In looking at Galatians, the first two chapters are primarily a defense by Paul of his Apostleship. We have to look at the background and history of the church as it began to grow in order to have a better understanding of this book. If you were just to pick up this epistle and start reading, you might not know why Paul spends this much time to do so.
In Acts chapter 1, Jesus tells his Apostles that they will be his messengers for the Gospel, starting in Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. Since the Gospel started at Jerusalem and it was preached to the Jews first, it makes sense that the Jewish culture, traditions and mindset would be well established also in the church. As it went further though, there would be others coming in that did not have that Jewish mindset. Problems did and would occur.
In Acts 8, the persecution began and those Christians who were scattered went preaching the Gospel. It appears that that they only went to the Jews. (Acts 11:19) Acts 8:4 talks about the Saints being scattered. It may be that v. 5 is after a period of time but the next group to be preached to was the Samaritans. Finally, the Gospel is preached to the Gentiles by Peter in Acts 10.
That the Gentiles were approved by God though did not prevent problems as some Christians at first did not want to accept them (see chapter11) and then once they had been accepted, in Acts 15 there was a big discussion where some thought that it was necessary to preach that the Gentiles also needed to be circumcised and told to keep the law of Moses.
Between Acts 11 and Acts 15, however, Paul and Barnabas had completed their 1st missionary journey in which they preached to several areas but much of their journey was in the region of Galatia, an area that includes several cities. It is likely that Paul wrote this letter just before he set out on the 2nd journey. The reason for this letter seems to be that some had come to that region and were requiring that the Galatians be circumcised. In Gal 6:12-13, Paul indicates that this what was being taught to them.
Paul, it seems, is being accused as not being a true apostle. Oh, he is an apostle but a late one and not as good as the others, he hasn’t even been taught by Peter and his message is incomplete. If it were complete, he would definitely have told you about circumcision. So now Paul is needing to correct this slander and starts off by defending his apostleship.
He does this in three ways (we looked at the first one today):
1. His conversion is proof of his apostleship
2. The council at Jerusalem proves his Apostleship
3. the confrontation with Peter provers his Apostleship.
Paul, first, goes over his conversion. Stating clearly that the Lord appeared to him directly, then he immediately left Damascus and went to Arabia for 3 years (as opposed to going to Peter’s school for training Apostles) and finally he went to Jerusalem for a short 15 days where he did meet Peter and James, but that was not enough time to train him.
Acts 9 shows that he was preaching in Damascus, preached in Jerusalem (he wasn’t in intensive training classes) and then went to Tarsus. He was called by Barnabus to go to Antioch and from there he went on his first mission going through Galatia. His message was good enough to confound the Jews.
Paul’s message as shown by his conversion is proof that his message was from the Lord. If it is from the Lord then it is complete. In fact, Paul says that Christ even told him about the Lord’s Supper (I cor 11:23) a message he would have also delivered to the Galatians.
The sermon will be posted later.