Kenneth Wuest's entire commentary on Galatians is available on line at the
present time at:
The goal of
my commentary is to analyze the text of the
letter and make practical applications
to the Christian way of life (CWL).
Every person and group of people have some kind of religious history,
background and influence.
This will always be present in that person's life as a source of either
conflict or support.
If the person is taught Bible truth accurately and completely (whole counsel,
Acts 20:27), that person will have what he needs to resist any negative
influences from that religious background or any future inaccurate teachings.
However, even with an accurate doctrinal frame of reference, the person still
must CHOOSE to utilize that truth in the face of doctrinal challenges, and
indeed, in the face of all kinds of temptations.
This is what happened in the Galatian churches. But it was not so much their past that
was the challenge. It was the barrage of false teaching from the Judaizers that challenged these
believers, and what
elicited the writing of this letter.
Paul began his ministry in the Jewish synagogues, but his audience and the
churches that were established were comprised of both Jew and Gentile.
These Galatian churches that Paul and Barnabas established in 45 AD were taught
accurate and sufficient spiritual truth. It was around 56-57 AD, shortly after
Paul's third journey through the region, that the Judaizers infiltrated the Galatian churches
and brought their 3-pronged attack on Christianity.
(1) Circumcision for salvation: Acts 15:1
(2) Detailed observance of the Mosaic law for righteous acceptance before God:
Acts 15:5; Gal. 4:10; Col.
(3) Rejection of Paul's authority.
It was not only Galatia that was under attack, but all the churches that
The Judaizers had such a strong influence in the churches because the
gospel of Jesus Christ has its foundation in the Jewish Old Testament. The Old
Testament was in fact the primary source for knowledge about God and God's
plan within the churches. Paul practically spoke and wrote in Old Testament
quotations. His "representative" evangelistic message as found at Acts
13:16-41 is based entirely on the Old Testament.
Likewise Peter's message in Acts 2 and 3; and Stephen's message in Acts 7.
But the Judaizers also gave lip-service to the Messiahship of Jesus, which
caught many of he believers off guard. So because of this and the Old Testament or "Jewish" heritage within Christianity,
the unbelieving religious, legalistic Jews gained an easy hearing within the churches.
See Topic: The Judaizers
SUMMARY of Paul's ministry to Galatia
(Historical background to the Galatian people
from Wuest's commentary)
1. The area of Southern Galatia consisted of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and
2.On Paul's first missionary journey, he traveled through Southern Galatia
only. Acts 13:1-14, 28.
Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and then back to Lystra, Iconium
and Antioch. About 45 AD.
3. It was here in Southern Galatia that Paul and Barnabas established strong
churches in Antioch,
Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Acts 14:21-23.
4. On his second journey, he went through Southern Galatia a second time
And through Northern Galatia for the first time. Acts 16:6.
This was about 54 AD.
5. On his third journey, he went through Southern Galatia a third time and
through Northern Galatia
a second time. Acts 18:23. This was about 56 AD.
6. After this third visit to Galatia, Paul spent about 2 years in
Ephesus and then visited Macedonia
7. It was after Paul's third visit to these churches, that the Judaizers infiltrated and
began to destroy
the doctrines of grace taught by Paul.
8. This is the reason Paul wrote the letter. It was from Corinth at the same
time that Romans was
written about 58 AD. Whether written before Romans or after is not
9. It was written primarily to the Southern churches as it seems that the Judaizers had not yet had
time to reach further north. However, this letter as with all
the others, would be circulated
throughout all the churches and be especially valuable
wherever the Judaizers had influence.
10. It was written from either Corinth or Macedonia and in the same time frame
either before or after. Romans was written from Corinth. Rom.
16:23; 1 Cor.1:14.
For assistance with proper pronunciation of the Greek see GUIDE.
1. Paul: His Jewish birth name is Saul.
Very soon after being saved Saul changed his
name to paulos, which in the Greek means "little." The change is simply noted
at Acts 13:9 without any explanation. But given his attitude, as revealed in
his writings, the name change is probably a personal recognition of God's
grace to him. (1Cor 15:9; 2Cor. 12:11; Eph.3:8; 1Tim. 1:15)
For details on his background see Topic: Paul
2.an apostle: The apostles were the human agents
of the new dispensation. They were responsible for proper organization and
dogma during the transition period between the age of Israel and the church
(the years 30 to 96 AD) Eph. 3:1-7; 2:20. Example: Acts 8:14-15
Paul was the 12th apostle and there were only 12. Rev. 21:14.
See topic: Apostles
3. not of men: negative ouk plus preposition apo
- not "from the source" of men (anthropos - plural - mankind). It is not
something that finds its origin in the human race.
4. nor through a man: preposition dia - through something that any man
The gift and authority of apostle was not and can not be passed on through the
of man or any church body.
5. BUt through Jesus Christ and God the Father: preposition dia - through.
The SOURCE and the MECHANICS are from God.
A. Jesus provided all the spiritual gifts upon His ascension after
B. But of course everything comes FROM God the Father. 1 Cor. 8:6;
1 Cor. 12:18, 28.
C. And the specific gift is given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:11.
6. The first and most important factor that Paul
must establish is that he is in fact an apostle of Christ with full apostolic
authority. Since the Judaizers dispute that authority, Paul needs to preface
any of his instruction with an assertion of his apostleship.
He will return to that issue later, but the second factor is an immediate
rejection of the false teaching and a rebuke to those who have embraced it.
7. However, before that Paul states the validity
of Christianity by referencing the resurrection of Christ which of course is
the PROOF of Christ's person and work.
"Who raised him from the dead." Acts 17:31; 2:32-36
A. Verb egeirō simply means to lift something from one location to
It does not automatically indicate
"resurrection" even when used with the word,
"dead." Those raised at
Matthew 27:52-53 were NOT resurrected.
B. out from: preposition, ek, further indicates CHANGE from one
place to another.
C. the dead: nekros is an adjective in the plural - "dead ones."
In this case, as is established by the rest
of Scripture, this is a return from among
those who are characterized as "physically"
dead, and are given a new spiritual body.
It refers to Christ receiving a "spiritual"
resurrection body and becoming at that time
the "first fruits" of those who have died.
1 Cor. 15:20, 23.
See topic: Resurrection of Christ
1. and all the brethren who are with me: It could be the same group of people
in the list
at Romans 16:21-23.
2. to the churches of Galatia: Acts 14:23a
Probably the churches in Southern Galatia are in view although the
certainly has application to all believers of all churches and all
Verse 3 The Greeting
1. grace to you and peace: This is the standard apostolic greeting, and
expresses his desire AND exhortation that they experience the abundant life of
peace, joy and inner stability.
A. The word GRACE, refers to all of God’s resources that are
as per Rom. 8:32 (“freely give us all
things”), and 2 Peter 1:3-4
(“everything that pertains to life
and good worship”).
1. The resources are available to all, but
the believer must CHOOSE to use
provisions. Heb. 4:16; 1 Peter 5:12, “you stand firm in it.”
2. This then will result in soul
strength through character growth.
3. The maximum utilization of grace
resources is based on consistency in knowing and
love for God. Eph. 6:24; 3:14-19
B. And peace: the noun, eirāne, refers to perfect soul
relaxation; free from guilt and antagonism
Peace of God and Peace: 7 different kinds
1. It is the peace of the abundant
life as promised by Jesus. John 14:27; 16:33
2. Paul describes it at Philippians 4:6-7.
3. Romans 15:13, peace, joy and
confidence. Joy and confidence go hand in hand to produce a
4. The peace of God is the RESULT of
using God’s grace resources to handle the pressures of
antagonistic environment in which we live. Grace always comes first.
environment is PHYSICALLY antagonistic to us because of the curse on the
environment is SPIRITUALLY antagonistic to us because we live in the kingdom
darkness, and the darkness hates the light. Thus we come under attack from
Satan and his
angels (demons) and from the human citizens of this kingdom, the unbelievers.
environment is INHERENTLY antagonistic to us because we have the sin nature
in our mentality and it is inconstant conflict with the Holy Spirit and the Word.
Galatians 5:17; Rom. 7:24; 1 Pet. 2:11
5. The mechanics of experiencing grace and peace is by knowing and using Bible
2 Pet. 1:2-4.
As we come to understand more and more about the character and plan of
from LEARNING what is revealed in the Bible, we gain capacity to USE that
understanding to access God’s GRACE resources and to experience true PEACE and
2. From God our Father:
A. Communicates personal relationship through the new birth.
B. Communicates authority and origin: Rom. 8:32
C. Communicates the SOURCE of our provisions.
D. At 2 Corinthians 13:11, the Father is called, “the God of love
3. And from the Lord Jesus Christ: Since Jesus is the one who actually carried
out the plan by BEING the sacrifice on the cross, He too is the source and
example of many of our grace resources.
Heb. 2:14-18 and 4:14-16.
. A. Jesus:
The Greek, iāsous,
is simply the form for the Hebrew, Joshuah (yeshua) which means Yahweh saves
or simply “savior.” With this personal name assigned to
the Messiah, we see His first advent mission clearly proclaimed by Gabriel
"And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He
who will save His people from their sins."
The emphasis is on his humanity and the soul sacrifice required for the
redemption of mankind. Isaiah 53:10-11; John 1:14, 29, the Lamb of God.
B. Christ: christos means anointed one, and refers to
the Messiah (Hebrew, mishiyach - for anointed one) promised throughout the
It indicates that Jesus received the Messianic commission from God the
Father. Luke 4:18 ; Acts 4;27; Psalm 2:1 and Acts 4:26
C. Lord: kurios in
context gives even greater emphasis on the deity of Jesus. When used of God
and of Jesus the focus is on divine
It was established throughout the Old Testament that the Messiah would in
fact, be Yahweh come in the flesh Who will "dwell with us." Is. 7:14; Mat.
1. The promise to Abraham: Gal. 3:16; Rom. 9:4-5
2. At Jesus’ birth: Luke 2:11
3. Simeon’s confession: Luke 2:25-32
4. John’s confession: John 1:19 -20; 3:27 -36;
5. Jesus’ confession: John 4:25-26; Mat. 26:63-66
6. Peter’s confession: Mat. 16:15 -16; Acts 2:36
7. Apostle John’s statement: John 20:30-31
8. Paul’s conviction: Acts 9:22
9. Son of man title: John 9:35-38
10. The issue of the incarnation: 1 Jon. 2:22; 4:2; 5:1
11. Fulfilled prophecy: Luke 24:25-27
See topics on Christ's deity.
Focus on Jesus as the savior
1. The one who gave himself: verb, didomi as an aorist active participle
A. The aorist is the historical point of time when Christ died
spiritually on the cross.
B. The active voice indicates He did this voluntarily. He was not
"given" - He GAVE. Heb. 10:9
2. for our sins: preposition, huper - FOR because the penalty for sin had to
Thus, the idea is "in payment for" or "on behalf of." Rom.
5:6; John 1:29; 1Pet 2:24.
3. So that He might deliver us:
A. preposition, hopōs
plus the subjunctive mood indicates purpose AND potential.
B. deliver is the verb exzaireō
as an aorist middle subjunctive.
It means to raise up OUT OF
(preposition ek plus verb, aireō).
1. aorist tense refers to the
historical point of time that the act of deliverance takes place.
2. middle voice is the form for this
meaning of aireō.
3. subjunctive mood indicates that
this is indeed the purpose for the sacrificial death of Christ,
actual deliverance will not and cannot occur until and unless the individual
volitional, conscious choice to trust in Christ as savior.
C. The deliverance occurs in two stages.
1. First is the positional deliverance at
the moment of trusting in Christ. The action of God at
that| very instant
is to transfer the person out from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom
2. The second stage is experiential and
occurs through the growth process which is the
application of Bible truth in the life. We are saved not just to be placed
into God's kingdom,
but to remain here on earth living above the influence of evil and
| representing the
divine value system of LIGHT to the world in which we live.
As Jesus prayed, "I
ask not that you take them out from the world, but to keep them
from the evil."
4. from the present evil age: The noun,
aiōn (age), is not used as a dispensation here, but as the time
period from the fall of Adam until the removal of the curse
on the earth and Satan as the god and
ruler of this world at the end of Messiah's 1000-year reign.
For details: This age and the age to come
The word, evil, is ponāros which refers to evil that is
infectious; that is it seeks to influence and
dominate everything in its vicinity.
This deliverance is first and foremost a positional transfer
OUT FROM so that the believer is no
longer a citizen of "this present evil age," but a citizen of
heaven. Philip. 3:20.
5. THE TRANSFER
A. When Adam fell from his spiritual relationship with God, he lost his
over the earth to Satan.
John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Luke 4:6;
cf. Gen. 9:1-7 ( no repeat of the "rule
2Cor 4:4, "the god of this age."
B. Satan, having previously become
the adversary of God, represents all that is
contrary and opposite to God.
1. God is light: 1 John 1:5a
2. And in Him is no darkness at all: 1 John 1:5b
3. Therefore Satan represents darkness and evil.
C. Thus, his rulership is called "this darkness." Eph. 6:12
D. All who are born into the human
race are under Satan's darkness kingdom.
1. 1 John 5:19
2. Eph. 2:1-2
3. John 8:44, child of the devil
E. Jesus came to provide transfer
from this darkness into light.
1. Luke 1:78-79
2. John 8:12; 12:36, 46
3. and here at Galatians 1:4, deliverance from this present evil age.
F. That is the message of the
gospel. Acts 26:14-18
"from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God."
G. This transfer is entrance into
the kingdom of God's Son. Col. 1:12-13
"For He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us
to the kingdom
of the Son of His love."
H. The transfer occurs immediately and permanently whenever a
person trusts in Christ
as Savior. Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:38-39; 2 Tim. 2:11-13
I. The term "in Christ" designates that the transfer has occurred.
We are in positional
union with Christ and no longer IN the kingdom of darkness.
See Topic: Positional union with Christ
6. THE CHRISTIAN WAY OF LIFE
A. All believers are in union with Christ. 1
Cor. 12:13; 1 Cor. 1:30
B. This union confers on the believer the positional status of being
one and equal
with the glorified humanity of Jesus. Gal. 3:27-28
C. This union is permanent and unable to be disbanded by God or man.
Rom. 8:38-39; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:11-13
D. The character of the believer through this positional status is perfectly
and sinless. 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 2:10
E. But in actual experience, the believer must still contend with the
the sin nature and the devil. Eph. 6:12; Gal. 5:17; Col. 2:8; 1
Pet. 2:11; 5:8
1. Because of our positional identification with
Christ's victory over sin,
we should live in victory over
sin. Rom. 6:11-13
"don't let THE sin (nature) reign in your mortal body
so that you should obey its lusts."
2. We should reflect our exalted standing before
God into our Christian experience by
seeking to imitate the light of His standards and
the character of Christ.
Eph. 5:8; Col. 3:1-2
F. So the issue throughout the Christian life is to use the Word (1
and the filling-control of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) to live
a life that consistently
reflects the perfect character and status of our
position. Eph. 5:8; Col. 3:1, 9-10
7. According to the will of our God and Father:
It is God's plan.
A. According to the good thinking of His will. Eph. 1:5
B. According to His good thinking which he purposed in Him
(Christ). Eph. 1:9
C. According to the plan of Him who works all things according to
the thinking of His will.
D. THE PLAN OF THE AGES as per Ephesians 3:11.
1. As an expression of His perfect essence, God chose to have created
functioning in the universe on the basis of "free will."
He wanted them to express
themselves toward Him in a positive attitude
from choice and not as a programmed
2. God is absolute righteousness. In God's foreknowledge, He anticipated
opposite of His perfect righteousness would manifest itself through
3. So in order to allow for existence of volitional creatures throughout
must permit the manifestation of unrighteousness and then
deal with it in perfect
justice once and for all. CF. Psalm 92:7
4. Unrighteousness cannot be tolerated by God's absolute righteousness.
It must be judged.
a. Once exposed and judged, it will no longer be an issue throughout
b. And so, volitional creatures will be able to exist with that volition
but without the
threat of going against God's righteousness.
c. That course of action will not be available to them.
d. Sin and unrighteousness will be totally exposed for what it is and
once and for all, put as it were, in the divine "museum"
of history and left there
as evidence for all eternity.
e. This is because unrighteousness will have been fully exposed and
and demonstrated to all the creation that it is undesirable
5. Thus, God permitted the sin of Satan
which is described at Ezek. 8:15-17a.
Details at Topic:
a. Satan sinned and God
b. Satan protested
accusing God of being unfair and unloving.
c. God chose to prove to
Satan is wrong and created the human race for that purpose.
d. Whenever a person
trusts in Christ, this demonstrates to Satan and all the fallen angels
that God is indeed, fair and loving.
e. So the salvation of
everyone who trusts in Christ is according to God's plan of the ages.
1. To whom be the glory: This refers to recognition of the absolute
sovereignty of The Father
A. be glory: doxa -
recognition of His character
B. majesty: megalōsunā
- recognition of his superiority in all things
C. dominion: kratos - ruling power. Sovereignty in action over all his
D. authority: exousia - the PRINCIPLE of absolute authority for all
Romans 1:36, "For out from Him and through Him and unto Him are all
Everything revolves around showcasing the character and plan of the
Godhead, focusing on the Father as the designer of the divine love
initiative - the plan of the ages.
2. unto the ages of the ages: preposition eis + aiōn,
two times (plural).
Jude's formula: at verse 25:
A. From before every age:
preposition, pro + pas + aiōn
in the singular.
From BEFORE every age, thus eternity past.
The "ages" began when "time" began at the creation of the angels and
And then "every age" refers to the
time periods that occur after that and before the "now."
Those include the time before human
history and the two dispensations before the church
(the age/dispensation of the family
priesthood and the national priesthood)..
B. and now: It
does not seem that this refers to "this age" as the period of human history
with "the age to come" since there are ageS
(plural) that follow the "now" time period.
Thus, it probably refers to the present
church time period from 30 Ad until the second coming
and the rapture.
Jude does not say the now "age." He does
not use the word "age" for the present "now" time
period. This is consistent since the word,
age, is not used for dispensations, and NOW does
refer to the present church dispensation
within this context.
C. and unto all the ages: preposition eis + pas (all) + aiōn
(plural). Historical and eternal future.
The use of "all" suggests that God sees
multiple "ages" beyond the "now" time period
D. The "now" time period includes the church age from
30 Ad until the
second coming and the
70th week of Daniel which completes the Jewish
age (Plus the additional 75 days of
E. After this is the 1000 year reign of Christ.
F. And after this is the eternal age, which might be broken down
into other time periods based on
unrevealed aspects of God's plan for the
3. The ultimate glorification of the Father (the Godhead) is described at
4. amen: amān:
in absolute truth. Confirmation of inspired spiritual principles.
This affirms the author's agreement with all that has been stated.
Verses 6-10 The occasion
for writing this letter
1. I marvel: thaumadzō as a present active indicative to indicate
surprise. Paul had taught them well and established them with teaching
elders. But this shows how powerful cultural, religious and peer pressure
2. that you are so easily deserting:
A. soon: adverb, tacheōs. From the first missionary journey until
shortly after Paul's visit during his
third visit to these churches, it has been
about 10 or 11 years. So "soon" is not a factor.
It has also been about 2 years since his
last visit. Paul spent 2 years in Ephesus before going
through Macedonia and Corinth from where he
wrote this letter. So, even in this case, the idea
of "soon" does not seem to be a factor.
Another meaning of this adverb gives the
sense of EASE. This is what is in view here..
It has not been a "soon" factor, but an
"ease" factor. He is amazed at the EASE of departure,
not the brevity of time.
B. The verb metatithāmi
as a present middle indicative. In the middle voice it means to desert or
to transfer oneself from one "thing" or
"location" to another.
3. from Him who called you: The preposition is apo; away from the ultimate
God is the ultimate and ONLY source of true salvation and true spiritual
victory over sin and evil. They are deserting their experiential
relationship with God the Father (spiritual freedom) and embracing a
belief in a false gospel as well as a way of life that spiritually
The verb "called" is kaleō as an aorist active participle to refer to both
the invitation and placement into God's plan of election which is
accomplished by God Himself.1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thes. 5:4.
A. It occurs (or occurred) in the plan of God from eternity past.
Eph. 1:4 (eklegomai).
B. And in reality at the moment of time that a person trusts in the
person and work of Jesus Christ.
C. Election involves three concepts.
1. PRIVILEGE: the invitation is given on
the basis of God's grace. Undeserved and unearned.
2. RANK: The rank and status of spiritual
royalty in the universe.
3. FUNCTION: the new responsibility
as priests and ambassadors while here on earth.
See Topic: ELECTION
4. into the grace of
Christ: This refers to everything we have as members of the body of
Christ; in union with Him, free from the condemnation of sin, possessing
everlasting life, and access to a way of life that knows true inner peace,
joy and stability.
5. These believers were
taught accurate and sufficient spiritual truth, and the churches were
established with leaders who continued teaching the principles of grace
Acts 14:22, "strengthening the souls of the disciples."
Verse 23, "appointed elders in every church."
Acts 16:5, "So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were
increasing in number
Acts 18:23, "strengthening all the disciples."
6. But the Judaizers
had such a strong influence in the churches because
(1) the churches were comprised of a very large number of Jewish
believers who had the
"religious" traditions of the Mosaic law as
(2) the gospel of Jesus Christ has its foundation in the Jewish Old
Testament. The Old Testament
was in fact the primary source for
knowledge about God and God's plan within the churches
before the apostolic letters became
(3) They gave lip-service to Jesus being the Messiah.
7. unto another gospel: heteros means a gospel of a DIFFERENT kind.
The word gospel (euangelion - good news) is used because the
false teachers (Judaizers and all
apostate sects) were still claiming that what they taught was
indeed "good news" about relationship
and fellowship with God.
1. which is not another: allos means another of the SAME kind. This
clearly states that the false teaching had no similarity to the truth.
A. The good news of God is a message of blessing; freedom, peace
B. The "different" gospel is a message of bondage and unhappiness.
C. Anything that is contrary to THE truth (as revealed in the
bible) can only bring spiritual slavery,
frustration and unhappiness.
D. The good news that is contrary to the truth is an attempt by man
to gain favor with God through
his own ideas and efforts.
E. Or - it is an attempt to satisfy the sin nature of man in one of
1. Asceticism: the denial of normal life
activities in areas of food, sex, pleasure.
2. Lasciviousness: a total abandonment to excess
in normal life activities; gluttony, promiscuity.
F. Man tries through these things to cover his unhappiness and
frustration with life. Sublimation.
G. Sublimation is taking something (anything), whether it is bona
fide or not, to hide from or deny
whatever is unpleasant in one's life.
H. It is attempting to solve the pressures of life (evil,
suffering, pain, death) on one's own terms
while rejecting the divine solution which is (1)
first through salvation and (2) and then through
learning and using God's word while living here on earth.
2. Except there are some who are disturbing you:
A. Disturb is tarassō as a
present active participle. The present tense indicates an on-going
influence and effect.
B. They are confused, in doubt, and many have actually departed
from grace and truth.
C. the "some" of course, are the judaizers who have infiltrated the
churches with their false gospel.
3. and who want: thelō as a present active
partciple. This is the desire of the false teachers.
4. to distort: metastrephō is an aorist act infinitive. distort, corrupt,
The aorist tense expresses a "one-time" idea. They want to totally
destroy the true gospel once and
for all; to remove it from the face of the earth, as it were.
5. But their problem is that they don't know that what they are fighting
is in actuality - THE TRUTH.
They think that what they have is the truth and this makes them all
the more determined and sincere
to fulfill their desire.
6. And of course, behind the scenes is Satan, who is constantly trying to
discredit and destroy the
truth and the plan of God. He initiates or fuels the false
doctrines and the unbelievers love it,
embrace it, and become enslaved to it. Their souls become
scarred and calloused so that they
become blind to the truth of God and become pro-active to
destroy it, all the while supporting the
satanic poison that has filled their souls.
7. Examples of his schemes: fulfills
the "not ignorant" aspect of 2 Corinthians 2:11
A. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15: Satan as an angel of light, servants as servants
of righteousness. (Mt. 13:24-30)
B. Behind organized idolatry: 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; Rev. 9:20
C. Has his own doctrine: I Tim. 4:1-3 2 Tim. 2:24-26
D. Attacks through organized religion: Rev. 2:9; John 8:44-47
E. Seeks to distort and destroy the work of the cross. Luke 22:3; 1 Cor.
8. Because the content of Satan's false
doctrine, that they have embraced and are now teaching, is so
close to the truth - because Satan imitates the truth -
many are deceived.
It seems that a great majority of the Galatian believers have
failed to apply the doctrinal truths that
were previously taught by Paul. When this focus on truth is
lost, the believer is ripe for deception.
If truth is followed, that which is contrary to the truth
will not deceive, but instead, will become
open and exposed for what it is - distortion, perversion,
And now through apostolic authority, Paul condemns and judges the false
1. But even if we: 3rd class condition of possibility with the very strong
The "we" refers to himself or any of those associated with
Him (Barnabas, Silas, Timothy).
The issue is not personality, but the content of the message;
truth vs. error.
2. or an angel from heaven: anticipates the claim from some of the cults
that they are receiving
divine revelation from angels. Intercepts demonic activity,
supernatural or semi-supernatural
activity, to lend support to the message that is proclaimed.
The occult, false miracles, visions, etc.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 4:1; Col. 2:18).
3. It is also a reminder that some of them had been deceived before,
thinking in fact, that Paul and
Barnabas were angels or representatives of the gods. Acts
14:8-18.And it was with great
difficulty that they finally convinced the people that they
were only men who were bringing the
good news of salvation through grace and faith.
4. proclaim the gospel (good news) to you: present middle subjunctive of euangelidzō.
The subjunctive mood gives the sentence the air of potential.
5. contrary to: preposition para - "away from the side of." Indicates
difference and contradiction.
6. that which we proclaimed to you: aorist middle indicative of euangelidzō.
This indicates that they have indeed been taught the true
gospel and KNOW the truth.
With this statement using WE, Paul is also dogmatically
affirming HIS apostolic authority.
7. let him be accursed: the verb eimi as a
present imperative expressing not only an apostolic
indictment from Paul, but also a most certain judgment from
8. anathema: under a divine curse of judgment. Some aspect of separation
A. If it is an unbeliever, that separation if the perpetuation of
spiritual death into eternity.
The only thing that could reverse such a
curse is if the person trusts in Christ before death.
B. For the believer, the separation is the experience of divine
discipline which places the person
into a sphere of experiential judgment and
suffering. Used this way at 1 Cor. 16:22, "If anyone
does not love the Lord, let him be under a
The believer cannot lose salvation but can
be severely disciplined by God directly (applied
consequences) or through natural
consequences (effects of sin and disobedience).
C. Paul uses it for himself in an extreme example of devotion,
wishing that he himself could be
under the curse of separation from God,
although such a thing could never happen. Rom. 9:3
Verse 9 Repetition for emphasis and
clarity so that there is no misunderstanding
1. just as I said before even now again I say: the verb is prolegō as a
perfect active indicative.
There are two possible ideas to Paul's words here.
A. He is simply repeating what he just wrote, and in fact, the
force would then be,
"as I just said . . ."
This would be for emphasis to
indicate certainty in his authoritative statement.
Against this sense is the
presence of the adverb, "now" (arti) which seems out of place
if he is referring to the
previous verse. Otherwise, he would need simply write, "say AGAIN."
B. Wuest suggests that Paul had actually warned them before on a
previous visit, which of course,
would make their defection even more a
stain upon them. Wuest contrasts the "before" idea in
the verb with the adverb, "now' (arti) to
support this claim. It certainly seems out of place to use
"now" unless he is in fact, referring to a
time other than the statement in verse 8.
Even if it is to be viewed in this sense,
the EMPHASIS is still there and the authority of the
apostolic "curse" remains intense and
2. If anyone proclaims a gospel (euangelidzō)
to you contrary to (para - away from the side of) what
you have received: The verb, paralambanō, is an aorist active
indicative and refers to the specific
historical point of time that they were taught and received
the true gospel of Christ.
3. let him be cursed: anathema. Again, the repetition is for emphasis and
4. These are very strong and harsh words.
But Paul has justification and defends his harshness and
authority by stressing two factors and asking two
A. As the bond servant of God, Paul is not concerned about pleasing
or showing favor to men.
B. The gospel is such that it cannot tolerate any attempt at
alteration in any way, shape, or form.
It is indeed THE gospel that Paul learned
by revelation from Jesus Christ. Verses 11-12.
5. This is a good place to study the gospel in its entirety.
See Topic: The Gospel
Men are not to be favored or catered to at the expense of maintaining the
integrity of the gospel,
and pleasing God.
1. For am I now favoring man or God?: The verb is peithō as a present active
indicative to refer to his
intent and goal as a servant of God. Here, it means to win over or strive
to please. If he does not respond in a harsh tone to these false teachers,
it will appear as though he is showing favor to them.
That would of course be the opposite of fulfilling his responsibility of
showcasing the character and
plan of God - showing favor to God.
The question then is rhetorical with the obvious answer being that I am
here to please God.
I am favoring God's agenda over man's. God's plan over Satan's.
2. or am I seeking to please men?: A
different verb with a different focus. areskō as a present active
with the verb, seek (zāteō) as a
present active indicative.
Here, the idea is to use language or gimmicks to bring pleasure to the
hearers and gain their acceptance.
Paul has been accused by the Judaizers of being a "man-pleaser." Accused
of not proclaiming truth accurately in order to gain favor with the
It is true that Paul was not perfect. He made mistakes and compromised in
areas where he should not have in order to please man.
A very serious example, known to the believers in Lystra, was the circumcision of Timothy (because of the
Jews) WHILE Paul was out of fellowship from his prideful behavior of Acts
15:36-39. Paul remained out of fellowship until Acts 16:9-10.
Of course the most egregious example was his compromise at Acts 21:20-26
which led to his intent to offer an animal sacrifice and resulted in the
divine discipline of the Roman imprisonment.
See Topic: PAUL'S SINS
Paul makes a point in other letters that he has never used flattery or
tricks to elicit the favor of the
hearers. 1 Thes. 2:5-6
PRINCIPLE: Very well stated by R. B. Thieme Jr. in his teaching on
No man in the ministry can continue in the ministry as the servant of
Christ by pleasing men. You make the issue of what God’s Word has to say.
They must use it or not, you cannot make anyone use the Word of God. So
the issue is: Here is the information, you can use it, you can apply it,
or you can fail to use it and fail to apply it, but it is up to you. This
scripture makes it very clear that the ministry must always choose for
doctrine, never for pleasing people."
3. If I were pleasing men (which I am not):
This is a second class condition "if" clause, which views
the action as unfulfilled - that is, something that does not or has not
occurred. This of course, is viewed within the context of proclaiming the
gospel. We should view this as a "general" behavior for Paul and consider
his recorded sins as rare exceptions. But we can see how one's failures in
following various tenets of one's belief system can bring many challenges
to one's testimony.
The verb, areskō (as an imperfect act indicative) is repeated to
stress the fact that Paul does not tolerate any teaching that is contrary
to the truth that has been revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and
This verb must always be kept IN CONTEXT. Here, it is clear that Paul is
referring to any toleration
of teaching that is contrary to the truth. But then, once again, Paul must
swallow his pride and acknowledge to himself and anyone who will challenge
him, that he himself has failed to be consistent.
At 1 Corinthians 10:33, the context again shows that Paul seeks to please all men
ONLY as it furthers the
proclamation of the gospel. "Just as I also please all men in all things,
not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of the many, so that they
might be saved."
4. then I would not be the bond servant of God:
The imperfect indicative of the verb eimi indicates status.
It occurs with the negative to indicate the reality of two incongruous
And the particle, "an" occurs to show that his is a 2nd class condition
If I cater to man at the expense of the truth of the gospel, then I am in
opposition to God
and NOT his bond servant.
And of course, any time that the believer is out of fellowship and fails
to follow and promote the truth of God's word, during that time, that
believer is NOT functioning as a servant of God.
The word servant is doulos and refers to an indentured slave who is such either by force or by choice.
The “bond” servant was a servant/slave who completed his service/bondage,
but chose to remain in the service of the master out of love and devotion.
According to Jewish custom, such a person would then have his ear pierced as
indication of his choice to offer lifetime service and devotion to the
owner/master. Ex. 21:6; Deut. 15:17.
A. This title teaches the principle of true humility as we recognize
that God is the source and
provider of all things.
B. the example of being a bond servant is seen in Jesus. Phil. 2:5-7
C. Four principles pertaining to the bond servant.
1. A servant belongs to someone else.
2. He was purchased by someone else.
3. The buyer is responsible for the care and protection.
4. The servant’s whole life is now centered around serving and
pleasing the master.
The believer in Jesus Christ has entered into a relationship of benevolent
The MASTER (God) has only the welfare of his servants in mind.
As a bond servant the believer seeks only what is beneficial to the master.
He seeks only
to please God. Acts 5:29, "We must obey God rather than men."
We are left here on earth to promote the character and plan of God in our
life and our message.
And Paul's statement here shows that there is no room for compromise in our
life and message.
Religion and Christianity are mutually exclusive. And only Christianity is
pleasing to God.
And in fact, only true biblical Christianity is pleasing to God.
So it is imperative that each believer comes to terms with grace, faith,
and true spirituality. And of course, that is why there is so much debate
See Topic: SERVING GOD
The True Gospel Message
1. For: explanatory gar to focus on the fact that the gospel of Christ is
not OF or FROM man.
2. I inform you brethren: the verb is gnōridzō as a present act indicative
- I make known to you.
The use of the word brethren confirms that Paul is addressing
He knows they are believers even though they have become
deceived and are wandering away
from the principles of grace.
3. the gospel that was proclaimed by me: euangelidzō as an aorist passive
The aorist tense refers to the specific historical POINTS of
time that Paul taught them.
4. that it is not according to the standard of man: the preposition, kata,
means "according to
standard." It is not a human message. It is not a man-made
message or belief system.
It does not reflect human viewpoint. In fact, the idea of a
substitutionary sacrifice for sin that is
utilized or applied by grace through faith alone without
human merit, deserving, or works is
completely foreign to any human belief system.
5. For I neither received it: the verb is paralambano as an aorist active
indicative and refers to the
historical point of time that Paul received divine revelation
of the details of the gospel.
6. from man: preposition para to indicate from the immediate source of
man. It was not given to him
by any human agency.
7. Nor was I taught it: the verb is didaskō as an aorist passive
indicative. The aorist tense refers to
any point of time in Paul's history when such a teaching
situation might occur.
The gospel was not something that was communicated to Paul
through any kind of teaching
8. But: the conjunction, alla, indicates the strongest kind of CONTRAST.
Totally opposite to any
of the above ideas, Paul received the gospel directly from
9. through the revelation from Jesus Christ: preposition, dia plus the
genitive case of the noun.
apokalupsis indicates a supernatural revelation.
This is described in the book of Acts at 26:16, "to appoint
you a minister and a witness, not only
to the things you have seen, but also to the things in which
I will appear to you."
Paul's salvation decision occurred at Acts 9:17-18 with
22:16, "Arise, be baptized,
and wash away your sins BY calling on His name."
Ananias gave Paul an accurate gospel message of "believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ and you
shall be saved." The act of "calling on His name," is the
expression of faith in the gospel message.
Romans 10:13, "whoever will call upon the name of the Lord
will be saved."
One can only "call upon his name" for salvation if that
person understand that salvation is by grace
alone, through faith alone - thus putting trust in the person
and work of Jesus.
Paul immediately began to proclaim Jesus as the promised Old
Testament Messiah to the people
of Damascus, which he did for several days. Acts 9:19-20.
After this Paul resided in Arabia for 24 or more months where
it is most likely that he received the
more detailed facts about the grace of God and the gospel.
This is represented at Acts 9:22, "but Saul kept increasing
in strength." And with the statement
already mentioned at Acts 26:16, "also the things in which I
will appear to you."
Galatians 1:17 says that after his time in Arabia he returned
This is what is in view with the next phrase at Acts 9:22,
"and confounding the Jews who lived in
Damascus proving that this Jesus is the Christ (the anointed
So it seems most likely that the "revelation from Jesus
Christ" that Paul mentions here at Galatians
1:12 took place while he was in Arabia.
Paul relates about 4 years of his post salvation history to help establish
the validity of the commission
given to him from God and the gospel message which was accepted by other
church leaders and by
those who had trusted in Christ before him.
Kenneth Wuest has written a great summary of this passage,
which I provide complete at this link: Wuest:
And partially in the verses below where his words are beneficial.
"For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I was
continually persecuting the church of God beyond measure and was
continually seeking to destroy it."
1. It was because of this extreme devotion
to the destruction of the church that through divine inspiration, Paul
evaluated himself to be "the foremost" among sinners (1 Tim. 1:16).
And to be "the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8).
And to be "the least of the apostles . . . because I persecuted the
church of God" (1Cor. 15:9).
2. The power of RELIGION (True Christianity is not a religion) all
throughout history has shown its ugly head through the persecuting and
killing of anyone who does not adhere to its various tenets. And Paul's
obsession can be considered the prime example.
And there are other examples throughout the history of the church where a
FALSE Christianity, using the name of Christ, but being totally contrary
to New Testament truth, has sought to squelch opposition by physical
violence, torture and murder.
True Christianity as represented in the New Testament has never advocated
using physical violence of any kind to deal with opposition.
3. The verb destroy is portheō as an
imperfect active indicative to indicate continuous action in the past.
Thus, "I was continually ravaging it." or "seeking to destroy it."
It is used of Paul at Acts 9:21, "Is this not the one who in Jerusalem
destroyed those who called on this name." It occurs as an aorist active
participle to describe an historical fact covering a specific period of
time; the time of Paul's persecution activity.
The church of GOD: Although Paul is reviewing his past history, his use of
this term shows that at this time, he clearly recognizes the concept of
the universal church. He certainly did not call it the church
of God when he was persecuting it.
A. The universal church is comprised of all church age believers.
Eph.1:22-23, 5:25-27; Col.1:17-18.
1. All those who trusted in Christ prior to the day of Pentecost in
and who were alive at that
. All those who trusted in Christ from the day of Pentecost
forward until the rapture.
B. The universal church was yet in the
future during Christ's ministry, although clearly in the mind and
plan of God from eternity past (Eph. 1:4). Mat. 16:18, "On
this Rock (Christ) I will build my
church." (The future tense of oikodomeō).
Synonyms for the universal Church.
All church age believers are placed into union with Christ and become (1)
personally a new
creation, and (2) collectively
a member of a new body or entity in Christ.
1 Cor 15:45-47; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal
6:15; Eph. 2:15 (one new man).
The universal church is the body of Christ and Christ is the head of the
body. Christ is the
controller, the one in authority. The
body has many parts or "members" which refers to the
various spiritual gifts and
ministries of individual believers.
Eph 1:22-23, 2:16, 4:4-5, 5:23; 1 Cor
12; Col 1:17-18,24, 2:19.
Christ is the shepherd and the church is His sheep. Jn 10; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet
5:4. This analogy connotes the security and great blessings that come to us
as members of His body. This analogy appropriately sees us like sheep. Sheep
have no sense of direction, cannot fend for themselves, are helpless, and
therefore need the guidance, sustenance, and protection of the shepherd.
Practically, the believer-sheep must be guided, guarded and fed by the
under-shepherd, the pastor of the local church.
Church age believers are branches IN the vine. Jn 15:1-6. Jesus Christ is
the vine; we are the branches. This analogy teaches union with Christ;
positional truth and/or positional sanctification.
In this passage we see both position and experience; relationship and
fellowship. And this passage deals with both failure and success in growth and service.
See John 15:1-11
Christ is the chief cornerstone, and the stones of the building are
believers as members of the universal church. This was first taught by
Christ in Mt 16:16-18 when He told Peter,
“You are blessed, Simon, Son of Jonas. And on this rock (PETRA, giant rock,
Christ) I will build my Church.. Therefore, your name is now
(part or chip of a rock).” This reference to Christ as the chief cornerstone
is found in Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:4-8.
6. 1 Peter
2:4-8 actually gives us FOUR terms to describe the universal church.
a. A chosen race: A SPIRITUAL race based on
being CHOSEN or ELECTED into
the body of Christ.
b. A royal priesthood: This is still
viewing church age believers as ONE body, but the focus
with all four
of these terms is on SERVICE while here on earth.
factor is because Christ is the KING and we are IN UNION with the king.
We are a new
spiritual entity viewed as ROYALTY within the entire universe.
c. A holy nation: Again, this is a new
SPIRITUAL nation replacing the evangelistic function
of the nation of
Israel, as both Jew and Gentile are joined together to spread the gospel.
d. A people for (God's) possession: verse
10, "the people of God." Again, chosen by God
to replace the
physical nation of Israel as God's ambassadors on the earth.
The universal church is seen as the "bride of Christ." 2 Cor 11:2; Eph
5:25-27; Rev 19:6-8.
This is viewed from both a present positional focus as well as a future
focus at the wedding feast of the Lamb after Christ's second coming.
"And I was continually advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries
within my race, being more extremely zealous for the traditions of my
See topic: Paul's religious background
argument in this verse is that his early education is a proof that he did not
receive the gospel from man. He was brought up in a rigid school of ritualism
directly opposed to the liberty of the gospel. He was a staunch adherent of
the principles of that school, and as such, relentlessly persecuted the
Christian Church. No human agency could therefore have brought about the
change. It required the direct interposition of God.
The Jews’ religion.
The word religion
is not in the Greek text. The Greek word is Ioudaismos which refers to the
Jewish faith and worship. The term was perhaps coined by the Gentile world as
was the name Christianos, the name given followers of the Christ (Acts 11:26).
The word occurs in II Maccabees where it refers to the Jewish religion as
opposed to the Hellenism that the Syrian kings were imposing upon the Jews. As
with the case of the name Christianos
4:14; Acts 26:28), the word Ioudaismos conveyed some shadow of the contempt
with which the pagan world regarded both Judaism and Christianity. But adopted
by the Jews, it would lose the idea of contempt and even become a title of
honor, as is the case with the name Christian. Now, the Judaism with which
Paul was acquainted and in which his life had been immersed, was apostate. He
knew nothing before his conversion, of the supernatural Judaism in which the
Levitical sacrifices were the outward expression of an inward faith in a
coming substitutionary atonement for sin. Judaism in Paul’s time was a mere
ethical cult basing salvation on good works, and observing the sacrifices as a
But when he was rethinking the Old
Testament economy in the light of the revelations received in Arabia, the
supernatural significance of it all opened up to him. But in this verse he is
speaking of the apostate Judaism of his early life."
CT: "But when the one who separated me from my mother's womb and called me
through His grace,
thought it good . . ."
1. But when (God) was pleased: the verb is eudokeō as an aorist active
A. the adverb, eu, means good.
B. the verb, dokeō, means to think. Thus, to think it good, proper,
C. The aorist tense refers to the eternal thinking of the Godhead,
who in the sphere of His
"plan of the ages" (Eph. 3:11),
established "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4)
that He would use Paul as a key asset
for the advance of the gospel.
D. It carries the force of a decree; a sovereign decision based on
divine love and wisdom.
1. love: the DESIRE to do what is
2. wisdom: the capacity to KNOW what is
3. sovereignty: the authority to put into
operation the plan to accomplish the intent of love.
The Divine Love
4. power: and of course, He has the ability
to DO whatever he wants.
E. 1 Cor. 1:21, "God thought it beneficial (determined) . . . to
save those who believe."
F. Col. 1:19, "for he thought it beneficial (determined) for all
fullness to dwell in Him."
G. Eudokia (noun): good pleasure; good thinking; beneficial choice
1. Ephesians 1:5, according to the
beneficial choice (thinking) of His will (sovereignty)."
2. Ephesians 1:9, according to his
beneficial choice (thinking), which he predesigned in Him."
H. What God decided to do as beneficial to the furtherance of His
plan was to -
"reveal His Son in me in order
to proclaim the gospel," verse 16.
2. the one who appointed me: the verb is aphoridzō as an aorist
active participle to indicate the Point of time within the good-thinking
of God for Paul's purpose, that He had established from eternity past
according to the plan of the ages.
A. The verb can mean to mark out or set a limit upon or appoint.
As with Robertson, Wuest, Thieme,
Paul uses this verb at Rom. 1:1
describing himself as "set apart" or "appointed" for the gospel.
God knew that Paul would respond
positive to the gospel message given to him by ananias,
and on that basis established a
specific plan for him to become the twelfth apostle.
B. Or, the verb can mean to separate or take away, and refer in
this case to physical birth.
As with Frederic Rendall of The
Expositor's Greek New Testament.
"He did not hesitate accordingly to
regard himself, like Hebrew prophets of old
(Is. 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:5, as dedicated
from his birth to the service of God."
1. Acts 19:9, Paul left and "took away" the
2. Mat. 25:32, Jesus will separate the nations
from (apo) one another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from
(apo) the goats.
3. Gal. 2:12, when they came he separated
4. Mat. 13:49, the angels will separate the
wicked out from (ek) among the righteous.
C. I think that either idea
is acceptable without taking anything from the plan of God.
However, I prefer the PHYSICAL aspect of
"from birth" for two reasons.
1. If the plan of God from eternity past is
in view, the verb prooridzo is more appropriate,
as it speaks of a
BEFORE marking out or appointment as at Eph. 1:5, "having predistined"
or "marked us out
2. The preposition, ek, with the word
"womb" lends itself NATURALLY to the idea that Paul
has in mind, "from
the point of his physical birth."
3. out from my mother's womb: The
preposition, ek, indicates a removal out from one place to another, which
in this case, seems reasonably to refer to removal from the womb into the
Even Wuest writes, "The
impression one gets from the rendering of the a.v. is that it refers to
the physical separation of the child from the mother’s womb, which idea
was not in the apostle’s mind."
I think that "from the time of physical birth" is also the impression that comes across from the Greek.
And I think that commentators and/or theologians strain to preserve the
TRUE fact that God has indeed placed each of us into His plan from
eternity past, and that we have thus been "marked out" for the various
ministries that he has for us. But we don't need to insist on that idea in
this passage. The truth stands without straining the language here to
Wuest continues, "The idea is,
“who set me apart, devoted me to a special purpose from before my birth,
and before I had any impulses or principles of my own.” Passages from the
Old Testament sustain this usage (Judges 16:17; Isaiah 44:21, 24, 49:1,
5). This idea is also seen in those
instances where a child’s destiny is clearly fixed by God before birth as was Samson’s (Judges 16:17), and John the
Baptist’s (Luke 1:15)."
I suggest that instead, these passages simply indicate a "staring
point" from the standpoint of TIME; that is, the start of a person's life.
There is no idea of "before birth" in these passages without "reading into
Judges 16:17, "for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother's womb."
Isaiah 49:1, "Yahweh called me from the womb, from the body of my mother
He named me."
Luke 1:15, "and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even out from (ek)
his mother's womb."
Notice, that even Wuest recognizes this:
"The preposition ek translated from, in the phrase 'from my mother’s
womb,' is used at times to mark a temporal starting point (John 6:66, 9:1;
Acts 9:33, 24:10). Paul, therefore, states that he was set apart or
devoted by God to the apostleship before he was born."
But once again he goes beyond the simple idea of from the time of
birth, to "before" he was born.
How does one go from "a temporal staring point" that is "from the womb" to
some time "before he was born."
There is no justification for this. Notice especially, John 9:1, "a man
blind out from (ek) birth."
What then is Paul's purpose for referring to God as the one who gave me
It focuses on the plan of God that accomplished TWO things in bringing Paul
to the place of his ministry. (1) He brought him into this world, and (2)
he elected me (called) into his plan based upon my choice to trust in
In other words, He gave me both PHYSICAL life and SPIRITUAL life.
4. and called me: The verb is kaleō as an
aorist active participle and refers to Paul's entrance into the plan of
God through the doctrine of election, which was studied at verse 6.
1. PRIVILEGE: the invitation is given on
the basis of God's grace. Undeserved and unearned.
2. RANK: The rank and status of spiritual
royalty in the universe.
3. FUNCTION: the new responsibility
as priests and ambassadors while here on earth.
5. through His grace: preposition dia plus
the genitive case of charis (grace).
This then emphasizes the PRIVILEGE aspect of election - it is through
Paul did not deserve, earn or work for it. It was given to him based on
his faith in Christ.
1. to reveal his son: The verb is apokaluptō as an aorist active
infinitive and refers to a specific historical event in the life of Paul.
This is a revealing of something that had previously been hidden.
In Paul's case, the fact that Jesus was the promised Messiah and Savior
was unknown to him and in fact, resisted by him with every fiber of his
being. It seems to refer to the initial appearance of Jesus to Paul on the
road to Damascus. Acts 9:5, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."
At Acts 26:16 Paul quotes Jesus as saying, "for this reason I have
appeared to you." This indicates that this event was indeed a revelation
of Jesus TO Paul.
2. in me: The preposition "en" plus the pronoun "emoi" indicates either a
"to me" idea
or a "within me" idea. Robertson, agreeing with Lightfoot, prefers the
idea of "in my case." Although he admits that both "in me" or "in my case"
fit the context.
This revelation of Jesus was first, a visible occurrence, as Paul SAW the
light which "suddenly flashed around him." And then an audible revelation,
as Jesus identified himself. So it seems that this event could indeed be
considered a revelation of Jesus "to me," even though Paul did not
actually see the face of Jesus. As indicated above, the words of Jesus at
"for this reason I have appeared to you," clearly indicates that this
event was indeed a revelation of Jesus TO Paul.
In addition, Acts 16:16 gives the same coupling of factors as here at
(1) the appearing:
a. revealed His Son in me. Galatians 1:16
b. appeared to you. Acts 26:16
(2) the purpose:
a. that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles.
b. to appoint you a minister and a witness. Acts 26:16
Now, most certainly there must be an
INWARD understanding and acceptance of the fact that Jesus is the promised
Messiah; an inward "revealing" if you please. However, this is not what
Paul has in mind as he relates these aspects of his conversion.
3. so that I might proclaim him: The conjunction, hina, occurs with the
subjunctive mood of the verb to indicate the purpose of God for Paul. The
verb is a present middle subjunctive of euangelidzō.
It means to proclaim good news. In this case it is the good news of
salvation from sin and eternal life.
4. among the gentiles: God had a specific plan for Paul to unite the two
categories of humanity into one new spiritual body; the universal church,
as studied above. Paul had a unique ministry to the Gentiles while at the
same time ministering to the Jews as well.
Acts 20:21, "thoroughly testifying to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles)."
5. I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood (v. 17a) nor did I
go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. Paul did not seek
confirmation or counsel from other Christians or the Christian
leaders in the Jerusalem church.
Although, according to Acts 9:19-21, Paul spent several days in Damascus
simply proclaiming what had been revealed to him - that Jesus was the
but I went away into Arabia.
"The word Arabia was the term applied
by Greek writers froth Herodotus down, to the whole or various portions of the vast peninsula
between the Red Sea on the southwest, the Persian Gulf on the southeast, and the Euphrates River on the
northeast. There is nothing to indicate exactly where in this vast territory Paul went. It is not necessary to
suppose that Paul went far from Damascus, for the Arabian deserts were within easy reach of that city. It is
not likely that Paul went to Mt. Sinai, as some suggest, for that would have constituted too effective an
argument for the divine origin of his apostleship, to be omitted here."
Wuest summarizes this stay in Arabia:
needed to be alone with God. He needed time and isolation in order to
think. The revelation of the Son of God had blasted away the foundations
of the Pharisaic thought structure which he had been building up with such
consummate skill and zeal, and it had come tumbling down in ruins about
his head. This revelation also furnished him with another foundation upon
which to build a new theological structure. But the replacement of the
ruined structure with a new one could not be the work of a day or a month.
There in Arabia, isolated from all human contact, alone with God, the
great apostle restudied his Old Testament scriptures, not now with the
Pharisaic traditions vitiating his thinking, but, led by the Holy Spirit,
with the central fact of the Cross of the Lord Jesus as the controlling
factor in his meditations. Out of all this study emerged the Pauline
system of doctrine as we have it presented in Romans."
It seems best to place the time in Arabia with the phrase at Acts 9:22a,
"and Saul kept increasing in strength."
His preparation in Arabia included:
(1) Complete review of the Old Testament Scriptures from the standpoint of
Jesus being the Messiah and the fulfillment of all Messianic Old Testament
(2) Direct revelation from God concerning the new age (dispensation) and
all doctrine pertaining to it.
After the time in Arabia, Saul returned to Damascus and continued to
proclaim Jesus, "confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving
that Jesus is the anointed one (Christ)." Acts 9:22b.
According to Acts 9:23-25, Paul spent several days in Damascus until a
discovered plot to "do away with him" and "put him to death" required
Paul does not mention this in Galatians.
Verse 18 picks up 3 years after his conversion when he arrives in
After his escape from Damascus, Acts 9:26 simply records, "and when he had
come to Jerusalem."
At this point it seems best to provide a harmony of Acts and Galatians to
see how the various events meld together from Paul's conversion to just
before the Jerusalem counsel of 53 AD, which is the time that Galatians
1. Concerning Peter Wuest writes:
"Paul had been suddenly driven out of
Damascus (Acts 9:19–25). He went to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Peter and possibly to
seek another sphere of labor.
The Authorized Version has the name
Peter which is the English spelling of the Greek word petros meaning “a rock.” The Greek
text has the word Kephas which is the Greek spelling of a Chaldaic word meaning “a rock.”
2. The verb, to see, is historoō as an
aorist active infinitive. It means to more than just to "see," as in the
King James Translation.
It means to visit someone in order to get acquainted with or get to know
(as with the NASB).
Peter was probably the most dominant leader of the Christian church at
this time, and it was certainly advisable for Paul to to meet with him.
I think that Paul's overall view of Peter is reflected at Galatians 2:8,
"for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the
circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles."
I saw James, the Lord's brother.
James was the leader or administrator of the Jerusalem church at this time
so it was a good idea for Paul to make acquaintance with him as well.
Concerning James, Wuest writes:
"The construction in
the Greek indicates that James was one of the apostles Paul saw. He was not one of the Twelve however,
since the brethren of our Lord did not believe on Him at the time of the choosing of the Twelve. The
expression “James the Lord’s brother” means that he was the son of Joseph and Mary by natural
generation. He is the same James mentioned in Mark 6:3; Galatians 2:9, 12; I Corinthians 15:7; Acts 15:13, 21:18.
It is supposed that he was led to believe in the Lord Jesus by reason of the fact that he saw our Lord in
His post-resurrection ministry (John 7:5; I Corinthians 9:5, 15:7). He was the Moderator of the church in
Jerusalem (Acts 15:13, 21:18)."
I must add one thing to avoid any misunderstandings. James, the brother
of Jesus, was NOT an apostle. There were only 12 apostles; the 11
disciples and Paul.
James and certain others are sometimes labeled "apostle because they often
operated in close association with an apostle and under apostolic
This would facilitate the implementation of doctrine and policy, but it
would not include any of the
functional aspects of the apostle gift.
Likewise with Mathias who was "elected" by human vote, but not CHOSEN by
God. Paul was the twelfth apostle chosen by God.
See topic: JAMES
It was a short visit. Wuest writes:
"He mentions his fifteen
day stay to show how brief were his conversations with Peter. The reason
his visit was so abruptly terminated was that the Hellenistic Jews were
seeking his life (Acts 9:29), and also that the Lord Jesus appeared to him
in the Temple and ordered him out of Jerusalem since his ministry would
not be received by the Jerusalem Jews (Acts 22:17–18)."
Concerning these remarks about his preparation and independence from human
influence, Paul makes a solemn statement of promise and certainty.
"Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not
Wuest summarizes it:
"This verse records a
period of preaching, as indicated by verse 23. The word region is from klimata. It denotes
the fingers of coastland sloping down from the mountains to the sea in northwestern Syria and eastern
Cilicia. The name Syria is placed first because Paul’s ministry at Antioch preceded that at Tarsus, and because
Cilicia was subordinate to Syria in the Roman empire, being only a district of the great province of
Syria. Here we have about ten years of Paul’s life passed over in silence, between his flight from Jerusalem to
Tarsus and his return to the former city for the Apostolic Council.
These years were spent around Tarsus
and Antioch, in Cyprus and Asia Minor."
These years are covered by Acts 13-14 and records Paul's first
missionary journey and takes place over a period of about 14 years
(Galatians 2:1) rather than the "ten" that Wuest suggests. This all
depends on how one interprets the "14 years" of verse 2:1.
As per Wuest:
"In the construction
translated 'was unknown,' the emphasis is upon a continuous state, literally
“I remained unknown.” By face could be rendered “with respect to the
face,” that is, they did not recognize Paul when they saw him. He speaks
of the churches of Judaea as distinct from the church at Jerusalem. He left this city so
abruptly that the Judaean churches had no opportunity to become acquainted with him. Had he been a
disciple of the Twelve, his work would have been in Judaea, but because he was not, that showed that
he was an independent missionary, and that he was not operating under the supervision of the
Jerusalem church and the Twelve. The phrase in Christ distinguishes the Christian churches in Judaea from the
unconverted Jewish assemblies."
But they continually heard what the Christians were saying.
The imperfect tense of akouō indicates that they were hearing over and
over all about Paul and about what he was doing.
"He who persecuted us is now proclaiming THE FAITH which he once tried to
This term, "the faith" refers to the entire package of Christianity. It
refers not only to the church as a group of people, but to the belief
system that was held by these people. The primary emphasis is on the
entrance factor for Christianity, which is belief (faith) in Christ.
Acts 6:7, "and a great many were becoming obedient to the faith."
But FAITH is the operating factor for living after salvation (Col. 2:6),
so the term aptly applies to the whole realm of doctrine as revealed to
the apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Acts 13:8; 14:22
Galatians 6:10, "the household of the faith." Those who hold to the
Christian belief system.
See commentary on James 1:3 and
2:1 for details.
So, certainly, Saul tried to destroy this new belief system by removing
bodies - the people who held to it. But he was fighting against the belief
system itself and the person of that system; Jesus Christ.
That is why Jesus said to him, "why are you persecuting Me." Acts 9:4.
And, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." Acts 9:5
This belief system was labeled as "the way" in the early church. Acts 9:2;
19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22.
This probably is based on the words of Jesus, "I am the way, the truth and
the life." John 14:6.
Also as "the way of the Lord" and "the way of God." Acts 18:25, 26.
And they were continually glorifying God because of me.
The imperfect tense of doxadzō indicates a continuous attitude and
expression toward God as they continually heard over and over all about
Paul and his proclamation of truth.
To glorify God means to recognize the advancement of the character and
plan of God.
He gets the credit. His character and plan are showcased through the
conversion of Paul and through the accurate communication of the gospel
message by Paul.