Galatians 1

Paul's Unadulterated Gospel


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:3).

“Peace” is a common Semitic greeting, as seen in Luke 10:5 and 24:36, and John 20:19. The Semitic part of Paul’s greeting is very ancient, with examples from the Old Testament and intertestamental period (e.g., Judg 6:23; 19:20; Dan 10:19; Tob 12:17). This letter found at Lachish is addressed to a man named Ya’ush from one of his subordinates. It contains the typical Semitic greeting of “peace” (Heb. shalōm).

Paganism in Galatia

He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).

Perga was a city in southern Galatia where Paul had preached (Acts 14:25). The round building in the center of its agora (left center) may have been a temple dedicated to the god Hermes, patron deity of merchants. In any case, the Roman pantheon was well-represented in all the regions of the empire in the form of idols, temples, and religious practices. These elements would surely have been among the things Paul had in mind when he referred to “this present evil world” from which Christ delivers us.

Road to Damascus

For I neither received it from man, nor was taught it, but through the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12).

Several commentators have associated the revelation of the gospel to Paul with the appearance of Christ on his way to Damascus recounted in Acts 9, 22, and 26. This picture shows a view of the land south of Damascus, looking west toward Mount Hermon, which is partially obscured by clouds. It is not known exactly where the road was in Paul’s day, but it would have passed through this valley and Paul would have had a view somewhat like the one seen here.

St. Stephen's Gate

I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and ravaged it (Galatians 1:13).

Paul (Saul) was present at the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:58; 8:1). He also led the subsequent persecution against the church (cf. Acts 8:1-3). This gate in Jerusalem gets its name from a late tradition that this was the site where Stephen was martyred.


I went away to Arabia and returned again to Damascus (Galatians 1:17).

Paul’s first recorded visit to Damascus was when he travelled there in pursuit of Christians and was himself converted (Acts 9). Eventually he had to be let down in a basket through a window in the wall in order to escape (Acts 9:25; 2 Cor 11:32). The return to Damascus must have followed these events, although nothing else is known about this period. This photochrom image of the city was taken in the 1890s.

Syria and Cilicia

Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Galatians 1:21).

Syria and Cilicia were located around the northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This photograph looks south from the far eastern edge of the northern shore of the Mediterranean. From this perspective Syria is to the left and ahead, while Cilicia is along the coast to the right. The specific cities of Syria and Cilicia where we know Paul spent significant time were Antioch and Tarsus (Acts 9:30; 11:25-26).

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