Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary On

(Galatians chapters one through three)
written by
Kraig J. Rice


   An Introduction to this Bible book of Galatians
 1) A Look At Chapter One         2) A Look At Chapter Two
 3) A Look At Chapter Three

An Introduction

Who wrote this book?
The Apostle Paul wrote this bible book.

What are some things that we know about the Judaizers?
The Judaizers during the time of Paul were a group of mostly Jewish teachers who disagreed with the teaching and preaching of Paul, Jude, James, Peter, and other Christian church officials. The Judaizers preached a false gospel and wanted to form their own religion to their own liking. The Judaizers claimed that all gentile (non Jewish) converts must abide by many Jewish laws found in the writings of Moses, primarily the rite of physical circumcision. The Judaizers taught salvation by works rather than by faith. They taught that all Christians should do the works of the Law of Moses (as taught in the bible books of Genesis through Deuteronomy). Their view point was that a gentile convert to Christianity was to be treated the same (as before Christ came) when the convert wanted to become a prosyletite to the Jewish religion. That person must love the Lord, observe the Jewish ceremonial law, must be circumcised, and obey various other ceremonial laws. They did not recognize Paul as being a legitimate apostle and did not recognize his writings to have credibility.

Paul taught the Galatians that new gentile (and Jewish) converts to Christ were not to be considered Jewish prosyletites but were now a new creation in Christ as well as sons and daughters of Christ because God adopted them and placed them in His church. The Church was a totally separate entity apart from the cult of the Jewish Judaizers. Membership into God's church was achieved by grace alone through faith in Christ.

The Jerusalem Council was convened to deal with this issue (Acts chapter 15).

When and where was this book written?
There are two possible dates for the writing of this bible book. It could have been written in April of 53 A.D. from Corinth while Paul was on his second missionary journey, or, it could have been written in 57-58 A.D. from Ephesus while Paul was on his third missionary journey.

Why was this book written?
What saves us? Does the law of God save us or does God's grace save us? Paul teaches us that it is God's grace alone "plus nothing else added to it" that saves us. Some folks want to mistakenly add other doctrines to God's grace. These false teachings are known as "grace plus" heresies. Today, for instance, one group mistakenly adds the observance of the Jewish sabbath day (Saturday) with God's grace- you can't be saved if you work on the sabbath day. Another group mistakenly adds the writings of it's founding person with God's grace- you can't be saved if you deny or question their founder's writings to be as equally inspired as the Holy Bible. And there are many other such examples that violate "the grace only principle."

Some of the Judaizers of Paul's day believed and taught this "grace plus" heresy. They taught that one had to have Christ in their heart (grace) and then that person would have to obey the Jewish law and be physically circumcised in order to be saved.

The writer to the bible book of Hebrews stated:
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear"
(Hebrews 12:28). NLT

What was the historical setting in those days when this book was written?
Rome ruled the world in those days and there was a wide spread network of roads that connected all parts of this world empire that worshippers used to help facilitate the spread of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatia was a Roman provincial area in central Asia Minor. Some churches in Galatia at that time were located at Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, and Antioch (in Pisidia).

The theme of this book:
Jesus Christ is our Liberty.

Just because it is right to do it
Does not mean
It is right to do it

The chapters of this Bible book:

The Bible book of Galatians only has six chapters:
1) Chapter 1:
    Chapter 1:1-5 Paul's greeting and introduction
    Chapter 1:6-9 Paul was shocked that many church members were falling away from the faith
    Chapter 1:11-24 Paul's learning experience in Arabia
2) Chapter 2:
    Chapter 2:1-10 Paul's learning experience in Jerusalem with the Lord's Apostles
    Chapter 2:11-14 Paul's bible doctrine
3) Chapter 3: Works versus Faith and Law versus Grace
    Chapter 3:1-5 Many Galatian believers needed to remember their personal
    spiritual experiences they had with Christ
    Chapter 3:6-29 The example of Abraham
4) Chapter 4:
    Chapter 4:1-18 The example of Abraham (continued)
    Chapter 4:19-31 Allegory of Sarai and Hagar
5) Chapter 5: Flesh versus Spirit and Liberty versus Bondage
    Chapter 5:1-15 True salvation cannot come by the Law because it is works
    Chapter 5:16-26 Walk in the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit
6) Chapter 6: Rightfully choose the spiritual circumcision of your heart by Christ
    Chapter 6:1-10 Exaltation of true Christian character
    Chapter 6:11 Paul's authorship
    Chapter 6:12-18 Paul's testimony

If we revolt against God and His order,
civilization will lapse into barbarism

Taking A Look At Chapter One

"I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God's curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God's curse fall upon that person"
(Galatians 1:6-9). NLT

The devil was actively at work spreading false doctrine among the Galatian believers. Some of the Galatian believers turned away from the true Christian faith. To see this happen to a person can be spiritually painful today when a weak Christian gets deceived by cultic emisaries, believes a false gospel, and quits going to the local church. I have watched this happen many times to others throughout my life. And the Apostle Paul was watching it happen to others in nearly each of the Galatian churches that he had started.
(Galatians 1:6-9).

Why was the false doctrine of the Judaizers so dangerous? The early church was just getting started and it needed right teaching on which to help build it's foundation. This was one of the earliest attempts by Satan in trying to destroy the church in its infancy. The false teachers were teaching that folks could only be saved by human works and legalism. A person could get to Heaven by working for it by self merit. Justification by faith in Christ, the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ were of little value in their legalistic theology.

Paul had a few things that he wanted to tell the Galatian believers:
1) He was a true apostle in spite of any false accusations against him to the contrary.
2) Paul's teaching was from God.
3) Any individual can be saved by faith alone (justification by faith in Christ)- nothing else needs to be added to grace.
4) Christian living is on the basis of freedom in Christ. Any person may receive from Christ His blessings based on one's faith in Him.
5) Each Christian believer needs to practice in his or her lifestyle what is truly believed in their heart.

  • Beware of cult members who will come to you with false doctrines

  • "Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ Himself. No one else taught me"
    (Galatians 1:11-12).

    The theology he received directly from God did not contradict the theology from the other apostles. They were in total agreement.

    Paul received the Gospel from the Lord Jesus Christ. Many years earlier, Moses had received the Gospel directly from God. They each received His gospel in the desert where there were not many distractions. They could be alone with God there, pray there, and seek His face, His direction, His will, and His guidance there. Each of them was hand picked to thrust God's sword of revelation into heathen darkness.

    What in particular did he do in the Arabian desert? He received the Gospel from the Lord Jesus Christ. He studied the Old Testament scriptures to find the passages that prove that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah and saviour of the world. Later, he shared these passages of scripture with the Israelites in their synagogues.

    How do we know that Paul has not deceived us?
    Paul tells us about the salvation experience of being born again that many of us today have experienced:
    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new"
    (2 Corinthians 5:17). NLT

    Paul tells us about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit experience (Acts 2:4) that many of us today have experienced:
    "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal"
    (1 Corinthians 13:1). NLT

    I have experienced both of these wonderful blessings from God that the Apostle Paul speaks about. If you have also, then you know that you can trust Paul as an instrument that God used to help give us His gospel message. This is ample subjective proof in itself, but there are many more spiritual truths that the Apostle Paul speaks about in his writings that are relevant to us today.

    "You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion- how I violently persecuted the Christians..."
    (Galatians 1:13).

    It was possible that Paul, before his conversion to Christ, was a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling 70 men on the Israelite religious supreme council). Even if he was not a member yet, following the soon death and resurrection of Christ, he was in line to soon becoming one. Why? Because they took recognition of him because of his high intellect and for his high zeal for God's law. Paul served them in their persecution of Christian believers.

    However, God continually wooed individual members of the Sanhedrin to love and serve Him- members such as Nicodemus
    (John 3:1-21) and Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43) and others. God sent John the Baptist to them
    (Matthew 3:1). Christ witnessed to them about Himself
    (John 11:45). And God sent Peter and the other apostles to them
    (Acts 5:30-32). God sent Stephen to witness to them who was also martyred by them
    (Acts chapter 7). Paul was there with the Sanhedrin at the stoning to death of Stephen
    (Acts 22:20). Later, Paul was converted to Christ (Acts 9:1-21).

    So, what was God trying to do? He wanted all of the Sanhedrin members to love and serve Christ. God wanted all of Israel to love and serve Christ. Did this happen? Unfortunately no. However, some individually did- and as in the case of Paul, it was possible for God to claim ownership of the ones who truly did repent and accept Christ into their hearts as their Savior.

    "What must I do to be saved?"
    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
    and you shall be saved..." - (Acts 16:30-31).

    Taking A Look At Chapter Two

    "...God had given me the responsibility of preaching the Good News to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews"
    (Galatians 2:7).

    Who are the Gentiles (refered to as the uncircumcised)? They are the non-Jewish people. Who are the Jews (refered to as the circumcised)? They are the Jewish people and many times in scripture the Jewish believers are referred to as "the elect."

    Some churches teach that anyone who is a member of their congregation is a spiritual Jew and that anyone who is not a member of their congregation is a Gentile. This is an unorthodox teaching from churchanity and is not widely accepted by most mainline Christian denominations.

    "In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews"
    (Galatians 2:9).

    There was one main mission field strategy by the early militant church in two different offensive directions. This was in obedience to Christ's Great Commission
    (Mark 16:15). They would win souls from amongst the Jews, and they would win souls from amongst the Gentiles.

    Here is God's admonition to His church- then and also for today. It is God's will:
    "...we should remember the poor..."
    (Galatians 2:10).

    What does it mean to remember the poor? There are many Christians in this world who live in poverty for one reason or another. We should help them in every possible way. If you have ample finances, you can help them financially. If you are an employer, you can give them employment. If you work for the government, you can help them get government aid. If you work in the legal field, you can help them legally. Give them encouragement, unconditional love, friendship, mentoring, and acceptance. Why should you do this? Because you can be Christ's hand extended. It is His will that you do so. You will reap what you sow. If you sow love, kindness, and grace, you will reap those same blessings for you and your family from God. The devil has kicked many a poor Christian into a hole in the ground (in need) and wants to keep them there to discourage and destroy them. There are two ways to act when you see a Christian in a hole in the ground. You can kick him or her in the face or you can reach down your helping hand to help them get out of that hole. Let us be people of compassion. That what the Father wants.

    "But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who don't bother with circumcision. But afterward, when some Jewish friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore because he was afraid of what these legalists would say. Then the other Jewish Christians followed Peter's hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was influenced to join them in their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter in front of all the others, since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you trying to make these Gentiles obey the Jewish laws you abandoned?"
    (Galatians 2:11-14).

    Sometimes church problems have to be dealt with. Jesus recommended a face to face encounter to straighten out any entanglements
    (Matthew 18:15-18). So, what was the problem? In those days there were two sets of kitchen tables set up in the same room. One table contained Jewish kosher food while the other one contained meat that had been sacrificed to idols- as well as pork. So, which table would you sit at? You would sit at one according to your convictions- the one where you felt more comfortable. You would not think that a theological problem would errupt over where one chose to eat but it did.

    The question is one of sanctification. Do you and I preach a sermon to others by the lifestyle that we live? Do you attend a holiness church and yet drink alcoholic beverages? Do you watch sports games on Sunday morning rather than attending church? Do you pay your tithes? Do you watch movies that use the name of God and Jesus Christ in profanity? And I can mention more.

    So, Peter and Barnabas sat with the other Jewish visitors at the kosher table. But it was not just a question of what they ate. I think it was a question of their conversation at that table. Have you ever noticed what things are said today between people at a public restaurant? Listen in sometimes- you may be enlightened. It just may have been that Paul was eating at the Gentile table but was listening to the conversation at the Jewish table. It may have been that Peter and Barnabas were agreeing or not confronting the Judaizers there as the Judaizers spouted their erroneous gospel doctrine. If that were the case then it was not a matter of sanctification at all but a matter of salvation. That would have made the Apostle Paul very aggravated right on the spot and his food would have soured in his stomach. So, Paul got up from the Gentile's table and went over to the Judaizer's table. I can see him standing there and pointing his finger at Peter (at the head of the table) but Paul's message was also to all at that table. He may have said something like this: "If you, who began from an Israelite position, live like a non-Jew, and not a Jew, how can you try to force non-Jews to live like Jews?"

    So, here are a couple of questions for us to ponder. Did Peter's inconsistency of character at that table mean that Peter did not practice what he was preaching? Paul thought so. Does one's inconsistency of character mean that objective truth is not believed by that individual?

    Paul kept his body under subjection. He lived what he preached- there was no compromise between what he believed, what he preached, and how he acted. He had no toleration for any hypocracy from any who proclaimed Christ's gospel.

    The Judaizers maintained the necessity of a strict fulfillment of the Mosaic law. They believed that one had to be circumcised in order to be saved. In their Pharisaic tradition they believed that all gentiles were classified as sinners. They would never eat food that was offered to idols and resented eating with Gentiles who did.

    That brings up another topic. Should a true Christian be prejudiced? Should he or she be prejudiced in matters of race, religion, social standing, etc.? The Judaizers were prejudiced but did that make them right?

    When did this event happen? It is not known when this event happened. It is possible that Paul, Barnabas, and Peter were together at Antioch for an interval of time before Paul went on his Second Missionary journey
    (Acts 15:40-41).

    This is the main verse of the bible book of Galatians. It is also a memory verse:
    "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"
    (Galatians 2:20).

    "...where the Spirit of the Lord is,
    there is liberty (freedom)" - (2 Corinthians 3:17).

    Taking A Look At Chapter Three

    "Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ"
    (Galatians 3:2).

    Paul asked the Galatian believers if they had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
    (Acts 2:4) by keeping God's law. The answer, of course, was no. They accepted Christ into their hearts and were saved. But what about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? That experience comes when God the Holy Spirit descends upon a seeking Christian believer and enters into him or her in awesome power. Sometimes, instantly, there is extreme body heat as God enters, one turns red, and profuse sweating takes place. One is immersed in the holy presence of almighty God. God takes control of a yielded tongue and speaks through that individual in the language(s) of men and angels. It is definately an experience that one should never forget. Paul knew the Galatian believers had not yet forgotten this experience.

  • How I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)

  • "I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ"
    (Galatians 3:5).

    God the Holy Spirit always witnesses about Christ. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
    (Acts 2:4), complete with speaking in unknown tongues, was the normal condition for every Christian in those days and it should be the normal condition for every Christian today, as well. God can work powerfully and miraculously among you if you come to Him in His way- not your own way. His way is for you and I to come in simple faith, setting aside our own reasoning, our own opinions, our own prejudices, our own pride, and our own control. Just ask Him to have His own way in your life. You have to have faith in Him 100%. God's will is to baptize believers this way today. When you are seeking God and this experience, remember to keep your mental focus on Jesus and seek the Baptizer and not the baptism. Once you have this experience God may use you as His instrument and miracles may come as a result of your obedience to Him.

    What was the message that they heard about Christ? Was it the salvation message? Possibly. However, if we follow the logical progression of Paul's train of thought in proper context, Paul is still speaking about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The message they heard about Christ is that Christ is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. That is a good message for us today. Keep your mind on Jesus when you are seeking the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This wonderful spiritual experience comes about because of your faith and my faith in Christ, not because of any works of legalism in trying to obey the Jewish law for salvation. Can the Apostle Paul prove that?

    "...just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness"
    (Galatians 3:6).

    I believe that Abraham wanted more of God, had strong faith in God, and was saved before God's law was given, so God's law could not have saved him.

    "The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God"
    (Galatians 3:7).

    Are you saved today? If so, you are a spiritual child of Abraham.

    Can God's law save you and I? Let's take a look at God's scriptures:

    "But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say: "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all these commands that are written in God's Book of the Law. Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say: "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says: "If you wish to find life by obeying the law, you must obey all of its commands"
    (Galatians 3:10-12).

    When a person loves the Lord, he or she lives in God's grace. However, when we sin God's law shows us that we are doing wrong. Then we must repent and change our ways and act the way that God wants us to.

    Now I will try my best to briefly describe how I look at God's grace and why it is superior to God's law. Has the Mosaic (the law to Moses from God) law been done away with? No. The Mosaic law is not disgarded, despised, nor discredited. But the law of God will not justify a man before God- it is God's standard of sanctification for us, but keeping God's rules is different from having a love relationship with God. We were created to love and worship God. An example of this might be that a wife can obey her husband without loving him. God wants you and I to love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Once we do this we will obey God's ten commandments as a standard of sanctification to prove that we love the Lord. When we do this we live in grace above the law. The law of God is there to help keep us pointed in the right direction towards righteousness. God's law cannot save us but for those of us who are saved, it is a standard of God's holiness, not for salvation, but for sanctification (our separation unto God and separation from evil). Are there more scriptures concerning this matter? Yes.

    So Jesus answered and said:
    "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself"
    (Luke 10:27).

    Many of the religious leaders in the days of Jesus were teaching that a person could be saved by obeying the Jewish laws. Jesus told Nicodemus that this was wrong- he must be born again
    (John 3:3-10). It takes God's power in the life of an individual to obey God's laws. The Jewish leaders were unconverted. Keeping God's laws did not save them. If they had been saved by God's law, they would not have broken God's law not to murder when they murdered the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Why did the Apostle Paul accuse the false teachers of hypocracy? Because they said one thing and did the opposite. Here is what the Apostle Paul told them:
    "Well then, if you teach others, why don't you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you do it? You condemn idolatry, but do you steal from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it"
    (Romans 2:21-23).

    Since they do those things, they are judged by the very law of God they proclaim will save them.

    So, how were individuals saved in Old Testament days? People were saved in Old Testament days before the cross just as we are saved in New Testament days after the cross. But how were they saved? In Abraham's case he believed God and it was accounted to him as salvation. Abraham was saved by his faith in God- he was saved or born again before God's law was given. Do I have scripture on that? Yes.
    "In the same way, "Abraham believed God, so God declared him righteous because of his faith." The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God..."
    (Galatians 3:6-7).

    "It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith- for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God"
    (Hebrews 11:8-10).

    God's law and God's grace cannot be mixed together at the same time to bring forth salvation. God's grace is like sweet fresh water. God's law is like bitter contaminated water. One cannot mix these two kinds of water at the same time to drink because it will not prolong spiritual life and may lead to one's spiritual death. God taught His people this as one of their first object lessons after they left Egypt in their exodus. Here is the story:
    "So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them, and said:
    "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you"
    (Exodus 15:22-26).

    The tree is symbolic of the grace of God. Jesus Christ, who gives grace, was crucified on a tree (a cruel Roman cross made from a tree). When this tree of grace is placed into the bitter sinful waters of humanity, their lives (the water) is made sweet. Discouragement can be changed to encouragement. Healing can take place. Sins can be forgiven. Fellowship with God takes place. Love can begin to start to flow, and there are many more blessings that come from a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

    "But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree"
    (Galatians 3:13).

    Where is that scripture in the Old Testament found?
    "If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and then hanged on a tree, the body must never remain on the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone hanging on a tree is cursed of God
    (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). NLT

    Jesus was rejected by God the Father. This happened while Jesus was hanging on a cross (a tree). This happened because Jesus took all of my sins and your sins on Himself as He hung there on that old rugged cross and God will not tolerate sin.

    "Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith"
    (Galatians 3:14).

    What is the promise of the Holy Spirit? God promised that He would baptize His people with His Holy Spirit:

    "Behold, I (Jesus) send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high"
    (Luke 24:49).

    "I will pour out My Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out My Spirit even on servants, men and women alike"
    (Joel 2:28-29).

    The New Testament proclaims this Holy Spirit baptism as first taking place on the Day of Pentecost. That is why some individuals today, including myself, who have had this marvelous experience are referred to as Pentecostals. Here is the account from Holy scripture:
    "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another: "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." Then Peter stood up with the eleven (other apostles), raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you: listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"
    (Acts 2:1-21).

    Concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), Christ has to come first into your life. God will not baptize an unbeliever- one who does not love the Lord first. The disciples (who were saved) were ordered by the Lord to Jerusalem- to tarry there to wait until they received their heavenly visitation from Him. Some Pentecostals believe that one has to tarry before the Lord before each of them receives their heavenly visitation. After one has received this wonderful experience, he or she should speak in devotional tongues daily to God in wonderful communication with Him.

    So, if a legalistic cult today wants you to join up with them for salvation, I have a question for you. It is the same question that the Apostle Paul asked his Galatian church members:
    Did you receive the promise of the Holy Spirit in your life by obeying the legalistic rules and regulations of that cult? You know the answer to that question as well as I do...

    "Dear brothers and sisters, here's an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn't say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child- and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say- the agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking His promise..."
    (Galatians 3:15-17).

    The second covenant given to Moses (the Mosaic Covenant) did not do away with the covenant God gave to Abraham (the Abrahamic Covenant). Why? Because the covenant given to Abraham was concerning the coming Messiah (Jesus Christ) Who would institute a new covenant (New Testament) based upon one's faith in Him.

    "Well then, why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God's promise was made. And there is this further difference. God gave His laws to angels to give to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people"
    (Galatians 3:19).

    Before the cross of Christ, God wanted His saved people to relate to Him via the covenants He made with Abraham and Moses. These are known as the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. But, after the cross of Christ, God set aside these old covenants for a new and better one.

    Jesus said: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John"
    (Matthew 11:13).
    The coming of John the Baptist instituted the beginning of this time of this new covenant.

    "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it"
    (Luke 16:16).

    God stated that He was instituting this new change to come:
    "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people"
    (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

    "Because of God's oath, it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant"
    (Hebrews 7:22).

    "If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But God Himself found fault with the old one when He said: "The day will come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying: You should know the Lord. For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know Me. And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins." When God speaks of a new covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and ready to be put aside"
    (Hebrews 8:7-13). NLT

    Folks were saved in Old Testament times before the cross. Folks are saved in New Testament times after the cross. In Old Testament times an Israelite or proselyte (a convert to Judaism) had to keep the law of Moses to prove they had faith in God. In other words, each individual, as an act of faith, had to prove their right relationship to God by keeping His law and commandments. Keeping God's law and commandments did not save them- their individual faith in God saved them. This nation of Israel, full of saved individuals, was to be a witness for God to all the nations of the world to bring these peoples to a saving relationship with God. This is why God chose Israel to be a kingdom of prophets and priests- a special and unique people dedicated to God and bearing God's name and reputation.

    "Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ritual defilement. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why He is the One who mediates the new covenant between God and people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant"
    (Hebrews 9:13-15).

    The way of salvation today in this covenant of grace is only by a person having a personal relationship with Him. This can only happen through personal faith alone. This relationship with God starts when each of us repents of our sins and invites Jesus Christ to come to live inside of our heart. Then starts a new chapter in our life for each of us that may be full of love and obedience towards Christ if we make the right choices
    (John 3:3).

    But what happens if a person who is to live by faith alone in New Testament times wants to be saved by the old covenants God made with Abraham and Moses? The devil loves to stir up this kind of confusion and that is why God prompted the Apostle Paul to write this letter to the Galatians and why God prompted the Jerusalem Church Council to deal with this issue. Simply stated: the old covenants with Abraham and Moses are superceded by a new covenant based on the individual faith in Christ of each believer.

    The words "new covenant" mean "new testament." The gospel of Christ is the New Testament. This testament is where Christ has a spiritual relationship with each of His saved children by grace through faith.

    Here are some additional scriptures that may help us to understand this important bible doctrine:

    "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God"
    (John 3:17-21).

    "And finally, if the priesthood of Levi could have achieved God's purposes- and it was that priesthood on which the law was based- why did God need to send a different priest from the line of Melchizedek, instead of from the line of Levi and Aaron? And when the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the one we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members do not serve at the altar. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned Judah in connection with the priesthood"
    (Hebrews 7:11-14).

    "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known"
    (1 Corinthians 13:12).

    "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord"
    (2 Corinthians 3:18).

    "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does"
    (James 1:23-25).

    "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His"
    (Romans 8:1-9).

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