Abraham’s Offspring – Gal 3-4

Paul speaks harsh to the Galatians he addresses when chapter 3 begins, calling them foolish. They had received the Spirit and now they were questioning the gospel. Did they think they had received it by works of the law? Paul is still working on the doubts and fears that these false prophets had instilled in them that they were under the law. And if they were Gentiles, their only hope in that case would be to become Jews first.

bearing the crossPaul makes his best case in this chapter when he cites Genesis 12:7, where God made the promises to Abraham and his offspring. He did not say “offsprings,” as to mean many. Paul says that God was talking about Jesus as his offspring. He also tells them that God had told Abraham that in him, all nations would be blessed. It is this promise that means through Jesus Christ, we are all Abraham’s offspring. The law, he said, had come after the promises to Abraham, and could not nullify them:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And in chapter four, as he continues to confirm this, he addresses in verse 17 those false teachers who have endeared themselves to them. He tells them their true motives: “they make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.” They were not teaching them these things to bring them into the kingdom. They wanted to shut them out!

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Only One Gospel – Galatians 1-2

Paul addresses the Galatians in chapter one, beginning by establishing his authority as an apostle “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” We can infer, as has been the case elsewhere, that some had called his status as an apostle into question. It is clear from his writing that there were some that were teaching false doctrine, as he begins this chapter with a rebuke to them. He couldn’t have said it any plainer or stronger: “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

The ancient territory of Galatia, in central Asia Minor, surrounds modern Ankara, Turkey.

The ancient territory of Galatia, in central Asia Minor, surrounds modern Ankara, Turkey.

The words are just as relevant to us today. There are still false prophets. One need only surf the television channels for a short time to find one. There are those who preach health and wealth and almost anything that the gospel does not teach, sometimes throwing in a bit of the truth for good measure. We must guard against believing what we wish to be true preached by man and coming only from man.

In defending his apostleship, he begins a narrative of his conversion from a persecutor of the very church he now served — which he  continues in chapter 2. He even speaks of his confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11-14 over Peter “pulling back” from the Gentiles because he feared the circumcision party.

In verses 15-21, we learn that it is members of that party that must have been causing the strife in Galatia, which is, of course, the reason for his narrative. He wanted to reassure them of the gospel, and that they were not under the old law, as those teachers were trying to make them believe.  He tells them “through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Galatians 2 – Justified By Faith

Paul continues in this chapter with two important purposes – to defend his apostleship, and by doing so, to reinforce the correct teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ that he had done there previously.  Some see the visit to Jerusalem referred to in verse one as being the famine relief effort of Acts 11:29-30.  But that occurred at a time of great persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 12) – so much so that James the son of Zebedee was executed, and Peter was thrown in prison.  It was no time for the type of conference described in verses 1-5.  Clearly, these events correspond more closely with the Jerusalem Conference outlined in Acts 15:1-5.  Verse 9 confirms the conviction of Peter and James, the Lord’s brother, that bringing the gospel to the Gentiles was indeed God’s will.  Had this been the case with the trip in Acts 11, the matter would have been settled then – with no need for the Jerusalem Conference to take place at all.

Paul reports the decision of the Jerusalem council to the Christians at Antioch (Acts 15:1-35)

There are aspects of Paul’s rebuke of Peter in verses 11-14 that are much debated.  Did Peter’s hypocrisy about occur before or after the Jerusalem Conference?  What did Paul mean when speaking of the men of the circumcision party who “came from James?” We do not all of the answers.  We know from Acts 15:13-19 that James was certain of God’s will toward the Gentiles.  Paul’s relating of these facts to the Galatians showed not only that he was equal to the other apostles, but that this truly was the Lord’s will.

Paul then underscores all of this in verses 15-21 by pointing out that we as Christians are not justified (counted as righteous) by works of the law.  Through the faith in Christ (some translations more accurately say “faith OF Christ”) we have died to the law (verse 19, Romans 7:4-6).  As Paul says in verse 20, we “have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” We were “buried therefore with him by baptism” (Romans 6:4-6).   He settles the matter in verse 24 by pointing out that “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”  If we could earn our salvation through works of the law, we would have no need of the grace that we have in Christ.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Galatians 1 – Paul Called by God

Paul’s letter to the Galatians was one of the earliest written epistles; and there is much speculation as to which Galatians it was written.  It was a circular letter, almost certainly written to the churches of southern Galatia that he established on his first missionary journey with Barnabas.  The context of the letter can be understood best if one keeps in mind that many of the circumcision party – Judaizers – had come after Paul teaching, as was their custom, that in order to be saved, the Gentiles had to be circumcised, and had to keep the law of Moses.  In effect, they were being taught that they first had to be converted to Judaism.

Paul visited several cities in Galatia on each of his three missionary journeys. On his first journey he went through Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, and then retraced his steps; on his second journey he went by land from Antioch of Syria through the four cities in Galatia; on his third journey he also went through those cities on the main route to Ephesus.

It is clear from Paul’s writing in the first chapter that these Judaizers had also suggested, if not outright declaring, that Paul was not really an apostle – certainly not on the level of the original twelve.  He opens the letter with a greeting that immediately declares his apostleship – something he only does in his letters to churches that were unfamiliar with him or where his authority was questioned (Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians), as opposed to the letters to Philippians and Thessalonians.  He goes to some length in chapter one to be candid about his background as a persecutor of the church, and to declare that he was called by the Lord himself to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles (verses 11-16).

Paul often opens his letters with a commendation, but instead he opens with a rebuke here, as he declares his astonishment at hearing that many of them had accepted this false teaching.  He strongly proclaims that if anyone (even he himself, or an angel from heaven) would proclaim to them a different gospel than was preached to them previously, they were to be accursed.  This false teaching threatened the very foundation of Christianity and had to be quashed immediately and thoroughly.

One final note on this chapter is worthy of comment.  Verses 17-20 contain statements affirming (strongly underscored in verse 20) that Paul had not been among apostles other than Peter and James, the Lord’s brother, in the first years after the Lord had called him.  This point was important because efforts to disparage his apostleship had also suggested that he had merely been approved by them, or had been given his knowledge of the gospel by them.  The reference to James, the Lord’s brother, as an apostle should be understood in light of 1) his relationship to Jesus and/or 2) the fact that James became the official leader of the church in Jerusalem.  As Coffman pointed out, this James was not a plenary apostle, as were the twelve and Paul.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.