Why Am I Saved?
What Does That Mean?
A Study of Galatians
by David Chadwell
THE SOURCE OF THE GOSPEL
Section 2: Galatians 1:11-2:21
Paul verified that the gospel he presented came directly from Jesus Christ.
"The gospel I preached to you did not come to me through another human."
- "I received it through direct divine communication, not through human
- "Jesus Christ, not an apostle, was my teacher.
- "This should be obvious:
- "When I lived in Jerusalem where the apostles were I was devoted to
destroying the church.
- "My devotion to Judaism consumed me; I was not teachable.
- "No one was a more learned student, a more accomplished student, or a
more zealous advocate of Judaism.
- "From the time of my birth, God intended to call me by His grace .
- "God intended to reveal Jesus to me.
- "God intended for me to preach the good news about Jesus to
- "When God revealed Jesus Christ to me, I did not go to Jerusalem to be
trained in the message of the gospel by the apostles.
- "I went from Damascus to Arabia.
- "Later I went from Arabia back to Damascus.
- "Three years after my conversion I made my first trip to Jerusalem (1:18-24).
- "I went to meet Peter, and I visited with him for fifteen days.
- "Aside from James who was Jesus' brother, I did not meet any other
- "I am telling you the truth!
- "Afterward I traveled to areas of Syria and Cilicia.
- "But the Christians in Judea did not know me personally--at that time they
would not have recognized me if they saw me.
- "They heard that I had been converted and was preaching for Christ.
- "They rejoiced in that news.
- "My second trip to Jerusalem came fourteen years later (2:1-10).
- "I made the trip with Barnabas (remember that Barnabas was converted in
Jerusalem and active in the church there [Acts 4:36,37; 9:27; 11:22-24]) and
with Titus (a Christian who was not Jewish).
- "A revelation directed me to make this trip.
- "On this visit I submitted the good news that I preached to the church
leaders in Jerusalem.
- "I privately disclosed the message that I had been preaching.
- "I wanted them to verify the good news that I presented to people who
were not Jewish.
- "This was the result of that visit:
- "The apostles did not instruct Titus to be circumcised.
- "The apostles did not endorse the position of the false brethren who tried
to bind us to the rituals of the law.
- "The apostles declared that God had given me the mission of presenting
the good news about Jesus to non-Jews just as He had given Peter the
mission of presenting the good news about Jesus to the Jews.
- "James, Peter, and John gave Barnabas and me the right hand of
fellowship; they affirmed our message to non-Jewish people.
- "They made only one request of us: remember the poor; and we were
- "My status as an apostle was confirmed by an incident that involved Peter
- "When Peter visited Antioch, he made a serious mistake that was nothing
short of hypocritical.
- "When he arrived, he freely ate and associated with non-Jewish
- "Later, when a group of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem came to
Antioch, he stopped associating with the local Christians.
- "He did so because he was afraid of the powerful group in the Jerusalem
church who insisted that non-Jewish converts be circumcised.
- "No only did he stop his association, but he even convinced Barnabas to
stop his association with these Christians he helped convert.
- "I publicly told Peter, 'You are forcing non-Jewish Christians to comply with a
Jewish conviction that you, as a Christian, reject.'
- "This is what I told Peter (2:15-21):"
- There is a distinct difference between:
- A Jewish Christian practicing circumcision as a Jewish rite to endorse his
Jewish heritage and culture, and
- Demanding that a non-Jewish sinner be circumcised in order to have
- Jews and non-Jews are all justified before God in the same way--by faith in
- (In this statement Paul stressed this truth: only by trusting the atonement
God made through the death of Jesus could anyone receive forgiveness.)
- (When a Jew, as an act of heritage and culture, was circumcised, that act
did not justify him.)
- Faith in Christ (trusting God's accomplishment in Jesus' crucifixion) will justify
- Obeying the instructions and practicing the rituals of Jewish law will justify no
- Paul then directed the focus of the argument to himself. In my personal
judgment, he was trying to remove the potential for irrational emotion. His point
had emotional, explosive potential for both Jewish and non-Jewish Christians.
- "If, after I accept justification in Christ, I sin, does my sin make Christ the
minister of sin? Did Christ enable me to sin by justifying me?"
- "Absolutely not!"
- "I prove that I transgressed when I rebuild what I destroyed."
- "As a Jew, committed to the law, I died to law in order that I might become
alive to God."
- Remember: Many Jewish Christians believed that obedience to the law
made one alive to God.
- To these, the idea that a person under the law was not alive to God was
- To many of them, the necessity of dying to the law to become alive to God
was a strange concept.
- "I died with Christ so the I don't live any more."
- "Because I accepted justification in Christ, Christ lives in me."
- "My physical existence is ruled by faith in God's son, the one who loved
me and died for me."
- "I will not cancel God's grace by teaching people to trust law instead of
- "If it is possible to become righteous before God by law, then Christ's death
was unnecessary and without purpose."
Observation: We previously noted how Paul's enemies in the church attacked his
credibility by attacking his credentials as an apostle. This final argument likely reflects
the core information Paul stressed in his confrontation with Peter. It provides us with
an insight into the manner that some Jewish Christians attacked Paul's message.
- Many of these former idol worshippers who had been baptized into Christ likely
"looked and acted" spiritually crude when compared to the moral and ethical
sophistication of the typical Jewish Christian.
- In their spiritual infancy, likely some of their actions and deeds "offended" Jewish
- Jewish Christian argument: "Surely people who had been forgiven and saved would
not conduct themselves like that! If faith in Jesus is responsible for them living and
acting like that, Jesus must be teaching them how to sin instead of delivering them from
- Paul's declaration: Because they are spiritually unlearned and unsophisticated does
not mean that Jesus teaches them to be sinful. Forcing them to adopt Jewish rituals to
improve external appearances to Jewish Christians is not the answer. Jewish law and
ritual cannot and will not make them righteous. Only by trusting Christ (the source of
atonement and sanctification) can they be righteous.
Important realization: Being righteous does not depend on how we are perceived or
evaluated by human eyes. Being righteous depends on how we appear in the eyes of
God. Faith in Christ changes us in God's eyes.
A FOCUS ON JEWISH CIRCUMCISION
Background Material to be
Studied at the End of Galatians 2
A central issue in the controversy between the Jewish Christians and Paul was the rite
of Jewish circumcision (Galatians 5:1-6; 6:12-15). The Jewish Christians from
Jerusalem falsely taught that non-Jewish Christians must accept Jewish circumcision,
Jewish law, and Jewish practices in order to be saved. Why? Why did Jews (those
who were not Christians and many who were Christians) place such emphasis on
- Genesis 17:9-14--The original covenant (agreement) God made with
Abraham. (Remember that all Israelites, all Jews, were and are the direct
descendants from Abraham.)
- The covenant that God established with Abraham was to be observed
"throughout their generations" (by all his descendants in any age) [verse 9].
- Every male would be circumcised [verse 10].
- Circumcision was the continuing symbol of the covenant (agreement with its
promises) that God established with Abraham that would include all his
descendants [verse 11].
- Every male should be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth "throughout
your generations" [verse 12].
- Those males to be circumcised included sons, those who were born as servants
to the family, and those who were purchased to be servants for the family
- This was an "everlasting covenant" [verse 13].
- Any Israelite male who was not circumcised was not to be regarded as an
Israelite [verse 14].
- Genesis 17:22-27--Abraham obeyed immediately by having all his male
servants, Ishmael, and himself circumcised.
- Exodus 12:44, 48, 49--A part of the Passover instructions to Israel.
- Passover was the most important religious observance in Israel.
- It commemorated their deliverance from slavery in Egypt by the acts of God.
- It renewed their memory of how they became a free people.
- A slave owned by an Israelite could not eat the Passover meal until he was
circumcised [verses 44,48].
- No uncircumcised man born of Israelite parents could eat the Passover [verse
- Leviticus 12:3--The male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day after
- Joshua 5:2-7--Israelite males were circumcised before the military
campaigns began against the inhabitants of Canaan.
- Preparations were made to circumcise "the sons of Israel" [verses 2,3].
- All the males who left Egypt (forty years earlier) were circumcised [verse 4].
- All the males of adult age (men of war) died in the wilderness before the
nation invaded Canaan.
- This was their punishment for refusing to listen to God the first time He gave
them opportunity to enter Canaan [Numbers 13,14].
- All the males born during the time Israel was in the wilderness were not
circumcised [verse 5].
- These males were circumcised before invading Canaan.
- The oldest were as old as 40 years old (if their mothers were pregnant when
they left Egypt).
- For us to note the force of circumcision, consider Leviticus 19:23-25.
- When they arrived in the land of Canaan, they would plant fruit trees.
- For the first three years, the fruit of those trees was to be regarded
"uncircumcised" and not to be eaten.
- On the fourth year the fruit was to be considered "holy" and offered to God.
- On the fifth year they could eat the fruit.
- To signify that the fruit was not to be used at all in the first three years, they
were to look upon it as "uncircumcised" or strictly forbidden and excluded.
- There is an aspect of circumcision stressed by God that often failed to
register in the understanding of the people.
- While the physical act of circumcision was necessary to obey God, the fact that
the physical act occurred meant nothing unless it reflected the condition of their
- A male could be circumcised on the eighth day, and still not be in relationship
- The whole nation could practice circumcision, and still not be in relationship
- The physical fact of circumcision meant nothing if the person did not have "a
- Leviticus discussed in detail the consequences and punishments that would
occur if Israel turned away from God, were disobedient, and practiced evil.
- However, if such occurred, it did not have to be an irreversible condition.
- Leviticus 26:40-42 stated that God would remember the covenant that he
made with their forefathers and would "remember the land" (bring back the
blessings) if these things occurred:
- If they confessed their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers,
- If they humbled their uncircumcised heart,
- If they make "amends for their iniquity."
- Note circumcised bodies and uncircumcised hearts meant that God would
turn from them and react to them with hostility.
- Deuteronomy 10:12-16--What did God require of Israel?
- Fear (reverence, respect) Him.
- Walk in His ways.
- Love Him.
- Serve Him.
- Do the above with all their hearts and souls.
- Keep the Lord's commandments and statues.
- Circumcise their hearts and refuse to be stubborn.
- To see the stress and emphasis on the importance of the circumcision of the
heart as well as the body, read Jeremiah 4:3,4 and 9:25,26. Paul made this
point to the Jews in the first century in Romans 2:24-29.
Galatians Study Guide (part 5)
Wednesday evening Bible class, 14 January - 3 June 1998
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Copyright © 1998
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