As we mentioned last time, the timing of when Sha’ul wrote Galatians is important because it tells us who he was writing to. There are five (5) trips of Sha’ul to Jerusalem recorded in Acts, and there are two (2) visits recorded in Galatians.[i] Since Sha’ul does not mention the Council in Jerusalem in Acts 15, it makes most sense that the visits mentioned in Galatians match up with the first two visits mentioned in Acts. This means that Sha’ul is writing to the congregations located in the Southern area of the region of Galatia. These are the congregations in the cities of Perga, Antioch Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe that are recorded in Acts chapters 13 and 14.
What is Missing?
As we read the next few verses of Galatians 1, it is important to notice what is not there, just as much as what is.[Read Gal. 1:6-10][ii]
In almost every other letter of Sha’ul, he immediately follows the greeting with a thanks to the Lord for the people and a praise of the people.[iii] However, in this case, there is no thanks and no praise of the people. Sha’ul gets right to the point and his urgency can be immediately seen in the language he uses. He is “amazed” that they have “so quickly” turned away. Repentance, or Teshuva is a turning away from sin and turning toward God, but here we have the Galatians, turning away from the “One who called” them and turning toward another “good news.” Sha’ul’s urgency is because these congregations are in danger of rejecting Yeshua and thereby losing their salvation. Before we go into the details of this other “good news”, it is extremely important that we cover the true “good news.”
What is the True Good News?
The True Good News is this. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) “There no one righteous – no, not one.” (Rom 3:10, Psa. 14:3) “Sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) “We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us turned to his own way. So Adonai has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa. 53:6) “This Yeshua [the Messiah of Nazareth] is ‘the stone—rejected by …, the builders—that has become the chief cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved!” (Acts. 4:11-12)
Therefore, “at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, … and every tongue profess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord – to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11) “Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, those who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you were—but you [can be] washed, you [can be] made holy, you [can be] set right in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the Ruach of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
Therefore, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. For this promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away—as many as Adonai our God calls to Himself!”
The Good News that Sha’ul Preached
Even more specific to the congregation in Galatia, What is the Good News that Sha’ul preached? If only we had a record of one of Sha’ul’s sermons that he preached to them . . . . Well that is what we are going to read next.[Read Acts 13:26-41]
This is a portion of the sermon that Sha’ul gave on his first missionary journey in the city of Perga (13:13). And from this city the “word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region”, the region called Galatia. There are three specific points from this sermon that I believe will help us understand the letter to the Galatians. We see that:
- through Yeshua is the removal and forgiveness of sins, (vs. 38)
- Yeshua justified us (set us right) where the Torah of Moses could not, and
- everyone who keeps on trusting in Yeshua is made righteous (vs. 39)
This is the Good News that Sha’ul preached, and this is the backdrop of the letter to the Galatians.
No Other Good News
There is no other good news than this. Sha’ul uses the strongest language of condemnation for those attempting to add to this good news. He literally says, “let them be damned” or condemned to God’s judgement. Sha’ul is even handed in his condemnation. He applies this curse to anyone, mankind or angel, himself or anyone else. Angels in the Bible are messengers of Adonai, and the Good News of Yeshua was delivered by the Angel Gabriel to Mary and Zechariah. But several other Cults claim that another gospel was delivered by an angel. Islam claims that the Koran was given to Mohamed by the angel Gabriel, and Mormonism claims that the angel Moroni gave Joseph Smith the Book of Mormon. Both the Koran and the Book of Mormon directly contradict the Gospels, and both twist the good news about who Yeshua is, and what He did. The Koran claims that Yeshua is NOT the Son of God, while the Apostles state that He is the Son of God. The Book of Mormon claims that the Father and the Son visited Joseph Smith, whereas the John wrote that no one has seen the Father at any time. There is no middle ground! Both cannot be true at the same time!
This is the same with the “other good news” that was being preached to the congregations in Galatia. Either justification (being made right before God) is a free gift of God, made possible by trusting in the atoning death of Yeshua, or … justification is something that we earn. It cannot be both!
[i] The five visits to Jerusalem in Acts are: 9:26-30, 11:27-30, 15:1-30, 18:22, 21:17-23:22. The two visits recorded in Galatians are: 1:18-20, 2:1-10. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11, Robert Rapa, pg. 553.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iii] The thanks and praise toward the congregation is recorded in: Rom. 1:8-15, 1 Cor. 1:4-9, Eph. 1:13, Col. 1:3-14, 1 Thes. 1:2-11, 2 Thes. 1:3-5.