Galatians 2

Galatians 2 … begins with a continuing testimony of Paul about his early Christian walk. Fourteen years had gone by since his conversion on the Road to Damascus with subsequent ministry in the area around the cities of Tarsus and Antioch, (both in what is Turkey today) very near the Syrian border. He had also completed the first missionary journey (Acts 13 and 14). It was then that the first church council was held at Jerusalem to resolve a dispute that had arisen, principally between Jewish believers (who continued to uphold the rules of the Law, including dietary rules and circumcision) and Gentile believers who felt no need to follow Jewish observances. The council meeting is covered in Acts 15. Since both Jewish and Gentile believers met together for worship in local synagogues, resolution for religious observances was needed.

The first church council decided in favor of Gentile believers, that they need not follow the rules of the Law. The issue is simply this: Christianity is a relationship with the Risen Christ and that fact should have an effect on behavior; Christianity is not conformance to a set of rules that thereby somehow obligates God to respect the rule- follower. That principle was illustrated again when Peter and others Jewish believers visited Antioch (v.11-14) and Peter (who normally ate with the Gentiles and apparently enjoyed Gentile food) moved over to the kosher table and ate a Jewish diet whenever Jerusalem visitors were around. This hypocrisy was too much for Paul, who used the occasion to emphasize again that salvation is through faith, not by observing the Law or by eating kosher food. The whole point of Galatians 2 is to illustrate that salvation is through Christ by faith and faith alone and not by following rules. Christianity is relationship, not rules. Faith alone saves.

Galatians 2:20 should be on your list of memory verses. It refers to what’s called the “great exchange” whereby believers acknowledge that they have died to sin and become alive eternally by faith in the atoning work of Christ, exchanging their sins, and the penalty for those sins, for the righteousness of Christ.

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