Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians

This is the first epistle that Paul writes. He mentions the struggle he had regarding the teachings of the requirement for salvation. While a group of people accepted the importance of the Grace of God, they still considered that circumcision was a prerequisite for salvation.

Table of contents:

  1. Salvation – Grace vs. Law
  2. Discussion (Questions, Perspectives to consider)
  3. Key Verses from the Epistle to the Galatians
  4. Patience, Expectations & Promises Fulfilled
  5. Paul – A Good Steward of the Holy Spirit’s Instruction
  6. Fruit of the Holy Spirit – the Most Significant Verse
  7. Why Should We Persevere in Doing Good?
  8. How Should We Serve Others?
  9. How Should One Think of Oneself?

1. Salvation – Grace Vs. Law

Paul cautioned people whom he had brought into the understanding of salvation by grace not to be influenced by alternative arguments. He states that faith in Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins was sufficient for one’s salvation. Crucifixion of Christ being the immeasurable grace of God poured out for our salvation.

One of my dear friends shared a very profound thought. God’s love for His son is beyond our comprehension. Yet, if there was any other way for the salvation of man without father God sacrificing His son He would have chosen it. Having another option if Father God did not use it, would not align well with His love for His son. It would be cruel. It’s important to understand that belief in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the only way to receive salvation. Salvation is a gift from God. A gift that can be accessed only through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Paul had a difference in opinion with Apostle Peter and other leaders of faith in Rome. In this epistle, Paul mentions that Peter used to interact with the gentiles and even eat with them during his visit to the Galatians. But later when visitors from Rome came, he changed his behaviour. He distanced himself from the gentiles – not moving around with them. In order to please the visitors from Rome, he mentioned that circumcision was necessary for the acceptance and salvation of the gentiles.

Are we seeing Peter’s uncertainty in his identity expressed once again, just like when he denied Jesus the 3rd time before the cock crows as Jesus had foretold Peter?

Do we suffer from identity issues? I do. I prefer to learn from Peter, rather than blame him. What I know is right, I do not stand for consistently. I need to give up my weakness & start living from the strength of Christ Jesus.

2. Discussion Questions

Do we have differences of opinions with our colleagues, with people in our families including elders, with people in governments and in places of authority?

Perspective to consider) These points are gleaned from the Bible.
1. If so, start by praying, praying for the love and grace of Christ Jesus to increase in the person.
2. Pray for the person to have a change in heart.
3. Consider oneself to be lowly, not superior to anyone.
4. At the right time, the Holy Spirit, the wonderful counsellor will give the wisdom and understanding for taking up the matter with the person concerned at the right time.

Question) Circumcision Vs. Un-circumcision. What matters?
Perspective to consider) The outward does not matter, but only faith activated and energised and expressed through love matters.

Being cautious knowing that even a slight inclination to error or a few false teachers can have the same effect – like a little leaven leavens can lump the whole dough.

Question) How can you stay away from gratifying the desires of the flesh?
Perspective to consider) Walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature (human nature without God) (Galatians 5:16)

3. Key Verses from the Epistle to the Galatians

But when He, Who had chosen and sent me apart before I was born and called me by His grace saw fit and was pleased to reveal His son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles as the glad tidings, immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went away and retired into Arabia and afterwards I came back again to Damascus. (Galatians 1: 15 to 17)

The more well-known verse 20, 21 goes like this. 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 could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (2:20, 21)

That the Lord God had foreseen the day the Gentiles coming into faith is mentioned by Paul in these verses.
Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore, know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:6,7)

Paul mentions Abraham’s two sons – the one by the bound maid and the one by the free women – represents two covenants. The son of the 2nd woman was born of the free woman, out of fulfilment of promise while the first one was born out of flesh. The birth of the child from Hagar represents the covenant of Mount Sinai (covenant based on Law) – the child of the slave woman bears a child into slavery. While the son of Abraham through Sarah was from Jerusalem above – the Messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ born into freedom from the promise.

4. Patience, Expectations & Promises Fulfilled

Are we impatient about the promises of God? Is it important to have a yielded life of hearing from the Holy Spirit and being obedient with expectation? We find that a yielded life to Christ will bring the fruits of freedom. We can read a very interesting sequel to this in the life of Isaac which I provide in a separate post

Verse 27, a powerful promise of expectation has been a driving force in my life. Wish its power manifests in your life situations.

“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.” (Galatians 4:27)

Verse 31, is so powerful. So, brethren, we (who are born again) are not children of a slave woman (the natural), but of the free (the supernatural).

5. Paul – A Good Steward of the Holy Spirit’s Instruction

Paul conveys that 3 years later when he visited Jerusalem he met only Peter (for 15 days) and James, brother of Jesus – among the apostles. Fourteen years later Paul went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. In verse 2 of chapter 2 he says, he went as it was divinely revealed that he should go.

He went to share with the church leadership about preaching to the Gentiles. All went well. Titus did not have to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. Even for a moment Paul did not submit to the leaders who lacked understanding. He refused to toe the line of people who tried to bring Paul under bondage to the Law of Moses. The reputed leaders did not put any new requirement to the Gospel as Paul understood it.

God is not impressed with the positions that men hold, and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions. (Galatians 2:6)

We know that man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but through faith and reliance on and adherence and trust in Jesus Christ. …. Because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

In verse 19, Paul mentions that. For I through the Law have myself died to the Law and all of Laws demands upon me, so that I may live to and for God. (2:19)

6. Fruit of the Holy Spirit – the Most Significant Verse in Galatians

This verse is the key to living a life of transformation – having the nature of Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is
love [unselfish concern for others],
[inner] peace,
patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness,
Against such things, there is no law.
(Galatians 5: 22, 23)

Click here for reading more on the Fruit of the spirit.

Having the nature of Jesus Christ is a process. We have to be open to change our understanding as we advance on this pilgrims process.

7. Why Should We Persevere in Doing Good?

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. (Galatians 6:9)

How should we serve others?
So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

8. How Should We Serve Others?

So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

9. How Should One Think of Oneself?

For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself. But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another. (Galatians 6:3)

We are asked to examine our conduct without any boastful comparison with our neighbour. Remember to share all good things with those who teach the word to us.

Concluding this post as Paul concluded this letter to the Galatians. The grace (spiritual favor, blessing) of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah) be with your spirit, brethren. Amen (so be it) (Galatians 6:18)