Text: Galatians 1.1-10
Over the next several weeks we’ll spend significant time in the New Testament book of Galatians written by the Apostle Paul. Galatia was a regional collection of cities and villages located in modern-day Turkey and the fledgling church in Galatia faced some intense diversity—both the morally conservatives Jews and the morally liberal Gentiles were finding their way into the church. This was a recipe for conflict.
Galatians regularly refers to “Jews and Gentiles.” Simply put, Gentiles are everyone not of Jewish descent. One of the problems addressed in Galatians was the attempt of Jewish Christians to impose the Old Testament laws of Moses on the new Gentile Christians. They taught that a person could not be saved unless they followed Jewish laws and customs, especially the ritual of circumcision.
For Jews, circumcision was a big deal. While weird to us, circumcision was the God-ordained physical sign of his covenant with the Jewish people. To deny circumcision was to deny God’s covenant relationship.
Paul’s primary intent in the book of Galatians is to defend the Gospel. Through Jesus the Old Testament laws have been fulfilled, and Jews and Gentiles alike come to God through Jesus alone—no longer by the ancient Mosaic laws and traditions. Because this was a huge pill to swallow for Jewish Christians, it required a lot of teaching and often very strong words.
Today, to better understand the world of the Bible and Galatians, watch this video by renowned New Testament scholar N.T. Wright.