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Monday, July 25, 2011

(49) The Book of Galatians

Church of the Proselytes.

Galatians was the first book that Paul wrote that we have still in our possession.  If he wrote anything earlier, we do not have access to it anymore.  It was written around 49 AD.  This is about 20 years after the Resurrection of Christ and about  10-15 years after Paul's conversion to follow Christ.  It was sent from him to the church in Galatia while he was in Antioch.

It has often been called the Magna Carta of Christian liberty and can be considered the sister book to Romans.

Galatia was a Roman province named after Gaul since many of its inhabitants were Gaulic (Celtic).  An early king of Asia Minor (Bithynia), Nicomedes, invited the Celts to help him conquer the land from his own brother and to capture the throne in 278 BC.  Rome took it over in 28 BC.  Galatia was easily taken over by Rome since the area was not unified due to the attitude of the Galatians.  They usually aligned themselves with the ones who were "on the winning side".  Rome did not trust their allegiance so they attacked them and took them over.

The Church in Galatia was started by Paul (Acts 16:4-6) and included the cities of Iconium and Lystra, but just like their attitude of switching allegiance so easily, the Galatians had a hard time holding on to the faith.  They were constantly trying to win their salvation by human effort, even though Paul had taught them that they were saved by Grace.  He wrote this letter to remind them not to fall back into their old ways.

Some main points in the book are:
  1. Although we live in a physical world, we should be spiritual (2:20-21)
  2. We are not better than Israel but we are part of God's chosen people, we are heirs to the Kingdom (3:36-4:7)
  3. We are free since we have grace but that does not give us the right to abuse this freedom and "get away with things" (5:13-14)
  4. The Spirit produces its fruit in believers (5:22-25)
  5. Our actions have consequences (6:7-10)
It was written to correct false teachings about the law of Moses.  The Jewish believers were saying that faith in itself was not enough and that the ceremonies of the law were still needed.  And if anyone wanted to be a true believer in Jesus one must first be converted to Judaism first.  Neither of course is what Jesus taught.

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