Summary: Paul’s converts in Galatia were compromising the purity of the Gospel and their liberty in Christ so he tells them What we were under the Law, What God did in Jesus, What God has made us as sons and What we now should be.
Many of the letters written by Paul, the Apostle, were the results of controversy. His letter to the church at Galatia is no exception. The local believers were on the verge of being sidetracked from the truth of the Gospel. Paul had to do something about it. "Stay on course", he urged them. It reminds me of a story about Winston Churchill. He once gave a speech at Harrow School that lasted less than a minute but it drew a standing ovation. With his unforgettable, deep, gruff voice he said, "Never give up. Never, never give up! Never, never, never give up!" was all he had to say. Paul was similarly emphatic. The Galatian Christians had received the truth of the Gospel - on no account must they give it up.
The problem was that the transition from Judaism to Christianity was a slow process with some of the early Jewish believers in Jesus. Those who had been steeped in the Jewish religion for many years found it hard to shake off some of its teaching and traditions, even though they had believed in Jesus as their Messiah, their Saviour. Some of the Pharisees who had been converted taught that before a Gentile could become a Christian he must first become a Jew by undertaking to observe the Law of Moses.
Unfortunately these people weren’t content to hold their erroneous views privately, but went around inflicting their opinions on unsuspecting churches. These Judaizers, as they were called, had gone to the Ga1atia, a city in what is now modern Turkey, with their unsettling teaching and had thrown the little worshipping community into turmoil. What should they believe? Was it really the case that some 1aw keeping, at least, was necessary for salvation? How did one become a Christian? By faith in Christ and by obedience to the law?
When Paul heard of the crisis in the Galatian church caused by the Judaizers he wouldn’t have been surprised for they had dogged his steps all his life. But he was deeply disturbed in his spirit that the Christians should be in danger of compromising the purity of the Gospel and being led away from the liberty they had gained through faith in Christ. It’s no wonder then, that Paul writes so passionately. His soul is at white heat as he deals with the burning issue at questions at issue: What is the genuine Gospel? What is the relationship between Law of God and the Lord Jesus Christ? Of course we’re now two millennia on from those days - the details of the questions are different but the principles remain: What is the genuine Gospel?
It’s most important that we should have a close understanding of the points raised, as it will indicate if the foundations of our faith are secure. Many false cults have gained converts because people weren’t sure of their faith. Paul was saddened to see how quickly his converts could be turned aside from the truth. He called them deserters! Paul longed to re-establish them in the truth. To do this he had to go back to first principles. Let’s include ourselves in his analysis, for he is dealing with the biography of "everyman", at least every Christian. In the first place, he tells us: