Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--and all the brothers with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)
Judaizers were Jewish Christians who believed that many of the Old Testament ceremonies and practices were still binding. Following Paul's successful evangelism in Galatia, Judaizers insisted that the Gentile converts had to conform to certain Old Testament rites, especially circumcision, in order to be considered true Christians.
Furthermore, they said that Paul was not an authentic apostle and accused him of "watering down" the gospel by removing certain legal requirements in order to make it more attractive to the Gentiles. Paul responded strongly. In the book of Galatians he clearly explains that he is an apostle in the truest sense: he was called personally by the risen Christ, not simply by other men who had known Jesus. Furthermore, he renounces his adversaries who perverted the gospel of grace. By adding requirements for justification such as works of the law, Paul expounds, the Judaizers would bring the new Christians into the bondage of legalism.
Paul clearly explains that men and women are justified by grace through faith alone, and by faith alone Christians are to live their new life in freedom of the Spirit.
1. In the introduction to his letter Paul claims to be sent from Christ, and he also brings a blessing to the Galatians from Christ and from God the Father. We've been taught that Jesus was important for several different reasons: he's our example, our mediator, our friend and brother. In this passage, what accomplishments does Paul present as the central acts of Christ's ministry?
2. Paul chides the Galatians for turning to "another gospel." What was the true gospel Paul had preached? (See I Corinthians 15:1-4, Acts 16:31, Colossians 1:21-23, Colossians 2:13-15)
3. What would constitute "another gospel?" Are there any doctrines or beliefs you hold which might be considered "another gospel?" What are they? What qualifies them as "another gospel?"
4. Paul talks about people trying to throw the Galatian Christians into confusion at the same time they are perverting the gospel of Christ. The nature of confusion is to prevent you from discerning between truth and deception. How can you tell whether or not your belief system is free of confusion and deceptive doctrines?
5. According to Paul, how serious is it when people preach "another gospel?"
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