Galatians 1



"Sent from: Paul, probably in Greece before traveling to Jerusalem, joined by 'all the brethren with me.'

Sent to: Members at Galatia, the converts of the first mission.

Date: Probably written about the same time as Romans, A.D. 58.

Purpose: To correct false teachings that circumcision and the law of Moses were necessary for salvation.

Main themes: The gospel and revelation; justification by faith; moral laws of the gospel." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 149.)

"The Galatian saints were no ordinary converts-they were among the first congregations of Gentiles successfully brought into the bonds of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were pioneers in an antagonistic world and needed to be protected, instructed, nurtured, and preserved with all diligence so that spiritual wolves might not enter their flock. As with most missionaries, Paul condemned the bearers of the damnable heresies and distorted practices and raised the specter of judgment for those who would try to draw away fledgling saints by preaching perversions. (Gal. 1:7-9.)

"No one can doubt the depth of love and devotion that Paul and his companions had shown for these converted Gentiles. He had been mercilessly beaten with thirty-nine stripes, threatened, stoned, cast out of the cities to which he was now addressing his letter, and dragged out of one city and left for dead. (2 Cor. 11:24-25; Acts 14:19.) The Jews in the synagogues of these Galatian cities had violently rejected him and his companions (Acts 13:45-46), but fortunately they had found some Gentiles who believed and responded to the message of salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:48). These new Christians had great faith the Lord could show forth signs and wonders, and they allowed the missionaries to perform priesthood healings among them. (Acts 14:8-10.) How could such converts fall prey so soon to those who would pull them from the precious gospel that had been delivered? What could prove such a successful wedge in turning hearts from pure love and faith in Christ?" (George A. Horton, Jr., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 84.)

Galatians 1:4 that he might deliver us from this present evil world

Christ is the Great Deliverer and the only one capable of delivering 'us from this present evil world.' We are to be "in the world but not of the world," but this is not possible without Him. Truly, it is only in and of Christ can we be in but not of the world. In Christ, we are delivered from the evils of this world; we are delivered from the bondage of sin; and we are delivered from the captivity of death. Finally, the most dramatic deliverance will come when the Lord delivers us from 'this present evil world' by destroying it according to the prophecies (Isa. 28:22; 65:17).

John Taylor

"When He comes again He comes to take vengeance on the ungodly and to bring deliverance unto His saints; 'For the day of vengeance,' it is said, 'is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.' (Isa. 63:4) It behooves us to be made well aware which class we belong to, that if we are not already among the redeemed we may immediately join that society, that when the Son of God shall come the second time with all the holy angels with Him, arrayed in power and great glory to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel, or when He shall come in flaming fire, we shall be among that number who shall be ready to meet Him with gladness in our hearts and hail Him as our great Deliverer and friend." (Journal of Discourses 10:115-116, February 22, 1863)

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you

"Paul used the analogy of wolves rending the flock of God to describe the thoroughly destructive nature of religious rebellion. Furthermore, he declared without equivocation that apostasy was an internal phenomenon. It was born of the desires of certain members to exalt themselves, to step into the limelight and gather their own group of followers: 'of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them' (Acts 20:30; emphasis added)...This development within the early Church was not surprising to the Apostles. They knew how apostasy had grown among the house of Israel...What was surprising to the Apostles was the speed with which apostasy began to overtake the Church. In his letter to the branches of the Church in Galatia, Paul wrote: 'I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel' (Gal. 1:6)." (Andrew C. Skinner, "Apostasy, Restoration, and Lessons in Faith," Ensign, Dec. 1995, 26-27)

Galatians 1:7 there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ

Bruce R. McConkie

"Paul's epistles...are...written to answer the questions and solve the problems of specific groups of saints. And in the case of the Galatians, the problem is apostasy. These Galatians are Gentile converts. They are now being contaminated by Jewish-Christians who tell them they must also be circumcised and live the law of Moses to be saved. Paul's purpose is to call them back to Christ and his gospel.

"Galatians is thus written to people who are losing the true faith, who are adopting false doctrines and ordinances, who are being overcome by the world, who are commingling the dead law of Moses with the living word which is in Christ. Thus, in principle, Galatians is written to the Sectarian world, to those plagued with apostasy, to people who no longer believe the gospel in its purity and perfection." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 455.)

Marion G. Romney

"The Galatian saints were a small minority surrounded mostly by heathens and a few Jewish Christians who were called Judaizers because, although they professed to belief in Christ, they still insisted that the Judean law be observed. The pressures of these pseudo-Christians had induced the Galatians to conform to the requirements of 'the law' notwithstanding the fact that Paul had taught them that Christ had fulfilled the law.

"...We are today surrounded by circumstances not unlike those that surrounded the Galatian saints. We now, as they then did, live in a society that minimizes the importance of complying with the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are, for example, subjected to the pressures of the satanic doctrine, believed by many, that all roads lead to heaven. We are told there is no God: 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.' Others say, 'Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God-he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.' (2 Ne. 28:7-8.)

"We are also subjected to the pressures of those who 'are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, ... who preach false doctrines, ... commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord.' (2 Ne. 28:15.)

"These evil influences are real, and far too often they are effective.

"Some time ago a fine young man, raised in a Latter-day Saint home, went away to study. Upon returning from one of our most prestigious universities, he reported that he had associated there with men of various backgrounds, religious and otherwise, and that he had found them to be his equal in every way. He could, therefore, see no reason why he should subscribe to our Church disciplines to which they did not conform.

"More recently, certain young adult leaders informed us that members of their group were involved in university functions and working situations that brought them into constant association with people whose beliefs and conduct were at variance with Church standards; that although these young people were engaged in some Church activities, they still needed to be strengthened against compromises that constantly threatened them.

"In the midst of these and countless other faith-destroying situations, we need to be frequently alerted to and always on guard against their pressures.

"We need what Paul sought to give the Galatians, a conviction and assurance that there are not many ways to heaven, but only one way." ("Only One Way," Ensign, May 1973, 3)

Galatians 1:8 though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel

Ironically, some have used this scripture to argue against the Church. They say that Moroni was an angel from heaven that came to Joseph Smith and preached a gospel other than the gospel of modern Christianity. Such an argument is clever but fundamentally flawed.

To correct such a misunderstanding, all a missionary needs to do is demonstrate which church preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does modern Christianity teach the gospel as Paul taught it? They don't have Paul's apostolic power (v. 1); they don't have the gifts of the Spirit exhibited by Paul (Acts 13:8-11; 14:8-11; 19:11-12); they don't have ministers with authority as Paul had (Acts 13:2-3); they don't have the power of the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-6); they don't understand the Priesthood (Hebrews 1-12); they don't understand Christ's simple gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost; and they don't have the fundamental understanding that there cannot be hundreds of churches with hundreds of paths to heaven because they don't believe Paul's doctrine of 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.'

LeGrand Richards

"My secretary checked for me the other day and she learned that last year in May a census was taken and it was found that there were 697 different churches here in the United States alone. If Paul were here, to which church would he go, for he said there is 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' And so we have to look for divine guidance to know where to go to find that true church if there is only to be one church, and that is our testimony.

"Our message to the world today is the restoration of the gospel. Paul said, '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.' (Gal. 1:8.) Now that is quite a statement, but Paul was not at all backward in indicating what he thought of those who didn't teach the truth that had come to them through the Savior and his teachings.

"Now I realize, as I stand here today before this great multitude and all those who are listening in on television and radio, that I will come under the condemnation that Paul spoke of if I am not preaching the same gospel that Paul preached; but I bear witness to you today that we have the only true, living church upon the face of the earth that the Lord recognizes that has divine authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel." ("One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism," Ensign, May 1975, 95)

Elder John Longden

"'...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.' (Gal. 1:7-8.)

"These were the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians almost two thousand years ago. I testify to you this morning the words you hear in this conference are truly the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is his gospel-not the gospel of Peter, not the gospel of Mark, not the gospel of Paul, not the gospel of John, or any of the other of those great apostles-they are merely the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ ordained to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Conference Report, April 1956, Second Day-Morning Meeting 45.)

Galatians 1:8 let him be accursed

LeGrand Richards

"When I was a missionary over in Holland, in the city of Utrecht, there was a seminary where young men were trained for the ministry. They used to come and attend our meetings, and then they would remain afterwards and discuss religious principles with us. I haven't time to go into detail but one night I proved to one of those young men that they were not teaching the principles of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he turned to me and said: 'Do you think the Lord will hold us responsible for teaching things that we know are not fully in accord with the scriptures?'

"I said that I would rather let the apostle Paul answer that question, for Paul said, '. . . 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.' (Gal. 1:8.)" (Conference Report, April 1968, Third Day-Morning Meeting 121.)

Orson Pratt

"We believe that there has been a general and awful apostasy from the religion of the New Testament, so that all the known world have been left for centuries without the Church of Christ among them; without a priesthood authorized of God to administer ordinances; that every one of the churches has perverted the gospel; some in one way, and some in another...Thus all the churches preach false doctrines, and pervert the gospel, and instead of having authority from God to administer its ordinances, they are under the curse of God for perverting it. Paul said, '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.'" (Interesting Accounts of Several Remarkable Visions [Edinburgh, 1840], 29.)

Joseph Smith

"...if any other man preach any other gospel than this and the Baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost let him be anathemized or accursed. The curse of God shall be upon him or them." (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 370 - 371.)

Galatians 1:9 If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed

Hugh B. Brown

"It is significant that [Jesus] said 'this gospel of the kingdom,' (Matt. 24:14) not 'a gospel,' or 'some gospel,' but 'this gospel.' And the Apostle Paul, with his usual exactness and zeal, said, '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.' (Gal. 1:8.)

"And still there are some who say it matters little or not at all which church one joins, which gospel one preaches, whether it be the gospel of Luther, Knox, or Calvin, whether one belongs to the Roman or Greek Catholic Church, to one of the numerous Protestant denominations, or to some group which emphasizes some one aspect of the gospel such as faith healing, mode of baptism, which day is the Sabbath, etc. Unfortunately the world is faced with a variety of religious denominations which in some measure neutralize each other's influence in the minds of people.

"The question then arises, 'Where shall we find that gospel?' The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes certain definite statements with respect to what the gospel is. A commission was appointed in England recently by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to make a complete survey of modern evangelism, and they were asked to seek and discover if they could the causes for the wide and deep gulf that exists between the church and people. This commission in the preamble to their report, emphasized the irrelevance of the church in the life and thought of the community in general.

"The most arresting observation made by the commission was, 'We believe that the tendency to preach another gospel, or a partial gospel, has been the weakness (not to say the sin) of the church.' This observation reminds us of Paul's warning and anathema which for emphasis he repeated: '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.' (Gal. 1:9.)

"What gospel did Paul preach? All will agree that he was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ as now taught in the New Testament through personal communication and instruction. He became one of its chief exponents, most effective and fearless defenders, and finally one of its martyrs. Many are asking, 'Where can one find a church which teaches the gospel as Paul taught it?'" (Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 75-76.)

Galatians 1:12 I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ

Bruce R. McConkie

"That, of course, is the grand secret, the great key: no man ever receives true religion and the pure gospel except by revelation. He must gain a personal testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, the very possession of the fulness of the everlasting gospel consists in having the Melchizedek Priesthood and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Where these are, there is the gospel, and where these are not, there the gospel is not." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 142.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"It was with Paul as it is with us-of course we are taught the gospel by others; of course we study it out of the revealed word; but in the final analysis, it comes to us by revelation, the Holy Spirit of God bearing witness to the spirit within us that the holy word is true. In the ultimate and true sense, it does not come to us by the power of man, but by the power of God. And thus we build our house of salvation upon the rock of revelation.

"Personal revelation is not limited to gaining a testimony and knowing thereby that Jesus, through whom the gospel came, is Lord of all, nor is it limited to receiving guidance in our personal and family affairs-although these are the most common examples of revelation among the Lord's people. In truth and in verity, there is no limit to the revelations each member of the Church may receive. It is within the power of every person who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost to see visions, entertain angels, learn the deep and hidden mysteries of the kingdom, and even see the face of God." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 489.)

Galatians 1:13 in time past in the Jews' religion...I persecuted the church of God

Howard W. Hunter

"The first use of the word religion is by Paul as he presented his defense before King Agrippa. He said to Agrippa: 'After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.' (Acts 26:5.) He was referring to the three sects of the Jews: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. He said he lived a Pharisee-the sect of the three that was the strictest in religious practices. Paul was not talking about a religious creed or a belief, but rather the form of worship, because the Jews placed great stress on practice rather than doctrine-on ritualistic worship rather than a creed of belief.

"The second use of the word religion was also by Paul, in writing to the Galatians. He made this statement: 'For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church.' (Gal. 1:13.) We well know of the persecutions inflicted by Paul upon those who followed Christ and professed to be Christians, and we wonder why he did these things. What caused him to take such a ruthless course?

"Paul answers these questions by stating that he had practiced the religion of his fathers-a religion of iron rules, laws, and traditions inherited from his Hebrew lineage. These iron rules of practice are what caused him to relentlessly persecute the followers of Christ. Thus, in writing to the Galatians, he referred to religion in the same manner as he did before King Agrippa, as rules of practice rather than doctrine or a creed of belief." (That We Might Have Joy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 159.)

Galatians 1:15 God...separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace

"'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations' (Jer. 1:5, NIV). Paul, the former Pharisee, easily recalled God's words to Jeremiah, and so he used parallel language about his call from God, 'who separated me from my mother's womb' (Gal. 1:15). That 'separation' was Paul's life mission, related to his call to the Gentile mission. The Lord said to the prophets and teachers of the Church in Antioch, 'Separate me Barnabus and Saul [Paul] for the work whereunto I have called them' (Acts 13:2). Several modern versions give a freer translation suggesting a premortal existence: God 'set me apart before I was born' (Gal. 1:15, RSV)." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 19.)

Joseph Smith

"Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was." (Teachings, p. 365)

Galatians 1:16-17 immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood...but I went into Arabia

"We are uncertain how long Saul remained in Arabia; neither are we told just where he sojourned in that land. Some suppose that he went to the peninsula of Sinai, where Moses gave the Law from the mountain of smoke and thunder; others say that he may not have been far from Damascus, because Arabia in that day encompassed also the region east of the Jordan, with Damascus itself included. Indeed we cannot determine with any precision the exact place where he went, but wherever it was he probably stayed from one to three years, judging from what he says in Gal. 1:18. But we can be sure that through prayer and meditation Saul came to peace with himself and his God in the desert place. Like Moses and the Christ before him, in such solitary places was he prepared for his ministry; doubtless, during this desert sojourn, he became the recipient of divine revelations instructing him in the truths of his new faith (cf. 2 Cor. 12:1-7). Saul in later years emphasized the fact that the Gospel which he taught came not from man, neither did he receive it of ordinary mortals, but by revelation from the Lord: 'But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.' (Gal. 1:11-12)" (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], 24.)

Galatians 1:18 after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days

"Three years after his conversion, Saul went to Jerusalem (Gal. 1:17-18), but he found that the members of the church there were 'afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple' (Acts 9:26). Fortunately, a notable disciple named Barnabas introduced him to the apostles and told them of his conversion and his preaching at Damascus. While in Jerusalem Saul conferred for fifteen days with Peter and James, the Lord's brother...We assume that in addition to discussing the scriptures and points of doctrine, Saul must have asked many things about Jesus and his ministry. How thrilling to ask the chief apostle about when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, walked on water, opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, fed the five thousand, challenged the teachings of the Pharisees, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, and visited with the eleven for forty days following his resurrection. What an opportunity to ask James about Jesus as a boy, about Mary and Joseph and Jesus' other half-brothers and half-sisters, and about other things that James would know firsthand. Surely the diligent and intelligent Saul would, with propriety, ask these and other questions of two men who would be able to answer so well from personal experience." (Robert J. Matthews, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 32 - 33.)

Galatians 1:19 other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother

Gerald Lund

"In his letter to the Galatian saints, Paul refers to James, the Lord's brother, as an apostle (see Gal. 1:19) and classes him, along with Peter and John, as 'pillars' of the church (see Gal. 2:9). Some have conjectured from the latter comment of Paul that James, the brother of the Lord, not only became an apostle, but even filled the vacancy in the leadership of the Twelve caused by the martyrdom of James, the son of Zebedee. The fact that James declared the official policy of the church at the Jerusalem Council and that Paul reported to him after one mission (see Acts 21:17-19) would lend added support to that supposition." (Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 49.)