Epistle to the Galatians

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The Epistle to the Galatians is a letter supposedly written by Paul the Apostle to the churches in the region of Galatia (modern Turkey). Unlike most of the books of the New Testament, the majority of historians agree that this letter is a genuine product of Paul, and while they're unable to pinpoint a date, suggest authorship between 40-60 CE.

Overall, the letter condemns those who still keep with the Mosaic Law, especially circumcision, and tells the readers that all people who believe in Jesus through faith, regardless of the rank, are one. I can imagine how much of a culture shock this was to traditional Jews.

Status

I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read it.

Review

  • In general, I find the letter to be an improvement over the message of the Old Testament, but still lacking depth.
  • Paul promotes salvation through faith (3:2-5), which I find abhorrent. Telling someone that you'll help them, but only if they believe without doubt that you're great, is pathetic.
  • Paul spends a lot of time talking about circumcision and how it's not necessary to be a follower of Jesus. While I see the removal of bodily mutilation as a step in the right direction, it contradicts the earlier message of God from the Old Testament where he explains many times that circumcision of all men will be a covenant that lasts forever (Genesis 17:10-14). Paul even goes so far as to say that circumcision will prevent Christ from having value to you (5:2).
  • In the letter, Paul explains that the Old Mosaic Law no longer applies to follower of Jesus because the sacrifice of Jesus nullified the contract (3:10-14). Again, I see this as an improvement, but it contradicts all of God's previous words in the bible. The Torah explains that the Mosaic Law would last forever, and even though there was prophecy of the Messiah coming, no prophecy ever suggests that the law would be changed in any manner.
  • Paul contrasts between what he describes as sins of the flesh from the fruit of the spirit. In the sins of the flesh category he includes sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, intoxication, and orgies, while in the fruit of the spirit category he includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (5:19-23). However, many of the things listed are ambiguous or axiomatic, and sometimes both. For example, in the list of good things, Paul includes "goodness." Well, sure, something that is good is good, but that doesn't teach the reader anything new. Likewise, from the list of bad things, Paul includes "sexual immorality," but the qualifier "immorality" is defined as, "that which is wrong," which doesn't teach the reader anything because he doesn't specify which sexual acts are moral and which are immoral. Also, by making a blanket statements that rage is evil and patience is good, he doesn't tell the reader, who may be dealing with a loathsome person, when it's okay to finally lose your patience and become enraged at them or for how long should you be faithful to a cheat or liar before dissenting and splitting factions? His black and white statements offer no nuance or depth so anyone with a sense of justice more mature than a child's will find them useless.

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