(Gal 1:1 NASB) Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
(Gal 1:2 NASB) and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
(Gal 1:3 NASB) Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
(Gal 1:4 NASB) who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
(Gal 1:5 NASB) to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
Gal 1:5: Paul gives his customary greeting and salutation. But he doesn’t get very far before he has some very stern words for the assembly in Galatia.
(Gal 1:6 NASB) I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
(Gal 1:7 NASB) which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:7: Paul says that he is amazed that they are turning from Messiah in such a short amount of time. He apparently just left them and they are following some different Gospel than the one he taught them.
He said it’s not another gospel, but a perversion of the gospel of the kingdom spoken of by Messiah.
It is likely that if one does not know what the message of the Gospel consists of, they will not know the meaning of the book of Galatians. What is the message of the Gospel? The “Gospel of the Kingdom” is “repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (almost here) (Matt. 4:17, 23). Yeshua said the Gospel of the Kingdom was originally preached by John the Baptist (Luke 16:15-17). John first preached the Gospel (Matt. 3:1-2).
Originally, this message was not to go outside the borders of Israel (Matt. 10:5-7).
(Gal 1:8 NASB) But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
(Gal 1:9 NASB) As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9: Paul is being very direct with the people of Galatia. He is not wanting them to be confused at all. If anyone preaches any other gospel than “Repent, for the Kingdom of Elohim is at hand,” let him be accursed (“anathema” in Greek).
There were Judaizers in Galatia that were telling the people that they could only enter the Kingdom through Judaism. The Judaizers rejected the King and claimed the Kingdom to themselves without Messiah. That was the problem in Galatia in that day. The people were being confused by the simple message of “Repent and follow Torah because the Kingdom of Heaven is here.”
Conversion to Judaism has not changed much since before the time of Messiah:
The Rabbis of the Talmud, written between 500-1000 years after the close of the Pentateuch, used the word “ger” to refer to two different types of people. They used the term “ger tzedek” to refer to the proselyte to Judaism, and “ger toshav” to refer to a non-Jewish inhabitant of the Land of Israel who observes the seven Noahide Laws and has repudiated all links with idolatry.
According to the Talmud (Keritot 8b), the process of conversion to Judaism involves three components, which must be witnessed and affirmed by a beth din:
Circumcision (Brit milah or hatafat dam brit) for men
Immersion (tevilah) in a mikveh (ritual bath)
Offering a certain korban (sacrifice) in the Beit Hamikdash (the Temple) – this requirement does not apply today because the Beit Hamikdash does not exist. The consensus of halakhic authorities also requires a convert to understand and accept the duties of the halakha, classical Jewish religious law. This is not stated explicitly in the Talmud, but was inferred by subsequent commentators.
After confirming that all these criteria are met, the beth din issues a Shtar Giur (“Certificate of Conversion”), certifying that the former gentile is now a Jew.
After the rabbi agrees to convert you, you will go through a period of study and practice of the rituals (i.e. lighting Sabbath candles) which will generally last one year but could be longer The Orthodox and Conservative (and some Reconstructionist and Reform) rabbis will require males to go through a circumcision. If the male is already circumcised then he will go through a hatafat dam brit. Males and females will be required to go before the bet din where the potential convert will be asked various questions – mostly pertaining to why one wants to convert, what one has learned, if one is willing to give up any previous religious affiliations, and (Orthodox and Conservative rabbis) if you are willing to follow halachah. Once this is completed a Hebrew name will be chosen (this is usually already established in advance of the bet din by the convert). After this you will go to the mikveh and immerse yourself. The Sabbath after the conversion is completed men (and women in some non-Orthodox shuls) will generally be called for an aliyah during the Torah reading.
Most Bible teachers today try to apply this book of Galatians to their present day situation when they are not at all facing the difficulties that Paul was facing. The people he was teaching were being told by rabbis of that day that Gentiles could not hear of Messiah and Torah until they had been circumcised and converted to Judaism. This fact is more evident in chapter 2 of Galatians.
When one trusts in Messiah through love and obedience to Torah, they are a part of the Kingdom. They were being told that conversion to Judaism is required before one can be a part of the Kingdom. Paul is telling them not to listen to these men.
(Gal 1:10 NASB) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10: There are many Jews who do not like the message that Paul is preaching and especially since he is preaching it to the Gentiles.
The Gospel of Yeshua goes against the religion of the Pharisees. Paul is battling the same enemies that Yeshua was battling a few years earlier.
(Gal 1:11 NASB) For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
(Gal 1:12 NASB) For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Gal 1:12: Paul was not taught the message of repentance because of the coming Kingdom through Jewish teaching. He received it directly from Yeshua Himself. He wants them to fully understand that.
(Gal 1:13 NASB) For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it;
Gal 1:13: The message of salvation went against Pharasaic Judaism. Phariseeism was not actually “the Old Testament” as many churches teach or imply. It was a structure that set up man’s rules and regulations and equated them with Elohim’s Torah.
The Gospel stripped them of their power over the masses because it did not force Judaism on the people. Paul was livid over that at one time himself.
(Gal 1:14 NASB) and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
Gal 1:14: What was Paul “zealous” over? It wasn’t that he was “zealous for Elohim’s Law and for righteousness.” He was “more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of (his) fathers. (NKJV)”
Yeshua, and later Paul, both fought against these traditions (Mark 7:6-13, Col 2:8)
(Gal 1:15 NASB) But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased
(Gal 1:16 NASB) to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
(Gal 1:17 NASB) nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
Gal 1:17: Paul realizes that he was set apart to have Messiah revealed to him even from his mother’s womb. He did not “ask Jesus in his heart.” He knew that being chosen by Elohim was not a work of his, but an act of sovereignty by the Almighty Elohim.
(Gal 1:18 NASB) Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
(Gal 1:19 NASB) But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
(Gal 1:20 NASB) (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)
Gal 1:20: Paul is saying that he did not learn of Messiah from other people, but through Elohim Himself.
(Gal 1:21 NASB) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
(Gal 1:22 NASB) And I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;
(Gal 1:23 NASB) but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
(Gal 1:24 NASB) And they were glorifying God because of me.
Gal 1:24: Paul is explaining that he did not receive the message of Messiah through the teachings of men, but from Messiah. Because of the miraculous change in Paul, the believers were glorifying Elohim.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas