19 July Galatians 1:1-24

19 July. Paul writes to the new believers in Galatia in 50AD

"From Paul, an apostle [a close follower who has personally seen Jesus]. I was not chosen to be an apostle by human beings. I was made an apostle through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead."

"This letter is also from all of those of God's family who are with me [in Antioch in Syria]."

"To the churches in Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave himself for our sins to free us from this evil world we live in, as God the Father planned. The glory belongs to God for ever and ever. Amen..."

"Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the Good News I preached to you was not made up by human beings. I did not get it from humans, nor did anyone teach it to me, but Jesus Christ showed it to me."

"You have heard about my past life in the Jewish religion. I attacked the church of God and tried to destroy it... But God had special plans for me and set me apart for his work even before I was born. He called me through his grace, and showed his Son to me [on the road to Damascus] so that I might tell the Good News about him to those who are not Jewish."

"When God called me, I did not get advice or help from any person. I did not go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. But, without waiting, I went away to Arabia [Petrea] and later went back to Damascus. After three years I went to Jerusalem to meet Peter and stayed with him for fifteen days. I met no other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord... Later I went to the areas of Syria and Cilicia."

"In Judea the churches in Christ had never met me. They had only heard it said, 'This man who was attacking us is now preaching the same faith that he once tried to destroy.' And these believers praised God because of me."

          (Galatians 1:1-24)

 

 

This is the first letter written by Paul that has been preserved to the present day. The letter was written to the believers in Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, cities in the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia, that Paul had visited on his first missionary journey in 47 and 48AD (see Acts 13:13-14:23).

It was probably written in Antioch in Syria in 50AD shortly after Paul had attended the Council of Jerusalem in 49/50AD. Here, Paul had asked the leaders of the church to make a decision not to require non-Jewish believers to be circumcised – a topic of concern that features prominently in the Letter to the Galatians (see Acts 15:1-22). The letter was written prior to Paul revisiting these churches during his second missionary journey of 50 – 52AD.

In the letter, Paul discussed whether non-Jewish believers – Gentile believers – must obey the Law of Moses in order to follow Christ. Paul argued that Jewish traditions such as circumcision were unnecessary for Gentile believers – who were saved only by faith in Jesus Christ. This line – put forward strongly by Paul – had been upheld by the Jewish Christian leaders at the Council of Jerusalem in 49/50AD (see Acts 15:23-29), but was being questioned by some of the more traditional Jewish believers.

In the introduction to his letter, Paul sent greetings from his fellow-believers in Antioch, then laid out his credentials as an apostle who was personally called by the risen Lord Jesus.

He reminded them how he became an apostle. He was totally committed to the Jewish religion and led the persecution of the early Christian believers following Jesus’s crucifixion in 30AD (see Acts 8:1-3). He was absolutely devoted to Jewish traditions.

But after the risen Lord Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus in 35AD (see Acts 9:1-5) he was completely changed. He spent a short time in neighbouring Arabia Petrea, then stayed three years in Damascus before visiting Peter and James – the leaders of the church in Jerusalem – in 38AD (see Acts 9:26-29).

After this, he returned home to Tarsus in Cilicia (see Acts 9:30) and began spreading the Good News about Jesus in the Roman provinces of Syria and Cilicia.

The photo shows an Ottoman Turkish house at Sille near Iconium (modern-day Konya) in Galatia (in southern Turkey).

You can see a map showing the towns of southern Galatia visited by Paul on his first missionary journey in 47/48AD @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/paul-starts-his-1st-miss…/.


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