Paul 1. Galatians : Freedom

Saint Paul: Andrei Rublev

'Christ gave himself to set us free'(Galatians 1:4)

33 Jesus is crucified

34 Paul's Encounter with Christ (see Acts 9:1-19) In Philemon (composed 54AD?) Paul speaks of himself as a presbutês (mid-fifties)

'I received the Giospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ'( Galatians 1:12)

'God called me through his grace and was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles'(Galatians 1:15-16)

34-37 in 'Arabia' (The Nabatean kingdom south of Damascus (Galatians 1:17-18; Acts 9:20-25)

37 Paul escapes from Damascus (see Acts 9:25) and spends a fortnight in Jerusalem 'to speak with Cephas'(Galatians 1:18). He then leaves for Cilicia (Tarsus) (Galatians 1:16-21; Acts 9:26-30). During this period he says he was 'proclaiming the faith'(Galatians 1:23).

45 Barnabas gets Paul to join him in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26)

46 Paul visits Jerusalem with Barnabas and Silas ('During the fourteen years' = 34-48?). They confer with Peter, John and James concerning the conditions for welcoming Gentiles into the Christian Community ( Galatians 2"1-10; Acts 11:27-30).

47-48 Missionary Journey to Cyprus and towns in the Southern Section of the Roman Province of Galatia (see Acts 13:1–14:26).

Luke includes the following in Paul's sermon delivered in the synagogue in Antioch (in Galatia)

'By this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses'(Acts 13:39).

A Problem

'Certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching: 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'(Acts 15:1).

The Galatians know that they can fall back and lose the freedom they experienced in the Christian community. In their insecurity that were an easy target for the 'circumcision group', who could point to circumcision etc as being God's revealed will. Paul believed in the Torah, but as brought to its goal by Jesus. To obey the Law is to join the Christian community.

Letter to the Galatians

48 (before the Jerusalem Assembly) Paul writes his Letter to the churches in Southern Galatia (see Galatians 1:1-5)

He expresses his astonishment at how quickl they were terrified into abandoning the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-7).

He speaks of 'false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us'(Galatians 2:4).

He confronts Cephas (see Galatians 2:11-14). he saw it as essential that Christians (Jew and Gentile) shared to one table, and that Gentiles should not be obliged to fit in with Jewish eating laws. On the second point, perhaps he saw better when he attended to Jerusalem Assembly?

He writes: 'We have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by doing the worls of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law'(Galatians 2:15-16). Paul is reminding the Galatian Christians that they were brought by God into a love-communion with God, not on the basis of being circumcised and becoming observant Jews, but because of their communion with Jesus, sharing his communion with God (including his faith).

'I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live; it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the the Son of God, loving me and giving himself for me'(Galatians 2:19-20).

Read Galatians 3:26-29 on Christian freedom; also 4:4-7.

'For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand form, thertefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery'(Galatians 5:1).

'In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. The only thing that counts is faith working through love'(Galatians 5:6).

Faith is welcoming of grace and allowing grace to produce its fruit in one's life.

Read Galatians 5:13-14 on the need for inner freedom. Compare John: 'If the Son makes you free you are free indeed'(John 8:36). The freedom offered is that we might 'live and live to the full'(John 10:10).


49 The Jerusalem Assembly decided two things:

1) Gentiles can become Christians without having to follow the Torah (This supported Paul's contention)

2) Out of sensitivity to Jews, when Gentiles and Jews ate at the one table, Gentiles should follow Jewish customs.

Paul adapted to this when in largely Jewish communities (see Acts 16:4), but when the community was largely Gentile, he expected the Jews to adapt.

Luke has Peter (Cephas, Simeon) say: 'Cleansing their hearts by faith, God has made no distinction between them [Gentiles] and us [Jews]'(Acts 15:9). 'We bel;ieve that we [Jews] wil be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus, just as they [Gentiles] will'(Acts 15:12).

NOTE the emphasis on freedom in the Gospel according to Mark (Peter's Gospel) see 1:21 to 3:6.

1. Mentally disturbed man in the synagogue

2. Simon's mother-in-law

3. Jesus liberates in obedience to his Father.

4. A eper is embraced

5. Paralused man freed from sin

6. Eating with 'sinners and tax collectors'

7. Liberation from slavish conformity to ritual (fasting)

8. Liberation from narrow interpretation of the Law: 'Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath'

9. man with withered hand in the synagogue

"The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the herodians, discussing how to destroy Jesus'.