Read: Galatians 1:1-9
To the churches of Galatia . . . (v. 2)
Paul’s relatively short letter to the Galatians was not simply meant to inform or encourage the new Christians in Galatia. Instead, with strong language, he makes it clear that they have been deceived by the teachers who came there after Paul had left. Paul is gravely concerned because the young believers were exposed to teachings that contradicted his message. He had made it clear that gentiles like them did not need to take on Jewish customs in order to become Christians. After his visit, however, some other missionaries came and persuaded the Galatians that they really should be circumcised and follow the dietary rules and feasts according to Jewish law. In those first few decades, as Jesus’s followers took his message to new people and places there was a lot of confusion about what the Old Testament Law required and what no longer applied for those who accepted the gospel.
Paul is passionate in wanting his listeners to know that their newfound faith in Jesus is meant to bring them freedom. Not freedom as in permission to do whatever they want, but true freedom from trying to measure up to the law. No wonder he’s worried about a message that might lead people to think they still have to earn their own righteousness. To believe that would be to miss out on the astonishing gift of righteousness that cannot be earned, only received.
As you pray, ask God to give you ears to hear and a heart to accept the freedom that is yours in Christ.
About the Author
Jessica Bratt Carle lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has served as a chaplain and more recently as a clinical ethicist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) since 2017. She is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She and her husband have two young sons.