THE APOSTLE PAUL'S LETTER TO THE REGION OF GALATIA
(Written roughly 52AD)
Galatia was a Roman provence in Asia Minor.
THEME OF GALATIANS
Galatians lays out an argument agains those who wanted to ensnare Christians under Jewish rituals and laws.
On his first missionary trip, the Apostle Paul founded churches in the provence of Galaitia in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. He visited them again on his second missionary trip. But after leaving, Jewish Christians came in to undermine Paul's authority and taught that Gentile converts to Christianity had to be circumcised and keep other Jewish rites if they were to be saved. Paul wrote a very direct reply to news of what was going on, making it plain that following these new teachings would cause them to fall from grace. Paul not only defends his gospel in this letter, but also his divine right to be called an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Although Galatians is much shorter, it talks about many of the same doctrinal points raised in the letter to the church at Rome.
SHORT-PHRASE OF GALATIANS
– The writer's words simplified –
We have taken each chapter of Galatians and summarised the core message in a short-phrase (shortened paraphrase). That creates a condensed version of Paul's main train of thought. We suggest you go through this summary, before reading the full text through in your Bible.
I am amazed that you Galatians would turn away from the gospel of grace so easily. But men have come in to pervert the gospel of Christ among you. Yet even if I or an angel of heaven were to come teaching a different gospel you should have rejected us. For the gospel I gave was not man-made, but a direct revelation of Jesus Christ. You have heard the story of my great conversion, how - though I was a zealous Jew - I was called to apostleship by God.
But only after more than 14 years of being taught by the Lord, did I go to the apostles in Jerusalem and they could not improve my doctrine. Instead they saw that God had chosen me to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, and counted me an apostle with them. Then I found Peter in Antioch being hypocritical. first eating with Gentiles and then withdrawing from them when Jews visited from Jerusalem. I confronted him publicly, asking him, if he was willing to act like a Gentile why did he expect the Gentiles to act like Jews? Why build again the things that have been destroyed? For a man is not justified by keeping the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. No one is justified by the law. For we died to the law so that we could live to God. If we could have been justified by the law then there was no reason for Jesus Christ to die.
Oh you foolish Galatians, who has deceived you? Did you receive the Spirit by your works or by believing the gospel? Are you foolish enough to try to perfect in your own efforts what was begun by God's? Were the miracles done by keeping the law or by the preaching of faith? Abraham was justified by faith and those of the faith are the sons of Abraham. The scripture says that through Abraham the Gentiles will be blessed, because the covenant was made with Abraham's seed – which is Christ – a covenant made 430 years before the law was given. And if it was given through faith it could not come through the law. The law is not faith. For those under the law are under a curse unless they keep the entire law perfectly. The law was only given because the people were sinful, to keep them in line until the time of Jesus' coming. But now all are brought to God by faith. All those who have been baptised have put on Jesus Christ and there is no longer Jew or Gentile – all are one.
How can you turn again to the lowly things you were in bondage to? You observe days and months and times and years. I fear that my labour for you was in vain. You loved me. Am I now your enemy if I tell you the truth? You who want to follow the law, hear it now: Abraham had two sons, one born of the flesh (his own efforts), the other of the promise (God's work received by faith). These are symbolic of the two Testaments. The slave mother is Sinai and is under bondage. But the other mother is free. We are of the free woman, born by the Spirit. And the child of the slave woman did not receive the inheritance.
Stand fast in the liberty Christ has given you and don't return to bondage. If you are circumcised you must keep the whole law perfectly because you have departed from hope in Christ, and fallen from grace. You were obeying the truth. I wish those who trouble you were cut off. You were called to liberty, use that liberty to love one another. Walk in the Spirit, and if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law. The works of the flesh are manifested in evil deeds, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. If you belong to Christ you have crucified your evil desires.
If a man sins, let the spiritual ones restore him with gentleness. Do not be weary of doing good. Do good to all men, but especially to those of the faith. God forbid that I boast in anything but the cross of Jesus Christ, which crucified the world to me, and I to it. For in Christ circumcision means nothing, nor uncircumcision – all that matters is being a new creature in Christ.