Ancient Galatia is in Turkey today. In fact its capital was "Ancrya" and located right where modern day Ankara, the capitol of Turkey is today. Flanked by mountains to the south, east and west, it is no wonder that in 300 BC that Celts migrated and stayed their for many years. During most of that time they were until Roman rule, but the Celtic people proved to be all that the Romans could handle. It was a long journey for the Apostle Paul, and he must have gone through the southern mountains to get there. The Book of Acts records the time Paul spent there ministering to the blended population about his first hand experiences with Jesus Christ. Hearing his words and actual stories about how he was brought to God in the first place, had to be profoundly moving. Many turned to the one and only Holy God during his trip to Galatia. Imagine and audience filled with locals, Celts, and Jews all having the privilege of hearing his words, hand picked by the Holy Spirit that filled his soul.
I can't pinpoint the exact year that he visited Galatia, but scholars believe this Epistle (letter) was written between 50 and 60 AD, so it's now approximately 20 years after the death and resurrection of Christ. This means that Paul had to be between 50 and 60 years old. He cannot make it back to see Galatia, so he sits down and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he creates Galatians. When Paul left Galatia, the Christian Church that he helped establish was firmly founded on the basic truths of Christianity.
Imagine Paul's surprise when he heard that his converts from Galatia had been had been led away a "false gospel." It seems that many of the Jewish and Gentile converts were deciding that a new belief system based on "works" and Mosaic Law was the way to obtain Salvation. The young church was becoming a hybrid of Judeo-Christian legalistic values that basically renounced not only the teachings of Paul, but also, Jesus himself. Hard to imaging that being in the same generation as our Lord and Savior, that OT law could sneak back in as a means of securing a place in the "new Jerusalem." If you recall the Hebrew nation, and how many times they turned their back on God, one could almost believe that with the advent of Christ, that this time the handcuffs of the ancient "law," would have been gladly forgotten. But not so, you see, the evil one has the power to confuse new Christians and old Christians alike. We live and they lived in a world where you received only that which you had worked for...So logically, with the assistance and persistence of the evil one, himself, you get people liking the idea of having to work for their Salvation.
Additionally, circumcision, believe it or not divided people, religious groups and geography. It reminds me of my straight laced Christian education. Bible Community Church and then Bob Jones University remain about as legalistic as you can get! We did not separate over circumcision, but we sure did over things like the following:
- Length of Hair
- Length of Skirt
- Facial Hair
Some of this still causes rifts in Christianity, just like it did back in 50 AD. Rather than take God at His Word, man has to put something into the mix to desecrate the simplicity of the New Covenant by creating rules and regulations. It was called Mosaic Law, prior to Jesus Christ, and within a short 20 years the true gospel message has Man's fingerprints all over it. How do we have the audacity to try and improve on God's plan? Mankind, and Christianity in particular, has proven throughout history
that it cannot stand still, listen and accept, "the still small voice" in each of us. We have to take the horse and make it a camel every time. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ canceled the need for Mosaic Law completely. He abolished keeping track of every sin, and its requisite sacrifice, to become the FINAL SACRIFICE for all that will believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ. As Paul says all through Galatians, there is only one gospel, only one God, and only one one simple belief system that must not be tampered with, changed or added to by anyone here on earth. Any adulteration of salvation by faith alone is fake. Doesn't mean that there can't be good, but misguided people in various religious sects and/or groups, but if they have missed the simplicity of salvation, they missed the point. If they preach that the way to Heaven is paved with man made rules and regulation, they have missed the simple beauty and divine lovingkindness of God's plan. I say, stick with His plan and no other. Tell that to your family and friends. Tell that to your children. Tell that to the non-believers and the Holy Spirit will step in and take it from there. The purity of this precious gift does not need to be helped by us. All we do is make its brilliance lose some of the luster, as we try to morph the ultimate sacrifice into something different.
Take God at His word, and you will never regret it. There is deception and deviation everywhere. It started in 50 AD, so we have 20 centuries of changes and scholarly opinion. All you need is to read The Word of God on your own and ask the Holy Spirit for divine wisdom and understanding. This simple approach will open your eyes wide and give you new-found strength and determination to live for Him now and for eternity.
May God add his blessing to all who find the time to read...
The Digital Disciple