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Wednesday, September 5 2012

The Epistles: Galatians

Studies in this complete Epistles series:
What Is An Epistle? Luke Acts Romans First Corinthians
Second Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians
First Thessalonians Second Thessalonians First Timothy Second Timothy Titus
Philemon Hebrews James First Peter Second Peter
First John Second John Third John Jude Revelation

"He departed and went over all the country of Galatia ... strengthening all the disciples"

Galatia was located in what is today north-central Turkey. The apostle Paul was born in Tarsus, in what is today southeastern Turkey. Paul's missionary journeys began in his native land (see Paul's First Missionary Journey), before the LORD (see Who Is The LORD?) commanded him to take the same Gospel to Europe (i.e. Greece and Italy; see Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey). Galatia is mentioned in Paul's later journeys because he traveled through the area to go beyond it (see the maps below and in the study links above for each journey).

Paul's First Missionary Journey

"16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night [see also What Happened At Night?]; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." (Acts 16:6-10 KJV)

"18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 18:19 And he came to Ephesus [see also Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?], and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church [see Can You See The Church?], he went down to Antioch. 18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." (Acts 18:18-23 KJV)

Paul helped the Christians of the region of Galatia to become Christians. As such, his epistle to them began with a greeting to "all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia" i.e. it was addressed to more than just one congregation in any one city of Galatia - which also indicates that their "other gospel" problem involved more than just one congregation.

"1:1 Paul, an apostle [see Straight Street], (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead [see Counting On The Resurrection];) 1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ [see Who Is The LORD?], 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Galatians 1:1-5 KJV)

"There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ"

The epistle to the Galatians is primarily a dire admonishment for their falling into "another gospel" (some of the other epistles also seem that way, but keep in mind the principle of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" - those who were doing better didn't need the corrective attention). As we will read, their problem was actually happening in two ways. The first was by the typical situation where some ambitious man sought a religious following for himself by telling people what they wanted to hear (making himself a smooth-talking politician, or a salesman of something that he was peddling, or both) - and calling that invention the "gospel." The second is where some were teaching "Judaism," the man-made religion that rejected the Messiah, as though it were the gospel of salvation. Read carefully, and it's clear (it gets even clearer immediately after) that Paul's opening applied to both.

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

"1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ [see The True Gospel Of Christ and What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?]. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? [see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall] for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:6-10 KJV)

Paul then explained that while he was proudly raised as a Jew, and was still an academic Pharisee, he now taught the true Gospel that, as he will explain when we get to it, existed long before the LORD created Israel from a line of Abraham (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches).

"1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ [see also The Apocalypse Of Jesus Christ].

1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it [see Straight Street]: 1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism] above many my equals in mine own nation [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Jews], being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem [see A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah] to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the LORD's brother. 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 1:24 And they glorified God in me." (Galatians 1:11-24 KJV)

"Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"

A humanistic false gospel is one obvious problem that they were having, even at that very early time (see also The Messiah's Warning About Christian Charlatans). But their reverting to the religion of those who rejected Christ, as a supposed means to be Christians, was their much greater problem (in the modern day, that has been inverted - even though many "Christians" still look to Judaism, rather than to Israel as the LORD actually created it, in a quest to be "better Christians").

Pharisees and Herodians

"2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles [see What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?], but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised [see Circumcision]: 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter [see also The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter]; 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do." (Galatians 2:1-10 KJV)

The apostle Peter, before the LORD corrected him, again, had even fallen into the idea that Judaism was the way to salvation - not that one had to be a Jew to be a Christian, but that one had to observe man-made Judaism (see the Fact Finder question below). For that, Paul, a Jew and a Pharisee, publicly rebuked him (Paul himself had the same idea before he was converted, so Paul well understood Peter's error).

"2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles [see The Epistles: Luke]: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:11-21 KJV)

"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the Truth"

Many Christian-professing people today claim that "the law is done away." They base that wrong idea on an incorrect reading of Paul's epistles. Paul never taught that the Law of the LORD is done away. What Paul taught was that what became "Judaism" was the man-made law of man, not the Law of the LORD. That is exactly what the Messiah Himself said: "7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:6-9 KJV)

The Camp Of Abraham

"3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:1-5 KJV)

Abraham lived before his Israelite descendants existed (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches). The Gospel began with righteous Abraham because he was truly righteous - He obeyed the LORD. He didn't create a religion to suit (i.e. to worship) himself.

"3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness [see A Biography Of Abraham: The Genealogy Of Abram and A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan]. 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-9 KJV)

Salvation is open to anyone who truly repents and truly obeys the LORD - according to the terms and conditions commanded by the LORD. Anything else is not the true Gospel (see also What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?).

"3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus [see Works Means Obedience and Christ Died For Repentant Sinners]. 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus [see The Church: Mission Accomplished]. 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:26-29 KJV)

Notice very carefully that salvation will only be granted to those who obey God's Law (see The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God). Those who commit "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

"5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) How did the people of Judah take the Law that the LORD gave to Israel and change it into "another gospel" of themselves? (b) How has the Christian-professing world (i.e. those who claim to be Christian, while ignoring or rejecting what the Messiah actually taught) also created a "gospel" merely of themselves?
(a) See Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism, Who Was Their Messiah? and How Did The Messiah's Levite Priesthood Change?; see also Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah
(b) See Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy, A Biography Of Abraham: Abrahamic Religions and Is Your Religion Your Religion?; see also Why Observe The True Sabbath? and When Is The LORD's Day?

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This Day In History, September 5

394: The 2-day battle at the Frigidus River in northwest Italy ended in victory for Theodosius; Eugenius was beheaded, Arbogast committed suicide.

1590: Alexander Farnese's army forced Henry IV of France to lift the siege of Paris.

1664: The Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was taken by the British who later renamed it New York.

1666: The Great Fire of London was extinguished after two days. Over 10,000 building were destroyed.

1697: During the War of the Grand Alliance, naval forces of England and France fought the Battle of Hudson's Bay.

1800: Napoleon surrendered Malta to Britain.

1836: Sam Houston was elected as the first President of the Republic of Texas (unlike the New England colonies, Texas rebelled against, and declared independence from, Mexico).

1877: The native American warrior Crazy Horse (who led the Sioux at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) was fatally bayoneted by U.S. troops "while trying to escape" (while in chains). Crazy Horse, who surrendered to stop the genocidal slaughter of entire villages of his people, was diplomatically guaranteed that he would be allowed to live free on a reservation - but was instead transported to a prison of common white criminals where he would have spent the remainder of his life in a tiny concrete and steel cage.

1905: The Peace of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japanese War.

1910: Marie Curie demonstrated the transformation of radium ore to metal at the Academy of Sciences in France.

1914: At the start of the First World War (1914-1918), the Treaty of London formally linked the British Empire, France and Russia as allies.

1945: Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada defected with documents that revealed an active Soviet espionage system in the West. His defection resulted in 20 espionage trials and 9 convictions. Gouzenko lived in Canada under an assumed name until his death in 1982.

1972: At the Olympic Games in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian "Black September" terrorists.

1977: The Voyager 1 unmanned spacecraft was launched. Just over 20 years later, in 1998, it became the most distant human-made object from earth at 6,500,000,000 (6.5 billion) miles away, while continuing to travel at 39,000 miles per hour. Unless it hits something (unlikely in the great void of space), its journey will never end.

1978: The Camp David peace conference began between Israel's Menechem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat, with U.S. President Jimmy Carter presiding.

1980: Switzerland's St. Gotthard Tunnel opened. At 16.2 kilometers / 10.1 miles, it is the longest highway tunnel in the world.

1984: Western Australia abolished capital punishment, the last Australian state to do so.

1997: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu ("Mother Teresa") died at age 87. The Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun was known for her work with the "poorest of the poor" in India. She was awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.


Copyright © Wayne Blank