Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Galatians 1-3
I wrote a note in my Bible on the very first page of Galatians that says: “This book consists of three pages in my Bible and yet there are some who use it to justify not reading and even annulling the entirety of YHWH’s Word.” Personal experience caused me to write that, because I have had that moment of quoting the words of YHWH Himself only to have them dismissed with, “But you just need to read Galatians, Paul said…”
I grieve when I hear “But Paul said…” in response to the words our Messiah spoke or the words our Father spoke. Paul did not order his life to contradict either of these, but to honor and teach the words of both.
The fact of the matter is that in this book we are going to find what we are looking for. If we are looking for encouragement to be obedient to YHWH, we will find it. If we are looking for permission to live however we choose, we can find that, too. All we have to do is untether these 149 verses from the other 31,000+ verses in the Bible. Just cut them out if you like, put a nice little binding on them and write “New Holy Bible” on the front. Will that make it so? Nope. But in that situation we’re going for personal validation more than truth anyway so we might as well go all the way. I know this seems extreme but I’m illustrating a point and that is that I personally know folks who treat Galatians this way. And if it grieves me, can you imagine how the Father feels about it?
A few things to remember for the discerning follower of Messiah when reading Galatians:
- There are dueling laws being spoken of and often we are required to have a proper reverence for YHWH’s law in order to understand which Paul is speaking of.
- Also, he is truly speaking of a people who believed they could earn their salvation through their actions.
I want to be clear: Salvation is a gift. We cannot earn it through any of our own actions. We cannot possibly be good enough or righteous enough or learned enough or humble enough to deserve this gift. It is a gift.
However, once we have received this gift, our duty as those who love the Father is to turn away from our ways and towards His.
- How we read Galatians and what we glean from it will ultimately reflect the desires of our heart. If you desire to walk in the ways of YHWH I encourage you to put these three pages back into the Bible from whence they came. If you love Paul, I encourage you to honor him by seeing him as a man who loves YHWH and holds His Words in the highest reverence.
- Know that YHWH does not change (Malachi 3:6) and either we believe that Paul has not changed since he wrote his other letters or we must see him as someone with a personality disorder as he also made these rather plain statements:
-Are we, then, abolishing law through faith? May it never be! Rather, we are establishing law -Romans 3:31
-Therefore, the law is indeed holy and the commandment holy and righteous and good . . . -Romans 7:12
-All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; So that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work -2Timothy 3:16. (remember the New Testament did not exist when this was written)
- The KEY to understanding Galatians is that Paul is not vilainizing the law of YHWH but rather the manmade laws of the Pharisees which they sought to put all new believers under. They were essentially trying to convince them that in order to come into the faith, they must live as Jews do. Ironically, Christians try to do the same to our Jewish brethren today. Where they tried to Judaize the Gentiles, we try to Christianize the Jews. Both behaviors are unbiblical and errant. I will speak more to this in a moment.
Having said that, as we read the letters of Paul or any of the other apostles, prophets, and scribes in this Holy Bible, let us not be tempted to untether them from the wholeness of YHWH’s Word. Paul apart from YHWH has nothing to offer us. The same can also be said of Isaiah, Nehemiah, and even King David. It is only within YHWH that he has wisdom we may glean from. Let us keep Paul within YHWH in our minds and not pull him away from the Father. Knowing that his foundation is YHWH’s Scripture, Messiah’s teachings, and YHWH’s commandments. That is how our map should be oriented when traversing these roads.
Paul opens by sharing his backstory. This is very important in understanding where Paul is coming from and he clearly recognizes this fact as he is quick to remind us often. Another reason to read Paul in context of who he is and where he comes from: He urges us to do so time and time again.
Galatians 1:6-10 So let me immerse you a bit into what is taking place in Galatia to help you wrap your head around this.
We have a lot of Jews coming to faith in Messiah and a lot of Gentiles coming out of idolatry and paganism to faith in Messiah as well. In many of these verses we will see cautions not to feel they have to be circumcised, not to seek to be perfected in the flesh when they started out in the spirit, and not to seek to please men.
So what is happening here is that these new converts (Whether they be Jew or Gentile formally, they are Israel now) are coming in zealous for the Faith. However, they are coming out of whatever situation they were in spiritually speaking and looking for what box they should fit into now. “Okay so I’m not an Ishtar worshipper, what am I now? Am I a Jew?” or “Okay so I’m not a Jew anymore, what am I now?”
Note: I’ve said it many times but it always bears repeating: our Jewish brethren do not have to give up being a Jew in order to follow Messiah. Just as we do not have to give up being a Christian in order to start this new journey of living fully by YHWH’s Word. Each side is merely moving to a fullness of faith and when we follow YHWH we will no longer be able to fit into anyone’s box because our God does not fit into any box.
However, like so many of us have discovered in our own time, not being able to fit into an expected box is disconcerting in a society that puts labels on everyone. The Galatians shared this struggle and so many of them ran to the first thing they saw that seemed to fit what they were trying to do – Pharisee tradition and manmade law.
But we are called to look to YHWH, not to man. Still, humans have a tendency to want to look to men who profess to follow YHWH rather than YHWH. What does Paul think of the Galatians who are seeking to do this? In Galatians 3:1, he calls them foolish. Why? because This. Will. Not. Work. There is no such thing as a secondhand relationship with the Father and as you’ve learned this year, there is no such thing as a secondhand relationship with His Word, either.
Rather than rely on that daily relationship with the Father, they started looking for checklists that they could mark off, thinking this would make their salvation complete. Because, as much as we profess to want freedom from bondage, when we find that freedom in YHWH, it can be scary because we are called to wholly rely on Him, and so rather than seek Him daily on how to live, we look for a set of rules we can follow instead – which ends up being what we go to every day instead of our Father. Wake up, bow before the checklist. At the end of the day, look on the completed checklist with pride. That is not what the Father wants of us. We are to seek Him out of love and follow Him out of love and when that happens, those things on that list get checked off naturally.
There are several instances in our readings today in which the people are falling back into this checklist behavior and Paul is warning them against it so keep your eye out for those.
Galatians 2:19 is a game changer in the CJB version
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
For it was through letting the Torah speak for itself that I died to its traditional legalistic misinterpretation, so that I might live in direct relationship with God.
Remember, Torah is often referred to as the book of the law but it is the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. These are our foundational Scriptures. When you started reading it for yourself, wasn’t it a game changer?
Galatians 1:19 Paul mentions visiting James and spending time with him. I’m SO grateful for the wise order of the books as they now stand in the Bible because the book of James is going to help us place our mind firmly where it should be with regards to the teachings here. That it comes after all of Paul’s letters is no coincidence. Rather, it is the Father’s way of reminding us to sit up straight and walk in obedience, lest we forget and look for excuses to live otherwise.
Galatians 2:13 Reminds us that when we live hypocritically, it gives license and even teaches others to do the same. This is why it is so easy for a Believer to live hypocritically today, so many have paved the way and made that a smooth and easy path to take. This is also why James will warn us not to just listen to God’s word but to also do what it says. Otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves in James 1:22. I would add that we are not just fooling ourselves, but leading others to participate in this behavior that will condemn them as well, and their soul will be on our hands per Matthew 5:19 and Matthew 18:6.
Galatians 3:10 says:
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse Galatians 3:10
The key word here is rely. If you are relying on how obedient you can be, on your own righteousness to save you, you are cursed. You will not achieve salvation apart from Messiah.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
Sometimes there are layers of meaning and any Torah scholar of the time would have immediately recognized these layers in Paul’s words. There are 12 specific curses mentioned in Deut 27: 15-26, this specific verse is likely referring to Deut 21:23, but I feel the broader curse reference is pertaining to Deut 30:19-20, which is actually one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deut 30:19-20
One footnote said it well: “There is a “Y” in the road of every choice we make. One road leads to blessing, the other to a curse. Messiah was accursed by his accusers but never by the Torah (YHWH’s law) because he never broke a single commandment, therefore He was never subject to the curses of Torah. Through Him we are redeemed, He is our spotless lamb. When we sin and refuse to come under Messiah through repentance and turning away from our ways and to YHWH’s, that is when we are cursed.” – This was in my Aramaic New Testament by Andrew Gabriel Roth, which is not available for purchase anymore. (please read all commentary, including my own, with discernment and test it to the Word)
Galatians 3:24 a little context on the schoolmaster reference. According to Thayers Greek Lexicon: “A tutor, that is a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them – before arriving at the age of manhood.” No longer under a schoolmaster may be better rendered, no longer under the need of a schoolmaster. As a student continues to embrace the teaching of his schoolmaster after graduation. (part of a footnote from the YRM Restoration Bible)
Galatians 3:28-29 is a beautiful reminder of our identity when seen through the Father’s eyes on more than just one level. Not only does He not see gender or nationality but He sees us, though Gentiles by birth, as his chosen people, Israel.
He chose us, let us choose Him. Shema Y’all.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!