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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 1: The Gospel to the Germanic Galatae
Here we shall present Paul's epistle to the Galatians, and before doing so we must establish the identity of the Galatians whom Paul was writing to. The name Galatia at the time of Paul's ministry referred to either one of two things. First, the word referred to the kingdom of the Galatae which was established in Anatolia in the 3rd century BC, or secondly it may have referred to the Roman province of Galatia, which incorporated the ancient kingdoms of Lycaonia, Phrygia and Galatia. Considering only the use of the term Galatia in reference to the Roman province, there have long been academic debates disputing whether Paul had written to the “northern Galatians” of the province, which refers to the somewhat Hellenized Galatae of the ancient kingdom, or to the “southern Galatians” which more numerously included the Greeks and Hellenized Lycaonians of the larger cities. But the so-called scholars who debate on these terms do not even seem to realize that Luke did not use the term Galatia in reference to the Roman province, but only as it was originally used, in reference to the ancient kingdom, and that was only the northern part of the Roman province.
In his accounts in Acts, in chapters 13 through 16, Luke specifically mentions the cities Derbe, Lystra and Iconium several times each, and many commentators imagine that it was the Christians in these cities who were the recipients of Paul's epistle to the Galatians, because these cities were all in the southern portion of the Roman province of Galatia. But Derbe, Lystra and Iconium were cities of the ancient kingdom of Lycaonia, which the Romans had later incorporated into the province of Galatia, and in Acts 14:6 Lystra and Derbe are called “cities of Lycaonia”, and then in Acts 14:11 we see a reference to the “speech of Lycaonia”, and the ancient Lycaonians were properly neither Greeks nor Galatians, although they had been Hellenized to a great degree. Then later, in Acts 16:6, Luke mentioned “Phrygia and the region of Galatia” as being separate places, and the ancient kingdom of Phrygia, like Lycaonia, had also been incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia. Then in Acts 18:23 Luke once again describes Paul as having traveled through “the country of Galatia and Phrygia” where he had strengthened “all the disciples”. So we see that in Luke's writing, Phrygia and Galatia are clearly distinguished from one another and also from the cities of Derbe, Iconium and Lystra mentioned in verses 1 and 2 [of Acts 16], which were in Lycaonia.
Therefore it is quite certain that from Luke's accounts in Acts where the apostles mention Galatia, they do not mean the Roman Province, but instead they mean the ancient kingdom of Galatia as they distinguish it from the other parts of the Roman province, which are Phrygia and Lycaonia. If the Roman province were meant where the term Galatia was used, then these distinctions would not have been made. Therefore we see that the recipients of Paul's epistle to the Galatians are certainly those unspecified Christian assemblies which had indeed existed throughout the ancient kingdom of the Galatae.
Therefore in reference to Paul's epistle, the "northern Galatians" hypothesis is right for the wrong reasons, and the "southern Galatians" hypothesis is just plain wrong.
Now that we have illustrated this, we can discuss who these Galatae were. Much of this discussion concerning the identity and origins of the Galatae is documented in our Classical Records and German Origins essays, which have been presented relatively recently here at Christogenea.
The Galatae are often, and somewhat wrongly, identified as Kelts. The name Kelt did not originally belong to the Galatae. The Greek geographer Strabo had discussed the confusion of the Kelts and the Galatae, and how the term Kelt did not apply to the Galatae originally (Geography 4.1.14). The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus had said: “And now it will be useful to draw a distinction which is unknown to many” and he went on to explain how the name of the Kelts originally applied to a people distinct from the Galatae, but that the Romans had called the Kelts Gauls (Galatae) as well as those Galatae who were later called Germans. (Library of History, 5.32.1). So it is evident that Kelts and Galatae were at one time distinct terms for somewhat distinct people. Herodotus knew of the Kelts, but he did not ever use the term Galatae. However at an early time the terms became synonymous to the Greeks and Romans. The second century Greek historian Polybius often used the terms Kelts and Galatae synonymously, even in the same paragraphs (i.e. The Histories, 2.17.3-5; 2.33.1-5). Throughout his own writings even Diodorus uses the two terms interchangeably, and also often in the same paragraphs (i.e. 14.113-117), while on other occasions he distinguishes between them (i.e. 25.13.1). Diodorus never used the term German, but called the tribes that dwelt east of the Rhine – some of which he mentioned by their individual names – Galatae also, even where he tells of Julius Caesar’s conquests there (Library of History, 5.25.4).
The Germanic tribes dwelling north of the Danube were, by all of the later Greek writers, all originally called Galatae. But even earlier, Herodotus had identified these people as Scythians. The name Galatae seems to come into existence in the 4th century BC. The earliest surviving literary citation for the word is from Aristotle. The word Galatae seems to come from the Greek word gala, or milk, and galatos, meaning of milk. The earlier Greek poets, such as Homer, poked fun at the Scythians in the north for being “milk-eaters” and “mare-milkers”. Strabo had written that “... the Germans, who, though they vary slightly from the Celtic stock in that they are wilder, taller, and have yellower hair, are in all other respects similar, for build, habits, and modes of life they are such as I have said the Celti are. And I also think that it was for this reason that the Romans assigned to them the name ‘Germani,’ as though they wished to indicate thereby that they were ‘genuine’ Galatae, for in the language of the Romans ‘germani’ means ‘genuine’” (Geography 7.1.2). Diodorus Siculus describes the Galatae who dwell east of the Rhine as tall and blond with very white skin, and says that they drank beer made from barley and the water in which they washed their honeycombs, which seems to describe an ancient form of mead (Library of History 5.26.2; 5.28.1). These Galatae used chariots, and wore what seems to have been a type of tartan (5.29.1; 5.30.1).
After he had informed us of the distinction between Kelts and Galatae, Diodorus Siculus tells of the Galatae that “... some men say that it was they who in ancient times overran all Asia and were called Cimmerians, time having slightly corrupted the word into the name of Cimbrians, as they are now called ...” and he goes on to relate how tribes of these Galatae once captured Rome, as Livy and others also relate had happened (about 390 B.C.), and how they later plundered the temple of Delphi in Greece (in 279 B.C.). Afterwards, certain tribes of them invading Anatolia were defeated by Attalus I of Pergamos, and negotiated to settle the land which became known as Galatia in Anatolia. These Galatians “became mixed with the Greeks” and so were called “Greco-Gauls”, and it is these Galatians for whom Paul wrote his epistle. Diodorus then adds of the Galatae: “... and who, as their last accomplishment, have destroyed many large Roman armies”, referring to the Roman wars with the Cimbri (Library of History, 5.32.4-5). In the Loeb Classical Library edition of Diodorus, translated by C. H. Oldfather, a footnote at this passage reads: “Much has been written to show that the Germanic tribe of the Cimbrians who threatened Italy shortly before 100 B.C. were belated Cimmerians who first entered Asia Minor in the seventh century B.C.” The Cimbri, after several astounding victories, were defeated by the Romans about 101 B.C. Strabo also tells us that they were the Kimmerians, and later calls them Germans, who with another kindred tribe, the Sugambri, were “best known” of the Germanic tribes (Geography, 7.2.2, 4).
As the Germanic (Galatae, Kimmerian, or Scythian) tribes grew and divided, and the Greeks and Romans became more intimately knowledgeable of them, they were referred to less generally, by more specific tribal names. For instance, Strabo later enumerates the tribes of “those Galatae who settled in Phrygia” (Geography, 12.1.1) as “... the Trocmi and the Tolistobogii, [which] are named after their leaders, whereas the third, the Tectosages, is named after the tribe in Celtica.” The Tectosages (Tektosagas in Greek, and notice the presence of the -saga syllable which relates to the Sakae or Saxons and which is present in so many names related to Scythian tribes) had also occupied a district near the Pyrenees mountains, and are said to be a division of the Volcae (Geography, 4.1.12-13; 12.5.1). Of the Trocmi, Strabo says that this tribe, settled near Pontus and Cappadocia, was “the most powerful of the parts occupied by the Galatians” (Geography, 12.5.2).
While the Galatians, or Galatae, of Anatolia were said to have had the same language of those of Keltica (Gaul, or modern France), which was still in use in the time of Jerome (see his commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Migne xxvii 382), “...the Celts of Galatia did not use their own language as a medium for written literary composition” (Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin, p. 206). This is verified by Strabo where he explained that the Galatae of what is now France had been learning to write in Greek from the Phocians of Massalia, which was the ancient name of modern Marseilles (Geography, 4.1.5). Notice that Rankin, author of the book Celts and the Classical World, also took it for granted that the Galatians were Kelts. Where Strabo explains the origin of the word for German as coming from the Roman belief that the Galatae were genuine Galatae (Geography, 7.1.2), the Loeb Classical Library edition of Strabo, translated by H.L. Jones, offers a footnote which says in part: “So also Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Pliny and the ancient writers in general regarded the Germans as Celts (Gauls).”
This confusion seems to have come because the Galatae had been migrating into Celtica (as the land west of the Rhine was known by the much earlier Greek historian Herodotus) since long before the Romans had conquered Gaul. The lands west of the Rhine and south of the Alps are much more inviting to settlement than those to the north and east, and even up to the time of Julius Caesar the Germanic tribes were forcing their way into them. For instance, in The Gallic War Caesar complains that “In a few years all the natives [those who were already settled in Gaul, west of the Rhine] will have been driven forth from the borders of Gaul, and all the Germans will have crossed the Rhine; for there can be no comparison between the Gallic and German territory ...” (1:31), bearing in mind that the distinction between Gaul and German here is a late Roman one, and they were all originally called Galatae.
The Kelts of Keltica were descended from Phoenicians and other tribes which preceded them into western Europe, who had also settled Iberia, the British Isles and the coasts of the northwest. The Galatae had descended from the Kimmerians, who were the Bit Khumria of the ancient Assyrian inscriptions, whom the Persians had called Sakae and whom the Greeks originally called Scythians, but had later called Galatae. The Galatae were therefore related to the Kelts, and the Romans labeled them all as Gauls. But the Galatae were also related to the later Germanic invaders of Europe, which were the Saxons, Goths and others who had descended from the original Scythians of Asia, primarily the Sakae and the Massagetae. So in a sense, the Galatians were Kelts and Gauls, but they were also Germans, before the Romans began calling the Galatae of Germany Germans.
So in summary, the Galatians of Paul's epistle were primarily Galatae, and were descended from the ancient Kimmerians, who were in turn descended from the ancient Israelites taken into captivity by the Assyrians, before the middle of the 7th century BC. While most of these had migrated into Europe, these rather adventurous tribes of the Galatae had crossed the Danube and invaded Greece in the 3rd century BC, and were ultimately settled in part of Phrygia which had then become known as Galatia. They had also spread into parts of Phrygia and Lycaonia, and many had mixed themselves with the Greeks. Then when the Romans came to the area and made their own political boundaries they incorporated all three kingdoms into a province which they had called Galatia. However as we have seen, the apostles continued to use the original names to distinguish the various districts, so Galatia refers to the district in the north of the Roman province, which was settled mostly by the Galatae.
An understanding of this historical background is crucial to understanding the context of Paul's epistle. For instance, how could one perceive what Paul had meant where he said to the Galatians that Christ had come to “redeem them that were under the law” and that for that reason “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”, except by knowing that they were of the ancient children of Israel? Any other interpretation of these passages is an attempt to make the Word of God into a lie, when in fact the Galatians were indeed of the seed of Abraham.
Now that we know to whom the epistle was written, we may discuss when it may have been written. In Acts chapter 18, near the end of Paul's year-and-a-half ministry in Corinth, we read: “18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Judaeans. 20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”
So Paul spent a considerable time in Corinth, and when he left he sailed for Syria along with Priscilla and Aquila. And then he ended up in Ephesus, and we are not certain whether he had actually gotten to Syria or not since Acts 18:18 is ambiguous. However it seems that he and his party had only stopped in Ephesus, where he had left Priscilla and Aquila, on the way to Syria. For that reason, as we see in verses 20 and 21, he would not stay in Ephesus but hurriedly sailed for Caesarea. From there, it says that he had “gone up, and saluted the church”, which seems to indicate that he had stopped in Jerusalem at this time, since he had said he wanted to attend the feast, and then he “went down to Antioch”. This journey to Antioch seems to be where Paul had had his final meeting with Peter which is described in Galatians chapter 2. The epistle to the Galatians could not have been written before that final meeting. Paul visited the Galatians soon after that meeting, which is evident in Acts 18:23, and his epistle reflects an anticipation to visit them in its fourth chapter (4:18, 20). So Galatians was most likely written before Paul arrived in Galatia in Acts 18:23, but after meeting Peter in Antioch in Acts 18:22, which is what Paul seems to be referring to in Galatians 2:11.
Some may protest, that the meeting with Peter in Antioch may have taken place during the events which are recorded in Acts chapters 14 and 15, however that cannot be the case. In Acts chapter 15 a dispute is recorded which arose between Paul and Barnabas and “certain men which came down from Judaea”, as it is described in the first verse, where there is no mention of Peter until after we read in Acts 15:2 that “they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” Since Peter was certainly one of the “apostles and elders”, it is evident that he was in Jerusalem at this time, and not in Antioch with Paul. We will discuss this further when we present Galatians chapter 2.
With this we shall commence with Galatians chapter 1:
1 Paul, an ambassador not from men nor through man, but through Yahshua Christ, even Yahweh the Father, Who has raised Him from the dead, 2 and all of the brethren with me, to the assemblies of Galatia.
Where we read even Yahweh the Father, most translations have and God the Father. This is because we perceive Christ to be one with God the Father, as Paul also instructs us elsewhere that there is one God, one Lord and one Christ, who is the fulness of the divinity bodily (Colossians 2, Ephesians 5). Therefore, since there is one Lord, or κύριος, which as a title is applied to both God and Christ, then God and Christ must be one κύριος and we read the two phrases that are connected with the conjunction as a Hebrew parallelism. The κύριος title is applied to Christ in the next verse of the epistle. Understanding the conjunction in this manner we express agreement that God the Son and God the Father are indeed one and the same God. Here Paul asserts that his apostleship comes from God Himself, as the Book of Acts has recorded.
Note that unlike his other letters, here Paul writes to the assemblies of the region of Galatia, using the word for assembly in the plural. In other letters he addressed either the singular assembly of a city, or the saints collectively. Of course, this signifies that there are assemblies throughout the region, none of which are ever specifically mentioned in the Book of Acts. However it is clear in Acts that Paul conducted a ministry in Galatia on at least two occasions, in chapters 16 and 18, and he had also mentioned the assemblies there in 1 Corinthians chapter 16, and where he discusses instructions which he had given to the assemblies of Galatia, where it is also evident that there was at least one other and now lost epistle to the Galatians.
3 Favor to you and peace from Yahweh, the Father and our Prince, Yahshua Christ,
Here the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Alexandrinus (A), which have “peace from Yahweh our Father and Prince Yahshua Christ”; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46, the 4th century papyrus P51, and the Codices Vaticanus (B), Bezae (D), Coislinianus (H 015), and the Majority Text.
Paul fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah chapter 52 concerning those who deliver the Gospel of God: “7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
4 who gave Himself on behalf of our errors, in order that He should deliver us from the present wicked age, in accordance with the will of Yahweh our Father, 5 to whom is honor for eternity. Truly.
The Greek phrase τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν is literally “the will of our God and Father”, here I have neglected καί, the conjunction, and wrote “Yahweh our Father”. The conjunction καί is often used for emphasis and although we do not like leaving any word unrendered, here it seemed sensible to do so since we endeavored to restore the Hebrew name of our God to the Scripture. The construction is a Greek hendiadys, by which one entity is addressed or identified by the use of two nouns, for which see MacDonald, Greek Enchiridion, p. 117.
The word eternity at the end of verse 5 represents a phrase which is literally “for the ages of the ages”.
Here in his introduction Paul is stressing the fact that Christ had given Himself for sins, meaning those of the Galatians as well as those of his own, because this epistle was written to address the Judaizers who had crept in among the Galatians, who were teaching them that they had to be circumcised and that they had to keep other rituals of the law for their salvation. This becomes clear as we proceed through the epistle, especially beginning in chapter two where Paul discusses “privily introduced false brethren, such who infiltrate to spy out our freedom, which we have in Christ Yahshua, in order that they may enslave us”.
6 I am astonished seeing that so quickly you are changed from He who has been calling you in favor of the Anointed, to another good message, 7 which is no other except there are some who are agitating you, and wish to pervert the good message of the Anointed.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Coislinianus (H 015) want the phrase rendered “of the Anointed” in verse 6. The Codex Bezae (D) adds the word for Yahshua where we would instead write “of Yahshua Christ”. The text follows the late 4th century papyrus P51, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and the Majority Text.
The favor of the anointed is the grace granted to the children of Israel, although the phrase may have also been translated as “favor of Christ”. The term for anointed is often used of the children of Israel collectively, and this is evident in many places where Paul used the term χριστός where it cannot possibly be a reference to Christ Himself.
One such place is in 1 Timothy 5:11 where Paul advises Timothy about accepting women into the service of the Christian assembly and he says: “But younger widows you must excuse, for when they behave wantonly towards the anointed, they desire to marry.” Younger women having sexual desires would act wantonly towards the men of the assembly, and not towards Christ Himself. Therefore in that passage we have translated χριστός as Anointed, as it refers to the group, and not as Christ.
Another place is in Hebrews 11:26 where Paul speaks of Moses and says “24 By faith Moses, becoming full-grown, refused to be called a son of the daughter of Pharaoh, 25 rather preferring to be mistreated with the people of Yahweh than to have the temporary rewards of error, 26 having esteemed the reproach of the Anointed greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, since he had regard for the reward.” It was the people of Israel, the Anointed collectively, who were suffering reproach in slavery in Egypt, and not Christ Himself.
One other place where Paul clearly uses the word χριστός to describe the children of Israel collectively is in 1 Corinthians 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also the Anointed.” There χριστός certainly refers to the children of Israel collectively, as Christ by Himself is not the many members of the body.
Yet another place is found in 1 Corinthians 1:13 where Paul is talking about divisions among the assembly, and diverse members who were claiming to be followers of the different apostles, and he asks “Have the Anointed been divided?” Of course, he was not asking whether Christ had been divided, since Christ was not the subject of the discourse. It is clear in many of Paul's statements, that using the term χριστός he uses it in reference to the Christian children of Israel collectively, rather than as a reference to Christ Himself. Here we have presented four witnesses to this fact.
That the children of Israel collectively are the Anointed of Yahweh is evident in Psalm 28: “8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. 9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.” It is also evident in Lamentations 4:20: “The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.” It is also evident in Habakkuk chapter 3: “13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck.” It is also evident in Isaiah chapter 10: “24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction…. 27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” It is also evident in 1 John chapter 2: “27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
From Deuteronomy chapter 28: “9 The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. 10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.” As He is Christ, His people are therefore Christians, the Anointed people. Here we have provided much of the evidence that His people collectively are His anointed, in addition to His Messiah being the Anointed One.
In both Hebrew (Strong's # 2580, chen) and Greek (Strong's # 5485, charis) the words commonly translated as grace primarily mean favor, and the favor of God was also a matter of prophecy for the children of Israel. In Jeremiah chapter 31, the same prophecy which promises the children of Israel a new covenant, we read “1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Likewise we read in Psalm 102: “12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. 13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. 14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. 15 So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. 16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.”
The favor of Yahweh God belongs to the Anointed, which are the children of Israel collectively, and the Gospel of God belongs to the Anointed as well, meaning that it belongs to the children of Israel. God did not create a gospel, a word which means good message, for Himself. The Gospel of God also belongs to the Anointed, meaning to the anointed people of God, as the prophet asks “1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isaiah 53) so does the apostle where he says “16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” (Romans 10) Saying our report, and their words, the Gospel belongs to all of the children of Israel who have accepted it.
8 But even if we, or a Messenger from heaven, should announce a good message to you contrary to that which we have announced to you, he must be accursed. 9 Just as we [א has “I”] have said before, now also I say again, if anyone brings you a good message contrary to that which you have received, he must be accursed.
Paul is not promoting himself here, but rather he is warning about the inevitable result from disobeying the Gospel of God. From Deuteronomy chapter 27 we read: “26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” Paul quotes that same passage of Deuteronomy chapter 27 in Galatians chapter 3 in his argument against the Judaizers. We may also read from Deuteronomy chapter 27: “18 Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.” According to Isaiah it was the purpose of the Gospel to “open the blind eyes” (42:7) and therefore Christ had warned “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39)
Disobedience to Christ is a failure to do all of the words of the law of Moses, and thereby to be accursed. The part of the Law which concerns Christ is found in Deuteronomy chapter 18 where it says “15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken... 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” Christ Himself asserted that He was this prophet, for instance in John chapter 6: “46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” Therefore not believing what had been written about the Christ, or what Christ had said, according to the Law men exhibit themselves to be accursed.
Another, more metaphorical aspect of the law of Moses where we see a prophecy of Christ is in Exodus chapter 23 where it says “20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.” Now this was an immediate prophecy of Joshua the son of Nun, who had replaced Moses temporally. However another Joshua (one having the same Hebrew given name) is Yahshua Christ, who replaced the law of Moses in the dispensation of God, and of course Yahweh's Name is in Him, since the name Yahshua means that Yahweh saves. Matthew 1:21 reveals that meaning, where it says “21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Yahshua: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
From Genesis chapter 22: “7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” John the Baptist had proclaimed this when He saw the Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
10 Now therefore do I persuade men, or Yahweh? Or do I seek to please men? Yet if I were pleasing to men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Here Paul will seek to establish his credentials in his knowledge of the Scripture and his authority in the gospel of God. This is because he is about to argue against the Judaizers who have tried to convince these Galatians that they must look to the circumcision and the works of the law for justification, where by continuing such things one is in essence denying the sacrifice and the very purpose of the Christ.
11 Now I point out [or “make known”] to you, brethren, the good message which is announced by me, that it is not according to man. 12 Neither from man have I received it, nor have I been taught but through a revelation of Yahshua Christ.
In Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26 we see elements of Paul's conversion each time it is recounted. In Acts 9 we have a record of the words of Yahshua Christ to Hananias, who heals Paul's eyes and baptizes him, where we read: “15 But the Prince said to him 'Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel. 16 For I shall indicate to him how much it is necessary for him to suffer on behalf of My Name.'” Then in Acts chapter 22 Paul informs us that Christ had said to him “Go, because I shall send you off to distant nations.” Then in Acts chapter 26 Paul attests “6 And now for the hope of the promise having been made by Yahweh to our fathers I stand being judged, 7 for which our twelve tribes serving in earnest night and day hope to attain, concerning which hope I am charged by the Judaeans” and also relates more of what Yahshua had said to him where we read: “16 … For this have I appeared to you, for you to be a chosen assistant and witness both of the things you have seen by Me and of the things I shall reveal to you, 17 taking you out from among the people and from the nations to whom I send you, 18 to open their eyes, for which to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of the Adversary to Yahweh, for them to receive a remission of errors and a portion with those being sanctified by the faith which is in Me.”
We may not have a complete record of exactly what Yahshua Christ had revealed to Paul of Tarsus through the revelation which Paul mentions here, but considering all of these things which Paul had attested to, we see that Paul's understanding of the promise to the twelve tribes, the testimony he was to bring to the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel, and the nations to whom he was sent for the remission of their sins are all intrinsically connected. Paul himself has told us elsewhere that without law, sin was not accounted and therefore need not have been forgiven. These Galatians once having had the law for their schoolmaster as Paul attests later in this epistle, must have been descended from the dispersions of the ancient Israelites of the captivities. It is these things concerning the identity of the ancient Israelites for which Paul must have received his revelation.
13 For you have heard of my conduct at one time in Judaism, that I had exceedingly persecuted the assembly of Yahweh, and had endeavored to destroy it,
The Greek word πορθέω (Strong's # 4199) is also found in this same context at Galatians 1:23 and at Acts 9:21, and it is defined by Liddell & Scott as “to destroy, ravage, waste, plunder” but in the Present and Imperfect tenses they define it as “to endeavor to destroy...” Where the King James Version has wasted here and destroyed at verse 23, here is is “to endeavor to destroy”, since the verb is in the Imperfect tense in both places. Paul did not manage to destroy the assembly of Christ, but he certainly had endeavored to do so.
We read at the beginning of Acts chapter 8, after the stoning of Stephen: “1 And Saulos was consenting to his death. And there came in that day a great persecution upon the assembly in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the lands of Judaea and Samareia, except the ambassadors. 2 And pious men retrieved Stephanos and held a great mourning for him. 3 Then Saulos outraged the assembly, entering into each of the houses, dragging away men and women he delivered them into the prison. 4 So then those who were scattered went through announcing the good message of the Word.” Then after the account of Philip and Peter with Simon Magus, we read at the beginning of Acts chapter 9: “1 And Saulos, still breathing threats even of murder to the students of the Prince, going forth to the high priest 2 requested letters from him to Damaskos to the assembly halls, that if anyone should be found being of the Way, both men and women, being bound he would bring them to Jerusalem.”
Paul continues in relation to this by referring to the trusted position he had obtained from the high priests and officers of the temple:
14 and had advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries within my race, being a more excessive emulator of the traditions of my fathers.
The word for contemporaries, συνηλικιώτης (Strong's # 4915) for which the King James Version has equals, refers to men who are of the same age. Paul's use of such a word along with the phrase ἐν τῶ γένει μου, which we interpret to mean “within my race”, γένει being the Dative Case form of the Greek word γένος, helps to exhibit that the word γένος does not refer to a generation, as in a group of people living at the same time.
But here for the phrase ἐν τῶ γένει μου the King James Version has “in mine own nation”, where we have “within my race”. The Greek word γένος (Strong's # 1085) is primarily “race, stock, family” and while it may in some contexts be interpreted as nation in that sense, the word for nation is properly ἔθνος (Strong's # 1484). The rendering of the phrase in the King James Version is misleading because nation is often misunderstood as a geographical entity, where in γένος the meaning is clearly racial or genetic and cannot possibly be geographical.
In 2 Corinthians 11:26 Paul uses this same word γένος in relation to those of his own race or tribe, or countrymen as the King James Version has it, in distinction to those of other nations, where ἔθνος appears in the very same verse. In Philippians 3:5 γένος appears in the phrase that the King James Version reads as “stock of Israel”, referring to the particular race of the Israelites. Therefore we must read the word in a similar sense here, and it reveals something which Paul had explicitly taught in Romans chapter 9 and elsewhere: that there were diverse races in Judaism. Otherwise, why would Paul say that the had “advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries within my race”?
The conclusion we must draw here is that Paul is indicating that there is more than one race in Judaism. With that we must understand that Judaism had by Paul's time become something other than it was supposed to be, as it is explained in the Old Testament, because the Old Testament religion is only for one race: the children of Israel. Examining Paul's statement indicating that there is more than one race in Judaism, we must ask ourselves just who the other races in Judaism may be, how they got there, and why the Old Covenant which demands that Israel be a separate people was transgressed among this remnant in Jerusalem, because in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah converts from the other races were not accepted under any circumstances (i.e. Ezra 10:1-3).
Once we understand Paul's analogy between Jacob and Esau in Romans chapter 9, where he makes a distinction between the true Israelites who are in Judaism, and the Edomites who are in Judaism, and the vessels of mercy as opposed to the vessels of destruction, in comparison with the histories of Flavius Josephus which inform us that over 150 years before this time the Edomites were all converted to Judaism, only then can we properly understand how Paul can infer that there was more than one race in Judaism. The histories of Josephus are very detailed and realistic, and can be proven to be entirely reliable where he describes in Antiquities book 13, from line 257 and again from line 393, how the Judaeans at Jerusalem under John Hyrcanus and again under Alexander Janneus had gone out and conquered all of the Canaanite and Edomite cities of Palestine, and had forced all of the inhabitants to be circumcised and to adopt the religion of Judaea, which only then could fairly be called Judaism because it was certainly no longer the path of the Old Testament Israelites. Josephus tells us in four places in his writings that Herod, who became king at the time of Christ, was an Edomite through the side of his mother as well as his father. All of Herod's descendants were therefore Edomites, and it can be established that once the Edomites had gained control of the kingdom under Herod, they also filled many of its offices, especially in the temple, and in the ranks of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Elsewhere Josephus told us that only the Essenes, the third major sect in Judaea, were “Judah by birth”, which also indicates that many of those of the other sects were not. In fact, it can even be demonstrated that the Sadducees were primarily, if not exclusively, Edomites, and Sadducees had filled the office of high priest for nearly all of the last century of the history of the temple. For that reason, Christ had told those who opposed Him in Jerusalem “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” (John 10:26).
So the so-called Jews, those Judaeans who had rejected Christ, were indeed Edomites. The Judaeans who followed Christ were the true Israelites of Judaea and they were never called “Jews”. But the Germanic Galatae were indeed a part of the lost sheep of the House of Israel for whom Christ had come. This was the meaning of the gospel according to Paul of Tarsus, and it was obscured and lay dormant by the time of the establishment of “official” Christianity in Rome, ostensibly because this was the gospel that was persecuted by the Jews, as it is still persecuted today.
15 But when it pleased Yahweh, Who selected [or “separated”] me from my mother’s womb and called me through His favor
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus (B) have the beginning of this verse to read “But when it pleased He Who selected me...”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (D) and the Majority Text.
From Jeremiah chapter 1 we see that the ancient prophet had the same attitude and understanding concerning his own work and destiny: “4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 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.” Of course, the nations of Jeremiah are the same nations of Paul: the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
16 to reveal His Son by me that I announce Him among the Nations, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor had I gone up to [P46 has only “gone to”; P51, B, and D have “departed for”; the text follows א, A, and the MT] Jerusalem to those who were ambassadors before me. Rather I departed into Arabia, then again returned to Damaskos.
We do not see all of these details as the account of Paul's conversion is recorded in Acts chapter 9, where we may we read in part: “17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.” There is no record of Paul's having been in Arabia in Acts 9:19, where we may expect to find it, however the verse numbering and the paragraph layouts are not Luke's design. Perhaps Acts 9:19 should have been split in half, since there is an obvious gap in between the time when Paul was in the home of Ananias and the time when he was with the other Christians of Damascus, and Luke says nothing about the time in Arabia which must have been in the interim. Neither do we know how long Paul was in Arabia, or why he went there, and we shall refrain from speculation.
Where Paul had written “that I announce Him among the Nations”, the use of the definite article indicates a reference to particular nations, and we see in Acts 9:15 the often mistranslated words of Yahshua Christ where Paul's commission is given in summary: “For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.” In Romans chapter 4 Paul himself describes the nations of the promise of God in Christ as those nations actually descended from Abraham, where he says in part: “16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham, who is father of us all; 17 (just as it is written, "That a father of many nations I have made you,") before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be'”. At Paul's time only a small portion of the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem were “of the law”, while the lost sheep of the House of Israel remained “of the faith of Abraham”, which was Abraham's belief in the promise of God that his offspring would become many nations. The Romans, the Dorian Greeks, and the Germanic Galatae were all among those nations of the promise to Abraham. So while Paul may have spent some time in Arabia, he is never recorded as having established any churches there, and there were no subsequent travels in Arabia or any epistles to the Arabs.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to relate an account to Kephas [D and the MT have “Peter”, the text follows P46, P51, א, A and B], and remained with him fifteen days; 19 but the other ambassadors I saw not, except Iakobos [popularly but incorrectly James] the brother of the Prince.
The Greek word ἱστορέω (Strong's # 2477) appears only here in the New Testament, and it means “to inquire into a thing, to learn by inquiry...to examine...II. to narrate what one has learnt” (Liddell & Scott) and so is “to relate an account” here, where the King James Version has only to see. The noun, ἱστορία, is the root of our English word history.
Paul had left Damascus because his life had been threatened, as we may read in Acts chapter 9. Then he went to Jerusalem where Luke records: “26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.” So here we learn that Paul's initial sojourn among the Christians at Damascus, the account of which occupies only seven verses in Acts chapter 9, lasted for three years. Then the account of Paul in Jerusalem which occupies five verses of that chapter spans only fifteen days. We also learn that when Paul had gone to Jerusalem at this time, only Peter and James were there of all the original apostles.
This would be not more than four years after the stoning of Stephen, however we shall discuss the chronology further when we present Galatians chapter 2.
20 Now the things I write to you, behold, in the presence of Yahweh, that I do not lie.
Ostensibly, Paul would still have had many witnesses to his conduct in Jerusalem as well as in Antioch and Damascus as he wrote this epistle.
21 After that I went into the regions of Syria and Kilikia.
Here Paul makes a reference to what Luke had also recorded in Acts, of the time when he was still in Jerusalem where it is written “29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”
Tarsus was the chief city of Cilicia (Kilikia) which was a province of Anatolia adjacent to Syria on the west. What is not recorded anywhere, but which is evident in the general accounts given later in Acts, is that after his three years in Damascus and his visit to Jerusalem, while Paul was in Tarsus he must have established Christian assemblies there. Paul remained in Tarsus from Acts 9:30 until Barnabas went to find him, as it is recorded in Acts 11:25, which covers an unspecified period of time during which Peter had his vision and began to bring Israelites of the ancient dispersions to Christ, namely the Romans of the household of Cornelius. But Paul must have been converting so-called “gentiles” during this same time, as we see later in Acts chapter 15 that there are already Christians “in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia”, and then, as it is recorded at the end of Acts 15: “40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”
22 But I was unknown in appearance to the assemblies of Judaea which are among the number of the Anointed.
The Greek phrase ἐν χριστῶ may have been rendered simply “in Christ”, rather than “among the number of the Anointed”. We have learned here in verse 18 that Paul's sojourn in Jerusalem, before he was sent off to Tarsus for his own protection as it is recorded in Acts 9:30, was only 15 days. Therefore it is very likely that, as he states here, most of the Christians in Judaea had never seen Paul in person.
23 And they were only hearing: ‘That he who persecuting us at one time, is now announcing the faith which he once endeavored to destroy.’ 24 And they supposed Yahweh was within me.
The King James Version has verse 24 to read “And they glorified God in me.” The Greek word δοξάζω (Strong's # 1392) may well be “II. to magnify, extol...” and therefore it is glorified here in the King James Version. Yet the word is primarily “to think, imagine, suppose” (Liddell & Scott) and so it is supposed here. In other words, the Christians of Judaea imagined or supposed that Yahweh was indeed with Paul because of his sudden turn-about and his proclamation of Christ.