New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Greeting.[a] 1 (A)Paul, an apostle[b] not from human beings nor through a human being but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead,(B) 2 [c]and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: 3 grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 [d]who gave himself for our sins that he might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father,(C) 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.(D)
II. Loyalty to the Gospel[e]
6 (E)I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you[f] by [the] grace [of Christ] for a different gospel 7 (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 (F)But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed![g] 9 As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!
III. Paul’s Defense of His Gospel and His Authority[i]
His Call by Christ. 11 (H)Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.[j]
13 [k]For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it,(I) 14 and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions.(J) 15 But when [God], who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased(K) 16 to reveal his Son to me,(L) so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood,[l] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia[m] and then returned to Damascus.
18 [n]Then after three years[o] I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days.(M) 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles,(N) only James the brother of the Lord.[p] 20 (As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.)(O) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.(P) 22 And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only kept hearing that “the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”(Q) 24 So they glorified God because of me.
- 1:1–5 See note on Rom 1:1–7, concerning the greeting.
- 1:1 Apostle: because of attacks on his authority in Galatia, Paul defends his apostleship. He is not an apostle commissioned by a congregation (Phil 2:25; 2 Cor 8:23) or even by prophets (1 Tm 1:18; 4:14) but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.
- 1:2 All the brothers: fellow believers in Christ, male and female; cf. Gal 3:27–28. Paul usually mentions the co-sender(s) at the start of a letter, but the use of all is unique, adding weight to the letter. Galatia: central Turkey more likely than the Roman province of Galatia; see Introduction.
- 1:4 The greeting in v 3 is expanded by a christological formula that stresses deliverance through the Lord Jesus from a world dominated by Satan; cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 6:12.
- 1:6–10 In place of the usual thanksgiving (see note on Rom 1:8), Paul, with little to be thankful for in the Galatian situation, expresses amazement at the way his converts are deserting the gospel of Christ for a perverted message. He reasserts the one gospel he has preached (Gal 1:7–9) and begins to defend himself (Gal 1:10).
- 1:6 The one who called you: God or Christ, though in actuality Paul was the divine instrument to call the Galatians.
- 1:8 Accursed: in Greek, anathema; cf. Rom 9:3; 1 Cor 12:3; 16:22.
- 1:10 This charge by Paul’s opponents, that he sought to conciliate people with flattery and to curry favor with God, might refer to his mission practices (cf. 1 Cor 9:19–23) but the word still suggests it refers to his pre-Christian days (cf. Gal 1:14; Phil 3:6). The self-description slave of Christ is one Paul often uses in a greeting (Rom 1:1).
- 1:11–2:21 Paul’s presentation on behalf of his message and of his apostleship reflects rhetorical forms of his day: he first narrates the facts about certain past events (Gal 1:12–2:14) and then states his contention regarding justification by faith as the gospel message (Gal 2:15–21). Further arguments follow from both experience and scripture in Galatians 3; 4 before he draws out the ethical consequences (Gal 5:1–6:10). The specific facts that he takes up here to show that his gospel is not a human invention (Gal 1:11) but came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12) deal with his own calling as a Christian missionary (Gal 1:13–17), his initial relations with the apostles in Jerusalem (Gal 1:18–24), a later journey to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10), and an incident in Antioch involving Cephas and persons from James (Gal 2:11–14). The content of Paul’s revealed gospel is then set forth in the heart of the letter (Gal 2:15–21).
- 1:12 Although Paul received his gospel through a revelation from Christ, this did not exclude his use of early Christian confessional formulations. See note on Gal 1:4.
- 1:13–17 Along with Phil 3:4–11, which also moves from autobiography to its climax in a discussion on justification by faith (cf. Gal 2:15–21), this passage is Paul’s chief account of the change from his former way of life (Gal 1:13) to service as a Christian missionary (Gal 1:16); cf. Acts 9:1–22; 22:4–16; 26:9–18. Paul himself does not use the term “conversion” but stresses revelation (Gal 1:12, 16). In Gal 1:15 his language echoes the Old Testament prophetic call of Jeremiah. Unlike the account in Acts (cf. Acts 22:4–16), the calling of Paul here includes the mission to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles (Gal 1:16).
- 1:16 Flesh and blood: human authorities (cf. Mt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50). Paul’s apostleship comes from God (Gal 1:1).
- 1:17 Arabia: probably the region of the Nabataean Arabs, east and south of Damascus.
- 1:18–24 Paul’s first journey to Jerusalem as a Christian, according to Galatians (cf. Acts 9:23–31 and the note on Acts 12:25). He is quite explicit about contacts there, testifying under oath (Gal 1:20). On returning to Syria (perhaps specifically Damascus, cf. Gal 1:17) and Cilicia (including his home town Tarsus, cf. Acts 9:30; 22:3), Paul most likely engaged in missionary work. He underscores the fact that Christians in Judea knew of him only by reputation.
- 1:18 After three years: two years and more, since Paul’s call. To confer with Cephas may mean simply “pay a visit” or more specifically “get information from” him about Jesus, over a two-week period. Cephas: Aramaic name of Simon (Peter); cf. Mt 16:16–18 and the notes there.
- 1:19 James the brother of the Lord: not one of the Twelve, but a brother of Jesus (see note on Mk 6:3). He played an important role in the Jerusalem church (see note on Gal 2:9), the leadership of which he took over from Peter (Acts 12:17). Paul may have regarded James as an apostle.