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The All-sufficient Gospel

The Gospel is not man-made.  It is from God.  This is what Paul emphasizes.  He says that as a Gospel preacher, God and Christ sent him, not men (1:1).  He says it again in verses 11 & 12: “The Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man . . . I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it . . . I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  The Gospel is from God.

Paul’s opponents accused him of being a crowd-pleaser.  After calling down a double curse on those who distort the Gospel (1:8-9), Paul asks, so, do you think I am a man-pleaser, now (1:10)?  Man-pleasers don’t talk this way.  Paul confronts his opponents because they portrayed him as superficial and artificial because he preached that righteousness was through faith in Christ, as in the example of Abraham (3:6, 11), and not by works (2:16).  To Paul’s enemies, this seemed absurd.  One can just do as he pleases and be saved!  Paul explains later that a truly saved person is under the control of the Spirit of God so that he cannot do as he pleases (5:17), but must manifest the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23) and fight the flesh (5:21, 24).  However, to those who were unfamiliar with the righteousness of Christ, Paul seemed like a Jewish turncoat who was out to create a following for himself through a cheap, easy Gospel.  

Paul’s readers were from southern Turkey, and under heavy Jewish influence.  The destination of Paul’s letter, ‘the churches of Galatia,’ is a little unusual.  Paul often wrote to a single church, like the Thessalonian (I & II Thessalonians 1:1) Corinthian (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1) or Ephesian Churches (Ephesians 1:1).  At other times, he wrote to the saints in a given city, whether Rome (Romans 1:7) Philippi (Philippians 1:1) or Colossae (Colossians 1:2).  Often he wrote to individuals like Timothy, Titus or Philemon (I & II Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1).  Paul wrote his Galatian letter to multiple churches in an entire geographical region.  There is a long controversy concerning which churches these were.  However, they were almost certainly the 4 churches at Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra & Derbe that Paul established on his 1st Missionary Journey.  When Paul founded these churches, there was vicious opposition from a large and active Jewish community (Acts 13:14-14:21).  They even incited others to stone Paul (Acts 14:19).

Paul wants God to get all the glory.  A false Gospel gives glory to man, not God.  Paul wrote in Romans, that if a person could justify himself through Law, he would have something to boast about (Romans 4:2).  This is what Paul’s opponents were preaching.  They wanted people to get circumcised and keep the Law, although impossible, that they may boast in the flesh (Galatians 6:13).  Paul says one should never boast in anyone or anything, only God (Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 1:31).  Paul says to God is the glory forevermore (Galatians 1:5). 

Be a Paul: live, love & preach the Gospel to the glory of Christ & God!

Sun, Nov 08, 2015

The All-sufficient Gospel

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