An Introduction to Galatians

Galatians 1:1-9

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Acts 1:8

Acts 2

Acts 8

Acts 9 Paul gets saved, and Acts 13 he goes.

On his first missionary journey he goes through that portion of Asia Minor, modern Turkey that we would call Galatia.

Galatians is an early letter of Paul. He, Barnabas and John Mark are the first major missionaries mentioned that go out to spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. They begin by going to the Jewish synagogues and end up having Jewish folks persecute them, so they spend the majority of their efforts explaining the gospel to Gentiles. Their first covers Acts 13 and 14. And they spend the much of their time in an area of modern day Turkey called Galatia. You can imagine trying to explain the purposes of God for all men to folks coming from a different worldview. Paul is the man for the job! Two famous Pauline sermons: Acts 13 Paul’s sermon to a Jewish audience. Acts 17 at Athens, Paul’s sermon to a Gentile audience. This is the background for this letter.

An introduction to Paul:

Thirteen NT letters. A standard written format:

Who is writing?

To whom is it written?

A general greeting

An exhortation of thanksgiving

A prayer

A theological summary


It is important to realize that these elements are not always there, but often are, so when you are reading a Pauline epistle, don’t get ahead of Paul. Look for them as you read. Make a note when Paul transitions to his point. He is gonna get to the point of the letter, but not till he is done with the introductory matters.


  1. Introduction to Galatians v.1-5


  1. From Paul and those with him

Paul has a ministry team and had from the very beginning. Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, Luke, Timothy, Titus, and so on and so on!

A distinctive of the book of Acts: the pronouns change in Acts      16:10 from “they” to “we” as Luke joins Paul’s traveling group.


  1. To churches in Galatia

        Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe. Acts 13 and 14 cities.

Paul’s first missionary trip:

They visit these cities, among others, going out and then coming back.

They are in Antioch

Acts 13: 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

Acts 14: Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.

Acts 14: 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

Acts 14: 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

On Paul’s first trip he is the victim of conspiracy, harassment, lies, stoning etc.

  1. His regular salutation
  2. 3-5

        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

        Grace and peace to you from God and Jesus.

Grace means gift. The word in Greek is charis. The root of   charis is char which means joy. So, God gives a gift that brings         joy. This does not describe what the work is. But the Cross does describe the work.

Isaiah 53: Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Peace is shalom. And it means more than the absence of conflict. It means what Jesus says in John 10:10 I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. The best possible life full of the blessings of God. That is peace!

Jesus’ saving work:

  1. gave himself for our sins
  2. to deliver us from the present evil age


According to God’s will. (An apologetic statement)


For God’s glory. (An apologetic statement also)


  1. Some things are missing

        They set a tone and it’s not positive!

There is no thanksgiving for the people. There is no prayer of encouragement. Paul goes directly to confrontation and rebuke!


  1. Major Themes of Galatians


  1. Paul defends his Apostleship


        Apostle: One sent out.

Luke 6:

12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.


Matt 10: These twelve Jesus sent out,


In what way is Paul’s apostleship different from the other named Apostles?

There are three strange Apostles:

  1. Judas
  2. Matthias

Acts 1:

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

  1. Paul


Judas is strange because he betrays Jesus, turns his back on Christ and does not repent. He is lost as an Apostle.


Paul and Matthias are not chosen by Jesus at the time of the twelve. ( As a reminder, Jesus prays all night the night before He chooses the twelve.)


Matthias is chosen by the eleven before the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1 above) Paul is chosen on the road to Damascus by Jesus in Acts 9:


15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.


Paul is also strange in that he has not sat at the feet of Jesus and been instructed directly by Him. Matthias has!


In any event, Paul would have you know that his Apostleship does not come from a man or through a man, but Jesus and God the Father have chosen him to serve them as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The reason Paul defends his Apostleship is because it is under attack by those who would propagate a different gospel!


  1. Paul defends “his” gospel
  2. 6-9 re-read it.


Paul’s response to the attack on the gospel is very direct and       very strong!


  1. Called in the grace of Christ
  2. There is no other gospel
  3. Some want to distort the gospel of Christ
  4. They seek to trouble you
  5. Whoever or whatever seeks to pervert the gospel of         Jesus, let them be accursed! And Paul repeats it again!



  1. The gospel delivers from the present evil age


        We are delivered from the present evil age by learning to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Another way to say this is that we will walk by the Holy Spirit. We will be led by the Holy Spirit to live in a manner that gives us grace and peace!


Galatians 6: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.