Introducing and Establishing: Paul's Authority for Christ's Churches

Brian Mahon - 9/3/2023


Call to worship: Acts 26:4-18

Text: Galatians 1:1-5


Galatians begins with introductions that establish Paul's authority for giving necessary correction to Christ's churches against enemy incursions that would negate or nullify the saving truth of the Gospel. He's an apostle, and his apostleship is not of earth. It's from God through the risen Jesus. As the resurrection of Jesus establishes Paul's authority, Paul's apostleship acts as an apologetic or defense of Jesus' resurrection. He's to be heard with ears attuned to Jesus. What he says, he says to every true church. And what remarkable words! He speaks grace and peace to them from God and the risen Lord. And this greeting is rooted in an objective fact: the self-giving of Jesus, for our sins, to deliver us from the present evil age. The will of the Father to justify and sanctify a people for His glory has been manifest in the work of Jesus Christ. As Christians, Christ's work has sufficiently saved us. Let us never be moved in the slightest off this glorious grace and fact.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Why Christ's churches should listen to Paul. (1:1-2)
  2. What Christ's churches need to hear (and heed). (1:3-5)
    • Grace and peace to us. (1:3)
    • Through Christ's all-sufficient sacrifice. (1:4)
    • To the everlasting glory of God. (1:5)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 1:1-5. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. What is the origin of Paul's apostleship? Who sent Paul as His delegate or representative to these earliest churches? How is Christ's resurrection significant to who and what Paul is to the churches? Why is Paul's story and apostleship a useful apologetic for the fact that Jesus is raised from the dead? What's the significance of other 'brothers' being with Paul? Why is Paul's authority important to establish for these churches? What error have they allowed in their midst?
  3. How does Paul greet these churches, and on Whose behalf? How do you receive words of grace and peace from God and Christ?
  4. What is the basis of this state of grace and peace? Do the works of the people in these churches enter into the equation at any point of the introductory greeting? What work does enter-in and figure most prominently? Why did Jesus give Himself? For what? What has He accomplished for us? Are we trusting in His absolute sufficiency to justify and to sanctify us? What is justification? What is sanctification? (See our church's affirmation of faith). How do these relate? How do they not relate? How does confusion on this matter endanger a church's faithfulness to the Gospel?
  5. Who gets all the glory for this one Gospel of the all-sufficient Savior for sinners? The Galatian churches were adopting another non-Gospel. In what ways might you/we be in danger of doing that, and of needing, then, the glorious but urgent correction that this letter of the apostle Paul gives? If, in relationship to salvation, we boast in ourselves to any degree, are we seeing the Gospel clearly? Are you resting in the grace of Jesus?
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