Study Notes

Galatians 1:10-24


The first nine verses of Galatians have shown us who Paul was writing to, as well as his purpose for writing. The churches in the region of Galatia were being falsely taught by the Judaizers that grace involved more than belief in Christ. That they had to follow religious rules, obey religious regulations, and perform religious rituals in order to be accepted by God. The Galatians were becoming convinced that in order to be saved, a person had to live in Judaism.

Paul pronounced judgment upon anyone who preached a gospel to them other than the message of grace. Now he says...

1:10 A Bond-servant of Christ

A bond-servant was no ordinary servant. According to the Law given in Exodus, Hebrew slaves were to be set free after six years of serving.

But there were times that slaves decided that their life in slavery was actually better than they would have in freedom. If the master treated his slaves fairly, provided for them properly, and cared for them lovingly, being set free from the master would have been to enter into a worse situation. Thus, the Lord said,

Exod. 21:2, 5-6 If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment... But if the slave plainly says, "I love my master...; I will not go out as a free man," then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

This turned a servant into a bond-servant. He was one who voluntarily chose to serve his master for life. Several men in the New Testament are called bond-servants of Jesus Christ for this same reason. They realized that the "freedom" they formerly had in the world was not worthy to be compared with the "slavery" they had in Christ.

Paul said in Romans 6,

Rom. 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

God has bought us with a price. But we also have the freedom to walk away from that slavery. I, for one, am staying!

Paul was a bond-servant, trying to please no one but his Master, Jesus Christ. What he was writing was not going to win him any popularity contests, but he wasn't concerned. He just wanted to be right in the eyes of the Lord.

1:11-12 Paul's First-hand Gospel

Paul tells them that the gospel of grace that he taught them was not some second-hand story. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to him personally.

1:13-14 Paul's Testimony

Now Paul begins to give his testimony. He tells about his life before Christ.

He was an up-and-coming member of Judaism. He was advancing in the ranks, zealous for the Jewish religion. As he would later describe it,

Phil. 3:5-6 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee... as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

We read in the book of Acts about how he was first exposed to the church. In chapter seven, one of the first deacons, named Stephen, was brought before the Council to answer charges that he was speaking blasphemies against Moses and God.

When the high priest questioned him, he gave them an incredible Bible lesson, showing that the Jews always reject a "God-thing" the first time it's presented. Joseph's brothers rejected him the first time, the nation of Israel rejected Moses the first time, and most recently, they had rejected Jesus the first time. That was all they needed to hear.

They drove him out of the city and stoned him to death.

Acts 7:58 And when they had driven him out of the city, they {began} stoning {him,} and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 8:1-3 And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And {some} devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul {began} ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

Saul hated Christians with a passion. His one desire in life was to exterminate these followers of Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:1-6 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He {said,} "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do."

Jesus revealed Himself to Saul first-hand.

1:15-17 Through His Grace

If there ever was a picture of God's grace, he was it. He of all people didn't deserve salvation. Sure, God had forgiven robbers and prostitutes. But this was a man who had been responsible for the death of God's own children! But God even loved him.

Have you thought to yourself that God doesn't love you? That you've been too wicked, done too many bad things to be forgiven for? Saul did worse than you. And it pleased God to save Saul, to reveal Jesus Christ to him. God would love it if you'd allow Him to reveal Jesus to you as well.

Preach Him Among The Gentiles

Jesus called Saul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. This is when Saul became known as Paul. It was not that he changed his name, but kept the same name in a different language.

As a Hebrew, being Saul from the tribe of Benjamin was a status symbol. The first king of Israel was also named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.

But now he is being called to the Gentiles. And the Jewish name SOW-los is the same as the Gentile name POW-los. So, the circumstances were much like an American missionary named John moving to Mexico and becoming known as Juan. Same name, different language.

1:18 Cephas

Three years after his conversion, Paul traveled to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas. Who was Cephas? In John 1:42, there was a man named Simon that Jesus renamed Cephas, an Aramaic word meaning "stone." In Greek, the word is PET-ros. And so the man Simon became known as Cephas, or Simon Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ.

Paul stayed with Peter for over two weeks.

1:19-20 James, The Lord's Brother

Paul also sees an apostle that he refers to as "James, the Lord's brother."

One of the most confusing doctrines of the liturgical church is the teaching that Mary was a perpetual virgin. It is confusing because the Bible plainly records that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

Of course, technically they were half-brothers and sisters, having Mary as their mother, but different fathers. Jesus' father was the Lord, and his brothers' father was Joseph.

We are even told their names. When Jesus taught at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, the crowd said,

Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.

So Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters. However, Jesus' brothers did not believe He was the Son of God until after the resurrection. John tells us that before this,

John 7:5 ...Not even His brothers were believing in Him.

But after the resurrection, they not only ended up believing in Him, but became leaders in the church. Jesus' brother James - that Paul mentions here - becomes a leader in the church at Jerusalem.

Another of Jesus' brothers names was Judas, or Jude. Jude writes in his epistle,

Jude 1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James...

Jude claimed brotherhood with James to validate his authority, but servanthood of Jesus to validate his ministry.

We also see in 1Corinthians that the Lord's brothers were married, and apparently were missionaries.

1Cor. 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

So don't let it throw you that Jesus had brothers in the family.

1:21-24 Glorifying God Because Of Me

After getting to know Peter and James, Paul headed to Syria and Cilicia. And how amazed people were that there was this man that had been arresting Christians, who was now publicly preaching the gospel!

And God is still in that business today - changing people's lives for His glory.

I received an e-mail from an old high-school classmate this week. He wrote, "we were in Geometry class together in our sophomore year. You had short red hair. Then in our senior year, we had English class together. You had long black hair, and were in a band. I remember thinking, 'Ron has changed.' But now you're a pastor, and I'm thinking, 'No. NOW Ron has changed!''"

You can change the way you dress, or the length and color of your hair. But it is God who changes a person on the inside. It is Jesus Christ who gives people a new heart. When He caused us to be born again, we started a brand new life. To Him be the glory!

Go to next study

Go to previous study