Amongst all the other letters, Paul’s letter to the Galatians really stuck out to me. I was planning on discussing this letter for small group but had a change of heart, so now I’m throwin’ it here! Paul is showing his concern to a people that are having trouble walking in the spirit, and he clearly has a goal in mind while writing this letter. These Christians cannot seem to refocus their balance between works and faith.
Right away, he introduces the problem (V1:6-7).
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
This different gospel is the thing to be wary of. Christians can preach a gospel contrary to the truth, and end up proclaiming a gospel that promises lies, or ignores promises. He’s not denying their belief in God, he’s calling them out for subtracting from the truth. So where’s the true gospel?
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (V2:21)
The truth is in Jesus’ death.
Paul scorns the Galatians because they continue to live by the law even after receiving the spirit! Yes, the law was once the path of life which Paul acknowledges later on (V3:21-22), but by attempting to be justified through the law, they denounce what Jesus has done for them.
Paul so desperately wants them to leave behind what they know and embrace justification by faith alone! He says this so many times in the passage it’s easy to see what’s going on once we start reading. Pretty much the whole 3rd, 5th, and 6th chapters are focused on it. So what are these things they know? He wants them to leave behind their view of works.
This is how he describes the old law (V3:23).
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
Held captive is a strong way to describe the law of Moses. This isn’t an accident, he describes it again very similarly (V5:1) as slavery.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Whether or not they uphold the law with the right heart isn’t the problem at hand anymore! While there has been various passages about Jews being circumcised with the wrong intentions, Paul has no reason to bring that up because it no longer has an application or requirement.
(And hey, if that’s the point you’re trying to drive home use something like Psalms 51:16 or 1 Corinthians 7:19. It’s definitely still a good message.)
Paul’s heart is just screaming at the Galatians for limiting the grace of God, and failing to realise that Jesus died to bring us this new convenant with the Holy Spirit. They aren’t getting it and he wants them to know about this new freedom.
He emphasizes this again at the end of his letter (V6:15).
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Even to this day, this still applies to our faith. By Jesus and the Holy Spirit, religion is not, and was never meant to be, a matter of works. I’ve always had a hard time understanding how beautiful Christianity is with Jesus’ death, and it’s through the truth in books/letters like these that allow us to have full appreciation.
We’ve been given freedom, so walk in it, and remember always that your faith will justify you beyond anything this world tries to offer. This, is the gospel.
It’s a good side-note to remember that we should always worship and sacrifice with right hearts, but if that’s what you decide to focus on, this letter will offer you nothing different than the rest. Paul had an audience and a reason to write, and he was spot-on.
Michael “I’m running out of cover photos” Ru