Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Timeline - Pt. 2

The year was 49 AD, and it's possible that up to a year had passed since Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey to Galatia. Some time after arriving back in Antioch, Paul received word from the churches in Galatia that some men (most likely from Jerusalem) had been going from city to city, telling them that unless they were circumcised, they were not true followers of God.

I believe it's very important to think about who these Jews were. The Jews who came from Antioch to Lystra and left Paul for dead (Acts 14:19) were most likely not believers. However, the Jews who take part in the Jerusalem Council are believers. I believe that the men who came to Galatia were probably also believers. They were a part of the church. Jesus had changed their lives, and now they were followers of Him. However, they had also been devout Jews, and they didn't for one moment believe that Jesus had come to destroy the law. They believed that a person had to follow all of God's law before becoming a follower of Jesus. They believed that Paul was only preaching half of the truth, and they felt that it was their responsibility to preach the other half.

After receiving this news, Paul writes his first letter, what we now know as Galatians. His purpose for writing this letter is to urge them not to follow any other gospel, especially one that requires circumcision, because a gospel requiring circumcision was not a gospel that depended on faith alone.

Earlier that year, the Emperor Claudius had issued a decree stating that all Jews had to leave Rome (Acts 18:2). This surely played a role in why these Jewish believers responded as they did. Fear always makes us behave in ways we normally do not, and I believe this was the case with them. They were now even more protective of their spiritual heritage.

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