Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 25

Catch-Up Day (Galatians 1–6)

Bible text(s)

1From Paul, whose call to be an apostle did not come from human beings or by human means, but from Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from death. 2All the brothers and sisters who are here join me in sending greetings to the churches of Galatia:

3May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

4In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father. 5To God be the glory for ever and ever! Amen.

The One Gospel

6I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel. 7Actually, there is no “other gospel”, but I say this because there are some people who are upsetting you and trying to change the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell! 9We have said it before, and now I say it again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell!

10Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God's approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11Let me tell you, my brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preach is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any human being, nor did anyone teach it to me. It was Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to me.

13You have been told how I used to live when I was devoted to the Jewish religion, how I persecuted without mercy the church of God and did my best to destroy it. 14I was ahead of most fellow-Jews of my age in my practice of the Jewish religion, and was much more devoted to the traditions of our ancestors.

15But God in his grace chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. And when he decided 16to reveal his Son to me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the Gentiles, I did not go to anyone for advice, 17nor did I go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and then I returned to Damascus. 18It was three years later that I went to Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for two weeks. 19I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord's brother.

20What I write is true. God knows that I am not lying!

21Afterwards I went to places in Syria and Cilicia. 22At that time the members of the churches in Judea did not know me personally. 23They knew only what others were saying: “The man who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy!” 24And so they praised God because of me.

Galatians 1GNBOpen in Bible reader

Paul and the Other Apostles

1Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure. 3My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised, 4although some wanted it done. Pretending to be fellow-believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us, 5but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute.

6But those who seemed to be the leaders — I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances — those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me. 7On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews. 8For by God's power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews. 9James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.

Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch

11But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile brothers and sisters. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favour of circumcising them. 13The other Jewish brothers and sisters also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jews and Gentiles are Saved by Faith

15Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners”, as they are called. 16Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires. 17If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners as much as the Gentiles are — does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means! 18If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law. 19So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead — killed by the Law itself — in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, 20so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. 21I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!

Galatians 2GNBOpen in Bible reader

Law or Faith

1You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! 2Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? 3How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? 4Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! 5Does 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?

6Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” 7You should realize then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith. 8The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless the whole human race.” 9Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was.

10Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God's curse!” 11Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.” 12But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.”

13But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God's curse.” 14Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God.

The Law and the Promise

15My brothers and sisters, I am going to use an everyday example: when two people agree on a matter and sign an agreement, no one can break it or add anything to it. 16Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant. The scripture does not use the plural “descendants”, meaning many people, but the singular “descendant”, meaning one person only, namely, Christ. 17What I mean is that God made a covenant with Abraham and promised to keep it. The Law, which was given 430 years later, cannot break that covenant and cancel God's promise. 18For if God's gift depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on his promise. However, it was because of his promise that God gave that gift to Abraham.

19What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham's descendant, to whom the promise was made. The Law was handed down by angels, with a man acting as a go-between. 20But a go-between is not needed when only one person is involved; and God is one.

The Purpose of the Law

21Does this mean that the Law is against God's promises? No, not at all! For if human beings had received a law that could bring life, then everyone could be put right with God by obeying it. 22But the scripture says that the whole world is under the power of sin; and so the gift which is promised on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ is given to those who believe.

23But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until this coming faith should be revealed. 24And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith. 25Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us.

26It is through faith that all of you are God's children in union with Christ Jesus. 27You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. 28So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

Galatians 3GNBOpen in Bible reader

1But now to continue — the son who will receive his father's property is treated just like a slave while he is young, even though he really owns everything. 2While he is young, there are men who take care of him and manage his affairs until the time set by his father. 3In the same way, we too were slaves of the ruling spirits of the universe before we reached spiritual maturity. 4But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law, 5to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's sons and daughters.

6To show that you are his sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.” 7So then, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter. And since that is what you are, God will give you all that he has for his heirs.

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8In the past you did not know God, and so you were slaves of beings who are not gods. 9But now that you know God — or, I should say, now that God knows you — how is it that you want to turn back to those weak and pitiful ruling spirits? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10You pay special attention to certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11I am worried about you! Can it be that all my work for you has been for nothing?

12I beg you, my brothers and sisters, be like me. After all, I am like you. You have not done me any wrong. 13You remember why I preached the gospel to you the first time; it was because I was ill. 14But even though my physical condition was a great trial to you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you received me as you would an angel from heaven; you received me as you would Christ Jesus. 15You were so happy! What has happened? I myself can say that you would have taken out your own eyes, if you could, and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17Those other people show a deep interest in you, but their intentions are not good. All they want is to separate you from me, so that you will have the same interest in them as they have in you. 18Now, it is good to have such a deep interest if the purpose is good — this is true always, and not merely when I am with you. 19My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ's nature is formed in you. 20How I wish I were with you now, so that I could take a different attitude towards you. I am so worried about you!

The Example of Hagar and Sarah

21Let me ask those of you who want to be subject to the Law: do you not hear what the Law says? 22It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by a free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the usual way, but his son by the free woman was born as a result of God's promise. 24These things can be understood as a figure: the two women represent two covenants. The one whose children are born in slavery is Hagar, and she represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai. 25Hagar, who stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia, is a figure of the present city of Jerusalem, in slavery with all its people. 26But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother. 27For the scripture says:

“Be happy, you childless woman!

Shout and cry with joy, you who never felt the pains of childbirth!

For the woman who was deserted will have more children

than the woman whose husband never left her.”

28Now, you, my brothers and sisters, are God's children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was. 29At that time the son who was born in the usual way persecuted the one who was born because of God's Spirit; and it is the same now. 30But what does the scripture say? It says, “Send the slave woman and her son away; for the son of the slave woman will not have a part of the father's property along with the son of the free woman.” 31So then, my brothers and sisters, we are not the children of a slave woman but of a free woman.

Galatians 4GNBOpen in Bible reader

Preserve your Freedom

1Freedom is what we have — Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again.

2Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, it means that Christ is of no use to you at all. 3Once more I warn any man who allows himself to be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the whole Law. 4Those of you who try to be put right with God by obeying the Law have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God's grace. 5As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God's Spirit working through our faith. 6For when we are in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference at all; what matters is faith that works through love.

7You were doing so well! Who made you stop obeying the truth? How did he persuade you? 8It was not done by God, who calls you. 9“It takes only a little yeast to make the whole batch of dough rise,” as they say. 10But I still feel confident about you. Our life in union with the Lord makes me confident that you will not take a different view and that the man who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will be punished by God.

11But as for me, my brothers and sisters, if I continue to preach that circumcision is necessary, why am I still being persecuted? If that were true, then my preaching about the cross of Christ would cause no trouble. 12I wish that the people who are upsetting you would go all the way; let them go on and castrate themselves!

13As for you, my brothers and sisters, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another. 14For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” 15But if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another.

The Spirit and Human Nature

16What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. 17For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. 18If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law.

19What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; 20in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; 21they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God.

22But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. 25The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives. 26We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another.

Galatians 5GNBOpen in Bible reader

Bear One Another's Burdens

1My brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too. 2Help to carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ. 3If someone thinks he or she is somebody when really they are nobody, they are only deceiving themselves. 4You should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done. 5For we each have our own load to carry.

6Those who are being taught the Christian message should share all the good things they have with their teachers.

7Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. People will reap exactly what they sow. 8If they sow in the field of their natural desires, from it they will gather the harvest of death; if they sow in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit they will gather the harvest of eternal life. 9So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. 10So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith.

Final Warning and Greeting

11See what big letters I make as I write to you now with my own hand! 12The people who are trying to force you to be circumcised are the ones who want to show off and boast about external matters. They do it, however, only so that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Even those who practise circumcision do not obey the Law; they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast that you submitted to this physical ceremony. 14As for me, however, I will boast only about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; for by means of his cross the world is dead to me, and I am dead to the world. 15It does not matter at all whether or not one is circumcised; what does matter is being a new creature. 16As for those who follow this rule in their lives, may peace and mercy be with them — with them and with all God's people!

17To conclude: let no one give me any more trouble, because the scars I have on my body show that I am the slave of Jesus.

18May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, my brothers and sisters. Amen.

Galatians 6GNBOpen in Bible reader
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