Paul was under much pressure to reverse his message of grace so he would not be rejected by the people of Galatia and the religious leaders who came from Jerusalem preaching a different message.
Before those from Jerusalem came to Galatia, preaching that righteousness came by following the Law of Moses, the people of Galatia loved Paul and joyfully welcomed him into their community as if Paul was an angel of God or Christ Jesus himself (Galatians 4:13-14).
They took care of him as he suffered with an eye illness.
They loved Paul so much that they would have given Paul their very own eyes (Galatians 4:15).
Yet when these false teachers appeared in Galatia, the people deserted Paul, rejecting him and his message of grace (Galatians 4:13-18).
This crushed Paul.
He loved the Galatian people and wanted them to come to a full understanding of all God did for them in Christ.
This love for the Galatians caused great spiritual and emotional pain inside Paul, pain he compared to childbirth (Galatians 4:19-20).
Paul had a decision to make.
Should he change his message from righteousness by grace through faith in Jesus apart from the Law of Moses to righteousness by following the Law of Moses so the Galatian people and teachers of the law would approve of his message and accept him?
Or, should he maintain his message, risking the continued rejection of the Galatian people and teachers of the law?
We find Paul's answer in Galatians 1:10-12:
“Am I now seeking the approval of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I certify to you, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not devised by man. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
In these three verses, Paul makes it clear his goal was not to please people with what he preached, but his goal was to please God.
What was the message (gospel) Paul communicated that was pleasing to God?
It wasn’t a message that any person taught him.
The gospel Paul preached was one he received directly by revelation from the risen, ascended Jesus Christ.
What was the revelation he received?
Paul tells us exactly what it was in Acts 20:24:
“But I consider my life of no value to myself, if only I may finish my course and complete the ministry I have received from the Lord Jesus—the ministry of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (see also Ephesians 3:2-4)
Directly from the risen, ascended Jesus, Paul received the gospel of grace, which is that righteousness does NOT come by following the Law of Moses or by following the Law of Moses plus faith in Jesus, but righteousness comes ONLY by grace through faith in Jesus (Galatians 2:21).
This is what Paul preached.
This is why he was rejected by the teachers of the law and the Galatian people.
Yet, if Paul was to be a servant of Jesus, completing the ministry and finishing the race Jesus gave him...that of telling people the good news of God’s grace, he would have to risk rejection.
It was Paul’s willingness to risk rejection that allowed him to reach others with and teach others about the good news of grace, thus changing their lives (2 Corinthians 4:15).
If Paul’s goal was to please people with what he taught...If his goal was to please religious leaders with what he taught, then he would have changed his message from a grace-based righteousness to a works-based righteousness.
But his goal was to please God by teaching others about his grace.
His goal was to be a servant of Jesus by completing the ministry and finishing the race he was given by Jesus.
Because these were his goals, the gospel of grace was communicated widely, resulting in changing the lives of many...lives that include your and my life.