Launch Sermon Player

Galatians in one of the most confusing books in the NT. This confusion is exacerbated by the Evangelical’s false assumptions about the book’s legal language and the framework of salvation established by God in the Bible. This short series will provide the Christian with the information needed to remove such confusion and make sense of Paul’s important letter to the Galatian churches.

1. What prompted Paul to write the letter to the Galatians:

The invasion of a group of Jewish Christians (otherwise known as the Judaizers or “party of the circumcision” – 2:12) who were teaching that salvation required observance of the OC clean laws [spiritually clean/righteous/justified] (circumcision [2:3, 7-9, 12, 5:2-3, 6, 11, 6:12-13, 15], separation from those not circumcised [2:11-13], Sabbath holidays [4:10]). Paul – who planted the Galatian churches during his 1st missionary journey, (Acts 13-14: Perga, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe), condemns these individuals as “false brethren” (2:4) and their teaching as a “different gospel” (1:6-9).

2. Why Paul was confident that his gospel (which did not require the observance of the clean laws to be saved) was the true gospel:

2.1. Direct revelation from Jesus Christ (1:11-12).

2.2. Prior confirmation from the “pillars” (James [half-brother of Jesus, apostle and senior pastor of the Jerusalem church], Cephas [the apostle Peter] and John [the apostle]) of the Jerusalem church (2:1-2) = Paul recognized the authority of the church’s leaders – especially in gospel matters; (2:3-5 “liberty”) = Release from the clean laws (Jam 1:25, 2:12). (2:6a “what they were makes no difference to me, God shows no partiality”) = Though Paul recognized (and was submissive to) the authority of the church’s leaders, he also recognized that such authority was by proxy. It only existed as long as they were in agreement with God. (2:6b “those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me”) = Their gospel proved to be no different than mine.

2.3. Faith in Jesus (His death) had replaced them as the new clean law/way to gain righteousness/justification (2:16, 3:8-9, 5:1-5; Rom 3:31 w/Act 21:20-21).

3. How Paul became aware of the Judaizers’ presence in Galatia:

An incident at Paul’s home church, Antioch (2:11-13) = Because of the Judaizers (sent by James and the Jerusalem church), Peter, Barnabas and other Jewish Christians were separating themselves/would not eat with the uncircumcised Gentile Christians in Antioch. (2:14 “live like Jews”) = Live observing the clean laws. Antioch sent Paul to the Jerusalem church to resolve the matter/determine whose gospel was correct. There Paul changed the mind of Peter and James (Act 14:26-15:19; v10 w/1 and 5 = The “yoke” of the clean laws). Since there is no mention of the church’s ruling (or letter – Act 15:20-31), it is more than likely that Paul wrote the Galatians letter before his trip to Jerusalem (possibly on the way).

4. Why we can be confident that what Paul is condemning in the Judaizer’s gospel is not (as assumed by Evangelical’s) the entirety of the OC Law or the propagation of a works-based salvation:

4.1. The initial mention of the problem is related to the clean laws (2:1-5 “circumcision”)

4.2. Paul frequently pairs his mention of the various clean laws (most especially circumcision) with “works of the law” (or “law”) and contrasts them with justification by faith/the cross (2:12-16, 5:1-4, 11, 6:12-16). If Paul saw all of God’s laws as problematic to the issue of justification, then why does he limit his examples to only those things associated w/the clean laws? The same is true in every other epistle where Paul speaks against the Law. His examples are limited only to those things related to the clean laws – most especially circumcision, God’s special identity marker for the Jews (e.g., Rom 3:28-30, 4:1-11).

4.3. The massive problems associated w/thinking any Jew would endorse a works-based system of salvation (3:12 “He who practices them shall live by them”) = Evangelicals view Paul as teaching that the OC (or the Law) establishes an impossible works-based system of salvation. The Judaizers (they believe) were too arrogant to recognize their past which proved their inability to achieve this impossible standard and instead seek God’s mercy – the purpose or intention (per Evan) behind its establishment by God. The massive problems associated w/ this kind of thinking:

4.3.1. Gal 3:12 is an allusion to Lev 18:5 which cannot be establishing a work-based system of salvation since the Jews receiving it were already in saving covenant relationship with God (Exo 24:7-8; e.g., Lev 16:34 [Yom Kippur]; Psa 85:1-4, 103:1-5 w/15-18, 132:16). The only other way to understand God’s words in Lev 18:5 is as maintenance: the Jews needed to maintain the saving covenant relationship they had already received by grace through vows of faith.

4.3.2. God’s constant punishment of His people in the OT is due to their lawless easy-believism (similar to the Evangelical FAG: the law is “nice but not necessary”) – not their “arrogant” attempts at lawfulness. This was the problem of the Pharisees as well – the most likely identity of the Judaizers (Act 15:5) (Mat 23:28-32; See also Luk 18:9-14 “pharisee” = Lawless hypocrite, giving the appearance of lawfulness but – unlike the publican, unwilling to repent, do justice and truly be obedient to God’s laws. See Mat 15:3-9; Luk 7:30 w/Luk 3:1-14; e.g., publican – Luk 19:1-10).

4.3.3. God’s standard is doable (Deu 28:1-2 w/Deu 30:11-14; Luther’s two false assumptions leading to his FAG invention: 1] w-b salv. {Luther was a Roman Catholic monk}, 2] inability of man {The Bondage Of The Will}).

4.4. Paul confirms the moral commands as another necessary (and continuing) condition of salvation we are responsible for producing (5:5-6, 12-21) = Notice: 1) we are the responsible agents (13, 16), 2) we will not “inherit the kingdom of God” if we fail to produce them (21). These two things not only prove that Paul is not condemning the entirety of the Law but that the FAG is false since anything we are responsible for producing that is necessary to salvation constitutes another instrumental condition of salvation (WCF, “faith is the sole instrument of salvation.”).