1. Introduction - the opening address, 1:1-10

The greeting and Paul's apologia


In the opening passage of his letter, 1:1-5, Paul dispenses with his usual thanksgiving and prayer on behalf of the church and begins with a condensed salutation that moves immediately to the issue at hand, 1:6-10. Some members of the Galatian churches had adopted "a different gospel" promoted by "certain people" (the judaizers) rather than "the gospel of Christ" promoted by Paul, a message that expedites the grace of God in the risen Christ. Because of the damage being caused by these false teachers, "let God's curse be on them."


i] Background: Throughout the Gentile world, Paul's gospel was maligned by the Judaizers, members of the circumcision party within the Christian church in Jerusalem. They seemed set on following up on Paul's missionary work in order to counter his antinomian gospel. So, Paul's mission churches constantly suffered from the heresy of nomism, ie., the heresy of sanctification by obedience (the heretical law-obedience doctrine promoted by the Judaizers). Galatians sits firmly in the middle of this doctrinal debate which was troubling the early church. Paul even gives us a bit of its history and how it actually played out in the early church, but more particularly, he tackles the heresy head on for us, although not with the same detail as he does in Romans.

Nomism is the heresy that law-obedience ["works of the law" - obedience to the law of Moses] is essential to restrain sin and shape holiness [sanctify] for the maintenance of right-standing before God [covenant compliance] and thus the appropriation of God's promised blessings [the promised blessings of the Abrahamic covenant = life = the gift of the holy Spirit, etc.]. Paul calls the nomist heretics in Rome "the weak", cf. 14:1-15:13.

It is likely that this heresy entered the Christian church through converted Jews long indoctrinated in the nomism of 2nd Temple Judaism. They probably made up the core members of the circumcision party. Pious Jews of the 1st. century (eg., Pharisees) were infected by the heresy of nomism; they knew that their standing as a Jew rested on divine grace, but they believed that remaining true to that standing rested on obedience to the Law (ie., they were nomists, not legalists). Jesus constantly tried to expose the flaw in their thinking by revealing the idealistic demands of the Law. Although they were proficient at tithing mint and cumin, they were unable to obey the weightier matters of the Law and so needed to find another way to retain their standing as children of God and so fully appropriate the promised blessing of the covenant. The answer lay with divine mercy, the way of grace through faith.

Paul, serving as the exegete of Jesus, argues for a gospel that rests on the grace of God, such that the full appropriation of the covenant promises is realized through faith (Christ's faithfulness and our faith response) apart from works of the law:


The nomists / judaizers / pietists / members of the circumcision party argue that:


In short, the nomists believed that law-obedience both restrains sin and progresses holiness for the appropriation of the promised Abrahamic blessings, which, for a believer, entails the fullness of new life in Christ. These nomistic believers certainly understood that their salvation rested on the person and work of Christ appropriated by faith, although their notion of justification was probably limited to forgiveness. When it came to the appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant, attention to the law of Moses was essential. For Paul, justification, being set-right before God and thus holy before God, of itself facilitates the totality of God's promised blessings.


ii] Context: Galatians presents as an example of epideictic first century rhetoric which serves to argue a case and persuade the reader to adopt it. The letter / sermon / speech presents as follows:

Introduction, 1:1-10:

superscriptio, adscriptio and salutatio, 1:1-5:

exordium - an introduction which serves to introduce the subject matter, often seeking to elicit sympathy from the audience / reader, but in Galatians is more an expression of Paul's anger than anything else, 1:6-10.

Background, 1:11-2:14:

narratio - a narrative section which focuses on Paul's relationship with the Jerusalem church, the Jerusalem Council and Paul's conflict with Peter. A narrative is not always present in deliberative rhetoric, but in Galatians it is a very important introduction to the issue at hand.

Proposition, 2:15-21:

propositio / partitio - a summary statement of the thesis, namely, that the gospel, of itself, and apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ.

Argument Proper, 3:1-4:7:

probatio - rhetorical proofs / arguments in support of the proposition. There is not much agreement among commentators as to the exact formation of these arguments, but these notes propose seven arguments.

Application, 4:8-6:10:

exhortatio, or concluding exhortations.

Conclusion, 6:11-18:

a concluding postscript.


iii] Structure: The introduction to Paul's letter to the Galatians:

The salutation, v1-5:

Paul's authority, v1-2;

Paul's gospel, v3-4;

from whom, to whom.

The rebuke, v6-10:

a gospel lost, v6-7;

Paul's gospel is the true gospel, v8-9;

Paul's motives, v10.


iv] Interpretation:

Members of the Galatian congregation had succumbed to the preaching of a false gospel. Paul is amazed that his converts are so easily and quickly persuaded to accept a fraudulent ("different") gospel and thus abandon the one "who called" them, namely God. They had been called into the grace of God which is found in Christ, but now they have turned from God's free grace to a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. The preachers of this "new" gospel may well have called it the "full gospel". It was a message which contained the "little extra", the little extra that guarantees a believer's standing before God, secures their full sanctification, and thus the promised blessings of God. The "extra" is what Paul calls "the works of the law" - submission to the law of Moses, even down to a Gentile believer being circumcised. For Paul, salvation, complete and full, is by grace through faith, and nothing more.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:1

The greeting and apologia, v1-10: i] The salutation, v1-5. a) Paul's authority, v1-2: The letter begins with Paul stating by what authority he writes - "Paul, an apostle". The letter is also form the "brethren", Paul's fellow missionaries, and is addressed to the churches in Galatia.

apostoloV (oV) "apostle" - [paul] an apostle. Nominative in apposition to "Paul". Those chosen by Christ as his special messengers/witnesses - the twelve. On replacing Judas, the person chosen was someone who had been with Jesus from the beginning. Paul is a post-resurrection apostle serving as Christ's special messenger to the Gentiles. "From Paul the apostle", Cassirer.

ouk apo + gen. "sent not from [men]" - Possibly expressing source, "my apostleship comes from no human source", Barclay, but also possibly agency; "was not commissioned by human authority", TNT.

dia +gen. "by [man]" - [nor] by means of [men]. Probably expressing agency, but again possibly instrumental, means. So, either "by", or "from". Whether or not Paul intends a distinction between the two prepositions is unclear (dia is repeated for Christ and the Father), but his point is clear enough; "appointed and commissioned (Gk. "sent") .... not by men but by Jesus Christ and God the Father", Phillips. If a distinction is intended then the point is that Paul's apostleship "neither originated nor was mediated by human agency", George.

alla "but" - Adversative. On the contrary, Paul's apostleship was from God. Paul is further emphasizing his authority.

tou egeirantoV (egairw) aor. gen. part. "who raised [him from the dead]" - [through jesus christ and god father] the one having raised [him from dead]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Father"; "Father who raised ..." Paul may be alluding to the fact that he was commissioned by the risen Lord.


oiJ adelfoi "the brothers" - [and all] the brothers. Nominative absolute. Presumably Paul's fellow workers / missionaries, rather than believers in general.

sun + dat. "with [me]" - Expressing association.

taiV ekklhsiaiV (a) dat. "to the churches" - to the assemblies. Dative of indirect object with something like "greetings" assumed; "greetings to the churches in Galatia", Cassirer / dative of recipient. Note, "churches" plural, ie. Paul is addressing numerous congregations. "Greetings to the congregations in Galatia from myself and the other members of my missionary team."

thV GalatiaV (a) gen. "in Galatia" - of galatia. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, limiting "churches"; "the churches which are located in Galatia."


b) Paul's gospel, v3-4: Paul uses his typical greeting, "grace and peace to you." "Grace" is God's free and unmerited favour toward us, and "peace" is the state of wholeness we possess in Christ as a consequence of God's grace. This blessing has its source in God - Father and Son. Paul reminds his readers of what Jesus has done; "he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins." And the purpose of this action was to rescue us from this present age of shadows - this present evil age. All this is willed by God, so "may he be praised for ever more." There is no verb in v3, but obviously a wish is intended; "may grace and peace rest upon you", Cassirer.

cariV (iV ewV) "Grace" - grace [to you]. Nominative absolute. A common greeting in letters of the time so Paul may not intend anything of substance in his use of the word in the terms of "God's unconditional goodwill toward his people", Barnes.

eirhnh (h) "peace" - [and] peace. A common Jewish greeting in the sense of "may God's peace (his favor = peace) rest upon you".

uJmin pro. "to you" - Dative of interest, advantage, "for you", or locative, place / sphere "upon you", or recipient, "to you", or possession, "be yours."

apo + gen. "from" - from [god father of us and lord jesus christ]. Again possibly expressing origin/source, "derived from", but also possibly agency, "bestowed by". As in v1, both the Father and the Son are together in the blessing; "from the Father and the Son."

hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - The genitive is adjectival, relational.

patroV (hr roV) gen. "Father" - Genitive is apposition to "God".


tou dontoV (didwmi) aor. gen. part. "who gave [himself]" - the one having given [himself]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting by describing "the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins." Here we have a classic atonement statement in the terms of Mark 10:45. "The gospel is about Jesus Christ's gracious self-giving for our sake, and that self-giving must be understood as an apocalyptic rescue mission", Hayes.

uJper "for [our sins]" - on behalf of [the sins of us]. In the NT usually representation / advantage, "on behalf of / for the benefit of"; Christ's sacrifice was for our benefit in that it addressed our sins. Possibly here expressing cause / reason, "because of our sins", also possibly just relational; "who offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins", Bligh.

oJpwV + subj. "to [rescue us]" - in order that [he might rescue us]. This construction forms a purpose clause; "His purpose was to rescue (lit. "remove") us from the present evil world", Barclay.

ek "from" - out of, from. Expressing source/origin, or better separation, "away from."

tou enestwtoV (enisthmi) gen. perf. part. "[the] present" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the age."

tou aiwnoV (wn wnoV) "evil age" - [evil] age. The age that we are now part of, as opposed to the age to come. "The present (lit. "imminent") age with all its evils", Lightfoot.

kata + acc. "according to" - Expressing a standard; "in accordance with." That the cross was according to God's divine plan reminds us that it was not an afterthought implemented following the failure of his covenant with Israel.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the will] of [our] God" - [the will] of god. This genitive would usually be taken as verbal here, subjective, but adjectival, possessive, or ablative, source/origin, are also possible.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - [and = even father] of us. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


c) From whom, to whom, v5: Paul concludes his salutation with an ascription of praise to God. Again, there is no verb so it must be assumed. "Glory be to him for ever and ever, Amen", Barclay.

w|/ dat. "to whom" - The dative is adverbial, reference/respect; referring to "our God and Father", v4, or dative of possession.

hJ doxa "glory" - be the glory. "God's power in action", Martyn.

eiV "for" - to, into, toward. "Into eternity", so "for ever and ever." Temporal use of the preposition.

touV aiwnaV (wn wnoV) gen. "ever" - [into the ages] of the ages. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possibly possessive, although Turner sees it serving as an intensifier for a colloquial phrase;"to the uttermost depths of eternity", Bligh.

amhn "Amen" - Used to express confirmation; "may it be so".


ii] Paul explains his reason for writing, v6-10. a) A gospel lost, v6-7: Paul now gets into the issue at hand, namely, the adoption of a "different" gospel by some members of the Galatians churches.

qaumazw pres. "I am astonished" - i marvel at. "I am surprised", Barclay. Probably with a bit of directed anger; "I am astonished at you", Martyn.

oJti "that" - Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul is astonished at.

ouJtwV adv. "so [quickly]" - Adverbial intensifier. Obviously a temporal sense is intended, presumably so quickly moving from the gospel that Paul had preached to the Galatians. Possibly so quickly adopting the "different gospel" promoted by the Judaizers.

metatiqesqe (metatiqhmi) pres. "deserting" - you are turning, changing, transferring, deserting, defecting. Middle voice, being reflective, expresses the sense "transferring yourself". "The word is used for changing sides in politics, warfare and philosophical disputes", Bligh. "I am amazed that you have so quickly transferred your allegiance", Phillips.

apo + gen. "-" - from. Expressing separation, "[you are turning] away from."

tou kalesantoV (kalew) aor. part. "the one who called [you]" - the one having called, summoned [you]. The participle serves as a substantive. It is unclear who is "the one calling", but most likely God in Christ through the gospel is intended, although there is an outside possibility that Paul is referring to himself as the apostle who proclaimed God's Word to the Galatians. "The God who called you", Barclay.

en + dat. "by [the grace (of Christ)" - in / by [grace of christ]. Space/sphere may be intended, "the sphere in which" (this sense can extend to movement toward, "to/toward the sphere of", or "entrance into the sphere of", ie., = eiV, "into the merciful kindness of", Junkins), or adverbial, instrumental "the means by which", as NIV, or modal, or even causal, "because of", but unlikely. The sense of the prepositional phrase is clouded by the fact that "of Christ" (+ "of Jesus Christ", "of God", ....) is a variant. The shorter reading seems more likely with the implication that it is "God's grace", the grace (covenant mercy) of the one who calls us. So, "in grace" probably means "to/into/in the sphere of God's grace", Martyn, Betz, Garlington, Dumbrell, Fung, Guthrie, although possibly "by means of God's grace", George, Burton, Bruce, Lightfoot, Longenecker. Dunn cheats with "the grounds on which and the means by which"!!!

eiV + acc. "and are turning to" - to. Probably, having deserted ..... they have gone over into .... The verb "are turning" is supplied. "I am amazed at you for ..... and for your readiness to go over to a different gospel", Cassirer.

eJteron pro. "a different" - another, different. Pronoun as an adjective limiting "gospel". The gospel adopted by the nomist (law-bound) Galatian believers is a gospel of another kind. Central to Galatians is "the truth of the gospel", 2:5, 14, a truth distorted by the Judaizers and their sanctification-by-obedience teachings.

euaggelion (on) "gospel" - important message. The word meaning "important message", as in the sense of a message carried from a battlefront, serves as a short-hand word for the divine message concerning the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant in Christ - "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand / near / upon us."


o} ouk estin "which is really no gospel at all" - which is not. The clause serves as a corrective - there is only one gospel, so the message of the Judaizers is no gospel. "There is really only one true message", CEV.

allo pro. "-" - another. Predicate nominative. Probably not taking its usual meaning of "another of several" = "which is not another gospel". Possibly pleonastic (redundant), "serving to introduce ei mh", Ridderbos.

ei mh "evidently" - except, unless, but. Often used to express an exception, but here serving to limit the previous statement; "although there are some who are promoting another gospel, a perversion of the gospel of Christ."

tineV pro. "some people [are]" - [there are] certain, some. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. A little more definite than "some people", so "certain people", Barclay.

oi tarassonteV (tarassw) pres. part. "throwing [you] into confusion" - ones shaking, troubling, disturbing [you]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive pronoun tineV, "some people"; There are some peoplewho are troubling you." The present tense is durative, expressing ongoing action. "Trouble" in the sense of undertaking "seditious activity", Guthrie.

oi .... qelonteV (qelw) pres. part. "[and] are trying" - desiring, wishing, willing. Again the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "some"; there are some ........ who are wishing. A desiring which is "not unwitting or unconscious", Ridderbos; they actually "intend" to undermine the gospel proclaimed by Paul, Martyn.

metastreyai (metastrefw) aor. inf. "to pervert" - to pervert, change about, turn around to the opposite. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the participle "trying to change the gospel of Christ into its opposite", Martyn.

tou Cristou (oV) gen. "[the gospel] of Christ" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / content, "about Christ", or ablative, source / origin, "from Christ."


b) Paul's gospel is the true gospel, v8-9: The true gospel is the one which Paul and his associates had preached to the Galatian churches. This was the message originally accepted by them. Those who present a different message are accursed.

alla "but [even]" - Adversative with an ascensive kai, as NIV; "but even if we or an angel ...", Barclay.

ean + subj. "if" - if [we should preach]. Introducing a conditional sentence 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of being realized, "if, as the case may be ..... then [let him be cursed]."

aggeloV (oV) "[or] an angel" - Paul is making the point that the gospel is immutable, and does so with a bit of exaggeration - it is unlikely that an angel from heaven would convey a false message from God. Of course, he may have in mind Satan, a fallen angel.

ex + gen. "from" - out of, from [heaven]. Expressing source/origin. The prepositional phrase "out of heaven" is adjectival, modifying "angel".

para + acc. "other than" - besides, beyond [which]. Again possibly "in addition to" the one preached by Paul, but better "beyond [that which]", Bruce, so "in departure from", or better "as opposed to", "at variance with", Fung, "contrary to what we proclaimed to you", NRSV.

euhggelisameqa (euaggelizw) aor. "we preached" - Paul probably uses the plural to include the other members of the missionary team that evangelized Galatia.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

estw (eimi) pres. imp. "let him be" - let be. "Let him be eternally condemned", George.

anaqema (a) "eternally condemned" - accursed, for destruction. Predicate nominative. Used of something devoted for destruction, so possibly of "excommunication", Williams, but more likely of divine disapproval, as opposed to divine favor.


wJV "as" - as, like. Comparative.

proeirhkamen (proeipon) perf. "we have already said" - we have previously said, said beforehand. The perfect expresses the idea that what Paul has said in the past applies to the present and for all time.

arti palin "[so] now [I say] again" - [and] now again [i say]. The grammar implies that Paul is restating what he had said on an earlier occasion when he was with the Galatians, not just repeating what he has just said in v8 since "now (a temporal statement) I say again" separates v9 from v8 in time; "even as we have said on a previous occasion", Wuest. This is probably putting too much weight on the grammar. It is more likely that Paul is simply reinforcing the point he made in v8. "I've said it once, I'll say it again", Peterson.

ei + ind. "if" - Conditional sentence, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true, "if, as is the case, ..... then ...." - in v8 the condition was 3rd class.

tiV "anybody" - anyone [preaches a gospel to you besides which]. Someone or something indefinite, although probably with the more identifiable group referred to in v7 in mind. "Whoever", Moffatt. "A gospel" is supplied, although the verb euaggelizomai probably carries the intended sense "preach the gospel".

parelabete (paralambanw) aor. "[what] you accepted" - your received [let him be a curse]. "Which you received" replaces the "which was preached to you" of v8. "What you received originally", Patterson; "the one you have already heard", Phillips


c) Paul's motives, v10: The preachers of this "different gospel" had obviously implied that Paul was a "man-pleaser", someone who watered down the gospel message to make it easier to sell to the Gentiles, ie., Paul did not present the "full" gospel since it would undermine his success-rate. So, Paul asks his readers if his words so far are those of a soft-sell preacher. This verse is possibly an aside and so is best treated as a parenthesis, eg., "(Does this make you think now that ........)", Phillips. Paul presents a three part question, with each question expecting a negative answer, "No, of course I'm not trying to", followed by a conditional clause.

gar "-" - for. More reason than cause, establishing a logical connection with the previous verses; "given what I have just said, is anyone willing to suggest that I am into the business of trying to win ........" Possibly just functioning here as a connective and so left untranslated, as NIV.

arti ...... eti "[Am I] now [trying .......? If I were] still" - These two temporal adverbs, one heading up the three part question, the other the conditional clause, seem to indicate that Paul is answering a previous charge against him that he is a "man-pleaser". Presumably this charge would have come from the Judaizers, implying that Paul adapts the gospel to his hearers - his is an "all things to all men" preacher. So for Gentiles, the charge is that Paul plays down the importance of the law to keep them on side, and by doing so he denies Gentile believers the sin-restraining and holy-shaping service of the law. Paul will answer the theological elements of this charge in his letter as a whole, but at this point he asks whether his words so far are those of a "man-pleaser".

peiqw pres. "am I trying to win the approval of" - am i persuading, convincing. The present tense is probably tendential (conative), expressing attempted action, so "am I trying to persuade". Obviously "win the favor of", Burton, "gain something from someone by playing up to what they want", Ridderbos. Yet, why use the word "persuade"? Paul is referring to "the art of persuasion", Betz, the methodology of philosophical rhetoric used in the first century to persuade the hearer to the speakers point of view, often by "deception - making the weaker argument stronger." So probably, "am I trying to manipulate people with my words?"

anqrwpouV "men / human beings" - men. Here the sense is "anyone / human beings"; "am I engaged in rhetorical arguments designed to sway the crowds?", Martyn.

h] ton qeon "or of God" - or god. The second element of the question, "am [I trying to persuade] God?" The verb for the first question applies to the second, so "am I into trying to manipulate God, using rhetorical skills to bring him over to my way of thinking?" Betz, Bruce, ... certainly take this question as one expecting a negative answer, but there are others who think it expects a positive answer, so Martyn .... ie. What is Paul about; is it "to seek the approval of God, or to curry favour with men?", Barnes. Better, "am I trying to manipulate God?"

h] "or" - Disjunctive.

areskein pres. inf. "[am I trying] to please" - [am i seeking] to please [men]. The infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of "seeking", or as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what he is seeking, namely, to please people. "Please" must still be understood in the terms of rhetorical argumentation; "am I trying to sway the crowds with pleasant words?"

ei + ind. ..... an + ind. "if" - if [still]. Introducing a conditional clause, 2nd class, where the conditions is assumed to be untrue, "if, as is not the case, I was still trying to please (manipulate) people, then I would not be a servant of Christ."

hreskon (areskw) imperf. "trying to please" - i were pleasing. A past tense (imperfect) is required for a 2nd class condition, but expressed as a tendential present, as NIV.

anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "men" - men. Dative of direct object after the verb "to please." "If I were trying to win human approval", Phillips.

douloV (oV) "servant [of Christ]" - [i would not have been] a slave [of christ]. We are bonded to Christ by being "in Christ", and it is by being in Christ that we become what Christ is - perfect before God (of course, always imperfectly!!!). If, as some say, Paul is a "man-pleaser" then obviously he is not in Christ, not a slave of Christ, not a Christian.


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