Verses for the Day – Galatians 1:18-24

We’re reaching the end of Galatians 1 today with these verses:

“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.”

I am helped today by reading No Other Gospel by Josh Moody (Crossway, 2011) and various online commentaries.

In verse 17 and these verses, Paul details where he traveled following his conversion.

Paul is noting that in Jerusalem, where he went after three years, he saw none of the other apostles besides James and Peter, and notes the length of his stay (15 days). He points out that before God he is not lying.

Why does he stress that he telling the truth? Was he being challenged about what he has said?

One of the key themes of Galatians is the conflict between the church authority and the authority of the gospel. Here Paul is establishing the authority of the gospel over the authority of the church. Paul was given the gospel by God, not by Peter or other apostles or some sort of organized meeting of men. He’s pointing out he didn’t see them early on, and when he did, it was only two of them and not for a lengthy stay. Paul knew the gospel as it had been revealed to him by God.

Different churches may try to put authority in man or something given by man, but the true gospel of God comes from God and is authenticated in his Word. This is the gospel that changes lives.

As we see in verse 23-24, though the churches in Judea had not seen Paul’s face, they had heard that he was preaching the faith he once tried to destroy, and they glorified God in Paul.

God’s gospel, given by God, brings glory to God, not to man. You have probably seen that when you hear an amazing testimony of a powerful work of God in the life of someone who has been saved and changed by the gospel. You are amazed at God through the testimony, giving praise to God, not to the person.

It is God’s power at work through the true gospel given by God. I liked this thought:

“Once God gets hold of a man or woman, that can happen [they praised God because of Paul]. He [God] is exalted, but in exalting him, people do not praise the man; they praise God. Perhaps that’s something you can be asking God for, that people would praise God in you.” (No Other Gospel, p.73-74)

Could we ask that of God, that other people would praise God because of us, for His work in us?

PRAYER: Dear Father, we praise you for your Word and the gospel of truth that you have given us. We pray that your work in our lives would be displayed for your great glory and that you would be exalted in us and through us. We pray that you would use us to point people to you, their Savior. May we walk with you today, eyes fixed on you, and rejoice in you and the power of the gospel to change lives. Help us to pray for those around us and to consider who to ask to church for Easter, trusting you to be at work in their lives by the power of the gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Galatians 1:11-12

One reason I love Bible study is that when you wake up in the morning and go to have your time with the Lord, you know right where to go. Though the years when I haven’t had a set study I’m doing, I’ll wake up and want to spend time with the Lord, but wonder where I should go and what I should read. I end up wasting time, maybe seeing a verse or a psalm and praying, but not real focused with the time I have.

But when you have a study, you know right where to start. There’s no wasting time. And as you go through a book of the Bible, you add to your understanding of that book each day. You find there is so much there to study! As I look at Galatians and read the Bible notes or a book or commentary with it, I realize one small post can’t capture all that I’ve read. So we can go back again and again to learn and grow in God’s Word.

I also love Bible study because it takes us deeper than just reading something quickly like a devotional. And while I also loved reading through the Bible in a year last year and would encourage that, too, for so many other reasons, it’s at such a fast pace, there’s not as much time to linger on a specific passage or go more in depth.

I find when I’m doing an in-depth Bible study, my mind is pondering all through the day the questions I’ve seen or the thoughts I’ve had, so it gives me something good to fix my mind on instead of things I might dwell on instead which aren’t always as worthwhile.

It is a treasure to study God’s Word each day. Today we come to Galatians 1:11-12.

We have already seen that Paul is writing to the Galatian churches to address the issue of them turning away from the gospel of God, this gospel of grace, and that others were trying to pervert this gospel of truth. Then we saw last time that Paul’s goal was to please God, to be approved by God, not man, and he continues now:

“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Just as in verse 1, we see that Paul is an apostle, not from men or through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, we also see that this gospel is not according to man or received from man or taught by man. But both of these things, Paul’s apostleship and the gospel of God, came through Jesus Christ.

Paul will go on to talk about what this revelation from Jesus Christ is and we will look at that more in the days ahead, but the point of these verses today is that this is a God-given gospel, not from man. Any other gospel created by man – or the true gospel that is twisted or added to by man to make it something else – is not the gospel at all.

This adds to our understanding of why Paul’s goal is to please God, not man – because who he is and what he has been given has all come from God. And he lives in response to that, as a bondservant of Christ.

And isn’t this who we are? All that we are and all that we have has come from God who has created us and given us good gifts – the greatest gift of even Himself!

God has also revealed Himself to us – through this gospel, through this Word of God, and through His Son! May we live to please and honor Him, too.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we praise and exalt You today. Thank you for revealing Yourself to us in so many ways. Thank you for this gospel of truth. Thank you for giving us life and then making a way for us to have eternal life with You through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for our sins so that by faith in You, we can be forgiven and saved. May this gospel truth go deeply into our hearts, and may we in turn live for You, the source of our total satisfaction and deepest joy. Let us experience that reality each day and walk with You by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Galatians 1:6-9

Today we move from the greeting into the body of the apostle Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia.

In his other letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc.) after the greeting, Paul would often write words of thankfulness and encouragement, a prayer or blessing.

However, in Galatians, he goes directly from the greeting into words of admonition. There’s a seriousness to the letter he is writing, a concern that he must address immediately and that appears to be the focus of his letter, the reason he is writing.

Here is what he writes in Galatians 1:6-9:

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (NKJV)

From these verses it sounds as though the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace is going to be a key theme of the book of Galatians. Paul is writing because the Galatians are turning away from God – who has called them in that marvelous grace we read about yesterday (v.3) – to a different gospel.

He twice states (v.8-9) that if anyone preaches a gospel other than what he has preached to them and that they have received, let that person be accursed. It’s strong language.

Paul warns of those who would pervert the gospel of Christ and is surprised that the Galatians would turn away to a different gospel.

We can see there is one true gospel of Christ. Yet there are those even today who will try to twist it, pervert it, redefine it, make it fit our culture, add to it, or change it to fit our human desires and preferences,

What is this gospel? It’s what we read about yesterday in verses 3-5: Jesus Christ giving himself for our sins that we might be delivered from this evil age. The truth of the gospel is that we as people have sinned, we were unable to fix that situation on our own, Jesus came to earth in human flesh (fully God, fully man), lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again (v.1). We place our faith in Jesus to receive forgiveness of our sins, and he delivers us, saves us, redeems us.

We can’t do this on our own or though our good works. We can’t earn this salvation. It is a free gift of God by His grace and mercy. We put our trust and faith in Him.

The purity and simplicity of this gospel message was being distorted. The Galatians were being given other gospels – ones that would add to or take away from the true gospel, some saying you must do other things to be saved. But it is by God’s grace alone, not by the works of the law or our good deeds.

This theme will develop more as we continue to read and study Galatians. But for today, let’s praise God for this gospel of Christ, its truth and simplicity, that He saves sinners such as us and redirects our lives around Him and His Word. And let’s know this gospel and be on guard against anyone who would distort it, so that we are assured in our hearts and able to lead others, by His power and grace, to truth to Christ.

PRAYER: Praise You, Lord Jesus, that you would humble Yourself to come to earth and die the death for sins that we deserved, that You would take that upon Yourself so that we though You might live. I pray that those who do not know You and Your gospel message would find You and that we would be people who know the truth and share it with others. Thank You for Your grace and mercy toward us, for your love and the peace that You give us. Guard us from ever turning away from the beautiful gospel of Christ that you have given us, and let us live in that gospel and its truth each day. Praise and thank You, In Jesus’ name, Amen.