redemption covers far more than just saving souls; it also involves the redemption of the Davidic Kingdom (ACTS 15:16) and even the planet Earth itself (MATT 13:38,44). The LORD Jesus rightly claimed the title deed of the Earth in REV 5:6-10.

What we can appreciate is that the LORD isn’t just content to save us from damnation but intends on delivering us from this present evil age which is ruled by the god of this world. Bearing in mind, Paul identified the world 2,000 years ago as “evil” and we see how the corruptive influence of sin has brought to fruition the seedlings sown by Satan in prior ages! This fruit is rank and ruinous!


We now have Paul’s reason for writing this epistle in these few verses:

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

In relation to the word “gospel” we have three different Greek words employed in verses 6 through 9 translated as “another” or “other”: heteros and allos and para.

In the first reference (vs. 6): “…in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel…” the word is heteros.
(vs. 7): “…which is not another…” and here the word is allos.
Then (vs. 9): “…any other gospel…”, the Greek word used here is para, that indicates a gospel that is “near to, comparative to” the true gospel.

In other words, Paul is saying that the Galatian saints were turning away to an altogether different (heteros) gospel, which is by no means a legitimate, alternate, or similar gospel (allos) or not even close to (para) the true gospel.

There is only one gospel of Jesus Christ that brings salvation of the soul, that which was preached to the Jews and to the Gentiles. The distinction between these two groups is that in the gospel preached to the Jews is coupled with the reinstatement of the kingdom of Israel (which our LORD preached in the Gospels known there as “the kingdom [from] heaven"). For the Gentiles, the hope of the gospel entails the heavenly kingdom of GOD (preached among the Gentiles throughout the epistles).

Paul is emphatic that no different gospel is acceptable, and no! That different gospel is not a viable alternative either! Not even one that’s close – but not quite altogether the same. Any who adhere to any false gospel, Paul says, “let them be accursed” not just for believing it, but for preaching it!


Paul’s defense of his apostolic calling starts here and continues into and is completed by the end of Chapter 2.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Persuasion in this sense is to pacify or be conciliatory towards another. Paul was by no means interested in pacifying people according to their own beliefs. As an apostle, teacher, and guide for the church, he was obligated to keep a conciliatory and worshipful attitude of heart towards GOD, Whom he served as a bondservant (doulos), that is a slave – who has no rights of his own, is entirely devoted to his master, serving his needs and interests above those of themselves. He would be faithful to preach and teach the Word, the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth!

This as opposed to many people pleasing pastors of today, that will tailor their messages after their congregations predilections. Or other pastors who will bring in damnable heresies (2 PET 2:1). Neither of these sort have any fear of GOD! And they don't even stop there - they bring in New Age guru's, Islamic Imams, witches, transgendars and all the rest, infesting the body of Christ that's so weakened, her immune system is shot.

This is Laodicean at its heart; the very word Laodicea means “rule by the people” as opposed to the correct model for the church, which is to be ruled by the head of the church, Jesus Christ. The apt picture of the LORD Jesus knocking on the door, asking to be let in, speaks volumes (REV 3:20)!

Such should be the worshipful heart attitude of every saint of GOD, simply because the LORD Jesus Christ came Himself not to be served (though He was and is wholly deserving and utterly worthy of such!!) but to serve, and not merely to serve, but to surrender Himself by being the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins (MATT 20:28; JOHN 10:15-17)!

How else can we respond to that kind of love, but to return it in kind (1 JOHN 4:19; ROM 12:1-2)? Indeed, to this I can say, “[my] spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. It’s been a recurring prayer of mine of late: “LORD help me to love you according to Your worth” – and yet I always fall short. Just another reason why I long to go Home – to express such potent love for GOD that only a glorified saint, absent the sin nature will do!

People will say such things as “well, that’s your religion.” As if it were my own invention and I put a patent on it! I didn’t go on a spiritual grocery shopping trip and looked over the various religions and decided that Christianity appealed to me the most. I was on a quest for truth. And after a dubious flirtation with the occult (and some devotion towards the Roman Catholic church before and after that), I was led back to the Bible, and just read it, seeking answers.

I found them.


The Gospel isn’t an invention of man – who could have conceived of such? And no, the Christian faith is not a carbon copy of pagan religions where their ‘god’ was miraculously born, performed miracles of the sort that Jesus did, and died for them.

To prove this, check out Mike Winger’s 11 min 34 sec video:

The Gospel’s origin is from the eternal mind of GOD, Who understood how Adam would fall, and be unable to rescue himself from his sin nature, and would provide Himself as an offering for the sins of the human race (GEN 22:8,14; JOHN 8:56), wholly by grace, undeserved, unwarranted, but generously provided nonetheless.

I love this video presentation on the G.O.S.P.E.L. – while I’m not really into rap, this message is powerful and anointed in my opinion.
A while back, the LORD gave me an acronym (He knows how I love those! I have lots!) for the GOSPEL:

GOD’s Omnipotent [all powerful] Salvation Proclaiming/Providing Eternal Love/Life!

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

Paul wanted the saints at Galatia to understand that he didn’t get recruited by any of the other apostles, nor did he “hitch his wagon to their star” as it were. He didn’t abandon Judaism to start his own religion or a gospel differing from that which Christ preached.

He was confronted by the Risen Christ Who knocked him off his high horse (literally!) and revealed Himself to this Pharisee. The LORD appeared in a vision to a disciple named Ananias and said this to him:

ACTS 9:15-16
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake
(See 2 COR 11:23-30; 12:7-10).

Uh, not exactly the most attractive recruiting technique, wouldn’t you agree?
But Ananias faithfully presented the LORD’s message to Saul.


I can’t begin to imagine how Saul’s heart was struck, cut to the quick when he realized what it was he’d been doing!

Get the picture – a young, intelligent, zealous Jewish man with ambition to serve the GOD of his fathers as a devout Pharisee, studying Tanakh with the most revered teacher in Jerusalem, Gamaliel (he complained of his student, that he could barely keep him in books!), about 10 years prior to the LORD’s crucifixion; hobnobbing with his brethren. His future was bright and secure. Then a dark cloud obscured his sunshine – this bizarre sect that followed the teachings of a dead carpenter turned itinerant preacher, who, they claim rose from the dead – and they made every attempt to turn the Jewish people after this man instead of YHWH, who himself claimed to be the Messiah??

He fought against this sacrilege vehemently, bringing these disciples to justice, imprisonment, torture, and death. He was intent on continuing this tirade on the way to Damascus. That’s when it happened.

He discovered that the One he believed he was serving, was the very One Whose Son was sent to this world, was crucified, risen (Saul saw Him for himself, before his very eyes – a qualification by the way of the office of an apostle: they must be a witness to the Resurrected Christ; ACTS 1:22) and established His church – these saints that he’d been persecuting! The brilliance of that glorious and dreadful encounter blinded Saul (ACTS 9:8). During that blindness I’m persuaded he saw the face of every individual disciple that he turned over for torture and execution. The agony and grieving was such that he refused to eat anything (ACTS 9:9).

This murderer was not only forgiven of his sins against Christ and His body (ACTS 9:4) but actually ordained by Christ to be an apostle??! You want to talk about the grace of GOD in operation! Paul considered himself the least of the apostles, not worthy of his office because he “persecuted the church of GOD” (1 COR 15:9) – and yet look at the volumes of Scripture that the LORD inspired into this man, and the vast missionary journeys that he took, preaching and teaching tirelessly!
Paul knew the LORD’s love for him – despite what he had done, and he loved the LORD much, because he was forgiven much (LUKE 7:47) and this showed in his service to the Messiah of Israel!

This should bring hope to any who think that they aren’t worthy to follow the LORD Jesus (true – none of us are! LUKE 5:8), who feel that they’ve done too many bad things (also true; EPH 2:2; GAL 5:19-21), that GOD wouldn’t want someone like them (NOT true, He does, wholeheartedly! JOHN 3:16). If Paul can get saved (and Peter, who denied the LORD – not once, twice, but three times!), then anyone can!
This includes you! The LORD does indeed loves you!

13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

One point to make here: zeal does not equate with holiness, goodness, or righteousness. Zeal can be found in practically every religion, coupled together with absolute sincerity – but one can be sincerely wrong in their zeal!

Paul testified that his own people had a “zeal but not according to knowledge” (ROM 10:2). Zeal without knowledge is ruinous; zeal with knowledge is righteous!



15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

I find it ironic that the LORD would use a Pharisee to minister to Gentiles: a people group that the Jews felt had only one good use: as fuel for the fires of hell! The LORD used the apostle Peter at first, him being an established leader of the church, to reach the Gentiles – namely Cornelius the centurion (ACTS 10). The Jews accused Peter of associating with Gentiles, and eating with them (something forbidden to the Jews)! He explained the matter thoroughly and their response?

ACTS 11:18
When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.

So the baton was handed off from Peter to Paul, and they more or less ministered to the two distinct ethnic groups (GAL 2:8). After his conversion he traveled to and remained in Arabia for about 3 years. Most scholars agree that it was there that the newly appointed apostle received the revelation of Jesus Christ: the same number of years that the LORD was with His Twelve.

To delve into the personal history of the apostle Paul check this timeline out; also this commentary by F.F. Bruce on GALATIANS.

Again, in this defense of his apostleship, Paul is careful to point out that his office was independent of the other apostles, or others who were not responsible for this ordination – Christ Jesus was! So he spent very little time with any of them, except for Peter (for a couple weeks) and James, the LORD’s half-brother (same Mom, different Fathers!).

20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) 21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." 24 And they glorified God in me.

“The faith” – the body of doctrinal truth granted to the saints of the church. While having spent sufficient time in Arabia, Paul was also engaged in preaching Christ in Syria and Cilicia and astounded the Jews there – he looked like Saul of Tarsus, but what’s gotten into him?? Little did they know [wink!]!

The apostle Paul will continue and complete his defense of his apostleship in Chapter Two and then move on to his treatment of “Justification is Entirely by Faith, apart from the Law”.

No comments: