There were many Jews in the Early Church, who had received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Of course, all Jews were circumcised at birth, but Gentiles were not. Some of the more legalistic Jews – the Judaizers – insisted that only Jews could become Christians and so any Gentile wishing to be saved must first also be circumcised and become a Jew. Even today there are Christians who try to return to Jewish traditions, believing that you are not fully a Christian without it. This is simply not true. The Judaizers accused Paul of preaching a false gospel, but they were the ones preaching a false gospel. Paul calls these men “false brethren”. The good thing was that they had a high regard for the Law and the Scriptures and God’s choice of the Jews as His chosen people. Their concern was that His commands may be overlooked or broken. However, they proceeded to add their own human traditions and standards to God’s Law and they also ignored the fact that God’s promises are to all nations!
A religious spirit is always judgmental and feels compelled to stuff everyone into the same mold. Because these men were perverting the gospel, Paul did not give them an opportunity to air their views. They were not interested in the truth – all they wanted to do was argue – but Paul refused to be dragged into a fight. Paul had been even more legalistic than they and had been set free and brought into the liberty of salvation through Jesus Christ. He knew all their opinions and he knew they were wrong. There was nothing else to discuss.
The Judaizers accused Paul of perverting the truth, but he had received his message from Christ Himself. Galatians 1:10-12 (KJV) says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
“The Judaizers said that Paul was a traitor to the Jewish faith, but he had been more advanced in Judaism than most of his contemporaries and more zealous for the traditions of his fathers’ than any of them, until his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. For the first time, Paul experienced God’s grace and was completely set free. The change was so great that God even changed his name! He was now as zealous for the Gospel as he previously was for the Law – yet with no malice!” (Galatians 1:13-17)
“The Judaizers said Paul compromised and preached a watered down message to the Gentiles, but he had met privately with the other apostles and they, themselves, had declared that the message Paul preached was indeed the true Gospel. Not that he needed their approval because he had God’s approval, but out of courtesy, he met with them. In speaking to Paul, the apostles realized that God had indeed called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship. They only asked one thing of him: that he would remember the poor, which he was already eager to do.”
The Judaizers said Paul was disregarding the Law of Moses; however, all he did was to put the law in its proper place. The Law was given to show people where they have sinned and it points them to their need for a Savior – Jesus Christ.
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Galatians 3:19-29 NKJV
If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise!