As we enter the final chapter of the book of Galatians, it may be helpful to reflect upon the path we’ve traveled through this great Biblical book before proceeding to the end of our look at this epistle.
In Galatians chapter one, we found that those who heard of God’s work in Paul the Apostle’s life and his Christ-oriented message were prompted to glorify God. While the world may be filled with those who do little to inspire us to offer thanks to God, Paul’s example reminds us that we can be different- we can be people who inspire others to glorify God as well.
Chapter two discussed the Apostle Peter’s decision to exclude certain members of the church congregation in the town of Antioch. That led to the following rebuke from Paul: “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong” (Galatians 2:11 GNT). Although we may be challenged to relate to those who have little in common with us, this incident tells us that it is wrong to intentionally exclude other Christians on that basis.
Chapter three opened with a very uncomplimentary statement: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1). This declaration served as a “wake up call” to the Galatian churches and an important reminder for us: a persuasive but heretical doctrine may sound convincing to someone who should know better if he or she is not diligent to check it against the Word of God.
Galatians three also examined the differences between grace and the Law with support from the Old Testament patriarch Abraham: “just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:6-7). Chapter four then went on to remind us that bad ideas often result in bad decisions that lead to serious consequences as illustrated in the real-life examples of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.
Finally, Galatians chapter five tells us, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). A decision to pursue the works of the flesh always carries negative consequences as detailed in the list given to us in Galatians 5:19-21. However the following verses go on to tell us that those who walk in the Spirit can expect to see the positive effects that flow from that decision.