The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians
Dear Christian Brothers [and Sisters] in the Church in Galatia,[*]
I, the Apostle Paul, write this letter to you. The authority for what I am about to write to you in this letter does not come from the ideas of mere men (mine or anyone else’s), but I have been directed to write the things in this letter to you by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father who raised Him from the dead. Furthermore, all the other Christian brothers who are with me here are in full agreement and approval of my claim that this is from Jesus Christ and God the Father and they agree with what is written in this letter.[†]
3 The subject and primary purpose of this letter:[‡] That God’s charitable favor be yours and that peaceful unity be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ 4 who gave himself as a payment for our sins so that He could rescue us from this present evil age. He did this in accordance with the will of our God and Father, 5 to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
6 Given all this, I’m amazed that you have so quickly abandoned the calling you had in the kindly favor (grace) [of Christ] for some other “good news”/“gospel”. 7 This “other” gospel is bogus. It is a result of certain people who are agitating you and willing to change the good news of Christ. 8 But if we, or even an angel from heaven, were to preach a gospel different from the one we originally preached to you, let that one be accursed! 9 Let me say this again [so it will be perfectly clear to you]: if anyone tries to preach a gospel to you that is different from what you originally received, let him be accursed!
10 Am I now trying to worm my way into your heart?—or God’s?! Or am I trying to win the approval of people?! No way! I am, and have been, Christ’s servant. I’m not interested in [my message] having the approval of people. I am only interested in [my message] being the one that Christ has approved. It can’t be both ways, and I’ve made my choice.
11 I want you all to clearly understand that the gospel message that I proclaimed to you is not from human ideas, 12 nor did I get it from something other people said, or from something I made up, but I got it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 No doubt you’ve heard how I used to be so extreme in my devotion to Judaism that I was earnestly trying to destroy God’s Church? 14 And how I advanced in Judaism beyond my peers, being more zealous for my ancestral traditions? 15 God set this whole thing up before I was born. He had already decided to call me through His grace 16 to have His Son revealed in me so that I might proclaim Him to the nations.
Immediately after [my conversion] I did not talk this over with any flesh and blood person, 17 nor did I go directly to Jerusalem to [speak with] those who had been appointed as apostles prior to me. But I went into Arabia, and then afterwards straight back again to Damascus.
[*] The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians is written in the typical standard letter format of 1st century Greek and Roman correspondence. To convey that fact and sense, we use the typical 21st century letter format; hence the salutation beginning with the word “Dear.” Also, a characteristic of many Proto-Indo-European languages (of which Greek is an earlier example) is to address mixed gender groups in the masculine. We still this in many modern Proto-Indo-European languages today (e.g.-French). This letter to the “church in Galatia” (verse 1:2) is addressed to the “brothers” in various places throughout this letter, but it is understood that this is a mixed gender appellation. In some of the American circles of the 21st century, the traditional acceptance of this ancient literary mechanism has been challenged; so as to not confuse the reader, the greeting of this letter includes the words “[and Sisters]” because that was certainly the intent in the original Greek manuscript.
[†] In verse 1:2, the recognition of the agreement of “all the other Christian brothers” does not detract from the claim of divine authority made earlier in verse 1, but conforms to the divine norm found in other New Testament writings (such as Acts 15) whereby, even though God does not require the consensus of men to establish His authority, He nevertheless includes them in the process as a part of the validation of it among men. This is viewed not as logically necessary, but as a privilege characteristic of legitimate divine authority among the believers in the Church.
[‡] Inferred from its structural position in the letter. The subject of a letter came immediately after the greeting in 1st century letter format.