Paul’s “Gospel” to the Galatians (circa 40-60 C.E.)

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Paul’s Letter to the Galatians serves chiefly as his response to a crisis occurring in Galatia after his departure involving a group of Jewish Christians that spread through the churches of Galatia a teaching on faith in terms of Mosaic Law that directly conflicted with Paul’s teaching. What Paul puts forth in his letter to the churches of Galatia, then, is a justification of faith arguing for a specialized depiction of Christianity’s “gospel” and what it means to be a Christian without the restraints of Mosaic Law.

For Paul, Christianity’s “gospel” is, conceivably, that of inclusion. This, of course, is in direct contrast to Mosaic Law communicating the necessity of all Christians being circumcised and observant of Mosaic Law in order to partake in the benefits of Christianity, particularly as a means of becoming descendants of Abraham through the act of circumcision. Paul disagrees with this. Paul’s belief in inclusion, in contrast to what can only be perceived as the Mosaic Law’s exclusion, purposefully transcends Mosaic Law by presenting the supposition that “we know that a [Christian] person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”[1]

Having faith in Jesus Christ is Paul’s inclusive message. It is within the framework of Christianity’s “gospel” in order to not just suggest the inadequacies and limitations of Mosaic Law since “for the whole of law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’”[2] but to further propose that “the law does not rest on faith [but through] Christ [who] redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”[3]

As a result, the inclusiveness of Paul’s interpretation of Christianity’s “gospel” rests explicitly on the ideal that faith is the only prerequisite of Christianity, whereby the importance of having faith in Jesus as Christ is more inclusive than the requirements of Mosaic Law to be circumcised. While Mosaic Law contends that a Gentile must be circumcised in order to be accepted into the Christian faith, Paul paradoxically asserts that the act of circumcision is unnecessary, particularly when considering the powerful, transformational experience of the Spirit through faith. For Paul, perhaps, his central thesis is that the crucifixion of Jesus serves as a spiritual circumcision, which is more in line with God’s covenant with Abraham.

Here, in Paul’s version of Christianity’s “gospel,” it is evident that Paul is much more concerned with unequivocal faith in Jesus as Christ rather than the beholding of Gentiles to the regulations of Mosaic Law as an avenue into the benefits of Christianity. By doing this, Paul makes the Christian faith more accessible through making the ability to receive the “gospel” Paul interprets more comprehensible and the benefits less restrictive.

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[1] Galatians, 2:16.

[2] Ibid., 5:14.

[3] Ibid., 3:12-13

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