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Galatians Chapter 6 Verses 7 to 10 - Sowing and Reaping - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians Chapter 6 Verses 7 to 10  - Sowing and Reaping - Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Audio sermon and bible study notes 


  1. Sharing & Bearing (6:1-6) 
  2. Sowing & Reaping (6:7-10) 
  3. Glorying & Crucifying (6:11-18) 

  In each of the sections: a practical example of living in the power of the flesh (vs1-3) or living in the power of the Spirit (vs4-6).  

  In vs7 to 10 see the same pattern: a choice of sowing to the flesh or of sowing to the Spirit. 

The Principle of Like for Like (6:7) 
The Principle of the Immature for the Mature (6:8) 
The Principle of Seedtime and Harvest (6:9) 
The Principle of Time and Opportunity (6:10) 

The Principle of Like for Like (6:7) 

 What is it? – We reap what we sow! 

 Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the principle: very simple, but very profound! 

 What is reaped is identical in kind with what is sown. 

 When is it? A principle I can see often worked out in time: 

   Often true in time, but not invariably so, sometimes those who bend the rules, tread others under foot seem to prosper: Ps73:2ff. 

   Judge Paul is taking a longer term view, by just looking at time we might be “deceived” 

   Sowing is down in time but the reaping isn’t always in time, may well be in eternity: Ps73:16ff, need to look at the “end” of the thing. Could easily get a false sense of security “slippery places” (Ps73:18) if only take a short term view. 

 If going to appreciate the principle of like for like going to have to take an eternal perspective. 

 So much for the exposition, what about the application? 

 Apostle speaking to believers not to drug addicts & criminals. 

 If we appreciated this as Christians would we live as we do, putting all sorts before Christ: business, family, entertainment, self before Christ? At the meetings only if it suits us? Only if we don’t get a better offer? 

 I seem to have profited. The demands of Christ have never penetrated too deep! 

 Never dealt with the cross of Mark 8 – your cross, not Christ’s, nor with the altar of Romans 13 – your altar, not Christ’s, given Christ second place! 

 Listen to the words of Gal6:7 – what we sow we’ll reap! If we don’t reap it in time, reap it in eternity! 

 Must take an eternal perspective – the perspective of v8: 

The Principle of the Immature for the Mature (6:8) 

 Might sow a seed but grow a plant

 The consequences far exceed the cause. 

 Little things may have huge results 

 Exhort you to pay special head to every day details of the Christian experience 

 Sow service in time – reap reward in eternity! 

 Sow sin in time – loose reward in eternity! 

 “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1Pet1:4). 

 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1Pet5:4). 

 Eternal consequences – actions now will remain with me forever! 

 Labour the point? About to embark upon a gospel effort. About to make sacrifices of time, effort & energy, our presence, taking opportunity to invite others. Lets not think just a series of meetings. Sowing to Spirit: eternal consequences! 

 Sow in time, reap in eternity. 

 The consequences far exceed the cause. 

The Principle of Seedtime and Harvest (6:9) 

Notice the challenge: 

   “let us not be weary in well doing…” 

   No shortage of examples in scriptures of those who grew weary 

   Symptoms of weariness: 1Co10:10 murmurings, moans & groans 

   Be wary of the symptoms of weariness 

   Cure of weariness: Heb12:2-3: same word for faint – focused upon Christ, on finishing line, on the crown: cf. 2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” 

Notice the Certainty: 

   “we shall reap…” 

Notice the Condition: 

   “if we faint not…” 

   “faint” – ‘to let loose’ – to give up! ‘if we don’t give up.’ 

The Principle of Time and Opportunity (6:10) 

 Often opportunities pass through our fingers 

 View each day, each opportunity as a once, never to be repeated opportunity to “do good” – to sow to the Spirit, work for Christ. 

 Seize today & seize the opportunity. 

 Don’t know about tomorrow 

 Opportunity in the next few weeks: seize it for Christ & eternity. 

 “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Co 6:2)

Notes and audio recording, download from our systematic bible teaching series of ministry sermons as we expound the meaning and application of Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Galatians chapter 6 verses 1 to 6 - Sharing and Bearing - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 6 verses 1 to 6 - Sharing and Bearing 

Sowing & Reaping (6:7-10) 
Glorying & Crucifying (6:11-18) 

Living in the Strength of the Flesh (6:1-3) 

The Situation Specified (v1) 

 “if a man be overtaken in a fault” 

 “Overtaken”: “prolambano”: ‘taken by surprise, seized unawares, overtaken, entrapped’: note passive voice (Longenecker) 

 “Fault”: “paraptoma”: “fall beside” or “false step”: contains the idea of falling, not planned, “a mistake rather than a misdeed” (Ridderbos) 

 This is not a brother who persistently commits  particular sin, nor a brother who feels the only thing he has done wrong is to get caught! 

 The teaching only applies to the situation specified. 

 Here is a brother relying upon the strength of his flesh (5:16) and what was apparent to everyone but himself has happened: he has fallen. 

 It was never his deliberate intention to sin. It was inevitable. 

The Qualification Required (v1) 

General: “spiritual” cf. 5:22-23. 
Specific: “Spirit of meekness” cf. 5:23. Not weakness 

 The fall of the other Christian is not cause for gloating or pride. 

The Restoration Desired (v1) 

 “Restore”: “katartizo”: to put a thing in its appropriate condition. Used of the setting of fractured bones. Put a person back in his place. Fellowship with the Lord & then fellowship with His people. 

 When a believer falls into sin, out of fellowship, they are out of place. The believer loses & so does the assembly. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it” (1Co12:26). 

The Reflection Advised (v1) 

 “considering thyself…” 

 Can see how the downfall has been due to living in the strength of the flesh. It has been as a result of ‘temptation’ – a principle which operates in the realm of the flesh (James 1:13-14). 

“Bear ye one another’s burdens” (v2) 

 “bear”: present imperative, don’t just do it once, keep at it. 

 Need to be close to share a burden 

 So many things can crowd out our life, work, family. Can become introspective & disinterested in others. 

 “burdens”:  what constitutes a burden in v2? Anything which has become too much for the believer to cope with & which can be shared by another. Anything which could put them under such pressure that they are tempted or enticed to sin. 

“Burdens are weights too heavy for individuals to shoulder & capable of being shared with other brethren in the fellowship” (Vos p110). 

“if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing” (v3) 

 to bear “one another’s burdens” takes humility. We will neither approach the brother of v1 in a spirit of meekness, nor will we share his burden if we are aloof & disinterested & proud. 

 Perhaps too it was a false sense of self confidence that led to the problem of verse 1 in the first place. 

Living by the Power of the Spirit (6:4-6) 

“let every man prove his own work” (v4) 

 As Christians we love to do what we’re not told to do & so often we fail to do what we are instructed to do. 

 “prove”: “dokimazo" : “to put to the test, examine, prove by testing” (Leon Morris).Note present imperative once again cf. “bear” (v2). 

 We love to examine, criticise & put to the test the service, ministry & preaching of others. Not what we are instructed to prove: “own work”. 

 This is instructed & is thus a matter of obedience. It is also a matter of prudence. One day Christ will ‘prove’ or ‘try’ our work (1Co3:13): “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is,” – “try” = “dokimavzw” 

 What Christ will do absolutely at the bema we are exhorted to do now in anticipation. Illust: BMJ smoke detector experiment, given & fitted free, reduced deaths in 1st year, back a few years later deaths the same, never replaced the batteries! Didn’t expect the fire, weren’t prepared. Suggest we prime our smoke detectors. Anticipate the fire. 

 Need to examine our own service. Presume we are engaged in some! 

“For every man shall bear his own burden.” (v5) 

  Do we have a contradiction between verses 2 & 5? 

  Some point to the 2 diff. words for burden: 

“bavro"” (v2) 
“fortivon” (v5) 

 Suggest they are 2 different burdens. Certainly 2 different words that would itself seem to indicate 2 different burdens. 

 How is it the man in v2 requires help with his burden & yet the brother in v5 bears his burden alone? 

 Some then suggest that the burden of v5 is a lighter burden, a smaller burden, more easily handled and easier to carry, but it is also used by the Lord of the burdens placed upon men by the Pharisees (Matt23:4) “heavy burdens and grievous to be borne” also used of the burden carried by a whole ship (Acts27:10). 

 Whilst there is no doubt there is a difference in the burden being carried, maybe its not just as simple as the first burden is a heavy one and the second is a light one. 

 Observed that in vs1-3 the brother lives in the strength of his flesh. He’s tempted, he falls, he needs restored. 

 In vs4-6 the subject seems more to be that of service (v4) & hence we’ll move onto the subject of supporting the servant. Service for God can only ever be accomplished in the power of the Spirit. 

 Suggest that in vs4-6 we have a man living in the power of the Spirit. The ‘burden’ is the ‘burden’ of service, but the reason it can be borne, is not because it’s ‘so small’ but because it’s carried in the power of the Spirit. This word for “burden”: “fortivon” (v5) is the word used by the Lord in Matt11:30 of His burden, a burden borne together with Christ. 

 In service for Christ, we are in service with Christ. How often have we faced a task which we felt inadequate for only to discover that His grace is sufficient for me & that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 

 The Lord has a task for you? You’re not up to the task? You’re right, you’re not, but Christ is! 

“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth…” (v6) 

 There’s an assembly with a pastor! 

 Surely after all that we’ve said ~ service wouldn’t envisage trying to employ a pastor to take over your responsibilities? 

 Doesn’t refer to the practice of employing a pastor. Can’t do. If they had employed a pastor they would be forced to support him wouldn’t need to be told to do so. 

 Here is a brother who has found it necessary to reduce his commitment to secular employment to more fully dedicate himself to spiritual activities. 

 This truth is complimentary to, not contradictory to other NT passages concerning the teacher: 

1Tim3:1-2: Teaching is undertaken by the “ejpiskopos”: ‘bishop’ or ‘overseer’ 
Titus1:5-9: The ‘elder’ is equivalent to the ‘overseer’ who teaches & there are a plurality of elders (1:5) 
Acts20:17,28: Elders equivalent to overseers, there is a plurality of the same in each assembly. Not one man over many assemblies, nor one man over one assembly, but many men in one assembly.

Free to download audio message and notes from our systematic bible study in Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Galatians chapter 5 verses 16 to 26 - The Triumphant Christian - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 5 verses 16 to 26 - The Triumphant Christian


Problem of the Galatians: 

 False teachers had come in (1:8;3:1;5:7,10), preaching the gospel with a difference. If had invited them to speak would have agreed so far. 

These false teachers at Galatia preached Jesus Christ and something else: 

  • Good Works in General – “works of law” (2:16) 
  • Religious Activities in Particular (4:10) 
  • Circumcision Specifically (5:1-4) 

  A case of addition = subtraction. 

  Paul is going to tell them they are “not under the law” as Christians, stated it in the past (Rom6:14) going to reiterate it in the present (5:18). 

  This would perhaps leave things a little up in the air. 

  How then are we to live as Christians? Free to do what we want? 

  In a sense yes we are free to do what we want but what we want to do ought to be what the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God wills (5:17). 

  What the Christian will want to do is what the Spirit will will him to do (5:17b). There is an impediment to the will in the presence of the flesh. 

  Where we have a Christian who needs constantly corrected by external rules & where we have a Christian who when given a little lee way always tends to the works of the flesh, he’s surely not a Christian at all (5:21); “they which do such things”…”those who habitually practice such things” (Boice). 

  Observe what has happened: 

   The one who gave the law at Sinai 

   The one who expounded the law in (Matt5,6,7) 

   The one who affirms the righteousness of the law 

   Has taken up residence in our hearts (Eph3:17;6:6) 

  Therefore the seemingly impossible is possible fulfil Matt5:20. 

  The righteousness of God is worked out in our lifes (Gal5:14): the fruit of the Spirit is almost an exposition of this principle: 

   “love” – “love, joy, peace” 

   “thy neighbour” – “longsuffering, gentleness, goodness” 

   “thyself” – “faith, meekness, self control” – the whole self brought under the authority of the Spirit of God. 


The Person: The Tangled Christian (v1) – with the false teachings. 
The Problem: Legalism 
The Plea: “Stand fast” (v1) 


The Person: The Troubled Christian (v10) – with the false teachers. 
The Problem: Leaven (v9) 
The Plea: “Ye did run well” (v7) 


The Person: The Triumphant Christian (v22-25) 
The Problem: Lust (v16-21) 
The Plea: “Walk in the Spirit” (v16) 

 “Walk in the Spirit” (v16): “walk” – present, imperative, active 

Present – means now – keep at it! 
Imperative – means do it! 
Active – means your responsible for it! 

 These verses are very practical! 


“Even though walking was slow & unspectacular, walking meant progress. If anyone kept walking, she or he would certainly cover the ground & eventually reach the destination.” (Morris p167) 

 Looking for steady progress. Not dramatic Christianity. Not so interested about what happened 10/20yrs ago, how are you doing today? 

 “lust of the flesh” – various learned definitions, usually something along the lines that the “flesh” is the desires of our fallen human nature. Would add something to this thought, not simply to be pedantic or legal but to be practical. Notice from the list (v19-21) often perfectly normal, natural, ‘good’ desires but moving outwith God ordained limits or boundaries. Practical point often certain sins are justified because they have as their motive he fulfilment of a God given natural desire, esp. first 4 works of the flesh. Unequal yolk might be justified in these terms. Note God gives certain desires but He also sets certain limits or boundaries & to go beyond these is also a “work of the flesh.” 

The Works of the Flesh (vs19-21) 

Group1 (adultery…lasciviousness) 
Group 2 (idolatry, witchcraft) 
Group 3 (hatred…murders) 
Group 4 (drunkenness, revelings) 

Group1 (adultery…lasciviousness) 

Sins against Self 

 “adultery” – sexual relations involving a married person 

 “fornication” – a relationship with someone we’re not married to. 

  “uncleanness” – “ajkaqarsiva” – general word but often in sexual context 

  “lasciviousness” – ‘lack of restraint’ almost always in NT associated with sexual excess. 

  Describe these sexual sins as sins against self, maybe never thought of them in this way. Perhaps seen problems with sexual sins: the effect upon someone’s marriage, STD’s etc. These are relatively secondary issues. Primarily sexual sins are sins against our own body (1Co6:18). 

  Something very important happens when become Christian, the Spirit of God takes up residence in our body, becomes His temple (1Co6:19), our body now belongs to God (1Co6:20; Rom12:1-2). A temple is a Holy thing, must be very careful what we do with that body & where we take this body. Certain paces where God is given no place, where drunkenness, cursing swearing and immorality are to the fore. We have no place there as believers: clubs, pubs, cinemas. If we have the Spirit of God won’t be long in finding this out. 


  “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1Co6:18) 

  Despite the flesh being so self interested, self indulgent, self centered and selfish, yet it is paradoxically self destructive? It is driven by Satan (1Jo2:12ff; Eph2:1-3). 

The Corruption of Sexual Desire 

  Notice basically a ‘good’ God given desire (Heb13:4; 1Co7:2) but moving outwith prescribed limits. 

Group 2 (idolatry, witchcraft) 

Sins against God 

  Praise & worship which ought to be assigned to God is being given to false Gods & the occult. 

  “witchcraft” – “farmakeia” – from – “farmakon” – a drug. Used also in Rev9:21 & 18:23. It may be that in translating the word as “witchcraft” the translators have done so according to history but perhaps in prophecy we are really looking not so much at the occult in general but at this specific product of it in particular – drug abuse. The control & the subjection of men by the use of drugs. If this is the case perhaps we can see the final stage already being set. 

The Corruption of Spiritual Duty 

Group 3 (hatred…murders) 

Sins against Others 

  “variance” = “discord”; “emulations” = ”jealousies”; “strife” = “selfish ambition”; “seditions” – “divisions” 

  Some of these whilst condemned by God would be seen in modern society as positive virtues: “selfish ambition” 

  See them as contrasting with the Christian & not complementary. 

  A real need for us to examine everything the world’s teachings & value system, explanations in the light of God’s word, too many Christians swallow everything they’re told. 

The Corruption of Social Harmony 

  The workings of the flesh constantly brings us into conflict with others. The flesh delights to exalt itself & if there are 2 in the room at the same time you’re in big bother! (5:26). 

Group 4 (drunkenness, revelings) 

Unrestrained, unbridled sin 

  Contrast with “self control” (5:23)! 

The Corruption of Self Control 

  Often these lusts go hand in hand: pagan feasting & drunkenness & drunkenness & sexual immorality. 

The Fruit of the Spirit (vs22-23) 

 “Fruit” is produced (by the Spirit) whereas “works” are practised. 

 “Fruit” is the product of spiritual life whereas “works” are the product of spiritual death. 

 “Fruit” is singular whereas “works” are plural: 

Are all simply expressions of the first “love”? 
More likely its grapes we’re dealing with and not melons! All 9 are a product of the indwelling Spirit of God in our lifes. When the Spirit takes up residence all 9 come together as a bunch/package. We don’t choose 1 or 2 from the list, the Lord wants to see all 9. 

Group 1 – The Principles (love, joy, peace) 
Group 2 – The Practices (longsuffering, gentleness, goodness) 
Group 3 – The Product (faith, meekness, self control) 

Group 1 – The Principles (love, joy, peace) 

  All 3 are irreducible spiritual principles. Illust: vulgar fractions 

  Derived directly from the nature & character of God, the basic raw materials from which the 9 fold fruit develop: 

“Love”  - 1Jo4:7,8,12,16 - The antithesis of “lust” 
“Joy” – Jo15:11 – ‘a deep abiding inner rejoicing in God Himself’ – ‘happiness depends on circumstances whereas joy does not’ (Boice). 
“Peace” – Jo14:27; 20:19,26, surpasses mere human understanding (Phil4:7). 

Group 2 – The Practices (longsuffering, gentleness, goodness) 

  Derive from an application of the first 3 in experience 

  Used to think the only really important things in the Christian life were the Bible & prayer, beginning to appreciate the importance of experience, even apparently trivial & incidental experiences, through such experiences, often difficulties, with work, family, assembly that our character is moulded & shaped & this fruit for example is brought out. 

“longsuffering” – “makrothumia” – patience with people, displayed as we exercise love towards difficult individuals whilst enjoying the peace of God in the circumstances & being able to rejoice in the midst of adversity itself. 

“gentleness” – “kindness” – possible because of our love for those we don’t like! 
“goodness” – “readiness to do good” 

Group 3 – The Product (faith, meekness, self control) 

  The whole person is being brought under the authority of the Spirit of God 

“faith” – Godward 
“meekness” – Manward – “the person who is so much in control of himself that he is never angry at the wrong time and always angry at the right time.” (Boice) 
“self control” – Selfward – note the contrast with v21. 

 “have crucified the flesh” (v24). In Rom6:6 & Gal2:20 the crucifying is performed upon us but here it is performed by us! At conversion, when we repent of our old deeds & life we put an end to the old way of living. 

 How can I have this “fruit”? God will bring it forth, not by works or self effort (Eph2:10; Phil1:6) 

 Have we just to sit back passively & wait for it to happen? No: 

We are expected to recognise that we now “live in” a different sphere “in the Spirit”, to recognise His influence & the effect of the Spirit in our life and “walk” or live in harmony with His Spirit (5:25) 
Expected to “crucify” (5:24; Col3:5) practically the flesh, that’s a painful thing and a practical thing. Putting away and putting to death anything which would encourage us along a path of performing the works of the flesh: social contacts, pubs, clubs, alcohol etc. 


Notes from our series of bible teaching ministry expounding the meaning and application of Paul's letter to the Galatians, a series of systematic expositions of the text of Galatians. Free to download, or listen to the sermons online.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Galatians chapter 3 verses 6 to 9 - Abraham; Lessons in the Life of Faith - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 3 verses 6 to 9 - Abraham; Lessons in the Life of Faith


 Résumé of gospel preached to the Galatians. Résumé of Verses 1 to 6: 

 Paul calls the witnesses: 

Witness 1 – The Cross of Christ (3:1) 

 Christ crucified presented in power by the best of preachers 

 Preached not just with fact but with feeling. 

 Taken them to the cross & showed them the saviour (v1b). “Crucified” – perfect participle, past event with present consequences. Almost as if they had stood there at the foot of the cross. 

 Felt as though when Paul preached the message was just for them. The Spirit of God took dealings with them through the gospel message. 

 Had felt the burden of their sin. Had been moved by the thought of the vastness of the love of God towards them. Touched by the fact that Christ had died for them. Relieved to have unburdened themselves at the foot of the cross. 


Witness 2 – The Spirit of God (3:2-3) 

 Had experienced something of the Spirit of God’s dealings with them: 

  1. Conviction of Sin: Jo16:8-11 
  2. Presentation of Christ: Jo16:13-15 
  3. Transformation of Character: Gal5:22-23; 1Jo3:9,10 


Witness 3 – The Experience of Believers (3:4,5) 

 Things they suffered (v4) & Things they saw (v5). 

 Their initial fervour, attitude condemns there later backsliding. 

 There experience of the gospel had been more than a mere emotional experience. It had moved them and touched them to such a degree that they were willing to suffer for Christ. 


Witness 4 – The Example of Abraham (3:6-14) 

 False teachers offering Jewish religion in preference to the ‘novelty’ of the gospel, to the ‘cult’ of Christianity! 

 Traces back justification by faith to Abraham. No novelty 

 If going to be saved, right with God, not by good works (2:16) nor religious observances (4:10), only by faith, resting in God: Jo3:16; Acts16:31. 

 “accounted”: (v6):to reckon, impute, number: 


“So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (v9) 

 The whole life of the Christian is a life characterised by faith. 

 Taking God at His word, resting completely upon Him for time & eternity. 

 Abraham had faith to commence the journey (Heb11:8) & faith to continue the journey (Heb11:9), faith to start (11:8), faith to stay (11:9). 

 Taking God at His word, resting completely upon Him for time & eternity. 

“Those characterised by the approach of faith are blessed along with Abraham.” (JM Boice) 

 Have we begun the path of faith? Are we continuing? 

Abraham: Lessons Learned in the Life of Faith 

Obedience (Gen11:30-12:5) 

 Old lesson, one God often teaches: Jonah; Saul, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1Sam15:22) 

 Notice the conditional promise of 12:1-3, explain conditional. 

 God’s instruction to Abraham: “Get thee out” (12:1): 

  • “of thy country” 
  • “and from thy kindred” 
  • “and from thy father’s house”, 
  • “unto a land that I will shew thee” 

 How did Abraham fare with these 4 demands of God? 

Out of his country? Not quite, still in Haran (11:31). The name of his dead brother (11:26). Places named after people. Still in the area of his home. 
Away from his kindred? Not quite (11:31-32). 
Away from his father’s house? (11:31-32) – No. 

 Had God fulfilled His promise to Abraham? 

Had God made of him a great nation? - No 
Had God made his name great? - No 
Had God made him a blessing? – No 

 Partial obedience = Partial blessing! 

 Are we marked by obedience in simple things? 

   Prayer & bible reading? (J. Hunter) 

   We read & listen to the Word, do we practice it? We’ll only be able to put the Word of God into practice by the power of the Spirit of God! 


   “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb10:25). Sometimes legitimate & unavoidable things that will keep us back from the gatherings & Word of God. Amazing how little will keep us away when our heart isn’t right!  

 Something holding us back from obeying the voice of God in our circumstances, eg. Abraham & Terah. 

 Did Abraham profit in disobedience (12:5)? 

 Look at the problems that arose because of what he had gained in Haran & subsequently in Egypt: 

Possessions & numbers were so great that he feared, the land could not sustain him in a time of famine. Maybe if there had only been a few of them he would have rode out the storm (13:6) instead of descending into Egypt (12:10). Recall to no mention of any communion with God all the time he was in Egypt. Only before & after. 
Abraham & his goods, like a town on the move (cf. Gen14:14). Couldn’t just slip in & out of Egypt. Drew the attention of Pharaoh himself (12:15), no ordinary Egyptian (12:12). Unable to live “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1Tim2:1). 
Strife (13:7) 

 Don’t be deceived by appearances (Gal6:7). 

Communion (Gen12:8-10; 13:1-4) 

 Abraham one of these men, always knew where to find him, eg JSG study! 

 Before he went down into Egypt, found him at the altar (Gen12:8). 

 After he came up out of Egypt, found him at the altar (Gen13:4). 

 Communion & communication with his God. 

 All the time he was in Egypt, nothing for God. No communication, no altar. 

   Don’t need me to tell you that do you? 

   You don’t even need scripture to tell you that? 

   You could have predicted that, couldn’t you have? 

   You know that when you’re drifting towards the world, you’re drifting away from the saviour! You know that. You’ve experienced that. 

 Notice his relationship with Egypt: 

   “went down into Egypt” (12:10) 

   “went up out of Egypt” (13:1) 

 Abraham’s visit to Egypt (the world) was a descent. 

 Many go down, be warned, not so many that come back out. 

 Carnality will take us down, need a good deal of Divine grace to bring us back out! 

 13:3 – back to Bethel – back to God! Significance not so much in the place, geography, but in the Person whom he had left there! 

 The need for communion, not now via sacrifices & altars: God’s Word & prayer, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph2:18). 

Separation (Gen13:1, 8-9; 14:13) 

 From his country (12:4), Egypt (13:1); kindred (13:8). 

 Family – not all of us called to leave our families, Egypt – all called to leave the world behind us (Eph2:1-3), Lot – a man of different interests. 

 Separate ourselves from things which will drag us down: moral standards of the world, friendship/companionships with the world, entertainments, religion, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Heb13:13) 

 “Abram the Hebrew” (14:13), kept his identity, in the crisis, send for Abram! 

Sanctification (Gen13:18) 

 Separation has a positive companion: “Hebron” – “joining” 

 He had separated himself from the world negatively. 

 Now he was being joined to God positively. 

 Biblical double definition of holiness (Rom12:1-2) 

 Making progress for God?

A message preached in our bible teaching series of ministry, preaching through Paul's letter to the Galatians, free to download audio recording. 

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Galatians chapter 3 verses 1 to 14 - Paul Calls the Witnesses - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 3 verses 1 to 14 - Paul Calls the Witnesses - Dr J Stewart Gillespie

 Thought of the court room scene in 2:16. 

 This time the man in the dock is the Galatian, a false professor, having gone so far with Christ but turned back & rejected Him. 

 Note that there was a variety of people in the assembly at Galatia: 

  1. Apostate – some verses can only apply to him (5:1-3). Example of apostate Judas Iscariot 
  2. Genuine Believer – some verses can only apply to him (3:26) 
  3. Backslider – Believer young in the faith & caught in the middle, not knowing which way to turn (4:9) 

 Sometimes speak of one, sometimes of the other, bear in mind that this mixture exists at Galatia. 

 Consider Chapter 3 as the apostle, not so much God, but Paul has put the Galatians in the dock. There charge: abandoning Christ. They plead innocent, they didn’t know they were rejecting/abandoning the saviour. Thought it was alright to go off after Judaism. 

 Paul calls the witnesses: 

  • Witness 1 – The Cross (3:1) 
  • Witness 2 – The Spirit (3:2-3) 
  • Witness 3 – Their Experience (3:4) 
  • Witness 4 – The Example of Abraham (3:6-14) 


Witness 1 – The Cross (3:1) 

 Christ crucified presented in power by the best of preachers 

 Preached not just with fact but with feeling. 

 Taken them to the cross & showed them the saviour (v1b). “Crucified” – perfect participle, past event with present consequences. Almost as if they had stood there at the foot of the cross. 

 Had felt the burden of their sin. Had been moved by the thought of the vastness of the love of God towards them. Touched by the fact that Christ had died for them. Relieved to have unburdened themselves at the foot of the cross, like ‘Christian’ in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”: 

Then Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing: 

Thus far I did come laden with my sin; 
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in 
Till I came hither: What a place is this! 

Must here be the beginning of my bliss? 
Must here the burden fall from off my back? 
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack? 
Blest cross! blest sepulchre! blest rather be 
The Man that there was put to shame for me! 

 How “foolish” to hear the testimony of the preacher, to feel the power of the message, hear the voice of God, but to disobey, to disregard it as fable, as fiction, as foolishness (1Co1:18). 

 2 main words for foolishness in NT: 


“to fail to use intelligence” (Galatians 3:1) – not that they didn’t know – they didn’t care. Not that they couldn’t understand – they didn’t want to. They were culpable. 

 We hear the words of the saviour echoing down through the centuries, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lam1:12). 

 “evidently set forth”: ’to announce by posting up a written tablet to announce/promulgate.’ 


Witness 2 – The Spirit (3:2-3) 

 From Heb6:4 possible for an unsaved person to have some experience of the Spirit: objective miracles (3:5); convicted of sin – Felix (Acts24:25). 

 Christian knows far more of the Spirit: 

Transformation of Character: Gal5:22-23; 1Jo3:9,10 
Revelation of Truth: 1Jo2:27 
Presentation of Christ: Jo16:13-15 – Person of Christ (v14), Path of Christ (v13), Possessions of Christ (v14,15) 
Experience of God: Jo16:7 
Intuitive Understanding & Insight: Rom8:26-27, 1Jo2:20,27 
Conviction of Sin: Jo16:8-11 

 Have you known all of this & yet you still go back? 

Witness 3 – Their Experience (3:4,5) 

 Things they suffered (v4) & Things they saw (v5). 

 Their initial fervour, attitude condemns there later backsliding. 

 We’ve tried this gospel message & there’s nothing in it! Their own experience contradicts this excuse. 

 What about 10/20/30yrs ago? When the Lord has dealings with you, when He touched your life, transformed your soul? 

 When you lived for Him & would have died for Him? 


 Sometimes our greatest condemnation comes from self condemnation! 

 You say there’s nothing in it & yet your life has been turned upside down by it! 

 “suffered” : ” pavscw” : to suffer, to be affected by something – could possibly refer to any experience good or bad, probably bad. 

Witness 4 – The Example of Abraham (3:6-14) 

 Not only condemned by self, condemned by another 

 Since time in memoriam man has only been right with God by faith. 

 We have no excuse in believing that we should go after law keeping 

 Just in case in our defence we say that we were trying to find salvation the same way men of old found salvation. 

 This gospel message, never heard it anywhere else before. New fangled thing this. Better sticking to tried & tested religion. This must be a cult thing! 

The Principle of Justification by Faith (v6-9) 

 Abraham justified by faith (v6) cf. Gen15:6. 

 Abraham – faith to commence his journey (Heb11:8) – “he went out,” faith to continue the journey (Heb11:9) – “he sojourned” – Faith to start (11:8), faith to stay (11:9). 

 “accounted”: “logizomai” (v6):to reckon, impute, number: 


 God could see all the faults & failings of Abraham’s life and how Abraham ‘fell short of the Glory of God’ but He credited righteousness to Abraham’s account. 

“not something he earned or merited; it was something that God credited him with” (Leon Morris)   

 God who justifies, not our personal faith (v8), as if we deserve it. 

 “In thee shall all nations be blessed” (v8) – cf. the 2 fold illustration “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen22:17). Note that this blessing was independent of circumcision – which was to his family (Gen17:12,13) but the blessing was to “all nations.” 

 Note the personification of scripture in v8. When scripture speaks, God speaks. 

The Principle of Law Keeping/Works Righteousness (v10-14) 

 Many sincere folk, who regard themselves as Christian would endeavour to seek salvation by law keeping, but note the standard set by law: “in all things” (v10). We choose a hard task master if we choose law! 

“small lapses now & then are not to be overlooked” (Morris p103). 

 Verse 10, quotation from Deut27:26. 

 Verse 11, quotation from Hab 2:4. 

 Verse 12, quotation from Lev18:5. 

 Verse 13 – the engine that makes the whole thing work. 

 Principle of redemption from the law, cf. Ex21:30. A man goes free from the curse of the law by the payment of a ransom price.

Part of our sermon series in Paul's letter to the Galatians, a systematic, chapter by chapter study, expounding the truth, teaching and meaning of this epistle. Free to download ministry or listen online.

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Galatians chapter 2 verses 16 to 21 - The Courtroom and the Cross - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

 Galatians chapter 2 verses 16 to 21 - The Courtroom and the Cross - Dr J Stewart Gillespie


I want to speak to you about the court room & the cross. 

 If you are going to be a Christian need to have experience of both these   

 Maybe agree with me that if God says something must be important. 

 If God says something twice must be very important 

 This great doctrine were going to think about: doctrine of justification by faith is found repeatedly right the way through the bible. Found in each division of the OT: 

The Law – Abraham (Gen15:6, Gal3:6) 
The Writings – David (Ps32:1-2, Ps143:2, Rom4:7-8) 
The Prophets – Hab2:4, Gal3:11, Rom1:17. 

 Found right the way through the NT: Jo3:16; Rom1:16-17 (Martin Luther’s verses); Rom3:28; Rom5:1; Eph2:8; Titus3:5. 

 Not only repeated through the Bible but repeated 5X in v16, 3X negatively & 2X positively. 

 Justification by Faith the core truth of the Gospel, setting true Biblical Christianity apart from all religions teaching good works:

Islam’s 5 pillars: confession of the faith, prayer, fasting, alms, pilgrimage;

Roman Catholic teaching of the 7 sacraments:  Eucharist, baptism, confirmation, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and last unction

Buddhism’s 8 noble truths: right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation. 

Well might JM Boice state: “The verses that conclude this chapter contain capsule statements of some of the most significant truths of Christianity.” 

 Have read the verses in order but don’t want to think ~ them in order. 

 Want to look at how these verses work. 


v16 – The Subject: Faith and Works – The Setting: The Court Room 

v20 – The Subject: Life and Death – The Setting: The Cross 

 May well find that questions concerning salvation which we still have after verse16 will be answered in verse20.     

The Subject: Faith and Works – The Setting: The Court Room (v16) 

 “justified” – to be declared righteous, a term taken from the court room, “to declare righteous or innocent.” (JM Boice). Note the ‘passive voice’ – ‘to be pronounced righteous’ not the middle voice – ‘to become righteous.’ 

 The picture: a man standing in the dock before The Judge. 

 His deeds & life laid out before The Judge. 

 The man? – You. The Judge – God. Can really upon this Judge seeing all the facts. Hammer comes down. The verdict is reached and your declared innocent, righteous, justified. 

 How can I be declared righteous in such a court, before such a Judge? 

 How indeed? By a perfect life? Impossible! Did this Judge fail to see al my past sin & failure. Did I manage to hide my faults & failings behind my handful of good works? Did I manage to deceive this Judge, as many seem to think they will one day do? Into believing that I’m something I’m not? So many hope to do so! 

 How can He pass this verdict of innocent? Perfect! Does He fail to see our sin? Not really. This righteous Judge knows everything about us! He knows all about our past! He is more aware of sin than we are! 

 It’s not so much our SIN He fails to see. It’s more our SELF He fails to see! The great truth of v16: considered the subject & the setting but now consider our standing: 

 “but through faith in Jesus Christ” – justification comes via our relationship with Christ, “we have believed into Christ” – personal commitment & relationship. The day we put our trust “in Christ” we’re given a new standing, new position, “in Christ” so much so that, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2Co5:17). 

 When God looks upon us in the dock, He doesn’t see us; He sees Christ! 

 That secures the verdict! We stand in the dock but in Christ, & that’s a great place to be! 

 This new standing in Christ is something you can’t earn, can’t work at. Something which can only be received by faith (Acts16:31). 

  “the works of the law” simply wont do. No article in the Gk. thus – “works of law” – any system of works, not just ‘the’ Hebrew OT law as per the context. Any law: religious or our own law! 

The Subject: Life and Death – The Setting: The Cross (v20) 

 May say, that’s fine & well. God looks upon me now I’m saved & doesn’t see me, He sees Christ & He declares me righteous, fit for heaven & fit for His presence, but I’ve still got a big problem. A problem with sin & with the law! I know only too well my history & all the sin that’s gone before & I feel the guilt of it! 

 I have actually done bad things. I am aware of sin, in the past particularly. Sin troubles me. I’m aware of the law. The law condemns me. I’m troubled & guilty & feel it. Burdened with guilt! 

 God hasn’t brought the sin up in His court room but how can it be put away? It’s not put away in the court room, its put away at the cross! 

 Troubled with sin & guilt? If you’ve trusted Christ remember this – you’re a dead man! “I am” – actually a perfect tense – ‘something that once took place & has not lost its power since.’ (Ridderbos) – “I have been crucified…” 

 By union with the death of Christ at Calvary, Paul died. 

‘a crucifixion had taken place within himself as he wholeheartedly believed in the crucified saviour’ (Leon Morris) 

 The moment we trust the Lord Jesus Christ we die! 

 Familiar with the idea that for every one who trusts in Christ, He took our place (1Pet3:18; Matt20:28; Lk22:20; Isa53:5). 

 We see the idea developed a little here. If Christ died for me, in my place, then in a sense when Christ died, I died (2Co5:14-15). 

 Thus, the moment I trusted Christ, I became a dead man (Gal2:20). 

 The old life, old sin & old guilt are all dead! 

 Paul notes a paradox: “nevertheless I live” – by virtue of the indwelling presence of Christ (2Co13:5; Eph3:17-19; Rom8:9-11) 

 Ought to be positive evidence of this Divine life: 

   Desire to get alone with God.; an unnatural desire (Rom3:11) 

   Love for the word of God (Ps119:11,1:2) 

   An interest in & love for others (1Jo3:14,4:7) 

   The experience of Divine communication (1Jo2:20-27;Jo16:13-15) 

   Presence of the fruit of the Spirit in our life (Gal5:22) . 

 Christ is now the dominant influence & factor in my life. 

   He is the dominant FORCE overriding all desires & will (Rom12:1-2) 

   The working out of His life brings His FRUIT (Gal5:22;Eph5:9) 

   As a guiding principle I am now directed & guided by FAITH in Him (Gal2:20). 

 When saved, we’ve a new life in Christ. Don’t be trying to bring the dead man back again! 

“…I through the law am dead to the law that I might live unto God” (v19) 

 This explains v19: the law condemns us (Gal3:10-11; Rom3:19-20; Rom8:2), our failure to keep the law results in the death penalty. 

 I am “dead,” by association with Christ & enjoy life by the power of His resurrection (Eph2:5,6). 

“…is therefore Christ the minister of sin…” (v17) 

 Paul seeks to answer the objection so often raised to the doctrine 

 No Rules! No Religion! No Regulations! Just Faith? – Chaos! You can do what you like? Sin with impunity & you’ll still go to heaven? You’ll just encourage people to sin! 

 The fact that we get the same objection to the gospel we preach today is an incidental confirmation that we preach the same message. 

 “if while we seek to be justified in Christ” – closest possible union. 

 What is the answer to this oft repeated objection? Paul initially simply dismisses it, “God forbid”. The answer comes in v20. Real faith results in a real relationship with the living Christ, & we are indwelt by Christ, the Father & the Spirit of God (2Co5:17).  Thus we are able to do what we never could do before –live a life pleasing to God. 


“…if I build again the things which I destroyed…” (v18)             

 It is the law’s job to reveal & impute sin (Rom5:13) 

 Some at Galatia were trying to reintroduce the law, if they did so they would simply bring in the very thing which would condemn them. 

A bible teaching study, part of our systematic series of ministry expounding Paul's letter to the Galatians chapter by chapter, free to download or listen online,

Yours by God's Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

 Must never let go of what we have in Christ!

Galatians chapter 1 verses 11 to 20 - The Apostleship of Paul - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 1 verses 11 to 20 - The Apostleship of Paul - Dr J Stewart Gillespie


  1. The Message – Which he Preached (1:11-12) 
  2. The Man – Who was Changed (1:13-16a) 
  3. The Mission – He was Given (1:16b-17) 

 Beginning to see something of the first of the 3 themes of the epistle: Paul’s Apostleship. 

 Paul’s Apostleship was being challenged at Galatia: they didn’t like his message, as is often the case if don’t like the message, we attack the messenger. 

 Some seem to have pointed out that he came to faith after the death of Christ – not a true apostle at all – 2nd rate – hadn’t journeyed with Christ, sat at His feet, listened to His ministry, saw His miracles. 

 Perhaps suggested he had partly received his message from some of the other apostles & altered and added bits to it. 

 Against this background we have the teaching of chapters 1&2. 

The Message – Which he Preached (1:11-12) 

 “I certify you” – One of the few epistles to come with an authentication certificate. 

 “gospel which was preached” – lit. “the gospel that I gospelled.” 

 Paul before he had been saved had been an accomplished Pharisee (Phil3:5). A member of the Jewish religious body. The clergy of its day. Learned in all the traditions of Judaism. Regarded themselves as being at the top of the religious pile. 

 These Pharisees had 2 sources of teaching: 

Written Teaching  – The OT of the Bible & the teaching of past Rabbis in the Mishnah 
Oral Traditions – Passed on from one Rabbi to his students 

 To these oral traditions Paul refers in v12, “I neither received it” – “paralambano” a technical term for oral traditions passed on by the Rabbis to their students – not by transmission or tradition. 

 This is what his opponents accuse him of: second hand traditions, received and altered from others, not direct experience of Christ. 

 Not by education, “neither was I taught it” – “didasko” (v12) – “a specific reference to academic instruction” (Ridderbos) 

 Apply this truth: if were going to have an experience of Jesus Christ; it won’t come by listening to someone else, won’t come by reading books. 

 Real biblical Christianity: Not a set of traditions, not a set of rules, not a set of regulations, a living personal experience of God through Jesus Christ. 

 Say: I’m a Christian, I go to Church. I go to McDonald’s but that doesn’t make me a hamburger. Not Christians by association, nor by tradition  but by personal experience of Christ, “for I know whom I have believed…” (2Tim1:12). 

 This begins the day we open our heart in faith to Christ. 

 This is how Paul received the gospel, “by the revelation of Jesus Christ”(v12b), – an unveiling – a personal experience of Christ. Start off with a veil over our mind to Christ, God can lift it. 

 Cf. what Paul says about the origin of his apostleship (1:1) & the origin of the message (1:11-12) – both were clearly under attack. 

The Man – Who was Changed (1:13-16a) 

Consider his: 

 Conversation (v13) – “my conversation” – “my manner of life.” a major theme in Acts & 1Co15:8; 1Tim1:12. His conversion was a defining moment in the H/O the Church. Any understanding of Christianity has to be able to explain what caused such a transformation. His remarkable testimony is frequently referred to throughout the NT as a well established & widely accepted fact. 

 There had been a dramatic change in his life. Anyone who has had a personal experience of Christ ought to be changed. 

 Paul’s pre-conversion life many things were quite excessive but it was marked by: 

Religion (v14) – Religion is no substitute for REALITY 
Traditions (v14) – No substitute for TRANSFORMATION 

 Many today would be quite happy with that as their own version of Christianity: a bit of religion, a bit of tradition, a bit of church going, a name on a role, a nice routine, a few good works. 

 That’ll do us for Christianity! But this was before Paul was saved! 

 Christianity is ever so much more than religion + tradition. 

 If this was Paul’s idea of what it was to be lost. What was it to be saved? 

God revealed Christ to him (v12) 
God revealed Christ in him (v16) 

 Back to this point of a personal experience of Christ through faith. Putting our trust in Him. Not in a vague religious way, but knowing Him & trusting Him completely as our personal saviour. His presence as real as our nearest & dearest. 

 Revelation of Christ: “in me” (v16a) & by him (v16) – Christ is revealed “in” Paul ever before He is revealed by Paul. We can only preach Christ to others as we have experienced Him ourselves. If our testimony/ministry has a hollow ring to it maybe its because we don’t speak from the fullness of our own heart (Jo7:38). Once God has: 

Revealed Christ to him (v12) 
Revealed Christ in him (v16), then God can: 
Revealed Christ through him (v16) 

 In v13&14 the emphasis is on what Paul had done, now the emphasis is on what God has done (v15&16). 

 Separation (v15) – Pre-conversion Sanctification, cf. Positional Sanctification (1Co1:2) & Practical Sanctification (1Thess4:3). 

 As Paul looks back he could see Divine purpose being worked out right from the beginning of his life. 

 “Separated” – akin to that of “Pharisee” 

 Cf. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer1:5). 

The Mission – He was Given (1:16b-24) 

 Note the dependence of Paul upon Christ (v11-17) 

Revealed Christ to him (v12) 
Revealed Christ in him (v16), then God can: 
Revealed Christ through him (v16) 

 Note the independence of Paul from other apostles (v16-24) – some were suggesting Paul was a 2nd rate apostle with a 2nd hand message. 

 Note the relative obscurity in which Paul laboured at first (v22), before he moved out in service in a more public sphere. Note the importance of ‘wilderness years’: 

Joseph – his time as a servant & as a prisoner 
Moses – 40years in the backside of the desert – as a shepherd 
David – His experience gained of His God as a shepherd 

 Waiting time isn’t wasted time. 

 Formerly a ‘persecutor’ & now a ‘preacher’ (v23) 

 In our testimony do we seek to draw attention to ourselves? Do we preach & lift up Christ that all men might be drawn to Him (Jo12:32)? 

 Note the parallel between Paul’s movements out to Damascus, to the Gentiles & that of Elijah in 1Kings19:15. Both returned to Damascus. A foreshadowing of God’s movement of Grace to the Gentiles in Gal1:17?

A message preached in our bible teaching series on Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Free to download audio messages from this ministry series of expository preaching through the chapters of Galatians.

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Galatians chapter 1 verses 6 to 10 - The Defence of the Gospel - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Galatians chapter 1 verses 6 to 10 - The Defence of the Gospel - Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Praise that’s Absent (1:6-10) 
People that Stray(1:6) 
A Gospel that’s Changed (1:6-7) 
Teachers that Trouble (1:8-9) 
A Purpose that’s Pure (1:10) 


Praise that’s Absent (1:6-10) 

 After the introduction in every Pauline epistle, Paul would turn to commendation & praise, for: 

Our reputation/testimony (Rom1:8) 
Our knowledge of spiritual things (1Co1:4,5) 
Us personally (Eph1:16) 
Our Giving (Phil1:3-5) 
Our spiritual progress (Phil1:6) 
Our spirituality: faith, love & hope (Col1:3-5) 
Our evangelical effort/fervour (1Thess1:3,8) 
Our progress in faith & love (2Thess1:3) 

 So after the introduction in Galatians let’s have a look for what Paul finds to commend: Nothing!! Almost as if Paul had gone down the above check list, looked for things in the assembly he could commend and has found nothing to commend! How would we fare? 

Our reputation/testimony (Rom1:8) – They certainly talk about us! 
Our knowledge of spiritual things (1Co1:5) 
Us personally (Eph1:16) – Do we bring delight or despair! 
Our Giving (Phil1:5) – The shakings of the poke? 
Our spiritual progress (Phil1:6) – Need to take the handbrake off? 
Our spirituality (Col1:3-5) – Spiritual giant or spiritual pygmy? 
Our evangelical effort/fervour (1Thess1:8) – In need of resuscitation? 
Our progress in faith & love (2Thess1:3) – Lost the plot and lost the passion? 

 What would Paul have to say to me if he wrote me a letter. He would certainly send a greeting; he always does, but what about commendation? 

 Purely theoretical? Paul won’t send any letter! Maybe not but, “we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.” (Rom14:10). 

 Little commendation here but plenty of condemnation! 

People that Stray(1:6) 

 Had already noted that they had strayed away from the gospel doctrinally, but something new here: v6 doesn’t say they’ve strayed from a doctrine – bad enough but from a person, “removed from Him.” 

 Have already noted the doctrinal problem at Galatia: adding to gospel. 

 Learn here that: Doctrine – What we believe concerning Christ, affects: Relationship – What we have with Christ, “ye are so soon removed from Him…” Believing the wrong things about Christ affects our relationship with Christ. 

 We cannot claim a closeness to Christ personally & yet be muddled concerning Christ doctrinally. 

 One of the basic NT term for our relationship with Christ is “knowledge” (Phil3:10; Eph3:18,19). A right appreciation of Christ is needed. 

 “We all love the Lord Jesus so everything is alright & the doctrine doesn’t really matter” may well sound very pious & compassionate, but it is utter nonsense: 2Tim1:12; Jo4:22. 

 Right relationship finds its basis in a right appreciation of Christ. 

 Hence, at Galatia; corrupt the gospel – destroy the relationship. 

 There was one small glimmer of hope for the Galatians, it is hidden in a bad translation of v6: “ye are so soon removed,” is really a present indicative; “ye are so quickly removing,” (Ridderbos). “The only ray of hope is that they were still only in the process of deserting & could possibly be reclaimed.” (JM Boice) 

 They hadn’t completely been convinced that it was alright to add to the gospel and believe in Christ AND good works generally or religious observances particularly or circumcision specifically. 

 “removed” can have a military meaning “deserted” – the desertion is all the more painful because it is the desertion of a PERSON & not a PLACE. 

A Gospel that’s Changed (1:6-7) 

 Note the two “anothers”: v6 – “hetero"” – another of a different kind, v7 – “allo"” – another of the same kind. 

 This ‘gospel’ is another of a different kind, no gospel at all, no power to save (5:1-4). We cannot add to the person & work of Christ & still have a gospel which has the power to save (Gal2:21). 

 Notice wherever God has any ‘true’ thing Satan has His counterfeit: 

Counterfeit Gods: Calf of Exodus, Baal, Ashtaroth, Diana, Artemis. 
Counterfeit Disciples: Judas Iscariot, Simon (Acts8) 
Counterfeit Temple: Mt. Gerizim (Jo4) 
Counterfeit Miracles: Pharaoh’s court, Jannes & Jambres 
Counterfeit Christ: The Antichrist 
Counterfeit Prophets: 1Kings18. 

 We note that going along with this counterfeit gospel is a curse (v8,9) rather than a blessing (3:14). 

 Sometimes once we’ve been on the Christian pathway for a while we become open to novelties, something different (Heb13:7,9). 

 ‘If it’s new it’s not true & if it’s true it’s not new’ 

Teachers that Trouble (1:8-9) 

“To tamper with the gospel is to trouble the church…the church’s greatest trouble makers (now as then) are not those outside who oppose, ridicule & persecute it, but those inside who try to change the gospel…” (Stott). 

 The message is more important than the messenger. 

 Must have the discernment to look behind personalities, even those we love & respect & examine their teaching according to the word of God, Cf. the Bereans (Acts17:10-11). 

 Notice Paul’s willingness to curse: “anathema” when the gospel was under threat. He knew that if anything was added to the gospel there was no salvation for anyone, (1Co1:18,23-24; Gal2:16; 3:1-5;Rom1:16) 

 The Galatians were in a bad way, before they could make any progress the dead wood had to be cleared out, the false teachers had to be removed. For them the way forwards was the way back! 

 Notice that a willingness to compromise the truth is no sign of superior spirituality & love. True love for Christ will fight for all the truth which belongs to His person & work, cf. Shammah (2Sam23:11) defending the field of lentils against the Philistines, it was the King’s, it was the Lord’s, therefore it was precious! 

“Denunciation of error is an index of devotion to the truth. He who cannot curse cannot bless, either. Only the person who has a firm grasp of the truth can discern what is erroneous.” 

A Purpose that’s Pure (1:10) 

 Would seem that some slandered Paul with the accusation that his gospel was the ‘easy’ option, didn’t involve any law keeping, & that he preached it to please men & win them over to something easy. 

 Coincidental proof that we preach the same message as Paul, we get the same thing hurled at us! 

 Paul has just pronounced “anathema” on those who disagree with him. 

 Is he now currying favour & trying to please men? 

 Paul is the “doulo"”: servant/slave of Christ. This precludes pleasing men, his will is given over to the service of Christ. 

 Sometimes to please & serve Christ we offend men! Do bear that in mind when you listen to the ministry! 

 The ministry which I have profited from most over the years is the ministry which has most offended me!

Free to download bible teaching ministry from our chapter by chapter bible teaching expounding the truth and meaning of Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Galatians chapter 1 verses 1 to 5 - An Introduction - The People and the Place - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

  The People & the Place, “the churches of Galatia” (1:2). 

      Read any commentary debate & uncertainty over the place, exactly where Galatia was but can be fairly sure who they were. 

      ‘Galatians’ is an abbreviation of ‘Gallo-Grecians’ 

      The ‘Grecian’ part of the name is simple enough, relates to Greece, these people were Greek in language & culture. 
      The ‘Gallo’ part relates to ‘Gaul’, they were from ‘Gaul’ in France originally and invaded down through Macedonia and into Turkey ~300BC.  

      These ‘Gauls’ were Celtic people. A name we understand. There culture and heritage are still with us. Many of us have Celtic blood in us. 

      Much on NT maybe seems far away. Written to Jews & Greeks. This letter is written to Celtic people, to our people, perhaps making it the ‘nearest’ of the NT epistles to us. 

  Problem of Galatians: false teachers had come in (1:8;3:1;5:710), challenging the very fundamentals of the gospel; teaching faith in Christ, His death  & resurrection + something else, (2:3-5;3:1-2,10;4:10,21;5:1-4). Whenever we do that, add anything to the gospel, we destroy the gospel (3:4;4:10-11;5:2-4). In this case addition = subtraction, hence the warning in Rev22:18-19. What was being added to the gospel?  

1.    Good Works in General – “works of law” (2:16) & (3:1-2,10) – familiar with the concepts of ‘good works’ gospel. Churchianity, Christ + good life + church membership. 

2.    Religious Activities in Particular (4:10) – Jewish feast days & temple attendance. 

3.    Circumcision Specifically (5:1-4) – not just good works now, nothing good/bad about circumcision – surgical procedure – didn’t really matter of itself, Paul had Timothy circumcised in Acts16:3. A religious ordinance, the significance lay in how men regarded it. If their faith lay in Christ + circumcision – no gospel and no salvation. Cf. baptism, can’t even put faith in a God given thing, only in Christ. Christ + nothing else. The significance of baptism – symbolic (Rom6) and its importance lies in the relationship between the believer and God which already exists and not on the baptism itself (1Pet3:21), cf. Acts9:36-37 – the relationship was right & then the act. Hence heaven is full of unbaptised believers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob   

4.    (Matt22:32), Elijah (Matt17), David & thief on the cross, but is devoid of baptised unbelievers! 


1)    Pauls Apostolic Authority (1:1-2) 
2)    Person and Work of Christ (1:3-4) 
3)    The Purpose of our Redemption (1:4) 

  The above 3 concerns in the introduction are reflected in the rest of the epistle as a whole: 

1)    Pauls Apostolic Authority (Chps1-2) 
  Challenged by the Galatians and defended in Chps1&2. 
2)    Person and Work of Christ (Chps3-4) 
  The centrality of the cross (3:1,13), introduced in 2:20. 
  Justification by faith (3:2ff), introduced in 2:16-21. 
3)    The Purpose of our Redemption (Chps5-6) 
  Explained practically in Chps 5 &6. 
i.    Liberty from the law (5:1ff) 
ii.    Freedom from the flesh (5:16ff) 
iii.    Service for the saviour (Chp6) 

Notice some of the prominent themes in the Galatian epistle: 

1.    The theme of the Cross: 
  Presented Doctrinally  - 1:4 
  Presented Personally – 2:20 
  Presented Evangelically - 3:1 
  See the Power of it – 3:13 
  See the Purpose of it – 3:13 
  See the Purity of it – 5:24 

2.    The theme of the Curse: 
  The Curse of Apostasy (1:8,9) 
   The Curse of the Law (3:10) 
   The Curse of the Tree (3:13) 

3.    The theme (centrality) of Christ: 
   Christ is the source/origin of Pauls Apostolic authority (1:1) 
   Christ is the origin of Grace & Peace (1:3) 
   Christ is the means of our salvation (1:4) 
   Christ is the content of the Gospel (1:7) 
   Christ is the object of Paul’s service (1:10) 
   Christ is the source of revelation (1:12) 
   Christ is the object of faith (2:16)  

Not only an epistle of themes but also of contrasts: 
  The present (1:4) & the eternal (1:5) 
  Liberty & Bondage (2:4;5:1) 
  Jew & Gentile (2:9,14) 
  Faith & Works (2:16,3:2) 
  Life & Death (2:19-20) 
  Flesh & Spirit (3:3,5:16-26) 
  Jew & Gentile, Bond & Free, Male & Female (3:28) 
  Sowing & Reaping (6:7ff) 

1)    Pauls Apostolic Authority (1:1-2) 
  “an apostle” – A man with a mission –  “one sent” 
  A man with a message – the gospel (1:4,6ff)     
  What motivates such a man? – “not of men, neither by man”  - “not from  men neither through  men.” His mission & message do not originate from a human source nor through a human channel but directly from Christ. 
  Notice how the Father is described here, “who raised him from the dead.” This was of exceptional importance in the issue of Paul’s apostleship. To be an apostle, a man had to have been an eyewitness of Jesus Christ (Acts1:21-22; 1Co9:1). Paul came to faith in Christ after His death. Pauls apostleship was only thus possible because of the reality of the resurrection. Only because Christ had been raised from the dead could Paul have the experience of Acts9 on the Damascus road. 
  We have to come to grips with what motivated a man like Paul, a Pharisee & persecutor of Christians to make an about turn, join the   
Christians whom he persecuted and then die for the Christ whom he once hated! Paul tells us the answer here & in 1Co15:8 & Acts9 – He saw the resurrected Christ – and that turned his life upside down! Nothing less than this would have done. 
  “And all the brethren which are with me” (v2). In identifying himself in fellowship with his brethren he is touching on one of the accusations laid against him by the Galatians, namely that the gospel which Paul preaches was his own invention (1:11ff ) and was out of sync with the other apostles (2:1ff). 

2)    Person and Work of Christ (1:3-4) 
  Note the double greeting: “Grace…peace.” 
      “Grace”  – recalls the traditional Gk. Greeting  
      “Peace” – recalls the traditional Heb. Greeting – “shalom” 
      The Christian greeting incorporates & surpasses both. 
      Note the significance: salvation by grace through faith was being challenged (2:16ff) and thus the peace we have with God would be destroyed (3:10). 
  “Who gave himself for our sins” – Not just for our PERSON (Eph5:2) but for our PROBLEMS, not just for mySELF  but for my SINS. 


3)    The Purpose of our Redemption (1:4) 
  Not saved to wallow in muck of our own misery. 
  “deliver”  – to take out of – “rescue from the power of” (Boice). Presently this is to be evidenced by; separation & sanctification (1Thess4:3; Rom12:1,2). One day this deliverance will be made complete & final by translation (1Thess4:16-17). 
  One day we will be “caught up” until then we must learn to ‘let go’ 
  Cf. Lot & his separation from Sodom: 
      Symbolically – no leaven in Lot’s house (Gen19:3) 
      Spiritually – He abhorred the values of Sodom (Gen19:7; 2Pet2:7) 
      Socially – His daughters were virgins (Gen19:8), no small thing in Sodom. 
  Ultimately he was ‘plucked out’ from very presence of Sodom (19:16) 
  Even in the story of Lot there is a warning about attachment to the world (19:26), “But his wife looked back.” Much drawing her back to Sodom, 2 lovely daughters, 2 sons-in-law who stayed, a lovely home, maybe grandchildren. Her husbands back was turned, she lagged behind, she had 2 choices, to press forward & catch him up or to turn back. A split second decision betrayed the affections of her heart! She chose Sodom & she chose judgment! 
  The greatest slap in the face we as Christians can give God is to hold onto this, “present evil world,” when Christ died to free us from it. 
  Note the “world” isn’t viewed here geographically but morally, not as a site but as a system, “” – “age” – the ideas, manner of life, way of working, thought processes, values, politics & philosophies, anti-God. 
  In contrast to this “present” and transient world, the believer is linked to an eternal & unchanging God, “glory for ever and ever,” literally, “unto   
the ages of ages.” We don’t live for time but for eternity. Not for earth but for heaven. 
  There is in almost all Pauls epistles a section for praise after the introduction (1Co1:4-9; Eph1:15;Phil1:3-6;Col1:2-6;1Thess1). Lets try to find it in Galatians. Can’t find it! Not here! Nothing to praise? Reflect? 
 A free to download audio recording of a sermon preached in our systematic exposition of Paul's letter to the Galatians - chapter 1 

Yours by God's Grace in Christ  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie