Saturday, July 28, 2012

Galatians: Paul's Position

Paul’s theological position on the relationship of believers to the law is of key importance in his epistle to the Galatian believers. It was through revelatory experience that Paul, a once esteemed Pharisee and persecutor of the Church (1:15, 16), received the Gospel through Jesus Christ (1:12c) as is evidenced in the opening four verses of this epistle. Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Ac. 9) and inferred revelation from Him in the three years leading to his ministry were perhaps an intense time of study and spiritual growth in his life.

Paul was secure in his Gospel yet he rebuked even the new believers – new to the message of salvation in Christ Jesus and freedom from the law – and was heartsick in his knowledge of their abandonment of the Gospel he had preached. Those in Jerusalem, presumably consisting of both Gentiles and Jews, had apparently not known the true God presented by Paul during his ministry. Thus, these babes were vulnerable to any message, be it a false gospel (which was not gospel at all) or true.

Still, despite Paul’s all out effort to offer freedom from religious enslavement of the law through the Gospel of Jesus Christ had fallen on deaf ears. The historical nature of the Jewish believers was at the time overriding in their lives and there was a rejection, still, of the Gentiles who had no birthright in Israel. As for the Judaizers from whom this false gospel had been brought forth, the most effective way to squelch the radical teachings that had fueled this revolutionary uprising was to simply discredit the one who had been teaching; Paul. It was as a result of his knowledge of this group that saddened Paul and prompted this letter.

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