Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle to the Galatians is the ninth book of the New Testament, and it is written by Paul the Apostle to the Early Christian communities in Galatia. The book reveals many interesting things about the Galatians and the gospel. We learn about their freedom and independence and why they worshipped Artemis.
Paul’s disgust at the Galatians
While the Galatians were a gracious bunch, Paul’s letter shows that they had a bad attitude towards him. He questions them, “What has happened to your joy?” The Galatians had been ecstatic when he came to preach the gospel to them. They would even have torn out their eyes for him, as they regarded their eyes as the most precious part of the body. But now they are turning away from Paul.
Judaizers were attempting to deceive the Galatians into abandoning the gospel. These false prophets used subtle threats and flattering words to win them over. They tried to tear the Gentile church apart, turning them to another gospel. Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 1:6–5:12.
While Paul’s comment may appear crude, it’s meant to be a sarcastic statement. It is arguably one of the most offensive statements in the New Testament. Even Paul’s amanuensis didn’t attempt to tone down the crudeness. Paul is criticizing those who would circumcize Gentiles for religious reasons.
As a result, the Galatians turned away from the gospel of grace. Their actions had led Paul to become increasingly disillusioned. While the Galatians’ actions had hurt Paul, they had been foolish. In the end, they turned to a false gospel, one that wasn’t true to God.
The Galatians’ reaction to Paul’s apocalyptic message is not entirely clear. The letter’s concluding paragraph is in capital letters, which is highly debatable. The letter’s author clearly wished to remind the readers of the letter’s authenticity. Paul also summarized the main themes of the letter in the closing.
The Galatians had no knowledge of God before Paul introduced them to the Messiah. Likewise, the Law and the Gospel were useless to them before Paul came along. These people sought salvation through work-righteousness, which is opposed to the Gospel. And the papacy was a union of these people.
Paul’s practice also substantiated the claims of his opponents. Paul lived as a Gentile while ministering to Gentiles, but he acted like a Jew when among the Jews. This made him look hypocritical. After all, he had taught Jewish Christians to cease living like Jews, which was contrary to his teachings.
Paul’s encouragement to them to live the gospel
Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians to live the gospel is filled with a plethora of reminders. He reminds the Galatians of how he first met them, how they treated him in his time of need, and the honor they showed him. Then, he encourages them to live the gospel with a pure heart, and not look for man’s approval.
The epistle of Galatians is a proclamation of the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, and it must be read in its redemptive-historical context. At the time, the people of God believed that their only path to salvation was by becoming part of ethnic Israel, or by placing themselves under the law of Moses. Yet the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought people out of the rigid enslavement and into the freedom of the Spirit.
In Galatians 4:19, Paul illustrates the way that God’s promises come to people who live by faith. Those who seek God’s blessing through human effort and achievement will experience a life of slavery, while those who seek the blessing of God through faith in Jesus Christ will experience freedom. Paul applies this illustration to the Galatian churches and calls them to respond.
Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians to live the gospel is filled with challenging statements and questions. First, he starts by attacking a distortion of the gospel. False teachers were teaching that Gentile believers must observe the law of Moses. For Paul, the law of Moses was only a preparation for Christ.
Second, Galatians teaches us that God is preparing the world for Jesus. This is a great reminder to live the gospel in the midst of our current circumstances. It helps us understand the gospel in a fresh way. The gospel is God’s work in preparing the world for his Son.
Their love of freedom and independence
In the letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul makes a powerful declaration about freedom and independence. It is a cry for freedom that predates the French Revolution and the U.S. founders. It is also a cry that predates the popular sense of freedom that we have today.
In this passage, Paul challenges the Galatians to remain free from the slavery of the law and to enjoy freedom and independence as individuals. He warns against falling into the ditch of legalism by attempting to justify themselves by their works. Instead, they should be motivated by love for their neighbors. This is the foundation of Christian love. However, there are consequences to freedom and independence. If you want to live free from sin and live a life that honors God, you must choose freedom.
First, you must understand the gospel of grace. Galatians 5:13 warns against using freedom to satisfy our sinful nature. In contrast, we should use freedom to serve others in love. This is the true gospel of grace. As the New Living Translation states, this gospel is a gift that is given to all people by God.
The apostle Paul has an eye on the dangers of contentiousness and suggests that love is the best corrective. This idea of forced conversion distorted the Gospel and the Law, and led Peter and Barnabas to become apathetic. This attitude in the Church meant that they had to first correct the Church before dealing with the enemy.
Paul is also warning the Galatians against the false gospel of works. The gospel of Christ is based on the power of faith. Without the gospel, you cannot be free from the law. Without freedom, you can’t live a life that pleases God. The gospel of Christ frees you from the bonds of sin and law.
Their worship of Artemis
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the moon and women. She is also associated with menstruation. The ancient Greeks worshiped Artemis along with the gods Apollo and Helios. Her name is also translated as “moon goddess” in the Bible. In Ephesus, Artemis was worshipped as a god of fertility and childbearing.
The apostle Paul visited Ephesus several times during his ministry and stayed there for two years between 57-58 AD. During this time, he spread the gospel and some of the Ephesians converted to Christianity. Others were still worshipping Artemis. However, the city clerk’s office recorded that a huge mob gathered in the theater shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
The ancient Greeks considered Artemis to be a saviour goddess, a goddess who could grant human birth and bring forth life. The goddess was also associated with midwifery, and women in labour would call on Artemis to speed up labour and reduce pain. She was also the patron saint of virgins.
Artemis is also a goddess of hunting and the wilderness. She was a protector of young girls. The Artemis mentioned in the Bible was the localized goddess of the Ephesians, although she had the same name as the Greek goddess Diana. The ancient Ephesians even built a temple dedicated to the goddess.
The Romans also worshiped Artemis in some form. It is said that Demetrius, the wealthy silversmith of Ephesus, addressed fellow silversmiths, as “Artemis of the Ephesians”. In his letter, the Romans also worshiped Artemis.
The city clerk tells the crowd that the mob has nothing to accuse the Jews of, because Gaius and Aristarchus had not sworn against Artemis and had not broken the city’s temple – two major crimes under Roman law. Nevertheless, the crowd continues to chant “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for two hours. Finally, the town clerk explains that the city is the guardian of the great Artemis temple and her image which had fallen from heaven.