Keith Hunt - Book of Galatians - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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The Book of Galatians

Introduction #2


                             by

                         Keith Hunt



The following is a transcript of Mr.Keith Hunt's sermon given on
January 17th, 1985.

The background to the reasons why Paul had to write the letter to
Galatians is very important. When you see the background to the
letter you can better understand what the book of Galatians is
all about and why Paul had to write it. So, we first of all need
to look at some of the events that led up to Paul having to write
the letter of Galatians.

We will begin in Acts 13:1 - "Now there were in the church that
was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers." Verse 2 - "As they
ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said,
'separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have
called them.' And when they had fasted and prayed, they laid
their hands on them, and they sent them away." Now to verse 13 -
"Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to
Perga in Pamphylia: and John departed from them returning to
Jerusalem. And when they departed from Perga, they came to
Antioch in Pisidia..." If you turn to one of your maps at the
back of a lot of Bibles and find the 'Journey's of Paul,' you
will be able to find Antioch in Pisidia and you will see that it
is in the region of Galatia. 
Verse 14 - "and they went into the synagogue on the sabbath day,
and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets
the rulers of the synagogue said unto them, saying, 'You men and
brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say
on.' Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, 'Men
of Israel, and you that fear God, give audience.'" Now we have
Paul going into what we might call a sermon. Verse 17 - "The God
of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the
people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and
with an high arm brought He them out of it. And about the time of
forty years He suffered their manner in the wilderness. And when
He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided
their land to them by lot. And after that He gave unto them
judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years until
Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God
gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of
Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when He had removed
him He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also
He gave testimony, and said 'I have found David the son of Jesse,
a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.' Of
this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised
unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus." 
So you see how Paul now practically immediately, just within a
matter of seconds, is preaching to them Jesus as Saviour,
somebody who could save them. Verse 24 - "When John had first
preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the
people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom
think ye that I am? I am not he. For behold, there comes one
whose shoes of his  feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and
brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among
you fears God..." Yes Paul was preaching to the Jews and he was
also preaching to Gentiles as we will see. But he says to them,
"to you is the word of this salvation sent." 
Paul is immediately preaching to them that through Jesus Christ
there is salvation. You can be saved through Him. Now go over to
verse 38 - "Be it known unto you therefore," Paul says, "men and
brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the
forgiveness of sins." Paul is saying to them that you can have
your sins forgiven, not through doing external rites, not through
the Old Covenant per se, in certain laws that the Jews were
thinking that they could be saved by obeying.

Can we see the background, the time in which Paul is preaching.
The Jews in a synagogue believing that they are under the Old
Covenant, practicing the Old Covenant, practicing animal
sacrifices, and a priesthood, and circumcision. And now Paul says
to them, it's not through those things that you get forgiveness
of sins, it's through Jesus Christ, He is Saviour, it's through
Him that you can have your sins forgiven. 
Verse 39 - "And by Him all that believe are justified from all
things, from which you could NOT be JUSTIFIED by the law of
Moses" (any laws in all the Old Covenant). Paul says that all
these things that people had been practicing from generation to
generation did NOT forgive sins, it could NOT justify or forgive
them. Paul is teaching it is through Jesus Christ that you are
justified, that you have the forgiveness of sins. 

Now, when you look at it in that historical perspective, can you
imagine what those people sitting there would start to think.
Those Jewish people that had been observing these rites and
ceremonies from generation to generation, killing those animals,
seeing the blood pouring out. Would it not be sensible to suppose
that if you were doing these things generation after generation
you would start to look to those external rites and the killing
of those sacrifices and the circumcision, which shed blood also,
that you would start to look to those as a means in itself of
forgiving you your sins. And all of a sudden here comes somebody,
that stands up and says to them, it's NOT that way that you get
the forgiveness of sins, it's through an individual called Jesus
Christ.

Notice the reaction as we go on. The Jewish reaction to Paul's
preaching. Verse 42 - "And when the Jews were gone out of the
synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be
preached to them the next sabbath". So it would indicate that the
Gentiles were willing to listen, but the indication is that the
Jews were not. But, the Gentiles were willing to listen to this,
what you might call new kind of preaching. Verse 43 - "Now when
the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious
proselytes followed Paul and the Barnabas: who, speaking to them,
persuaded them to continue in the grace of God."  Yes certain
Jews were interested in this new type of preaching also. Verse 44
- "And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together
to hear the word of God." But we will notice by verse 45, most of
those people that came together were Gentiles. Oh, there may have
been some Jews there, but certainly for the majority of the
religious Jews, noticed what their situation was.
Verse 45 - "But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were
filled with envy, and spake against those things which were
spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming." 

Now do we begin to see what was going on. Paul was preaching what
those Jews thought was some new kind of heresy. Paul was
preaching Jesus Christ. Through Him there was the forgiveness of
sins, that you were justified through Jesus Christ and not
through any external obedience to the Laws of Moses or
sacrificing or circumcision. And those religious Jews started to
contradict Paul. So obviously the inference is that those
religious Jews said "No, that is not right, you are not justified
through this man that Paul is preaching, you are justified
through our way of living, you are justified through following
the Laws of Moses, through animal sacrifices and being
circumcised, that's the way to justification." Most Jews taught
and preached that that was the way to justification.

You see, we have two different camps here. What Paul was
preaching and what those religious Jews were preaching were
opposite to each other. Verse 49 - "And the word of the Lord was
published throughout all the region." Verse 50 - "But the Jews
stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of
the city and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas and
expelled them out of their coasts." 

Chapter 14 - "And it came to pass in Iconium," now Iconium if you
look on your maps, is part of the region of Galatia, "that they
went both together into the synagogue of the Jews and so spake,
that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks
believed." So definitely, there were some that accepted the
teaching of Paul and Barnabas. But, there were unbelieving Jews,
ones that would not accept what Paul and Barnabas were preaching,
and we have already seen what they were preaching, that Jesus
Christ is the Saviour and that through Him there is
justification, and NOT by any works of obedience to any laws of
the Old Covenant.
Verse 2 - "But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and
made their minds evil affected against the brethren." Verse 4 -
"But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with
the Jews, and part with apostles." And in fact, they ended up
being stoned, verse 5. And verse 6 - "They fled unto Lystra and
Derbe again." Lystra and Derbe is a part of the Galatian area.
Verse 7 - "And there they preached the gospel." And we've already
seen what the good news, the gospel is that they preached. They
preached Jesus Christ as Saviour and through Him is the
forgiveness of sins and not through any other kind of ... well
anything, whatever you might want to imagine or invent. You could
not be justified, forgiven of your sins by any other means than
through Jesus Christ and HIS SACRIFICE of death and shed blood on
the cross.

Verse 8 - "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his
feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had
walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him,
and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud
voice, 'Stand upright on thy feet.' And he leaped and walked. And
when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their
voices, saying," Now we are in a part of Galatia which is
predominately Gentile. They see this miracle that Paul was able
to do and what do they say? Verse 11 - "The Gods are come down to
us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter, and
Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker." Then notice,
Verse 13 - "Then the priest of Jupiter." Yes these Gentiles had
their own priesthood similar to the Jews. The Jews had a
priesthood, and Gentile nations also had their religions and
their priesthoods. 

"And the priest of Jupiter which was before their city, brought
oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice
with the people." Now here is something else we need to be
conscience of. Gentiles also sacrificed. They also killed animals
and poured out the blood and had their priesthood and their
altars and their temples and sacrificial system just like the
Jews had. They would have done sacrifice. Verse 14 - "And when
the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it they rent their
clothes and ran in among the people, crying out and saying,
'Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions
with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these
vanities unto the living God." Verse 18 - "And with these sayings
they scarcely restrained the people, that they had not done
sacrifice unto them." 

It took every effort from Paul and Barnabas to stop these people
from sacrificing to them. Verse 19 - "And there came thither
certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium who persuaded the
people..." Again, Jews who were going against the preaching of
Paul and Barnabas, preaching the opposite to Paul and Barnabas,
persuaded the people against them, "and having stoned Paul and
Barnabas, drew him cut of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and
came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to
Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and
had taught many, they returned again to Lystra and to Iconium,
and Antioch, we are still in the region of Galatia, "confirming
the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the
faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter in to the
kingdom of God."

We begin to see some of the background, that when Paul and
Barnabas went preaching Jesus Christ as Saviour and that through
Him is the forgiveness of sins and justification, they came
against tough opposition from certain segments of the Jewish
religious population. In fact, they contradicted Paul and
Barnabas, and would have been teaching people, that, "No it's not
through Jesus Christ that you have the forgiveness of sins, but
it is through our religious system that you can have forgiveness
of sins, by sacrificing, circumcision, being under the Old
Covenant, keeping the Laws of Moses." We had this kind of
friction going on in the early years of the preaching of the
Gospel.

Chapter 15 - "And certain men which came down from Judea taught
the brethren and said 'Except ye be circumcised after the manner
of Moses, ye cannot be saved.'" You see how strong their
preaching was. They said "No, Paul and Barnabas you are wrong.
Unless you are circumcised, you can't be saved. You've got to be
circumcised in order to be saved." Paul and Barnabas did not
preach that. They didn't preach that circumcision was necessary
for salvation but these other preachers did. And there was a
great contention. Verse 2 - "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had
no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined
that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up
to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."

Is certain rites of the Mosaic economy necessary for salvation? 
That was the question. Some said it was and Paul and Barnabas
said it wasn't. Verse 4 - "And when they were come to Jerusalem,
they were received of the church and the apostles and elders and
they had declared all things that God had done with them. But
there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed
saying that it was needful to circumcise them." You've got to
circumcise these Gentiles these people were saying, "and to
command them to keep the law of Moses." 

DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY WERE TEACHING? We must continue they were
saying, to keep all the things under Moses, sacrifices, the
temple rituals, all the ablutions and circumcision especially.
Especially circumcision must be kept. These Gentiles must do
these things they said. It's necessary to do these things in
order to be justified and to have salvation, was this Pharisee
sect of believers contention. They believed in the person of
Jesus, but NOT as taught by Paul and Barnabas.

Verse 6 - "And the apostles and elders came together for to
consider of this matter." As you read on in chapter 15 you will
find that the decision was that it was not necessary to be
circumcised in order to become a child of God and in order to
have justification and salvation. It was not necessary.

Now I hope we can see some of the background of what was going on
in the early years of preaching the gospel. You had some who
would not accept what they considered this new theology that was
now being proclaimed. "New theology," some would have said, "that
Paul and Barnabas and these others were proclaiming, that it is
through Jesus Christ, this man, that you can have forgiveness of
sins and that you don't have to be physically circumcised in
order to be saved and to be a child of God." It was a new
theology to many people. They could not accept it, they did NOT
accept it, many of them simply did not accept it, and in fact
they went out and preached exactly the OPPOSITE to what Paul was
preaching. These people had infiltrated the region of Galatian.
Paul had gone through there and after he had left came these
other preachers CONTRADICTING the preaching, and teaching of
Paul. Finally, you had this Jerusalem conference to settle the
matter. The matter was settled and then it went out to the
churches what the decision was, but you see by this time these
preachers of the laws of Moses and circumcision with that being
the way to be justified and saved, had already done their damage.
They were already out there and the people of Galatia were being
influenced by them and Paul had to sit down and write the letter
to Galatians to straighten them out on this matter.

The letter of Galatians is, as most Bible scholars will admit,
possibly the very first letter that Paul wrote, at least that we
have record of. First and Second Thessalonians could have
possibly been his first two letters. If they were, Galatians was
probably right after them. But some scholars will say that
Galatians was the very first letter that Paul wrote, and he wrote
it because of the teachings of certain individuals that had come
along and were actually teaching the opposite to what was the
good news, the Gospel that Paul had preached to them.
Paul was preaching, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Justification
and salvation through Jesus Christ and these other preachers were
saying, "No, no, it's through the laws of Moses, it's through
circumcision, it's through all of the rites that we perform, that
we have justification, salvation." Paul said no it is not through
that way that we are justified, and then he had to write the
letter to the people of Galatia. 

I'll say it again: Do we begin to see the overall background to
the book of Galatians? The contention was mainly HOW we are
JUSTIFIED, HOW we have our SINS FORGIVEN, how we obtain the
SPIRIT of God, how we obtain SALVATION. And there was two, shall
we say, thoughts. One was by observing the rituals of the Mosaic
economy, the Old Covenant and performing everything that the Old
Covenant told you to do including animal sacrifices and including
circumcision, and by performing those things you could earn your
justification, you could earn your forgiveness of sins, and so
you could obtain salvation. On the other hand Paul says, "No you
can't do that, you cannot accumulate points in laws of Moses
observing, you can't earn justification, you can't earn salvation
by performing anything under the old covenant. It's through Jesus
Christ who came to die for your sins, that you can obtain
forgiveness of sins, justification, and it's through His grace
that you can obtain salvation."

So the aim of Paul's letter to the Galatians is to combat the
idea and teachings of Pharisaical individuals who taught that in
order to be saved it was mandatory to keep the WHOLE Old Covenant
with its ceremonial rituals, sacrifices, and especially the rite
of circumcision. Paul taught that the Old Covenant with its
sacrifices, ceremonial rituals and its physical circumcision, was
never by God intended, of and by itself, to justify, and that
means to forgive, to declare righteous, it was never intended by
God of itself to justify and save anyone. God had, Paul taught,
another way to be justified and saved. That way was by the
sacrifice of Christ and entry into a New Covenant with God. These
Pharisaical Old Covenant preachers taught that we are still under
the ENTIRE Old Covenant, especially physical circumcision. That
was really emphasized. Gentiles coming into the church must be
physically circumcised and we're all still under the Old Covenant
and especially physical circumcision, without which one could not
be saved. 
That was their teaching, that was their contention. One could not
be saved without it or justified without it. 

Paul taught Christians that we are justified through the death of
Jesus and we are under a New Covenant and circumcision was of the
spirit, the heart, and not of the letter or the flesh.

The book of Galatians is REALLY ABOUT ***TWO COVENANTS*** The Old
and the New and the true way of justification. 

If you want to write in your Bible every time you see in the book
of Galatians "the law" and you put in there "the old covenant,"
you will come to understand the book of Galatians in a much
better way. Every time that you read where Paul says "the Law" in
the book of Galatians just simply put in there "the Old
Covenant." The book of Galatians will OPEN UP to you as NEVER
before.

Now remember, the Old Covenant did include the Ten Commandments.
Oh yes, and it consisted of many, many things. The Old Covenant
consisted of the sacrificial system, it consisted of performing
physical circumcision, and yes it did consist of the Ten
Commandments. But you see people were teaching that you could
obtain justification and salvation by the performance of these
things. You could earn your justification and salvation by doing
the Old Covenant. They taught in essence that you could gain
"Brownie Points" by performing the laws and rites of the Old
Covenant, and so God would grant you forgiveness and salvation.
Paul said no you can't do it that way, that was NOT the way to be
saved and find salvation.

Let's notice some of the scriptures in the book of Galatians
which I think will show you the over-all emphasis and teaching of
why the book of Galatians was written. 

                        ..............

TO BE CONTINUED


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