The book of Galatians can be considered the authorization of Christian freedom and the theme of justification by faith for both Jews and Gentiles, permeates throughout the book. Many aspects of Galatians support this theme. After Paul addresses the churches in Galatia in chapter one, he then confronts the issue that the people had of “…turning to a different gospel” (Gal 1:6, NIV). This gospel that was preached, taught that the Gentile Christians must adhere to Jewish laws in order to be saved. However, in verse nine, Paul declares this teaching as wrong saying, “…if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal 1:9, NIV). Paul condemned the teaching of the Judaizer’s because it was a false gospel. Salvation is not a reward for following rules or completing certain actions (such as circumcision). Salvation is a gift from God that we receive through faith and comes with no attached requirements.
As previously mentioned, Paul rebuked the Jewish Christians for teaching the Gentiles that they needed to follow Jewish law and customs in order to be saved. Paul further addresses this problem in chapter two when he talks about taking the matter to the leaders of the Jerusalem church so that his message would be approved. He discussed the situation of Titus in chapter two verses three through 5, to affirm that obeying Jewish law was not needed for the Gentiles to be saved. In verse four he refers to those who were trying to convince the Gentiles of following Jewish law as false brothers and says that they had “infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves”(Gal 2:4, NIV). Being back under the law would cause us to become slaves and would defeat the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross. Through Christ Jesus we have received freedom from the law and now are saved by grace through faith. We cannot be saved by following the law. However, Paul was not saying that we shouldn’t obey the law. Rather he was saying that It is by “…faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law…” (Gal 3:16, NIV). We are not able to obey God’s laws without fault because we are human. This is why God has provided a way of salvation through Jesus.
In chapter three Paul continues to explain that is faith that saves us and not the law by using the example of Abraham who was saved by his faith and those who have that same faith are the true children of Abraham and not those who keep the law. Paul states that “…those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal 3:9, NIV).
Galatians four shows us that it is in fact the law that keeps us in bondage. Before Christ, people were continuously trying to keep the law and failing and because of that, they were slaves to the law. However, when God sent His son we became free from bondage and free in Jesus Christ. Paul explains this in Galatians four verses three through five saying, “…when we were in children we were in slavery…but when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…to redeem those under the law…” (Gal 4:3-5, NIV). To keep the law when Christ has set us free would not only be a burden on us but it would be a sad thing to waste our lives trying to flawlessly live our lives based on laws rather than embracing the freedom that Christ has given us. Paul declares in chapter five that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, them and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Paul continues to emphasize his point of justification through faith in chapter six when he states that, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation” (Gal 6:15, NIV). The laws that we keep do not matter if our hearts are not right ad our faith in God is not there. What matters is true faith in Christ.