An Introduction to our Autumn Preaching Series
Imagine the scenario: a church which is divided, composed of different factions and with its unity and faithfulness to the gospel threatened by those who are encouraging a return to the former practices of strict Judaism. When news of these developments reaches him, the founding pastor decides to put pen to paper. The ‘Letter to the Galatians’ is one of the earliest letters written by the Apostle Paul and also one of the most emotionally charged. The tone is set early on. ‘I am astonished’, says Paul, ‘that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ…’ (1:6). Later he despairingly asks, ‘You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?’ (3:1).
Even as the end of the letter comes into view, there is still time for another pleading and critical question: ‘You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?’ (5:8). As with all of Paul’s letters, the answer he offers to the early church is a combination of erudite theology and practical advice. In chapter 3, he explains that the promises first given to Abraham, forefather of the Jewish people, have always pointed to a time when ‘God would justify the Gentiles by faith’ (3:8).
In the same chapter he offers one of his most memorable and compelling statements about the way in which the arrival of Jesus breaks down all manner of previous divisions: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (3:28). Read more here