Lessons from Galatians

One preliminary note:  If you’re making a list of Christian behavior do’s and don’ts, chapter 5 is a good place to start.

Chapter 1:  Paul reprimands the Galatians for deserting Christ for a false gospel, and then gives a brief summary of how he (Paul) came to be apostle to the Gentiles (interesting, and includes his time in Arabia, etc.).

Chapter 2:  Paul continues with more autobiography, in a way that sets the stage for his Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female lesson in chapter 3.  There’s a also a discussion here of justification through faith not law (2:16-21).

Chapter 3:  Paul continues his discussion of how faith has superseded the law.  But I wonder whether 3:24-25 is neglected:  “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  The chapter concludes with this famous verse (3:28):  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Chapter 4:   Paul returns to reprimanding the Galatians.  It’s hard to tell just from the text precisely what prompted the reprimand, but there is much discussion of law-versus-faith, climaxing with verse 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”  (By the way, 4:13 contains a reference to some ailment of Paul’s.)

Chapter 5:  After finishing the reprimand as just discussed, Paul urges that we ‘live by the Spirit” (5:16) rather than the “deeds of the flesh,” and that those who embrace the latter “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:21).  The “deeds of the flesh” are “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (5:19-21).  On the other hand, the “fruit of the Spirit” is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22-23).  And “[l]et us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (5:26).

Chapter 6:  Some pithy verses here:  “For each one shall bear his own load” (6:5). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap” (6:7) — that is, there will be “corruption”  [meaning in this context, I think, bodily decay] to those who sow to the flesh, but “eternal life” to those who sow to the Spirit (6:8).  And “let us do good to all men and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (6:10, emphasis added).