The Book of Galatians was written by Apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia (Ancient Greek), which is now modern day Turkey.
Paul, who used to be called Saul, was a man who persecuted the early church and tried to destroy it. He’s first introduced to us in the book of Acts chapter 7:58-60 in the stoning of Stephen. Stephen is one of the seven (7) men, who had being chosen by the apostles in Acts chapter 6 to be in charge in the daily distribution of food, which was brought about due to the growing numbers of the disciples. Acts 6:1 “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.“
What happened next saw the twelve (12) apostles gathering all the disciples together saying ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word” Acts 6:2-4. This right here shows us that one person cannot do everything, you cannot be the pastor/boss, accountant, usher, choir member, secretary etc. Duties need to be delegated so that everything balances out, there is team work and burn out is prevented. Out of the proposal from the Apostles, Stephen a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit was chosen – even people who serve in areas that may not seem as spiritual to others, are also filled with the Holy Spirit and as believers we should not look down upon them. The next time you see the people who serve in church, respect and honor them too – they are God’s children.
Fast forward to Acts chapter 7:58-60; 8:1 and Stephen is stoned because he performed great wonders and signs among the people and opposition arose against him leading to his arrest, (Read Acts 6:8-15) and the man behind the stoning of Stephen was Saul, Acts 7:58… “dragged him out of the city and began to stone him (Stephen). Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul and Saul approved of their killing him (8:1)
Fast forward again to Acts Chapter 9 and Saul has an encounter with Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus, 9:4-6 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “who are you, Lord?” Saul asked, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” When Saul got up, he was blind and couldn’t see. On the other side of Damascus was a disciple named Ananias, whom the Lord called in a vision and gave him instructions. Talk about God ordering your steps and choosing you for your God given purpose!
Acts 9:11 The Lord told him (Ananias), “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” Ananias was given such detailed information about Saul, there was no way of messing up and it goes to show how God knows each one of us by name as the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us of this in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” David reminds us of the same thing in Psalms 139:13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” and Isaiah sums in up in Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the Lord says – He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name you are mine.” Talk about God knowing every detail about ourselves! To think we can hide from Him? I don’t think so!
Ananias like every zealous christian who knew the history about Saul, tries to ‘inform’ God of just how bad Saul is (like God didn’t know already), I guess he was trying to remind God just how Saul had persecuted the church, like he wasn’t redeemable from all his many sins. Haven’t we walked this path already? seeing how right we are and how the rest are sinners? having a Holier than thou attitude and leaving the rest feeling condemned and walking on the edge like egg shells? crushing them at everything they ever did in the past, forgetting that we are all sinners! For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God Romans 3:23. However, because God is the one who chooses and not man, He tells Ananias in 9:15-16 “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” God had chosen Saul to be the person to proclaim His name to the Gentiles, and the same way that God had chosen Saul for a a special purpose, He has chosen you too.
All through the Bible we’ve seen how God changes the names of the people He’s called. Abram changed to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel and in Acts 13:9 we see Paul’s name changed and hence forth referred to as Paul, “Then Saul, who was also called Paul and by that, as they say, the rest is history. Fast forward now to Galatians chapter One (1).
Paul had already preached the True Gospel of Christ to the church in Galatia, but looks like some of the believers were quickly deserting it and turning into another gospel. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all” Galatians 1:6-7 This is like when you know of who Jesus is, but still are willing and open to take in other forms of religion, more like diluting the true gospel which in the end leaves the person, confused. Just as it were in the churches in Galatia, so we have in our times, “People throwing others into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Cults have come, lied to cover up the truth and lives have being lost through mass suicides. But I love what Paul says in verse 9 “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” this sends shivers down my spine. Remember Cain who was cursed by God in Genesis 4:11? “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
To keep it simple, don’t pervert the gospel! don’t confuse people with ideologies that are not of the Bible, as my Bishop Masinde always says, “if it’s not in the Scriptures, don’t add your own things.” Paul goes on to write that the gospel which he preached is not of human origin, nor did he receive it from man or taught of it, but rather he received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. No wonder he starts us off by writing “Paul, an Apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God The Father, who raised Him from the dead” Gal 1:1. All through verses 11-24 Paul talks about his past and his ways of Judaism and how zealous he was for the traditions of his forefathers. We, Africans come from a history of culture and traditions that were followed since time memorial and its interesting how some believers haven’t let go of some of the traditions that are not christian based in the name of being patriotic to their tribes. When Paul writes in 2Corinthians 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature and the old is gone and behold the new has come,” he basically means that we need to let go of past believes, past traditions. In our church we have a confession that states, “I allow the word of God to illuminate and enlighten my path, I let go of past traditions and failures that I have held until today, I allow God’s principles, new revelation and a new mindset.” Our past traditions and believes that are not of Christ, should be things that we let go and we are to embrace God’s principles.
Paul’s charge was to the Gentiles, and once he identified his purpose, he ran with it. He was unknown to the churches in Judea, he wasn’t among the very first chosen 12 Apostles, but he went on to write thirteen (13) of the twenty seven (27) books found in the New Testament. He found his God given purpose and ran with it! You too have a purpose from God, I pray that you will know your God given purpose, fulfil it and bring glory and honour to your Father in Heaven.
Memory Verse Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!