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The Book of Galatians: A Snapshot
We read verses, chapters, and books in the Bible over and over. Sometimes we get something new each time we read, and sometimes it doesn't make sense at all. There is so much historical context in scripture that can help us understand the meanings so that we are able to apply the scripture to our life. If we do not or cannot apply scripture to our everyday life, then the Bible becomes nothing more than an interesting story. That is definitely easier said than done. The intent of this article is to be a short snapshot of something I have pulled from scripture to apply to my life, and I pray it has some application to yours. At a minimum, I pray that it will encourage you to find meaning in the scripture for your own life. Thank you and God Bless. Enjoy.
Who Were Galatians?
I love the historical aspect of scripture. Obviously, it is all historical, but I am referring to the culture, events, and people that existed during the time of the writing of the Bible. Prior to beginning my schooling in ministry, I had a difficult time making the people in the Bible real. I suppose that is why I struggled with the idea that Jesus was real. I don’t mean real as in non-existent, rather real as in He was just like us, only better, clearly. Paul, Silas, Timothy, Peter and all the others had struggles like we do today. None were above the temptations of the world or the daily struggles of faith that we experience.
Galatians represents real life as well as any other epistle in the New Testament. Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Galatia. Galatia was a large city in what we know as Turkey today. Galatia was like many other cities mentioned in scripture. It was large, diverse, worshipped false idols, major trade hub, and the people struggled with the shift from false gods to the true God. One of the differences I learned in class was that Galatia was made up of barbarians and roughneck people from northern Europe among other areas. Paul spoke harshly in his letter to Galatia. Initially, it seems as if Paul is more displeasing of this place than others, but once you dig into the historical context you see that Paul simply understood the culture of the people there. These were barbarians. “Beating around the bush” was not going to work for these guys. He had to be bold and forward with his message to them so that it would sink in. I don’t know if my descendants were barbarians but that is certainly how someone needs to get my attention and put me back on track. I could immediately relate to the audience in Galatia.
What's the Message?
Paul wrote to the Galatians about falling back into the bondage from which they have been freed. Regarding them, Paul was talking about returning to Jewish customs and following the Law as if Jesus had not returned yet. How does that apply to me or you? It is the same for us. My past is that of a backslidden Catholic that never had a relationship with Jesus. I never disagreed that there was no God, or that anything about Jesus was false, but I was extremely skeptical because I had no relationship and all the rules (Laws) clouded my vision. I know Jesus now, on a personal level. Things have changed. I am free from the chains that blinded me now. I must protect myself in falling back in the trap of putting those chains back on by who I listen to and who I follow and what I do.
What do we do? How do we do it? What can we do to prevent ourselves or others from slipping back into bondage of the Law? Follow Christ. Listen to the words Paul says as a reminder of the Gospel. Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” (NASB). The slavery Paul is speaking of is the slavery placed on us by being under the Law. Christ came to set us free from the Laws that we could never fulfill. He fulfilled those Laws. Jesus is the answer. Anyone that adds Laws to the Gospel is trying to put you back in chains. Turn from that teaching, and turn to Jesus. I will do this by staying in the Word of God by knowing what scripture says and not allowing myself to be deceived; by constant prayer for guidance by the Holy Spirit; and by praying for discernment in knowing what is and is not of God. The Spirit of God will strengthen me in my faith. How will you know when someone is trying to enslave you?