This Sunday we commence our series of sermons on the Letter to the Galatians, Paul’s first letter to the churches, written no later than the year 50AD, making it an extremely early source by any historical standards.
However, we are not going to be looking at the historicity of Jesus’ ministry, rather the centrality of Jesus’ ministry for the whole message of Christianity.
A few years earlier, on Paul’s first missionary journey, he travelled to the major cities in the southern part of what is present day Turkey and planted these Galatian churches. He shared the message of Jesus first with the Jews of the area, and then to the non-Jews.
Interestingly, Galatians is written with great urgency. Is it that Paul forgot to mention something important? Is it that he feels they didn’t quite get the message right or that they need to be revved up in order to be a bit more passionate?
Well no, there’s a major emergency in these Galatian churches. Following Paul’s visit, some Jewish so-called Christians had infiltrated their ranks and were saying that Paul was only half right about the gospel. Paul had said that the grace of the gospel liberated everyone from the rule of the Law of Moses. But this group was saying that not only should Jews remain distinctively Jewish, but that non-Jews coming to faith should also be required to come under the Law of Moses.
Well, Paul is furious. And desperate to correct this heresy. His letter is dramatic and emphatic. The message of Christianity is about grace: always only grace. Other requirements must not be added to it, or else the message of the gospel will be destroyed.
Do you get a sense of how protective Paul was for the core component of the Christian message? We’re going to spend a few weeks exploring just how crucial this is, not only for them, but also for us. I hope you can join us each week or listen to the recordings of any sermons you miss (see our website).
In Christ, Mark