Study Notes

Galatians 1:1-5


Have you ever wondered about what the requirements are for being a Christian?

If you're like most Christians, you started out by responding to a simple message: you heard that your sin had separated you from God, and Jesus Christ died to forgive that sin. You knew in your heart that the message was true, and so you prayed and asked Jesus to forgive your sins.

But things got much more complicated after that, didn't they? You met other Christians who seemed to know more about this whole thing than you did. Some of them told you that if you were a Christian, you had better be in church every Sunday, and at least once during the week. Others told you that real Christians woke up early in the morning to pray and read the Bible for at least an hour. Some other folks told you that if you anted to be a real Christian, you had to vote Republican, homeschool your children, and take herbs instead of prescribed medications. They told you what real Christians did, and told you what they didn't.

Suddenly you realized that there rules to follow, regulations to adhere to, and rituals to practice. And you understood that the Christian message was far more involved than you had been led to believe.

One reason that the book of Galatians was written was to let you know that the Christian message is not more complicated than the one you responded to. That the gospel that you first heard - that God simply was asking you to believe that Jesus died for your sins - really was all that was required to save you.

The book of Galatians will remind some of us that we are saved by grace. It will rebuke others, those that try to make people add to the work of the cross by their own works. And for some that have walked in confusion, it will reassure them that the forgiveness that they prayed to receive is complete in Christ.

1:1-2 An Apostle

The writer of Galatians is Paul the apostle. The word apostle means "one who is sent out." And we know that Jesus sent out the original twelve guys, who were called apostles. As you read the Scriptures, you will see that this group is called "the twelve" about two dozen times.

Well, as you know, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Sold Him out for some silver. Later, he killed himself. And from there, "the Twelve" became known as "the Eleven" (Matt. 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:9; Luke 24:33; Acts 1:26; Acts 2:14).

But then when we studied the book of Revelation, we saw that the New Jerusalem will have twelve foundation stones with "the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:14). But which twelve names will be on these stones? Certainly not Judas, who betrayed Jesus, right? Whose name will be the twelfth? Herein lies the controversy.

You see, one of the first things to happen in the book of Acts was that Peter stood up, saying that because Judas betrayed Jesus, just as the Scriptures had written, it was necessary to fill his place, also as the Scriptures had said. He said,

Acts 1:20-26 "For it is written in the book of Psalms, LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL IN IT'; and, HIS OFFICE LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE.' It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us — beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us —one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection." And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Now a lot of people have trouble with Peter doing this for a number of reasons. And they don't think that Matthias counts as the twelfth apostle. They believe that Paul is in reality the twelfth apostle. But I believe that the Scriptures are clear on this point. Acts 1:26 says,

Acts 1:26 ...he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

And after Matthias was counted among them, they were no longer called "the Eleven," but were once again called "the Twelve" (Acts 6:2).

Not Sent From Men

So, was Paul the twelfth apostle? I don't believe so. But, does this disqualify Paul from being called an apostle? Not at all. There were lots of men besides the Twelve who were called apostles. Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14); An-DRON-ee-kos and Ee-oo-NEE-as (Rom. 16:7), James, the Lord's brother (Gal. 1:19), and Silas and Timothy (1Thes. 1:1 with 2:6) were all referred to as apostles. They had all been sent out to bring the gospel into all the world.

Was Paul an apostle? Certainly. He had been sent by the church, but more importantly, he had been sent by God.

We remember in Acts 13,

Acts 13:1-4 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was {there} , prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and LOO-kee-os of Cyrene, and Man-ah-ANE who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Sel-YOOK-i-ah and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

This was the way that they were sent out: they were ministering to the Lord, and the Lord spoke prophetically that He was sending them out. The church bore witness and sent them out, and the Scripture says that they were "sent out by the Holy Spirit." Paul was an apostle, one who was sent out. Sent out by God Himself for the work of the ministry.

The Churches Of Galatia

Paul is writing to the churches of Galatia. Now, Galatia was not a city, but a region between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, a part of what is today called the country of Turkey. Paul had preached the gospel to them and seen many saved. Thus, there were churches established throughout the region.

1:3-5 Grace

The word grace appears seven times in these six chapters. We are going to discover that it is the main point of the book of Galatians - salvation by grace, not by the law.

What is grace? It is God's unmerited favor towards you. He loves you, even when you're unlovable. He offers salvation to you, even though you could never afford it, and you'll never deserve it.

It really is incredibly difficult to describe or define. And we have trouble understanding that which we cannot see. How can you really understand grace without seeing it? You can see it. When men came to Antioch in Acts 11, we read that they were preaching the gospel.

Acts 11:20-23 ...There were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and {began} speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. And the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and {began} to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain {true} to the Lord;

Barnabas witnessed the grace of God - he saw God's grace. How? He saw the people of Antioch that had heard the gospel, who'd believed in Jesus Christ, who'd been saved. That is our picture of God's grace. Can you see grace yet?

Gave Himself For Our Sins

Grace comes from both God our Father, Who sent His Son, and from that Son Whom He sent, Jesus Christ.

Grace - that free gift which is given to people who do not deserve it. Each of us was - or still is - an enemy of God. Our sin separating us from a perfect, righteous God.

Isa. 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Sin disqualified us from being friends of God. It insured us only of an eternal destiny apart from God.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 5:10 ...while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son...

Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty of our sins. His death opened up an avenue of reconciliation for us to God.

1Pet. 3:18 ...Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for {the} unjust, in order that He might bring us to God...

Can you see grace yet? Each person here that is a Christian is a picture of God's grace. Women who were prostitutes, lesbians, and drug addicts. Men who were rapists, satanists, and drunks. People about which the world said, "They're worthless. There's nothing lovable about them. They are trash - the dregs of the earth." But God didn't do that. God had grace on them.

John 3:16 "...God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

1John 4:9-10 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.

Can you see grace yet?

Deliver Us Out Of This Present Evil Age

God allowed His only Son to be killed so that you could be delivered out of this present evil age. All around us, the world is falling into hell. Murders and massacres, child abuse and drug abuse, witchcraft and satanism, alcoholism and AIDS. This world that we live in has been, and will continue to become, more and more evil. God's grace is offered to us to deliver us from this.

If you ask that person sitting in front of you where they would be today if God's grace had not been given to them, you're likely to hear the answer, "dead or in jail." So many of us were citizens of this dark kingdom, this present evil age. God delivered us from it.

Col. 1:13-14 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We're brand new people. Can you see grace yet?

To Him Be The Glory

Paul writes, "to God be the glory." Can any of us who have received grace glory in ourselves? Not at all! There was nothing that we did to qualify us for salvation. We were trash, but God considered us a treasure. I can't glory in what I've become, for I did not do it. I was smoking pot a half dozen times a day, taking LSD on the weekends. Taking advantage of women, and blaspheming God. My crimes were many, and my potential for righteous behavior was nonexistent. And yet, here I stand before you today, an upstanding member of society. Trustworthy, drug-free, Christ-centered, Bible-based, a righteous man. That is not for me to brag about. It is simply because,

2Cor. 5:17 ...If any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Did I do any of this? Do I deserve the credit or the glory? None at all. Can you see grace yet?

Grace And Peace

As we close this morning, let's go back up to verse three and see that wonderful statement again: "grace to you and peace." Do you have that peace that comes from receiving grace?

If you live in wickedness, you will be separated from God for all eternity.

If you try your best to be good, you will disappoint yourself and never attain righteousness.

But if you receive God's grace this morning, you will finally know what real peace is.

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