Back to Basics: Galatians by Peter Kreeft

Galatians is the only letter of Paul’s that does not contain a single word of praise.

Galatians is Paul’s simplest letter.

Paul’s outrage, beginning with his sledgehammer opening paragraph, is b/c the Galatians abandoned Christianity for “a different gospel”. No mistake could be more serious. Yet this is the single most common mistake in the Church today.

Paul begins his letter by “pulling rank” and establishing his authority as an apostle, hoping the Galatians will at least listen to authority.

The immediate issue was whether Christians had to be circumcised (non-issue today).

The fundamental issue was how to be saved (huge issue today).

“I’m a good person” is a counterfeit ticket to Heaven, it begins with the fatal word I. St Paul says our answer in Heaven must begin with the Word, Christ.

The connection between circumcision & salvation is that for Jews circumcision bound you to the covenant so Galatians thought relying on the law led to salvation. Instead of relying on the old covenant, we are saved by Christ and his new covenant, entered by faith.

No one can be saved by obeying God’s law b/c no one obeys it! (See Is 64:6; Phil 3:9). And we would end by being saved by ourselves and would not need a saviour.

The law is like an X-ray. Sin is like cancer. Salvation is like an operation. Jesus is like the surgeon. Faith is like consent to the operation. The Galatian heresy is like thinking the X-ray will save you.

What must I do to be saved? = the most important question.

Paul’s 5 lines of argument to prove his point.

  1. The gospel is not mans, but a revelation from Jesus Christ (1: 11-12).
  2. Men and women were saved by faith, not the law, even in OT times (Abraham received the promise before Moses received the law).
  3. The purpose of the law is to condemn, to specify sins, not to condemn.
  4. The law is preparatory.
  5. The law binds us while the gospel frees us.

The life of Christ comes into the soul by faith and out of works. It is not that you get to Heaven b/c you lived a good life. Rather, you live a good life b/c Heaven has gotten to you.

Works as well as faith are part of salvation, just as fruit as well as roots are part of a tree.

If we have no good works, we are not saved, for faith without works is dead faith, fake faith (Jas 2: 14-26).

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