Galatia was a province squarely in the center of the Asia Minor peninsula of present-day Turkey. The Galatians were Celtic Gauls, sometimes called Cimmerians, descended from the eldest son of Japheth, the son of Noah.
The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
Celtic Gauls had invaded the Balkans in 279 B.C. and it is assumed they settled in Galatia about that time. They were eventually defeated by Rome and became a Roman province under Roman ruler Pompey in 64 B.C.
Scholars are divided as to when the book of Galatians was written with some falling on the side of 40-50 A.D. and others between 50-60 A.D.
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),
2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
It is interesting here that while Paul mentions that he has companions with him, he doesn’t mention who they are as he does in most of his other epistles. He does however present his credentials as a chosen apostle of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord and Savior of all who believe according to the will of God the Father.
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Here we arrive at the crux of Paul’s letter and the main reason for his writing to the Galatian churches.
Paul, Peter, Luke (in the book of Acts) and John fervently wrote of false teachers teaching twisted and erroneous Scriptural doctrines among the churches, but one of the deadliest was the doctrine that believing Jews and Gentiles had to follow the Law of Moses to be saved after Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.
This had first appeared in the book of Acts, when believing Pharisees had first brought it up when Paul and Barnabas had returned from their first missionary trip;
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.
4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.
5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
The Jews had been living under the Law of Moses for roughly 1500 years and The Law had become so ingrained into daily life as to become inseparable from daily living. The punishments set down by God for not following the Law were severe, bringing curses from God for not performing them;
26 ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
The end result of the dispute was that the apostles and elders agreed that the Gentiles were not subject to the Law as it had not been written for them, but for the Jews. Besides, the Law had no provision for salvation, as it required that a person follow all 613 commandments all of the days of their life without fail to be saved, something no man could ever do. And the animal sacrifices required by the Law could only cover sins, they could never remove them in God’s eyes. Therefore no one could be saved by the works of the Law.
So what Paul was talking about when he spoke of a “different Gospel, which is not really another”, was that ignorant teachers were trying to join the Law with the New Covenant, something which even Jesus stated could not happen;
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse.
Christianity was not to be an addition or a “patch” to Judaism, but was a whole new Covenant which replaced the Law, much as a new garment replaces an old one.
Jesus further reinforced this when He said;
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.
As I said earlier, the Jews had been living under the Law for 1500 years and were reluctant to embrace the New Covenant, as they were comfortable with the Law. Jesus spoke of this also when He said;
And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
The Gentiles, not having lived under the Law readily accepted the New Covenant, whereas the Jews had become so hidebound and blinded to their own Scriptures that they couldn’t see the fulfillment of the Law and prophets in Jesus, which had also been prophesied;
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:
12 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
14 He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, be snared and taken.”
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.
14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Paul is reaffirming that the Gospel he preaches was not taught to him by Man but came directly from Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus, the One who appeared on Mount Sinai and gave the Law to Moses had by His death and resurrection fulfilled the Law, living a perfect life under its entire 613 commandments.
And by paying the price demanded by the Law for atonement of sins and removing them, He, as the original Lawgiver had the right to replace the Law with a new, perfect Covenant that would guarantee salvation to all men.
Paul also openly confirms the stories of his former rabid hatred of Christianity and how he came to become converted to the very faith he once tried to destroy. He then dropped out of sight for a while, more than likely to study the Scriptures concerning Jesus so that he might accurately present the Gospel to unbelieving Jews.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.
19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)
21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.
23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
24 And they glorified God in me.
Paul makes an interesting statement here. When ‘apostles’ are mentioned, people usually think of the Apostles originally hand-picked by Jesus to spread the Gospel. But the Greek word ‘apostolos’ refers to someone commissioned to carry out a mission. This makes us ALL apostles, as Jesus commissioned us ALL after His resurrection, commanding them and us;
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Paul mentions that he stayed with Peter but didn’t see any of the other Apostles except James, Jesus’ physical brother. James was the head of the church in Jerusalem (not Peter) and was not among the original twelve Apostles, yet Paul refers to him as an apostle.
Paul states that afterward he traveled through the areas of Syria and Cilicia, preaching the Gospel, and Luke records that Paul was shipped to Tarsus, his hometown in present-day Turkey after a plot by the unbelieving Jews in Damascus, Syria to murder him was discovered.
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Paul stayed in Tarsus, preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles for 14 years, until, according to Luke in the book of Acts, Barnabas came to bring him to Jerusalem. But he had not been idle during that time, he’d used the opportunity to increase his knowledge of the Gospel and to hone his oratory skills preparatory to his future ministry.
He’d had a revelation from Jesus Himself to go to Jerusalem and preach what he’d been taught to the Apostles and elders so that they might know and understand the truth of Paul’s teachings.
And the fact that Paul had not circumcised Titus, a known Greek, and that the Apostles in Jerusalem had no problem with it after Paul’s teaching about circumcision, confirmed that what Paul taught was correct. However, spies (more than likely from the Pharisees) had stirred up trouble because Paul had taught that the Gentiles need not be circumcised. Yet Paul had withstood them nor did the Apostles oppose him, confirming the accuracy of his Gospel.
6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter
8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
Please pay careful attention here! The Roman Catholic Church has long taught that Peter was the first Pope, the head of the Roman Church and that the Pope has primacy over all other churches even though the Roman Catholic Church didn’t form until 300 years after Jesus’ and Peter’s deaths.
Yet Paul says here that the twelve Apostles’ mission was to the JEWS and Paul’s mission was to the GENTILES.
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
NONE of us are perfect, and the Apostle Peter was no different. Before visitors came from James, Peter had lived apart from the Law, following the doctrines of Christ, but when Jews from Jerusalem arrived, Peter went back to following the Law, fearing what the visitors from James, the head of the Church would think and report back.
Paul immediately called him out on his hypocrisy before them all, for teaching one thing and doing just the opposite. Remember, those called to teach God’s Word will have a stricter judgment than those who hear, as we will be judged on the accuracy of what we teach, as well as by whether we practice what we teach as an example to others!!! As James would later say;
1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!
18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Paul emphasizes that Jesus is separate from both sin and the Law, being above and apart from both. And while we seek justification from sin through Jesus, we are still bound by sinful flesh and are subject to sin.
As Paul observed;
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Without flesh, sin cannot attack us. Without flesh, there is no lust, greed, covetousness, envy, etc.
So even though we are clean through Jesus, we will not be made perfect in Him until we cast off this sinful body after death.
And if we turn back to wilfully sinning after being saved, we have rejected Jesus’ salvation and sacrifice, deeming sin to be better than God’s salvation. The Law was a Law of death and condemnation, as it identified what was sinful in God’s eyes, and the Law had no provision for salvation as the Law required that a man follow all 613 laws perfectly all the days of his life. As mentioned before, the animal sacrifices could only COVER the sins, it could not REMOVE them. Only Jesus’ sacrifice could do that.
And with Jesus’ resurrection, we were made free of the Law and we then appear before Him as sinless at our death.
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—
6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
8 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.”
9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Paul uses an unusually sharp rebuke here, showing how concerned he is with the Galatians turning from the sacrifice and salvation of Jesus Christ, back to the bondage and condemnation of the Law. And with good reason. The Law had been fulfilled and removed in God’s sight and all who died following the Law after Jesus’ resurrection would die in their sins and would end up in the Lake of Fire after their Judgment. Not something to be treated lightly!!!
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The Law was a Law of works and did not have requirements for faith, yet God had told Habbakkuk that the just would be saved by faith.
4 “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.
When Jesus hung on the cross, all of the sins of the world were placed in His body, a spiritual event so great it literally darkened the sun as prophesied by Amos, 760 years before Jesus’ death;
“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight;
(When Jesus was crucified, darkness covered the land from noon to 3:00 P.M.)
Paul says above that Jesus became a curse for us when He hung on the cross, becoming a literal image of sin in God’s eyes, enough that the Father had to turn His back on His own Son when His Son needed Him the most, causing Jesus to cry out from the cross “Why have You forsaken me?”
We are forbidden to make any image of anything for religious purposes;
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
We are not to allow a cursed thing or abomination into our houses;
26 Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.
The 1611 King James Version is even more blunt;
26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.
Now, let’s bring these points together;
1. When Jesus was on the cross, He was a cursed thing, an abomination in God’s eyes;
2. Any image of a religious thing is an idol, and we are forbidden to make any such image
3. Thus a crucifix is a graven (man-made) image, an idol of an abomination, or cursed thing.
4. Wearing a crucifix or having one in your house makes you a cursed thing in God’s eyes, and puts you in direct disobedience to His commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy.
Now that you know this, you are responsible for this information before God. If you have one or more crucifixes in your possession, it is up to you what you do with them. Destroy them and petition God for forgiveness for having them, or keep them and become a cursed thing like them in His eyes.
15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.
16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
When God makes covenants with Man, they are based on unchangeable promises. God had made promises to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations even though he was old and childless at the time. And through his son Isaac, the promise came true, and with the Gentiles now having access to the promises given to Abraham, we are considered his children also, making him truly the father of many nations.
19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Before the Law was given on Mount Sinai there were only a few laws given, those given to Noah after the Flood;
3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God
He made man.
(Note: Verse 6 shows that God supports the death penalty)
These few laws allowed Mankind to do as he wished without restriction or punishment. God had not identified what was sin in His eyes, and people cannot be judged for sins if there is no law identifying it as sin. People lived according to the dictates of their consciences causing Moses to command Israel after the Law had been created;
“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—
When God determined that the time was right, He created the Law so that Man would know what was sin in His eyes, and therefore His chosen people would be accountable for their sins before Him. But the Law, being a Law of works could not bring salvation as the flesh is riddled with sin and no work we do can ever be perfect in His eyes and the Law requires perfection to be righteous. Therefore the Law put all men under the same condemnation so that there are no confusing stages and degrees of sin. One standard for all men. And with all under the same sentence for sin, God could through Christ Jesus have mercy to all men through one sacrifice.
The purpose of the Law was to train us concerning the perfection and righteousness of God, His mercy and wisdom, His power and wrath against sin and His plan to save us from the curse placed on all Creation after Adam’s sin and rebellion.
Satan had caused Adam to rebel against God as he did, and as God had sentenced Satan to eternal destruction for his sin, He had to give Man the same sentence, or He would have to forgive Satan as well. But God in His wisdom thwarted Satan’s plan and condemned the flesh to destruction but provided that the spirit could be saved.
The Law was created to train us in obedience and worship of God and when God determined that the Law had finished it’s work, He sent Jesus to fulfill the Law and replace it with the new spiritual Covenant which could provide salvation.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
When we are baptized in faith, we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and our spirits are made perfect in His sight, unlike what Isaiah said about our own righteousness;
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
In God’s eyes, nationality, gender, or race doesn’t matter. All He sees is whether we are sinners covered with sins, or sons clothed with Jesus’ righteousness and therefore clean in His sight.
1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The Law was meant to teach God’s requirements for salvation, and what was considered sin and righteousness in His sight. Children are taught strict rules concerning right and wrong at an early age and are bound by those rules by their parents and guardians until they become adults, as by then they should have those rules thoroughly ingrained in them. As it says in Proverbs;
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
When God deemed that Israel was mature enough, He then replaced the Law with a permanent new Covenant which He had promised would come;
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The new covenant would not contain a physical law like the Law of Moses, written on stone tablets, but would be a living spiritual law, written in the hearts of men by he Holy Spirit. The concepts contained in the Old Testament Law pointed to the new Law to come, with the new Law justifying men by faith, rather than works.
8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
History has shown that Man has worshiped a multitude of gods , most of them associated with weather phenomena (storms, rain, wind, lightning, etc.), stars and planets (including the sun), etc., volcanos, earthquakes, and the like.
Worship of these gods requires following man-made rules and rituals which are both useless and many times are harmful or even deadly, such as worshipers whipping themselves bloody with whips and chains, cutting themselves, and even human sacrifice such as Aztec and Inca sacrifices, and especially the despicable Middle Eastern Molech worship which required parents to burn their infants and children alive in ritual furnaces.
12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.
13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.
16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
When Paul first preached the Gospel to the Galatian churches, he apparently suffered some undescribed form of ailment in his vision. (This was not the same blindness he suffered when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, Syria years before.)
Paul wonders at their present hostility, seeing as how they had gladly welcomed him when he first visited, wondering where that love and fellowship had gone. It was meant as a rhetorical question (a question not meant to be answered, but designed to make the recipient think), as Paul already knew the answer.
No one likes to be told that they’re doing something wrong, and Paul had pointed out that they were following deceptive teachings and had fallen away from the truth. He then asks them if by correcting them, he had become an enemy to them.
17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
Cults love to attract converts, not because they value potential members, but so that the leaders can feel a greater sense of power and control. If the cult appears popular and exciting, it can be the bait that draws people in. Or the leaders and top members can shower attention on potential members then withdraw making the potential members want to join.
Paul also wrote to Titus concerning these deceivers when he said:
10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
Paul also told Timothy concerning these people;
1 Timothy 1:5-7
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,
6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
Paul points out the dangers of listening to these people, as they portray themselves as teachers and experts of the Law, yet neither understand what they say nor what they confirm as truth.
The Pharisees and false teachers of the Law were like that, preying on new Gentile Christians, seeking to make converts so they could brag about how many disciples they had made, trying to impress others. Jesus spoke of these people when He said;
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as yourselves.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the Law was no longer to be followed, having been replaced by a new, better covenant by God. Thus the followers of Judaism who continued to follow the Law became relegated to a cult, taking away the power and prestige of the teachers of the Law. (They REALLY weren’t happy about that!)
Paul is perplexed that the Galatians had so quickly turned aside to follow the teachings of the now-dead Law rather than the living covenant of Jesus Christ.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—
26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written: “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.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Much of the Law was symbolic, physical things pointing to spiritual concepts. Abraham had two sons, one born of the flesh, the other born through faith. Ishmael was born first and the laws of the time declared that the firstborn inherit the family possessions when the father died. Therefore the son of the slave woman would inherit all of Abraham’s wealth as well as the promises God had made to Abraham, instead of Isaac, his second son for whom Abraham’s possessions and promises from God were meant.
It is interesting that Paul states that Mount Sinai is in present day Saudi Arabia, not in the Sinai Peninsula like it has been long believed to be located. In the mid-1300's Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother declared that Mount Sinai is in it’s present location, but there has been no archaeological proof of this.
However in recent years archaeologists have discovered rocks with pictographs of calves at the base of a mountain called ‘Jebel ‘al Lawz’ (Mountain of the Laws) in southwest Saudi Arabia that gives good indications of being the true Mount Sinai.
The present Jerusalem has suffered many wars and conflicts throughout history, it’s people have been enslaved a number of times and represents the conflicts and sins suffered by the flesh. But the prophet John saw a new Jerusalem waiting to be revealed from Heaven which represents the freedom from the bondage of sin through the new Covenant in Jesus Christ.
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Paul exhorts the Galatian churches to not return to the dead works of the Law, to now-useless, burdensome ritualism which cannot save, but to remain in the spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ which can save the believers from sin.
Paul is telling the Gentile believers that if they become circumcised in accordance with the Law, following Jesus will avail them nothing, for they have bound themselves to keep the Law of Moses, which required physical circumcision.
Physical circumcision was symbolic of the spiritual circumcision to come, where our spirits are “cut away” from the flesh, giving our spirit dominion over the flesh to help fight against sin. (Paul speaks extensively of this in the Book of Colossians)
So if physical circumcision is no longer needed under the New Covenant, why bind yourself to the now-dead Old Covenant by becoming circumcised? You cannot follow Christ and keep the Law, nor can you be saved under the Law. You can only be saved through the grace of Jesus through the New Covenant of faith in Jesus Christ.
7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
Paul is warning that just as a little yeast can spread through a large lump of dough, a little sin can eventually poison your entire life. He also assures them that God will deal with those teaching falsehood, whoever they are. But he exhorts them to cling to the truths they have been taught.
11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
Paul asks a rhetorical question about circumcision, asking if physical circumcision is required as the false teachers claim, and if he were to preach circumcision, why is he still being persecuted? He then states that the cross is and always will be a stumbling block to unbelieving Jews who will in turn persecute those who believe in Jesus. So even if the Corinthians circumcise themselves, they will still be persecuted by the Jews.
Paul is so irritated by false teachings taught by deceivers that he wishes that these false teachers would destroy themselves, pretty strong words from Paul!!!!!
In any religion, differences in beliefs and differences in interpretations will lead to factions within the church. Paul cautions against factionalism, warning that such will lead to divisions and frictions within the churches and can eventually destroy a church, which Satan delights in doing.
There will always be differences in beliefs and opinions within a church, but as long as members still love one another and strive for common ground, the church will prosper. But the elders need to be diligent that these differences don’t allow heretical doctrines to slip into the churches, either. For as Paul had said to the Corinthian churches;
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-16
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Sin can only attack the flesh, but it is the spirit that suffers the consequences if we follow sinful behavior. Without a body there is no greed, lust, envy, or any of the other sins that Paul listed above. But the spirit many times wants to indulge and gratify the flesh and the poison of sin begins it’s deadly work in our spirit. Jesus knows how hard it is to fight the desires of your own flesh, having been tempted in every way we will ever be, but did not sin. That is why we now have the “spiritual circumcision”, in which the Holy Spirit works with our spirit to fight fleshly sinful behaviors.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Those who follow the Spirit will show the fruits of the Spirit listed above. This is a prime way to attract people to Jesus, as they will want these behaviors within themselves. But don’t let pride lead to conceit, as that can destroy your ministry in short order!!
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For each one shall bear his own load.
We all sin and we all have our weaknesses that Satan seeks to exploit. Your particular weakness(es) may not be a problem to others. Then again it could be similar or identical to another’s.
Pastors and Christian counselors need to be aware of this, for hearing about the sin(s) of others could very well trigger temptation in the listener. It is said that men should counsel men and women should counsel women, just to keep temptation at bay.
But the bottom line is that if someone is confessing a sin that is one of your weaknesses, they need to seek out a counselor who is not affected or weakened by this type of sin lest both of you become entrapped.
If we see a brother or sister in need of help, physically or emotionally, we are to help to the best of our ability. As Jesus’ physical brother James said;
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
If you see someone in need and have the ability to help them, but instead say, “I’ll pray for you” but do nothing further to help, do you really expect that will God honor your prayer? Does that truly help the person....or does it merely soothe your conscience?
We are constantly cautioned to be humble, both before the eyes of God and men. We are also warned not to judge our own self-worth by comparing ourselves to others, either. Jesus spoke of this when He said;
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Our own righteousness is an abomination before God, and He does not view anyone to be better and more important than another in His sight. As Scripture says;
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
Concerning our own self-righteousness, Isaiah says;
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
As we are no better than anyone else in God’s sight, by our own works we stand or fall before God. Do the best you can before God, and let His judgment of you be your measure of your worth, not the evaluation of others.
6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Scripture states that a worker is worthy of his wages;
1 TIMOTHY 5:18
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Paul is saying that if someone teaches you the Word, it is incumbent on the hearers to support the teacher. Ministers are paid for preaching, teachers should be also for the work they do.
As Scripture says;
1 CORINTHIANS 9:13-14
13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?
14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
God laid down strict guidelines as far as behaviors and promised us good health and prosperity and health if we follow them, and has left us frightening examples of punishments for not following them.
For example, He promised that Israel’s enemies would besiege them, and trap them within their cities;
52 “They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you.
He also made the horrifying prophecy of;
9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair.”’
Scripture records that this actually happened several times when Israel’s enemies were brought by God to besiege them.
Another example was king Jehoram of Israel who was so bad that Scripture records;
2 Chronicles 21:16-19
16 Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians.
17 And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.
18 After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease.
19 Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers.
The Old Testament is rife with examples of punishments ranging from plagues, to destruction by enemies, disease, famines, starvation, being captured and being deported to foreign lands, etc.
Yet many laugh and jeer, saying that the Bible is a book of legends and fairy tales, and carry on like there is no God, persecuting those who follow His commandments, calling them “haters” and the like, causing God to prophesy of them;
1 Thessalonians 5:3
3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
We are like farmers in which we sow the seeds of eternal life in the hearts of people. Just like farmers, we grow weary at times but cannot quit, or there will be no harvest. Sometimes God allows us to reap some of His harvest, and we cannot grow weary in this either. Our reward will come at our Judgment, and will be eternal if we keep going until the end.
11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
Back during Paul’s time, most people couldn’t read or write, so they would hire scribes to dictate letters and contracts to. But Paul was very highly educated and could read and write both Hebrew and Greek.
He once again revisits the issue of circumcision, warning that those who persecute and pressure them to become circumcised really don’t care about them, they are playing a “numbers game” so they can brag about how may proselytes (converts) they have made. They don’t follow the Law themselves, fulfilling Jesus’ words of;
15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as yourselves.
Bragging about your own accomplishments accomplishes nothing. Paul would rather brag about Jesus and what His death and resurrection accomplished, the magnitude of which cannot be measured.
And he reminds them that physical resurrection is nothing in God’s eyes now, for the focus is now on spiritual things.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Paul ends his letter with a blessing, and the fact the he bears the scars of persecution for his faith in Jesus
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