The churches planted in the area of Galatia were Paul’s first church starts and he wrote this letter bristling like a protective dad to defend his churches from false teachers. Judaizers – Jews who claimed that first you had to adopt the Jewish way before you could become a Christian – were trying to lead the new believers down a road of effort, not grace.
The book of Galatians reminds believers that we were set free from bondage. Paul reminded his readers that the Jewish law did not deliver, Jesus did. Why return to the bondage of the law?
Paul also reminded the Galatians that the covenant was based on faith, not observance of the law.
The stakes were high. Since the first Christians were Jews, some wondered if the way to Jesus was through the Jewish observances. Paul strongly opposed that.
The way to Jesus was through faith. Salvation comes by grace, not by what we do. The Spirit came by belief, not by observing the law. The Gentiles were adopted into God’s family not because they became Jews but because they saw Jesus as their Redeemer.
Judaizers were trying to lead the new believers down a path of law but Paul called that the path of slavery, of following the way of Hagar. A follower of Jesus had the path of freedom, adopted into Abraham’s family and heir to his promises.
Why, then, return to the yoke of the law? A believer had started his new life following Jesus and his freedom. Why trade freedom for the slavery of the law?
Those are the issues of the book of Galatians.
I’m starting a Monday Bible study which, for next six weeks, will look at the book of Galatians. Try to read chapter 1 before next Monday, when we discuss authority.