This is the first of a series of eleven posts going through Paul’s letter to the Galatians. They’re all going to be quite short, simply summarizing the content a series of ten studies that took place in a house church setting of which I’ve been a part. (The last study I’ve split in half for these posts.)
Galatians 1:1-9 ~ Introduction
Paul’s epistle to the Galatians focuses on fighting false doctrine in the church of Galatia. After he started the Church in Galatia and moved on, a number of Jewish Christians came to Galatia preaching a message of keeping the law and circumcision, which went against the Gospel that Paul was preaching to the Gentile churches. Their teachings gained a strong foothold among them, creating a serious threat to the true gospel of Christ.
Paul’s task in writing them this letter, then, is two-fold: not only does he have to re-explain to them the gospel over against the Judaizer’s false gospel, but he also has to re-establish his authority as a true Apostle. These two major themes are introduced in this passage and explained for most of the rest of the epistle. For example, verse 1 highlights the nature of Paul’s apostleship, and the prolonged greeting in verse 3 practically summarizes the gospel.
Most of his epistles include a thanksgiving for given church to which he’s writing, but Paul offers none for the church in Galatia. Instead, he pulls no punches and cuts to the chase: he’s astonished that they’re deserting the one who evangelized them (likely Paul himself) in favor of “no gospel at all,” or, in short, heresy. And heresy on this level deserves being declared “anathema,” often translated as “God’s curse” or “eternally condemned to hell!”