The Book of Galatians Survey
Pr Edi Giudetti
Everything we find within the pages of the Bible demonstrates to us the heart of God. It does not matter if we are considering the Old Testament or the New Testament, both declare to us the purity of God’s dealing with his children and the heart in which he pursues them.
His brokenness when it comes to sin and its effect upon the lives of those he loves, most particularly how it separates them from him. A separation that leads to despair and not joy, vanity and not hope, insecurity and not confidence, lies and not truth.
All through the Old Testament God has sent prophets to correct his children who are so easily led astray, men who are willing to stand on the conviction of the word of God and have the courage even to the cost of their own lives, to bring warning to the people of God for the errors that draw their hearts to follow other gods.
Galatians is no different, completely concerned of the error that has come in to the Children, another gospel.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel” says Paul (Gal 1:6).
How easily are we swayed? How easily are we turned, even willing to turn away from liberty unto bondage?
It astounds me no end; I find myself sometimes like sitting as did Ezra when the children of God were so quickly turned back to the sin that had seen them separated from God into a strange land.
“And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.” Ezra 9:3
O my God, [he says] I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. (Ezra 9:6-8)
For a little space grace hath been showed from the LORD our God
The Bible is the perfect picture of that Grace, Paul calls them FOOLS who have neglected the truth of God in Galatians 3:1, Bewitched he says they are being so easily led astray into another Gospel.
Paul says these “pervert the Gospel of Christ” (1:7)
He has no compassion on the false teachers that have come against Gods children.
Paul’s heart breaks for them, he despises the error of those who would turn away the very children for whom Christ died.
Paul’s desire is that these very same false teachers would be accursed, damned to hell for all eternity for what their division.
Consider the next verse; Gal 1:8-9
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
And just in case you missed it Paul repeats;
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Brethren Paul demonstrates to you the very heart of God in the seriousness of the error for which they have been led away.
Paul reflects Christ in his condemnation of those who would pervert the right ways of the Lord.
Jesus was not shy in his own condemnation of the same type of people.
Turn with me to Matthew 23:13-15
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
The entire 23rd Chapter of Matthew is the most frightening rebuke of God to those that would lead away the children of God “unto another Gospel”.
Please know and understand that God is jealous over you with Godly jealousy and will not suffer you to be turned away without a fight.
You are given Pastors whose very charge is not only to lead the sheep to pasture, but to guard you and protect you from danger, to identify wolves and to chase them off or deal with them if they should come for the sheep.
But know beloved, that the Lord has given you HIS own words that you yourselves might identify the wolves who WILL come among you, either physically or in books, on the internet, You Tube or Music or television, movies, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social garbage that steal our time and heart.
Other gospels are dropped in the waters all around you, only the Bible will help you navigate the seas and come through safely.
This grace is given you as armor for the war.
Simply If we ignore this book, if we will not so much as read its contents every day; the Pastor can preach, he can warn, he can yell, blow a trumpet, sound an alarm, raise the war cry, but you will be deaf and blind to it all.
Beloved, I will not be shy in telling you that if you will not commit to reading this book every day in this evil world, you will be one of the foolish Paul speaks of in Galatians 3:1;
Wolves will take the weakest of you, the most feeble, those most slow to identify them.
The more you read the Bible, the less chance you are at risk,
The more you feast on his word, the stronger you will be when wolves come and the better chance you have to protect those around you.
You are responsible not only for yourselves, but for those around you.
Men are ultimately responsible to watch; they are the shepherds of their homes and held to account. But wives too can muzzle the trumpet warning of another Gospel If they neglect the Bible.
Every book in the New Testament except Philemon, warns of false teachers and error, some, like the book of Galatians, are DEDICATED TO IT.
1. An Error Identified, An Authority Introduced
I Have six short points reflecting the six short Chapters of Galatians that I pray may give you an oversight into this book.
In this first chapter, and after Paul’s, always wonderfully deep, introduction, the apostle does not mince his words in the sixth verse saying;
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
So soon removed; Paul is here speaking to all the Churches of the region of Galatia, which is today the northern parts of Turkey Geographically, but also extends down to some of the regions of Phrigia and Antioch in Syria.
These knew the Gospel of Christ and where preached to, even by Paul the apostle, not long ago, and yet are So soon removed from all he had preached to them.
The latter half of the first chapter Paul goes on to introduce his own authority for understanding what it is that he has preached from the beginning.
From Verse 11 he writes;
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
And then goes on to justify the change that had been made in him as a living testimony to the truth of all that was revealed to him.
But he said that he was NOT Taught it, nor had he received the Gospel from man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ
The ultimate authority that he introduces for the Gospel is Jesus himself, the Word of God.
Paul had the Gospel personally revealed to him by Christ and his life became a living testimony to it.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;….
Paul wasted the Church, but God called him by his grace, revealed Christ in him and did so for one specific purpose, to preach him among the …gentiles (2:8).
2. An Authority Confirmed, An Error Confronted
Chapter two Paul has his apostleship confirmed and he gives the account of it telling first of the term of fourteen years of preaching the Gospel and then went to Jerusalem to meet the rest of the Apostles. (2:1)
But then he introduces to us that his beloved Titus (who is a Greek) who served with him was not compelled to be circumcised. (2:3)
Now we have the introduction of the specific error coming into a better explanation.
Remember that Paul’s is writing to the Galatians for the purpose of correcting an error, so Paul will maintain that theme.
Consider from verse 2:3
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
False brethren…How is it that Paul was able to discern a true brother in Christ from false brethren?
Today it seems to be the scandal of Christianity to call someone who claims Christ as their saviour, as being lost and not at all saved, as being false in their faith, false brethren.
The beloved today seems to be slow to consider the authenticity of the faith of some, yet Paul is not long into this epistle before he is ready to make and emphatic claim that “false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage”
Incredible, not only was Paul confident of their spiritual state, but also he discerned their MOTIVES, that they might bring us into bondage”
He says in verse 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour;
Whatever it was they were trying to teach, Paul identified the error quickly and, through his contention, discerned their state. If there was an earthly shepherd of the sheep we could all learn from, Paul would be it.
How quick are you to be able to discern error?
Can you see a wolf afar off or do you wait until he gets really close and personal to you? Do you still wait until he takes the first bite? Or are you so seared in your minds you are willing to have the wolf devour you, your family?
Are you willing rather not to call out the wolf, for fear of people?
That’s why there were always so few Prophets in the Old Testament.
No, not for an hour…says Paul.
If the people of this Church knew the word of God well, and lived the Gospel of Christ, there would be very little opportunity for such people to bring us into bondage, or for other avenues of error to distract us from the purpose for which the Lord has given each of us.
What is the ‘Error Paul Confronted’ that is facing the Galatians that Paul brings an example of?
And this is an incredible portion of this Epistle, Paul finds himself having to confront the elder Peter, for he was to be blamed.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all,
Stop here for a moment; This is PETER! Peter the Apostle, Peter to whom the Lord gave charges and who was one of the three closest to Jesus! He walked with Jesus, three years as part of the ministry, seen him taken and Crucified.
Who is this upstart that would now confront such an Apostle as Peter? Who is this apostle, born out of due time, who was once so filled with error that he even “persecuted the Church of God and wasted it”?
What is he compared to Peter?
Brethren if this example does not humble those we hold in the greatest esteem, perhaps nothing will. Here the “baby Christian” Paul is about to school the elder Peter, and do so publically!
14 If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
Now, stop there for a moment and consider with me; did Peter take the rebuke of Paul and learn of it, the Gospel more perfectly?
Peter feared the Jews and not yet fully considering the Gospel of GRACE, attempted to hedge his bets and live also by the works of the LAW.
But Paul brought out the contradictory nature of HOW PETER WAS LIVING, saying, that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, and going on saying; that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Did the great Peter learn of small Paul?
Let’s go back to the book of Acts chapter 15
Paul and Barnabas appear at the beginning of this chapter and incidentally are dealing with the very thing Paul is correcting the error believed by the Galatians.
Listen to Peter’s speech and tell me if he did not humbly accept and even had his heart convicted of the truth;
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
The error confronted in Galatians is the error of keeping the Law of God in order to “Remain saved”. Peter learned from Paul that we are free from the Law that we might live unto Christ. Liberty and not Bondage, we have trusted in Christ and not ourselves. Look how Paul concludes that incredible second chapter;
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
3. An Error Admonished, An Authority Remembered
The third chapter begins with force;
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Fools become easily fooled and PAUL twice makes the reference here. We, like the Galatians have Jesus Christ evidently set forth crucified among us, they new it, not because they witnessed it first hand, but because they had the word told them and written to them of it.
If you are daily neglecting Gods words given to you, you are a fool who will be easily fooled, and the world is filled with all manner of foolish ideas and comes to you through a multitude of mediums.
But now consider the consistent logic of Paul bringing to the very front the actual foolishness of the Galatians who, have all evidence of Christ Crucified among them, the Spirit of God and the New Birth gaining eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.
But now think that such a great miraculous work that has been done for them, they shall grow in their own effort??? Really???
O foolish Galatians who hath bewitched you…?
How many of you have done this?
We are saved by faith and then go on thinking that the rest is up to us?
Faith has saved me, but to mature in the Lord and to grow, I need to ensure I tick all the boxes, keep the law of God, Do this and do that.
Salvation was the work of Christ but to stay saved is up to me!
2 Tim 1 Paul wrote “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Who was he trusting in?
I have had my fair share of Galatians to contend with over the years. Many there are out there who think Salvation is tentative.
Many who don’t link what Paul wrote at the end of the second Chapter that;
for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Jesus died for nothing, if we think we are to be perfected by works.
If heaven is to be gained eventually by personal effort, why did Jesus even need to come?
The balance of Chapter three to bring to remembrance the authority of Biblical history and how it all ties into the righteousness we have attained.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
What was accounted to Abraham for righteousness?
Abraham believed God
And this does not only apply to Abraham, but all who are of faith, are the children of Abraham.
Beloved, that Abraham believed God’s words Justified him, this is without question.
Paul is speaking to the Galatians about how they now should live.
They and we need to live Believing God believing what he said, this is what it is to live by faith and not by sight.
4. An Authority Dispensed, The Error Explained
In Chapter four Paul goes on to explain the nature of the Law. The Authority of the Law was dispensed as a “School master” and to us as ‘Servants being under tutors and govenors… until the time appointed of the father’ (4:2)
(4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Before this we were in bondage, he says in verse 3, but now redeemed and adopted as sons.
Now take a look at verse 9.
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
They now feel the need to observe days, and months and times and years. It amazes me to see in Victoria such a zelous effort to keep Good Friday as a public holiday for all.
These same people count it good to riot in the day time, to revel in drunkenness, blaspheme God at every turn, live as if there is not God nor judgement, but on one day of the year, which signifies an event few believe in, they want to force the world to observe, WHY?
These same people refuse meat on that day but are happy to get drunk on it.
They follow a religion and not Christ and Paul says he is afraid that he has labored upon them in vain.
From verse 21 Paul brings out an allegory for the wives of Abraham, one a bondmaid the other a free, one after the promise of God the other after the flesh. He uses this as a further attestation to trust ONLY in the promise and to be rid of the things of the flesh.
Look at verse 28
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
It seems to be the most natural thing that those who would spy out our liberty in Christ would have us be yoked again to the Law, even persecuting us without understanding that the purpose of the Law was to bring us to Christ.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
5. The Error Corrected, The Authority Identified
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
If you think that you will perfect the Salvation God has given freely, you become a debtor to do the whole law, Christ is become of no effect unto you (v3-4).
Now Take care here that you don’t come to think this liberty of yours is an excuse to sin, Paul warns of this and gives understanding as to how we should live.
5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Do not allow yourself to consider freedom to sin, is the expression of liberty, that’s what sinners believe who can do nothing else.
You do not live to yourself, love and serve one another.
And if loving our neighbor as ourselves is the truest expression of the Law of God fulfilled, then put away all speeches of malice and sarcasm and contempt that benefits no one.
Use your speech to always lift people up and not put them down.
Sometimes it takes conscious practice, but it will not be long before it becomes natural to you and blesses both you and those around you.
If you give occasion to the flesh however, you will not express love.
There is a great deal in this chapter you need to read for yourselves, but Paul concludes describing the distinction between the “works of the Flesh and the fruit of the Spirit” and it is worthwhile considering his words.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
6. Stay the Course
Chapter Six can be summarized to Stay The Course.
A fair summary is from verse 7 to 10
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
God knows the heart of all people, you are to bear you own burden (v5).
We all sow to one nature or another, recall that we have now two contrary natures abiding within. Don’t sow to the flesh, nothing good will come of it.
Sow to the spirit of God and reap the wonderful blessings that come of it.
Read the word, grow believing God and you will not be weary in well doing… in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
Paul concludes the chapter reiterating all he has spoken of
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
If you have been born again, you are a new creature and have gained eternal life, not of your doing, but of Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you have looked to Christ to save you, look to him to perfect you.
Beloved Paul is dealing with error that has come in to the Churches of Galatia, not one single church but the Churches of an entire region, like leven it has levened the entire Lump.
I have heard sermons that are frightening in their effort. They quote scripture’s so well you would be absolutely convinced that what they are teaching is true.
I have met member of Cults who also know so many verses that they have been taught to read, perfectly convinced of their error and I can tell you earnestly, would easily convince many Christians today.
“A text out of Context becomes a Proof Text for a Pretext”
“A text out of Context becomes a Proof Text for a Pretext”
“A text out of Context becomes a Proof Text for a Pretext”
Any verse of the Bible, taken out of its setting in the Bible, can be used as a proof to justify an error.
Cults and false teachers are masters at it.
Some sermons and positions run so deep in their error with so many proof texts I don’t know where to begin with them.
Every time the disciples of Christ asked concerning the signs of the last days, Jesus began with these words “be not deceived”.
Strong delusions are going to come upon the people of the world, those who read the word of God daily are the least likely to be deceived.
The purpose of knowing Gods words is ultimately to become like Jesus.
I want to leave you with the words of one verse of King David’s Psalm which so wonderfully concludes this book.
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.