For Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Message (MSG)
1-5 I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I’m God-commissioned. So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God’s plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever! Oh, yes!
6-9I can’t believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head. Let me be blunt: If one of us—even if an angel from heaven!—were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed. I said it once; I’ll say it again: If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed.
10-12Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.
13-16I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of my earlier life when I lived in the Jewish way. In those days I went all out in persecuting God’s church. I was systematically destroying it. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him.
16-20Immediately after my calling—without consulting anyone around me and without going up to Jerusalem to confer with those who were apostles long before I was—I got away to Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus, but it was three years before I went up to Jerusalem to compare stories with Peter. I was there only fifteen days—but what days they were! Except for our Master’s brother James, I saw no other apostles. (I’m telling you the absolute truth in this.)
21-24Then I began my ministry in the regions of Syria and Cilicia. After all that time and activity I was still unknown by face among the Christian churches in Judea. There was only this report: “That man who once persecuted us is now preaching the very message he used to try to destroy.” Their response was to recognize and worship God because of me!
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1-2From the apostle Paul and from all the Lord’s followers with me.
I was chosen to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and by God the Father, who raised him from death. No mere human chose or appointed me to this work.
To the churches in Galatia.
3I pray that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! 4Christ obeyed God our Father and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins to rescue us from this evil world. 5God will be given glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Only True Message
6I am shocked that you have so quickly turned from God, who chose you because of his wonderful kindness. [a] You have believed another message, 7when there is really only one true message. But some people are causing you trouble and want to make you turn away from the good news about Christ. 8I pray that God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from our message to you! It doesn’t matter if that person is one of us or an angel from heaven. 9I have said it before, and I will say it again. I hope God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from what you have already believed. 10I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.
How Paul Became an Apostle
11My friends, I want you to know that no one made up the message I preach. 12It wasn’t given or taught to me by some mere human. My message came directly from Jesus Christ when he appeared to me.
13You know how I used to live as a Jew. I was cruel to God’s church and even tried to destroy it. 14I was a much better Jew than anyone else my own age, and I obeyed every law that our ancestors had given us. 15But even before I was born, God had chosen me. He was kind and had decided 16to show me his Son, so that I would announce his message to the Gentiles. I didn’t talk this over with anyone. 17I didn’t say a word, not even to the men in Jerusalem who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
18Three years later I went to visit Peter [b] in Jerusalem and stayed with him for fifteen days. 19The only other apostle I saw was James, the Lord’s brother. 20And in the presence of God I swear I am telling the truth. 21Later, I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22But no one who belonged to Christ’s churches in Judea had ever seen me in person. 23They had only heard that the one who had been cruel to them was now preaching the message that he had once tried to destroy. 24And because of me, they praised God.