"You stupid Galatians! Who has put you under a spell?" - Galatians 3:1

"You stupid Galatians!"

In Zion Gate, Jerusalem

 

Paul / Sha'ul was clearly rattled by what was happening in the churches of Galatia.

We will look into that below.

But there can be a problem with the way some people use Galatians.

Replacement Theologians use parts of Paul's letter to the Galatians to support their contention that God has finished with the Jews and replaced them with (Gentile) Christians, and therefore the Jews, their LAW and their state are nothing more than a historical accident and an obstacle to world peace.

They criticise Christian Zionists for ignoring these verses.

Two of their objections are examined on Two Jerusalems and Abraham's seed.

Objection three - There is neither Jew nor Greek

ch3 v28 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This is supposed to prove that the distinction between Jew and Greek (also male and female, slave and free) no longer exists. The inference appearing to be that Jews no longer exist as far as Christ Jesus is concerned and Christian Zionists are in error for making a fuss about them.

As one commentator observed, "my wife and I are both in Christ Jesus but last time I looked we were still distinctly male and female."

In saying there is There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female Paul is commenting on our (vertical) relationship with God. When we are "all one in Christ Jesus" our Heavenly Father has no favourites.

This does not change our (horizontal) relationship with each other, otherwise Paul would not have written guidance on how men and women, slaves and free are to relate to each other within the family of believers.

Within this "one new man" family Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews still have a separate identity and flavour and our roles in the future may follow a slightly different path. Likewise, in God's purposes for finalising world redemption, the Jews who have not believed in Yeshua still have a future path and role as Paul and others prophesied. (Romans 11)

 

There was a problem for the Galatians and it could be a problem for us.

"You stupid Galatians! Who has put you under a spell?" - Galatians 3:1

To summarise what had happened, Paul had preached the Gospel of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and justification through him. And many Gentiles in the Galatian cities had responded and trusted in Jesus, gaining freedom from the curse of sin.

Then, along came some Jews, maybe sincere believers or maybe not, who taught the Galatian Christians that there was more that Paul had not taught them - the Torah. They taught that those who wanted to be followers of the God of Israel must be circumcised - it is a Torah command after all.

This really upset Paul / Sha'ul, who saw that this undermined the gospel message that we are saved through what Jesus did and not what we do. Worse than that, he points out, if we start trusting in our Torah observance for salvation we will have to keep all of it all the time, and we know that is not possible. As God revealed his salvation plan progressively, the Torah stands to convince us that we are under condemnation for sin as we transgress its commands, and that we need grace from God to be forgiven. The one to whom the Torah points is Jesus/Yeshua the Messiah. (The verse translated as "Christ is the end of the Law" is a bad translation for today's usage. The Greek word Teleos means end, as in the final goal or objective - not in the sense of termination or destruction)

So the Galatian problem is clear in its historical context - but is it still a hot issue for Christians today? - Yes, for the following reasons...

Some people point a finger at the stupid Galatians for keeping/honouring the feasts and festivals of the Jews, Biblical feasts that still have much to teach the Gentile believer. Meanwhile these same Christians are wedded to man made holy days and traditions, many on pagan dates. Just as the Galatians were having the Gospel watered down by Jewish legalists, we in the church are having the Gospel undermined by Christian legalists!

However the author is becoming aware of a worrying trend within the ranks of wild olive Gentile Christians. As we come to a proper understanding of our roots in the Jewish faith that started with Abraham, we start to appreciate what is good in the faith of Jews (particularly Messianic Jews) and lose sight of the fact that we are part of God's "One new Man" and fully accepted as Gentiles.

In seeking to honour God fully, in the light of what we learn when we become wild olive aware, it can seem good to become "Torah observant Gentiles." While this obviously sounds highly commendable, is it not what the "stupid Galatians" were doing? Many things in the Torah are about being Jewish - part of God's covenant with the Jews. The most obvious thing being circumcision. The circumcision is a mark of the Jewish man's membership of the family of Israel; not a mark of salvation. (In the "One New Man" the Jews reamain Jews and we Gentiles remain Gentiles but are both one under the New Covenant that Jeremiah prophesied would come.) Also, check out Acts 15, when the first church fathers excused the Gentiles from Kosher and other Torah requirements. (except not eating blood - interestingly)

It is a great blessing to join with Christian Zionist and Messianic Jews, especially in Jerusalem, and to learn Jewish worship and Hebrew praise and study. It is a temptation to wonder if one actually has some previously unknown Jewish blood, and that is why the experience feels like coming home. There is nothing wrong with that, and the love for and closeness that engenders with the native Jews, but it can lead us astray. Wildolive does not agree with the theory that we have this love awoken within us because we have some Jewish DNA. This would mean that those not as blessed as us in this respect will not be able to obtain the same blessing we have as we discover our graftedness within his olive tree of faith.

This enthusiasm, and the commendable urge to reach out in love to the (non Messianic) Jews, leads some Gentile Christians to convert to Judaism. While proper respect for Jews and their faith is a good thing, we can overlook the fact that present day Judaism is not Torah Judaism, but incorporates total rejection (even cursing) of Yeshua of Nazareth (as Messiah) and those who follow him. Also the Torah sacrifices for sin (etc) are no longer available and have been replaced with prayers and good works. In order to sidestep this obvious problem, many adhere to Dual Covenant Theology - The Moses covenant for the Jews and the Jesus covenant for Gentiles - ignoring the fact that Jesus wanted his gospel message preached first to the Jews and then to the ends of the earth. According to Jesus, He is the Way and those who reject him have rejected the New Covenant promised in the Hebrew scriptures and placed themselves under condemnation. A serious outcome of dual covenant theology would be no prayer or action to show Jews Jesus/Yeshua as their promised Messiah for whom they wait.

This is not to say that a Gentile Christian should blunder, unbidden by God, into preaching Christianity at Jews. Messianic Jews are much better placed to point Jews to their Messiah and saviour *, but a Gentile with the right heart and having understanding and sensitivity may be specially priveleged to be able to bring words of life to Jews who had always believed that Christians hated them.

 

Updated 10/10/20

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