May 4, 2020
Yesterday we heard how the tribe of Judah was more successful in driving out the Canaanites than the other tribes. Several of the tribes just moved in with their enemies.
This lament by Asaph is like Ps 74, talking about Jerusalem and the Temple conquered by enemies. There is a strong comparison with what we see starting to happen in Judges.
We heard the controversy over circumcision in Acts 15. This letter to the Galatian believers is on a similar theme, and it shows how Paul would have argued with the Jews of the circumcision party. Paul stays very much on this theme in this book— which in some ways foreshadows some arguments in the book of Romans. Important sections for memorizing include the ‘crucified with Christ’ passages in chapter 2 and 6, and the works of the flesh and fruits of the Holy Spirit in chapter 5. This book makes it perfectly clear that we are not saved by religion.
We are saved by ‘faith’— which means ‘fully believing in Christ’. Do not fall into the trap of choosing between what James says about being saved by works and what Paul says. The two teachings are compatible. The saying taught to me by one of my spiritual fathers (Glen Zumwalt) is this: We are saved by ‘faith alone’; but saving faith will never be ‘alone’.
Paul’s introduction in the first chapter is unique among his letters. He normally starts with praise for the congregation he is writing to. Not in this case! After he expresses his shock at the Galatian church, he goes on to remind them that the Good News they had so quickly abandoned was revealed directly to him by the Lord.