There is Only One Gospel

Galatians 1:1-12

Jerry A Collins




*      Is faith necessary for sanctification?

*      Does law play any part in our spiritual lives?

*      How can he gospel become distorted?


In every generation the gospel has been attacked. Today is no different. What is the gospel? Basically it is spiritual ‘good news’. It is the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and then rose again from the dead. Believing this will bring the gift of eternal life. This simple message is being challenged once again. (1) One way is by scholars who are giving what is called ‘new perspectives’ on Paul’s theology. Calling into question traditional understanding—understanding that 2000 years of Bible teachers have understood—and then redefining justification  before God as something other than or more than receiving Jesus’ righteousness—actually Paul’s message was one of racial reconciliation with Jews who were trying to keep Gentiles out of the covenant community because they did not practice Jewish customs. So repairing this misunderstanding would bring salvation to Gentiles who followed thru with Jewish law-keeping and entered into covt. (2) The gospel includes fixing the world. The gospel means that you embrace redeeming the culture and world by participating in social justice including poverty, aids in Africa, pacifism, racial reconciliation, wealth distribution, equality, environment and by doing this you are fulfilling the parameters of the gospel which includes not only spiritual but social, societal and environmental deliverance.  Even when the gospel was initially proclaimed, it was in danger of being distorted—it’s message changed (vs 6-7). There were two basic types of gospel-distorters; (1) one said you must become a member of the Jewish race—a proselyite who keeps the law in order to be saved but that question was settled in Acts 15. (2) The other—a post Jewish council gospel-distorter—was concerned with a believers sanctification. You are saved by faith in Christ but to have a godly life you must live under the law. This group is addressed in Galatians—saved by faith but sanctified by law. But Galatians teaches that justification and sanctification are both by faith. Salvation does not come thru law-keeping and neither does maturity.


Messengers authority 1-2 Here it is clear that Paul’s authority originates from Christ. His mission was not given by any person. His apostolic authority is from the resurrected Christ described as equal to God the Father. It was not Jesus’ earthly ministry but His resurrection that is basis of authority. We do not serve just a good man—a moral example who lived a good life. The authority we have to share the gospel is based in a resurrected person. This is far superior to just a good man who lived a good life. As matter of fact he has many witnesses to this vs 2 who support truth of Paul’s ministry and message.

All originates in Christ 3-5 Grace and peace both find their source in Father and Son. Notice again the link between Father and Son. They always do. These are only found in relationship to Father and Son. We can enjoy peace with God and with others because God has taken initiative in extending His grace to us in Christ. Peace always follows grace. Possible because Jesus gave Himself for our sins vs 4. (1) His death was voluntary. He gave it—no one took it from Him. (2) His giving satisfied God the Father’s righteous demands against sinners. (3) His giving reconciled people to God. Now everyone is savable. (4) His giving made necessary payment to deliver us from sins condemnation. The gospel always includes the message of giving for our sins. (5) His giving delivers us out of this present evil age. In other words, Jesus delivers us from power of present world system by means of indwelling presence of the Spirit—our sanctification—as much as it delivers us from eternal judgment. This deliverance accomplished the will of God the Father who must receive glory for who he is vs 5. So here in the beginning we have the tone and message of Galatians revealed—namely that Christ died for us in order that he might sanctify us. In neither case it is by law but by Christ. The law cannot save anybody (Chp 1-3) and neither can it sanctify anybody (Chp 4-6). Law may get you out of chaos and into order but it will not bring you to maturity. That is only a work of Christ by means of the Spirit.


Amazement 6-7 Astonishment at what was an inconceiveable turn of events. Namely, that these Galatian believers were deserting the gospel they had just heard and received from Paul. Because a large  part   of the amazement was that it was happening so quickly. Some false teachers had infiltrated this group of believers very soon after Paul had been there. But the abandonment was not simply some system of theology but from God Himself who had called them by grace of Christ vs 6. Our calling is our salvation. It is this calling we are to live out in the Spirit Eph 4:1. We are to walk in a manner worthy of this calling. To abandon this calling is to embrace a distorted gospel. Here it is described as a different gospel—one that will insist on works of the law instead of a walk in the Spirit. Fact is there is only one gospel vs 7 and attempts to undermine it by disturbing or throwing people into confusion about it is really to distort the gospel altogether. The good news that deliverance from sin and this present evil system is by grace thru faith is replaced with the notion that while we may be saved by faith but we must be sanctified by works of the law. Legalism.

Curse 8-10 The grace gospel message cannot be changed! First, hypothetically, if he as a divinely called apostle or an angel, a heavenly messenger were to alter the gospel grace message—which here would qualify as a highly improbable situation—then let him be under God’s curse or judgment. In other words let him be eternally condemned—anathema! Point being that acknowledging Christ implies the law is annulled and abolished. Therefore if the law was still in force as way of salvation or sanctification then age of Christ not yet dawned and Jesus not Messiah and Paul not apostle. But this is not possible! So, the reality is that if anyone says this vs 9 ‘any man’ then let him be cursed by God since he is a liar! God does not save by grace thru faith and then expect you to grow by law thru works. The law is nullified both as way of salvation a way of sanctification So no one can justly accuse Paul of trying to win others approval—he just spoke harsh language that prevents that. If so, he could not be Christ’s slave vs 10. Preaching grace and preserving that message results from slavery to Christ not man. Good focus for us!

(1) We should think highly of our responsibility to teach and disciple others about the grace needed to be saved and then to grow up vs 1.

(2) This age will always be a ‘wicked one’ we need deliverance from vs 4. Tho saved we are not insulated from world’s influence but live in Spirit.

(3) When person forsakes God’s grace he abandons his only means of contact with God for salvation as well as sanctification vs 6-7.

(4) God is very jealous of His grace vs 8-9. It defines who he is and what He especially has done for us. Don’t mess with that.

(5) If trying to please men we exclude selves from unreserved service to Christ vs 10.