Galatians Chapter 1
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Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. - Gal. 1:1-5

Question: What it means to be an Apostle, and what are the requirements of one?


"Paul, an apostle". An apostle's duties were to lay a foundation for the church with Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-20). This is why the ministries of the apostles were often called apostolic journeys, as they were touring and laying the Foundation (1 Cor. 3:11). An Apostle was only to be 2nd to Christ (1 Cor. 12:27-30, Eph. 4:11) and had to be appointed by God, and an eyewitness of Jesus Himself, witnessing His life from the time of His baptism, to the time of His departure to heaven (Acts 1:21-22). This would include things like His life, His teachings, His death, and resurrection. Some claim there is Apostleship today but there is no scriptural backing for such a claim, which makes sense with the Apostles being commissioned to lay a foundation for the church, and solid foundations only need to be laid once (1 Cor. 3:11) therefore the need for foundation builders ceases once the proper foundation is established.


Question: Paul didn't become a Christian until after Jesus was resurrected, would He have then met the requirements to be an Apostle?


What's interesting about Paul's apostleship is He was not a follower of Jesus until after Jesus's death and resurrection, but this doesn't mean He didn't meet the requirements though He would have been an eyewitness not as someone for Jesus, but rather someone against Him, and as a persecutor of the church. While there's no direct recordings of Paul having met Jesus, it would take a lot more faith to believe He didn't. Paul had been a resident of Jerusalem as a child (Acts 22:3) and was there years later to approve of Stephen's stoning (Acts 8:1). There's records of Paul's extended family residing in Jerusalem after Paul's conversion (Acts 23:16) suggesting he and his family likely resided there at length. Furthermore, Paul's devotion to the Law would have implored him to be present in Jerusalem during the Passover--a time where both he and Jesus would have been in close proximity, and Jesus would have been hard to miss. Third, as a Pharisee, Paul would have been very interested in the teachings of this unconventional, tradition-breaking Rabbi, and we know as Paul told Herod, that the things Jesus did were "not done in a corner (Acts 26:26). Lastly Paul may have hinted that he had a pre-conversion acquaintance with Jesus (2 Cor. 5:16) though his statement is inconclusive. What we know for sure is Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus after Christ's resurrection, and the Lord's voice, and light were perceived by others that were present (Acts 9:7, 22:9).


Question: This is the only introduction from Paul whereas Paul establishes his credentials for being an apostle immediately. What does that tell you about the letter to come?


"Not sent from men nor through the agency of man". Men in those days, and even in current times, would commission apostles through the agency of man. Catholics for example would have a laying on of hands whereas each bishop would commission their successor. The idea is that through this laying on of hands by men, you would then consider yourself, through succession, having been sent out by the Apostles themselves like a domino effect all the way back to Peter, Paul, etc. Such practice was even happening in Paul's day. Not only that, but it was so widely accepted that they would use that, or the lack thereof, to challenge Paul's apostleship, charging him with not being a true Apostle because nobody laid their hands on him. So Paul opens up establishing that his credentials are not through man, nor the agency of man, but he was commissioned and taught by none other than Jesus Christ Himself (Gal. 1:12), the validity of which would have been attested to by the miracles God had done through Paul. We'll get into this more later in this chapter.


Question: In public debates, or even in the court of law, if someone cannot refute the facts or testimony given that is unfavorable to them, what do they often do next?


Turn their sights on the person saying it. Often when the truth is spoken that can't be refuted, the party who doesn't want the truth, will use "credentials" or lack thereof as an opportunity to undermine what is being said. If they can't discredit the message, they'll discredit the messenger. They did this with Paul and they do this today. Watch someone debate abortion for example and often you will see the pro-choice proponent demand to hear credentials in lieu of losing an argument. In law, when a lawyer cannot debunk the facts, they'll debunk the one testifying of those facts. Even with Jesus, when He went to His hometown to share the good news (Mat. 13:54), the townsfolk were saying things like "isn't this the carpenter's son", and "is His mother not called Mary?" in otherwords, they were identifying Him with these things that brought his authority down to their level, and through that, they took offense at Him for speaking in His authority (Mat. 13:57). These men were actually seeking to discredit Paul by saying he had no man-accredited credentials. They couldn't undermine the gospel Paul preached so they instead were trying to undermine Paul himself, and unfortunately they gained ground. This may explain why Paul starts in the very first verse defending his apostleship, knowing that the recipients of this letter had already been influenced toward discrediting Paul in their mind. Paul will defend his ministry more at length later in this chapter, but this may have been in the very first verse as to not lose the reader before they get there.


Question: What is the most important and highest credential one can have within the body of Christ today?


One thing often missed within the church today is the anointing of it's members much like the anointing Paul received (1 Cor. 2:1-5), that is imparted by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the body to it's members (1 Cor. 12:4-11). True credentials for those in the ministries are not those who are accredited by man, or by colleges, but by those who are anointed by God. It's not the role of the church to train people up into being gifted, but rather, identify those who have been gifted, provide for them good soil, support, direction, and integration, so they may utilize their gifts. Tragically, all too often one gifted is never considered over those who have been accredited by man. Furthermore, leadership with accreditation will often micromanage the one gifted, convinced in their knowledge, education, and accreditation, that they know better, thus stifling the one gifted from working freely in their gifting thereby quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19).


Unlike Paul's other letters which were with a specific church in mind, this letter is to the region of Galatia as indicated by "churches of Galatia". It's unknown exactly where Paul is when he wrote this letter, nor does he name the brethren who are with him. This may be due to the urgency Paul has to get into the intent and subject matter of his letter. Paul has some concerning things he's about to say using some of the strongest language we see in any of his letters. In no other letter does Paul go so quickly to rebuke, and never with this strong of language, which says a lot given the state of the Corinthian church for example as revealed in his letters to them. Paul to the Galatians not only gets right to the point, but will spend the entirety of this letter to the Galatians driving the same point home from all angles.


Question: What does it indicate that an entire letter was dedicated to one particular focus? Why do you suppose God brought that word to us today?


Before we continue, it should be noted that in his opening greeting Paul is recognizes them as a church of Christ and in one and the same body as him. “...our Father...our sins...rescue us...our God...” and opens in his message to them with the words "grace to you". This should be appreciated as that is the area they were failing in, and hereafter the rest of his letter is pretty hard hitting, but not in condemnation, but out of love (Gal. 4:11).

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