When we realize ALL of Scripture is true and used for our correction and reproof and we start studying it for ourselves (beyond being simply taught religious doctrine from the pulpit), so many of our brothers and sisters in Messiah who have been trained in church theology must re-process their previous (false) understanding of Galatians, its purpose and WHAT it is saying. It is often used to defend the the position that the law (Torah) is done away with or "bad" or not for "believers". When we study the whole Bible in it's context (as it was written and meant to be studied) we find that this theology position contradicts the REST of the Bible! So might it be possible, that the problem of this inconsistency is not inconsistency in the Scriptures, but rather and inconsistency in our previous interpretation/understanding of this letter to the Galatians?
There are thick scholarly books that explain Galatians from a Hebraic point of view, and it is really interesting to go through Paul's letter line-by-line and see what Paul was trying to say here. However, in the end, there are a few simple concepts that need to be understood before reading it that sets the stage for Galatians as a whole and help us truly understand what is going on there.
First, Paul, the author, was constantly accused of teaching against The Law, during his active time as an Apostle. In fact, that was the constant refrain against all of the early Disciples of Messiah, and even the Messiah Himself. The speech Steven gives before his stoning (with Paul encouraging the stoning, ironically) is all about the religious leaders of his day NOT keeping Torah. They stoned him because he was rebuking them to KEEP the law. His last words were “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Acts 7: 51-53
Paul was arrested multiple times, and he defended himself by completely denying ever teaching against the Law or the Commandments (see Acts 24:14 as just one example). One of the distinguishing factors of the earliest believers was their sudden love of Torah. Acts 21:20 "And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe ; and they are all zealous of the law."
Finally, and most importantly, regarding Paul's writing style, Peter gives us a warning in 2 Peter 3:14, "Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." This quote from Peter needs to printed as a warning on everything Paul wrote, including the book of Galatians.
With all of that background, it suddenly becomes impossible to see Paul as preaching AGAINST the Law and it's intended purpose, and becomes very clear that Paul is trying to clarify the purpose of the Law, and the way it is to be carried out in our lives. Galatians is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. It is carries so much relevant truth not just for we Torah Pursuant brothers and sisters, but for those in the traditional "Church" as well.
To summarize Galatians, Paul is saying that a lifestyle that reflects Messiah is NOT a lifestyle of checklists. This is his letter adamantly against "religious checklistism" (my words). If you think you are "more saved" because you avoid Easter and Christmas, you are wrong. If you think that you are "more saved" because you avoid pork, you are wrong. We are not saved due to any checklist, but due to our faith in the Blood of the Lamb. That being said, there are endless verses by Paul and others in the Bible that obviously show that Faith without some sort of evidence is a lie, and not real faith at all. Exactly what that evidence looks like changes as we conform our lives DAILY to the Torah instructions. There are plenty of "saved" people who keep Easter and Christmas, because they are wrongfully convinced that they are legitimate Holy Days, and yet they honor them in the correct spirit of worship and humbleness. There are also plenty of atheist Jews that keep Rosh Hoshanna and Passover. Which are truly His people? Messiah warns us in his Revelation to "be Hot or be Cold or I will spew you out of my mouth". Meaning, even if we are wrong, be wrong WHOLEHEARTEDLY for HIM. He will fine tune our walk if we are actually walking!
Galatians therefore speaks against a ritual physical circumcision as a mandatory first step to following Messiah, in the same way it speaks against the way many Churches will require a re-baptism before you can become a "member" of that denomination. Remember too, that many of the hearers of this letter were former pagans, not former Jews. This letter is warning to people of all religious backgrounds to be sure that FAITH is the centerpiece of all action. From Paul's perspective, any works, no matter how pious and holy they may seem, even if they line up perfectly with the Law of Moses, if not done with a Faithful heart, are not acceptable offerings.
Faith groups worldwide have created their own "Statements of Faith" that attempt to define what a "true" Christian looks like. Galatians is the book that cautions against using any man-made list as a check-list that defines who is in and who is out. The most ironic thing is when traditional Christians hold up their checklist to other believers, and quote Galatians while chastising the lack of Sunday observance, Christmas observance, etc... all of which are outside of the actual written instructions by YHVH Himself! They have misunderstood the "freedom" from the Law, and used that licence to create their own law, not even realizing that they are preaching rebellion against the very standard that Yeshua said was eternal (Matt 5:17, Matt 15:3-9). They themselves have inadvertently become the modern day "circumcision party" that Paul is warning against. We like Paul, are faithful believers, who are striving to understand His commandments, and therefore we are the ones who should be "preaching Galatians" to them!
In Humble Service to Our King,