- Galatians 1:1-6:18
The exact timing of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is uncertain, but given its theme—salvation is found in Jesus and not the Law of Moses—it makes a lot of sense to include it now in the chronological account. Additionally, there are a few timeframes mentioned in the letter that support the notion that the letter was written around 50 A.D. The region of Galatia is located in modern-day Turkey.
In the letter, Paul explains and defends how he became an apostle and how he was sent to preach Jesus to the Gentiles. He rebukes the Galatian Christians who were being persuaded by certain Jews to follow the Law of Moses in addition to the gospel of Jesus. Paul explained how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and that it is foolish to return to something which was impossible to completely obey and provide justification (that is, a sentence of “not guilty” before GOD in the judgment).
Instead, Paul showed that Abraham was approved by GOD because he had faith and believed GOD’s promises. In the same way, Christians are children of Abraham because they believe the promises of GOD by trusting in Jesus Christ.
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
(Gal. 3:7-9 NIV)
Paul explained that the Law of Moses was given because of man’s sins until Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, had come. The Law convicted the sinner of their sin and showed them the reason they needed a Savior. Today, the gospel of Jesus does the same thing. The words of the New Testament convict us of our sin and need for Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Jesus provides freedom from sin and because of Jesus’ sacrifice, He became the author of the New Covenant between GOD and man, replacing the old covenant under the Law of Moses. Paul cautions that Christians should not use the freedom of Jesus as a reason to sin, however. Paul gives us a list of sinful activities to avoid and righteous character to pursue.
19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, 20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), 21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
(Gal. 5:19-23 AMP)
So, to summarize the Holy Spirit’s teachings in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
- Jesus is the only way to be saved. Attempting to follow the Law of Moses or a different religion aside from Jesus will not save us.
- In Jesus, the Christian has freedom from sin and traditions of men.
- We need to walk in the Spirit, which means that we produce the fruit of the Spirit, and avoid the works of the flesh, which are evil.