September 9, 2021 – Galatians 1,2
Is it appropriate to evaluate Paul’s letters by assigning relative importance or value to each vis-à-vis the others? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, how wonderful is the epistle to the Galatians as Paul lays out the gospel! He begins by acknowledging his own past in Pharisaical Judaism and his persecution of the church. He testified, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers” (1:14). But now, word was getting around about a changed man, and people were saying, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (1:23). The gospel can change even the meanest, most hardened sinner! We must never forget that.
These chapters are all about the gospel. Paul now writes about the Jewish party and how they insisted on Peter no longer eating with Gentiles. To Peter, Paul said, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (2:14) The gospel was in danger of being lost because of Jewish insistence on the keeping of the ceremonial law. To this situation, Paul wrote his famous line: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16).
And, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20). Oh my, the good news of the gospel! And, so, we sing and testify:
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of thy home,
Jesus, I come to thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of thy sheltering fold,
Ever thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to thee. -- William T. Sleeper (1887)