Galatiansby Khan Hui Neon
Do you know what the gospel is, how it came about, and how it was transmitted? These are very important questions. If we don't know the answers, we cannot be certain of our salvation and may become vulnerable to all kinds of false teachings. But thanks be to God, for we can find the answers in Paul's letter to the Galatians.
It is worthy to note that Paul begins by emphasising the divine source of his apostleship: he was appointed directly by ″Jesus Christ and God the Father″ (Galatians 1:1) and therefore, his letter and the gospel it contains carries the full weight of apostolic authority. His recipients are the churches in Galatia (v. 2). While there is some debate as to where Galatia was located (it no longer exists by this name today), most Bible scholars believe that it was a region in southern Asia Minor. Located in modern-day Turkey, this area included Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Derbe, and Lystra-cities that Paul and Barnabas visited during their first missionary journey (Acts 13:14; 14:1-7). The letter to the Galatians is believed to have been written around AD 48. But what prompted Paul to write?
The churches in Galatia are mostly made up of non-Jewish converts. They became believers after Paul shared the gospel with them during his missionary journey, but they are now being taught a ″different gospel″ (Galatians 1:6) by false teachers from Jerusalem. These Judaizers-people who follow Jewish religious practices and seek to influence others to do the same (2:14)-are telling them that to be saved, besides believing in Jesus, they also need to be circumcised according to the law of Moses. To Paul, this is a very serious issue, for it goes beyond the question of whether Gentiles need to keep the Jewish law; at stake is the integrity of the gospel as taught by the apostles.
Dispensing with his usual opening greetings, and after a quick introduction and salutation, Paul moves straight on to summarise the gospel in Galatians 1:3-5. He points out the heart of the gospel-that Jesus alone, and not the law, can rescue us from sin and set us right with God.
Paul's succinct introduction lays the groundwork for the rest of the letter, which basically says: hang on to the gospel and its main message of Christ, as preached by God's apostles. Why? Because the gospel is from God, not men. It is God alone who initiates the gospel and who saves us; we are not to add anything to it, nor can we contribute in any way to our own salvation.
What are the dangers of adding to the gospel?
What impact can doing this have on our understanding of God and our salvation?