An Overview of Galatians
By Joe Guagliardo
Over the years, things haven’t changed much. When we meet someone on the street, we greet them. Another words, we say something like, “Hello, how are you,” “Yo, what’s up” and a variety of other sayings that I won’t use here.
We also greet each other when writing an email, on Tick Toc, Instagram, and many other sites we visit.
Perhaps the words have changed, but 2000 years ago, people greeted each other in much the same way.
The Gospel of Mark begins,
“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
This is a relatively straightforward greeting, but it is a greeting.
In the Gospel of Luke, Luke writes to an acquaintance, Theophilus.
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Luke succinctly addresses an acquaintance and tells him what is to come is quite important.
Finally, in Galatian, which we will look at in the coming days, Paul addresses a community.
“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Without exception, Paul’s greeting to the Galatians becomes a stern plea to not distort the words and life of Christ.
No Other Gospel
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul has learned that many of the Galatians who had converted to Christianity (The Way) while he was in Galatia have fallen away from his teachings. He is astonished that this has happened so soon after he has moved on to other cities preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One has to love Paul’s line,
“Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
As you may have noticed, Paul doesn’t name names, and you will find that he seldom, if ever, names the names of those who are “perverting the gospel.” But he leaves no doubt in this letter that he is talking about Judaizers.
Judaizers convinced many of the Galatians who believed in Christ that they must follow the Mosaic Law (The law of Moses). (Circumcision, to name just one)
Paul’s point is that Mosaic law was superseded with the coming of Christ. In other words, Christ’s coming made that law obsolete.
When Paul says, “Let them be under God’s curse,” he uses a much stronger word than our interpretation. Paul says, “Anathema,” which means.
Let him be doomed to hell!
Paul comes right out and says that he is a servant of Christ. What does that make the Judaizers? The exact opposite. They are serving only themselves.
As we continue our reading and discussion, we will see how disturbing this falling away is to Paul. We’ll also be discussing, The Jerusalem Council, which Paul was a part of. Here we’ll better understand why Paul is so adamant in his teaching.