“A woman entered the Democratic primary for governor of the state of Texas. She was convinced that the Bible had told her she would win the nomination. When she received the official list of names from the primary she saw her name printed last. Then she read in her Bible, “Many that are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:30). On the basis of that verse she thought God was telling her she would win. But she lost. This amusing story illustrates the need for interpreting Scripture in its proper context. Taken out of context, the Scriptures can be twisted to say just about anything.”
I cannot begin my study through Galatians without first putting Galatians into the proper context.
CONTEXT of Galatians from Acts 15
We can put Galatians into context by looking at the problem facing the early church in Acts 15.
(1) And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
“certain men” – messianic pharisees – Acts 21:20 the messianic pharisees accepted Y’shua as Mashiyach but rejected any divine claims about him. Their dispute begins here. They are spoken of again in Gal 2:4 When Paul says they come in to spy out the liberty that the people have in Mashiyach Yahshua in order to enslave them.
“brethren” – the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
“except” – must be
“circumcised after the manner of Moses” Gen 17:10-27 a covenant is made with Abraham and YHVH gives the command of circumcision other passages regarding circumcision: Lev 12:3 and John 7:22
“you can’t be saved” – very real accusation, eternal life is in question here!
(Note: but this we know- Moses walked by FAITH for over twenty years. Abraham is already credited as righteous for his faith. His heart has been circumcised for over twenty years. There is ALWAYS a circumcision of heart! Then a following of obedience)
(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.
“paul and barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them” – they are in an uproar and are mutually questioning each other about the issue
“they determined that they would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question” to bring the question before the apostles and elders in Jerusalem
(3) And being brought on their way by the assembly, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
“they passed through Phenice and Samaria declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren” – They are passing along the joyful news of gentile conversion to all the brothers they meet along the way and bringing joy to their brethren.
(4) And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the assembly, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that Elohim had done with them.
(5) But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
“but there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed” – the messianic pharisees
they want the people to be circumcised before having a relationship with Messiah Yahshua and before learning why Torah must be applied to their lives.
(6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Plain enough. They come together and consider this matter before them
There is much debate and Peter begins:
(7) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago Elohim made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the good news, and believe.
(8) And Elohim, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us;
(9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
(10) Now therefore why tempt ye Elohim, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
(11) But we believe that through the grace of the Master Yahshua the Messiah we shall be saved, even as they.
Note: this yoke is referring to the ORAL LAW. The Talmud put many additional laws (over 1000) and greatly limited the ability for the Gentiles to join with Israel. We know this to be the case because of the go around Yeshua had with the teachers of that time!
(14) Simeon has explained how God first showed his concern for the gentiles by taking from among them a people for his name.(15) This agrees with the words of the prophets. As it is written,(16) ‘After this, I will come back and set up David’s fallen tent again. I will restore its ruined places and set it up again(17) so that the rest of the people may search for the Lord, including all the gentiles who are called by my name,” declares the Lord. ‘He is the one who has been doing these things(18) that have been known from long ago.’
V19-22 – A decision is made
(19) Therefore, I have decided that we should not trouble these gentiles who are turning to God.(20) Instead, we should write to them to keep away from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from anything strangled, and from blood.
(21) After all, Moses has had people to proclaim him in every city for generations, and on every Sabbath his books are read aloud in the synagogues.”
(22) Then the apostles, the elders, and the whole church decided to choose some of their men to send with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. These were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, who were leaders among the brothers.
Note: immediate issues requiring attention, in other words lets encourage them from not sinning agains YHVH with the things we KNOW are a stumbling block to their walk. They will hear the heart of YHVH every week in the Synagogues when the books of Moses are read, let YHVH work it out for them as their hearts turn to him in obedience.
CONTEXT of Galatians from Matthew 23
(1) Then spake Yahshua to the multitude, and to his disciples,(2) Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat” – while the scribes and pharisees sit in the seat of Moses they read from the scroll of Moses. Do these things that they say from the scroll.
An example of this is in Nehemiah 8:4-8
(4) And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
(5) And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; for he was above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up: (6) And Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great Elohim. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped Yahweh with their faces to the ground.(7) Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.(8) So they read in the book in the law of Elohim distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
“…and the Levites caused the people to understand the law” – They then give a teaching on what is read, AFTER the scroll is read from Ezra. (This is where the scribes and Pharisees, whom Yahshua is speaking to, have their problem.)
Back to Matthew 23
(3) All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
“all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do” – The teachers are reading from the law, observe the law and do these things. But do not do as they do, they ADD to the law and TAKE AWAY from the law.
An example from Matthew 15:2-3
(2) Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
(3) But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of Elohim by your tradition?
“tradition of the elders” – a tradition of men. The statute of washing the hands is for temple purpose Exodus 30:20-21, and while it is a good idea to always wash your hands, the teachers have made it a command saying you are not a good follower of the commands of YHVH if you are not washing your hands this way or that way at this time or that time.
Note: These traditions of men are established from two schools of thought in that day, the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. Follow this rabbit trail. It is important to understand who these teachers were in order to put into further context where PAUL is coming from in Galatians!
It is important to note that Yahshua is not speaking against the law but against the additions and subtractions from the law.
I pray that I have done well in laying the foundation for my study into the book of Galatians.
Praised are you, YHVH our God, King of the universe, who gives the Torah of truth and the Good News of salvation to his people Israel and to all the peoples (grafted in) through his son Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord!