Hebrew Roots/Restoration/Faith & Works/The Book of Galatians

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OUTLINE OF THE BOOK[edit]

The central theme of this letter is `justification by grace through faith' for salvation with the purpose of refuting false teachers which are teaching a gospel of salvation through 'works'. It is the means of salvation that is being addressed in the letter. It is a letter that was written to deal with false teachers of Judaism whose teaching was rooted in legalism.

Chapters 1 & 2 is defending the Good News against the false doctrines Chapters 2 & 3 is defining the Good News from legalism, and, Chapters 5 & 6 is how to demonstrate the Good News in one's life

THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING GALATIANS[edit]

There are scriptures which have been translated to read that we are no longer under the law of God, that it has been done away with and that we are now under grace; the law of God no longer applying to the believer in the new covenant.

Here is the main basis for the teaching:

Gal. 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Gal. 4:4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Gal. 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Gal. 4:21 Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

There are two ways in which the word 'law' is used by Paul, one where he is referring to the Law of God and the other where he is using it in a general sense. These two different usages are differentiated by the use of the definite article or lack thereof. When 'the' is used in the original text before the word 'law' in the original, it is referring to the Law of God. When the definite article is not there, it is being used in the general sense. The translation into English does not reveal this difference though, causing the reader to be unable to discern this difference.

The two differences:

A. When the original test says 'the law', it is the eternal Law of God which is meant.
B. When the original text omits the definite article 'the', and only has 'law', then it is being used as a general term.

The general usage of the word 'law' when it is without the definite article 'the', covers three basic ideas: 1. Any legal code of do's and don'ts or rules, for any type of institution 2. The bondage of Legalism - such as a Pharisaical attitude 3. The perversion of the Law into a system of works

THE KEY SCRIPTURES ON LEGALISM[edit]

[Where the definite article is missing in the text it has been bracketed. Where it is in the text it is underlined]

"Knowing that a man is not justified by (the) works of law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the works of (the) law; for by (the) works of law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal.2:16)

"For I through (the) law died to (the) law that I might live to God." (Gal.2:19)

"I do not seek to set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through (the) law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal.2:21)

"Did you receive the Spirit by the works of (the) law or by the hearing of faith? (Gal.3:2)

3. Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4. Have you suffered so many things in vain? if indeed it was in vain. 5. Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of (the) law, or by the hearing of faith? 6. Just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7. Therefore know that only those who are of faith, are sons of Abraham. 8. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, In you all the nations shall be blessed. 9. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

"For as many as are of the works of (the) law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal.3:10)

"But that no one is justified by (the) law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Gal.3:11-12)

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree:" (Gal.3:13)

"And this I say, that (the) law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot disannul the covenant that was confirmed before God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect." (Gal.3:17)

"For if the inheritance is of (the) law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise." (Gal.3:18)

"What purpose does the law serve then? It was added because of transgressions till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;" (Gal.3:19)

"Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not!" For if there has been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by (the) law." [lit. out of that law] (Gal.3:21)

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under (the) law [lit. becoming born under law], to redeem those who were under (the) law [lit. becoming under law], that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal.4:4-5)

4:21 "Tell me, you who desire to be under (the) law, do you not hear the law? (example given of the two covenants)

"Abraham had two sons, one of the flesh: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free-woman" [The allegory is between Isaac who inherited the promise and Ishmael who was of the flesh and received no inheritance. Although Sinai and Zion are used as comparisons, Sinai is being identified with Hagar who received no inheritance and not to the children of Israel who were the recipients of the law at Sinai. It is a comparison of natural to spiritual. i.e. 'works of the flesh' cannot inherit the promises - the issue is salvation by works. Abraham's efforts in the flesh were unproductive]

"And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law" (Gal.5:3)

"But if you are led of the Spirit you are not under (the) law" (Gal.5:18)

RELATED SCRIPTURES[edit]

"Know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under (the) law [lit. in the law], that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of (the) law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by (the) law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:19-20)

"For sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom.6:14)

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:15-16)

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews, to those who are under (the) law, as under (the) law, that I might win those who are under (the) law, to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ) that I might win those who are without law; .." (1 Cor.9:20-21) [Those under law are a different group of people to those he identifies as the "Jews". He is referring here to legalists.The subject is not those who are under the Law of God which were the Jews, but those under legalism]

ADJUSTED FREE TRANSLATION - based upon Wuest's expanded translation of Galatians and the Interlinear Greek text

Gal.2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by law-keeping but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the legalistic enactment of the law's principles; for by law-keeping shall no flesh be justified" [the word 'law' here is used in its qualitative and legalistic sense - Wuest Word Studies i.e. as Pharisees]

Gal.2:19 "For I through enactment of law [through Christ] died to legalistic statutes that I might live to God." [Paul does not say that he is dead to law (i.e. as being lawless), but to it as a body of legalistic statutes - Wuest Word Studies]

Gal.2:21 "I do not thwart the efficacy of the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through law, then Christ died in vain"

Gal.3:2. "Did you receive the Spirit by means of the law's principles or by the message of faith?

3. Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
4. Have you suffered so many things in vain? if indeed it was in vain.
5. Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does He do it by means of the law's principles, or by the hearing of faith?
6. Just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7. Therefore know that only those who are of faith, are sons of Abraham.
8. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, In you all the nations shall be blessed.
9. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
10. For as many as are operating by the principles of laws, are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them." [quote from Deut.27:26]
11. But that no one is justified by law-keeping in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by means of faith. And the law is not of faith, but the man who has done them, shall live in them." [The two principles of law and faith are opposite of one another. Same scripture from Lev.18:5 quoted in Romans 10:5 to say that righteousness by the law is possible]
13. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree:" [It is the Law's penalty which brings a curse, the Law itself is not a curse - it is good and holy]
17. And this I say, that the Law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot disannul the covenant that was confirmed before God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect."
18. For if the inheritance is by means of the law's principles, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19. What purpose does the Law serve then? It was added because of transgressions till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;"
21. "Is the Law then against the promises of God? Certainly not!" For if there has been a law given which could impart life, truly righteousness would have been by means of that law." [The Law and the promises each have their own function.The law is a ministry of condemnation. The law judges a person on the basis of obedience or disobedience. The promises are a ministry of salvation. The promises judge a man on the basis of faith - Wuest i.e. man's eternal destiny is judged by faith in Christ]

Gal.4:4-5 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, made subject to law, to redeem those who were under the law's principles, that we might receive the adoption as sons" [the law brought death]

Gal.5:3 "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole Law" [the old covenant]

Gal.5:18 "But if you are led of the Spirit you are not under the jurisdiction of the law" [The flesh and the law are closely allied, whereas the flesh and the Spirit are diametrically opposed - Wuest i.e. it is necessary to live in the Spirit to not be under the Law]

Contrary to a surface reading of the letter, Paul is not speaking against the Law of God, except as a means of salvation. He is addressing efforts made in the flesh to gain righteousness and legalistic interpretations of scripture by false teachers.

Though salvation is not earned by following God's commandments, the principles of the Law are to be obeyed by the grace which He gives to live in the Spirit. Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17 &18 `Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law.' Romans 7:12, says the Torah is `holy, righteous, and good.'

The curse that Yeshua took upon Himself enables believers to walk out the commands of the whole Bible without the fear of being cursed, for not fulfilling the instructions completely. Through His life and sacrifice He did not bring the Law to an end, rather He modeled how we as followers should live in obedience to His commandments. John 14:15-17

The purpose of this letter was to show that justification or right standing with God comes through faith, and not through attempting to keep the demands of the law by one's own efforts to gain righteousness. The righteousness of God is imparted to us through faith in the sacrifice of Christ as a free gift by grace alone - not by any works of ours apart from faith.

"But no man is justified by the law in the sight of Yahweh, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11)