The Gospel that was first preached in Jerusalem was carried by Jewish Greek speaking evangelists to Samaria, the seacoast Palestinian towns and as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. At Antioch, something new happened - the Lord Jesus Christ was preached to the Greeks also. Under the ministrations of Paul and Barnabus the new religion was then taken to the Roman province of Galatia. Here opposition of the Jews made the apostles declare.. "spoken to you, now we turn unto the Gentiles," from here, the story is largely that of the spread of Gentile Christianity.

The book of Galatians is a Pauline epistle necessitated by a serious defection among Paul's converts in the Roman province of Galatia made on his three missionary journeys. The apostle is called upon to defend the gospel of free grace which he had proclaimed to the Gentiles. There was a growing influence in the Galatian church by a group know as the Judaizers. Judaistic teachers had come in to distort Paul's gospel with a mixture of human works and forms of legalism. These teachers insisted that Christians must observe Jewish laws in addition to believing in Jesus and were making headway in the Galatian church by challenging the adequacy of Paul's teachings.

The original date and destination of the Galatians epistle in uncertain. It may have been addressed to the churches in southern Galatia which Paul and Barnabas founded on the first missionary journey. The North Galatia hypothesis requires a date after the journey of Acts 18.23, since Galatians 4.13 implies that Paul visited Galatia twice before writing the letter, then the probable place of writing was at Ephesus around 52. Some place it earlier and at 49 or 50, just after his return to Syrian Antioch at the close of his first journey and others as late as 58.

The Galatians letter speaks of God as sending His son in the fullness of time and history can connect this text to the fact of a worldwide movement of religious change that came about the time of Alexander the Great with the translation of the Bible in Greek and was reaching its high-water mark with the improved transportation due to Roman expansion about the time of our Lord. The world had suddenly become more connected and everywhere people were beginning to be aware of the brotherhood of man and to turn to religion for confirmation of this. Religion was called upon to play a new social role in the history of mankind.

Paul had founded these Galatian churches from about 45-48. It was in the wake of the Neronian persecution that Paul was re-arrested, in Greece or Asia Minor, possibly at Troas and brought back to Rome. This time it was by the agents of Rome, not like the first time by the Jews. In AD 50, Paul arrived in Corinth. At this time Paul was living in the house of Aquila and his wife Priscilla. An enemy had suddenly appeared in Paul's rear. There had come among them Christian teachers of Jewish birth, such as the Ebionites, who looked upon the Christianity Paul presented as spurious and dangerous. They said that in order to benefit by his gospel one must be an heir of Abraham and circumcized. Depending on when Galatians was written, these false teachings may have already been dealt with at the Jerusalem Council but Paul must now defend grace and his apostolic credentials.

The book of Galatians contains the text of Christian freedom and grace that must be used to combat the Judiastic tendencies of many churches today. Churches that teach that Christians must accept the Jewish feast days or Sabbath keeping or circumcision or any adherence to the law of Moses in any way as requirements have set themselves up as Judaizing deceivers. Nullifying the law of grace and Christian freedom is to place Jesus on the cross again and by doing so, they have disobeyed the truth and fallen from grace themselves.

Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh?
Paul called this teaching as another gospel and a perversion that draws a curse on those who practice this type of legalism. He went further, calling even the law itself a curse.
But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The reply to the faithful is clear: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." This should be enough to settle the matter but there are just so many churches today that have not yet learned Christian freedom. You can see today's legalists and Judaizers as followers of the authoritarian letter of scripture and all kinds of rules, regulations, traditions of men and the doctrines of demons designed to quench the spirit and enslave us to a past way of life that has already been done away with by the cross. "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Those that teach legalistic rules of conduct have never learned to walk in the spirit.

So how do we lead a Christian life if we do not adhere to the law?

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law." "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

[315, 339, 355, 357, 338, 343, 374, Acts]

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