Galatians 1:1-10 One Gospel Of Grace.
Paul had his calling and commission as an apostle directly from the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, as a bondservant of Christ (vv. 1, 10). This is in fact one of the necessary elements to being a genuine apostle (Cf. Acts 9:1-9 Cf. Acts 2:24-26). Jesus was raised from the dead, therefore He has been reigning ever since, by the power of God, and from Him Paul’s commission came (Cf. Acts 2:22-36). Paul also did not serve on his own-he had help through colleagues and companions-brethren in the faith (v. 2). To the Galatians Paul wished grace and peace, and grace is always necessary for there to be peace, “from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 3)
The Father and the Son were in agreement and purpose for the work of redemption. The Father sent the Son, and the Son gave His life for the sins of His people-this is what grace is all about (v. 4 Cf. Mt. 20:28). Moreover, redemption does not end with justification, but it includes a progressive victory in this life-“that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (v. 5) Everything pertaining to life and salvation is for God’s glory. As the writer to the Hebrews made so clear-this all pertains to this present inhabited world (2:5).
Since this redemption is all based on grace, it was disturbing to Paul that they were tempted to turn away from it (v. 6). They had been called in grace, but they were turning to a different gospel, which was no gospel, but rather it was a perversion. This is an important point-those who would deny grace throughout often still claim to preach the good news. For this reason it is best to speak of their perversion of the gospel then its outright denial, even though it is an outright denial of the true faith (v. 7). Those who deny grace are to be accursed, that is, as those who are guilty of breaking the covenant and subject to cursing thereby.
Federal Visionists, for example, claim that justification is based on our future works, and in so doing they are actually subject to the covenantal cursing which Paul wrote about. Their position requires a so-called “new perspective” on Paul, but the biblical perspective on Paul, found in the word, stands as their condemnation (v. 8). The Galatians, and we with them, have a standard, and that standard is the unified apostolic witness (v. 9). The Judaizers, and all those who advocate a need for works, may please men with their religious speculations and traditions, but the only thing that matters to the genuine believer is the biblical witness, which is one.
Galatians 1:11-17 The Gospel Of Grace By Revelation.
The gospel which Paul preached was not something any man invented or came up with-it has come by revelation from God (vv. 11-12 Cf. Mt. 16:17; I Cor. 15:1; Eph. 3:3-5). If it were by man we would no doubt take pride in our own conceptions, and pride in one’s own efforts. But a gospel of good works is no good news at all-we need grace. Paul made clear that his former life in Judaism was not consistent with the biblical testimony. His Judaism was in fact contrary to Abraham, Moses, and the Patriarchs. His former life included persecuting “the church of God” (v. 13 Cf. Acts 7:58; 8:3; 9:1-2; 22:4-5; I Cor. 15:9), and there is but one God. Abraham was the chief example that justification has always been by grace through faith (Rom. 4).
Paul was zealous for the traditions of his Judaizing fathers, but contrary to the biblical witness (v. 14 Cf. Acts 26:9; Jer. 9:14; Rom. 9:30-10:4; Phil. 3:1-11). In Judaism Paul boasted in himself and his works, but he became a Christian because he was “called through His grace.” (v. 15) Christ was revealed in him that he in turn might preach him to the world (Acts 9:15). Like Jeremiah, he was called to this from his mother’s womb (v. 15 Cf. Jer. 1:5) This is the only way Christ can be preached-only as one has received Christ themselves, and this only comes by being “called through His grace,” and this before we are even born and can do anything good or bad. Salvation is by God’s sovereign electing grace (Cf. II Th. 2:13-14).
Galatians 1:18-24 Preaching The Faith To The Glory Of God.
Paul was adamant that his direct meeting with the Lord on the road to Damascus carried equal weight to the other apostles who walked with Him while on earth. One of the qualifications was that a man have direct contact with the Lord and be selected by Him, and Paul had this (Cf. Acts 9:1ff.). It was only after the call from the Lord Himself that Paul would three years later visit Peter in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26), and James, the Lord’s brother (vv. 19-20 Cf. I Cor. 9:5; Mt. 13:55). From Jerusalem he then went out to Syria and Cilicia (Acts 9:30). Paul’s conversion and call would first of all mean peace for the churches (Acts 9:31), but would soon be followed by her growth and rejoicing (vv. 22-24). Through his ministry to the Gentiles the Jewish believers would glorify God and say, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18). Peter made this testimony even as he focused on his ministry to the Jews.
It seems odd to us to speak of “the churches of Judea which were in Christ,” because we take this as synonymous. However, the gathering of the saints in the old covenant were also referred to as assemblies or “churches”. So these were in fact those in the Jewish community and proselytes who had accepted Christ as the promised Messiah. These were Paul’s “countrymen” (Cf. Rom. 16:7). They had not met Paul face to face but they were hearing that, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” (v. 23) Though he would become the apostle to the Gentiles, he began his preaching in these synagogues, “proving that Jesus is the Christ…that He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20-22). This was a turn that could only be accounted for by a sovereign work of God’s grace, for this was the ringleader breaking up families and hauling believer’s off to prison (Acts 8:3). In spreading this news they were giving the glory to God (v. 24).
Galatians 2:1-10 Defending The Gospel Of Grace.
Once again Paul emphasizes that the gospel he preached and the call he had received, had come to him by revelation (v. 2 Cf. 1:12). As always, the word is the first axiom of all thought and existence. Like the gospel itself, revelation is a sovereign act of God. If God had not chosen to reveal himself and His will, we would be left in ignorance. The Lord’s call upon his life to preach this revealed truth is what motivated Paul, including his return visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus (v. 1).* Paul never put himself forward, like so many religious leaders, as preaching some new wisdom, now to be added to by the intervening fourteen years. Nor was he making the trip to Jerusalem because the apostles there were somehow doing this either. On the other hand, we was going to make sure that he would visit with those who were genuine and established in the church-to show that God was indeed working through him to the Gentiles (Cf. II Cor. 11:5; 12:11).
Titus was a fitting companion to demonstrate the message which the Lord had called him to preach, for he was a Greek, uncircumcised, and a faithful minister himself of the word (v. 3). It is vitally important to remember that this dispute over needing to be a Jew in order to be a Christian, was the sitz em leben, the situational context that Paul was confronting. There was also a perversion of the very gospel that was preached in the old testament as in the new. The Judaizers of Paul’s day were contrary to the fathers, not just to Jesus, the apostles, and Paul, for the latter went to great pains to show that they were preaching the very same gospel that had been delivered to the Patriarchs through the prophets of old (Cf. Heb. 4:2). The Judaizers were those who had not combined that gospel message with faith, for had they done so they would have accepted the testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Judaizers had perverted the gospel message in the old testament itself-transforming it into a religion of works (Acts 15:1-5). To Paul these were “false brethren” (v. 4). Their gospel was not one of liberty from sin, but rather, it was a message of bondage to a works righteousness (Cf. 4:9; 5:1). Paul gave no yield to such a perversion, maintaining rather the purity of the gospel of justification by faith alone (v. 5 Cf. 1:6; 2:14; 3:1). God not only does not show favouritism in salvation, but also not in his calling to ministry (Cf. Acts 10:34). The false leaders really thought that they were something, but in reality they were nothing, for God had not called them (Cf. 6:3). Furthermore, when God calls it is not based on anything in those he calls-that the glory might be His alone (v. 6). Paul also made the statement which is clear to anyone that observes the progress of the church in Acts-that as Peter was sent as the lead for the gospel message to the Jews, even as Paul became the lead to the outreach to the Gentiles (vv. 7-8 Cf. Acts 9:15; 13:46; 22:21; Rom. 1:5; I Th. 2:4; I Pet. 1:1).
The liberty we have in the gospel is not a liberty to sin, nor to a liberty from the law itself, rather, it is a liberty of conscience, and a liberty from the curse that the law pronounces on sin (Cf. 3:10-14; 5:1, 13) One should note also how Paul describes how the pillar apostles of the faith had received them-as those who had received grace (v. 9 Cf. Mt. 16:18). This is the point here of Paul’s letter-the gospel is good news because it is about grace. It is because the apostles recognized this grace and message of grace, that they extended the right hand of fellowship to them. Furthermore, not only were they in agreement on the message of grace, they were also in agreement that those who know God’s grace will also show it in their lives, for it was their unified desire that they show compassion for the poor (v. 10). Even a cursory reading of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, for example, will show how this was a burden Paul wanted to convey to the saints (Cf. Acts 11:30).
* The fact that Paul uses the word “again” to pinpoint the reference would seem to indicate that he is referring to a return visit to Jerusalem (and not his conversion , as some suggest, which was not at Jerusalem anyway). This would correspond with the events of Acts 15, which occurred during his third visit, and concerned the very issues which are the focus of this letter.
Galatians 2:11-21 Justified By Christ.
Paul helps us understand the dynamics of the transition that was taking place from the old covenant to the new, and the challenge to the Jewish community to get clarity on what was essential and what was simply part and parcel of being Jewish. Even Peter was giving in to pressure from those who believed that one must be a Jew before one could be a Christian, and were insisting on circumcision as being necessary. Paul had to confront Peter face to face, because he was actually withdrawing from the Gentile believers. Even Barnabas had slipped into this hypocrisy. It was hypocrisy because Peter and Barnabas knew that their practice was wrong (vv. 11-13 Cf. Acts 10:28; 11:1-18).
Peter was not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” (v. 14) That truth is that one does not have to perform any act in order to be justified, even if religious, even if it was something associated with the old covenant administration, and one certainly did not have to become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Peter was also being hypocritical because he was actually living like a Gentile-that is he was not fully adhering to the old ceremonial system. After the vision of the unclean animals and being told to eat, Peter no doubt took it literally (vv. 14-15 Cf. Acts 10:9-16). What they knew was that one is not justified by works of the law, for one was never justified by works of the law (v. 16 Cf. Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 1:16-17).
However, they also knew that those who were justified by faith in Christ would live a life in harmony with the law, and not be found to be sinners or ministers of sin justifying a sinful life, for sin is lawlessness (v. 17 Cf. I Jn. 3:4, 8). “What is sin? Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” (The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A 14) Paul made a clear call to not justify going back to a life of sin, nor of thinking, as Paul did before his conversion, that one could be justified by works. There are two uses of the law that Paul brings forward here-one was to convict one of sin, and the other was for the law to be the Christians guide for how to live (vv. 17-19 Cf. Rom. 6: 6; 11, 14; 7:4).
The righteousness that justifies is the righteousness of Christ, otherwise “Christ died in vain.” (v. 21) Insisting on circumcision, and that one must be a Jew in order to become a Christian, is a perversion of the gospel (Cf. 1:6; 2:5; Ps. 143:2; Heb. 7:11). When Paul says that he died to the law, he means that he died to it’s condemning witness against him (v. 19). Being in Christ means living in union with him in His resurrection life. Christ takes away, by fulfillment in His once and for all sacrifice of Himself, the sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the law, that He might have the will of God lived by His people, even our sanctification. “He takes away the first that He may establish the second.” (Heb. 10:9)
Galatians 3:1-14 Justification By Faith.
Paul calls the Galatians “foolish” for letting themselves be “bewitched” in not obeying the truth (v. 1). The word he uses for foolish is anoetos, meaning one is unintelligent, unwise, or sensual. It is not the typical word translated to foolish-moros, moraine, or morologia. He wasn’t calling them insipid, stupid, dull morons. He was saying that they should have known better. They were merely looking at the physical, the unwise boasting in the thoughts and actions of men. Having begun with the Spirit, they were now thinking that they had to perfect themselves in their own strength (v. 3). This was a battle between those who believed that one must be justified by works, and those who hold to justification by faith.
By saying that they were “bewitched” Paul was saying more than that they were led astray. They were being deceived through a fascinating maligning of the truth through false representation. More is involved here than a simple difference of opinion, and Paul name calling as stupid those who didn’t agree with him. Rather, Paul was combating those who had come up with an elaborate and deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. Paul appealed to what they had come to know-that they had received the Spirit by faith and not the works of the law (v. 2). More to the point, they were being told that though they may have begun by faith they had to continue by works, that they needed to be justified by future works performed.
This is why Paul goes back to the crucifixion. The crucifixion was a done event. If works were now required then what was the point of the crucifixion? Through the crucifixion Christ suffered the curse of the law (v. 10 Cf. Dt. 21:23; 27:26). The saints were never justified by the works of the law-hence the sacrifices that pointed forward to Christ (v. 11). Those who were seeking to bewitch them were claiming adherence to the patriarchs, but Paul appeals to Abraham to demonstrate that the saints were always those justified by faith (vv. 6-7 Cf. Gen. 15:6; Jn. 8:39). Not only had they not received the Spirit by works of the law, the miracles performed were also received through faith. The promise of the Spirit is through faith (vv. 2, 5, 14).
Paul made very clear that Abraham had the gospel preached to him, and that good news was that the just shall live by faith, and in this gospel there has always been the same promise to the Gentiles, all the nations of the earth (vv. 8-9 Cf. Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). Part of this truth is that some are not granted faith, or the hearing of the word from which faith comes (Cf. Rom. 10:16-17 Cf. Rom. 4:9, 16). It is not that they, by their own efforts, have come to know God, it is rather, that they are known by Him (4:9 Cf. Rom. 9:15). “The just shall live by faith” was also a promise of the prophets (v. 11 Hab. 2:14).
The law itself stated that it was never intended as a means of justification (v. 12 Lev. 18:5 Cf. Rom. 4:1-5), for provision was made for sacrifice (Lev. 17:5). “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3-4) The promise of the Spirit has come to the nations by the hearing of faith (Cf. Rom. 3:29; Is. 32:15). Curse or blessing is a matter of faith, or not, in the finished work of Christ.
Galatians 3:15-25 Covenant Of Promise And The Purpose Of The Law.
The gospel of justification by faith is covenantal (v. v. 15). The promises in the covenantal relationship between God and His people find their ultimate fulfillment in the Seed, that is Christ (v. 16). This promise goes back to the very beginning of the administration of the covenant of grace (Gen. 3:15). It is this promise which continued down to Abraham (22:18). Paul makes an amazing statement here which is often overlooked-that the covenant “was confirmed before by God in Christ.” (v. 17) The law came after this covenant, and so it cannot annul the promise, and shows that it was never given to annul it. This inheritance was never based on works-otherwise it would not have been made with a promise, just as grace is not grace if it is considered payment for works (v. 18). The promise of becoming heir to the world was also according to faith (Rom. 4:13-14), as is the promise of glory (Rom. 8:17).
So this all leads one to ask what was the purpose of the giving of the law. It was given “because of transgressions.” (v. 19) It was not given as a means of salvation, or of a justification by works. Here Paul gives a third use of the law-to restrain evil. He already noted its role to convict of sin, which he also repeats here again, and to serve as a guide for the saints in how we should live (v. 20 Cf. 2: 17-19). Therefore, the law is not against the promises of the covenant, for the law was never intended to be a competing way of justification (vv. 21-22). The law was intended to act as a tutor to convict of sin and to guide one to faith in Christ for justification (vv. 23-25). To suggest that justification is in any way by works is to miss completely the purpose of the law given (Cf. Acts 13:39). What was required in the covenant relationship was a mediator-which Christ fulfilled (v. 20).
Galatians 3:26-4:7 Heirs According To The Promise.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (v. 26, 29) The promise is the protoevangelium, the beginning and core of the covenantal gospel. Satan was cursed by God for leading the human race astray (Gen. 3:14). He chose a snake to disguise himself, and he was ironically cursed with the ultimate sign of defeat-crawling on his belly, as it were, and licking the dust. This would become forever a symbol of defeat. The victory would be granted to the Seed of the woman. The promise was not to seeds as of many, but to one Seed-the Messiah to come (Gen. 3:15).
Cursing and blessing are covenantal acts. It presupposes that the relationship which existed between God and man in Adam was a covenantal one. It is a truth affirmed by the prophet Hosea (6:7), but the elements of a covenantal relationship are present in the context, even if the word is not used directly. In these beginning verses we find these two covenants, which continue to this day, and with these two covenants we have two seeds. All people are children of Adam and were included with him as their covenantal head. From this covenantal relation all people have sinned in Adam and are subject to the curse of death as a result of that first sin.
A completely different relationship exists for the children of the promised Seed. The children of the promised Seed are children of promise, born of God by faith. These two covenants and these two seeds have continued down through the ages, engaged in the great spiritual battle. The promise to the Seed, the Messiah to come, was that He would “tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” (Ps. 91:13 Cf. Gen. 49:10) This is the reign of the Priest-King at the Father’s right hand (Ps. 110). Through His seed, the church, Christ continues this work down through the ages, and continues to today (Mt. 28:19; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; Rev. 20:4).
This is the promise of which Paul speaks. We are children only through adoption, by faith in the promised Seed, that is Christ (3:26, 29; 4:5). Many make the mistake of confusing what Paul means by the two covenants he speaks of at 4:21-31, by separating that section from the argument he makes in the rest of the letter. The two covenants are not the Mosaic and the New, as some suppose. Rather, these two covenants go back even before Abraham, they go back to Adam and the Seed, and the two seeds that flow from them. All who put their faith in Christ are heirs with Abraham of the promise to the Seed. All are “one in Christ Jesus.” (v. 28)
Baptism is the sign of this covenant relationship, succeeding as it has the sign of circumcision, and described by Paul as the circumcision of Christ-faith in the crucified and risen Lord (v. 27 Cf. Col. 2:11-12). These two seeds experience the very same external relationship with regard to the covenantal relationship. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic.” (4: 23-24a) It is the contrast of these two seeds that Paul calls, symbolically, two covenants (4: 24b).
The fact is there were only two covenants relationships which existed up to the time of Abraham-the one through Adam before the promise, and the other through the promised Seed, which also found expression in the time of Noah. There was no separate covenant made with Hagar. Her sons were given the very same sign of the covenant which God made with Abraham, namely circumcision (4:1-2). This is the point which Paul is making-even those who have the sign of the covenant of promise, if they do not have faith, they remain under the curse of the covenant relationship under Adam before the promise. The promise is only realized by faith.
Christ was born under the conditions of the law that He might redeem those who place their faith in Him (4:4-5). Before one is born again and adopted into the family of God, we are under the first covenant in Adam as sons of disobedience (v. 3 Cf. Col. 3:6 Cf. Gen. 21:10; I Jn. 3:12). Faith in Christ gives one entrance into the family of the promised Seed (Jn. 1:12-14), where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female” (3: 28 Cf. Eph. 2:15-16; Rom. 4:11; 8:17). Those who are born of the Spirit are thereby adopted into the family of God (Rom. 5:5; 8:9, 15-17).
Galatians 4:8-31 Children Of Promise And Children Of Bondage.
Paul reminds the Galatians that the children of promise are such by a sovereign act of God-it is not that we come to know God by our own devices, but rather, we are known by Him (v. 9). It is about competing theologies, and it is about worshipping the only true God or idolatry (v. 8). The Galatians needed to continue to take heed to those who were peddling a religion of works-even if religious works (v. 10). Keeping another holy day, or celebrating another feast, is not going to justify any-these are “beggarly elements.” Paul was fearful that he had laboured, with many physical challenges, in vain on their behalf (vv. 11-14). It seems that one of these infirmities may have been poor sight (v. 15). Speaking the truth often turns people into enemies when they don’t want to receive it (v. 16).
The Judaizers continued to insist that the Gentiles must become Jews before they could become Christians, such as circumcision and the ceremonial system which found its fulfillment in Christ. Their goal was to place the Galatians in a new bondage of salvation by works (vv. 17-20). Such a perversion Paul calls being “under the law.” (v. 21) But Paul does not appeal to the New Testament to refute this perversion, rather, he appeals to the law itself-the Pentateuch. Hagar and her children were included in the outward administration of the Abraham covenant, but they did not combine it with faith in the promise. For the sons of Hagar the covenant was one of works, but for the children of the freewoman they understood that a relationship with the LORD must be based on promise, and not works (vv. 22-23 Cf. Heb. 11:11).
For the children of the bondwoman there was no faith in the promise-it was nothing more than an external religion of place (Sinai), and a Jerusalem in Paul’s day, that had perverted the covenant of grace into one of works. Abraham and the patriarchs, including Moses and the saints under the Mosaic administration, always looked beyond the mere externals of religion, they looked beyond these things to see the reality of the promise (vv. 24-28). There has always been this contrast and warfare between the two seeds-those born merely according to the flesh, and those born of the Spirit (v. 29). It continues to be necessary for the saints to cast out those for whom the faith is but mere externals, followed simply as a means of justification. Christians are children of the freewoman, children of promise, born of the Spirit (vv. 30-31 Cf. Rom. 9:8; Col. 2:20).
Paul said that these two groups represented, in a symbolic way, two covenants. The fact is there was no separate covenant made with Abraham and Hagar. For those who reject the promise, they remain under the covenant with Adam before the promise of the protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15. The children of promise looked beyond Sinai to the reality of the promise, but for the children of Hagar it ended there. For Paul, this was a form of idolatry (4:8). These were as much strangers from the covenants of promise as much as were the Gentiles (Cf. Eph. 2:12). Paul’s entire focus is on the sacrificial and ceremonial laws, which found their fulfillment in the offering of Christ (2:3, 14 Cf. Rom. 14:5), as it was for the writer to the Hebrews (Heb. 7:18).
Paul appealed to what Isaiah called the covenant of peace (v. 27 Cf. Is. 54:1), a covenant relationship which also found expression in and through Noah (Is. 54: 9-10). The nations would be included (v. 3), as “the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” (v. 5) This covenant would be one of peace, because the LORD himself would provide righteousness for them (v. 17 Cf. v. 14). This covenant would be an everlasting covenant (Is. 55:3), a covenant based on mercy (v. 7). This covenant is contrasted with those who would “attempt to be justified by law.” (5:4) Circumcision was the primary focus-the sign of the covenant with Abraham. For those who perverted the gospel of the covenant of promise, the act of circumcision had become an act required for justification.
Galatians 5 Walking In The Spirit.
It can’t be stressed enough that Paul is primarily dealing with the question of circumcision and the Judaizers who were insisting that one must become a Jew, and exercise the rites of old covenant external administration, in order to be a Christian. It also must be stressed that circumcision was a sign initiated with the covenant with Abraham, not the Mosaic, and it was given not for justification by works, but as a sign of Abraham’s being justified by faith-with the sign coming later, and not as a pre-condition. The Judaizers, of whom Paul once was, were making circumcision a pre-condition of a covenant of works. Those who were thus seeking “to be justified by law” were falling away from grace. This was a gross perversion of every administration of the covenant of grace from Genesis 3:15 through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the New (vv. 1-6).
This was a persuasion which was contrary to the truth (vv. 7-15). The whole of the law, which is summarized through love, is the Christian’s guide, but keeping it is not a means of justification. This is what Paul means when he says we are not “under the law” (v. 18 Cf. 4:5). To make the covenant out to be one of works was equivalent to living in the lust of the flesh, which was contrary to the Spirit, and the law itself (vv. 16-21). The fruit of the Spirit is not contrary to the law, because those acts which flow out as the fruit of the Spirit’s presence in fact reflect the standard of the law itself (vv. 22-23). Thus, it is not outward religious rites which are the sine quo non that one is a Christian, rather, it is the fruit of the Spirit’s presence. Faith working through love is the true liberty of the saints. Those who have the Spirit will show evidence to that effect.
There are Several points which need to be made with respect to chapter 5. 1. The context makes clear that Paul, in respect to the “yoke of bondage”, is referring to circumcision, and those who claimed it was necessary for justification. The fact is it was never meant as necessary for justification, and furthermore it was the old covenant sign (vv. 1-4, 11-12). 2. This perversion of the Judaizers was countered by the doctrine of justification by faith-same in the old as in the new covenant administrations (vv. 5-6). 3. Faith working through love is a summary of the law, not a new and foreign principle to it. When Jesus gave his summary of what was the greatest commandment, in giving two He quoted that very law which had already been given, and He did not single these out to replace the rest of the law, but rather as a summary-it is that on which the rest of the law hangs (Cf. Mt. 22:35-40)
4. The liberty Paul speaks of is not liberty from the law, but rather, in agreement with our Lord, it was liberty to live according to it (vv. 13-14 Cf. Mt. 5:17-20; 22:35-40), in fulfillment of the new covenant promise (Heb. 8). 5. Everything Paul lists as walking contrary to the Spirit are direct violations of that Spirit inspired law, and all those things he lists as walking in the Spirit are the living of that law (vv. 15-26). 6. Finally, the warning Paul issued remains-those who would suggest a salvation by works, or the necessity to keep any part of the law for justification, are teaching contrary to the law itself. But it is equally the case that those err who would suggest that Paul and Christ were teaching the abrogation of the law and it as the only perfect standard of righteousness and justice and the very expression of what it means to walk in the Spirit (vv. 6-10).
Galatians 6:1-5 Spiritual Examination Of One’s Person And Work.
Christians are not yet perfect. It is possible for brethren to be overcome by sin. It is the responsibility for those who are “spiritual” to restore any caught in sin. This is not a work for everybody. Those who are “spiritual” are those who are filled and led by the Spirit-such as Paul has just described (5:16-26). Gentleness is required (v. 1 Cf. Eph. 4:2). A true believer is grieved to have failed in any area contrary to the life of a saint. However, those who would seek to help must be careful themselves, lest they be caught in sin themselves. Bearing one another’s burden is following the example of Christ (v. 2). It is, in effect, a law to live by, loving one’s neighbour as one’s self (Cf. Js. 2:8). One must be very cautious however, for it is a danger to think that one is qualified to help when they may not be.
Some people get into trouble for thinking they are qualified for this work when they are not (v. 3 Cf. Rom. 12:3). Paul issues are very inportant principle for the believer-we should not evaluate our place or worth in the church by comparing ourselves to others (v. 4). The Lord gifts and calls each of us in a unique way, so the only comparison we should make is between what the Lord has gifted us to do, and how far along we are in fulfilling that calling (Cf. II Cor. 3:5). This is what he then means by bearing our own load (v. 5). So we are called to bear one another’s burdens, but we are to do so in a way in which the Lord has gifted and called us to. Furthermore, it is necessary that all the saints be found to be spiritual, that is, that we evidence the fruit of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Galatians 6:6-10 Do Not Grow Weary.
Any other service provided and one would not need to justify needing to be paid, but when it comes to the ministry of the word Paul had to give a defence for those who make their living teaching the word. Paul was a good one to make this argument, since he went to great lengths to not be a burden, even to the point of continuing in his career as a tentmaker (v. 6 Cf. I Cor. 9:11-14). Ministers of the word deserve to reap from what they sow, and those who benefit will also reap from what they sow or don’t sow from that ministry (v. 7 Cf. Rom. 2:6). There is a basic principle here-fruit comes from the seed sown. Sowing to the flesh will produce the same in fruit, likewise if one sows to the Spirit. Only those born of the Spirit will reap everlasting life (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 6:8). So everlasting life is not based on works righteousness, but rather, it comes from being born of the Spirit.
Reaping what one sows is a fearful expectation of judgment for those who sow to the flesh, but for those who sow to the Spirit in the work of the kingdom, it is a principle that assures us that our labours are not in vain for we shall reap a reward (v. 9 Cf. I Cor. 15:58; II Cor. 4:1; II Th. 3:13). Paul had already issued a call to bear one another burdens, but to do so according to how one is gifted (6:1-5). Those caught in any sin require those who are mature in the faith to help, being careful not to be caught themselves. We also don’t always have the opportunity to help. However, as we have opportunity we should, and especially for those in “the household of faith.” (v. 10) So Paul’s directives do have some qualifications. One can imagine that if everyone helped as they are gifted and have opportunity, the world, especially that of the church, would be a much better place (Cf. I Th. 3:12).
Galatians 6:11-18 A New Creation Through The Cross Of Christ.
Paul evidently employed the use of large letters to emphasize his points (v. 11). The message he keeps coming back to is the question of the place of circumcision, and refuting those who claimed that it was a necessary precondition to becoming a Christian (v. 12). It really is quite surprising that this basic focus of this letter can get missed or downplayed by some, when Paul keeps coming back to it over and over again. Paul believed that the main reason for this teaching was so that these false teachers would not suffer persecution from the Jewish leadership (v. 13).
The position of the Judaizers was a hypocritical one, for as Paul says, they were not keepers of the law themselves (v. 14). Mandating circumcision, with the coming of the new covenant administration, was nothing more than a boasting in the flesh (v. 15). Paul would rather boast in the cross, because in Christ’s death and resurrection His righteousness is accepted as satisfaction for a justification that is by faith alone, and that by imputation as a declarative act. In Christ we are a new creation, and this is not by any works of our own, including the religious rite of circumcision.
Paul concludes his letter with a blessing and a plea-peace and mercy for those who accept the finished work of Christ alone, and walk according to this rule (v. 16). The Christian life is all about grace, and that of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 18). The true believer has the Spirit, by whom they are born from above. Those who have the Spirit will bear fruit in keeping with that new creation. However, the Christian also bears the marks of Christ’s sufferings, and it was Paul’s plea that he no longer be troubled, since he bore these marks, and suffered for the sake of the church and her fidelity to the truth (v. 17).