Paul’s letter to the Galatians is an urgent and passionate book filled with sharp comparisons—flesh and spirit, works and faith, law and gospel—but no contrast stands out more clearly or forcefully in this letter than that of slavery and freedom.
And there is good reason for that, for freedom is precisely what is at stake in this letter. Will Christians live into the freedom that they have been given or will they submit themselves once again to bondage? Will they follow the One who has called them to be free or will they betray Him by returning to a harsh and unforgiving task master?
These questions confronted Paul’s original audience, and they still confront us today. In this study, we explore what it means to be a free people and how we can live into that freedom.
Galatians is a book that reflects a moment of crisis. Paul's passion and urgency as he writes the letter is unmistakable, and there is good reason for that. For what is at stake is the Gospel itself.
Salvation is not something we earn. Our identity—who we are—is determined not by how we look, or what we can do, or who we know, or where we live, or any other such measure. All such standards of worth and identity have been put to death.
You have become united with Christ and now share in his identity and relationship to the Father. But how do we live into this identity? How does it transform the way that we think about ourselves and the way that we live?
What does it mean to be truly free? Many would respond you must be free to do what you want without someone interfering. But St. Paul says freedom consists in wanting and pursuing what Jesus wanted and pursued. A truly free life is one which is lived in the pattern of Jesus, in service to others.
Galatian's final exhortations toward Christian community life, at first glance, might seem merely practical advice, but what Paul has to say about freedom in community is inextricable from his message about the gospel. In life together, we show the world what it means to be truly free.
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