The Foolish Galatians
It is difficult not to admire the Apostle Paul and his absolute savage honesty. Check out this verse:
Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. (Galatians 3:1 NLT)
Imagine if your pastor got in front of the congregation and said "You bunch of dummies!" That would certainly garner the attention of everyone in the room. I bet you are wondering what has Paul's feathers so ruffled that he would be so abrupt. I admit that it may seem somewhat juvenile for me to call this my favorite chapter of the Bible because of the way it starts, but this chapter is also one of the firmest admonishments of reliance on the Law instead of Faith.
Paul writes his letter to the Galatians because they were being heavily influenced by false teachers who insisted that Christians needed to follow Jewish laws and customs. Paul's anger and frustration are clearly shown by his words when he doubles down on calling them fools again.
How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Galatians 3:3 NLT)
To prove the point, he then brilliantly reminds the recipients of his letter that Abraham (who was born before the Law was given) was made righteous by his faith and not by following the law. He goes on to say:
So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Galatians 3:11 NLT)
This was a fascinating stance by someone who was a former Pharisee. It is a complete repentance of his stance when he was out persecuting Christians before his experience on the road to Damascus. The Pharisees spent their lives studying the law and making sure their fellow adherents were strictly following the 600+ laws laid out in the Old Testament. Paul even says:
You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. (Galatians 1:13-14 NLT)
So if anyone would have championed the idea of Faith and Law being required for salvation, you would think it would be our cantankerous author. And yet, Paul opposed even Peter on this topic of following the Law and Jewish traditions. This chapter makes it absolutely clear that any gospel that tries to add works or law-following as a condition for salvation, is a false gospel.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17 NLT)
So are you a foolish Galatian? Are you firm in your understanding of how to become right with God? If reading this left you with more questions than answers, I encourage you to read the entire book of Galatians. You might also find this page on our website to be very informative. Come join us in Sunday School as well!