In the final chapters, he develops his third major theme, which is the freedom the gospel brings. Because the gospel solves our two biggest problems, it brings freedom from the law and freedom from slavery to sin.
Chapter 1: Paul introduced two of his key themes: 1) his apostolic authority and 2) the gospel of justification by faith alone. Paul claimed you can recognize the true gospel by its substance (grace based on the cross of Jesus Christ); its source (divine revelation).
Chapter 2: Paul argued he learned the gospel through revelation from Jesus Christ. He reviewed his biography to prove that he had no chance to learn the gospel from the other human beings. Yet the other apostles confirmed he preached the same gospel.
Chapter 3-4: Paul gives five persuasive arguments for justification by faith alone.
1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. – Galatians 5:1-6
- The main point of this section is Galatians 5:1. The gospel of justification by faith leads to freedom from sin and freedom from slavery to the law. Therefore, stand firm or hold fast to the gospel and don’t return to the yoke of slavery.
- Paul uses term circumcision in Galatians 5:2-3 as shorthand for the historical fact that these Gentiles deciding to practice the Jewish religion in order to complete or finish their salvation.
- This is not like getting a tattoo. If you choose to follow the teaching of the Judaizers, and get circumcised and begin keeping the Law, then the Messiah is of no benefit to you. If you accept one part of the Law, you accept all the Law and you are bound to it. You cannot choose which laws to keep. You are now obligated to keep them all.
- If you seek to be justified through the law that alienates you from the Messiah, in contrast to those who seek justification by faith (Galatians 5:5).
- Once you come to faith, it doesn’t matter if prior to that time you lived like a Jew or not. We all come to Christ the same way.
7You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! – Galatians 5:7-12
- Paul uses the image of a runner running a race. The runner was doing well and making good time, but now someone else started running in his lane, trying to make him fall.
- Leaven is a metaphor for something contagious, just as a little yeast permeates the entire lump of dough. A little law-keeping negates the whole gospel.
- Paul expresses his confidence in God. If God has truly called them, chosen them and given them saving faith, then they will repent and embrace the gospel.
- Paul specifically denies he agrees with the Judaizers. Why would the Jews persecute him if he was teaching everyone to live like Jews as the Judaizers do?