The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
FRUSTRATING THE GRACE OF GOD
- We saw in
chapter 1 that certain people (often referred to as Judaizers or legalists)
pervert the Gospel by adding works to grace (cf. 1:7).
- According to Galatians 2:21, they not only pervert the Gospel, they "frustrate the grace of
- Paul is not
speaking here of drunkards or thieves or prostitutes. These sinners may ignore the grace of
God, but they are not guilty of frustrating the grace of God.
- Paul is
speaking here of religious people. In fact, some of them were not only religious, they were saved (cf.
I. COMPROMISING THE GOSPEL
II. TRYING TO PUT PEOPLE UNDER THE
III. NOT DEPENDING UPON
COMPROMISING THE GOSPEL
- Paul had to
rebuke Peter because Peter was guilty of compromising the Gospel
Scriptures certainly prove that Peter was not an "infallible pope." There were no popes until hundreds
of years after Peter.
- In his first
epistle, Peter identified himself as an "elder," not as a priest or pope (I
- In the Bible
there are no popes, cardinals, monsignors, archbishops, or any kind of priestly
- When Peter
first arrived in Antioch, he ate with the Gentiles in full enjoyment of
Christian liberty, and in obedience to the Lord, who said to him in Acts 10:15,
"What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
- Peter said in
Acts 10:28, "God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common
- God had broken
down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile. It was a new dispensation.
The Lord Himself taught Peter to sit and eat with Gentiles.
- However, some
time later a group of Judaizers came for a visit and influenced Peter to
separate from Gentile believers (Gal. 2:12).
- Proverbs 29:25
says, "The fear of man bringeth a snare."
Galatians 2:12 says Peter "withdrew and
separated himself, fearing them which were of the
- He caved in to the "false brethren" (2:4).
By compromising with them, Peter was in
effect saying that our Lord's substitutionary death on the cross wasn't
enough. Peter went along with the
false teachers who added the Mosaic Law to the Gospel of grace.
- Unfortunately, others were following Peter's example,
including Barnabas, Paul's faithful partner in the ministry (2:13).
- Prominent preachers can influence many people -- some
for good, and some for bad. We see this all the time (e.g., Billy Graham).
- Peter was influencing other pastors to compromise the
Gospel so Paul needed to confront him (2:11-13).
TRYING TO PUT PEOPLE UNDER THE LAW
- After the Lord
showed Peter he was no longer under the Mosaic Law, "he did eat with the Gentiles" (2:12).
- Acts 11:2, 3
says, "And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the
circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised,
and didst eat with them."
- Peter defended
himself then, but then he wavered, and so Paul asked him, "If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of
Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do
the Jews?" (2:14).
- In other words,
Peter was attempting to put Gentiles under the law of Moses.
This contradicted what Peter knew to be the truth (cf. Acts 15:7-11).
- Why should Gentiles be forced to live as Jews, when
Peter, being a Jew, had lived as the Gentiles?
- Jews that had left Judaism and had been saved by faith
in Christ knew that salvation could not come by keeping the law (2:15,
- The law does not save sinners. The law condemns
- Paul asked: what was the point of
putting Gentiles under the law? The
law told sinners what to do but it gave them no power to do it.
- The law could only reveal sin, and
expose sin. It could never forgive
sin or remove sin. Paul says in
Romans 7:7, " What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay,
I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law
had said, Thou shalt not covet."
- The Scofield Study Bible has a paraphrase for Romans
2:17 but it doesn't help much." If we Jews, in seeking to be justified by faith in
Christ, take our places as mere sinners, like the Gentiles, is it therefore
Christ who makes us sinners? By no means. It is by putting ourselves again under
law after seeking justification through Christ, that we act as if we were still
unjustified sinners, seeking to become righteous through law-works" (p.
- Trying to be justified by the law is a denial of
Christ's work on the cross (cf. 2:21).
- If one needs the law in addition to faith in Christ,
then to him Christ is not a perfect and all-sufficient Saviour. He would then be "the minister of
- To this Paul says, "God forbid" (2:17). In other words, to promote a system of
salvation by law-keeping is to make our Lord a "minister of sin." Paul uses strong language in this
epistle because he is emphasizing the danger of a false gospel (cf. 1:6-9; 5:12).
- Paul had already left Judaism to follow Christ.
For him to go back to the law would make
him a "transgressor" (2:18).
- We are transgressors.
The wages of sin is death. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross
in order to pay the penalty for our sins.
- We were guilty and condemned, but thank God the Lord
Jesus took our place on the cross and died as our Substitute.
- Therefore we are "dead to the law" (Gal.
- When our Lord died on the cross, He died to the law in
the sense that He met all of its righteous
demands. Therefore, because of our position in Christ, we too have died to the law (2:19,
- Romans 7:6 says, "But now we
are delivered from the law, that
being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit,
and not in the oldness of the letter."
PEOPLE FRUSTRATE THE GRACE OF GOD BY
NOT DEPENDING UPON CHRIST
- If you are
depending upon your good works to get you to heaven, then you are not depending
- One of the most
important teachings in Scripture is our union with Christ
- We have been
crucified with Christ, we are risen with Christ, and Christ is now living in
us. Our Lord said in John 14:20,
" At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and
ye in me, and I in you."
- Colossians 1:27 says, "Christ in you, the hope of
- We are to depend
on Christ, not on ourselves. Our Lord said in John 15:4, "Abide in me,
and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the
vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
- Our Lord said,
"For without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
- The death of Christ has not only set us free from the
guilt of sins, and delivered us from the penalty of sin; the death of Christ has
also put to death the old man and delivered us from the power of sin in the
- "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified
with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not
serve sin" (Romans 6:6).
- Christ died in vain if there is some other way (keeping
the law, baptism, good works, etc.) to obtain righteousness than by faith in Him
and through the grace of God (Gal. 2:21).
- Many years ago,
HA Ironside was preaching the Gospel on a street corner, and a man walked up to
him and said, "I detest this idea that through the death and righteousness of
another I should be saved. I do not
want to be indebted to anybody for my salvation. I am not coming to God as a beggar, but
I believe that if a man lives up to the Ten Commandments, God does not require
any more of him."
- Ironside asked
the man, "My friend, have you lived up to the Sermon on the Mount and have you
kept the Ten Commandments?"
- The man
answered, "Oh, perhaps not perfectly; but I am doing the best I
- Ironside then
quoted James 2:10, "For whosoever
shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of
- Then Ironside
quoted Galatians 3:10, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the
curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things
which are written in the book of the law to do them."
explained to the man that because he had failed to keep the whole law, he was
under God's curse.