Galatians 1-3 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1 1-2 From the apostle Paul and from all the Lord’s followers with me.
I was chosen to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and by God the Father, who raised him from death. No mere human chose or appointed me to this work.
To the churches in Galatia.
3 I pray that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! 4 Christ obeyed God our Father and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins to rescue us from this evil world. 5 God will be given glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Only True Message
6 I am shocked that you have so quickly turned from God, who chose you because of his wonderful kindness.[a] You have believed another message, 7 when there is really only one true message. But some people are causing you trouble and want to make you turn away from the good news about Christ. 8 I pray that God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from our message to you! It doesn’t matter if that person is one of us or an angel from heaven. 9 I have said it before, and I will say it again. I hope God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from what you have already believed.
10 I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.
How Paul Became an Apostle
11 My friends, I want you to know that no one made up the message I preach. 12 It wasn’t given or taught to me by some mere human. My message came directly from Jesus Christ when he appeared to me.
13 You know how I used to live as a Jew. I was cruel to God’s church and even tried to destroy it. 14 I was a much better Jew than anyone else my own age, and I obeyed every law that our ancestors had given us. 15 But even before I was born, God had chosen me. He was kind and had decided 16 to show me his Son, so that I would announce his message to the Gentiles. I didn’t talk this over with anyone. 17 I didn’t say a word, not even to the men in Jerusalem who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
18 Three years later I went to visit Peter[b] in Jerusalem and stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I saw was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 And in the presence of God I swear I am telling the truth.
21 Later, I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 But no one who belonged to Christ’s churches in Judea had ever seen me in person. 23 They had only heard that the one who had been cruel to them was now preaching the message that he had once tried to destroy. 24 And because of me, they praised God.
2 Fourteen years later I went to Jerusalem with Barnabas. I also took along Titus. 2 But I went there because God had told me to go, and I explained the good news that I had been preaching to the Gentiles. Then I met privately with the ones who seemed to be the most important leaders. I wanted to make sure that my work in the past and my future work would not be for nothing.
3 Titus went to Jerusalem with me. He was a Greek, but still he wasn’t forced to be circumcised. 4 We went there because of those who pretended to be followers and had sneaked in among us as spies. They had come to take away the freedom that Christ Jesus had given us, and they were trying to make us their slaves. 5 But we wanted you to have the true message. That’s why we didn’t give in to them, not even for a second.
6 Some of them were supposed to be important leaders, but I didn’t care who they were. God doesn’t have any favorites! None of these so-called special leaders added anything to my message. 7 They realized that God had sent me with the good news for Gentiles, and that he had sent Peter with the same message for Jews. 8 God, who had sent Peter on a mission to the Jews, was now using me to preach to the Gentiles.
9 James, Peter, [c] and John realized that God had given me the message about his undeserved kindness. And these men are supposed to be the backbone of the church. They even gave Barnabas and me a friendly handshake. This was to show that we would work with Gentiles and that they would work with Jews. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor, and that was something I had always been eager to do.
Paul Corrects Peter at Antioch
11 When Peter came to Antioch, I told him face to face that he was wrong. 12 He used to eat with Gentile followers of the Lord, until James sent some Jewish followers. Peter was afraid of the Jews and soon stopped eating with Gentiles. 13 He and the other Jews hid their true feelings so well that even Barnabas was fooled. 14 But when I saw that they were not really obeying the truth that is in the good news, I corrected Peter in front of everyone and said:
Peter, you are a Jew, but you live like a Gentile. So how can you force Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 We are Jews by birth and are not sinners like Gentiles. 16 But we know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we put our faith in Christ Jesus, and God accepted us because of our faith.
17 When we Jews started looking for a way to please God, we discovered that we are sinners too. Does this mean that Christ is the one who makes us sinners? No, it doesn’t! 18 But if I tear down something and then build it again, I prove that I was wrong at first. 19 It was the Law itself that killed me and freed me from its power, so that I could live for God.
I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. 20 I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. 21 I don’t turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness. If we can be acceptable to God by obeying the Law, it was useless for Christ to die.
Faith Is the Only Way
3 You stupid Galatians! I told you exactly how Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross. Has someone now put an evil spell on you? 2 I want to know only one thing. How were you given God’s Spirit? Was it by obeying the Law of Moses or by hearing about Christ and having faith in him? 3 How can you be so stupid? Do you think that by yourself you can complete what God’s Spirit started in you? 4 Have you gone through all of this for nothing? Is it all really for nothing? 5 God gives you his Spirit and works miracles in you. But does he do this because you obey the Law of Moses or because you have heard about Christ and have faith in him?
6 The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. 7 And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham.[d] 8 Long ago the Scriptures said that God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. That’s why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him. 9 This means that everyone who has faith will share in the blessings that were given to Abraham because of his faith.
10 Anyone who tries to please God by obeying the Law is under a curse. The Scriptures say, “Everyone who doesn’t obey everything in the Law is under a curse.” 11 No one can please God by obeying the Law. The Scriptures also say, “The people God accepts because of their faith will live.”[e]
12 The Law isn’t based on faith. It promises life only to people who obey its commands. 13 But Christ rescued us from the Law’s curse, when he became a curse in our place. This is because the Scriptures say that anyone who is nailed to a tree is under a curse. 14 And because of what Jesus Christ has done, the blessing that was promised to Abraham was taken to the Gentiles. This happened so that by faith we would be given the promised Holy Spirit.
The Law and the Promise
15 My friends, I will use an everyday example to explain what I mean. Once someone agrees to something, no one else can change or cancel the agreement.[f] 16 That is how it is with the promises God made to Abraham and his descendant.[g] The promises were not made to many descendants, but only to one, and that one is Christ. 17 What I am saying is that the Law cannot change or cancel God’s promise that was made 430 years before the Law was given. 18 If we have to obey the Law in order to receive God’s blessings, those blessings don’t really come to us because of God’s promise. But God was kind to Abraham and made him a promise.
19 What is the use of the Law? It was given later to show that we sin. But it was only supposed to last until the coming of that descendant[h] who was given the promise. In fact, angels gave the Law to Moses, and he gave it to the people. 20 There is only one God, and the Law did not come directly from him.
Slaves and Children
21 Does the Law disagree with God’s promises? No, it doesn’t! If any law could give life to us, we could become acceptable to God by obeying that law. 22 But the Scriptures say that sin controls everyone, so that God’s promises will be for anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ.
23 The Law controlled us and kept us under its power until the time came when we would have faith. 24 In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. 25 But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.
26 All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. 28 Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. 29 So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham’s family,[i] and you will be given what God has promised.
Click the button below to continue.
Upgrade, and get the most out of your new account. An integrated digital Bible study library - including complete notes from the Believer's Bible Commentary and the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV and NRSV) - is just a step away! Try it free for 30 days.
Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus.