Paul’s letter to the Galatians is one of the most significant books of the New Testament and of the whole Bible. Sometimes described as “the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty,” it discusses in clear, emotional, and intensely personal language the basic issue of how a man is put right with God. In Paul’s own words, the basic question is: “Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it?” (3.5). And the answer comes in similar language: “A person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires” (2.16, emphasis added).
The occasion for the letter is a situation that has arisen among the Christians in Galatia. Predominantly non Jewish, they are therefore confronted with the problem of what to do with the Jewish Law. There would no doubt have been a tendency for many Jewish converts to Christianity to continue to observe at least some of the regulations of the Law. But what about non Jews? Are they bound by the Jewish Law? Should they first submit to circumcision and other Jewish ritualistic practices before being accepted as full members of the Christian community? In other words, must they become Jews before they can become Christians?
Published 1976 Pages 184