After Derbe, Paul and Barnabas return to the the other churches they have visited, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”
Paul and Barnabas report back to the church that sent them out at Antioch in Syria all that the Lord has done, “and that He had opened the doors of faith to the Gentiles”.
Next we begin reading a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Galatia. He addresses the false teachers who have infiltrated the church, troubling the people with a different gospel.
Paul calls out Peter, who was eating with the Gentiles but withdrew and separated himself according to Jewish customs. “And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”
Paul explains that we are not justified, made righteous, by any outward obedience to Jewish laws. He says we are all sinners who are only justified “by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
Paul says that he has died to his old way of life, which was seeking justification through the impossible obedience of the burdensome Jewish law, so that he might live to God. Therefore, Paul now lives a joyful life that is pleasing to the Lord, not by relying on his works but by faith in Christ. As Paul says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Paul tells them that the Lord counted Abraham righteous by faith before the law was even given to Moses. “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
The law was given as part of God’s plan and God knew that no man could perfectly obey the law because of our sinful nature. The law exposes our sinful nature and our need for a Savior. Therefore, also as part of God’s plan, God sent His Son, Who lived a perfect life in perfect obedience to the law, to die for us so that we may be justified through faith in Him, Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow more from Paul to the Galatians. Keep reading.
(Acts 14:21-28, Galatians 1:1-3:23)