The Roman Province of Galatia contained the cities of Antioch of Pisidia, Lystra, Iconium, Derbe. Paul visited various of these cities during all three of his missionary journeys.
Perhaps Paul is referring to those who are travelling with him, or perhaps all those of the church of the city he writes this letter from, perhaps Corinth or Antioch of Syria.
This is a reference to people being chosen and called (without using those words). God chose that Christ would provide for the deliverance of fallen humanity.
Paul gets right to it. Usually his letters have a long introduction before he offers criticism and correction (but not always.)Perhaps he was pressed for time. Or perhaps he was so focused on correcting the error that he didn't have the patience for small talk.
How quickly they forgot. Paul's rebuke is exceptionally blunt.
The word "accursed" is the same word the Catholic Church often uses in defining dogma; those who do or teach or believe such and such are cursed, anathema.Anti-Catholics often object to stating things this way but it is biblical to do so.
The problem with using this visit by Paul as evidence of the Catholic doctrine of the papacy is that Jesus did not specify that the bishop of Rome would be the pope, nor did he specify how popes would be selected. Peter was never the bishop of Rome even though he lived there, as Paul also did. Both were martyred there; but since when does being martyred somewhere make that city special?
(Galatians 2:2) 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.
The converts from Judaism to Christianity thought it was necessary to be Jewish to be Christian. Certainly it is OK to retain many of the Jewish traditions but it is wrong to demand non-Jewish converts to Christianity do so. The council of Jerusalemsettled this matter. The letter of Paul to the Galatians was written before that council.
(Galatians 2:6) But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
(Galatians 2:9) And when James, Cephas [Peter], 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.
Peter stopped associating with Gentile Christians, but he didn't again adopt all the Jewish practices. He shunned the Gentiles and so Paul remarks on this.
(Galatians 2:14) But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Even though several of the apostles fell into error, Paul singled out Peter for rebuke, either because Paul had a special rapport with Peter(but he spent more time with Barnabas than with Peter) or because Paul considered Peter as their leaderand the one accountable.
If Jews who converted to Christianity are no longer bound by the Mosaic Law, why should non-Jews who convert to Christianity be forced to obey the Mosaic Law?
Three categories of Christians...
(Galatians 2:16) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The Christians of group one above (born Jews) were taught by the apostles that their mere adherence to the Mosaic Law did not bring them salvation; in fact, the apostles were from this group. This verse contrasts salvation by faith with salvation by works only. It does not mention the connection between faith and works.
In other words, if Christians base their salvation on their works only, which is all the Gentiles could do, being outside of the covenant with God, these Christians will be found by God to be sinners. Christ is not a minister of sin because he does not provide redemption by a person's works only.
Before Christ's incarnation to earth as a human, only the Jews had a covenant with God; the Gentiles did not. Therefore, the only hope Gentiles had of salvation was through their works; the Jews had their covenant relationship with God with its sacrifices for sin.
(Galatians 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Paul was not crucifiedbut was beheaded; this occurred, of course, after he wrote this letter. I have no reason to believe Paul was writing figuratively; I prefer to interpret this verse strictly literally.Here's why: Later in this letter Paul refers to crucifying the flesh,and the crucifixion of the whole world.The letter to the Hebrewsprovides a clue: Christians who fall away from the faith, who apostatize; these crucify Christ all over again. Thus, in rejecting Christ, their souls join with the crowds who shouted "crucify him". In the spiritual realm,these kinds of events literally occur. It makes perfect sense that in rejecting Christ, the soul of an apostate would engage in rejecting Christ with others who rejected Christ. I can imagine that in some mystical dream sequence, their soul and its corresponding spiritual body travelled to the spiritual time and place of the crucifixion, and entered in to the spitting and cursing of Jesus along with the souls of the others who literally did this in their physical bodies and with their souls and corresponding spiritual bodies.
Having been transported to the third heaven, Paul is all-too connected with these mystical workings and describes to them events that actually occurred. I suspect that in choosing to follow Christ, the soul and corresponding spiritual body of each Christian experienced its own crucifixion at the hand of the same spiritual enemies of Christ. Note that every phrase of this verse refers to mystical aspects of the life of faith, of the doings in the spiritual realm. For example, Paul has to use the word "flesh"to clarify that he is referring to his bodily life. He would not need to do this if this was all mere figures of speech.
In baptism, a part of us dies via crucifixion along with Christ, and we are reborn as a new man in Christ. This reborn man is the Spirit of Christ who now lives inside of us. These goings on are not mere figures of speech but actual mystical occurrences in the spiritual realm, in our soul.
Here is my translation of this verse if it is all figurative: I am spiritually renewed because of Christ's bodily crucifixion; but I didn't have to physically die and be bodily resurrected as Christ did. Even though Christ died bodily, yet his Spirit lives within me because I have received his saving grace through faith. This faith works in my physical, material life.
Several aspects of our faith life are missing in the above...
Jesus loves us and gave his life for us. We express our love for others by what we sacrificially do for them.
(Galatians 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently [publicly] set forth [exhibited as / written about], crucified among [with / in] you?
Paul's letter to the Galatians was written 20 or 30 years after Jesus was crucified; some likely witnessed it first-hand. Possible meanings of "crucified before their eyes"...
Paul contrasts faith with works. These Galatians received the sealing of the Holy Spirit in baptism through their hearing of the gospel leading to faith and followed by works. Now, they are teaching that salvation comes by following the Mosaic Law with Christ as Messiah.
The Christians Paul refers to became Christians without the Mosaic Law; now they are returning to the Mosaic Law and expecting others to enter in to Christianity through the Mosaic Law.
The goal is perfection. We do not become perfect by adhering to rituals and ceremonies, nor by following rules and laws. We become perfect by performing works of faith, by living in a way that pleases God, by loving God and neighbor. The same way of getting saved in the first place (faith) is the same way we become perfect (works of faith, not works of law.)
Notice: Abraham had saving faith long before the time of Christ. In like manner, the Old Testament Jews were able to have saving faith in the context of their obedience to God and the Mosaic Law. Only when a person believes their salvation is by works only, only then are they in trouble.
(Galatians 3:10) 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.
The curse of the Mosaic Law was not intended to cause eternal damnation of everyone trying to observe this law; rather, God gave the Mosaic Law to bless the people. This implies they we capable of following it, and in fact, many did. Only those who in their hearts rejected God didn't follow the law, not from inability but, rather, from open and willful rebellion. This is what's wrong with our modern culture that prefers referring to wickedness as a mere disease, curable or perhaps even tolerated. Even worse is considering wickedness as a mere lifestyle choice and persecuting those who don't see it that way.
The assumption is that people simply can't live perfectly the constraints of the law. Certainly, performing works outside the context of saving faith do not lead to salvation. However, performing the works specified in the Mosaic Law in the context of the covenant with God, these works are pleasing to God in the context of faith in God. Even the Old Testament expects people to have faith as the reference to Abraham illustrates. The Mosaic Law was given in the context of faith.
The Mosaic law had blessings and curses based on a person or nation's following of the law. Apparently it was easy for people or nations to stop following the law and to thereby receive the curses. There is nothing surprising about any of this. God is holy and is repelled by sin. In order to enjoy all the blessings God has to offer we require his constant intercession to drive off the wicked spiritual powers which seek to destroy us. Our sinfulness causes the curses to be applied.
In taking on human nature, Christ became subject to the same buffeting of Satan we experience. He suffered the curse of the law on our behalf. How did he do this since he is sinless? By entering into Satan's realm and allowing Satan to buffet him. God allowed Satan to have his way with him much as he did with Job.
The significance of the reference to hanging on a tree is to answer the question: "was Christ really cursed?" The answer is that he was, because he hung on a tree, the cross.
Christ redeemed human nature and humanity making it possible for all redeemed humans to break free from the kingdom of this world, from the powers of darkness. When human nature became corrupted at the fall and took on original sin, human souls began to live entangled in the spiritual realmwith the wicked spirits. There was no hope of salvation for any of these wicked spirits or those humans entangled in this spiritual darkness. But Christ deified human natureand gave to all humans who chose to, the ability to follow along with Christ to become redeemed.
This is a problem verse because the word "seed" is clearly used in the book of Genesis in the context of Abraham's promised seed as referring to a multitude of peoples,yet Paul insists this word refers only to Christ. A few points to resolve the difficulty...
(Galatians 3:17) 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.
(Galatians 3:19) 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.
We are not saved by the law without faith. We are not saved by works only.
This verse does not say the Old Testament law was useless or that it did not result in salvation for those following it. This passage is discussing that aspect of the Old Testament law leading up to the appearance of the Messiah and his redeeming work of redemption. Those of the Old Testament were not aware of this aspect of the law.
No longer bound by the Mosaic law, Christians have freedom. You wouldn't know it by looking at the Churchthroughout much of church history;it didn't take very long for the power-crazedbishopsto impose the rule of law on Christians.
Even so, our freedom has limits. We are not free to sin, to live in the flesh.We are only free to choose things pleasing to God, any other choice is a choice made from bondage to sin. We must choose virtueand moral living.Christians are to love one another and serve one another. This is hard to do when they are at war with each other or when they accuse each other of being unsaved or idol worshippers. We are to have the proper view of unity:it is not unity at all cost; but all true Christians who are among the redeemed should accept one another as true followers of Christ.
Paul uses the term "flesh"to contrast with the Spirit; the flesh is the part of our soul that desires to sin, while the Spirit is the God who indwells our soul and influences us to live holy lives pleasing to God. When we choose to sin we drive away the Spirit of God since God is repulsed by sin. We have to repent and invite the Spirit back in. The only way to keep from sinning is to work — this work involves practicing the virtuesand living a holy moral life;these constitute a Christian's walk with God.
The greek word pharmakeia is here translated witchcraft. Some interpret this word as referring to drug use and certainly the word can mean this, but it doesn't only mean this; none of the translations translate it this way. I think interpreting the greek word pharmakeia as drug use is improper; it would be like swapping the two opposite meanings of the word cleave: to split vs. to join.
(Galatians 5:21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The word "fruit" is singular. You have to have them all; you can't pick and choose. Holiness is a package deal.
How is it possible to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which every Christian has, but yet not have the fruit of the Spirit?
Any Christian who considers themselves saved should measure up to these...
The list continues...
These are not against God's law because they are in harmony with God's law; in fact, they are the goal and purpose of God's law. God gave his law for the purpose of bringing the fruit of the Spirit to each person. The person who has the fruit of the Spirit doesn't need the law. The Christian who doesn't have the fruit of the Spirit might not even be saved.
There is such a thing as the law of Christ. Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants often interpret this to mean "the non-law of Christ" but it says "law of Christ." Thus, one aspect of our salvation by faith in Christ is that we follow the law of Christ. Those who do not do this do not have saving faith. Having faith requires having good works.
This verse is about the topic of salvation. The reward we reap is spending eternity in the new heavens and new earth.Notice that receiving this reward is conditional on our not growing weary and not fainting. Thus, we can lose our salvation if we start sinning.Works have a role in our salvation, but we are not saved by works only — faith is required.
King James Version