Monday, August 18, Chapter 2
Paul continues his biography as a Christian. He preached first in Damascus, then Arabia, Damascus again, then Syria and Cilicia. No solid time frame has been given in the Bible for all this, but is was years. Chapter 2 opens with Fourteen years later. That would be fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem, occurring after preaching for three years in Damascus the second time.
On his first trip to the city, he remained hidden, visiting only Peter and James. On this visit, Paul no longer has to hide and brings Barnabas and Titus with him. Acts 15 records the visit. Titus was a Greek who had never been circumcised, so Paul may have brought him to test the Jerusalem church leaders.
Here Paul says his trip was the result of a revelation. In Acts it is said that he went as the head of an appointed group to settle the question of circumcision. In Acts we have some of the debate and the resolution. We also note that Titus was never mentioned. In Galatians Paul points out that the Jerusalem leaders did not suggest Titus be circumcised.
Verse 4 tells us that the Judaizers were trying to force the Christians to follow all the rules of the Pharisees; that it was the only way to salvation. They also argued that the Jerusalem church opposed Paul’s preaching. Paul was able to counter that argument easily because the church sent a letter explaining their position along with Judas and Silas to bear witness to the leader’s decision on the matter. As we know, that did not end the efforts of the Judaizers.
With verse 11 we see an occasion when Peter fell into the grip of the Judaizers. He was in Antioch, the second most important church at that time and the leading church after the fall of Jerusalem. At first Peter had no trouble in fellowship with the gentile Christians, but when some influential Judiazers came into town, he pulled away, even getting Barnabas to join him.
Paul had a fit. His speech to Peter in front of the whole church puts Peter in his place. We are not saved by what we do, only by the Mercy of God through His Son.
Tuesday, August 19, Chapter 3
The NIV has the first sentence, You foolish Galatians! Four other translators use: crazy, senseless, stupid, and idiots. The Greek word is anoetoi, meaning unintelligent, so take your pick. In fairness, Paul also called them brothers 9 times.
This opening picks up from 1:6-7. Paul cannot believe that they were so easily duped. He thought he had done a better job of preparing them.
Paul uses a common Hebrewism by saying he has one question and ends up with five. How were you saved? Are you so foolish? Do you think you can earn your way into Heaven? Have you suffered for nothing? Did God give you the Spirit because you kept the Law?
Abraham had faith, he did not keep the Law. Yet God said in Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” NIV The phrase, great nation, means that all nations will make up the descendants of Abraham. It is likely that the Judaizers used Abraham as an important part of their case. One common teaching of the rabbis of Jesus’ day was that the Law existed before creation and Abraham came to know the Law by his faith and kept the Law.
However, in Genesis 18:8 Abraham is seen serving butter and milk with a calf which is strictly forbidden based on Exodus 34:26, “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” NIV
The curse in verse 10 is found in Deuteronomy 27:26. Habakkuk 2:4 reads, but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness. NIV Paul’s point is that when we fail to keep the Teachings of the Law, we can depend on Christ to clean us up and present us to God whole and pure. Paul in other writings (see chapter 5:19-21) strongly urges his readers to avoid doing most of the things we all agree are in the Law; do not kill, etc. But as Jesus taught us we all murder in our hearts.
In verses 16-20 Paul gives a great presentation of Abraham being the forerunner of Jesus. Jesus was the true seed of Abraham and through Jesus, the Messiah, all the nations join in the promise.
God always asked his people to put complete trust in Him. He gave his people the Teachings of the Law to guide them in their daily lives, but it has always been faith He expects.
We cannot take Paul’s statement in verse 25 to extreme. What he is saying is that our faith is directed to God through the Messiah. By focusing on God we will live the kind of life the Law directed us to live.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one. CJB
Wednesday, August 20, Chapter 4
Verse 4 is as close as Paul comes to the virgin birth. Jesus was born of woman, but not man. At the end of verse 6 we see the Holy Spirit does the praying for us. We can trust the Spirit to speak when we do not know the words or even what we want to say.
Paul says that when you were pagans you had to follow the rules of the pagan gods, why do you want to replace that with following the rules of the only God?
Paul reminds the Galatians that he stopped to preach because he was sick. There is no record of the illness, but it made it difficult to travel, so he stayed in one area until he could travel again. The reference to eyes in verse 15 may have nothing to do with the specific illness.
Verse 17 shows us the Judaziers only want to puff themselves up.
Starting with verse 21 Paul refers to a common rabbinical allegory of the time. Sarah represented Israel and Hagar represented Rome. Isaac was from God while Ishmael was merely a man. In any case, Isaac came as a fulfillment of a promise of God. Paul twists the teaching a bit to make Hagar the descendent of legalism, of the Pharisees.
In verses 25-26 Paul writes of the two Jerusalems, the one in Heaven and the one on earth. When Paul writes the name of the city in Heaven he uses the Hebrew spelled out in Greek. In English it would be Yerushalayim. When Paul writes the earthly city name he uses the Greek translation.
All of this is to remind his readers that to be born into the Heavenly Yerushalayim should be their goal, not to be born into the earthly Jerusalem of the legalism of the Pharisees.
We are children of the free woman.
Thursday, August 21, Chapter 5
Paul’s stand for freedom resonates with Americans, but we must not fall into the trap of thinking that our political system makes us superior in any way. Paul is not talking about human freedoms as we think of them. Paul was waving the flag of Yerushalayim. Only when we become citizens of Yerushalayim do we gain true freedom.
Along those lines, our American expression that our freedoms are the result our heroic soldiers is the exact opposite of what Jesus and Paul are teaching us. In Yerushalayim freedom is gained by becoming a slave. A Godly paradox.
The Pharisees counted 623 laws, commandments, and prohibitions. Over the last 2500 years they have been busy deciding how each applies in everyday life. You cannot flip a light switch on Saturday because that is the same as building a fire which is prohibited on the Sabbath.
Paul says, do you really want to live that way? Go ahead and eat shrimp even though God pronounced it an abomination. Leviticus 11:10: But everything in the seas and rivers without both fins and scales, of all the small water-creatures and of all the living creatures in the water, is a detestable thing for you. CJB Where do we draw the line? Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, not a jot or tittle will be removed. How do we reconcile?
The Law in Yerushalayim is to love God and to love our neighbors. If we do that we fulfill the jot and tittles of the law. to ai
In verse 13 Paul reminds us there are limits to our freedom in Christ. We must be led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot depend on our own judgment. Paul makes the list in verses 19-21 to show his readers that those who do these things are not listening to the Holy Spirit. God does not want us to do those things. It is not about memorizing the list of don’ts, it is about listening to the Spirit.
Study verses 22-23.
Friday, August 22, Chapter 6
This chapter is a list of practical ways to live as a Christian.
The whole letter up to verse 11 was written by a scribe as Paul dictated. That was his usual method of writing letters. His reference to large letters may indicate bad eyesight, but it may indicate his emphasis. In 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Paul writes, I, Paul, bid you good-bye in my own handwriting. I do this in all my letters, so examine my signature as proof that the letter is genuine. MSG
Be righteous and do good.