Galatians 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Galatians 1)

Verse 1

[1] Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Paul, an apostle — Here it was necessary for St. Paul to assert his authority; otherwise he is very modest in the use of this title. He seldom mentions it when he mentions others in the salutations with himself, as in the Epistles to the Philippians and Thessalonians; or when he writes about secular affairs, as in that to Philemon; nor yet in writing to the Hebrews because he was not properly their apostle.

Not of men — Not commissioned from them, but from God the Father.

Neither by man — Neither by any man as an instrument, but by Jesus Christ.

Who raised him from the dead — Of which it was the peculiar business of an apostle to bear witness.

Verse 2

[2] And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

And all the brethren — Who agree with me in what I now write.

Verse 4

[4] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

That he might deliver us from the present evil world — From the guilt, wickedness, and misery wherein it is involved, and from its vain and foolish customs and pleasures.

According to the will of God — Without any merit of ours. St. Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving; but, writing to the Galatians, he alters his style, and first sets down his main proposition, That by the merits of Christ alone, giving himself for our sins, we are justified: neither does he term them, as he does others, either saints," elect," or churches of God."

Verse 5

[5] To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

To whom be glory — For this his gracious will.

Verse 6

[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

I marvel that ye are removed so soon — After my leaving you.

From him who called you by the grace of Christ — His gracious gospel, and his gracious power.

Verse 7

[7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Which, indeed, is not properly another gospel. For what ye have now received is no gospel at all; it is not glad, but heavy, tidings, as setting your acceptance with God upon terms impossible to be performed.

But there are some that trouble you — The same word occurs, Acts 15:24.

And would — If they were able. Subvert or overthrow the gospel of Christ - The better to effect which, they suggest, that the other apostles, yea, and I myself, insist upon the observance of the law.

Verse 8

[8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

But if we — I and all the apostles.

Or an angel from heaven — If it were possible.

Preach another gospel, let him be accursed — Cut off from Christ and God.

Verse 9

[9] As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

As — He speaks upon mature deliberation; after pausing, it seems, between the two verses.

We — I and the brethren who are with me.

Have said before — Many times, in effect, if not in terms.

So I say — All those brethren knew the truth of the gospel. St. Paul knew the Galatians had received the true gospel.

Verse 10

[10] For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

For — He adds the reason why he speaks so confidently.

Do I now satisfy men — Is this what I aim at in preaching or writing? If I still - Since I was an apostle.

Pleased men — Studied to please them; if this were my motive of action; nay, if I did in fact please the men who know not God.

I should not be the servant of Christ — Hear this, all ye who vainly hope to keep in favour both with God and with the world!

Verse 11

[11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

But I certify you, brethren — He does not till now give them even this appellation. That the gospel which was preached by me among you is not according to man - Not from man, not by man, not suited to the taste of man.

Verse 12

[12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

For neither did I receive it — At once.

Nor was I taught it — Slowly and gradually, by any man.

But by the revelation of Jesus Christ — Our Lord revealed to him at first, his resurrection, ascension, and the calling of the gentiles, and his own apostleship; and told him then, there were other things for which he would appear to him.

Verse 13

[13] For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

I Persecuted the church of God — That is, the believers in Christ.

Verse 14

[14] And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Being zealous of the unwritten traditions - Over and above those written in the law.

Verse 15

[15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

But when it pleased God — He ascribes nothing to his own merits, endeavours, or sincerity.

Who separated me from my mother's womb — Set me apart for an apostle, as he did Jeremiah for a prophet. Jeremiah 1:5. Such an unconditional predestination as this may consist, both with God's justice and mercy.

And called me by his grace — By his free and almighty love, to be both a Christian and an apostle.

Verse 16

[16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

To reveal his Son in me — By the powerful operation of his Spirit, 2 Corinthians 4:6; as well as to me, by the heavenly vision.

That I might preach him to others — Which I should have been ill qualified to do, had I not first known him myself.

I did not confer with flesh and blood — Being fully satisfied of the divine will, and determined to obey, I took no counsel with any man, neither with my own reason or inclinations, which might have raised numberless objections.

Verse 17

[17] Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Neither did I go up to Jerusalem — The residence of the apostles.

But I immediately went again into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus — He presupposes the journey to Damascus, in which he was converted, as being known to them all.

Verse 18

[18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

Then after three years — Wherein I had given full proof of my apostleship.

I went to visit Peter — To converse with him.

Verse 19

[19] But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

But other of the apostles I saw none, save James the brother (that is, the kinsman) of the Lord - Therefore when Barnabas is said to have "brought him into the apostles," Acts 9:27, only St. Peter and St James are meant.

Verse 24

[24] And they glorified God in me.

In me — That is, on my account.