Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 32
GALATIANS 1:1 – 1:14
Now in our last lesson we stopped at verse 7, so that’s where we will pick up our text. When you study your Bible get a good concordance and start chasing these themes down from cover to cover. Because the amazing thing of this Book is that it all fits so beautifully. Now there are a lot of people who think the Bible contradicts in places, but it doesn’t contradict at all. It’s just the vast difference between Law and Grace. A good example of the difference between Law and Grace is found in why we should forgive others. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, speaking to the Nation of Israel, the Jews under the Law said:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”Now the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostle Paul under Grace why we should forgive:
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath (already) forgiven you.”
So #1: the key to understanding the Scriptures is to whom the particular text is written to. It’s high time that we get a fresh view of this again, because you want to remember that when God called Moses up into Mount Sinai there in Exodus, God gave the Law to Moses and Moses took it down the mountain and gave it to the Nation of Israel. So Israel came under the Law. Not the rest of the world, just Israel.
But, as Romans 3 says, all the world came under the condemnation power of the Law and proved that no one is righteous, no not one. But so far as the mode of operation of the Law was only given to the Nation of Israel, then as we’re going to see as we get into Galatians and Paul’s account of his apostleship, we find that Paul is the central character and to that man was revealed these doctrines not of Law, but of Grace. And Grace is for primarily the Gentiles, but it also includes the Jew. A Jew today can be saved under Grace as well as a Gentile. But it is primarily God’s time of calling out Gentiles from among the unbelieving world. Now then, Paul’s message, as we saw in our study of the first two letters to the Corinthians, was to the pagan world. Paul could come into these abject pagan people with nothing but the Gospel of the Grace of God and they would come out of their paganism and become believers (or as we normally like to use the term “Christians,” although that word has certainly lost its real meaning). Today almost anybody, and anything can be called a Christian. So now let’s begin in verse 7.
“Which is not another; (Gospel) but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Now when we talk about the Gospel of Christ we have to go back to where it is the most explicitly laid out. Remember the Gospel for the Body of Christ was only revealed to Paul so we need to turn to I Corinthians Chapter 15, and look at those first four verses. This is the clearest explanation of Paul’s Gospel that you can find anywhere. Now he will refer to it as the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Gospel of God, my Gospel, the Gospel according to the revelation of the mysteries, but regardless how he refers to it, it’s this Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (not a Gospel, not a perverted Gospel, not a corrupt Gospel, but the Gospel) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, (remember Paul even addressed the carnal believer at Corinth as saints.) and wherein ye stand; 2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, (not what Peter and the Twelve in Jerusalem have, but what I’ve preached) unless ye have believed in vain. 3. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (and we’re going to see how he received it in Galatians in just a moment. Now here comes the Gospel we must believe in our heart for salvation.) how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Long before the world or the universe was ever created, God already had the whole scheme of things laid out. He wasn’t caught by surprise. The whole human experience was pre-planned, and the plan of redemption was already in place long before Adam was ever created. And here it is, how that Christ died, was buried, and rose again, according to the Scriptures. It was prophesied and now all mankind has to do for salvation is to believe it, and we’re going to see that so clearly as we move on through this little letter to the Galatians. Now come back to Galatians Chapter 1, verse 8. Oh the horrors that are going to befall people who are guilty of what Paul is talking about in verse 8. I shudder to think of what one day they are going to have to experience, because look what he says here.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, (and I just showed you that Gospel which was, that Christ died for you, was buried, and rose again, and if they preach any other than that unto you for salvation) let him be accursed.”
Now that’s a horribly strong word. Paul, speaking through the Holy Spirit, is not just talking about maybe ending up 15 or 20 years in prison, he’s not talking about capital punishment. Paul is talking about an eternal separation from God, an eternal doom to these people who are corrupting and are perverting the pure Gospel of Grace. Hey that’s enough to scare anybody. Now verse 9. And again whenever you see the Scripture, whether it’s Paul or Moses or the prophets or wherever, if it repeats something you take special note. It’s there for the purpose of getting our attention. So here this warning is again in verses 8 and 9.
“As we said before, so say I now again, `If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, (from the lips of this apostle) let him be accursed.'”
Now Paul wasn’t talking there out of meanness, or out of envy of some other minister. He was writing by inspiration of the Spirit, and the Spirit is making the emphasis that if we adulterate and if we pervert the true Gospel, then we are in danger of being accursed. Now you know apostasy is a terrible thing. Most people don’t even know what apostasy means. What is apostasy? Is that something that the apostles taught? No, it has nothing to do with the apostles. Apostasy is turning the back on the revealed truth of Scripture.
Someone sent me a little booklet by the old radio pastor, J. Vernon McGee who has now gone on to be with the Lord. And the little booklet was copyrighted I think in 1971. In this booklet he was rehearsing a conversation that he and the president of Moody Bible Institute at that time had had. They were in a Bible conference out in Los Angeles, and during that week of Bible conference he and the president of Moody, and a couple of more well-known theologians were visiting with each other, and the president of Moody made this statement. Now remember the time element (1971) That man made the statement that he could never envision the apostasy of the Church at that time. He had no idea that the Church would be into such apostasy short of being in the Tribulation. Now that’s only been 27 years ago. What would the man think today? I don’t think they could handle it. But you see we’ve been programmed to see all this creeping in and we just sort of roll with it. We accommodate, but listen we are in such a state of apostasy that it’s alarming. And why can’t people see what these verses say. They’re under the condemnation of being accursed for perverting the Gospel. Now move on to verse 10.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? (who is Paul serving? Well it’s certainly not men, because like me, he didn’t draw a salary. Paul didn’t have to be beholden to anybody. If he needed some money, he went out and sewed some tents didn’t he. So Paul didn’t have to worry about losing his pay, so he didn’t have to serve men.) or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Now that’s quite a statement isn’t it? Hey, you can’t serve both, you cannot please God and man. But listen, this apostle says that there is no way that I am out here suffering imprisonment, suffering beatings, suffering shipwrecks, suffering cold, and heat, and nakedness – all the things we studied back there in II Corinthians Chapter 11. He says I didn’t do that just to be serving men. But Paul did that because he was the bond slave of Jesus Christ. Now that reminds me of a verse in the Book of Ephesians Chapter 3. Let’s turn there for a moment, and this, of course, is the whole motivation of this apostle.
“For this cause (what he had just written in Chapter 2 especially) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (what people?) you Gentiles, (now back in the Old Testament everything was for Israel’s benefit. But this mans apostleship is for our benefit as Gentiles.) 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation (this period of time when God is calling out primarily the Gentile Body of Christ, the Church in this administration) of the grace of God which is given me (and then from me ) to you-ward:”
Now that’s exactly how I’ve got it on the board. God revealed to the apostle Paul these doctrines of Grace, and what did Paul do with them? He didn’t do like Moses did when he received the Law. Moses took it to Israel and Israel alone. But the apostle Paul takes these revelations of the doctrines of Grace to everyone. He went to the Jew first in the synagogue and they would reject it and he would then go down the street to the Gentiles. His primary mission was to the Gentile world. So this is what he’s making reference to. He was given the Grace of God and he gave it to us Gentiles. Now coming back to Galatians Chapter 1, let’s read verse 10:
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
It would be utterly impossible to be a servant or bond slave of Christ if Paul seeked to please men. Now verse 11. Boy it gets interesting. I wish people would study Chapters 1 and 2 until they almost know it from memory. Know the content of these two chapters like you do your name and address, and it will just blow away all the dust and cobwebs of confusion, because this just opens it all up. Now verse 11:
“But I certify (I guarantee) you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.”
All right I’ll repeat myself once more. What is the apostle Paul claiming? His apostleship, and his authority, and not because of any relationship with the Twelve. Also, remember, he has totally broken with his Jewish past, and now he is the bond slave of the resurrected and ascended Lord. Now verse 12:
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by man) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Now you want to remember what it says about this in I Corinthians Chapter 15 – where we just left off with the clearest explanation of the Gospel and let’s start with verse 5.
I Corinthians 15:5
“And that he was seen of Cephas (Peter) then of the twelve:“
Remember the word `twelve’ was used as a generalized term for a group of people. Just like the Sanhedrin, or the seventy that was sent forth, and it was the same way with the disciples; they were known as the Twelve, although here Paul was speaking of the eleven others, yet he could rightfully call them the Twelve. That happens a couple of other places in scripture and we know that all 12 of them were not there. Now verse 6:
I Corinthians 15:6-8
“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, (which is now about 60 AD or 30 years after the crucifixion) but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due (or head of the ) time.
Let’s go all the way back to the Book of Acts Chapter 22 and begin with verse 17. Here I want you to see why the apostle Paul is making such a big deal over his having seen and heard all these things from the resurrected Christ. I’m always trying to get people to see that, if you stay in the Four Gospels (and there’s nothing wrong with reading the Four Gospels. Don’t misunderstand me), that was Christ’s before the work of the Cross. That was before the atoning Blood had been shed, and it was under the Law (Gal. 4:4).
Everything that Christ said was in accordance with the Jewish legal system. You can find nothing of the Gospel of Grace back there. And Peter carries that on in the early chapter of Acts. But all this apostle talks about is the crucified, buried, and risen Lord who has now ascended to glory. Oh what a difference. You take the little Jewish epistles at the end of our New Testament, James, I and II Peter, I, II, III John, Jude and Revelation, do you know what? The word `Cross’ is not even mentioned. You won’t see the word `Cross’ in those little Jewish epistles. For them it was not the pinnacle of information like it is for Paul. Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified.” All he knows is the work of the Cross. And it’s all because Paul saw our Lord in resurrection power – he saw him in His ascension.
“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, (Paul had already been out into the Gentile world) even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18. And saw him (the Lord Jesus) saying unto me, `Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.’ 19. And I said, `Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, (back there in Acts Chapter 7) I also was standing by and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.’ 21. And he (the resurrected ascended Lord) said unto me, `Depart: (from Jerusalem) for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.'” Do you see how clear that is? Now if you will come back to Galatians again and verse 12.
Paul is, by Holy Sprit inspiration, distancing himself from the Twelve apostles of Israel to keep his apostleship pure from any of the legalism of Judaism (of which Peter, James and John were the epitome). Now verse 12:
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Who is now in glory so it had to be through some kind of a communication process between the Lord and this apostle. Now verse 13:
“For ye have heard of my conversation (now that word `conversation’ is always translated throughout the New Testament, if I’m not mistaken, as manner of lifestyle.) in time past in the Jews’ religion,…”
Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the apostle Paul to use that term for Judaism? Because that was what it had become. It had become watered down over the last 1500 years from the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai, and the establishing of the priesthood of Israel, and all of the sacrificial worship. In the beginning, that was pure, that was Law, but oh, as Israel progressed up through those 1500 years, what happened to it? It just got watered down, and degenerated, and finally, after that, it had become 613 rules and regulations (one of which was that they could only walk so far on the Sabbath day). That’s what the Law had become and it was now a religion.
There was no saving power in the Judaism of Christ’s day. Oh, there were a few bonified believers, we know there were. Zacharias, and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. Joseph and Mary no doubt were, but oh, it was precious few Jews that were true believers when Christ came to Israel. The majority were not true believers but they were religious. Oh, you bet they were religious. They kept the feast days, they practiced the sacrifices. You know, Josephus claimed that, at the time of Christ, one million animals were sacrificed every year. Now that means that a bunch of animals had to be sacrificed every day. But whether it was that many or something less than that, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that the Jews religion of Christ’s day was, to the hilt, a practicing of those 613 rules and regulations.