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Introduction

From Paul,[a] an apostle[b] of Jesus Christ. My apostleship was not granted to me by men, for I was appointed by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. All the brothers and sisters[c] join with me as I write this letter to the churches throughout the region of central Turkey.[d]

May God’s undeserved kindness and total well-being[e] that flow from our Father God and from the Lord Jesus be yours.[f] He’s the Anointed One who offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins! He has rescued us from this evil world system[g] and set us free, just as our Father God desired. May all the glory be to God alone, throughout time and eternity. Amen!

One Gospel

I am shocked over how quickly you have strayed away from the One who called you in the grace of Christ. I’m astounded that you now embrace a distorted[h] gospel! That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true. There is only one gospel—the good news of Christ! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with grace to confuse you.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel different than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

Let me make it clear: Anyone, no matter who they are, that brings you a different gospel than the gospel that you have received, let them be condemned and cursed!

10 I’m obviously not trying to flatter you or water down my message to be popular with men, but my supreme passion is to please God. For if all I attempt to do is please people, I would fail to be a true servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11 Beloved ones, let me repeat emphatically that the gospel entrusted to me was not given to me by any man. 12 No one taught me this revelation, for it was given to me directly by the unveiling of Jesus Christ.

13 By now you have heard stories of how severely[i] I harassed and persecuted Christians and how systematically I endeavored to destroy God’s church, all because of my radical devotion to the Jewish religion.[j] 14 My zeal and passion for the doctrines of Judaism distinguished me among my people, for I was far more advanced in my religious instruction than others my age.

15 But then God called me by his grace, and chose me from my birth to be his. 16 He was pleased to unveil his Son in me so that I would proclaim him to the peoples of the world. After I had this encounter, I kept it a secret for some time, sharing it with no one. 17 And I had no desire to run to Jerusalem and try to impress those who had become apostles before me. Instead, I withdrew into the Arabian Desert. Then I returned to Damascus, where I had first encountered Jesus. 18 I remained there for three years until I eventually went up to Jerusalem, met the apostle Peter,[k] and stayed with him for a couple of weeks. 19 The only other apostle I met during that time was Jacob,[l] the Lord’s brother.

20 Everything I’m describing to you I confess before God to be the absolute truth. 21 After my stay in Jerusalem, I went to Syria and southeast Turkey,[m] 22 but I remained unknown to the churches[n] in Judea. 23 The only thing they heard about me was this: “Our former enemy, who once brutally persecuted us, is now preaching the good news of the faith that he tried to destroy!” 24 Because of the transformation that took place in my life, they praised God even more!

Footnotes

  1. 1:1 The name Paul means “little.” His name before his conversion was Saul, which means “significant one” or “sought after.” What great transformation takes place when we experience a profound change as Saul did! God transforms us from being “important” to being “small” in our own eyes. This is what qualifies God’s apostolic servants.
  2. 1:1 The word apostle means “one who is sent on a mission” or “an ambassador.” By implication, an apostle carries the delegated authority of the one who sends him. Jesus Christ chose Paul to be an apostle to plant churches and impart the revelation of Christ and his true gospel. The New Testament refers more often to the gift of apostle than all the other ascension gifts (prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher) combined. See Eph. 4:11.
  3. 1:2 The Greek word adelphos is used throughout the New Testament for brothers (and sisters). It is used in classical Greek by physicians to describe “those who came from the same womb.” Every believer is born from the same “womb” of the Father’s heart and the wounded side of Jesus Christ. In the time of Alexander the Great, the word adelphos was used not only for brothers (and sisters), but for “faithful soldiers.” How wonderful it is in our journey to know that we have partners in battle fighting for the faith alongside of us.
  4. 1:2 Or “Galatia.” This was the region in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) that Paul visited during his first and second missionary journeys. See Acts 16:1–5.
  5. 1:3 This is the word peace, which in the Hebraic mindset means “health, prosperity, peace, and total well-being.” The phrase grace and peace appears as a greeting in Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, Col. 1:2, 1 Thess. 1:1, 2 Thess. 1:2, Titus 1:4, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2, and Rev. 1:4.
  6. 1:3 Grace was not just a “message” that Paul taught; it was the way he dealt with deceived people. Even over the confused churches that were mixing works and grace, Paul spoke words of blessing and peace. When we learn to bless and release “undeserved kindness” and “well-being” over those who oppose us, perhaps then they will listen to us.
  7. 1:4 This “evil world system” would include the religious system that is based on duty and performance instead of love and grace.
  8. 1:6 Or “another gospel.”
  9. 1:13 The Aramaic can be translated “beyond measure.”
  10. 1:13 The Jewish way of life includes not only religion but also culture. Paul is using the word religion broadly, not only to include the rich culture of Judaism, but also to include the various religious traditions not found in the Torah.
  11. 1:18 The Aramaic name of Peter is kefa, which means “rock.”
  12. 1:19 Or “James.” However, his true name was not James, but Jacob. See the introduction to the book of James (Jacob).
  13. 1:21 Or “Cilicia,” which was the southeastern province of Asia Minor, directly adjoining Syria.
  14. 1:22 Today we would call these Jewish believers in Messiah “Messianic Jews”—not only Jewish (by birth) but also Christian (by faith).