May 24, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Galatians 1-3
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Author: Apostle Paul
Date Written: Approximately AD 57
Context: Paul begins his letter with an immediate defense of his apostleship. Unusually, Paul skips his traditional thanks, which shows his alarm. Paul teaches a salvation of grace, not works, as false teachers were teaching. Paul was astounded that the Galatians would so quickly revert back to being slaves to a salvation of works instead of embracing the joy of grace. Paul defends his apostleship, noting that he spent three years training, just as the disciples did. Knowledge and understanding of the gospel did not come overnight for him, nor will it for us. It will only come through diligent and prolonged study. Paul further defended himself from his critics who called him a renegade and claimed he was not endorsed by Jerusalem leadership. Peter approved of Paul and agreed with his teachings, even if Paul did have to rebuke Peter. Anyone who adds to the gospel of salvation through grace, is not teaching as Jesus taught. Human effort cannot gain salvation because no one, except Jesus, is or ever will be without sin. Paul refers to the Abrahamic Covenant, which was based on grace and occurred 430 years before the law was given to the Israelites! The law was given to the Israelites because they had strayed from the Lord. It was to remind them how to act!
World History: This letter was written to the many churches in the region of Galatia (present-day Turkey), to which Paul had delivered the Gospel and converted many people. False teachers had come to Galatia. They attempted to discredit Paul, saying he was not a true apostle. They also taught that faith, salvation by grace, was not enough. In order to be saved, one must also follow Mosaic Law.