Biblical Essay: Analysis of Paul's Letter To The Galatians
When Paul attended the Jerusalem Conference in 48 or 49, a decision
was made that gentiles would be allowed to become Christians without
becoming Jews first (ie. have a circumcision, and follow the Jewish Laws).
Paul, being the one that defended the gentile's right to be Christians,
became the apostle to the gentiles. Why would Paul, a Jew, want to be an
apostle to gentiles? According to him, Jesus appeared to him in AD 32 or
36, and told him to preach the good news to the gentiles (Gal 1:16).
Paul uses scripture to explain why gentiles should not be required to
be circumcised, or obey Jewish Law; however, there are no direct quotes in
scripture that say this. One would wonder why Paul, someone who grew-up
in a "good" Jewish family, would not follow in the footsteps of Jewish
Christian Missionaries, and require Christian converts to become Jews
first. He certainly had to fight to have his belief accepted! In my
opinion, Paul tried to follow the example of the original apostles (who
knew Jesus) by "converting the multitudes." I think Paul understood human
nature better than the other apostles preaching circumcision to the
gentiles. Perhaps he thought that gentiles would accept Christianity more
easily if it was natural to their lifestyle --I'm sure that the thought
of circumcision, and strict dietary laws scared gentiles from
Christianity! It seems that the "Judaziers" preached a God that was hard
Paul's major problem confronted in his letter to the Galatians is the
preachings of the Judaziers. Apparently, men who preach circumcision and
the Law had been trying to "pervert" the Galatians, and change their
beliefs away from Paul's preachings (Gal 1:7). Paul is so angered that
the Galatians are so easily convinced (Gal 1:6), that he actually wishes
the Judaziers to mutilate themselves (Gal 5:12)! So, the letter to
Galatians uses 4 specific tactics to make Galatians come back to the
teachings according to Paul.
Paul begins by defending his credibility as an apostle. He writes a
brief autobiographical history, stressing that he once persecuted
Christians, and then converted when Jesus appeared to him. Also, he tells
the outcome of the Jerusalem Conference, probably to convince them that
other apostles have accepted his theology. This part of the letter is a
bit like a resume of qualifications. I could imagine that the Judiazers
who came to Galatia after Paul, denounced him as an apostle: that he never
met Jesus, and was not truly educated to be an apostle.
Next, Paul writes that "obedience to the Law could not earn approval by
God; approval is possible only through faith in Christ" (Perrin, pg. 184).
Faith in the crucified Christ will bring righteousness, not the Law (Gal
2:21). Having circumcision will do nothing to make one better in the eyes
Then, Paul uses an allegory of...