THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
In order to understand Galatians, we need to understand the Jewish biblical context and the Jewish issues in Galatians. I believe this work will help correct many of the misunderstandings that results from reading Galatians without its proper context. It is meant to help you. Examine your heart and take some time to see if what I am sharing with you is true.
Introduction to Galatians
Shaul (Paul) writes a letter to the Galatians over some Jewish matters. Shaul was educated in Jerusalem under the grandson of the Great Hillel and Shaul was one of the chief Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and was a Pharisee (P'rushim). In order to understand Galatians, we need to understand the Jewish biblical context and the Jewish issues. It is apparent that when Shaul corrects Kefa (Peter) for being influenced by the Torah breakers in Galatians chapter 2, he must have had to face issues like this before. The Galatians probably knew what Shaul was talking about. We have to find out what the Jewish issues were and from that we can piece together an understanding of Galatians.
In our introduction to Galatians, we began by saying that Shaul (Paul) was addressing Jewish issues in an area not too far from where he grew up. Translations do not tell us what the Jewish issues were that were being addressed. We have to find out what these are if we want the original intended meaning of what Shaul is sharing. We are studying an ancient text and we need to understand how it was intended to be applied. Shaul identifies man-made laws as a problem in Galatians. These man-made laws were preventing the Gentiles from being included in the messianic community.
Shaul continues talking about Jewish issues concerning the messianic message to the Gentiles. He talks about the events leading up to a meeting with the leadership in Jerusalem about his outreach to the Gentiles. They give Shaul their blessing to go to the Gentiles. Shaul (Paul) talks about an encounter with those who were adding extra stipulations on the Gentiles.
This next section is an entirely Jewish type of argument. These arguments start by making some informative statements followed by a forceful finishing conclusion. He concludes by implying that they were to put to death these inappropriate extra laws and follow the Messiah the way they were supposed to.
It's exciting to see Shaul's (Paul's) train of thought when we understand the Bible correctly in its Jewish biblical context. He makes some very important points which are totally missed by taking Galatians out of context. Context is important!. In chapter 3 of Galatians, Shaul (Paul) begins by making points about the extra misapplied laws. Yeshua died for both Jew and Gentile and it wasn't the misapplied laws that gave us the Holy Spirit. The misapplied laws don't perfect us, but the Holy Spirit can help us. One of the purposes the Messiah came was to get rid of the extra misapplied laws. Do those who lead you do miracles through a man-made religious system or by the Holy Spirit?
Beginning in Galatians 3:19, Shaul (Paul) says we needed the law to keep us from sin until the Messiah came. The law is not against what God promised because the law can give life and right living can come through the law.
We have become free from slavery to sin and are now slaves of God. We were guarded by the Torah which kept us for faith in the Messiah. The law was our guide to help us live like the Messiah so we could live justly by faith. We believe and receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is our guide to help us apply the Torah.
The Gentiles served man-made idols before they knew God. Shaul asks them why they are going back to man-made things. Shaul says that they should become like him. He stopped keeping the misapplied man-made laws of a religious system, so why don't they do the same. They accepted him and he asks them to continue to accept him. Those who are trying to impose man-made laws on them are doing it for themselves and not for them. Do they want to follow a system of man-made laws or laws from God? Don't be in bondage to them; rather be a servant (doulos) for God and keep God's commandments.
Shaul begins by saying that there is nothing to be profited by adult male circumcision – because of the extreme danger involved. If we think about it, those who were pushing circumcision were causing the deaths of sincere believers who listened to their misapplied application of the Torah. We know that the Torah teaches us to save lives. Those who don't listen to the Torah and get circumcised transgress the Torah. The Messiah does not want us to live by misapplied laws. Instead, faith working by benevolent love strengthens us.
Instead of arguing over man-made laws, be led by the Holy Spirit. Misapplied Man-made laws are a desire of the flesh; they are not from God. These misapplied man-made laws keep us from following the Torah the way we are supposed to. If we are being led by the Holy Spirit, we are not the agency for misapplied man-made laws.
Those who understand the Torah and know how to apply the Torah benefit together with the teaching of those that teach them. Don't be deceived or go astray; God will not be fooled. God knows whether we serve our fleshy nature or the things of God which end in eternal life. Don't become weary in keeping God's commandment which at God's timing will end in eternal life. So let us apply God's commandments properly and being concerned with doing what is right.
One of the things that we most certainly learned from our study of Galatians is that we are not to try to manufacture a belief system to our own satisfaction. In chapter one, most read that those who change the gospel message are cursed. It perhaps never occurs to them the Tanakh (Old Testament portion) says we are cursed for changing God's commandments (Deuteronomy 4:2). The question we should be asking ourselves is what commandments were being changed.