Galatians - Week 3

Galatians - Week 3

Mar 24, 2013

By: Chris Matthews

Passage: Galatians 2:15-16

Series: Galatians

    We find ourselves today where we left off last week, which is at Galatians 2:15

    This section of Scripture which we are looking at today is really the pinnacle and climax of the letter.

    For the first 2 classes we have been marching our way up the steep side of Mt.       Zion working through all the narrative and history of Paul’s past but today all the       climbing will pay off.

    I say that this is the pinnacle of the letter because it is here that the Apostle Paul is going to lay out the Gospel message which he has alluded to several times.

    What is also so good about this text is that Paul lays it out for us in a very succinct, clear, and straight forward manner Because this is the peak and crest of Paul’s letter we will hang out here in the end of chapter 2 and enjoy the view of this Gospel that we have.

    This Gospel that we are going to look at is the entire reason that Paul has written this letter to the Galatians in the first place.

    We have already seen that the churches in Galatia have been infiltrated and are being influenced by false teaching and a distorted Gospel which Paul said in 1:7 is really no gospel at all since there is only one true Gospel.

    It is this one true Gospel which utterly consumes the Apostle Paul

    The glory of God and His Gospel takes such preeminence in the mind of the Apostle Paul that we saw in verses 1:7-8 that he was willing to pronounce a curse of damnation not only upon others who where teaching another gospel but also upon his self if he were to begin to preach a different gospel.

    And so, due to the reality that so much or really everything is at stake when it comes to the Gospel, Paul writes the book of Galatians to clarify the Gospel for the Gentiles in these churches.

    • In the first chapter, Paul set out to convince the Galatian churches that his            Gospel was true because he received his Gospel from Jesus Christ Himself and        did not receive it from any man.
    • In the second chapter, Paul began to show the Galatians an additional fact.  This   was that despite the fact that he received his Gospel from God independently from   the other Apostles he wanted to show them that his Gospel is in fact the same     Gospel that the 12 received from Jesus.

    Now up to this point Paul has not really spelled out the Gospel message he is fighting for us but he has given us 2 examples of how the false teachers (Judaizers) have already begun to distort the Gospel in these early churches

    • 1st distortion- Paul described his trip to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus (the uncircumcised Gentile Christian).  In Jerusalem there were those that we arguing for Titus to take on circumcision but Paul and the Apostles in Jerusalem did not yield to the demand so that the purity of the Gospel of Justification by faith alone would stand.
    • 2nd distortion- Paul described for the Galatian churches was the events of Peter’s trip to Antioch, where due to the influence of the Judaizers, the great Apostle Peter actually began to separate himself from the Gentile believers during meals so as to make a distinction in the people of God based on Old Covenant dietary laws.
      • His error was that this would have confused the Gentiles into thinking that there was still a favor or benefit with God in becoming a Jew, but as we will see in chapter 3 that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free and to distort this truth is to distort the Gospel that all are fully made to be the people of God by faith in Christ alone and not by becoming a Jew

    And so it’s in the context of this error of Peter that we find ourselves at Galatians 2:15.  And what we have here to the end of the chapter is the Apostle Paul’s public rebuke of the Apostle Peter as well as a declaration of the Gospel.

    15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

    With just these 2 verses, the Apostle Paul draws a line in the sand between what is the Gospel and what is not.

    •  We are given the positive and the negative

    The truth Paul is enunciating here is one of the great dividing lines of the Gospel

    One’s grasp and understanding of this Gospel of grace divides…….

    • True Christianity from all other religions
    • One from being a Christian and one from not being a Christian
    • This means it divides between those who have had their sins forgiven and have been given the gift of righteousness and separating between those not having their sins forgiven and will stand before God in their own righteousness
    • This in turn determines ones eternal destiny, Heaven or Hell

    It is by the truth of the Gospel that we are to judge ourselves and test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.

    It is by this Gospel that we are to judge others and determine whether we actually have fellowship with them in Christ or whether our conversations are to consist of evangelizing them.

    This truth is of utmost importance to the Apostle Paul and so it should be to us as well.

    Now, Getting back to the text……

    What Paul does first in verse 15 is to move into the Gospel by making an additional and important point to Peter

    15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus,

    Now this point is to show the comprehensive and universal necessity of both Jew and Gentile to be made right with God in the same way; namely by faith

    Even though he and Peter are Jews, by nature and have all the blessings which come along with being a Jew, namely:  The Law, the Prophets, Revelation, the Old Covenant promises, which if kept, would keep one in the Old Covenant with God……

    • Even though they had this guidance and blessing from God, Paul and Peter both knew that they could never actually be made righteous by keeping the Laws they had been given.  Romans 3:19-20
      • And so, even though they had the advantage in that they were Jews  who God had used in the Old Covenant and were not hopeless and wayward Gentiles               
      • Paul says in verse 16 “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have  believed in Christ Jesus

    Paul literally repeats the same truth 3x’s over in a variety of different forms to leave no doubt to what message he is trying to convey as he is summarizing the Gospel message

    Before finishing the verse, Let’s break down this all important truth:

    1st  Man is not justified by works of the Law

    • To be justified by God means?   What was the definition we gave it in the 1st class
    • To be declared Righteous
    • From OT (by Judges)Deut 25:1  “If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked,

    This is the blessed state that everyone needs to obtain!

    • Look at a few other words which are associated with justification
    • Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    • Ephesians 2:8   For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of    yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works

    2nd  What are the Works of the Law? (For example 3:10 & 5:3)

    This is simply to be understood as all of the deeds which the Law requires.                    

    • Here Paul says one is Not justified by the “Works of the Law”
    • In Ephesians 2:8, he says you have not been saved by “Works”
    • In Titus 3:5 he says that He saved us, not on the basis of “deeds done in                             righteousness”
    • Example of Abraham being Justified before the Law was given

    Some have attempted to limit the Works of the Law to simply some aspects of   the ceremonial or dietary laws so that they can maintain the teaching that one is          justified by other kinds of works but no matter how you slice it Paul excludes all          manner of works.

    3rd  man is not justified by works of the law but by faith in Christ Jesus

    Synonyms for faith in Christ can be belief, or trust.

    • This is how one obtains the unparalleled position of being justified by                                 God

    Everyone’s faith is in something already: either in themselves and their righteousness, or a little of themselves and a little in Christ, or its all in Christ which is the only faith which saves.

    Our faith is to be in Christ Jesus!

    • We are to look to His death on the cross as the propitiation and substitution for    our sinning
    • We are to look to Him for our righteousness as He is the only righteous.

    Now, knowing exactly what Paul means by each phrase lets look again at verse 16

    nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus (Even though we (Paul and Peter) were part of the Old Covenant with God), even we have believed in Christ Jesus,(why would you Paul believe in Christ Jesus since you are already a part of God’s Old Covenant people) so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

    Paul and Peter both realized the inability of the Law to justify anyone and in turn trusted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ by faith

    Why does God save people through faith alone as opposed to being based on works?

    Has to do with the Glory of God

    • God wants us to trust in what He has done so that salvation will be based on His grace and not on the basis of what we do.
    • God wants all of the credit for our salvation so that He will receive all of                          the glory and praise

    Salvation is so God centered that even our faith is a gift and is not of us.

    • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    • Romans 9:11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

    Because the glory of God is at stake in the Gospel we like Paul should know, defend, and preach the Gospel which rightly understood will bring glory to God.

    Application Questions:

    What are some modern day distortions of the Gospel of Grace, specifically justification by faith alone that we must guard ourselves against?

    • Moralism- Good ole’ boy mentality
    • Roman Catholicism- salvation is through the church and the sacraments.                      Council of Trent:  CANON 9: "If any one saith, that by faith  alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the                   obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
    • New Paul Perspective- Final justification is based on the entire life lived

    The Apostle Paul is crystal clear in his presentation of the Gospel.  Salvation is through faith alone!

    Our good works, obedience, works done in righteousness, or works of the Law have no part in our justification.

    As soon as we attempt to rely on any of these things, we place ourselves into a system by which we must have been, and will continue to be perfect in order to fulfill God’s requirement of righteousness.

    But alas, the good news is that if we will but forsake all hope of standing before God in our own righteousness and will turn in faith to the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, God will in fact credit us with Christ’s own righteousness so that we can enter into His presence!

    Sola Fide!


    Sermon notes are personal pastoral notes and not intended for grammar perfection. If you have questions about certain parts, please contact us.