Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 23, Gal 1-3

Today's readings are Gal 1-3. Tomorrow's readings are Gal 4-6.

Galatians is the earliest letter we have from Paul. It was written very shortly after James was. In Acts 15-16, we saw the beginning of doctrinal teaching in the new church. That teaching arose because some were trying to teach a false doctrine about the need for circumcision. Galatians also addresses false teaching. While the overall emphasis of Galatians is justification by faith, a radically new teaching in its day, we see Paul’s wisdom in laying it out concisely as a rebuttal to the false teaching that was beginning to permeate the church.

James, Acts 15-16, Galatians and the fact that they all appear early in the new church’s formation make it clear that the church struggled with two prevailing obstacles from its inception -- persecution and errant teaching. Paul makes the point, in his first epistle, that a focus on the gospel in its purest form is the remedy to the false teaching.

In Gal 1, along with the admonition to hold tight to the gospel as they learned it, Paul addresses the fact that even firm believers can be led astray and, at times, lose their focus (Gal 1:11-14).

From the tone of Gal 2-3, it seems the false gospel being taught is one of works. This is very similar to the problem James was addressing, the idea that there was something that a believer needs to do to achieve true salvation. Paul tells the Galatians that they are "justified", reconciled to God and declared righteous, by faith not works. 

Paul’s contention is that works without faith are dead. They accomplish nothing. James says faith without works is dead.

His contention is that the works we do will be the evidence and result of our faith, not the cause of our faith. Both are true. Our works mean nothing without our faith (Paul). But, if we have faith, the evidence will show in our works (James).

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