Now Hear This!
Preface: The false teachers in Galatia were trying to undermine Paul’s ministry by claiming that his apostleship and gospel message were not God-given. Paul confronts both of these accusations in the opening verses of his letter to the Galatians. He boldly declares that there is only one way of salvation, and describes how the events surrounding his conversion demonstrate that his calling and gospel only could be from God.
Paul was not pleased! This is putting it mildly. He was working in Corinth, but he had not lost his concern for the other established churches. He had dealt with trouble before, but this time things were different. Paul was cut to the heart; his soul was stirred. Things were very wrong in Galatia. He knew it, and he had to do something about it in a manner that would have impact.
There were false teachers in Galatia, and their influence was spreading. The problem was like a growth that needed a quick laser operation. The Galatian church was plagued with division and heresy. They were guilty of mingling Jewish tradition with the truth of the gospel. To Paul the situation was critical.
His introduction to the letter is only 24 verses long, but it surely packs a wallop. Paul knew that the people of Galatia needed a strong, yet loving, reprimand. They were not living right, and he knew he had to do something about it—soon. There was no beating around the bush. This was serious business, and he would treat it that way.
The introduction of the Galatian letter is in some ways similar to, yet different from, other letters he wrote. His greeting to the people is similar to that in his letter to the Romans (see Rom. 1:7). Yet he reminds them of his identity and the basis for his power and authority (Gal. 1:11). Paul is not giving this a soft sell.
He had to communicate with the Galatians in a manner that would make a difference. These people were blatant in their open, unmasked renouncing of Jesus and the gospel. Fortunately, Paul had the wisdom to deal with different classes, minds, and varied circumstances. He was wise and enlightened by the Spirit of God, and he had received his formal education and schooling in Jerusalem. His manner was sharp and decisive.
Like any good manager, Paul got to the matter quickly and decisively. He used techniques of positive reinforcement still used by competent leaders today.
1. He identified the problem and how to handle it.
2. He acted immediately in dealing with the problem.
3. He stated the basis of his authority.
4. He appealed to conscience.
We can learn a great deal from Paul and the way he managed the Galatia situation.