Galatians: The Transition from Judaism to Christianity
Paul is writing to the Galatians at a time when Judaizers had taught the church a gospel contrary to Paul’s. Paul argues against the teachings of the Judaizers, with three main arguments appearing: (1) Paul does not have the authority of an apostle, (2) to become Christians Gentiles had to first become Jews, and (3) keeping of the Jewish law, particularly circumcision, was required for salvation, even for the Gentiles. Here I will explore how Paul responded to these three arguments and what he meant by them.
The Judaizers argued that Paul was not a proper apostle, so Paul claims the gospel he received was not from man, i.e. an invention (Stott 1968: 30), nor was he taught it, i.e. a tradition (Stott 1968: 30), but it came through a revelation of, and meeting with, Jesus Christ (1:12). He implies that no man can simply be educated, like he has, in the kingdom of God (Cole, 1981: 46), thus his gospel is not his own but God’s (Stott 1968: 30). This is backed up by Pail stating he directly met with Jesus (Drane, 2012: 284) (a requirement possibly put forward by Judaizers who were aware of the criteria needed to be an apostle (Acts 1:21-22, Barclay, 1962: 1)), therefore Paul argues that he fits the criteria of an apostle and that his gospel must be from God.
He backs this up further by referring to his previous violent persecution of the church (1:13), as opposed to his belief in, and preaching of, Jesus Christ, (1:16). Paul is saying that this dramatic change of life can only come about by direct intervention of God (Stott, 1968: 32, Barclay, 1962: 12), reaffirming that Paul’s gospel truly originates from God.
Moreover, Paul’s reference to visiting the “pillar apostles” Peter, John and James (2:9), without mentioning that they questioned his authority, and also Peter’s implied acceptance of Paul’s rebuke for Peter’s hypocrisy (2:11-13), suggest that the pillar apostles, including 2 original...
Bibliography: Dennis L.T et al., 2011 ESV Study Bible Wheaton: Crossway
Drane J, 2012 Introducing the New Testament 3rd Edition London: Lion Hudson 2010
Stott J.R.W, 1968 The Message of the Galatians Ontario: Inter-Varsity Press (Suffolk: The Chaucer Press)
Barclay W, 1962 The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians Third Impression Glasgow: The Saint Andrew Press
Cole A, 1981 Galatians First Edition Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press
Word Count: 1100
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