This is the last chapter of Galatians; tomorrow we’ll start with…
Galatians 6 Fulfilling the Law of Christ
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
“Bear his own burden” –the “For” at the beginning of the verse connects it with v. 4. Each of us is responsible before God. The reference may be to the future judgment (the verb is in the future tense), when every person will give an account to God.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
“Large a letter” – may have been for emphasis or as some have suggested, because he had poor eyesight.
“With mine own hand” – the letter up to this point had probably been dictated to a scribe, after which Paul took the pen in his own hand and finished the letter.
12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
“New creature” – in Christ man undergoes a transformation that results in an entirely new being. Creation again takes place (see 2 Cor 5:17).
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
“Marks” – in ancient times the Greek word was used of the brand-marks that identified slaves or animals. Paul’s suffering (stoning, beatings, and illness) marked him as a “servant of Christ.”
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Written to the Galatians written from Rome.
Ten (41-50) More Quotes About Jesus
“God tests, but he does not tempt.”
“We might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasoning of the theological mind.”
“The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.”
“The unwounded life bears no resemblance to the Rabbi.”
“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”
“The sinners to whom Jesus directed His messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves to the gift that was offered them. On the other hand, the self-righteous placed their trust in the works of the Law and closed their hearts to the message of grace.”
“Immanuel, God with us-that He would leave the spiritual realm and be present in the flesh and blood in such an act of humility is a staggering notion. As it is, He willingly gave His blood, in the flesh, so that others might find life, for it is written: “He did not come by water only, but by blood,” and “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Now blood is required to give new life to the dead.
I tell you, He did not give only a small amount to satisfy this requirement. He was beaten and crushed and pierced until that blood flowed like a river for the sake of love. It was for love, not religion, that He died.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And those plunged beneath that watery grave to drink of His blood will never be the same.”
“He has a plan for everybody here and it’s all a matter of whether you answer it when He calls you.”
“For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”
“As for those who state that it is thanks to a woman, the lady Eve, that man was expelled from paradise, my answer to them would be that man has gained far more through Mary than he ever lost through Eve.”
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.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
“Walk in” – a military term meaning “keep in step with,” or “walk in the line with.” A different Greek word for “walk” was used in v. 16, meaning “live,” involving one’s conduct.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Magic in the Greco-Roman World
Various types of magical practice flourished in the Greco-Roman world. Spells, charms, amulets, potions and even voodoo-type dolls were used to procure the favor of supernatural powers.
The borders of magic were fluid; some “magical potions” may have been legitimate attempts at pharmacology, while certain “magical spells” had a strong component of prayer and worship.
Nonetheless, the idea of magic as manipulating supernatural beings for one’s personal benefit still accurately represents this underground spirituality.
Various substances—anything from bits of the hair of a desired lover to baboon dung or drowned field mice—were employed in spells.
These substances, combined with the “right” ritual practices and the proper magic words, supposedly guaranteed the compliance of the deity who was to accomplish the task.
The words might be nonsense syllables or secret names of the gods. It was not unusual for such spells to end with an abrupt command such as “Quick! Quick! Do it! Do it!”
While practitioners commonly called upon evil spirits of the underworld to do their bidding, any divinity was likely to be invoked.
Some magicians even attempted to manipulate the God of Israel. Indeed, he is invoked frequently in the magical papyri, generally under the name”lao,”a possible pronunciation of the name Yahweh by 1st century Christians.
As stated in the article below, magic spells were related to the false Roman and Greek gods, so tomorrow we’ll look at…
Galatians 4 Do Not Return to Bondage
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
“Fulness of the time was come” – the time “appointed” by God for His children to become adult sons and heirs.
“God sent forth His Son” – see Jn 1:14, 3:16; Rom 1:1-6; 1 Jn 4:14.
“Made of a woman” – showing that Christ was truly human.
“Made under the law” – subject to the Jewish law.
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
“The adoption of sons” – with the full rights of sons. See Rom 8:15, where the “spirit of adoption” is contrasted with the “spirit of bondage”.
God takes into His family as fully recognized sons and heirs both Jews that believe (those who had been under the law) and Gentiles who believe in Christ.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
“Received me” – Paul implies that under the influence of Judaizers they have changed their attitude toward him.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
“Two sons” – Ishmael was born to the slave woman, Hagar (Gen 16:1-16), and Isaac to his wife Sarah (Gen 21:2-5).
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
“Answereth to Jerusalem which now is” – Jerusalem can be equated with Mount Sinai because it represents the center of Judaism, which is still under bondage to the law issued at Mount Sinai.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
“Jerusalem which is above” – Rabbinical teaching held that the Jerusalem above was the heavenly archetype that in the Messianic period would be let down to earth (cf. Rev 21:2).
Here it refers to the heavenly city of God, in which Christ reigns and of which Christians are citizens, in contrast to the “Jerusalem which now is.”
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband.
Paul applies Israel’s joyful promise to exiled Jerusalem (in her exile “barren” of children) to the ingathering of believers through the gospel, by which “Jerusalem’s” children have become many.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
“Cast out the bondwoman” – Sarah’s words in Gen 21:10 were used by Paul as the Scriptural basis for teaching the Galatians to put the Judaizers out of the church.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
“We are not children of the bondwoman” – the believer is not enslaved to the law but is a child of Promise and lives by faith.
The Gods of the Greeks and Romans
The “religious marketplace” was extremely crowded during the Hellenistic era.
The Olympian deities (and their Roman equivalents) still held a place in popular religion: mighty Zeus and his consort Hera, warlike Ares, erotic Aphrodite, prophetic Apollo, the virgin warrior Athena, Artemis the huntress, Hermes the messenger of the gods, Hephaestus the smith, Poseidon of the sea, Demeter of the field and Hestia of the hearth.
Pluto, the grim god of the underworld, was not always listed among the “Twelve” but retained a significant place in religious thinking.
While these deities were certainly reverenced, they were seldom seen as admirable characters. To the contrary, myths described them as violent and lustful, as well as capricious and conniving in their dealings with humans and with one another (as is seen in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses).
It is not surprising, then, that these deities and their stories were later sanitized by the philosophers. In some systems, for example, Zeus was equated with the organizing principle of the universe (examples are Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus and Aratus’s Phaenomena).
This transformation of the idea of Zeus was so thorough that Jews and Christians could sometimes make use of material related to Zeus in their apologetic teaching in the Hellenistic world (as in Paul’s reference to a poem by the stoic Aratus in Acts 17).
Foreign cults also proliferated in Greece and Rome during the Hellenistic age. The worship of the god Sarapis was particularly popular, even though it appears that he was invented as late as the 3rd century B.C.,drawing together characteristics from various Greek and Egyptian deities.
Widespread stories of his offering help to his followers (deliverance from shipwreck, healing, etc.) compensated for his lack of a long history, Isis and Osiris, other Egyptian dieties, were also popular objects of worship.
In addition to these major deities, there remained a host of local spirits and gods that attracted veneration throughout the empire.
Household gods, preserving hearth and home, were especially popular among the Romans Naiads were described as water-nymphs associated with fountains, just as Dryads were associated with trees and Nereids with the sea.
Various spirits connected with the earth were thought to bring fertility to crops, as well as to be associated with death and the underworld.
The terrifying goddess Hekatewas particularly prominent and was frequently invoked in magic spells.
Finally, heroes from the past, most notably Hercules, were thought to aid people in distress and sometimes to serve as spiritual mentors.
The world knows what Jews are like, an easy summary of them is the riddle I have posted before: “What is the objective of Jewish Football?” Get the quarter back.
The Jews despised Jesus because of two reasons:
1) He is greater then them and
2) They can’t spend or trade Him.
They are the only nationality that has been here since their beginnings, maybe that’s why they are so good at being disgusting?
The Jews have always worshiped nonsense, so tomorrow we’ll look at…
Galatians 3 Receiving the Spirit by Faith
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?
“Foolish” – they weren’t mentally deficient but simply failed to use their power of perception.
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
“The Spirit” – from this point on in Galatians Paul refers to the Holy Ghost 16 times.
3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
“Begun in the Spirit…made perfect” – both salvation and sanctification are the work of the Holy Ghost.
“By the flesh” – a reference to human nature in its unregenerate weakness. Trying to achieve righteousness by works, including circumcision, was a part of life in the “flesh.”
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain.
Paul hopes that those who have been misled will return to the true gospel.
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?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
“Children of Abraham” – Abraham was the physical father of the Jewish race, and the spiritual father to all that believe in Jesus Christ, no matter what race they are.
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.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
“Are of the works of the law” – the reference is to legalists – those who refuse God’s offer of grace and insist on pursuing righteousness through works.
“Under the curse” – because no one under the law ever perfectly kept the law. God’s blessing has never been earned, but has always been freely given.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” – see 4:5; Rom 8:3.
“Tree” – used in classical Greek of stocks and poles on which bodies were impaled hereof the cross.
Have any Jewish friends? Wondering what to buy them for Christmas? How about a tree?
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
“Man’s covenant” – the Greek word normally indicates a last will or testament, which is probably the legal instrument Paul is referring to here.
But in the Septuagint it had been widely used for God’s covenant with His people.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
“Was added” – from the time of Abraham, the promise covenanted to him had stood at the center of God’s relationship with His people.
After exodus the law contained in the Sinatic covenant (Ex 19-24) became an additional element in the relationship – what Jeremiah by implication called the “old covenant’ when he brought God’s promise of a “new covenant.”
“Till the seed should come” – after God promised through Abraham’s seed (Jesus Christ) to regenerate the nations, He added the Mosaic law to reveal and restrain sin until Christ should come and provide righteousness to all who believe (Jn 3:16; Rom 10:4).
The purpose of the law has been fulfilled within those who have obtained righteousness and sonship in Christ.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
The Mosaic covenant was a formal arrangement of mutual commitments between God and Israel, with Moses as the mediator. But since the promise God covenanted with Abraham involved commitment only from God’s side (and God is one), no mediator was involved.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
The reason the law is not opposed to the promise is that, although in itself it cannot save, it serves to reveal sin, which alienates God from man, and to show the need for the salvation that the promise offers.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
“Faith” – in Christ.
“Kept under the law” – to be a prisoner of sin and a prisoner of law amounts to much the same, because law reveals and stimulates sin.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
“Was our schoolmaster” – the expression translates the Greek paidagogs (from which “Pedagogue” is derived).
It refers to the personal slave-attendant who accompanied a freeborn boy wherever he went and exercised a certain amount of discipline over him. His function was as much that of a baby-sitter as a teacher.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
By adoption, the justified believer is a full adult and heir in God’s family with all the attendant rights and privileges.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
“Baptized in Christ” – see Rom 6:3-11; 1 Cor 12:13.
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.
Unity in Christ transcends ethnic, social and gender distinctions. These earthly distinctions and roles remain, but all who are “in Christ” are positioned as full and equal sons and heirs of God.
29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Christians are Abraham’s true, spiritual descendants.
Paul’s Jewish Opponents
Throughout his Christian ministry Paul was dogged by Jewish opponents who sought to undermine his message.
Some of these challengers were Jews who (ejected the Messianic claims of Jesus and sought to halt the growth of the church by open persecution, just as Paul himself had once done.
On other occasions, however, Paul seems to have been opposed by Jews who were perhaps offended not so much by the fact that Paul preached Christ but that he did not require Gentiles to become proselytes (i.e., to embrace the ways of Judaism, such as circumcision, observance of the Sabbath and avoidance of non-kosher foods).
It appears that the Christians in Galatia had been persuaded not to turn away from Christ but to become proselytes. For Paul this was an alarming development because it undercut the core message of the gospel; if salvation could not be attained without embracing Judaism, then the death of Christ was insufficient.
Scholars have become vitally interested in understanding Paul’s Jewish adversaries, because this issue is key to understanding Paul.
The traditional Protestant view is that Paul’s Jewish opponents were “legalists” who believed that salvation is not received by grace through faith but must be earned by “good works” (which in this case meant adherence to the ritual laws of Judaism).
Against this, some have recently argued that first-century Judaism was not really “legalistic” at all but that it held to the belief that forgiveness was obtained purely by the mercy of God.
These scholars charge that Protestants have judged ancient Jews out of the context of the Protestant Reformation, when Luther faced the legalism of Roman Catholic masses and indulgences, rather than truly listening to the 1st century Jews themselves.
To the contrary, such critics insist, faithful Jews believed that God had chosen them purely on the basis of his grace and that he required only that they regulate their lives according to the terms of his covenant.
The “rules” of Judaism, according to this perspective, helped Jews to preserve their identity and faithfulness but were not a means for acquiring God’s favor.
This viewpoint on Judaism has led to an altered perspective on Paul. If the early Jews were not in fact legalistic, then our interpretation of some of Paul’s words needs significant revision.
On the other hand, many believe that it is valid to claim that many 1st century Jews did embrace an excessively moralistic and institutionalized view of religion and that Paul was reacting against this code.
Scholars are currently involved in research to try to determine exactly what these early Jews believed about how God’s favor was to be obtained.
Even so, it is probably unnecessary to prove that 1st century Judaism was formally and theologically legalistic in order to demonstrate that many of Paul’s opponents were legalistic in their approach to their religion.
When Jesus opposed the Jewish leadership, he was concerned not so much with debating the Pharisees over hypothetical elements of theology as with their lack of repentance.
When religious people are unrepentant, they often become harsh and judgmental, adhering to a letter-of-the-law code of moral and ethical standards.
Their ability to perform religious rites and duties becomes a substitute for an authentic and personal knowledge of God.
This is true in Christian communities as well, notwithstanding the fact that no one in these communities disputes that Christianity holds to salvation “by grace and not by works” as one of its core teachings.
Thus, even though many of Paul’s opponents may have formally accepted that forgiveness depends entirely upon the mercy of God, in their practical religious lives they may well have been legalistic.
Paul worked hard at spreading the Good News and many accepted him, but not all. Tomorrow we’ll look at…
Galatians 2 Paul Accepted by The Church
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
“Barnabas” – means “One who encourages.” His given name was Joseph, and he was a Levite from the Island of Cyprus. He was Paul’s companion on the first missionary journey.
“Titus” – A Gentile Christian who served as Paul’s delegate to Corinth and later was left in Crete to oversee the church there.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
“Had run, in vain” – see 1 Cor 15:58; Phil 2:16.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
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:
“False brethren” – Judaizers who held that Gentile coverts should be circumcised and obey the law of Moses.
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
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:
“Accepteth no man’s person” – cf. Deut 10:17; 1 Sam 16:7; Lk 20:21; Jas 2:1.
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;
“Gospel of the uncircumcision” – Paul’s ministry was not exclusively to the Gentiles. In fact, he regularly went first to the synagogue when arriving in a new location. He did, however, consider himself to be foremost an apostle to the Gentiles.
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
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.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
“Antioch” – the leading city of Syria and third leading city of the Roman empire (after Rome and Alexandria). From it Paul had been sent out on his missionary journeys.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
“Them which were of the circumcision” – Judaizers, who believed that circumcision was necessary for salvation.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
“The other Jews” – Jewish Christians not associated with the circumcision party but whom Peter’s behavior had led astray.
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?
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 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.
A key verse in Galatians. Three times it tells us that no one is justified by observing the law, and three times it underscores the indispensable requirement of placing one’s faith in Christ.
“By the works of the law” – Paul is not depreciating the law itself, for he clearly maintained that God’s law is “holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7:12). He is arguing against an illegitimate use of the Old Testament law that made the observance of that law the grounds of acceptance with God.
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.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
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.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
“Christ is dead in vain” – to mingle legalism with grace distorts grace and makes a mockery of the cross.
Antioch of Syria Center of Christianity
There are two cities in the New Testament by the name of Antioch: Antioch of Pisidia in Asia Minor, evangelized by Paul (Acts 13:14-50),and Antioch in Syria, an early center of Christianity.
Antioch of Syria was located on the Orontes River, about 15 miles from the Mediterranean coast. Today this is the site of Antakya in southern Turkey, close to the border with Syria.
Due to its status as a major commercial center at the junction of trade routes running eastward to Mesopotamia, westward to the Aegean and south to Damascus, Palestine and Egypt, it was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world.
Paul, in Gal 2:11-14, provided us with a look at church life in this early center of Christianity, a place where Jewish and Gentile believers came together.
It became the base of the early church as a result of persecution, which forced followers of Jesus to flee there from Judea during the 1st century.
Paul and Barnabas spent much time in Antioch preaching and teaching; Paul embarked upon his missionary journeys from there ; and it was there that believers in Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).
Excavations from 1932 to 1939 revealed the main street of 1st century Antioch, flanked by broad walkways, temples, shops and baths. Herod the Great paved the street with marble, and Tiberius later added colonnades.