Galatians 2:15-21Our discussion started late; several regular participants weren't in class because of traveling, because of the local Pride Festival, and because of being in the parish house but needing to continue preparing lunch. We formally wrapped up early because it was the final day the choir would sing until September and choir members needed to start getting ready earlier than they usually did, but the few of us remaining enjoyed another 20 minutes or so of discussion.
15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ [more accurately, "by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ"], and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
from my intro on Pentecost 2C
I Paul's letter or epistle to the Galatians is one of seven epistles definitely written by Paul. We call this an undisputed letter, as in undisputed authorship.
II Galatians was the first ethnic church, not in the sense of Jewish–gentile ethnicity, but of different cultures.
III Gospel means Good News. For Paul, the gospel is death and resurrection.
IV Almost every single time Paul uses the word "law," he refers to circumcision, sacrificial law, ritual law, keeping kosher, ceremonial law, and not to the ten commandments.
V Different gospel! Mostly refers to "Judaizers" who claimed people had to become Jewish before Christian, follow sacrificial law, be circumcised. In other words, they taught that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection was not enough, that redemption was as much by human works as it was by divine grace.
One more time! God's primal people Israel and the apostle Paul always knew and always taught that salvation, redemption, always was by God's gracious initiative, God in the HS reaching out to claim humanity and creation. Sacrificial and ceremonial law, circumcision, keeping kosher, etc., were signs or symbols of God's grace.
Galatians 4:16 – best, most correct translation almost definitely is faithfulness of Jesus Christ (not faith in Jesus Christ). In other words, some of the Reformers' ideas aside, redemption is not another human work, but always the gracious initiative and work of God in the HS.
Fun Language Note:
just as in several other places in Paul's writing, 4:17 uses a construction called subjunctive of emphatic negation that expresses no, not, as strongly as possible. Translations into English include:
• may it never be
• certainly not!
• by no means!
• heck, no!
and Pastor-Scholar Eugene Peterson of The Message version fame's very vernacular—
• "hell, no!"