Galatians 1-2: False Teachers Pervert the True Gospel

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 131–132


Not long after Paul delivered the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Galatia, Jewish Christians among them began teaching that even the Gentiles had to live the law of Moses, particularly the rule about circumcision (see “Why Did Paul Write This Letter?” above). Notice how Paul defended the gospel he taught by testifying where it came from.

Understanding the Scriptures

Galatians 1

Pervert (v. 7)Change, corrupt 
Accursed (v. 8)Cursed, damned 
Separated me (v. 15)Set me apart 
I conferred not with flesh and blood (v. 16)I did not discuss it with anyone else on earth 

Galatians 1:14—“Traditions of My Fathers”

The “traditions of my fathers” Paul wrote about were the religious traditions of his family. He had been trained in his youth as a Pharisee (see Acts 26:5). The Pharisees believed that the rules and personal opinions that Jewish teachers had written about the scriptures were as important as the scriptures themselves. The Pharisees were very zealous (strict) in their obedience to these uninspired rules (see Mark 7:10–13; Bible Dictionary, “Pharisees,” p. 750).

Galatians 2

To whom we gave … not for an hour (v. 5)We did not yield to them for even an hour 
Contrariwise (v. 7)On the other hand, on the contrary 
Wrought effectually (v. 8)Worked effectively 
Cephas (v. 9)The Apostle Peter 

Galatians 2:7–9—“Gospel of the Uncircumcision … Gospel of the Circumcision”

The Apostle Paul was called to take the gospel to the Gentiles (the “uncircumcised”) and Peter was directed to minister among the Jews (the “circumcised”).

Galatians 2:11–16—“When Peter Was Come … I Withstood Him to the Face”

Paul did not reveal everything about his disagreement with Peter. It appears that Peter, for fear of offending Jewish converts, had stopped eating with gentile converts, as required by Jewish tradition. Paul publicly confronted Peter about yielding to tradition rather than fully living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “Without question, if we had the full account, we would find Peter reversing himself and doing all in his power to get the Jewish saints to believe that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and no longer applied to anyone either Jew or Gentile” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:464).

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study Galatians 1–2.

Activity A iconSummarize Paul’s Message

In Galatians 1–2 Paul expressed his concern for the Galatian Saints. He also defended his calling as an Apostle and the gospel message he taught.

  1. 1.

    Summarize the main points of Galatians 1–2 by answering the following questions. (For help, see the introduction to Galatians in this manual and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Galatians1–2.)

    1. a.

      What seemed to be Paul’s main concern for the Saints in Galatia?

    2. b.

      What was the “other gospel” (see Galatians 1:8–9) that some Jewish members of the Church were trying to teach the people? Why wouldn’t it last?

    3. c.

      What do we know about what happened between Peter and Paul?

  2. 2.

    In your notebook, describe some of the “other gospels” (false doctrines that people offer instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ) that people may be tempted with today.