Imagine this. You have this friend that is a terrible cook. In fact, they don’t even know how to boil water. So that’s what you start with. You teach them how to boil water. You show them a pot, tell them what a pot is, and that the water goes in the pot, and you place the pot on the stove for the water to boil. After you teach them this, they are able to do it on their own perfectly and fully understand how to boil water. So, you go home. Then, while you are away, some stranger shows up, declaring to your friend they are a professional chef and that is not how you boil water. That you taught them wrong and aren’t even qualified to teach how to boil water, because you didn’t go to culinary school. They proceed to teach them that the pot is meant to be worn as a hat and they have to hold the water in their hands and hold their hands over the stove! What a completely ridiculous scenario? Yet this is what Paul was facing with the church in Galatia.
Paul had gone on one of his earlier missionary trips to the Galatians and preached the Gospel of Christ. The church in Galatia received it and accepted it. They believed by faith that Jesus died for their sins and had saved them. So, Paul moved on, but later on he discovered that a group called the Judaizers, Jewish Christians that believed faith in Christ was not enough to save, that you still had to follow the law and customs such as circumcision to be saved, had gone behind him and undid all his good work. Hence the purpose of this letter.
To help understand this letter, I would like to perform my interpretation of Galatians 1. The Bethany Calloway version or the BCV if you will: Hey it’s Paul and the squad calling. I was appointed by nobody but Christ Himself and by God who raised Him from the dead. Let God and Jesus bless you. Jesus died for our sins so we can be saved. Glory to God. Amen.
WHAT ARE Y’ALL DOING?!? I am shocked by y’all’s stupidity. Y’all 180 and repented of your sins yet now you’re turning back to slavery? Like, what in the 360 are y’all doing? The law can’t save you. Curses! Curses on all who convinced you of this. Curses on them, curses on me, curses on angels if they preach any other Gospel then Christ and Christ crucified. I ain’t trying to people-please. If I were I wouldn’t be serving Christ. Stop listening to these liars! I wasn’t taught or told by humans but by Jesus Himself! You know what. If y’all want to follow the law sooooo badly, let me tell you what I was like when I followed the law. I MURDERED PEOPLE! Literally killing people left and right. Hashtag number 1 Christian slayer. But Thank God He chose to save me before I was born to preach the Good New to the Gentiles. I did not go and learn from the “important people” in Judea. I went off and chilled with Jesus and learned from Him. And what I learned, I told Peter and James, Jesus’ brother, and they confirmed my message I learned from Christ. I didn’t even get permission from man to preach. I just did it. And the church in Judea rejoices. Mainly because I wasn’t murdering them anymore. They praised God. They were like hashtag preach it Paul.
Of course, I am being overdramatic, but I want you to hear and feel Paul’s frustration. In Galatians 4:19, he describes how he feels like he is giving birth to them again, he is in so much anguish. He was so heartbroken they had left the true Gospel. So, what exactly did they trade the true Gospel for?
Because of these Judaizers' teachings, they started to believe you cannot be saved by Christ alone. You had to couple it with works. By obeying the law of Moses, becoming Jewish, and being circumcised then you could be completely saved. The Judaizers also lied about Paul to discredit him. They said that Paul had been taught by the first Apostles and the church in Judea about this “true Gospel” and had gone rogue. That the message Paul preached was condoned by the Apostles and the church in Judea. They did not care about the Galatians or their salvation. All they cared about was status, the ability to brag that they “saved the church in Galatia, and make more people like them. To make people in their own image.
Of course, this would grieve Paul. To have people he cared about, invested in, and hoped to see in eternity trade the beautiful truth of Jesus’ salvation for the lies of having to earn salvation. He knows from personal experience that the law cannot save you. Only faith alone in Christ can. Works are simply the byproduct of the Holy Spirit in you, that you received by faith, making you more like Christ. Producing good fruit.
That is why in chapter one of Galatians, Paul starts off with his credentials and the true message of salvation. That we are saved by faith alone in Christ Jesus. To remind them of who ordained him and what the true Gospel is. Then he calls out the lies and uses his testimony as an example that saving yourself by works only leads to death. Then he defends himself from the lies of these false preachers. Not because he cared what others thought about him, but to give validity to the true Gospel. To dispel these false rumors that the Apostles and the church in Judea opposed him. When in fact Peter, the rock that church was built on, and James, Jesus’ literal brother, confirmed his message to be true. And the church in Judea rejoiced in Paul’s work and message.
The purpose of the letter to the church in Galatia is to remind them what the true Gospel is, defend his authority to preach the Gospel, rebuke these false teachers, and show how salvation through works does not work. That works are merely a byproduct of the Holy Spirit, you received by faith, working in you.
So how does this apply to us? The letter to the church in Galatia was written to the Galatians. Not to us. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is written for us. For in this letter, we can glean three truths.
The most important truth, Salvation through faith alone in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the only thing that can save us. Nothing else can come close.
Beware of false teachers. Filter every preaching and teaching you hear or see through the first truth mentioned. If it doesn’t line up. Don’t believe it. The first truth helps us discern if someone is a true or false teacher.
You cannot save yourself through works. Jesus does not need your help to save you. His life, death, and resurrection are sufficient to save you. If you try to save yourself through works, you are rejecting Jesus and saying Christ is not enough to save you. In fact, Paul says later in Galatians 5:2, “If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you.” The truth is your works for the kingdom of God does not save you but are merely byproducts of the Holy Spirit in you that you received by faith working in you to produce good fruit. Making you more and more like Christ.
So remember, faith alone in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is the only thing that saves you. Beware of false teachers that preach against this true Gospel, and do not count on your works to save you. Only Jesus Christ can. For His life, death, and resurrection is sufficient to save.