Paul was so strong in his conviction that righteousnessrelied solely on having faith in Jesus and trust in God, he had the confidenceto reprimand Peter when they were both in Antioch. Peter had implicitly agreedwith the position of the Judaizers on circumcision to the harm of Gentileconverts. For Peter’s hypocrisy, Paul rebuked him. In essence, the basis of therebuke is that adding law to grace is to destroy grace and to make a mockery ofJesus’ life and death on the cross. Paul’sargument of justification was that holiness was received by faith, not by worksof the law. The example of Abraham illustrates this point exactly.
And thirdly,the law, which came 430 years after God’s covenant with Abraham, cannot invalidatethe promise. Jesus was not concerned with circumcision in the slightest. This is the heart of this epistle because Paulclearly sets forth what justification by faith really meant and why it wastrue. Suchvindication of justification by faith raises a problem. “Why then was the lawgiven at all?” If the same God gave the promise, why would he add the law? Paulanswers this question by rationalizing that the law had a purpose to point outto the nation of Israel its need for Christ. It was put into place to aid thepeople to receive the Spirit of God when they were struggling to do so. Onecannot be spiritual by means of circumcision or just by observing the law,first of all because no one follows the law in its entirety, and secondlybecause God’s blessing cannot be earned, it is a gift. The law would not existwithout the promise.
Paul goes on to validate that all believers in Christ are descendantsof Abraham and equal in the eyes of God; there are no categories fordiscrimination. He pities those who observe the Sabbath and Day of Atonement beforeputting their trust in Jesus, because these acts alone will never be a means ofsanctification. Paul then ponders why people agreed with him when he preachedthe gospel, but not when he speaks truths about the gospel. After demonstrating thatthe law enslaved, he points out that the Galatians, too, had experiencedslavery as pagans worshipping false gods. By accepting the Judaizers’ message,they would simply be replacing one kind of slavery with another. Not only this,but the outcome that the Judaizers’ message would have on the Galatians was notonly alienating them from Paul, but also robbing them of their joy in Christ. Paulactually finds circumcision a hindrance to people’s believing in Christ.
Paulconcludes his appeal employing Hagar and Sarah as an allegory for slavery andfreedom, respectively. Paulthen delves into how faith should manifest in life. At stake especially isChristian liberty. Paul addresses how enslavement of the law is detrimental toliberty.
He asserts that it enslaves the believer, turns the believer into adebtor, alienates the believer from Christ causing him to fall from grace, hindersthe progressive sanctification of the Christian, and removes the stigma of thecross, suggesting that Christ died for nothing. Paul explains that obsessionwith the law and circumcision spread due to corrupted teaching with incorrectinformation, just like a bad rumor. Onthe other hand, Christian liberty does not give one license to do whatever hewants. Paul wishes that believers would respect the law by keeping with thecommand that sums up its purpose, “Love your neighbor as yourself.
” One cannotattain salvation if he harms other people. Bottom line is the liberty ofjustification is the liberty to live for God, not the liberty to sin.