Summary: Paul’s letter to the Galations is a teaching and reinforcement document sent to the church of believers in the area originally ruled by the King of Galatia. From Paul’s journey with Barnabas this would have included Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Some significant confusion had developed in the believers because of the incorrect teachings of believers from Judea who professed a requirement to hold to the old ways (observation of the Jewish Laws) in addition to the message of the gospel (salvation through Jesus Christ). By attempting to do both the implication was that Christ had not “fully” fulfilled the law (see Matthew 5:17) and, as such, it was still a requirement. There was also the issue of the gift of salvation being shared with Gentiles within them also having to adhere to the same rules and principles that the Jews had (circumcision being a specific outward sign).
The confusion likely stems from Exodus 12:48 that required a non-jew “alien” living in the household of a jew to be circumcised before he could participate in the passover.
6. a.True gospel: Galations 1: 3b-4: Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father
b. That we are redeemed from the bondage of our sins only through the grace of God that Jesus Christ was made man and died, paying the price of justice for our sins if we accept His word and believe in Him.
7. (Challenge) Galatians 2:4 – The freedom we have in Christ Jesus; Galatians 3:3–5, 10–11 – Attain through human effort?, because of law of because of belief?, Cursed under the law, (Deut. 27:26 ), no one justified by the law; 5:1–7. Either justified by the law or by faith – not both – justified by the law = fallen from grace, 5:6 the only thing that counts is faith)
Rom 3: 28-31: 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
8. (Challenge) “False brothers”
Acts 15:5 – Believers who belonged to the party of the pharisees
Galatians 2:11–13 – Came from James, belonged to the circumcision group, Hypocrites
Galatians 5:1–7 – Enslavers, Trying to be justified by law, aliens from Christ
Galatians 6:12–13 – Those who want to make a good impression outwardly, they may boast
There are 3 main questions raised and answered in the verses we cover today – all critical to the “true faith”
1. Faith alone or faith plus works? Circumcision was never intended to “pay the price of salvation.” It was always an outward sign of an inward commitment and covenant from God’s people to their Lord. However, it was always the heart that mattered. Otherwise, how could Jesus have called the circumcised pharisees a brood of vipers? They had fallen more in love with the ritual of the law than they did the God whom the law was meant to honor. They confused the what for the why. Gal 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
2. If the law is not abolished, then what still applies considering it has been fulfilled? In regard to salvation, the price is paid. Period. As difficult as it is to understand or accept, the horrific acts we may perform while on the earth are insignificant to God in comparison to our belief in Him. This was clearly demonstrated by Christ on the cross in His conversation with the crucified thief. If our wickedness does not compare then neither do our good deeds. We do not “earn” salvation by them and implying we follow any law to earn freedom takes away from the one who paid the price of our freedom. Does that mean we ignore God’s commandments and his direction on how we are to live and love each other? Of course not, but we do them to honor our Lord not to earn His love or favor, those are things only He can give freely. We do them out of honor and respect, not out of obligation under threat.
3. Is it acceptable for christians to look and live differently? To me, this is the biggest unspoken question and one that many christians and churches struggle to overcome even today. The Judeazers wanted all christians to look and live like them. We all have prejudices, some more ugly and hateful than others (the prejudices that is), but they are there. What does a good pastor look like or sound like? What kind of up-bringing do you need to have had to be a church leader? Even BSF seemed to struggle in this area for a period of time: what does a christian leader look like? can they be overweight? can they dress differently? I’m glad to see the prejudices and stereotypes being challenged and changed – God wants the heart of His church.