The first Christians came from a Jewish background. Either they were Jews or converts to Judaism before they became Christians. But later on, converts in Antioch and Galatia had no Jewish background at all. This caused a problem in the mind of Jewish Christians and Jewish nationalists in relation to the keeping of the law of Moses. Some were saying that salvation came by accepting Jesus and then being a good, moral and upright Jew. There were aggressive voices insisting that the new Christians from a Gentile background be required to submit to circumcision, the eating of a restricted diet and keeping Jewish holy days.

This is the issue that Paul addressed in his letter and visits to Galatia and later at the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. This was an important issue and had to be resolved clearly and decisively. Were there to be  'two Christianities'  or one? The answer was one! Paul was very clear that the burden of keeping special Jewish regulations should not be imposed on these Gentile converts.

But this is not simply a matter of historical interest. The practical outworking of this issue is that Christians do not life by a system of keeping rules but by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are not 'under the law' but 'led by the Spirit'. Ultimately this is expressed in the "law of Christ" - to love both God and neighbour. This is what the law of Moses was pointing to all along.

Part Title Reference
1 Authority, Guilt, Godliness
2 Standing for the Only Gospel
3 The Gospel Revealed, Not Invented   
4 Why Was Paul Not Saved Sooner?  
5 Paul's Conversion
6 Paul and Jerusalem  
7 Paul's Second Visit to Jerusalem  
8 Clarifying the Gospel   
9 Unity in the Gospel   
10 Confrontation in the Church  
11 No Justification by the Law   
12 Remembering the Gospel  
13 Justified by the Faithfulness of Christ   
14 Does Paul's Doctrine Lead to Sin?   
15 Crucified with Christ   
16 Receiving the Holy Spirit   
17 Abraham the Model Believer   
18 Rescued from the Curse of the Law  
19 The Gospel According to Abraham   
20 Why Then the Law?   
21 Israel and the Mosaic Law   
22 The Promises Given to Abraham   
23 The Spirit of Adoption 4:1-7
24 How Can You Turn Back? 4:8-11
25 Pastor and People 4:12-20
26 Sarah and Hagar 4:21-26
27 Strength from the Heavenly Jerusalem 4:27-5:1
28 The Hope of Righteousness 5:2-5
29 What has True Significance? 5:6-12
30 Enjoying Freedom 5:12-15
31 The Flesh and the Spirit 5: 16-21
32 The Fruit of the Spirit 5:22-24
33 Keep in step with the Spirit 5:25-6:1
34 The Law of Christ 6:2-5
35 Sowing and Reaping 6:6-10
36 Glorying in the Cross of Christ 6:11-14
37 The New Creation 6:15-18


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