Thursday: Paul and the Galatians

However clear the council, there were those who sought to go their own way and who continued to advocate that the Gentiles keep Jewish traditions and laws. For Paul this became a very serious matter; that is, it wasn’t trifling over the fine points of faith. It had become a denial of the gospel of Christ itself.

Read Galatians 1:1-12. How serious does Paul see the issue he is confronting in Galatia? What should that tell us about the importance of this question?

Paul and the Galatians

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As stated before, it was the Galatian situation that in large degree prompted the content of the letter to Rome. In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul further develops the theme of the Galatian epistle. Some Jewish believers were contending that the law God had given them through Moses was important and should be observed by Gentile converts. Paul was trying to show its true place and function. He didn’t want these people to gain a foothold in Rome as they had done in Galatia.

It is an oversimplification to ask whether Paul is speaking of ceremonial or moral laws in Galatians and Romans. Historically, the argument was whether or not Gentile converts should be required to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. The Jerusalem council had already ruled on this question, but some refused to follow its decision.

Some read in Paul’s letters to the Galatians and the Romans evidence that the moral law, the Ten Commandments (or, in truth, only the fourth commandment), is no longer binding on Christians. Yet, they are missing the point of the letters, missing the historical context and issues that Paul was addressing. Paul, as we’ll see, stressed that salvation was by faith alone and not by the keeping of the law, even the moral law. Yet that isn’t the same thing as saying that the moral law shouldn’t be kept. Obedience to the Ten Commandments was never an issue; those who make it an issue are reading back into texts a contemporary issue, one that Paul wasn’t dealing with.

How do you respond to those who claim the Sabbath is no longer binding upon Christians? How can you show the truth of the Sabbath in a way that does not compromise the integrity of the gospel?
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