6:6-18 The Gospel Of Grace Changes Our Boasting
Memory Verse: Galatians 6:14
6:6-10 Sowing To The Holy Spirit
- 6:6 Paul just finished teaching the Galatians that we are to help cary the heavy burdens of others as we carry the load of our own personal responsibilities that God has given us individually. There is teamwork and fellowship that takes place between believers. One of the areas where there should be sharing is between the “teachers of the word” and the “learners of the word”—all believers should fall into this category because every believer should be in a local church under the guidance of its leadership. The learners should share (communicate) their financial means (all good things) to support the teacher so that he can do his work full-time (help guard against false teaching). This is a fellowship that benefits both sides. The teacher will have adequate time to study and teach the word, while the learner benefits from the teaching. This could also indicate serving where it is needed so that the teachers have enough time to study, pray and teach the Bible. God wants full-time pastors—teachers of the word.
- 6:7-8 Paul wants the Galatians not to be deceived—meaning not to be trick into believing something that isn’t true. They are in danger of believing a false gospel—something that has great consequences. God is not mocked—He will not be ridiculed. He has set an absolute principle in place. Paul uses the metaphor of “sowing and reaping” to explain this principle: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” What are you sowing?
- Sowing to the flesh: If we sow to our flesh, then we will reap corruption—decay. A believer who “sows to the flesh”—meaning he lives according to it, will reap consequences and chastening in this life as his life decays. An unbelievers who “sows to the flesh”—meaning they reject Jesus alone for salvation and do as they please will also decay to the point of eternal damnation.
- Sowing to the Holy Spirit: If we sow to the Holy Spirit, then we will reap life everlasting. A believer who “sows to the Holy Spirit”—meaning he trusts in Jesus alone for salvation and is striving to “walk in Spirit” as the Holy Spirit produces fruit in him will flourish and eventual receive eternal life.
- 6:9 There is a waiting period between the sowing and the reaping. We are in a daily battle where we have to choose to sow in the Holy Spirit and not in the flesh. We are doing right to sow in the Holy Spirit, but there will be a lapse of time between our sowing and our reaping. During this time we are not to get weary, we are not to faint. Don’t let the anxiety and thoughts of doubt control your life during this time, knowing that God is faithful to keep His Word. “In due season”—in God’s timing, one day we will reap—maybe in this life, but definitely in the life to come.
2 Corinthians 4:17
- 6:10 Knowing this principle is absolute, and that the gospel of grace has radically changed our lives, then we should use the opportunity we have to do good to all people. Paul also tells us to do good especially to other believers (them who are of the household of faith). Believers are like a big family and as such we need to make sure we do good to each other, just like family does. All of this “doing good” is guided by love. We don’t need a rule book to tell use how to do good and love, we just need to open our eyes and minister to those around us.
6:11-18 Boasting In The Cross Of Jesus
- 6:11 Paul starts to conclude this letter he wrote to the Galatian churches. He wrote a large letter, which could refer to the length or the size of the writing (possibly because of an eyesight problem).
- 6:12-13 Paul reviews the problem of the hypocritical false teachers in the midst of the Galatian churches who are teaching them to be circumcised as a requirement for salvation. They don’t even keep the law themselves, but their motivations are: (1) To look good religiously—they want the Galatian believers to be circumcised so they have a reason for boasting of their own goodness by causing others to follow the law. (2) To live comfortable lives that avoid persecution from those who find it intolerant and offensive.
1 Corinthians 1:18
- 6:14a-15 On the contrary, Paul was willing to boast in the cross of Jesus because he knew it was the absolute truth and there was no other way to be saved. Our “boasting” reveals what we are “trusting” in for salvation. What are you boasting in to restore your relationship with God? Paul answers clearly: “Only In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our works (circumcision or uncircumcision) means nothing towards earning our salvation.
- 6:14b As believers, we are in Christ, and our confidence is solely in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the world is crucified unto us and we are crucified to the world. This means that the world no longer has a claim on us and we don’t have a claim on the world. The world doesn’t dictate how we live and we don’t go seeking the pleasure of this world. It means our lives have experienced the radical change of becoming a new creature through the power of God and now we have a new Master, new desires, new goals, a new purpose, a new motivation and a new mission. It means we are freed from trying to earn our salvation or from being torn down by our sin and can confidently live in humble assurance as we daily strive to live for the glory of God.
Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:2-10
- 6:16 Those who follow this rule—boasting in Christ alone for salvation—will receive: (1) Peace with God—no longer His enemy. (2) Mercy—not getting the punishment they deserve because their sins are forgiven. (3) Be part of the true Israel of God by promise.
Galatians 3:7, 29
- 6:17 Paul ends his case for speaking the truth by stating that he bears in his body “the marks of the Lord Jesus”—probably meaning scars from physical persecuted for his preaching of the gospel of grace. Unlike the false teachers who preached a false message to avoid persecution, Paul was willing to preach the true message in spite of it.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27
- 6:18 Paul ends the letter. He refers to them as “brethren” showing he believes they are true believers who are just deceived by false teachers. He calls on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with them—“grace,” by it we are saved and sanctified. Amen.
- What is the sharing between the teacher and learner of the word?
- What is the principle of sowing and reaping?
- What was the motivation of the false teachers?
- What does our boasting reveal? What are you boasting in?
- What is the rule by which you live your life?
5:26-6:5 The Gospel Of Grace Changes Our Relationships
Memory Verse: Galatians 6:2
5:26 Vain Glory: Provoking And Envying
- 5:24-26a Paul just finished exhorting believers who live in the Holy Spirit also to walk in the Holy Spirit. After salvation, we received a new nature, and now two natures reside in us. We have to daily crucify the sinful nature and live out our lives in line with the fruit the Holy Spirit is producing. If we do, then one of the results is edifying the relationships we have, especially those within the church. Paul now moves to show how the true gospel of grace changes our relationships.
- 5:26b Paul tells believers to not be desirous of vain glory—boasting when there is no reason to boast. It seems that this false teaching was also causing harm to the relationships within the church because they were looking to the law for their assurance in salvation instead of looking to Jesus. Paul already warned them if they continued to “bite and devour one another” then they would eventually be “consumed one of another.” As believers, we are saved by grace through faith, so we can only boast in Jesus. They forgot this because that were focused on their accomplishments instead of grace. They became conceited, forgetting grace makes us all equal. The two main ways they were desiring this vain glory was by provoking and envying one another.
Galatians 5:15, 21; Philippians 2:3; Ephesians 2:8-10
- Provoking one another (superior): “Provoke” means to call someone out to a contest or challenge. This person feels that he is superior to others, for whatever reason, and often has to prove it through demonstrating it. They look down on those who are inferior. This person’s focus is on how other people make them look. This person is insecure. This person is desirous of vain glory. As believers, we can overcome this superiority complex and provoking others when we focus on the gospel of grace. You need to remember it doesn’t matter how much you have accomplished because you are undeserving of salvation no matter how hard you tried. Your self-worth and need for acceptance is only found in the grace of the Lord Jesus who has saved you.
- Envying one another (inferior): Paul has already mentioned “envyings” as a work of the flesh and not a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It means to spite, to resent or to be discontent because of the accomplishments of others. This person feels that he is inferior to others, for whatever reason, and often resents those they feel are better than them. This person’s focus is on how other people make them look. This person is insecure. This person is desirous of vain glory. As believers, we can overcome this inferiority complex and envying others when we focus on the gospel of grace. You need to remember it doesn’t matter how much you have failed because God loves you in spite of all your failures. Your self-worth and need for acceptance is only found in the grace of the Lord Jesus who has saved you.
6:1 Restoration: Meekness And Confronting
- 6:1a As believers, we are to live as “brethren.” That means that not only are we part of the same family—the family of God, but it means that we are to care about each other. When we see someone “overtaken in a fault” meaning that it is obvious they are sinning, then we are to help them. Of course this can’t happen if we are provoking and envying one another. The “superior person” would see it as confirmation that they are better than this person who has fallen into sin (fast to criticize). The “inferior person” would feel he is also a sinner and unqualified to help him (scared to confront). As believers, we are to put away both of these forms of conceit and start to “walk in the Holy Spirit”. We are to be “spiritual.” We are humbled and empower by the gospel. We are to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness—never to be done from a proud spirit.
- 6:1b The Restoration Process: (1) Spiritual—you need to be in a situation that you are able to help someone else. Such a restoration attempt needs to be done cautiously so that you are not tempted and fall into sinning with them. (2) Overtaken in a fault—if a person is habitually sinning and has gotten to the point where they can’t overcome it themselves, then you should be willing to help. (This doesn’t mean calling out everybody who we see sinning.) (3) Restore—the goal is not condemnation or judgement of this person but restoration. We want to help the person to correct his errors or repairing what was broken. It means we are trying to make things right again.
6:2-5 Burdens: Caring And Bearing
- 6:2 As believers, when we see other believers with “burdens”—problems, sin, difficulties or anything that they are struggling with, we should “bear” it or help them. Our motivation for even caring is the gospel itself. Paul says that if we bear another’s burden, we fulfill the law of Christ—which means by love we serve one another and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus is the greatest example of this “law of love”. He exemplified it when he lived on earth and ultimately when he bore our sin-burden on the cross in our place.
Galatians 5:13-14; John 13:34; Ephesians 4:32
- 6:3 Before we can ever help anyone else, we first need to examine ourselves and see if we are in a position where we can help others. We can’t bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ if we are just deceiving ourselves. How do we deceive ourselves? We think that we are something when we are really nothing—meaning we think we are too important. Conceit gives us bad judgement and ruins our ability to really help.
- 6:4-5 On the other hand, every person should prove his own work. This means that we aren’t focused on comparing ourselves with others, but should measure ourselves by ourselves. Where were we and how far have we come in our Christian walk? Of course we still have a long way to go, but we are not comparing ourselves with others, but with ourselves. We can rejoice for the work that God has done in us. Every person has “his own burden or load” that he must carry. God has given each of us responsibilities and we are to be faithful to them. As we are faithful, carrying our daily burden, then we are able to help with the heavy burdens of others. A few questions to help examine your life:
- Spiritual Nourishment: Are you being fed spiritually? Are you obeying what you know you should be doing? Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?
- Spiritual Fruit: Do you consider yourself to be spiritual? Why? Are you walking in the Holy Spirit? What evidence of the fruit of the Spirit being produced in your life is there?
- What is vain glory, provoking and envying?
- Do you fall in the trap of feeling superior or inferior? Why?
- How do we overcome conceit?
- Believers are supposed to bear the “what” of others?
- What should believers do before they help others?
5:16-25 The Gospel Of Grace Changes Our Character
Memory Verse: Galatians 5:25
5:16-18 Walk In The Holy Spirit
- 5:16a The Initiator in our salvation is the Holy Spirit. When we believe in the gospel of grace we also receive the Holy Spirit. From that day on, He keeps us saved and starts to sanctify us. He also gives us a new nature that we are to walk in—to live in obedience to His will and ways.
Galatians 3:2-3, 5, 14; 4:6, 29; 5:5
- 5:16b-17a Every believer has two natures: (1) the “nature of the Holy Spirit” (life-ruling righteous desires)—to live according to the will of God; (2) the “nature of the flesh” (life-ruling sinful desires)—to live contrary to the will of God. We have an option to live by either one. Once we are saved we don’t become robots who can only do one or the other, but we have to choose daily to walk in the Spirit. There is a new “struggle” in our lives between these two opposing natures inside of us. That is why it is hard to always do right even if we want to—our sinful nature still resides inside of us. The good news is that we don’t have to heed to it, because the Holy Spirit gives us power to follow Him.
- 5:17b The two natures are warring inside of us. As believers, our new desire is to glorify Jesus and to obey the will of God. But our “nature of the flesh” is warring against those desires so that we cannot do the things that we desire to do.
- 5:16, 18 As believers we are to “walk in the Spirit” or “be led of the Spirit.” This means that we are to recognize the battle going on in us and then choose to let the Holy Spirit guide us and be our motivation to obey God’s perfect will. If we do this, then we won’t “fulfill the lust of the flesh” nor will we live “under the law”.
5:19-21 Works Of The Flesh
- 5:19a The works of the flesh are manifest in the following actions and attitudes:
- 5:19b Immorality: Adultery—sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse; Fornication—any sexual activity outside of marriage; Uncleanness—unnatural sexual desires, relationships or activity; Lasciviousness—uncontrolled sexual indulgence. Together, these would include premarital sex, pornography, homosexuality, prostitution, etc. These are all sinful. God only approves of sexual relations between a husband and wife.
- 5:20a Religion: Idolatry—making a substitute for God or worshiping something else in God’s place; Witchcraft—to trust in spells, divination or evil spirits to see a miracle or have something supernatural happen. Together, these would mean that any time we try to replace the person or power of God, often through other religions, then we are sinning against God.
- 5:20b-21a Relationship Sins: Hatred—to intensely dislike someone so much that you wish ill will towards them or are hostile to them; Variance—strife or bitter and hateful disagreements; Emulations—jealous or hateful resentment; Wrath—fury or extreme anger; Strife—selfish ambition, or the desire to personally succeed no mater the moral cost to do so; Seditions—discord and splits instead of unites; Heresies—forming groups of people with a partisan spirit (usually following false teachings); Envyings—to spite, to resent or to be discontent because of the accomplishments of others; Murders—purposely killing another human being. Together, these shows us that “hate” as opposed to “love” is a work of the sinful nature and are “relationship sins”.
- 5:21b Substance Abuse: Drunkenness—the state of being “intoxicated” after you consume an excess of alcohol, which causes you to loose control of your faculties and behavior; Revellings—carousing, binge party or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at parties. Together, these shows that being intoxicated by and addicted to any substances (including alcohol or drugs) is sinful and wrong.
- 5:21c This list isn’t an all-inclusive list of the works of the flesh but a general list to let us know what they are like, but anything that is “such like” these is also wrong.
- 5:21d Paul has told the Galatians before and is telling them again that they which do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. As believers, our character is changed and thus our attitude and actions will change as a result. If it never does and you are unrepentantly and habitually doing the things that is described in this list, then you are an unbeliever—you will not go to heaven. Sometimes believers will commit these sins, but they are not characteristics of who they are, and when they do fall, they repent.
5:22-25 Fruit Of The Holy Spirit
- 5:22a Believers are given the Holy Spirit who produces fruit inside of them. The “fruit” referring to singular, verses plural, shows that all of the following actions and attitudes are interconnected and symmetrical. A believer won’t obtain one of the items in the list without obtaining the others as well. All of these will grow up together as a single “fruit” of the Spirit. This is how you know it is the Spirit and not just yourself.
- 5:22c-23 Fruit: Love—good, service and regard towards another because of their intrinsic value and giving up one’s rights for another; Joy—feelings of great pleasure and happiness based on knowing God; Peace—confidence in the sovereignty of God as you go through life’s changing circumstances; Longsuffering—patient endurance through hard times; Gentleness—being friendly, courteous, considerate and generous to others; Goodness—trying to be moral and honest at all times; Faith—faithful, loyal, constant, steadfast, reliable; Meekness—humble and gentle; Temperance—controlling yourself and making the right choices. (There is no law against these things.)
- 5:24-25 How do we produce this fruit? (1) Salvation—everyone who is Christ’s—every believer belongs to Christ. (2) Crucify—we have to put to death the flesh with the affections and lusts—as believers we are warring against and crucifying this sinful nature still in us until we are fully redeemed. (3) Holy Spirit—live and walk in the Holy Spirit—as believers, we were given the Holy Spirit to obey as He changes us from the inside out.
- What are the two natures inside of believers?
- What are the works of the flesh?
- What is the fruit of the Spirit?
- Which do you desire? Is there a battle going on inside of you?
- How do we produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
5:1-15 The Gospel Of Grace Frees Us For Freedom
Memory Verse: Galatians 5:1
5:1 Freed For Freedom, Therefore Be Free
- 5:1a Paul sums up the truth and ending his arguments for chapters three and four. Paul’s summary about the gospel of grace can be seen in one word: freedom. Jesus made us free. He has completely liberated us from any bondage, curse or punishment. Therefore, we should “stand fast” in this truth, in this liberty. He made us free to be free. He wants us to live in this freedom. We are to maintain our position of freedom and not loose it. We can never loose our salvation, but when we start to believe we have to add works on to it, we return to living in fear, not freedom. When Jesus freed us he gave us: (1) A clean conscience—knowing that no matter what I do, He loves me and will forgive me. (2) A new motivation—we obey God out of love and gratitude, not trying to earn our salvation.
- 5:1b Paul warns us not to be entangle again—(before they were slaves to idols and false gods) with the yoke of bondage—(now in danger of being slaves to the law), because when we do we aren’t living in the freedom that Jesus gave us. Jesus didn’t set us free from the jail cell just so that we could go back and live in it—He freed us to leave it and never return. For freedom Jesus freed us, therefore let’s be free.
5:2-6 Fallen From Grace Or Saved By Grace?
- 5:2 Paul again states his case: there is only one real gospel. He is pivoting grace verses the law and makes it very clear that you can only choose one. When he says, “If ye be circumcised,” he means that if you are trusting in this part of the law (circumcision) to save you then Christ doesn’t profit you anything. We can never add anything to Jesus. If we do, then we can’t be saved. If you are believing in Jesus plus your works to save you, then Jesus won’t save you. If you believe in Jesus plus other idols and false gods to save you, then Jesus will not save you. On the other hand, if you trust in Jesus alone to save you, then Jesus will save you. It is all Jesus (100%) or no Jesus (0%).
- 5:3 Paul wants to be clear: if you are trusting in any part of the law to save you (every man that is circumcised) then you have to trust in all of the law (debtor to do the whole law). You can’t pick and choose. The law can’t be customized for each person. You keep all of the law or you have failed all of the law. You are completely righteous (100% good) because you never broke one part of the law or you are slain by the law because being guilty of one part means you are guilty by all (100% bad).
- 5:4 If a person chooses not to wholly trust in Jesus alone for his salvation (justification) but also trusts in the law (idols, or anything else) for him then everything he has learned about Jesus is useless. It means he is an unbeliever. He has “fallen from grace”—meaning he heard the gospel of grace and even added Jesus as part of his own way of salvation, but because he refuse to really trust in Him alone, Jesus didn’t save him. Believers on the other hand are “saved by grace” and will never turn away from it.
1 John 2:19; Ephesians 2:8-9
- 5:5-6a Real believers trust in Jesus alone for their justification (salvation). Through the Holy Spirit we are waiting for the hope—(total assurance) of “righteousness by faith” not “righteousness by faith and law.” In the end, the only thing that matters is if you have faith in Jesus alone. It doesn’t matter how much you kept the law or broke the law (circumcision or uncircumcision) it just matters if you are trusting in Jesus alone. Are you?
- 5:6b Real faith produces love. The response to God’s goodness, grace and hope is love. Love uses freedom to love not sin. Sin is the opposite of loving God and loving others. Therefore, this answers the question: “Is freedom a permit to sin?” Of course not, because this freedom is only obtained through faith—which worketh by love.
5:7-12 The Galatians Are Bruised But Not Beaten
- 5:7-8 The Galatians were running well, but someone hindered them, so that they turned from the true gospel and started obeying false doctrine. They were moved from trusting idols, to trusting Christ, and now are being told by false teachers to trust in the law. This kind of teaching did not come from God—the one who called them unto salvation.
- 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump—a common saying meaning there is only two sides—no middle ground. Adding works to faith in Jesus for salvation corrupts the whole thing and is not salvation at all. Salvation is all of grace or not of grace at all.
- 5:10a Paul seems to have no doubt they will continue in the true gospel that was originally preached to them. He has confidence in them through the Lord, that they will be “none otherwise minded”—meaning that after they hear this truth again they won’t let these false teachers change their mind.
- 5:10b, 12 Paul doesn’t know who these false teachers are, but he is also confident that these false teachers will be judged. He also wished these false teachers were cut off.
- 5:11 Paul clears his name (as if the false teachers we claiming he was teaching the same thing they were) that it isn’t he who is preaching this false gospel. Paul is persecuted because he preaches the gospel of grace and makes the case if he preached circumcision, why does he suffer persecution? The cross is offensive and that is what brings persecution and that is why Paul is being persecuted. If he didn’t preach the cross (gospel of grace) then the offensive part would cease and he wouldn’t be persecuted.
5:13-15 Freed For Freedom, But Don’t Abuse It
- 5:13-14 God has called all believers unto liberty. But we are not to use this liberty for an occasion to the flesh—to sin, but by love serve one another. The gospel frees from obeying the law for our salvation, but also frees us to obey the law out of love. The law of the believer is this “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The believer’s motivation shouldn’t be “to sin” but “to obey”—not to gain salvation but to show forth love.
- 5:15 If they abused their freedom to “bite and devour one another” then they need to realize that they will be “consumed one of another.”
- What are believers liberated from?
- What does Paul want us to stand firm in?
- What does it mean to be fallen from grace and saved by grace?
- What was the problem of the Galatians churches?
- What is the danger in loosing and abusing our freedom in Christ?
4:21-31 Paul’s Allegory Of Two Covenants
Memory Verse: Galatians 4:28
4:21-23 A Question And A Story
- 4:21 Paul asks the Galatians believers, especially those who desire to be under the law—meaning those who have believed the false teachers and have added obedience to the law as necessary for their salvation—a question that points them back to the real meaning of the law. The law refers to the Old Testament, and as with any false teaching, the false teachers have misused it to trick the Galatians believers into believing they have to rely on it for their salvation. Paul’s wants them to humbly look at what the law really says for themselves and not just listen to the misinterpretation of the false teachers.
- 4:22a Paul tells a story recorded in the Old Testament about Abraham. Paul has already mentioned Abraham at least eight times since he started this letter. He exemplified Abrahams faith showing that he believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. He then shows how the gospel was made by promise to Abraham and his seed (a certain descendant)—this descendant is Jesus, who fulfilled this promise and anyone can partake of it through faith. Finally, he showed that those who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed—meaning God’s people are those of faith, not of earthly descent. Therefore Paul is pointing back to Abraham—the father of the Jews—to show the real truth as recorded in the Bible and exemplified by Abraham. He does it again here.
Galatians 3:6-9, 14-18, 29; Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 24:7
- 4:22b-23 The Story: God promised to give Abraham a son. But Abraham and his wife Sarah grew old and his wife, Sarah, was barren. So his wife told him to sleep with their maidservant, Hagar, so that they could have a son. He agreed and she had a son named Ishmael. Several years later, God fulfilled his promise to give Abraham a son through his wife Sarah. They named him Isaac. Therefore, Abraham had two sons. The first son was born by a bondmaid (his maidservant Hagar). The second son was born by a freewoman (his wife Sarah). Ishmael who was of the maidservant Hagar was born after the flesh—meaning that Abraham didn’t wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled and tried to obtain a son on his own outside of the will of God. Isaac who was of the freewoman Sarah was born by promise—meaning that God performed a miracle to cause Sarah to be bear a child—keeping His promise. (Jesus would come through the line of the promised child.)
Genesis 12:1-4; 15:4-5; 16:1-15; 21:1-3
4:24-27 The Story Is An Allegory For Two Covenants
- 4:24a Paul says this story is an allegory—meaning that is has a deeper meaning. He says that this meaning is represented in two covenants. He goes on to explain:
- 4:24b-25 The covenant of bondage: Paul tells the Galatians that Hagar (who represents trusting in your own works) is: (1) The one from the Mount Sinai—pointing to the law and the Jewish people—that bears children for bondage—meaning obedience to the law can only produce slavery. (2) Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is—meaning all the Jews that are trusting in the law for salvation at that time were in bondage with her children—everyone who trusts in the law, then or now, are slaves to the law (or their own religious ways).
- 4:26a The covenant of freedom: Sarah (who represents trusting in God’s promise) on the other hand is: (1) Freed instead of in bondage; (2) The Jerusalem which is above—representing the opposite of the earthly Jerusalem and means heaven—the place where real believers will reside. It is the mother of all true believers—meaning she represent everyone who trust in God’s promise by faith not the works of the law.
Hebrews 12:18, 22
- 4:26b Beware: There is a false teaching by the cult “World Missions Society Church of God” that originated in Korea that teach Abraham represents God the Father who they believe is “Ahn Sahng-hong,” a Korean pastor they claim as their founder. Then the “Jerusalem” and “mother” referred to in this verse is the “Jerusalem Mother” or “God the Mother” who they believe is “Zahng Gil-jah,” a Korean woman who believed that she was God. These are all false teachings. The true teaching of the verse is as follows: “mother” is a figure of speech Paul is using to explain the allegory. There are two mothers, each represents a place, which represents a people and their way of salvation: works or grace. Therefore, to say Jerusalem or Sarah is our mother means that we are saved by grace through faith in God’s promise and that not of ourselves.
- 4:27 Paul quotes another scripture from the Old Testament. The verse tells the “barren woman” to rejoice, break forth and cry because she will have many more children than the woman that has a husband. This was a prophecy for Israel to encourage them in their exile, knowing that God was still going to do something supernatural in their future. Paul, now applies it to the gospel. The barren woman most likely represent the Gentiles who were spiritually barren or those who were spiritually hopeless in saving themselves. The woman with the husband most likely represents Jews who had the Old Testament and law or those who religiously worked to try and save themselves. The reason for rejoicing was that God was going to cause the barren women to be blessed greater than the other. The gentiles were going to be given the gospel. The hopeless were going to be given hope. Grace was going to be offered to those who those who couldn’t do it on their own.
4:28-31 The Application Of The Allegory
- 4:28, 30-31 Believers (brethren) are the children of promise just like Isaac was. He was born of the freewoman. True salvation only comes by trusting in the promise of God by faith. Unbelievers (shall not be heir) are the children of bondage just like Ishmael was. He was born of the bondwoman. True slavery only comes by trusting in the ability of your own righteousness. They will be cast out of the presence of God for all eternity. Only the legitimate children (by faith) will be heirs—inherit eternal life.
- 4:29 Just like that Arabs (the physical descendants of Ishmael) were persecuting the Jews (the physical descendants of Isaac) in the days of Paul, so will unbelievers (born after the flesh) persecuted believers (born after the Spirit). This means the religiously insecure feel threatened by the gospel, because it says the efforts of their religion aren’t good enough and they respond with hate, hostility and persecution.
- Why did Paul ask them a question?
- What was the story Paul told?
- What was the meaning of the allegory?
- What is the application of the allegory?
- Who persecutes who? Why?
4:8-20 The Gospel Of Grace Changes Everything
Memory Verse: Galatians 4:9a
4:8-11 The Enslavement Of False Hope Or A Relationship With God
- 4:8 Paul just finished explaining to the Galatians that they are sons of God, but now he contrast that point with reminding them of their past—the time before they knew God. Before hearing and believing in the gospel of grace, they served and worshipped false gods and idols. All false gods and idols are not really gods. They are just creations of men or the evil spirits. They have no real existence. The Bibles clearly tells us that there is only one God. Anyone who chooses to worship anyone or anything else besides the one real God is really worshipping devils. This was the Galatian’s life before the gospel.
Deuteronomy 32:16-17; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 10:19-20; Isaiah 44:9-20
- 4:9a But everything is different now because they know the one true God—they have a relationship with Him. Now they are known by the true God—He has a relationship with them. God knows them and if you are a believer God knows you. God knows your name. As believers, we have a personal relationship with God. All the problems of a broken relationship have been reconciled through Jesus. Remember, we are children of God. The security of our salvation is in the fact the we have a restored relationship with God.
1 Corinthians 8:3
- 4:9b If all of this is true, then Paul asks why they are turning back to false teachings. We have known from the beginning of the letter that the problem in the Galatian churches was that they started to believe a false gospel. This false gospel required obedience to the law with faith in Christ in order to be saved. Just like the false gods and idols could never save them, neither could obedience to the law save them. They were turning back to “weak and beggarly elements” that only can cause them to be in bondage again—means that everything, apart from faith in Jesus, can only enslaved you because it holds the position of “master” in your life. Anything from believing a moral life can save you to worshipping Buddha are all equally enslaving and damning.
Galatians 1:6-7; 2:14-16
- 4:10 Apparently, the Galatian churches started observing days, months, times and years that was not customary to them. This is probably indicating the influence of the false teachers to get them to start following the law of the Old Testament. The false teachers would have emphasized it as a required part of their faith—thus creating an idol. Keeping the law has become an idol to the Galatian churches. We are in the same danger of creating idols if we add requirements to salvation apart from faith in Jesus alone.
- 4:11 Paul was afraid that his work was in vain because they created this “idol of law keeping.” He was afraid that they really left “faith in Christ” and started trusting in the “works of the law” for salvation. As believers, everything should have changed for them and if it didn’t then his work among them is in vain. This should caution us to check our lives and see if there is anything that we believe we have to do for God to accept us. Have we created idols in our lives? Or are we confident in the fact that we are saved through faith in Jesus alone and are known of God?
4:12-20 Paul’s Ministry Exemplifies True Gospel Service
- 4:12 Paul reminds the Galatians that he became like them when he ministered to them at the beginning of his time there—meaning he most likely adapted to their culture so that he could give them the gospel. (As believers, we should be willing to adapt to the culture of others so that we can teach them about Jesus.) But now he is calling them to become like him, they have done nothing to hurt him—meaning he is inviting them into his life to imitate him so they could grow in the faith. (As believers, we should live holy and transparent lives that can be imitated by others.)
- 4:13a, 15b Paul reminds them that he first preached the gospel to them because of an “infirmity of the flesh” or a “bodily ailment.” Paul was sick. He had health problems. But he didn’t use this as an excuse to not serve God, but saw it as an opportunity to serve God where he was. He preached the gospel to those who were around him. He seized the opportunity instead of complaining about his condition or feeling bad for himself. He didn’t loose hope. Paul doesn’t say what his health probably is exactly, but it caused him to stop traveling. It probably was a problem with his eyes because verse fifteen refers to the Galatians being willing to give Paul their own eyes, meaning his had problems. (Note: God uses suffering to carry out his will in our lives. He might use our suffering as a way to minister to other people or he may use it to work on our character and make us more and more like Jesus. God doesn’t always answer our prayers to take away our suffering. Instead, we need to learn like Paul did to depend on the sufficient grace of God and to gladly glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.)
Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:7-11
- 4:14-15a, 16 The Galatians didn’t treat Paul bad because of his condition when they first met him, but they received him and treated him like an angel or even like Jesus Christ. But now their attitude and actions toward Paul has changed. He is preaching to them the same truth as he did in the beginning, but now they are treating him like an enemy for it because they have believed false teaching. He wants them to see their change, not his. The message they originally received with joy is now being rejected with hostility.
- 4:17-18 The false teachers used great energy and enthusiasm in their pursuit to persuade the Galatians churches to obey the law, but their motivation wasn’t pure. They wanted the Galatians in response to using great energy and enthusiasm to pursue them. They wanted to exclude them from the truth so they could create their own sect that was focused on glorifying man instead of God. (Note: Using zeal—great energy and enthusiasm—in our pursuit to preach the gospel is not wrong. Paul even used zeal to preach the gospel to the Galatians. But zeal doesn’t make something correct. It is the purpose and truth behind the zeal that dictates if it is good or bad.)
- 4:19-20 Paul is in anguish over the situation and says that he will “travail in birth again”—meaning he is willing to go through much heartache to help them understand the gospel and it’s implications again. Just as a mother goes through pain in giving birth so the child can live independently of her, so it will take pain to cause new churches and believers to be born-again and live spiritually independent—until Christ be formed in them. Paul truly cares for them, he calls them his little children and he desires to be with them. He wants to change his tone of voice, but right not he is doubting them (because of what the false teachers taught and how they chose to follow them).
- What was the Galatians life like before knowing God?
- What did the false teachers cause the Galatians to believe in?
- What can be an idol in our lives?
- Did health problems cause Paul to give up hope?
- What do we learn about gospel service from Paul’s example?
3:26-4:7 The Gospel Of Grace Makes Us Children Of God
Memory Verse: Galatians 3:26，4:4-5
3:26 The Apex Of The Gospel: Children Of God
- 3:26a From the beginning of Galatians until now, Paul has been defending the true gospel showing we are justified by faith and not by obedience to the law. He has used several illustration or examples to make his case. He just finished explaining that our salvation is by promise of God and the law was never meant to change that promise. The law existed to point out our sin and point us to our need of grace. We accept this grace by faith in Christ Jesus. This results not only in freedom from the law, but it completely changes our identity, for God now see us as His children. This is the apex of the true gospel applied to the life of a sinner. We are no longer enemies of God but are part of his family.
- 3:26b Sinners becoming God’s children is a new reality and was part of God’s plan since the beginning. Every person in a sense is considered to be the offspring of God because we are made in His image, but the “father-son-relationship” is only given to those who have faith in Jesus. Every person is not automatically given this new relationship, but it is offered to everyone to accept through faith. We are given a chance to have a close and personal relationship with the God of heaven. God wants to adopt you.
3:27 The Application Of The Gospel: Jesus Clothes
- 3:27a Paul continues to explain how the gospel of grace through faith has changed our lives. He uses baptism as a metaphor—baptized into Christ—meaning those who are spiritually “immersed into Christ” through His death and resurrection are those who have “put on Christ”—meaning they are now positionally righteous to live out this new reality. Because of Christ we wear the clothing of salvation and righteousness. Again, clothes here are a metaphor that points out our new identity—as we “wear” Jesus: he covers our nakedness (sin); He becomes our uniform (identity); he becomes part of our daily lives and we start to act like Him; He is always with us.
Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:3-11; 13:12; Isaiah 61:10; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12
- 3:27b Please note: Baptism here clearly does not point to water baptism as a condition for “putting on Christ” or for being “in Christ,” because that would void the whole letter Paul is writing. We should understand it as those who have “faith in Christ” have “spiritually identified with Christ” therefore, they have “put on Christ.”
3:28 The Equality Of The Gospel: We Are All One
- 3:28a The next great truth the gospel of grace has brought is that in Christ we are all one. In Christ we are free from racial, society and gender inequality. In Christ it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what part of society you are born into or end up in, nor does it matter if you are male or female, because as believers we all wear the same righteous clothing and have the same value as children of God. (The law divided the Jews and the Gentiles but now that division is gone.)
- 3:28b “All one”—this is referring to “value” in the in the eyes of God and not to destroying all “distinction.” The Bible still promotes the distinction between men and women, the differing roles in the church and the cultures of people, but it does mean that God does not value you any different based on those distinctions. Everyone becomes a child of God through the same way—faith. Practically, it also means that we are believers first—therefore, we are not separated over gender, class or culture. We are to love in the same way that God loves—without distinction.
Ephesians 5:21-6:9; Colossians 3:18-4:1
3:29-4:7 The Ancestry Of The Gospel: Sons of God
- 3:29 Another great truth the gospel of grace brings is we become part of the ancestry of God—part of Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. This verse has a few implications: (1) We belong to Christ—if you have believed in Him. (2) We are Abraham’s seed—meaning God’s people are those of faith; not by earthly descent—it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Gentile by physical birth. (3) We are heirs of the promise God made with Abraham. God adopted us as His sons, thus we will get the inheritance—eternal life.
- 4:1-3 Paul continues using the example of an heir to help us understand our new position in Christ. He says that an heir doesn’t differ much from a servant when he is a child. The child is the owner of everything because he is the son of the father, and when he is old he will inherit everything, but he is currently under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. This means as a child he is not much different from a servant. Here are the implications of this illustration: (1) Even though God made the promise to Abraham, they were under the law until Jesus came, so they didn’t get to fully experience the freedom that the gospel of grace brings. The time before Jesus came they were like the child. (2) Before salvation, we are in bondage under the elements of the world (and the law) until we heard and believed the gospel of grace.
- 4:4-5 Then when the fullness of time came according to God’s plan, He sent Jesus to redeem those who were under the law (mankind) so that they might receive adoption as sons. The waiting period was over and God revealed the gospel of grace through Jesus. God is now offering to adopt us as grown sons who will be given the inheritance—eternal life. This is possible because of Jesus. We learn a few things about Jesus from these verses: (1) He is God’s Son—100% God. (2) He is made of a women—100% man. (3) He is made under the law—tempted in the same manner as we are but without every sinning. (4) He came to redeem mankind—His mission was our freedom.
- 4:6-7 If we believe in Jesus, we become sons. God will adopt us. We are part of His family. He loves us like He loves Jesus. The implications are as follows, because we are sons: (1) God sent the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of His Son) into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. This means we can address God in personal terms—like daddy—just as Jesus did. It signifies the close relationship God wants with us. When we pray, we can come to God just like a child comes to their parents—not in a mechanical impersonal way repeating the same words each time. We can pray anytime, anywhere. (2) We are no longer servants—we get all the privileges of a son. (3) We have the right to obtain the inheritance—abundant and eternal life. It is a gift from the Father to His sons.
- What is the apex of the gospel?
- What is the application of the gospel?
- What is the equality of the gospel?
- What is the ancestry of the gospel?
- Has God adopted you? If so, what does this mean?
3:15-25 The Gospel Of Grace Is By Promise Of God
Memory Verse: Galatians 3:22
3:15-18 The Covenant: The Power Of God’s Promise
- 3:15 Paul uses the illustration of a human covenant to help us better understand the promise of the gospel between God and man. He says that a man’s covenant—which is an agreement between two people—cannot be changed once it is established. It cannot be rejected or declare invalid, nor can it be added to. Even if the circumstances change, the covenant is to be carried out in the manner that was agreed on by both parties when the covenant was established.
- 3:16 Then he comes back to Abraham and shows how this covenant illustration is useful and applicable to us through him. Paul already exemplified Abraham’s faith earlier in the chapter to show us that the gospel of grace is received by faith, but now he shows us that the gospel was made by promise to Abraham and his seed (a certain descendant)—this descendant is Jesus, who fulfilled this promise and anyone can partake of it through faith.
Galatians 3:6-9; Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 24:7
- 3:17 Next, Paul shows us the power of this promise or covenant. God made a covenant with Abraham—He promised that He would do certain things—ultimately bless all nations through Christ. This was God making a promise to mankind. No matter what would happen, we can rest assured that God would keep His promise. Then the law came 430 years after God made this promise to Abraham and people got confused. They acted as if God change the terms of the agreement, but that was never the purpose of the law—it was never meant to change the covenant or declare it invalid.
- 3:18 Paul reasons that if we received the “inheritance” (eternal life) because of the law, it is no more of promise. Law and promise are opposites. They both can’t be true. It is much like how Paul tells the Romans that grace and works are opposites. If you add works to grace then it is no longer grace. Therefore, we have to choose one as the object of our faith (promise or law). God gave it to Abraham by promise. Therefore we can conclude that the “inheritance” (eternal life) is by promise (grace) and not by law (works).
3:19-22 The Law: Purpose And Limitations
- 3:19a, 22a Paul asked the next logical question that he knew the readers of his letter would ask: “What is the purpose of the law?” If we can only be saved by promise which is by faith then what is the purpose of the law which is by works? Paul gives two main reasons for the purpose of the law. The first he states in this verse: “because of transgressions.” The law informs us about and exposes sin. Sin is a transgression—a violation of the law. The result of sin is death. Therefore, the law was given as a temporary standard of holiness (until Jesus came to fulfill the promise) that showed us our failure to keep it and the punishment for our disobedience. The scripture of the Old Testament and the Law concluded every single person is under sin.
Romans 3:20; 4:15; 5:12-21; 1 John 3:4; 1 Corinthians 15:56; James 2:8-12
- 3:19b-20 The law was given by God, ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator (probably Moses). These verses are a little hard to understand but going along with the flow of the argument it seems that Paul’s point is that God alone ratified the covenant with Abraham—thus it is based on God and not multiple parties—which is indicated by the use of a mediator. Simply stated, the promise is superior to the law because it depends on one party, God, and not many parties, us and God.
Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2; Leviticus 26:46; John 1:17
- 3:21 Another question arises, “Since the law exist because of transgressions does that mean it is against the promises of God?” This question comes from trying to fully grasp the relationship of the law and the promise. Paul’s answer is an emphatic “No”—they do no contradict each other. Both of them come from God but they have different purposes. These purposes don’t contradict each other but they work together. Paul will explain more in the next verse be here he wants us to know one major limitation of the law (which he has stated before): righteousness cannot come by the law, it cannot give life.
Galatians 2:21; Romans 7:7; 2 Corinthians 3:6
- 3:22 Paul explains the second purpose of the law: “because of grace.” The law was also given to cause us to recognize our need of grace—a need that can only be fulfilled through the promise by faith in Jesus Christ. It shows us that our works cannot make us righteous but that righteousness is given—to them that believe. Thus, rightly understood, there is no contradiction between the law and the promise. The law shows a person he is not righteous and he can do nothing to make himself righteous through it. It shows the only option is grace. The promise offers this grace. It’s only condition is faith. The promise is reliable because it is based on the Promise Giver—God Himself.
Deuteronomy 27:26; Romans 3:9; 11:32
3:23-25 The Law: Before Faith And After Faith
- 3:23 Paul wants us to understand our position “before faith came.” We were kept under the law. We were captive under the law. We were “shut up” or imprisoned. Then “faith came” and it changed everything.
- 3:24 The law acted as a temporary “schoolmaster.” This schoolmaster is believed to be a slave that took care of school-aged children of his owner. They were the “active authority”. They were in control of teaching them what was right and disciplining them when they were wrong. The law had this same function, telling us what is right but disciplining our disobedience. As you can image, a child isn’t too fond of the person who is in charge of their discipline, especially if they are strict. Thus, being under the law prepared us for the appearance of Christ, that in Him we can be justified by faith (not works).
- 3:25 After “faith came” we no longer are under a “schoolmaster”—we are no longer under the law. We are no longer characterized by being a prisoner or a school-aged child who needs a tutor, but we are freed from the prison cell and have come to age—that we no longer need a disciplinarian. Once a person exercises faith in Jesus (belief) they are made free from the captivity and imprisonment of the law. They no longer have to obey the law out of fear or as a way of salvation. They remember the lessons the law taught them and are freed to joyfully obey God out of their gratefulness for all He has done to save them. We are no longer under the law but we are under grace.
- Is salvation by promise or by law?
- Who did God make the promise to?
- Did the law make the promise void?
- What is the purpose of the law? Does it contradict the promise?
- What happens to the law after faith?
3:1-14 The Gospel Of Grace Is Received By Faith
Memory Verse: Galatians 3:6
3:1-5 Paul’s Examines Faith And Works
- 3:1 Paul comes back to the problem of the Galatian churches. Their problem is that they are not obeying the truth of the gospel. They left the truth that was first delivered to them and started to believe in a false gospel—a message that can only bring condemnation. Paul calls them foolish because they have made foolish conclusions even though when they heard the gospel, Jesus was evidently set forth and crucified before their eyes—they heard a clear, passionate and powerful presentation of the truth.
Galatians 1:6-7; 2:4
- 3:2-3 Paul ask them several rhetorical questions to help them better understand the problem. He asked them: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by works or faith? The answer to the question is obviously “faith” and so he continues saying that he wonders if they are so foolish to believe they can begin in the Holy Spirit by faith and then be made perfect by the works of the flesh. It seems that the Galatians were humble enough to know they were saved because of faith but fearful enough to think that they must keep the law to stay saved and be sanctified. Paul is trying to combat this thinking. He wants them to know we are saved by faith and we are sanctified by faith—not by human effort.
- 3:4 Paul then causes them to remember all the things they have already suffered for the sake of the gospel of grace. If they are now leaving this gospel then they suffered all those things in vain. He wants them to remember their commitment to the truth and the price they paid for it.
- 3:5 Finally, Paul brings God into the argument. Does God ministers to you the Holy Spirit by works or faith? Are the miracles done by works or faith? Does God work among us because of our obedience to the law or because of our faith? The Galatians are not Jews, so they didn’t have the same connection to the law as a Jews did. They didn’t know it as well as the Jews. Therefore, Paul is using all of these arguments to cause them to realize that they became Christians by faith and they should continue living for God by faith—not letting the false teachers confuse them and think they must also keep the law.
3:6-9 Paul Exemplifies Abraham’s Faith
- 3:6-8 Paul uses the Old Testament example of Abraham—the father of the Jews—to show that He even agrees with this truth. Abraham believed God’s promise and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham was justified by faith. Then Paul says that those who are “of faith” are the children of Abraham. What he means is those who are justified by faith are those who are partakers of the promise of the gospel of grace first preached to Abraham—not those of physical birth. This is pivotal in understanding God’s plan of salvation. God knew that He was going to justify man through faith (because of the death and resurrection of Jesus), therefore, He preached the gospel to Abraham saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed”. So the condition for salvation has always been faith and never works.
Genesis 12:1-3; 15:6
- 3:9 He concludes that anyone who is “of faith” are the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham. They “are blessed with faithful Abraham”. This is important to remember and a point that Paul will return to later in this letter to the Galatian believers.
3:10-12 Paul Exposes The Law’s Curse
- 3:10 The law has a major curse that is often overlooked when people are trusting in it as their way of salvation. It requires that your obey everything written in it. That means you have to be perfect. The law demands perfection. If you don’t obey all the things that are written in the book of the law then you are cursed. If you keep all of the law, but you are disobedient in just one point, then you are guilty of all the law. The law is strict. The law offers no mercy. The law says you are 100% obedient or 100% disobedient.
Deuteronomy 27:26; James 2:10; Romans 3:23
- 3:11 Paul makes himself extremely clear: “The law cannot justify you.” It doesn’t matter how hard you try the law will condemn you. If you have already failed once, you are under the curse of the law. You are marked as disobedient—a sinner. But there is hope. It is called “faith”. From the Old Testament through the New Testament “the just shall live by faith.” God has provided a way that can redeem us.
- 3:12 The “law” or “faith” as a means of salvation are opposites. Therefore, you have to choose one or the other. You cannot choose both. The law is not of faith and faith is not of the law. “Law” stands for trusting in any human effort to be made righteous. “Faith” stands for trusting in Jesus’ effort to be made righteous. We cannot trust in Jesus and our own works at the same time. You can only trust in one. If you trust in the law you must live by the law and this can only bring condemnation. On the contrary, salvation if a gift given to us by God and received by faith. We don’t receive salvation by merit or because we earned it. If it is because we earned it then it is of works and not of grace. That is the whole purpose of the law, to show us that we can’t earn salvation and we fall short of the standard of perfect. It points us to grace and grace says, “By faith”.
Romans 11:6; Leviticus 18:5
3:13-14 Paul Elevates Christ’s Redemption
- 3:13 Paul finally gets to the main point: “We couldn’t but Jesus could”. Jesus did everything that we couldn’t do. It was Jesus who redeemed us from the curse of the law. After studying the law, you will come to the conclusion that you are cursed. You are doomed to die and to be separated from God for all eternity. But Jesus was willing to pay the price to purchase you. Your price was death. So He died in your place. Jesus was perfect, completely obeying law, but he was made a curse for us by dyeing on the cross, thus redeeming us from the curse of the law. Now we are made prefect in Christ.
Romans 5:8; 6:23; Deuteronomy 21:23
- 3:14 Why did Christ do this? First, that through Him we (Gentiles) could receive the blessings of Abraham: salvation by grace through faith. He knew we couldn’t be saved by the law (we didn’t even know the law) and this was His plan all along. Second, He did this so that we could receive the Holy Spirit through faith. The Holy Spirit is making us holy by faith. We are saved and sanctified by faith. Today, we can live for God by faith.
- What was the answer to Paul’s rhetorical questions?
- Why did Paul use Abraham as an example?
- What is the curse of the law?
- How did Jesus redeem us?
- We are saved and sanctified by what?
2:11-21 Paul Confronts Peter’s Hypocrisy
Memory Verse: Galatians 2:16, 20
2:11-13 Peter’s Hypocrisy
- 2:11 Paul, Peter and the other apostles realized they were teaching the same true gospel, were unified because of it and agreed on their different missions from God to reach the Gentiles and Jews. But when Peter came to Antioch, Paul withstood Peter to the face—meaning that he called him out for doing something wrong. Paul was claiming that Peter was to be blamed for doing something wrong. What was this apostle’s wrong-doing?
- 2:12a Peter ate with the Gentiles. To us this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But at that time it was a big deal because Peter was a Jew. The Old Testament had several “ceremonial” and “clean” laws that a Jew was supposed to follow, including their eating habits. This also resulted in many traditions that Jews made up over the years. There was a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, because the Gentiles didn’t follow their laws or traditions and were “unclean”. Then something happened. Jesus came and broke down this wall of separation and everything changed. No longer would the Jews have to follow these “ceremonial” and “clean” laws and no longer was their a difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. Thus, a practical application of this new reality for Peter was that he started eating with the Gentiles. This was good. But the problem, as Pauls notes, is not that he started to eat with the Gentiles, it is that he stopped. When certain Jewish men came from James he withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles.
Mark 7:14-23; Acts 117-9; 10:34-35
- 2:12b Peter separated himself from the Gentiles because he feared the criticism of the false teachers (them which were of the circumcision). As we have studied, not everyone believed in Jesus and many Jews thought that you had to add keeping the ceremonial and clean laws to faith in Jesus for salvation. Peter obviously didn’t believe this false gospel, but instead of standing in the truth, he cowardly withdrew. Peter believed the true gospel, but was acting like he didn’t. Peter was a hypocrite—he claimed to believe the real gospel but his own behavior did not conform to it.
- 2:13 The second problem was that Peter’s influence caused the other Jews to follow his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, who worked with Paul and Titus—(a Gentile), also followed his hypocrisy. Remember: Our actions effect other people’s actions.
2:14-16a Paul’s Confrontation
- 2:14a Paul understood one important truth: the gospel changes our worldview—meaning that according to the truth of the gospel we are to walk uprightly or in accordance to it. At salvation, every believer already has a previous world-view (based on culture, upraising, school, etc.) in which they interpret the world and the things around them. But also at salvation, the truth of the gospel should become our new world-view and we start to interpret everything according to it. This will have drastic changes in our lives. Paul realized Peter was using his Jewish-world-view instead of his gospel-world-view.
- 2:14b-16a Paul ask Peter a question that points out his hypocrisy: If you are a Jew and live like a Gentile, then why are you asking the Gentiles to live like the Jews? Then Paul points Peter back to the truth of the gospel that he seems to have forgotten. Both of them are Jews by nature, but even their nationality and obedience to the law couldn’t save them. Their own salvation had nothing to do with their race, culture, laws or customs, but it was only through believing in Jesus that they were saved. Thus, why is Peter basing who he can eat with, associate with or have a relationship with based on race, culture, laws and customs when his own salvation is not based on those things. He is reminding Peter that their own relationship with God had nothing to do with what they did, but in whom they believed. It wasn’t about works, it was about grace. It wasn’t about keeping the laws anymore, it was about living out the freedom that Jesus gave. Peter doesn’t have to fear because of other people’s criticism or approval because he is already justified—he is already righteous before God and accepted by Him. He has God’s approval.
2:16b-21 Truth Explained
- 2:16b Justification By Faith: As Paul is reminding Peter of the gospel, he boldly and clearly declares what the true gospel is: justification by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot be justified by the works of the law. No person will ever be justified by the works of the law.
- 2:17-18 Implications: Paul explains that if being “justified by Christ” wasn’t true then they are all sinners because they aren’t living by the law and Christ would be the minister of sin since they are following His teachings. On the other-hand, if they rebuild this false system of salvation by the law that they destroyed by preaching the gospel of grace, they would be found as transgressor—sinners, lawbreakers.
- 2:19a The Law Kills: Paul says that through the law he is dead to the law. Several were trusting in the law for their salvation. They believed their works could justify them. But what Paul is saying is that the more he tried to obey the law, one truth became clear: the law could not justify—it died to him as a way of redemption. All of the “cleanings” and the “ceremonies” were not enough to take away his sins and make him righteous.
- 2:19b God Saves: Since Paul was no longer trusting in his own works of keeping the law for his salvation, he could believe in Jesus for redemption and really start to live for God.
- 2:20 New Identity: Believers are dead to the law (or any works we do to try to earn God’s acceptance and salvation) because we were crucified with Christ. The penalty was paid in full by Christ and applied to our account by faith. Nevertheless, we live, not us but Christ lives inside of us—meaning we have a new identity in Christ. We live out this new identity in our current bodies by the faith of the Son of God, not by the works of the law (new worldview). We are justified by faith and we live by faith. It was Jesus’ love and personal sacrifice that changed everything, and it is what motivates us to serve Him.
- 2:21 Only Grace: This whole system of salvation is based on the wonderful grace of God. Paul says he doesn’t want to frustrate the grace of God and clearly says if righteousness came by the law, then Christ died in vain. He is reminding Peter that he can’t mix law and grace, therefore, he needs to walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.
- What was Peter’s wrong-doing?
- Peter’s influence caused what?
- The truth of the gospel should become our new what?
- What are we justified by?
- Can we mix law and grace? Why?