DURING HIS FIRST missionary journey the Apostle Paul established a number of congregations of believers in Galatia, which was the First Century name for what is today central Turkey. He visited them again on later journeys (see Acts 13–18).
Sadly, the Galatian believers were very soon influenced by Jewish elements who wanted Christians to continue observing the Law of Moses. Paul reminds them of the need to keep to the one true Gospel— Jewish rituals such as circumcision are no longer required. His words still apply: ‘As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:9).
But although Jewish practices no longer apply to those who follow Christ, the Jewish promises—God’s covenant with Abraham in particular—are still valid. We are instructed to follow the example of Abraham, the man of faith: he pleased God by believing Him (Genesis 15:6). We too can only be accounted righteous by faith in God’s promises, through Christ.
Heirs of the Promises
God promised Abraham and his ‘offspring’ an eternal inheritance of the Land of Promise (Genesis 13:15). The ‘offspring’ here spoken of was Christ (Galatians 3:16). By becoming associated with him, we too can become heirs of the promises God made to Abraham (v. 29). Those who believe the promises and are baptized into Christ change their way of life, curbing their fleshly passions (5:15–21) and cultivating ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (5:22–23).
They have ‘put on’ Christ (3:27) and are thus clothed in his righteousness. Paul may well have had in mind the practice of the time in which a young man would ‘put on’ a toga—an outer garment worn by adult Romans—to mark his graduation to manhood.
By kind permission of ‘The Christadelphian’
Some interesting links with other parts of the Bible:
- Galatians 2:16—see Acts 13:38–39; Romans 8:3.
- Galatians 3:16—see Genesis 13:15.
- Galatians 3:27—see Romans 13:14.