Here we go again…
Paul during his first missionary journey was able to start and support several churches in the region of Galatia. This was a huge region found in modern day Turkey and was an important location for the growth the church east. Although Paul was able to establish these primarily gentile churches, soon after he left a group of false teachers came behind him trying to convince these newly converted Gentile believers that they were’t really Christian unless they were circumcised. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, and Antioch, is an, “awe… heck no” to these Judaizers. Paul basically says, “you think you need a snip-snip? Well you must have lost your grip-grip! Faith in Jesus alone is the only way to salvation”…basically…he said that.
We might be inclined to think the only thing on the line was circumcision or no circumcision, but there was so much more to consider. The gospel (Good News) that Paul preached to the Gentiles itself is at stake! Remember the words of Jesus, “First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. Jesus included the law-free Gentiles into his salvific work on the cross. If the Galatians cave in to circumcision, everything God has done in Jesus Christ and is doing by the Spirit to include Gentiles in the people of God will have come to nothing (2:21). God’s story itself is on the line.
Galatians 1:6-7 (NLT) 6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Paul wants to be very clear with the Galatians, you’re following a gospel, but it’s not the gospel of Christ. The gospel you’re falling for is like the Diet Coke of Gospels…just one calorie. Continuing to talk about the gospel message he preached, Paul continues in verse 11 (NLT):
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
When look at this verse a little closer we realize that Paul is not only defending his authority, but the authority of the gospel itself. From the beginning of this letter, Paul wants to be very clear about where he did and didn’t receive the gospel message. It wasn’t based on something man dreamed up, or was passed around as a story, but rather it was God’s effort to reach down and communicate with man. What’s unique about Paul’s declaration is specific to the way he did receive the gospel.
Most everyone hears the gospel from someone else; this is God’s “normal” way of communicating the gospel (Romans 10:14-15). But Paul was not “normal” in this respect. He received the gospel in a dramatic, direct revelation when He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Although Paul’s letter to the Galatians is one of his shorter letters, it is jam packed with thought provoking ideas and challenging realities. As we read, lets read with an open mind and even more importantly, an open heart.