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Galatians 1

God’s Gospel VS Man’s Gospel

The Gospel
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forever
and ever. Amen.

v3 Why do we need grace and peace?

v4 Grace is for our sins which kept us from God.

v5 What is the result of this gospel?

Glory to God. If we focus on our own salvation, we’ve missed the point of the gospel.

More Gospel
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the
grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel –

If we speed right through this statement on the way towards Paul’s next thought we’ll miss
something extraordinary.

What does Paul associate this different gospel with?

Turning to another gospel is not deserting a system of belief. It’s not deserting a lifestyle.
It’s not deserting a community of faith. It’s deserting “him who called” us. What does that
say about the nature of the gospel?

If embracing a different gospel is to desert God, embracing the true gospel must mean
standing in fellowship with God. The gospel of v3-5 is not something to be merely believed.
It is the foundation of a relationship.

Before Paul explores this relationship, he is going to use chapters 1 and 2 to help us
eradicate the false gospel from our lives.

A Contrary Gospel
7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want
to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let
him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is
preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be

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accursed. 10For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I
trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a
servant of Christ.

v7-9 Paul is quick to point out that the message which the Galatians are embracing is not
actually good news. The judgment against someone preaching another gospel is severe. By
the time we’ve completed chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3 we’ll see why this
condemnation is so strong.
v10 Paul puts the reactions the two gospels receive in contrast with each other. This
contrary gospel is pleasing to mankind and receives the approval of men. The gospel of
Christ is pleasing to God and gains His approval. The implication here is that this contrary
gospel is pleasing to men to the exclusion of pleasing God and the gospel of Christ is
pleasing to God to the exclusion of pleasing men. This tension leads us to ask why the good
news from God would not be pleasing to men.
I believe that the answer lies in the verse’s conclusion. Paul contrasts popularity among
men with being a “servant of Christ.” Servitude is not something we tend to aspire to. It
isn’t something we like. Servitude is demeaning. Why, then, is it a part of Paul’s identity in
the true gospel? And what is the relationship between the servanthood of v10 and the
fellowship with Christ of v6?
As we walk through the rest of chapter 1, Paul will begin to make this point evident.

The Gospel In Paul’s Life


11For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by
me is not man’s gospel. 12For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I
taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For you have
heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God
violently and tried to destroy it. 14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond
many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the
traditions of my fathers. 15But when he who had set me apart before I was
born, and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately
consult with anyone; 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were
apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to
Damascus.

18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained
with him fifteen days. 19But 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!)
21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown
in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were
hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he
once tried to destroy.” 24And they glorified God because of me.

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v11-12, 17-20 Paul takes some time to dismiss accusations against him that his message
was a derivative of some other message. His message was directly given by God and was
not the product of men.

Paul is about to tell us two things. He is going to give us his testimony in a mirror of v3-5 to
demonstrate the fruit of the true gospel in his life. He is also, as a part of his testimony,
going to define the gospel of man.

v13-14 Paul has the Galatians recall his life prior to Christ. It was characterized by
persecuting the Church. This is the mirror of v4 – our sin.

v15-16 Here we find the mirror of v3 – Christ’s sacrifice for us saving us from the penalties
of our sin.

v23-24 The mirror of v5, Paul’s life was so changed by the gospel that people glorified God
because of him.

We see Paul’s testimony here, but what of our question? What is the gospel of man? It’s
wrapped up in Paul’s former life recorded in v13-14. Paul, in his zeal was advancing in his
religion. Paul was advancing himself in an effort to earn something. That something was
heaven.

What’s the problem with advancing? Isn’t it a good thing to do good works and be zealous
for our religion? Certainly, but Paul was relying on himself to advance to the point where he
had earned a place in heaven. He was treating God like a cosmic businessman – doing
enough to earn His favor. Putting God in his debt.

This is appealing to man (v10) because it empowers us to take control of our destiny. It
empowers us to put God in our debt. Most people believe that they will go to heaven if they
are basically good. This is man’s gospel; and it is an abomination (v7-9).

If we leave this section with only an explanation of man’s gospel we might miss something
big. There is also an appeal to the true gospel: When Paul was converted, it wasn’t because
he gained a new systematic theology. God did not reveal a message about Christ to him.
God revealed Christ to him. This is an echo of v6 where Paul explained that the good news
of Christ is more than a message but a relationship.

As we continue into chapter 2 Paul will begin explaining how we cast off the gospel of man
so that the true gospel can take hold of our lives. Later in the epistle, once we have cast off
all traces of man’s gospel, Paul will help us strengthen this relationship.

Application Questions
1. Does the gospel to which I hold please man or God? Why?

2. Is my gospel, at its foundation, a relationship with God or a series of beliefs?

3. Is my identity found in being a servant of God?

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4. Are my efforts an attempt to advance myself or glorify God? The two are mutually
exclusive.

5. How do I try to advance myself in God’s eyes? In my church’s eyes?

6. Is God glorified because of me?

You may be thinking that there are some hanging strings here, and you’d be right.

1. How do I eradicate the false gospel from our life?

2. What does it mean and look like to be a servant of God?

3. If the gospel is really a fellowship with God, how do we foster that relationship?

Paul doesn’t leave us hanging on these questions. Make sure you subscribe and meet back
with us next time as we explore these questions in chapter 2.

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