Freedom Through Faith Essay

1811 words - 8 pages

In The Letter of Paul to the Galatians, Paul addresses the conflict of Gentile Christians’ unclear relationship towards Judaism by urging both Jewish and Gentile believers to reexamine the Mosaic Law. This letter by the apostle is a defense of his mission of converting the churches of Galatia towards Christianity. During the early Christian movement, there was controversy surrounding the degree to which Gentile Christians should adhere to Jewish law, with Paul moving them to disregard it and follow a different path towards Christianity. Paul describes in his gospel a way in which faith in Jesus Christ frees his followers from traditional laws, and urges the Galatians to heed him instead of ...view middle of the document...

1.14-15). His devotion to God and his mission is established as he is willing to abandon his former beliefs to act on God’s will. Paul’s conversion relates to the audience who may also have to change their beliefs in order to follow the apostle’s gospel. This connection created between the Galatians and Paul makes the audience more receptive to Paul’s teachings. Paul’s establishment of his divine authority and creation of a relationship with the audience is an appeal to ethos that makes his argument convincing to the reader, which leads to his other method of persuasion that builds his argument upon the foundation of trust formed with the audience.
Paul uses an appeal to logos to argue the first half of his argument, which is that the Gentiles have no obligation to adhere to the traditional Jewish laws, as one’s relationship with God is determined by more than obeying the laws. An example of this is Paul’s confrontation with Peter at Antioch. Peter and other Jews ate with the Gentiles, but when stricter interpretation of dietary laws ban table fellowship, the Jews separate themselves from the Gentiles (Gal. 2.11-13). Paul denounces their actions, asking “’If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” (Gal. 2.14). Paul is calling out the hypocrisy of Peter and the others, who are trying to convert the Gentiles toward Jewish Christianity and are instead ostracizing them. By doing so, they are Gentiles, or sinners, themselves in the eyes of Jewish law as they are changing and adhering to the laws for their own desires. This emphasizes the folly of following Jewish law as a show of faith, since real faith, according to Paul, is achieved by believing in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2.15-16). Paul magnifies the inconsistencies within his adversaries’ logic, persuading the audience that his argument is more reasonable. The main Jewish law that Paul challenges is that of circumcision, which is what the main figures of Jewish Christianity deem necessary for the Gentiles to convert. Paul implores the Gentiles to not accept circumcision, as it is seeking righteousness through the law instead of the true way, which is righteousness through the Spirit and faith in Christ (Gal. 5.6). He again reveals the hypocrisy of his opponents as “[e]ven the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh” (Gal. 6.13). Paul suggests that those who are circumcised do not follow other traditional laws, making them sinners in their own judgments. He also insinuates that those advocating circumcision do not do so for the Gentiles’ benefit, but for their own as those in the faction want to be able to brag that they were able to convert the Gentiles. In contrast, Paul’s gospel is made purer as he is called by God to teach the Gentile the way of the Spirit, while the others aim to ensnare the Gentiles in order to grow their church—they would demand...

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