Galatians 3:1–9 (ESV)
By Faith, or by Works of the Law?
3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the
law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to
him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify
the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
This passage means a lot to me. It is built on the scripture of faith comes by hearing. This is found in Romans 10:17 which states: “17 So
faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This is also reflected in today’s reading: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Faith is a gift and we are save by faith, not works.
The Lutherans Study Bible states: “The Galatians’ experience (vv 1–5) and Scripture’s witness concerning Abraham (vv 6–9) teach that all believers are heirs of Abraham, to whom faith “was counted … as righteousness”
(v 6). Paul warns against being mesmerized by the foolish notion that salvation is completed by works of the Law. Those who see the crucified Christ in faith, however, see their sins completely forgiven.
I pray: How blessed we are, Lord, to be the heirs of Your promises! Thank You for granting me faith through Your Word. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House,
Galatians 2:15–21 (ESV)
Justified by Faith
ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by
faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners,
is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I
do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Could you imagine being Martin Luther back in the
early 1500’s reading this text and realizing that you justified by faith and not by works? This was a pivotal passage that caused Martin Luther to wake up and challenge the church’s teachings that you are saved by works. It is God’s
Word that challenged and changed Martin Luther and lit a fire under him to push for reform. The more Luther studied, the more he learned that we are justified by faith.
I pray: O Lord, I give thanks for your Word and cling to the faith you have given me. I am justified by faith. Amen.
Galatians 2:11–14 (ESV)
Paul Opposes Peter
when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing
the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not
in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
For the sake of the truth of the Gospel, Paul publicly rebukes Peter for his hypocritical conduct, which communicates that the Gentiles must keep Jewish laws. The Word of God condemns hypocrisy (Mt 23:28; Lk 12:1;
1Pt 2:1; cf Lk 20:20). Yet this history shows that God is true to His promise of mercy toward sinners (1Co 1:9; 1Jn 1:9).
I pray: Lord, keep us from hypocrisy in our thoughts, words, and actions. Affirm our freedom won by Christ. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2004.
Galatians 2:1–10 (ESV)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim
among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because
of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so
that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing
to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked
through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave
the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Paul has been having to defend his apostleship and now he goes to Jerusalem to receive their blessing to his ministry to the Gentiles. Notice that Paul has been in the ministry for
fourteen years. This is interesting to me, because I have been in the ministry for fourteen years. I still have to answer to my Elders, church congregation, the Southern District, the LCMS, and God. The Lutheran Study Bible states: “By
divine revelation, Paul goes to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to visit Church leaders who, in spite of some opposition in their midst, approved of his message and mission to the Gentiles. Today, Christians continually face threats to the freedom they have
in Christ, even from their own sinful flesh. The Gospel comes from God and thus cannot be deprived of its power to set us free.
Lord, grant us strength in our partnership in the Gospel. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The
Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2004.
Galatians 1:11–24 (ESV)
Paul Called by God
I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For
you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for
the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him
among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In
what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They
only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Many questioned Paul’s apostleship. They question whether he was called by God or was self-appointed. All it takes is to read the Bible, especially in the text that talk about his “road to
Damascus” experience. It answers the questions. The Lutheran Study Bible states: “Selecting key facts from his personal history, Paul proves that his apostleship comes from God, independent of human sources. Today, enemies of God’s
Church continue to question the divine origin of the Christian message, causing doubts and confusion among many believers in Christ. As God called Paul “by His grace,” so He now seeks to change hearts through the Good News of His Son.
I pray: Keep us faithful to Your Word, O Lord, when doubts threaten. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran
Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2003.