Note: Pastor John prepares reflections each week about our upcoming Sunday message for our online Bible study groups. We are now sharing these posts here to reach a wider audience.
Remember last week: Paul gets a letter from James to take with him as he shares the gospel. Micromanaging 101. Paul writes a letter to the Galatians airing out his side of the story. That’s what’s going on here. He wants everyone to know that Jesus is the most important thing!
And it’s Paul, so when he writes, there’s some deep theology involved… here’s a bit of a “glossary” to help you understand what Paul is talking about.
•“Justified” and “justification” (2:16, 17, 21). The verb means “to make righteous”—that is, made to be in right, or restored, relationship with God. All instances of the verb in this passage are in the passive voice, implying that one is made righteous by an external actor—in this case, God.
•“Gospel” (2:14) is a term meaning “good news.” Paul uses this term throughout his Letter to the Galatians to indicate “the announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth is Israel’s Messiah and the world’s Lord.”1 Paul did not introduce this term; in fact, the term was not a religious one before he began using it. In Paul’s context, “gospel” generally referred a Roman imperial message that Caesar was Lord. Thus, Paul’s usage implies Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises in Isaiah (Isaiah 40 and 52) and Lord of all the world.
•“Law” and “works of the law” (2:16, 19, 21) is a reference to Jewish rituals and practices as commanded by the Torah given to Moses—namely, circumcision, food restrictions, and observances of Sabbath. Abiding by these laws was a distinct marker of Jewish identity and was representative of the Jewish people’s covenant relationship with God.
*These three definitions are provided by Spirit and Truth Publishing
Justification is about belonging:
What does it mean for you to belong to Faith Lutheran?
What does it mean to know that you belong to God?
What do you think it means to follow the Law AND Gospel?
Pastor John Klawiter