Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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GALATIANS - Chapter 1

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Galatians 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Introduction  1, 1-10

1, 1-5:  Greeting.  The abruptness with which he plunges into his theme, and the absence of all commendation of the Galatian Christians are signs of the Apostle's intense feeling of displeasure and grief at the readiness of the Galatians to desert the principles he had given them.

1.  An Apostle: as being a witness of the Resurrection (Acts 1, 22), and immediately appointed by Christ (Gal. 2, 8), and consequently equal to the Twelve.  Not from men: (as the source) his opponents were self-appointed teachers, his commission as a teacher came from God.  Nor by man: (as the medium) he was not authorized by men, as were the deacons (Acts 6, 5), and Timothy (1 Tim. 4, 14).  But by Jesus Christ: i.e., St. Paul was designated apostle by Christ Himself.  Who raised him from the dead: it was the special function of the Apostles to preach Jesus and the Resurrection (Acts 17, 18).    2.  St. Paul, out of custom, includes his companions such as Timothy and Erastus in his salutation.  The mention of churches indicates that several, if not all, were guilty of the same error.    3.  In his charity St. Paul wishes the Galatians the grace of God, which they have not esteemed as they should.    4.  In this verse the Galatians are reminded that they have been freed from sin, not through the Mosaic Law, as the Judaizers were claiming, but through Jesus Christ, who died for them.

1, 6-10:  Surprise and Rebuke.  St. Paul immediately begins his theme.    6.  This verse contains a rebuke sterner than Paul is wont to give.  He marvels that they are so quickly deserting, i.e., so quickly after the temptation came upon them, and not so quickly after their conversion.    7.  Which is not another gospel: there is only one gospel of Christ, while the Judaizers were preaching among the Galatians serious doctrinal errors as if they were the gospel.    8.  Anathema: cursed, excluded from the kingdom of God.    9.  St. Paul reminds the Galatians of the warning he and his companions had given them before, possibly on his second visit, against false teachers.    10.  Here St. Paul observes that he did not make it his primary object to please men.  He is evidently repeating charges made against him.  The Apostle asks the Galatians to judge for themselves whose favor he is seeking; if he were trying to have the favor of the Judaizers he would have continued defending Judaism, but then he would not be the servant of Christ.

I.  PERSONAL DEFENSE  1, 11 -- 2, 21

1.  A Defense of His Apostolate  1, 11-24

St. Paul assets, in refutation of his opponent's accusations, that his gospel is from God.  As a proof he recalls his conduct before his conversion on the road to Damascus.  A conclusive proof that his work among the Gentiles was regarded as a mission from God was the praise given his missionary labors by the churches of Judea, who knew the former persecutor of the Christians only by reputation.

1, 11-24:  Not of Human Origins.    11.  I give you to understand: expressing Paul's earnestness (1 Cor. 12, 3; 2 Cor. 8, 1).  Not of man: i.e., not according to a human standard.    12.  This is a formal declaration that the doctrine Paul taught was revealed directly to him by Christ, and not learned from the Apostles or members of the Church.  This doctrine embraced the whole preaching of Christianity, the mysteries of the life, passion and resurrection of Christ.    13.  You have heard: i.e., from different sources, but notably from his enemies, the Judaizers.    14.  The traditions of my fathers: the explanatory additions to the Mosaic Law (Mark 7, 3-13).  Paul, like the other Pharisees, had regarded these traditions as sacred as the Law itself.    15.  Before Paul was born, it pleased God to choose and predestine him to be the Apostle of the Gentiles.    16.  To reveal his Son in me: i.e., to grant him knowledge of Christ as Messias and Savior, compared to which Paul counted all other things as worthless (Phil. 3, 8).  Flesh and blood: human counsel.  Paul is contrasting Christ, who spoke to him, and mortal men, whom he did not consult.  Immediately: the Apostle is not insisting so much on the prompt obedience he showed to his call, as upon the divine origin of his apostolate.    17.  So clear and certain were the call and revelation, he did not even go to Jerusalem to confer with the other Apostles.  Arabia: the country east and southeast of Palestine, stretching from the Euphrates to the Red Sea.  Paul in mentioning his retirement into Arabia, where there was no one who could instruct him, wishes to prove that he did not receive his gospel from men.  In that country he devoted himself to meditation and prayer; and according to some Fathers he also engaged in preaching.

18.  This verse shows St. Paul's respect for St. Peter.  He went to make the latter's acquaintance, although he had noting to learn from Peter.  It was not necessary that he go up to Jerusalem to learn the gospel, and so he remained with Peter only fifteen days.    19.  On this occasion Paul saw a good deal of Barnabas (Acts 9, 26 f).  He does not mention this, since he is speaking only of the Apostles.  James is called the brother of the Lord, meaning His relative.  His father was Cleophas or Alpheus, and his mother was the sister of the Blessed Virgin.  Therefore he was Christ's cousin.    20.  St. Paul considered it very important to insist that what he had just said about his independence of the twelve Apostles was undeniably true.    21.  From Acts 9, 29 ff we know that Paul was persecuted at Jerusalem by the Hellenistic Jews, and was obliged to flee.  He went to Tarsus in Cilicia, where he was later found by Barnabas (Acts 11, 25 ff), who brought him to Antioch.  In this verse Paul is probably referring to his ministry with Barnabas in and about Antioch, the metropolis of Syria (Acts 11, 25-30).


Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1 Paul, an apostle, sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead, 2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.  3 Grace and peace be to you from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the wickedness of this present world according to the will of our God and Father; 5 to whom is glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Surprise and Rebuke  6* I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ, changing to another gospel; 7 which is not another gospel, except in this respect that there are some who trouble you, and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ.  8* But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema!  9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I seeking to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

Not of Human Origin  11 For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not of man.  12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it; but I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.  13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism; how beyond all measure I persecuted the Church of God, and ravaged it.  14 And I advance in Judaism above many of my contemporaries in my nation, showing much more zeal for the traditions of my fathers.  15 But when it pleased him who from my mother's womb set me apart and called me by his grace, 16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately, without taking counsel with flesh and blood, 17 and without going up to Jerusalem to those who were appointed apostles before me, I retired into Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and I remained with him fifteen days.  19 But I saw none of the other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord. 20 Now in what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I do not lie.  21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  22 And I was unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.  23 But they had heard only that he who formerly persecuted us, now preaches the faith which once he ravaged.  24 And they glorified God in me.
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*

6: Deserting him: refers to our heavenly Father.  Another gospel: a different gospel, a gospel containing serious doctrinal errors.

8: Anathema: i.e., cursed, excluded from the kingdom of God.