This is Episode #341 and today we’ll read Galatians chapters 1-3 together. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #341 and today we’ll read Galatians chapters 1-3 together. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 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.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to Galatians
We start a new book today! It’s the book of Galatians and it is Paul’s letter to the churches in the area of Galatia or modern-day Turkey. (I hope you kept that Bible map handy!)
As I was reading the introduction of this book in the ESV, I noticed that it sounded a lot like the letters to the Corinthians; primarily the parts where he was warning them to keep those false teachers at bay. In this particular letter though, it wasn’t so much false teachers as it was old Covenant Jews, who insisted that Christians must be circumcised in order to be accepted by God. Galatians begins with Paul having to defend his apostleship (sound familiar?) and then goes on to explain what they already know: that salvation comes through Christ alone.
I was so reminded of the tone of the letters to the Corinthians that it led me to chase a rabbit. I started wondering when Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians vs those to the church at Corinth. I found a great Paul timeline on Blue Letter Bible.com and guess what? Galatians was the first letter Paul wrote! So I guess Galatians shouldn’t remind us of Corinthians, but the letters to the Corinthians should remind us of Galatians! I found that timeline to be really helpful. Take a look at it when you get a chance. Let’s dive in.
Galatians Chapter 1
Paul, an apostle — not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me:
To the churches of Galatia.
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
For am I now trying to persuade people, or God?Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The Origin of Paul’s Gospel
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus.
Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, and I stayed with him fifteen days. But I didn’t see any of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. I declare in the sight of God: I am not lying in what I write to you.
Afterward, I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I remained personally unknown to the Judean churches that are in Christ. They simply kept hearing, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Galatians Chapter 2
Paul Defends His Gospel at Jerusalem
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up according to a revelation and presented to them the gospel I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those recognized as leaders. I wanted to be sure I was not running, and had not been running, in vain. But not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus in order to enslave us. But we did not give up and submit to these people for even a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would be preserved for you.
Now from those recognized as important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism) — they added nothing to me. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter was for the circumcised, since the one at work in Peter for an apostleship to the circumcised was also at work in me for the Gentiles. When James, Cephas, and John — those recognized as pillars — acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me and Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.
Freedom from the Law
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”
I Live by Faith
We are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 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 comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
Galatians Chapter 3
Justification through Faith
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing — if in fact it was for nothing? So then, does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law? Or is it by believing what you heard — just like Abraham who believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness?
You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. Consequently, those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.
Law and Promise
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Brothers and sisters, I’m using a human illustration. No one sets aside or makes additions to a validated human will. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ. My point is this: The law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously established by God and thus cancel the promise. For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise; but God has graciously given it to Abraham through the promise.
The Purpose of the Law
Why, then, was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not just for one person alone, but God is one. Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise might be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.
The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.
Sons and Heirs
For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
Paul was not happy with the Galatians. And the purpose of this letter can be summed up in Galatians 3:1-3 which says, You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? We can be so stubborn and independent, can’t we? So lacking trust, especially in the God who created us. The entirety of God’s message to us – the Bible – points toward the Gospel that Paul preached…thru Christ alone. No adding our efforts. No earning our way. No following the law. Thru Christ alone.
We must always be on our guard. If even Peter and Barnabas were led astray – Peter having walked with Jesus for three years – where does that leave you and I? We see the latest guru on TV with a slick hairstyle and captivating words that tickle our ears, and we find ourselves saying, “Oh, yeah…that’s the gospel for me!” News flash, we did not pick the easy life. To follow Christ is always in opposition to this world.
Let’s pray. Father God, forgive us. We are so easily drawn away. We want the easy, the feel good. But we know that Jesus was a man of sorrows. We know the constant difficulties that Paul suffered in pursuit of Christ. Help us never to set aside Your grace. Because we know, as Paul wrote, if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. Thank You for that grace, Lord. Amen.
This letter starts out pretty hardcore. What do you think? Let me know at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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