Southern Christian University                                                                                                                                       

James A. Turner                                                

A Study of Galatians #1


Please read all of the references. They will help you to get a fuller understanding.


In days gone by, sometimes-considerable time was spent in discussing what is called the northern Galatian theory versus the southern Galatian theory as to what churches made up the churches of Galatia.  Well, I think it has been well-established from the standpoint of secular history and more importantly than that from the book of Acts that the Galatian churches were those churches that Paul and Barnabas established on their first missionary journey as recorded in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Acts.   If those were not the churches, then what churches were those churches of Galatia?  And you would not have the Bible giving an answer, but when you think of the account in Acts, Paul revisited those churches on his second journey in company with Silas as recorded in Acts 15:36-16:6. Acts 18:20-23 shows that he revisited those churches again on his third journey.


All three journeys Paul went forth from that first church that was made up of Gentiles at Antioch of Syria.  There were prophets and teachers in that church,  “And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them.”  And they fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them and they left and went down to Seleucia and sailed to the Isle of Cyprus and preached the word in the synagogue at Salamis but seemingly with no result.  And then they went through the island to Paphos where they converted a proconsul, Sergis Paulus, but seemingly he was the only one.  And then they went up to Perga in Pamphylia.  They had John Mark as an attendant, but he went back to his home in Jerusalem and that is the reason Paul and Barnabas separated when they decided to go and revisit those churches.  They went on up from Perga of Pamphylia to Antioch of Pisidia. 


Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia and had some success.  They established a church at Antioch of Pisidia, and then they had much more success at Iconium.  They went from Iconium to Lystra and Derbe.   At Lystra they were ready to worship them as gods, and then the Jews stirred up the multitude, and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city for dead.  But as the disciples were watching, he got up and they went to Derbe.  They had good success at Derbe, and then they turned around and revisited these churches and appointed elders in them.  And so surely those must be the churches of Galatia that this epistle is written to. 


In regard to the time of writing, it would be logical to conclude that this epistle would come between II Corinthians and the epistle to the Romans. Some have concluded that Galatians was written in the late forties, but this is not logical. The date of the Jerusalem Conference on the subject of circumcision is usually given as 50 A.D., and it was held between the first and second journeys (Acts 15:36-16:5). The problem over circumcision first came up in the church at Antioch of Syria in the period between the first and second journeys, so there would have been no need for the Epistle prior to then.


The churches of Galatia were not having trouble over circumcision when Paul revisited them in company with Silas. They delivered to the churches the decrees “ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:5-6).  Paul revisited them again on his third journey (Acts 18:21-23), and there was still no problem over circumcision. On the latter part of this third journey he stayed at Ephesus for nearly three years (Acts 19:1,19:8-10, 19:21-22), and he wrote I Corinthians during the latter part of his stay at Ephesus ( I Corinthians 16:7-8; Acts 20:17-18, 20:31). He wrote II Corinthians From Macedonia (II Corinthians 2:12-13, 7:5-10, 8:1-8, 8:24-9:5). Luke does not tell us which church in Macedonia that Paul was at when he wrote II Corinthians, but please note that he wanted the Corinthians to have their bounty for the poor in Jerusalem ready when he got there (Galatians 2:9-10; II Corinthians 8:1-10, 8:23-9:6, 9:12-15; Acts 20: 1-6).


Note, that Paul was in Greece (Acts 20:3-6), Corinth was the primary church in Greece, when he left with the messengers of the churches to carry the bounty of the Gentile churches to Jerusalem. He probably wrote Galatians just before he wrote Romans (Romans 15:22-26, 15:30-33) and the time would be about 57 A.D.


There are three New Testament epistles that really give attention to the relationship of the Old Testament law and the New Testament law in a detailed way; these are Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews.  Who would be better prepared for that discussion than the apostle Paul, the one who had advanced in the Jews religion beyond many of his own equal?  As already stated the problem about circumcision came up first in the church at Antioch of Syria, that first Gentile church.  Galatians 2:1-10 and the fifteenth chapter of Acts are parallel accounts concerning Paul and Barnabas going up to Jerusalem along with Titus to meet with the apostles and elders over whether or not circumcision and the keeping of the law would be binding on the Gentiles.  It looks like from putting the two accounts together that there probably were three different meetings.  There were at least two.  In Galatians chapter two he talks about a private meeting with those who were pillars in the church, and they were James, Cephas, and John. 


In Acts fifteen, it looks like they had a meeting, after that private meeting, with all of the apostles and elders.  And at that meeting, verse five, "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses."  And verse six, "And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter."  Put that with verse twenty-two, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders with the whole church to choose men out of their company and to send them to Antioch.”  So it looks like this is a meeting, not only of the apostles and elders, but the whole church.  In other words the Pharisees were given their day in court and they lost their case.  It is made very plain that circumcision and the keeping of the law, was not to be binding on the Gentiles.  Peter said, “Brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made a choice among us (speaking of the other apostles) that by the word of my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7).  And that had to do with God sending Peter to the household of Cornelius as recorded in Acts ten.  Verse ten, "Now therefore why make ye trial of God, that ye should put a yolk upon the neck of the disciples, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear."  He is saying that the Old Testament law and circumcision are not to be binding on the Gentiles.  Then James, and I think this is James, the Lord's brother, verse thirteen beginning summed up the meeting by calling attention to the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12. The Gentiles had salvation in Christ and Amos 9:11-12 had been fulfilled. Verse nineteen, "Wherefore my judgment is, that we trouble not them, that from among the Gentiles turn to God:  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from four things from the pollutions of idols, from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood." 


The Gentiles had been so much involved in idolatry that they were to abstain from any form of idolatry.  They had been so much involved in sexual immoralities that they were to abstain from that, and from things strangled, and from blood.  Those last two would essentially amount to the same thing, and they are still binding on us as Christians today.  And the best passage, if you want to turn and read would be in Leviticus, chapter seventeen beginning with verse ten, as to why the people under the law and now under the New Testament law are not to eat blood.  The life is in the flesh, and under the law the blood of the animal was given instead of the one who had sinned.  And, of course, all the blood of animals looked forward to the time when Christ would shed his blood to make complete atonement for sin (Hebrews 9:15-16, 10:1-10).  So through the power of his blood, there would be complete forgiveness, and so they write a letter and tell them that certain brethren had gone out from them subverting their souls, but they had not sent them.  “To whom we gave them no commandment”, the latter part of verse twenty-four.  They even decided to send two of their own members to go with Paul and Barnabas to tell them in person, Judas and Silas.  So it was made just as plain as it could be made that circumcision and the keeping of requirements of the Old Testament law was not to be binding on Jewish Christians, or Gentile Christians.  But these willful, false teachers continued their evil work, and they went to one church after another that Paul and his companions in travel had established teaching this false doctrine.  And, evidently, this was after Paul had visited those churches, counting the first time, the third time.   


Look at Acts 16:4, "And as they went on their way through the cities."  Through those cities where they had done their work on that first journey:  Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  "They delivered them the decrees to keep, which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were in Jerusalem."  This was the letter that they had written, that went first to the church at Antioch of Syria, telling them that the law and circumcision was not binding on them and for them to just to abstain from those four necessary things.  Verse five, "And so the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily," and so they are not confronted with that problem at this time.  "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia."  That is the second journey.  In chapter eighteen, we read about the concluding of that second journey.  Verse twenty-one, "But taking his leave of them (from the synagogue at Ephesus), and saying, I will return again to you if the Lord will.  He set sail from Ephesus.  And when he landed at Caesarea, he went up and saluted the church and went down to Antioch." So that ends the second journey. 


Then verse twenty-three is giving the beginning of the third journey.  "And having spent some time there, he departed, and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, establishing all the disciples."  This means that he was revisiting those churches that he and Barnabas had established on that first journey.  So the truth was made as plain as it could be made, but these were willful, false teachers, and they had gone into those churches of Galatia trying to bind circumcision and the keeping of certain requirements of the Old Testament religion on them.  And Paul has learned about it evidently after he had revisited those churches on that third journey.


Chapter One

Now let us move to the reading and study of the Epistle.  First Paul stresses his authority as an apostle.  He is an apostle not from men neither through man.  Men didn't have anything to do with his appointment as an apostle, but it was through Jesus Christ and God the Father.  Since they are being led by false teachers, he needs to make it plain again that he is an apostle with authority that he had taught them correctly.  But now they are following false teachers, and he continues with that theme of showing that they are false teachers and that the Old Testament law saves no man.  He emphasizes that the only way of salvation is by faith in Christ.  And if they went back under the Old Testament law, then they would loose their salvation in Christ.  In chapter five we read that some of them had already lost their salvation in Christ. 


Picking up with verse six, he gets immediately into the burden of the epistle.  "I marvel that you are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel, which is not another gospel only there are those that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ."  So these were willful false teachers. There is a big difference between willful, false teachers and sincere, false teachers.  There are those teachers that teach the wrong thing because they have not come to a proper understanding, at least some.  But when a man knows what the truth is on a subject and then teaches something else, he is a willful, false teacher.  But he says, “But though we are an angel from heaven should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you let him be an athema."  Anathema is a strong word for accursed, and probably meaning accursed in such a way to be condemned eternally.  "As we have said before so say I now again if any man preach unto you any gospel other than that which ye received let him be anathema.  For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God?  Am I striving to please men?  If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ."  There was a day when Paul pleased the unbelieving Jews, when he was persecuting the church and making havoc of it, but he is not pleasing men now.  He is pleasing God.  He says if I were striving to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  That does not mean that he did not try to please men in regard to things that did not matter, but in regard to God's truth, he was preaching that which pleased God. 


Then beginning with verse eleven, he makes it plain that the gospel that he preached, he did not receive it from man.  He was not taught it, but it came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ”, verse twelve.  He reminds them how that they had heard of his manner of life, how that he had “advanced in the Jews religion, beyond many of his own age, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers’.  But look at verse fifteen, "But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood."  He did not confer with any man. Why?  The gospel that he preached, he received it by revelation.  And he did not need to go up to the apostles to learn what he was supposed to teach, but he went “away into Arabia”; "and again I returned to Damascus (1:17)."  Verse 15 indicates, that God had chosen him even from his mother's womb like God chose John the Baptist, even before he was in his mother's womb, (Luke 1:13-17), and going to make him an apostle. 


So Paul, after his conversion, taught at Damascus (Acts 9:17-30), and then went into Arabia and then again he returned to Damascus.  Verse eighteen, "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days.  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."  Is not verse nineteen putting James the Lord's brother on equal par with the other twelve apostles.  Remember I Corinthians 15:6-7, after the appearance of Christ at Galilee, “to above five hundred brethren at once”, Paul said and then he appeared to James in that forty-day period, before His ascension and evidently made him an apostle during that forty-day period, for in verse eight, he says “and last of all, as to a child untimely born, he appeared to me also” Christ appeared to Paul to make him an apostle especially to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16, 26:14-18) 


So the Lord must have made his brother James an apostle during that forty-day period.  According to John 7:5, his brothers did not believe on him a short time before the cross, but the cross made all the difference (Acts 1:14), and James was made an apostle.  The James in Gal. 2:9, “James, Cephas, and John” who were pillars in the Jerusalem church is very probably James, the Lord's brother.  In Acts the twelfth chapter, we read of Herod killing James, the brother of John, and when he saw it pleased the Jews, he put Peter in jail and was going to kill him after the Passover.  The time that James, the brother of John, was put to death by Herod is usually counted to be about forty A.D., The James of Gal.2:9 could not be James the brother of John for he had been put to death by Herod in about 40 AD and the time of the Jerusalem Conference was about fifty AD. And in regard to the other apostle that was named James, the only thing that I remember said about him in the gospel books is just the listing of him as one of the apostles, he must not have been a leader.  At the time that James, the brother of John, was put to death, there was already another James who was of important standing in the church, for when Peter was released by the angel, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, (Acts 12:14-17).  And when he went there, they finally went to the gate and let him in.  Verse seventeen, "But he, beckoned unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him forth out of the prison.  And he said, “Tell these things unto James, and unto the brethren."  He is probably referring to James, the Lord's brother, and to his other brothers.  So at that time, forty AD, there was already a James that was counted important in the church, and that James is thought by many to be James the Lord's brother.  But I know that some of my brethren are not ready to recognize him as a full-fledged apostle.  But if Paul had not defended himself (I Corinthians 9:1-2, 5:3-5; II Corinthians 1:1, 1:23, 3:5-6, 11:5-15, 12:2, 12:7-9, 12:11-12, 13:1-2, 13:10), would we recognize him as a full-fledged apostle? 


Verse nineteen again, "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."  "Now touching the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not.  Then I came into the region of Syria and Cilicia; and I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ."  Now, if you follow with the account in Acts 9:23-30, Paul was disputing with the Grecian Jews, and they were about to kill him.  And the brethren sent him on his way to his home in Tarsus of Cilicia, and he was in Tarsus of Cilicia when Barnabas went over there to get him to help him in the work at Antioch of Syria.  So that is what he is talking about.  "Then I came into the region of Syria and Cilicia (1:21)."  This statement very strongly indicates that Paul had already done a lot of missionary work before those journeys recorded by Luke.  "And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ:  but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc.  And they glorified God in me."  Do you remember the latter part of Acts chapter seven, when the first martyr Steven was stoned?  Those who stoned him “laid down their clothes at a young man's feet whose name was Saul.”  And devout men, Acts eight, buried Stephen.  “And as for Saul, he had made havoc of the church committing both men and women to prison”. 


Chapter Two

"Then after the space of fourteen years (fourteen years after the three years of 1:18), I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas taking Titus also with me."   Paul, evidently, used his own good wisdom in that matter.  Titus was a Gentile and had not been circumcised, and Paul was ready for him to be made a test case. "And I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately before them who were of repute."  And this is what I was talking about a while ago.  It looks like to me there were three meetings.   Verses six through nine tell us about those false teachers.  "Lest by any means I should be running, or had run, in vain.  But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:  And that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage."  Meaning into bondage to the Old Testament law.  And so Paul says these brethren are false brethren.  And, you might say, they sneaked in for a purpose, and that was to bring those Gentile brethren in those Gentile churches in bondage to the Old Testament law. 


Notice what Paul and Barnabas did when the false teachers first came to that church at Antioch and started teaching that false doctrine.  "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."  Sometimes we see a different spirit in the church today.  There are those that say, we need to just show our love and go slow about this matter.  True, they are not teaching correctly, but let's turn them around by continuing to show our sincere love to them.  Now, if they are teaching wrong sincerely, that's one thing, but if they are willfully teaching false doctrine they must be reproved immediately, and even if they are doing it sincerely, there is still a place to show them, and to show them immediately, and if they are teaching sincerely, they will immediately turn, but when you are dealing with willful, false teachers, they are not likely to turn.  And so Paul and Barnabas did not give them space for one hour.  Verse five, "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."  If Paul and Barnabas had not stood up for the truth, we Gentile Christians today might be submitting to fleshly circumcision as a religious ordinance.  "But from those who were reputed to be somewhat.  (James, Cephas, and John) whosoever they were, it maketh no matter to me:  God accepteth not man's person:  they I say who were of repute imparted nothing to me."  Now he had been preaching for how many years?  Seventeen years, and they had not given him any instruction, and so they who were of repute imparted nothing to me.  They didn't give me any knowledge or instruction that I had not already received by the Holy Spirit. 


Verse seven "But contrariwise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision (to the Gentile people).  Even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision."  Peter was chosen as an apostle especially to the Jews.  "For he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought for me also unto the Gentiles; and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me:  James, Cephas, and John.  They who were reputed to be pillars gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship."  That showed their approval, "that we should go unto the Gentiles and they unto the circumcision."  The work of the other twelve apostles would be primarily, and also including James, unto the Jewish people.  But Paul and Barnabas would be going primarily to the Gentile people.  "Only that we would remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do (2:10)." 


Paul and Barnabas had already had some part in remembering the poor in Judea. In the latter part of Acts chapter eleven, when the prophet Agabus went to that Gentile church and told them a famine was coming, every man according to his ability was determined to send relief.  And they sent relief by the hands of Paul and Barnabas to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.  So he had already had a part in that, and he was surely zealous in taking up collections for the poor in Judea from all those Gentile churches.


"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face because he stood condemned."   This would be after the meeting at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts chapter fifteen, from this we see that even though the apostles were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit, (John 16:7-15) the Holy Spirit did not make them do right.  And here Peter did wrong!  How?  "For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself fearing them that were of the circumcision."  That matter of trying to bind circumcision and the keeping of the law must have been very strong among the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem and Judea.  And it seems that there went about those that were making it appear that James approved of such a thing.  But remember that James wrote that letter, or led in the writing of that letter in which they said, that they didn't receive commandment from us.  Well, did Peter do wrong here?  Yes, he did.  Now, he may have not understood when he said on that day of Pentecost, “repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for, or unto, the remission of sins.  And ye shall receive to the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is unto you and to them that are far off even as many as the Lord our God shall call”.  He may not have understood that it was talking about Gentile people, when he gave that instruction “to them that are far off”, were the Gentile people.  But in Acts ten, you remember in respect to Cornelius, he received in a vision of a sheet let down from heaven, with all manner of beasts and creeping things on it and a voice saying to him, “Rise Peter, kill and eat.  And Peter said, not so Lord, nothing common or unclean has entered into my mouth”.  But he was given instruction; do not call Gentile people unclean.  You go and teach those people.  And so Peter went to the household of Cornelius.  And if you read Acts chapter ten, you can see that he understood that God had shown him how that the Gentile people were not to be counted as unclean.  And then at that Jerusalem meeting he said, “Why put a yoke upon the Gentiles which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear”, referring to the Old Testament law.  But here he separates from the Gentiles, and the other Jews are carried away with his conduct.  So Peter became weak on this occasion with that peer pressure.  "And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; even so much, even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation."  Think of this in regard to the matter of the differences back yonder a few decades ago, the differences between the black people and the white people, and some white people would have good fellowship with the blacks until they were around certain brethren, and then they would be ready to separate from them. 


Verse fourteen, "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews."  What does he mean by that question?  "Thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentile."  Peter was living as the Gentiles in the sense that he fully understood that they were no longer under the Old Testament law, and that he expected his salvation on the basis of his faith in Christ as set forth there in that speech that he made in Acts fifteen. The Gentiles were being saved, by the hearing of faith.  "So if thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles."  The Gentile Christians, who had been taught properly, knew that their salvation was by faith in Christ.  And Peter knew that.  "And not as do the Jews."  Those Jews who were still trying to live according to the Old Testament law.  "How compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"  By his conduct, he was giving a way for these false teachers to continue their evil work.  And he deserved the rebuke from Paul.  And again this shows the authority of Paul.  He was not a “whit behind the very chiefest apostles”. (II Corinthians 11:15) "But we being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles."  Here he is somewhat explaining what he meant by the question.  "Yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law:  Because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  So no flesh was justified or saved, by the Old Testament law. 


Now, it did provide a way of temporary forgiveness.  If you read the first five chapters of the book of Leviticus, about the various sacrifices that they were to make and the kind of animals that were to be used in making those sacrifices you will be impressed. When a person learned that he had sinned, he was to take the animal that the law specified to the place where the tabernacle was, and it was at Shiloh for about three hundred or more years.  And there at the place of the burnt altar, he was to lay his hands upon the head of the animal.  Surely, conveying to him that I am the one that deserves to die, but the animal, I can offer in my stead.  With his hand on the head of the animal, he was then to kill the animal, and then the priest took over and sprinkled the blood and did all the things that the law required in regard to the work of the priest.  And when a sinner did that, he received temporary forgiveness.  And then they had the day of annual atonement, Leviticus chapter sixteen, on the tenth day of the seventh month was the day of annual atonement when the high priest went into the most holy place of the tabernacle to make atonement for himself and for his family and then for all the people.  Do you remember about the two goats used to make atonement on that day?  One was killed and the high priest to make atonement in the Most Holy Place used its blood. Then the other goat the high priest confessed the sins of the people over and then that scapegoat was carried forth into the wilderness immediately, symbolically saying to the people that our sins are carried away.  Even the person that carried that scapegoat was unclean as a result of his carrying that goat into the wilderness.  But, anyway, they received temporary forgiveness but not complete forgiveness.  And again think how Paul, or the writer of Hebrews, deals with this in Hebrews 9:14-16 and 10:1-10.


In verse seventeen Paul says, "But if, while we be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin?  God forbid."  By Peter's conduct, he was giving way to this false doctrine for them to run headlong in binding circumcision and the requirements of the law on the Gentiles.  "For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I proved myself a transgressor."  Is Paul saying, Peter you have transgressed against the law of Christ?  "For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God.  I have been crucified with Christ:  And it is no longer I that live; but Christ liveth in me:  And that life which I now live in the flesh, I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.  I do not make void the grace of God:  For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for naught (1:19-21)."  So righteousness did not come through the Old Testament Law.  And when you read here, “I have been crucified with Christ”, he means I have put to death the old man of the flesh by my obedience to Christ. I do not live according to the way of the flesh any longer; I live like Christ wants me to live. 


With many passages in the New Testament like this from Paul himself, how could you rightly reason that in the seventh chapter of the book of Romans beginning with verse fourteen that he is talking about himself as a Christian, when he says in substance, what I want to do, I can not do; and what I do not want to do, that I do, I am carnal sold unto sin. He is speaking of himself, or as a Jew in the flesh under the Old Testament law. 


Chapter three

"O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified."  This does not mean that these Gentile people in these churches far removed from Jerusalem were in Jerusalem, and had with their own eyes witnessed the crucifixion of Christ.  But Paul and Barnabas had preached those primary facts of the gospel to them, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. Thus Paul in his teaching had then set forth in his preaching Christ crucified.  Remember in the second chapter of I Corinthians, "For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified."  "This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit. (The Holy Spirit), by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith."  The question is a rhetorical question, carrying an automatic answer to these people. They knew that they had received the Holy Spirit by obedience to the New Testament law. Acts 2:38 reads, "And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," Acts 5:32 says that God gives his Holy Spirit “to them that obey him”.  And so they had obeyed Christ, and they had received a gift of the Holy Spirit when they obeyed.  I think I am right in saying that the Contemporary English Version capitalizes the law here, showing that it is definitely talking about the Old Testament law.  "Are ye so foolish, having begun in the spirit, are you now perfected in the flesh?"  


One of the primary differences between the Old Testament law and the New Testament law as set forth in the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31 beginning and then is quoted in Hebrews the eighth chapter. Under the Old Testament law when a child was born into a Jewish family, he was automatically counted as a part of the commonwealth of Israel.  When he was old enough for the parents to teach him, they were to teach him on every occasion:  “When thou sittest in thy house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)  But under the New Testament law, there must be a new birth that Jesus talked to Nicodemus about.  And Jesus said in John 6:45, "It is written in the prophets they all shall be taught of God, and whosoever therefore that hath heard and have learned cometh unto me."  John 6:45 is a quotation from Isaiah 54:13.  It is talking about the new Israel of God, which is the church, that there is a new birth involved.  So are you so foolish having begun in the Spirit and by a new spiritual birth, are you now perfected in the flesh?  Do you think a law that left man in the flesh can perfect you? 


They did not receive any complete forgiveness back there!  Of course, those who died in covenant relationship with God, by keeping the requirements of the law and offering up the animal sacrifices, when Christ died on the cross his blood reached back and completely cleansed them. Hebrews 9:15 reads,  "that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions of those that were under the first”.  “Did you suffer so many things in vain?  If it be indeed in vain." (3:4) He is saying that all of these things that you have suffered in the name of Christ, it is going to be in vain if you go back under the law. It would be in vain as set forth in chapter five.  They would be in a lost condition if they went back under the law.  "He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you doeth he it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith (3:5)!"  Paul by the laying on his hands could bestow those miraculous gifts on others (Acts 8:14-24; I Timothy 1:6; I Corinthians 1:7, 9: 1-4, 12:4-11).  And so, evidently, in all those churches, he had given miraculous gifts to brethren in those churches.  And so he is talking about those and the working miracles among them. Surely, they understood what he was talking about. 


"Even as Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness."  That is a very important statement there that Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. It is used here in Galatians 3:6, and it is also used by James in the second chapter of James, and by Paul again in the fourth chapter of the epistle to the Romans.   


What was the occasion?  God had told Abraham when he first called him, Genesis 12:1-3, "Leave thy country and thy father's house and go unto the land that I will show thee and I will bless thee, ----and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."  God had given him that promise when Abraham lived in Mesopotamia.  Abraham had made that long journey from the Ur of the Chaldees to Haran (Gen. 11:31; Acts 7:1-5) and after his father died, the Lord told him to go into the land of Canaan.  He had been in the land of Canaan, I believe, about ten years when God appeared to him.  And Abraham said to God, “What will thou give me seeing I go childish, and he that is born in my house shall be mine heir, Eliezer of Damascus”.  Eliezer was a slave that had been born in Abraham's house, and Abraham is saying, Lord if you don't give me any children, he will be my heir.  God said, “He will not be thine heir.  He that cometh forth from thine own bowels shall be thine heir.”  And he told him to go out and look up, and see if he could number the stars.  And he said, “So shall thy seed be.”  Meaning, of course, Abraham your seed are going to be innumerable.  And thus we read in Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.”  So he is saying Abraham was saved by his great faith.  And not only did Abraham have great faith like that to believe that God would keep his promise, but remember Genesis chapter twenty-two when God told him to take his son, Isaac, and offer him on an altar on that mountain three day's journey in distance, and Abraham was ready to do exactly as God said on that occasion. 


"Know therefore that they that are of the faith, the same are the sons of Abraham."  Who are the sons of Abraham today?  All of those who walk by faith, Jews or Gentiles.  When the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary and told her that she was going to have a child and that his name would be great and God shall give him the throne his father, David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and for his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:26-33).  Christ is reigning over his kingdom, which is his church (Mt. 16:13-18), and it consists of Jews and Gentiles.  In other words Jews and Gentiles that have believed on Christ make up the new Israel of God.  A lot of people get confused and they confuse old fleshly Israel with the new Israel of God. 


Verse seven, "Knowing therefore that they are faith  (that includes every Christian) the same are the sons of Abraham."  In a spiritual sense every Christian is a Jew.  He is of the seed of Abraham.  He is a part of the Israel of God.  Romans 2: 28 says, "For he is not a Jew who is outward in the flesh; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:  But he is a Jew, who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, and not of the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."  The next class will begin with Galatians 3:8.