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Introduction

Paul, an apostle (not commissioned and sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ—the Messiah—and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself [as a sacrifice to atone] for our sins [to save and sanctify us] so that He might rescue us from this present evil [a]age, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father— to Him be [ascribed all] the glory through the ages of the ages. Amen.

Perversion of the Gospel

I am astonished and extremely irritated that you are so quickly shifting your allegiance and deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different [even contrary] gospel; which is really not another [gospel]; but there are [obviously] [b]some [people masquerading as teachers] who are disturbing and confusing you [with a misleading, counterfeit teaching] and want to distort the gospel of Christ [twisting it into something which it absolutely is not]. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we [originally] preached to you, let him be condemned to destruction! As we have said before, so I now say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from that which you received [from us], let him be condemned to destruction!

10 Am I now [c]trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Paul Defends His Ministry

11 For I want you to know, [d]believers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel [it is not a human invention, patterned after any human concept]. 12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a [direct] revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I surpassed many of my contemporaries among my countrymen in [my advanced study of the laws of] Judaism, as I was extremely loyal to the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased(A) 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles [as the good news—the way of salvation], I did not immediately consult with [e]anyone [for guidance regarding God’s call and His revelation to me]. 17 Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and stayed awhile, and afterward returned once more to Damascus.

18 Then three years later I did go up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and I stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other apostle except James, the [half] brother of the Lord. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you as if I were standing before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown by sight to the churches which were in Christ in Judea (Jerusalem and the surrounding region); 23 they only kept hearing, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the [good news of the] faith which he once was trying to destroy.” 24 And they were glorifying God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place and all that had been accomplished] in me.

The Council at Jerusalem

Then after a period of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem, [this time] with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a [divine] revelation, and I put before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so in private before those of [f]reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run [the course of my ministry] in vain. But [all went well, for] not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, despite the fact that he was a Greek. My concern was because of the [g]false brothers [those people masquerading as Christians] who had been secretly smuggled in [to the community of believers]. They had slipped in to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us back into bondage [under the Law of Moses]. But we did not yield to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would continue to remain with you [in its purity]. But from those who were of high reputation (whatever they were—in terms of individual importance—makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality—He is not impressed with the positions that people hold nor does He recognize distinctions such as fame or power)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me [that is, they had nothing to add to my gospel message nor did they impose any new requirements on me].(B) But on the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles), just as Peter had been [entrusted to proclaim the gospel] to the circumcised (Jews); (for He who worked effectively for Peter and empowered him in his ministry to the Jews also worked effectively for me and empowered me in my ministry to the Gentiles). And recognizing the grace [that God had] bestowed on me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars [of the Jerusalem church], gave to me and Barnabas the [h]right hand of fellowship, so that we could go to the Gentiles [with their blessing] and they to the circumcised (Jews). 10 They asked only [one thing], that we remember the poor, the very thing I was also eager to do.

Peter (Cephas) Opposed by Paul

11 Now when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him face to face [about his conduct there], because he stood condemned [by his own actions]. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat [his meals] with the Gentiles; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he began to withdraw and separate himself [from the Gentile believers], because he was afraid of those from the [i]circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in this hypocrisy [ignoring their knowledge that Jewish and Gentile Christians were united, under the new covenant, into one faith], with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas (Peter) in front of everyone, “If you, being a Jew, live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how is it that you are [now virtually] forcing the Gentiles to live like Jews [if they want to eat with you]?”

15 [I went on to say] “We are Jews by birth and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 yet we know that a man is not [j]justified [and placed in right standing with God] by works of the Law, but [only] through faith in [God’s beloved Son,] Christ Jesus. And even we [as Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law. By observing the Law no one will ever be justified [declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty].(C) 17 But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ [by faith], we ourselves are found to be sinners, does that make Christ an advocate or promoter of our sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I [or anyone else should] rebuild [through word or by practice] what I once tore down [the belief that observing the Law is essential for salvation], I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.]”

Faith Brings Righteousness

O you foolish and thoughtless and superficial Galatians, who has bewitched you [that you would act like this], to whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified [in the gospel message]? This is all I want to ask of you: did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying [the requirements of] the Law, or was it the result of hearing [the message of salvation and] with faith [believing it]? Are you so foolish and senseless? Having begun [your new life by faith] with the Spirit, are you now being perfected and reaching spiritual maturity by the flesh [that is, by your own works and efforts to keep the Law]? Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing—if indeed it was all for nothing? So then, does He who supplies you with His [marvelous Holy] Spirit and works miracles among you, do it as a result of the works of the Law [which you perform], or because you [believe confidently in the message which you] heard with faith?

Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, [as conformity to God’s will and purpose—so it is with you also].(D) So understand that it is the people who live by faith [with confidence in the power and goodness of God] who are [the true] sons of [k]Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the good news [of the Savior] to Abraham in advance [with this promise], saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”(E) So then those who are people of faith [whether Jew or Gentile] are blessed and favored by God [and declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with Him] along with Abraham, the believer.

10 For all who depend on the Law [seeking justification and salvation by obedience to the Law and the observance of rituals] are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed (condemned to destruction) is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, so as to practice them.”(F) 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing] before God by the Law, for “The righteous (the just, the upright) shall live by faith.”(G) 12 But the Law does not rest on or require faith [it has nothing to do with faith], but [instead, the Law] says, “He who practices them [the things prescribed by the Law] shall live by them [instead of faith].”(H) 13 Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs [crucified] on a tree (cross)”—(I) 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might also come to the Gentiles, so that we would all receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit through faith.

Intent of the Law

15 Brothers and sisters, I speak in terms of human relations: even though a last will and testament is just a human covenant, yet when it has been signed and made legally binding, no one sets it aside or adds to it [modifying it in some way]. 16 Now the promises [in the covenants] were decreed to Abraham and to his seed. God does not say, “And to seeds (descendants, heirs),” as if [referring] to many [persons], but as to one, “And to your Seed,” who is [none other than] Christ.(J) 17 This is what I mean: the Law, which came into existence four hundred and thirty years later [after the covenant concerning the coming Messiah], does not and cannot invalidate the covenant previously established by God, so as to abolish the promise.(K) 18 For if the inheritance [of what was promised] is based on [observing] the Law [as these false teachers claim], it is no longer based on a promise; however, God granted it to Abraham [as a gift] by virtue of His promise.

19 Why, then, the Law [what was its purpose]? It was added [after the promise to Abraham, to reveal to people their guilt] because of transgressions [that is, to make people conscious of the sinfulness of sin], and [the Law] was ordained through angels and delivered to Israel by the hand of a mediator [Moses, the mediator between God and Israel, to be in effect] until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now the mediator or go-between [in a transaction] is not [needed] for just one party; whereas God is only one [and was the only One giving the promise to Abraham, but the Law was a contract between two, God and Israel; its validity depended on both]. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a system of law had been given which could impart life, then righteousness (right standing with God) would actually have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has imprisoned [l]everyone [everything—the entire world] under sin, so that [the inheritance, the blessing of salvation] which was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe [in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s precious Son].

23 Now before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, [perpetually] imprisoned [in preparation] for the faith that was destined to be revealed, 24 with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be [m]justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under [the control and authority of] a tutor and disciplinarian. 26 For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union with the Christ, the Anointed] have clothed yourselves with Christ [that is, you have taken on His characteristics and values]. 28 There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].(L) 29 And if you belong to Christ [if you are in Him], then you are Abraham’s descendants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.

Footnotes

  1. Galatians 1:4 Or world.
  2. Galatians 1:7 These people are often called “Judaizers;” they were Jews professing to be believers, who taught that Gentile Christians had to conform to certain OT laws and rituals (especially circumcision) in order to be saved. They denied the saving power of God’s grace alone and also sought to discredit Paul’s apostleship and undermine his ministry. Some scholars question the validity of some or all of the Judaizers’ true faith in Christ and His message of salvation.
  3. Galatians 1:10 Paul’s question indicates that his opponents were accusing him of preaching only to gain a following.
  4. Galatians 1:11 Lit brethren.
  5. Galatians 1:16 Lit flesh and blood.
  6. Galatians 2:2 This group would have included the apostles Peter and John, as well as James, Jesus’ half brother who was also the leader of the Jerusalem church.
  7. Galatians 2:4 I.e. the Judaizers (see note 1:7).
  8. Galatians 2:9 A solemn act of partnership signifying acceptance, agreement and trust.
  9. Galatians 2:12 I.e. self-righteous Jewish converts who twisted the gospel to suit their legalistic beliefs, observed Mosaic Law, and would not eat with Gentile believers.
  10. Galatians 2:16 Being justified is a legal or judicial declaration of righteousness. Justification has two parts: (1) Being declared free of blame, acquitted of sin—not guilty. Believers are justified because Jesus Christ personally assumed the guilt for our sin on the cross; (2) God declares the person righteous, that is, placed in a position of right-standing with Him. A person may not be made righteous by his personal behavior, no matter how good, or by the declaration of any other human being.
  11. Galatians 3:7 Abraham was justified [declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty] and declared righteous by God on the basis of his faith alone long before the Law and the ritual of circumcision were ever given to Moses.
  12. Galatians 3:22 Lit all things. Paul is probably referring to the effect of sin on the entire world. He alludes to this in Rom 8:19-22. Consider, for example, the fact that God cursed the ground itself and plant life because of the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:17, 18).
  13. Galatians 3:24 See note 2:16.

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