STUDY IN GALATIANS
1) Verses 1-5: Having established the supremacy of the Gospel over the Law
a) St. Paul has argued that Salvation is by Faith alone in Jesus Christ alone
b) In fact, in Galatians 2:15f he goes so far as to state that no one is ever saved by law and works
2) Now St. Paul turns his attention to the Galatians
a) “You Foolish Galatians – William Barclay = “senseless”
i) “anoetos” -
(1) unintelligent, by implication sensual
(2) translated fool(ish) or unwise
(3) NOTE: Sense of foolishness sensuality certainly applies today to those who wish to establish their theology by the concept of “experience” – by today’s definition of the same
b) Who Has Bewitched you
i) An obvious reference to the evil being perpetrated by the Judaisers
ii) Who has placed you under an evil spell
c) St. Paul asks the Galatians to respond in their hearts to the rhetorical question:
i) Did they receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit via faith or works?
ii) Having become spiritual, do you wish to return to be fleshly?
iii) Did you receive the Spirit and experience miracles worked among you because you obeyed the Law or because you believed in Jesus Christ?
iv) The choice is seemingly simple
(1) The law demands obedience to its demands and establishes condemnation for failure
(2) The Gospel simply calls upon committed belief in order to freely receive the promise
v) How foolish and fickle they had become to abandon freedom for a return to slavery.
3) Verses 6-9: The Judaisers obviously used references to the Old Testament as a means of proving their point so St. Paul now brings in the Old Testament from centuries earlier than the argument of the Judaisers based upon Mosaic Law
a) Abraham had faith; he believed God when the improbable was announced
b) God credited Abraham as being righteous through his faith
c) Thus, all who believe intrinsically in Jesus through faith become “children of Abraham” through faith
i) Not by physical descent
ii) But by spiritual descent
d) Law and Circumcision are unnecessary
e) The current condition is anticipated when Abraham is told that “All nations will be blessed through you.”
f) The verbs for blessing and justification used in verse 8 are seen as being equivalents – the blessing received by Abraham is equated to the justification through Jesus Christ
g) Thus, through faith, we are blessed with Abraham – the man of faith.
h) St. Paul is saying that, had the Galatians kept the Truth of Christ before their eyes they would not have fallen into the hands of the false teachers.
4) Verses 3:10-14 - BUT, all who rely on the Law are under a curse if they do not continue to perfectly perform everything in the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26) – failure to keep the whole Law leads to Eternal Condemnation
a) These difficult verses are fundamental to the understanding of Biblical Christianity
b) Richard Longenecker on verse 11, “To be ‘justified’ by God is the exact opposite of being condemned by Him.”
c) And life is gained by faith
d) St. Paul reference Habakkuk 2:4 in quoting, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
e) Two ways to Salvation
i) Law – Works
ii) Free Gift through Faith in Jesus Christ
f) Jesus became our “curse”
i) Cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree
ii) The Jews were cursed if their Body is “hung up”
(1) A person sentenced to death under Mosaic legislation was executed and then the body was hung for all to see as a symbol of divine rejection
iii) Also, curse came from failing to obey the Law in all its details and entreaties
iv) Note: The Romans saved Crucifixion for the worst of non-Roman citizens – it was too horrible for any Roman citizen.
v) Christ’s redemption allowed the Gentiles to avoid the curse and come to Him through faith
vi) All who receive Jesus (Jew and Gentile) can receive the blessing of Salvation through faith alone – the blessing from the faith of Abraham
(1) Jesus was hung on the tree
(2) He became our curse so that we could be free to receive the blessing – justification
vii) William Barclay, “He (St. Paul) could never forget that the peace, the liberty, the right relationship with God that we possess cost the life and death of Jesus Christ, for how could men ever have known what God was like unless Jesus Christ had died to tell them that He loves them like that?”
viii) And in this is found the promise of the Holy Spirit (Jesus in St. John 14, 15, and 16)
ix) It is clear in reading vv13 & 14 together that Salvation has been won for all but the it is only received “in Christ.”
x) Remember St. Mark’s opening verse where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is presented via a verbal construct whereby the Gospel IS Jesus Christ.
xi) Martin Luther, “faith … apprehendeth nothing else but that precious jewel Jesus Christ.”
Next Session Galatians 3:15-25