Galatians 2022


The letter to the Galatians has had a large effect on the development of Christian theology. It was written as a response to members of the Messianic Circumcision Party trying to convince new gentile believers that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved.

There is much confusion about Paul's use of the phrase 'works of the law.' In context he is referring to the oral law of the Pharisees and not to the written law of Moses. This distinction is often lost on modern readers of the letter.

The sermon on Leviticus 16-18 serves as a coda to the study.

  • Galatians 1,2 Paul's Credentials

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    The letter to the Galatians correlates with the Kingdom Parable of the woman and the leaven and with the Revelation letter to the church at Thyatira. All are concerned with sin coming into the church through strange doctrine. Paul begins the letter by establishing his credentials.
  • Galatians 3, The Faith of Abraham

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    In making the case that salvation is by faith and not by works of the law, Paul refers to the call of Abraham. When he believed God it was accounted to him as righteousness. Since the covenant between God and Abraham was prior to the giving of the Torah, it is not possible that the law would change the terms or the conditions for salvation.
  • Galatians 4, Son of the Slave Woman

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    Paul uses two metaphors to describe the effect of the Torah: that of an heir under a guardian and that of the son of Hagar, Sarah's slave. These examples are often cited as evidence that the Torah is done away with. This is a misunderstanding. Just as the two sets of tablets given to Moses were identical, the conditions of the New Covenant are the same as the Old. The difference is where God's law is written: on tablets of stone or on the human heart. Once the Torah is written on the heart one does its precepts because he wants to, not because he is told to.
  • Galatians 5-6, A Little Leaven

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    Echoing Matthew 13 and Revelation 2, Paul explains that mixing adding works as a vehicle for justification is like adding a small amount of leaven to dough - it eventually corrupts everything.. Doing good works as a response to the grace of God is admirable. Doing them as a way of obligating God is an error.
  • 2022-04-30 One Law for Everyone

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    Torah portion Acharei Mot (Lev 16-18) emphasizes that there is only one standard for the native born and for gentiles who join themselves to Israel. So when the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 tells gentiles to avoid idols, abstain from sexual immorality, things strangled and blood, they are simply quoting the Torah's requirements that apply to both Jew and gentile. When they say that gentiles need not be circumcised, they are quoting the law of the Passover from Exodus. In their ruling, the council was simply applying Torah correctly to the gentiles. They were not changing the standards.