Daily Devotional

October 28, 2019

Daybreak: Galatians 1:1-24

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

In order for a person to become a Christian, the Holy Spirit must draw the heart, and some form of “revelation” of the Gospel is necessary. This may be as simple as a desire within a child to give Jesus his or her heart. Or it may be as dramatic as it was for the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road when light struck him to the ground and he saw Jesus and heard His voice.

For Charles Rodman, the revelation of the Gospel took place on a July day in Portland, Oregon. Like Paul, Brother Rodman was well educated in theology, having attended Princeton and majored in the Greek language. Then he took a postgraduate course designed to equip a person to preach the Gospel. He studied with the best instructors and eventually earned three degrees. A man of high ideals, he tried to maintain good morals and to live what he thought was a Christian life. 

After finishing school, he became a pastor in the state of Washington. He tried to point others to the way of eternal life, but he said, “On Sunday mornings, I faced my congregation knowing that I had fallen short of keeping the commandments and precepts of God’s Word. I was defeated and had no peace. Instead, there was turmoil in my soul. As time went on, instead of becoming more like Jesus, I was moving further from Him. I had the same love in my heart for the things of the world that any sinner has, and I had almost reached the point of believing there was nothing to religion after all.

“One July I came to Portland to a citizenship conference. Attended by twelve thousand people, its purpose was to find a way to make good citizens of bad ones. Great issues were discussed, including social conditions and needed reforms, but not once did I hear of an adequate remedy for the disease of sin that they had so thoroughly diagnosed. 

“One day before the convention closed, I happened to go into a different part of the city. On a street corner, I came face-to-face with a group of young men who were telling the story of Jesus. One after another said they had been bound by sin and that their good resolutions and willpower had failed them. In their extremity, they had called upon God, repented of their sins, and the entire course of their lives had been changed. 

“I recognized that those men had found the solution to the problem that the educated men at the conference had failed to find. The solution had not come through great learning, legislation, reform, or any such thing, but through the transforming power of God.

“Here was the answer to the unrest in my soul. My eyes were opened to the truth. A Christian life is not a matter of struggling against sinful desires, but of repenting of one’s sins and becoming right with God. In spite of my profession, my moral life, and my theological training, I was a sinner in the sight of God. 

“I realized that I had been utterly ignorant of the first principles of genuine Christianity. I determined that I would either become a real Christian or give up religion. I went to where the Apostolic Faith people were holding a camp meeting. There, I went on my knees, called upon God, and repented of my sins. I did not receive the witness of salvation while on my knees, but that night on my way back to where I was staying, Jesus came into my heart and became real to me. The peace of Heaven came over me like a calm after a storm. I became personally acquainted with the One who is able to save from sin, and He gave me power to live as a Christian should live.”

God had revealed the Gospel to Charles Rodman and his life was changed. From then on until his death, he faithfully told others how to find victory. In today’s text, the Apostle Paul was telling the Galatians that God had revealed the Gospel to him and called him to preach it. 

God has also called each of us. While our salvation story may not seem as remarkable as the testimony of Paul the Apostle or Charles Rodman, the call of God is equally precious to every soul. The knowledge that He brought us to Himself and delivered us from sin must be the anchor that holds us when others resist or disparage our faith. We can know that Jesus Christ has been revealed to us and that His promises are true and will be fulfilled in our lives.

Background

This first chapter of Galatians opens with Paul’s greetings, and then moves to a defense of his call to apostleship and the Gospel as he had preached it. 

Verses 1-5 contain the salutation, which has many characteristics common in Paul’s letters. In the first verse he directly stated that he was called to be an Apostle “by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” Those teaching a different doctrine endeavored to discredit Paul’s authority as an Apostle, so he established his credentials at the beginning of his epistle. He was not appointed by the other Apostles, the high priest, or anyone else; he was appointed by God himself. He also mentioned Jesus’ resurrection because that fact was the basis for the Gospel he preached. 

Paul’s customary greeting, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ” was used in all his epistles. Often he followed this blessing by giving thanks and commendations to those to whom he was writing, but that is noticeably absent in this letter. Instead, he stated that Jesus Christ died to deliver people from sin. The believers in Galatia were being drawn back into thinking salvation came by adherence to the Mosaic Law, rather than through the grace of Jesus Christ, and Paul was making every effort to redirect them to the truth. 

In verses 6-10, Paul expressed his amazement that the Galatians were turning away from the Gospel he had preached and listening to those who were perverting it. The word “removed” in verse 6 implies changing sides or turning away. The verb tense used shows that this action was taking place as Paul wrote, so this was an attempt at halting their movement away from the Gospel. Those who were stirring up trouble presented what seemed to be another gospel, but Paul refuted that, saying twice that anyone who preached another gospel should be accursed. “Accursed” is from the Greek anathema, indicating something God has commanded to be destroyed. This strong language revealed Paul’s concern that the Galatians were headed toward apostasy. The Jews were accusing Paul of trying to please the Gentiles by abandoning the Law (verse 10), but Paul said he must please the Lord. 

Beginning at verse 11 and continuing through chapter 2, Paul developed his arguments supporting his apostleship and the Gospel. He began with his own testimony, stating again that what he preached was not from man, but was what he had received from Jesus Christ. Clearly he was referring to knowledge he had received from God following his experience on the Damascus Road when he met Jesus. 

Paul reminded the Galatians of how zealously he had defended the Jewish religion and persecuted the Christians. He had lived according to the Law as a Pharisee (see Philippians 3:5), with all its strict rules and traditions. The change in him was proof that it was God himself who had called him. God had been clear in showing Paul that he was commissioned to preach to the Gentiles. 

After his conversion, Paul went to Arabia, which was a general term referring to an area south of Damascus and possibly extending to include today’s Sinai Peninsula. Some scholars believe Paul went to Mount Sinai itself to meditate and commune with God. Three years later, Paul met with Peter and James, leaders of the Jerusalem church, for fifteen days. Because his life was in jeopardy, God directed him to leave Jerusalem (see Acts 22:17-18) and the brethren sent him to Tarsus in Cilicia, which was his hometown. He also traveled in Syria. Antioch was the primary city in Syria, and the church there was somewhat a headquarters for the Gentile churches. Paul recounted all this to reinforce that his apostleship did not come from instruction by Peter, James, or the other church leaders, but directly from God.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

I.    Introduction (1:1-10)
    A.    The salutation (1:1-5)
        1.    The declaration of Paul’s apostleship (1:1)
        2.    The destination of the epistle (1:2-3)
        3.    The deliverance through Christ (1:4-5)
    B.    The situation (1:6-10)
        1.    The defection of the Galatians (1:6)
        2.    The deception of the legalists (1:7)
        3.    The denunciation of Paul (1:8-10)
II.    Paul’s Gospel defended
    A.    Received by revelation (1:11-24)
        1.    Paul’s claim (1:11-12)
        2.    Paul’s pre-conversion activity (1:13-14)
        3.    Paul’s call to preach and course after conversion (1:15-17)
        4.    Paul’s contact with the Apostles (1:18-24)

A Closer Look

  1. What surprised Paul about the Galatians? (see verse 6)

  2. What do you think Paul meant in verses 23-24 when he said the Christians of Judaea “glorified God in me”? 

  3. How did God reveal Himself to you and draw you to salvation?

Conclusion

Remembering God’s call can help us hold tightly to the truths of the Gospel, knowing that our salvation is not from man but through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

Reference Materials