Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--
and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--
which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.
I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased
to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,
nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother.
I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.
I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
And they praised God because of me.
Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.
I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.
Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.
We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message.
On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.
James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
"We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners'
know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!
If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing?
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."
So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."
The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.
What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.
A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.