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Galatians, what a misunderstood book!
Often, one of the first things Christians will say when you tell them the law has not been abolished is: “you need to read the book of Galatians!” In spite of the multitude of scriptures in the “New Testament” which demonstrate we should keep Yahweh’s law, many understand Paul’s letter to Galatians to state otherwise.
In reality, there is not a single verse in the book of Galatians or anywhere in the scripture that would tell us that the law has been abolished. Rather, much to the contrary! The book of Galatians actually proves that while we are not saved by our observance of the Torah (The Hebrew word translated “Law” all throughout the scriptures), true believers will make a sincere effort to walk in its precepts.
In this study we will go through each of the verses in Galatians chapter 2 through chapter 5, which contain the key verses speaking of Yahweh’s Torah/law and its place in our life. It is the words in these chapters that are most frequently understood as “abolishing the law”. Thus, we will examine them to see if Paul is really making any claim that the law is now abolished and not to be heeded.
Almost all of the Christian world regards Paul’s letter to the Galatians as “proof” that we need not concern ourselves with keeping Yahweh’s Torah/law. This is a major mistake that must be addressed thoroughly. It is often more difficult for a person to ‘unlearn error’ than to ‘learn truth.’ For this reason, the studies into the book of Galatians is longer than most.
If you feel that I’m in error in this study, feel free to contact me. I’m only interested in the truth.
Galatians chapter 4
This study is a continuation of the study on chapter 2 and 3 of the book of Galatians. If you have not read the previous studies which go over chapters 2 and 3, verse by verse, please read them before reading this study. Otherwise, the points made here may not make any sense to you.
We left off in Galatians 3 with a very important conclusion:
Galatians 3:26-29 – For ye are all the children of Elohim by faith in Messiah Yahushua. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yahushua. 29 And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The blessing of this is that each of us become children of Elohim, the seed of Abraham by Yahushua the Messiah. All of us are now one in the Messiah Yahushua. It was not circumcision or the ‘good news of the circumcision’ that made this possible, it was the blood of Yahushua. Continuing in this thought, Paul next says:
Galatians 4:1 – Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be master of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
During the time period in which Paul was speaking, the common practice was to appoint a caretaker to watch over a child until he was of a certain age. Paul is using this cultural practice as an illustration of the role of Yahweh’s law in our lives. Rather than functioning as a means by which we are able to receive Yahweh’s promise of eternal life, the law of Yahweh simply shows us what sin is and reveals our own bondage to it.
In the case of the Galatians, it was their idolatry and other pagan practices that was exposed as worthy of condemnation. The Torah/law of Yahweh teaches us that we need our Heavenly Father’s mercy upon us if we ever want to hope for eternal life. The way we receive that mercy is through Yahushua’s righteousness being placed upon us:
Galatians 4:4 – But when the fulness of the time was come, Elohim sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Note that Yahushua was under the law even as we were. There are some who believe that the phrase “under the law” is a metaphor for a person committing a sin. But this isn’t true because Yahushua was born under the law but did not commit sin. Yahushua was born under the law and kept the law to absolute perfection. For this reason, He is the Righteous One who is able to redeem those who were under the law but condemned as sinners, held in bondage to the elements of the world.
Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, Elohim hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of Elohim through Messiah.
In His love and mercy, Yahweh redeemed us (bought us off the slave market) and caused us to be adopted into His family, making us sons of Elohim. This was made possible because Yahushua died for us. When He died for us and rose again, our Adam man participated with Him in that death and we were made a new creation:
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Messiah liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of Elohim, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
So we were made sons of Elohim rather than mere servants or children who were held under the bondage of sin. Of course, now that we are made free this does not mean that we should continue in sin:
1 Corinthians 6:20 – For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify Elohim in your body, and in your spirit, which are Elohim’s.
Romans 6:1-2 – What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 Elohim forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
So again, we “live to Elohim” as Paul said in Galatians 2. We don’t rebuild again that sin that was destroyed or we’ll be making ourselves transgressors again. But apparently the Galatians had a problem with this very thing:
Galatians 4:8-11 – Howbeit then, when ye knew not Elohim, ye did service unto them which by nature are no elohim. 9 But now, after that ye have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Many believe that the “days, and months, and times, and years” are in reference to the Sabbath and feast day gatherings that Yahweh commanded in the Torah/law. They claim that any observance of such things are an attempt to “earn our salvation” rather than trusting in the blood of Yahushua to be our cleansing.
Paul is not specific about what “days, and months, and times, and years” he is referring to.
A traditional Christian might say that Paul is condemning the observance of any day, month time or year. But even if this were the case, it would actually condemn the traditional Christian because going to church on Sunday would be an observance of a day. And certainly the observance of Christmas and Easter festivals would fall under that as well.
But is Paul speaking of Yahweh’s commanded observances of the weekly Sabbath, Passover, Pentecost and other such holy days? If so, Paul is condemning himself because he was a feast keeper:
Acts 18:20-21 – When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21 – But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if YAHWEH will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
Paul said that he was looking forward to keeping the feast in Jerusalem.
So if we understand the feast days to be the “weak and beggarly elements” that bring us into bondage, this would contradict Paul’s own practice. In fact, Paul said:
Acts 25:8 – While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
So was Paul bringing himself into bondage? Was he observing the very “weak and beggarly elements” that he told the Galatians not to observe? Was Paul a hypocrite? The answer to all of these questions would have to be “yes” if we understood the keeping of these commands in the Torah to be “weak and beggarly.”
So what was Paul talking about? Let’s read it again more carefully. Remember that the Galatians were formerly idol worshipers:
Galatians 4:8 – Howbeit then, when ye knew not Elohim, ye did service unto them which by nature are no elohim.
Having been idol worshipers, there was no feast keeping to “turn ye again” to. They did not formerly keep the feast days and Sabbath.
Galatians 4:9 – But now, after that ye have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
The elements here were the “elements of the world” that they were formerly in bondage to, as he previously said:
Galatians 4:3 – Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Since the Galatians were formerly idol worshipers, the observances that they “turn again” to would be observances that were found in idolatry. They were not formerly a Torah observant people but “did service unto them which by nature are no elohim.” It isn’t the keeping of the Torah/law that results in bondage. It’s transgressing the law that is sin and bondage. Otherwise Yahushua Himself was in bondage because He was born under the law and kept it without fault.
At this point Paul must have been very frustrated because not only were the Galatians looking to “another gospel/good news” for assurance of salvation, but they were also holding onto former things that they were supposed to be turned away from. No wonder he said:
Galatians 4:11 – I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Even more evidence that Paul wasn’t condemning them for keeping the feast days and Sabbath was his next statement:
Galatians 4:12 – Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
Since Paul himself kept the feast, he would be again contradicting himself in saying “be as I am” if the “days/months/times/years” were referring to the feast days. He wants them to be as he is, for he considers himself to be like them–redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, saved by grace through faith–not through any work of men but by the righteousness of Yahushua the Messiah.
Paul next makes the point that their wayward ways are not a personal hurt to him (“ye have not injured me at all“), even though he toiled and labored for them through infirmities:
Galatians 4:13 – Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of Elohim, even as Messiah Yahushua. 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
The specific infirmity that Paul speaks of is quite possibly poor eyesight (compare this to Gal 6:11), but it is not certain. What is certain is that he suffered many afflictions while he proclaimed the good news, and the Galatians received the good news with joy and thanksgiving in spite of the afflictions.
Galatians 4:16 – Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Those who were false teachers among them were apparently speaking against him so he brings to remembrance the blessedness and love they all had for one another, and reminds them that he isn’t their enemy–but only wants to bring them the truth. There was a tremendous amount of peer pressure being placed on them from all sides, and they were caving into believing a false way of salvation:
Galatians 4:17 – They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
This is a somewhat confusing statement in the KJV. It may help to read the New King James in this instance:
Galatians 4:17 – They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
They were being manipulated by others who used exclusion and peer pressure to get them to conform. One example of that is back in chapter 2 when some of the Jews refused to eat at the same table as the Gentiles.
Galatians 4:18 – But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Messiah be formed in you, 20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
Zeal is good, but it must be according to truth.
Next Paul begins to use an allegory in order to demonstrate the truth of the good news. Many believe that this allegory proves that we should not be obedient to the law of Yahweh, but once again we will demonstrate this to be a false belief.
First of all, remember what it really means to be “under the law”. It means to submit to the ‘good news of the circumcision’ which is contrasted with the true good news as follows:
With this in mind, let’s continue to read Galatians 4:
Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Once again, Paul appeals to the book of Genesis to demonstrate an eternal truth. Remember that Yahweh promised Abraham he would have a son in his old age even though he never had any children. After this promise was made to Abraham, both Abraham and Sarah thought that the promised son would not literally come through Sarah’s womb, but through her handmaid/bondwoman (Hagar) on behalf of Sarah. The son that was born through Hagar was Ishmael.
Ishmael is called one who was ‘born after the flesh’ because he was brought about in a way that was contrary to Yahweh’s promise, being the son of a bondwoman (slave). Yahweh was actually going to fulfill his promise by miraculously allowing Sarah to have a son (Isaac) well past child bearing years. Thus, the promise was going to be fulfilled by a work of Yahweh rather than a work of men.
This becomes a perfect illustration of the difference between one trying to receive Yahweh’s promise of salvation by a work of Yahweh and another trying to receive Yahweh’s promise of salvation by a work of men:
Galatians 4:24 – Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
So why is Jerusalem and her children compared to Hagar and her children? Jerusalem as a whole were (like Abraham) attempting to receive the promise through human effort, coming up with their own idea of how Yahweh would fulfill his promises rather than letting Yahweh fulfill it Himself. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were trying to bring about the promises of eternal life through their own works rather than through works of Yahweh through the Messiah, who brings all of us the righteousness we need to have eternal life.
Any effort to use the Sinai covenant as a means of salvation will ultimately fail to deliver a man from the bondage of sin–for none of us have kept the law. None of us will receive the promises of Yahweh through human effort. It takes a work of Yahweh for any of us to have salvation.
Galatians 4:26 – But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Those who cleave to the understanding that we receive the promise of eternal life through the work of Yahweh are likened to Isaac, the son of a freewoman. We are the children of Promise because we have become the seed of Abraham through Yahushua the Messiah who lives in us…rather than through our own human effort of circumcision or Torah/law keeping.
Galatians 4:29 – But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
The bondwoman was ultimately cast out of Abraham’s household because of the persecutions (Genesis 21) and was not allowed to be an heir with the freewoman. For this reason, it is important to submit to the true good news of salvation rather than the false ‘good news of the circumcision’ which states that we do not receive salvation until we keep the law and get circumcised.
Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Messiah has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
The yoke of bondage is (as we discussed in previous chapters) the ‘good news of the circumcision.’ As we discussed, Peter agreed with this in Acts 15:10-11. See the previous chapter discussions for more information.
At this point, Paul begins to make some important statements about circumcision and its role in the true ‘good news’. In short, circumcision is not part of the good news of Yahushua in the sense that whether we we can still receive salvation whether we are circumcised or uncircumcised.
Let’s continue in Galatians 5:
Galatians 5:2-5 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Messiah will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Messiah, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
One of the most important things to remember when reading the book of Galatians is that he is speaking to a certain group of people. In this case, he is speaking to the Galatians who were about to fall prey to a false ‘good news’. As is evidenced by Paul’s statements, “You have become estranged from Messiah, you who attempt to be justified by law” and “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith,” the subject matter at hand is whether or not circumcision is a part of the true good news that brings salvation.
Paul was NOT against circumcision if done for the right reasons. Proof of this is found in (once again) Paul’s own example and practice:
Acts 16:1-3 – Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
In light of the common interpretation of Galatians 5, Paul was doing the very thing that most people think Paul was telling the Galatians not to do! Was he circumcising Timothy so that “Messiah could profit him nothing” and so that he would become “estranged from Messiah?”
Galatians 5:3 – And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Messiah, you who [attempt] [to] be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Why did Paul tell the Galatians that they would be “fallen from grace,” “estranged from Messiah,” and “Messiah would profit them nothing” if they were to become circumcised because of Jewish pressures but then circumcise Timothy “because of the Jews?”
Was Paul a hypocrite? Certainly not, but he would be if you went along with the common interpretation of Galatians.
He was on one hand trying to tell the Gentiles of Galatia to not give into Jewish pressures, but then by most interpreters he gave into Jewish pressures himself in Acts 16:1-3.
What is really going on here?
The truth is that Paul was not against circumcision. He was against the false doctrines found in the “good news of the circumcision” which were a perversion of the true “good news” that Yahweh desires to proclaim.
Timothy’s father was a Greek. This means that Timothy would not be of Jewish heritage because in scripture a person’s lineage follows the fatherly line.
Today, Orthodox Jews believe it follows the mother’s lineage but it is not certain if this was the practice in the first century. But even as the son of a Gentile, Timothy was raised in the scriptures by his Jewish mother Eunice (2Tim. 1:5, 3:15), was “well reported of by the brethren” according to Acts 16:2, and was ready in his heart to be circumcised.
Now there is no record of Paul ever circumcising anyone other than Timothy. But we see that in Acts 16:3, Paul decided to take it upon himself to circumcise Timothy.
Why did Paul want to do the actual act of circumcision here? To prove to the Jews that he was not in any way against circumcising the son of a Gentile if it was done for reasons that would not pervert the good news of Yahushua. He did this right after going to the apostles and elders about the circumcision question in Acts 15.
Paul’s decision to make sure he was the one to circumcise Timothy would alleviate any concerns that Paul’s trip to Jerusalem had any intentions of doing away with circumcision as a whole, even for the son of a Gentile–as it says “for they all knew his father was a Greek.“
Let’s read the verses in Galatians again:
Galatians 5:2 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, the Messiah will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Messiah, you who [attempt] [to] be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
The issue here was our source of “righteousness.”
Those who held to the ‘good news of the circumcision’ believed that person had to learn/ obey the Torah and be circumcised before they could be considered righteous, and thus be saved. But the true good news is that one need only repent and believe in Yahushua to be considered righteous, and thus be saved.
The former was an attempt to be “justified (declared righteous) by the law.” The latter was the humble admission that our own righteousness is inadequate to gain any hope of receiving salvation through it.
As a reminder, let’s look at our diagram again:
If a man was to try to be “justified by the law” by submitting to the ‘good news of the circumcision’ and getting circumcised, they would be a “debtor to keep the whole law.” Why? Because in order for us to be justified (declared righteous) by the law, we would need to keep every single commandment in order to be considered righteous. For whether we fail in one point, or a thousand points, we are still labeled a transgressor. For this reason, any attempt to be justified by the law will utterly fail. This is why the law has no part in justifying us. We need Yahushua for our righteousness/justification. That’s why it says that we “wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Galatians 5:5 – For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in the Messiah Yahushua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
So again Paul makes the point that if we are in the Messiah Yahushua, whether we are circumcised or uncircumcised it doesn’t amount to anything in regards to whether or not we have righteousness. If we come to Yahushua, we are saved regardless of whether we are circumcised or not.
Let’s examine those verses once more before moving on:
Galatians 5:2 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, the Messiah will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Messiah, you who [attempt] [to] be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in the Messiah Yahushua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Again, keep in mind that Paul himself circumcised Timothy. Therefore when it says “the Messiah will profit you nothing” and “every man who becomes circumcised…is a debtor to keep the whole law” and “you have become estranged from Messiah,” it does not mean everyone in the entire world who becomes circumcised is condemned.
Paul is writing to the Galatians. Before we think his statements apply to everyone in the entire world, we need to examine the context, examine other scriptures, and examine Paul’s own practices to get a full understanding of what was intended. Otherwise we have Paul sending Timothy to the lake of fire by circumcising him “because of the Jews.”
Paul is addressing the false ‘good news of the circumcision,’ so for someone to be circumcised by them was a sign of submission to that false doctrine, a doctrine so dangerous it could cause a man to lose his salvation.
Paul himself did circumcise the son of a Gentile to prove he wasn’t against circumcision, but he vigorously refuted anyone who taught this ‘good news of the circumcision’ which was always was a false doctrine.
The truth is that if we are in the Messiah Yahushua, whether we are circumcised or uncircumcised doesn’t gain us salvation. To the contrary, if we use it (or any other commanded act) as attempt to replace the work of Messiah, we are putting ourselves under the law and separating ourselves from Yahushua.
We are sons of Abraham through Yahushua the Messiah, not circumcision. In this sense it avails us nothing. But circumcision for the right reasons does fulfill a purpose. Otherwise Timothy endured a very painful ordeal for nothing.
He wasn’t getting circumcised because he wanted to witness to the Jews, as some say. Timothy was going to be circumcised anyway. Paul was choosing to be the one who actually did the act of circumcising Timothy ‘because of the Jews’. He was proving to them that he was not against circumcision if done for the right reasons.
What are the right reasons? No, it is not so that you can impress the Jews! He was clearly dead against that!
In the Torah, circumcision was never the first item on Yahweh’s list of things He desired. Yahweh didn’t give Abraham the covenant of circumcision on the day that he called him. He gave the covenant of circumcision to Abraham after Abraham had walked with Him many years.
This was also how Yahweh dealt with this issue with the children of Israel. The children of Israel were in the wilderness for 40 years and were not circumcising their children but Yahweh said nothing about it until just before they entered the promised land:
Joshua 5:2-7 – At that time Yahweh said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of Yahweh: unto whom Yahweh sware that he would not shew them the land, which Yahweh sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
The trek of the children of Israel going through the wilderness is a picture of our own salvation. It wasn’t until just before they entered the promised land that Yahweh said anything about it. Why? Yahweh had some major sin that needed to be dealt with first. Idolatry, fornication, and a lack of faith were the major issues that needed to be dealt with first.
The same is true of Gentiles who are turning to Yahweh. They need to focus on learning Yahweh’s commandments and practicing them before they concern themselves with circumcision:
Romans 2:25 – For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
For this reason Paul told the (very carnal) Corinthians who were turning to Yahweh:
1 Corinthians 7:18-19 – Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of Elohim.
The real focus for one being called was the need to keep Yahweh’s commandments. This was in perfect line with the ruling in Acts 15.
Gentiles needed to spend their time learning the Torah and this was the reason James made the ruling in Acts 15:
Acts 15:19-21 – Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to Elohim: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
The expectation that came out of this ruling was that the Gentiles would be learning the Torah when they attended the synagogues every Sabbath. This is why James limited the requirements for new believers to some ‘necessary things’ which demonstrated their allegiance to Yahweh. The ‘pollutions of idols… fornication… things strangled, and .. blood‘ had to do with idolatrous temple practices.
Now Timothy was not circumcised as a child because his father was a Greek. But he was not raised to be an idol worshiper. His Jewish mother and grandmother raised him in the scriptures:
2 Timothy 3:15 – And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yahushua.
Because of this, Timothy, who was ‘well reported of by the brethren,‘ was quite ready as an adult to go ahead and get circumcised. Paul’s decision to be the one who circumcise him in Acts 16:1-3 was proof that Paul still preached circumcision if done for the right reasons. He did this to prove to the Jews that he was not against circumcision–even if the person is an adult and the son of a Gentile.
As we know, the actual commanded time of circumcision was on the 8th day. For an adult to go through this process is extremely painful. It wasn’t the first item on Yahweh’s agenda in the Torah and it wasn’t in the first century assembly either, per the ruling in Acts 15 and other verses.
Galatians 5:7-11 – Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
Further evidence that Paul was not against circumcision is Paul’s statement “if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?” Because Paul still preaches circumcision, and proved that he wasn’t against it in Acts 16:1-3, there should be nothing offensive about Yahushua’s death on the tree being sufficient to bring salvation. But because some in Judah did not see righteousness by faith, they do stumble:
Romans 9:30-33 – What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
So the Gentiles were receiving righteousness by faith in Yahushua while many of the Jews were not because they were setting aside the work of Yahushua and trying to gain righteousness by their own works of law keeping. Thus, Yahushua became a stumbling stone and rock of offense to them rather than the only begotten Son of Yahweh who was able to make them righteous.
If Paul did not preach circumcision, there would be a legitimate reason for them to stumble because circumcision is clearly something Yahweh commanded (Genesis 17:12, Lev 12:2-3, Exodus 12:48). But Paul points out: the fact that he did preach circumcision should cause the ‘offense of the cross/stake’ to ‘cease.’ The only reason it does not is because some are not seeking righteousness by faith in Yahushua, but by their own works. For this reason, the children of the bondwoman persecute the children of the freewoman–as we read earlier.
Galatians 4:29 – But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
But everyone, Jew or Gentile, is able to receive the rebirth of the Spirit if they are willing to let the Adam man die and let Yahushua live in them by the power and wisdom of Elohim:
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 – For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Messiah crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah the power of Elohim, and the wisdom of Elohim.
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Messiah liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of Elohim, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Let’s continue in Galatians 5:
Galatians 5:12 – I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
Some have understood this to mean that Paul was hoping that the ones who troubled the Galatians would emasculate themselves. I don’t believe that this is necessarily true because being ‘cut off’ can also be in reference to someone who is cut off from the community of believers. Being cut off from the fellowship of believers is certainly the context of his statement:
Galatians 5:10 – I have confidence in you through the Master, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. 12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
So Paul’s confidence was that they would judge the who were troubling them by cutting them off from fellowship. They needed to be judged because they were perverting the true good news of Yahushua and turning people toward their own ‘good news of the circumcision,’ a doctrine that was never true at any time in history. New believers in Yahushua have the grace and liberty to learn and apply Yahweh’s commandments as His Spirit leads, without having a spiritual gun pointed to their head if they don’t immediately whip into shape. But Paul does warn the Galatians that liberty is not to be used as an excuse to walk in sin:
Galatians 5:13-26 – For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Indeed it is true that all of Yahweh’s law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor as ourselves. Knowing this, we should forsake the idea that we don’t keep a certain commandment because “Yahushua fulfilled all that.” The truth is that Yahushua fulfilled every commandment in the Torah and if He is dwelling in us then we will fulfill them as well! This is what it truly means to “walk in the Spirit.”
Ezekiel 36:27 – And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Romans 8:5-10 – For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please Elohim. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Elohim dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Messiah, he is none of his. 10 And if Messiah be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
So the carnal minded man is at enmity against Elohim because it is not subjecting itself to the Torah, which teaches us to love Yahweh and love one another. Our liberation in Messiah is never to be used as an excuse to continue transgressing the Torah/law of Yahweh, as is commonly taught today. It is because we have transgressed the Torah/law of Yahweh that Yahushua had to come and die for us in the first place!
Paul now goes on to explain the way one walks in the Spirit:
Galatians 5:15 – But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Notice it says that we will not be under the law if we are led of the Spirit. There are two ways that we can find ourselves ‘under the law’. One is by refusing to acknowledge that our righteousness and our salvation comes from Yahushua alone. The other is by refusing to be led by His Spirit which causes us to walk in His statutes, keep His judgments and do them! So Paul warns the Galatians:
Galatians 5:19 – Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
How is that for a warning! We must walk in the Spirit and never use our liberty as an occasion or excuse to disobey Yahweh.
Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Messiah’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
So Yahweh’s plan was to promise all of us eternal life through Abraham’s Seed, Yahushua. First by showing us the path of righteousness which is in His law. And Yahweh, being ever so merciful, gave His only Son to redeem us from the curses that result in our disobedience to Him. The standard of righteousness DOES NOT CHANGE when we accept Yahushua, but our standing before Yahweh does!
It is a total distortion to teach that everyone else in the world is expected to refrain from sin (transgression of the law) and will be condemned for their failure to keep it but those who receive Yahushua are free to purposely transgress the law all day long! This is not Yahweh’s ‘Good news’ and Paul was making that very clear! We need to walk in the Spirit! If we walk in the Spirit, we will be ‘subject to the law of Yahweh.’
But we will not misuse the law of Yahweh to make it fulfill a function that it is never able to fulfill: Bring us righteousness and salvation. It is this misuse of the Torah that Paul is addressing in Galatians. Let’s not misuse his writings to say something that he never meant to say.
Those who do so are in a lot of trouble:
2 Peter 3:13-17 – Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Master is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
So let’s be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. Let’s not be among the unlearned and unstable who twist his letters to their own destruction. In the end, Yahushua will not be saying “Depart from me, ye commandment keepers!” Rather, as Paul said, those who walk in the flesh (the former ways of sin) will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh.
Therefore, let’s walk in the Spirit…being found by Him without spot and blameless. Not because of our own righteousness, but because of His indwelling. If He dwells in us, then He will cleanse us of the former things and give us the power to walk as He walked, live and He lived, and be where He is! This is the good news!
Revelation 3:21 – To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Revelation 21:7 – He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his Elohim, and he shall be my son.
Let it be so that we are among the inheritors, ever faithful to trust in His righteousness for our salvation, ever seeking to walk in His Spirit, ever cleaving to the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever. The eternal principles of love as given in the Torah have not changed and they never will. Let’s seek to walk in those eternal principles…that we might likewise remain…that His word (Yahushua) would abide in us forever.
May Yahweh bless you and may He have mercy on us all!