The Galatian Christians
Paul had founded the Galatian churches on either his first or second missionary journey. The explosion of faith among the Gentiles challenged the Church. Christians were divided as to whether Gentiles needed to become Jews in order to become Christians.
Paul was converted as a result of a direct experience of the risen Christ. He was sent to the Gentiles and preached that they could come to faith without becoming Jews.
Some Jewish Christians came to the Galatian churches after Paul and taught them that they must be circumcised and live as Jews under the Mosaic Law.
Paul wrote this letter to defend his ministry and the message he preached. In the first two chapters he reviewed his pilgrimage from a persecuting Pharisee who approved of the stoning of Stephen to the apostle to the Gentiles. He detailed his relationship to the apostles in Jerusalem and his confrontation with Peter over this issue. He called this gospel of circumcision another non-Christian gospel. Those who preached it were cursed.
The Just Shall Live By Faith
He concluded chapter two with a strong statement of the power of the atoning death of Jesus and the life of faith.
In chapter three, he told the Galatians that they have been tricked into changing from faith to law. When he contrasted law and faith he quoted Habakkuk 2:4, the just shall live by faith.
Paul’s point was that the Galatians had started the Christian journey by believing and now wanted to continue the Christian life by law keeping.
It is living by faith from conversion and beyond.
Law keeping as a way to justify ourselves to others and God is a simplistic temptation in any era but, like Habakkuk, we are to live each day by faith.
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