For him, this was no minor issue, as he went so far as to call the Galatians deserters of Christ, people turning from the truth toward a gospel contrary to the one they had received from Paul Galatians —9. Therefore, Paul began the letter to the Galatians by spending two chapters defending that very issue.
Explore the Bible: Galatians - Bible Study Book
Only in chapter 3 did he begin to get to the heart of their error; namely, that these Galatians sought to be justified by the Mosaic Law. In contrast, Paul presented his argument that justification comes to people by faith in Jesus Christ, not by their works under the Law. Part of the problem that confronted the Galatians came in one of the arguments made by the Judaizers.
These false teachers suggested that to live by grace and in freedom meant to live a lawless and therefore degenerate life. And so in the final chapters of the letter, Paul made clear that justification—an act of grace through faith—need not result in a sinful lifestyle. Because Christians have been freed from bondage to the sinful nature, we now have the path of holiness open to us. Unfortunately, the false teaching brought to the Galatian churches by the Judaizers has been extremely difficult to root out even today.
This is an interesting point. Paul was given a direct revelation from the Lord about the gospel he was to preach Galatians Even so, he was sent to the Church leadership for confirmation. Remember that the next time someone tells you he or she has a word from the Lord for you. Always seek confirmation. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses Deut. As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along Galatians When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray Galatians There were six cities named Antioch in Biblical times.
Of those, two are named in the Bible, Pisidian Antioch, the location of one of the churches in Galatia, and this one, sometimes called Syrian Antioch. It was the third most prominent city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. More likely they were Jewish Christians who were there on an official visit from Jerusalem. But either way, their presence caused Peter, Barnabas, and other Jewish believers, who had been fraternizing with the Gentile believers, to withdraw from them and resume their tradition of separation.
Paul saw this as hypocrisy and called them on it. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Three times in two verses Paul stated in no uncertain terms that whether Jew or Gentile, we are not justified rendered righteous by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ.
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We know that Paul was not trying to marginalize the Law because in places like Romans he said the Law is holy, righteous and good. But he was arguing against the improper use of the Law as the basis by which we are made acceptable to God. We are not justified by observing the Law but by faith in the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ Romans Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
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The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! I myself have benefited greatly from doing so. But for anyone who believes that keeping the Law is a necessary component of their salvation, I pray this study will convince them otherwise.
Explore the Bible: Galatians - Bible Study Book - LifeWay
He has met all the claims of divine righteousness, and through Him I am eternally saved. Shall I go back to the law to complete the work He has done? Surely not. Now he adds to justification by faith the truth of the reception of the Holy Spirit. You received the Holy Spirit when you believed in the Lord Jesus, when you accepted the gospel message as I brought it to you he is referring to his own ministry among them. God gave you the Holy Spirit, not on the ground of any merit of your own, not because of any good thing that you were able to do, certainly not because of law-keeping or ritualistic observances, for you were uncircumcised Gentiles.
How then? New birth is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit Himself is the One who does the work; He comes to dwell in the man who is born again. New birth is new creation, and the Holy Spirit is the Creator. New birth is the work of God, but the Holy Spirit is God. There is a difference between being born of God and being indwelt by the Spirit of God.
In past dispensations men were born of God and yet not indwelt by His Spirit, but with the coming in of the dispensation of the grace of God, when people are born again, the Holy Spirit Himself comes to dwell in them. In the case of these Galatians, if He did not approve of the work that Paul had done, if He did not approve of the stand they had taken in receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, He never would have come to dwell in them as they were.
It meant much for people in their circumstances to step out from heathenism and take a stand against their friends and relatives, to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, and to declare that the idols they had once worshiped were dumb images and powerless to save. To step out from all that in which they had participated for so many years meant a great deal, and exposed them to suffering, bitter persecution, and grave misunderstanding on the part of their fellow men. But they were being brought under the power of an evil system, teaching that they were not really saved until they submitted themselves to what these Jewish legalists had put before them.
Was it simply a profession?
If not, how is it that they seem to have lost their assurance? You have been misled, you have gotten into a fog, and if I can, I want by the grace of God to deliver you.
Some people find it difficult to distinguish between a hatred of false doctrine and a love for the people themselves who have come under the influence of it. When we stand up for the truth of God and warn people against false teaching, that does not imply for one moment that we have any unkind feeling toward those taken up with that false teaching. We love such a person as one for whom Christ died, and pray that he may be delivered from his error and brought into the light of the truth.
Then the apostle reminds them that when he came among them to preach the gospel of the grace of God, there were marvelous signs and manifestations that followed. They themselves had seen him and Barnabas work wondrous miracles and some among the number had similar gifts granted to them. These miraculous evidences accompanied the testimony. Are there any miraculous attestations of these false teachers? Is their testimony accredited by miraculous power?
Not at all. But when Paul went preaching Christ and Him crucified, God Himself put His seal of approval upon that testimony by giving them the power to work miracles. When the gospel of the grace of God is preached, men and women believing it are delivered from their sins, the Holy Spirit works, creating a new life, a new nature, and sets them free. The drunkard listens to the gospel and believes it, and finds the chains of appetite are broken.
The licentious man who reveled in his uncleanness like a swine in the mud, gets a sight of the Lord Jesus; his heart is stirred as he contemplates the holiness and purity of the Savior, and he bows in repentance before God, abhorring himself and his sin, and becomes pure and clean and good. The liar who has not been able to speak honest words for years hears the gospel of the grace of God and falls in love with Him who is the truth, and learns henceforth to speak right words, true words. That bad-tempered man who was a terror to his family, so that his wife shrank from him, and his children were afraid when he entered the house, is subdued by divine grace and the lion becomes a lamb.
These are miracles which have been wrought down through the centuries where the gospel of the grace of God was preached. Error does not produce these things. It gives men certain intellectual conceptions in which they glory, but it does not make unclean lives clean, nor deliver from impurity and iniquity. But it is the glory of the gospel that when men truly believe they actually become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
There were no such signs and wonders accompanying this law-preaching. And so he comes back to Abraham. When did God preach the gospel to him? In thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. God gave Abraham the promise of a collective seed, as numberless as the stars of the heaven, as the sand of the sea, as the dust of the ground, and also the individual Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the son of Abraham, for in Him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. And when God saw this faith in Abraham He justified him.