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Galatians


Faith and freedom

  1.Salutation later 56ce (Galatia)

1FROM PAUL,
AN APOSTLE, not by human appointment or human commission, but by commission from Jesus Christ and from God the Father who raised him from the dead.
2I and the group of friends now with me send greetings to the Christian congregations of Galatia.

3Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, [Some witnesses read: God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.] 4who sacrificed himself for our sins, to rescue us out of this present age of wickedness, as our God and Father willed: 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

There is No Other Gospel

6I am astonished to find you turning so quickly away from him who called you by grace, [Some witnesses read: from Christ who called you by grace; Or: from him who called you by grace of Christ.] and following a different gospel. 7Not that it is in fact another gospel, only there are persons who unsettle your minds by trying to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But if anyone, if we ourselves or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel at variance with the gospel we preached to you, he shall be held outcast. 9I now repeat what I have said before: if anyone preaches a gospel at variance with the gospel which you received, let him be outcast!

10Does my language now sound as if I were canvassing for men's support? Whose support do I want but God's alone? Do you think I am currying favour with men? If I still sought men's favour, I should be no servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11I must make it clear to you, my friends, that the gospel you heard me preach is no human invention. 12I did not take it over from any man; no man taught it me; I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

13You have heard what my manner of life was when I was still a practising Jew: how savagely I persecuted the church of God, and tried to destroy it; 14and how in the practice of our national religion I was outstripping many of my Jewish contemporaries in my boundless devotion to the traditions of my ancestors. 15But then in his good pleasure God, who had set me apart from birth and called me through his grace, chose 16to reveal his Son to me and through me, in order that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles. When that happened, without consulting any human being, 17without going up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, I went off at once to Arabia, and afterwards returned to Damascus.

18Three years later I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas. I stayed with him for a fortnight, 19without seeing any other of the apostles, except [Or: but only.] James the Lord's brother. 20What I write is plain truth; before God I am not lying.

21Next I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22and remained unknown by sight [Or: unknown personally.] to Christ's congregations in Judaea. 23They only heard it said, 'Our former persecutor is preaching the good news of the faith which once he tried to destroy'; 24and they praised God for me.


  2.Paul Accepted by the Other Apostles

1Next, fourteen years later, I went again [Or: but only.] to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus with us. 2I went up because it had been revealed by God that I should do so. I laid before them—but at a private interview with the men of repute—the gospel which I am accustomed to preach to the Gentiles, to make sure that the race I had run, and was running, should not be run in vain. 3Yet even my companion Titus, Greek though he is, was not compelled to be circumcised. 4That course was urged only as a concession to certain [Or: The question was later raised because of certain ...] sham-Christians, interlopers who had stolen in to spy upon the liberty we enjoy in the fellowship of Christ Jesus. 5These men wanted to bring us into bondage, but not for one moment did I yield to their dictation; I was determined that the full truth of the Gospel should be maintained for you. [Or, following the reading of some witnesses: Yet even ... is, was under no absolute compulsion to be circumcized, but for the sake od certain ... of Christ Jesus, with the intention of bringing us into bondage, I yielded to their demand for the moment, to ensure that gospel truth should not be prevented from reaching you.]

6But as for the men of high reputation (not that their importance matters to me: God does not recognize these personal distinctions) these men of repute, I say, did not prolong the consultation, [Or: gave me no further instructions.] 7but on the contrary acknowledged that I had been entrusted with the Gospel for Gentiles as surely as Peter had been entrusted with the Gospel for Jews. 8For God whose action made Peter an apostle to the Jews, also made me an apostle to the Gentiles.

9Recognizing, then, the favour thus bestowed upon me, those reputed pillars of our society, James, Cephas, and John, accepted Barnabas and myself as partners, and shook hands upon it, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles while they went to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should keep their poor in mind, which was the very thing I made [Or: had made; Or: have made.] it my business to do.

Paul rebukes Peter at Antioch.

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12For until certain persons [Some witnesses read: a certain person.] came from James he was taking his meals with gentile Christians; but when they [Some witnesses read: he.] came he drew back and began to hold aloof, because he was afraid of the advocates of circumcision. 13The other Jewish Christians showed the same lack of principle; even Barnabas was carried away and played false like the rest. 14But when I saw that their conduct did not square with [Or: I saw that they were not making progress towards ...] the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas, before the whole congregation, 'If you, a Jew born and bred, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you insist that Gentiles must live like Jews?'

Jews, like Gentiles, are Saved by Faith

15We ourselves are Jews by birth, not Gentiles and sinners. 16 [ Ps.143.2. ] But we know that no man is ever justified by doing what the law demands, but only through faith in Christ Jesus; so we too have put our faith in Jesus Christ, in order that we might be justified through this faith, and not through deeds dictated by law; for by such deeds, Scripture says, no mortal man shall be justified.

17If now, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves no less than the Gentiles turn out to be sinners against the law, [Or: no less than the Gentiles have accepted the position of sinners against the law.] does that mean that Christ is an is abettor of sin? No, never! 18No, if I start building up again a system which I have pulled down, then it is that I show myself up as a transgressor of the law. 19For through the law I died to law—to live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ: the life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me; and my present bodily life is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. 21I will not nullify the grace of God; if righteousness comes by law, then Christ died for nothing.


  3.Law or Faith

1YOU STUPID GALATIANS! You must have been bewitched—you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly displayed upon his cross! 2Answer me one question: did you receive the Spirit by keeping the law or by believing the gospel message? [Or: or by the message of faith; Or: or by hearing and believing. ] 3Can it be that you are so stupid? You started with the spiritual; do you now look to the material to make you perfect? 4Have all your great experiences been in vain—if vain indeed they should be? I ask then: 5when God gives you the Spirit and works miracles among you, why is this? Is it because you keep the law, or is it because you have faith in the gospel message? 6 [ Gn.15.6. ] Look at Abraham: he put his faith in God, and that faith was counted to him as righteousness.

7You may take it, then, that it is the men of faith who are Abraham's sons. 8 [ Gn.12.3. ] And Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, declared the Gospel to Abraham beforehand: 'In you all nations shall find blessing.' 9Thus it is the men of faith who share the blessing with faithful Abraham.

10 [ Dt.27.26. ] On the other hand those who rely on obedience to the law are under a curse; for Scripture says, 'A curse is on all who do not persevere in doing everything that is written in the Book of the Law.' 11 [ Hab.2.4. ] It is evident that no one is ever justified before God in terms of law; because we read, 'he shall gain life who is justified through faith'. 12 [ Lv.18.5. ] Now law is not at all a matter of having faith: we read, 'he who does this shall gain life by what he does'.

13 [ Dt.21.23. ] Christ bought us freedom from the curse of the law by becoming for our sake an accursed thing; for Scripture says, 'A curse is on everyone who is hanged on a gibbet.' 14And the purpose of it all was that the blessing of Abraham should in Jesus Christ be extended to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Law and the Promise

15My brothers, let me give you an illustration. Even in ordinary life, when a man's will and testament has been duly executed, no one else can set it aside or add a codicil. 16 [ Gn.12.7, Gn.13.15, Gn.17.7. ] Now the promises were pronounced to Abraham and to his 'issue'. It does not say 'issues' in the plural, but in the singular, 'and to your issue'; and the 'issue' intended is Christ. 17What I am saying is this: a testament, or covenant, had already been validated by God; it cannot be invalidated, and its promises rendered ineffective, by a law made four hundred and thirty years later. 18If the inheritance is by legal right, then it is not by promise; but it was by promise that God bestowed it as a free gift on Abraham.

19Then what of the law? It was added to make wrong-doing a legal offence. [Or: added because of offences.] It was a temporary measure pending the arrival of the 'issue' to whom the promise was made. It was promulgated through angels, and there was an intermediary; 20but an intermediary is not needed for one party acting alone, and God is one.

Slaves and Sons

21Does the law, then, contradict the promises? No, never! If a law had been given which had power to bestow life, then indeed righteousness would have come from keeping the law. 22But Scripture has declared the whole world to be prisoners in subjection to sin, so that faith in Jesus Christ may be the ground on which the promised blessing is given, and given to those who have such faith.

23Before this faith came, we were close prisoners in the custody of law, pending the revelation of faith. 24Thus the law was a kind of tutor in charge of us until Christ should come, [Or: a kind of tutor to conduct us to Christ.] when we should be justified through faith; 25and now that faith has come, the tutor's charge is at an end.

26For through faith you are all sons of God in union with Christ Jesus. 27Baptized into union with him, you have all put on Christ as a garment. 28There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus. 29But if you thus belong to Christ, you are the 'issue' of Abraham, and so heirs by promise.


  4.

1This is what I mean: so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his; 2he is under guardians and trustees until the date fixed by his father. 3And so it was with us. During our minority we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe, [Or: the elements of the natural world; Or: elementary ideas belonging to this world.] 4but when the term was completed, God sent his own Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to purchase freedom for the subjects of the law, in order that we might attain the status of sons.

6To prove that you are sons. God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying 'Abba! Father!' 7You are therefore no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then also by God's own act an heir.

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8Formerly, when you did not acknowledge God, you were the slaves of beings which in their nature are no gods. [Or: were slaves to 'gods' which in reality do not exist.] 9But now that you do acknowledge God?or rather, now that he has acknowledged you?how can you turn back to the mean and beggarly spirits of the elements? [See note of Gal.4.3.] Why do you propose to enter their service all over again? 10You keep special days and months and seasons and years. 11You make me fear that all the pains I spent on you may prove to be labour lost.

12PUT YOURSELVES in my place, my brothers, I beg you, for I have put myself in yours. It is not that you did me any wrong. 13As you know, it was bodily illness that originally [Or: formerly; Or: on the first of my two visits.] led to my bringing you the Gospel, 14and you resisted any temptation to show scorn or disgust at the state of my poor body; [Or: you showed neither scorn nor disgust at the trial my poor body was enduring.] you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as you might have welcomed Christ Jesus himself. 15Have you forgotten how happy you thought yourselves in having me with you? I can say this for you: you would have torn out your very eyes, and given them to me, had that been possible! 16And have I now made myself your enemy by being honest with you?

17The persons I have referred to are envious of you, but not with an honest envy: [Or: paying court to you, but with honest intentions.] what they really want is to bar the door to you so that you may come to envy [Or: pay court to.] them. 18It is always a fine thing to deserve an honest envy [Or: to be honourably wooed.] ?always, and not only when I am present with you, dear children. 19For my children you are, and I am in travail with you over again until you take the shape of Christ. 20I wish I could be with you now; then I could modify my tone; [Or: now, and could exchange words with you.] as it is, I am at my wits' end about you.

The Allegory of Hagar and Sarah

21TELL ME NOW, you who are so anxious to be under law, will you not listen to what the Law says? 22It is written there that Abraham had two sons, one by his slave and the other by his free-born wife. 23The slave-woman's son was born in the course of nature, the free woman's through God's promise. 24This is an allegory. The two women stand for two covenants. The one bearing children into slavery is the covenant that comes from Mount Sinai: that is Hagar. 25Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and it represents the Jerusalem of today, for she and her children are in slavery. 26But the heavenly Jerusalem is the free woman; she is our mother. 27 [ Is.54.1. ] For Scripture says, 'Rejoice, O barren woman who never bore child; break into a shout of joy, you who never knew a mother's pangs; for the deserted wife shall have more children than she who lives with the husband.'

28And you, my brothers, like Isaac, are children of God's promise. 29But just as in those days the natural-born son persecuted the spiritual son, so it is today. 30 [ Gn.21.10. ] But what does Scripture say? 'Drive out the slave-woman and her son, for the son of the slave shall not share the inheritance with the free woman's son.' 31You see, then, my brothers, we are no slave-woman's children;


  5.1our mother is the free woman. Christ set us free, to be free men. [Or: What Christ has done is to set us free.] Stand firm, then, and refuse to be tied to the yoke of slavery again.

Christian Freedom

2Mark my words: I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision Christ will do you no good at all. 3Once again, you can take it from me that every man who receives circumcision is under obligation to keep the entire law. 4When you seek to be justified by way of law, your relation with Christ is completely severed: you have fallen out of the domain of God's grace. 5For to us, our hope of attaining that righteousness which we eagerly await is the work of the Spirit through faith. 6If we are in union with Christ Jesus circumcision makes no difference at all, nor does the want of it; the only thing that counts is faith active in love. [Or: inspired by love.]

7You were running well; who was it hindered you from following the truth? 8Whatever persuasion he used, it did not come from God who is calling you; 9'a little leaven', remember, 'leavens all the dough'. 10United with you in the Lord, I am confident that you will not take the wrong view; but the man who is unsettling your minds, whoever he may be, must bear God's judgement. 11And I, my friends, if I am still advocating circumcision, why is it I am still persecuted? In that case, my preaching of the cross is a stumbling-block no more. 12As for these agitators, they had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves!

13YOU, MY FRIENDS, were called to be free men; only do not turn your freedom into licence for your lower nature, but be servants to one another in love. 14 [ Lv.19.18. ] For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' 15But if you go on fighting one another, tooth and nail, all you can expect is mutual destruction.

The Fruit of the Spirit and the Works of the Flesh 0

16I mean this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will not fulfil the desires of your lower nature. 17That nature sets its desires against the Spirit, while the Spirit fights against it. They are in conflict with one another so that what you will to do you cannot do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19Anyone can see the kind of behaviour that belongs to the lower nature: fornication, impurity, and indecency; 20idolatry and sorcery; quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, 21and jealousies; drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who behave in such ways will never inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law dealing with such things as these. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the lower nature with its passions and desires. 25If the Spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct our course.

26We must not be conceited, challenging one another to rivalry, jealous of one another.


  6.Bear One Another's Burdens 1If a man should do something wrong, my brothers, on a sudden impulse, [Or
: If a man is caught doing something wrong, my brothers ...]
you who are endowed with the Spirit must set him right again very gently. Look to yourself, each one of you: you may be tempted too. 2Help one another to carry these heavy loads, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.

3For if a man imagines himself to be somebody, when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. 4Each man should examine his own conduct for himself; then he can measure his achievement by comparing himself with himself and not with anyone else. 5For everyone has his own proper burden to bear.

6When anyone is under instruction in the faith, he should give his teacher a share of all good things he has.

7Make no mistake about this: God is not to be fooled; a man reaps what he sows. 8If he sows seed in the field of his lower nature, he will reap from it a harvest of corruption, but if he sows in the field of the Spirit, the Spirit will bring him a harvest of eternal life. 9So let us never tire of doing good, for if we do not slacken our efforts we shall in due time reap our harvest. 10Therefore, as opportunity offers, let us work for the good of all, especially members of the household of the faith.

Final Warning and Benediction

11YOU SEE these big letters? I am now writing to you in my own hand. 12It is all those who want to make a fair outward and bodily show who are trying to force circumcision upon you; their sole object is to escape persecution for the cross of Christ. 13For even those who do receive circumcision are not thoroughgoing observers of the law: they only want you to be circumcised in order to boast of your having submitted to that outward rite. 14But God forbid that I should boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which [Or: whom.] the world is crucified to me and I to the world! 15Circumcision is nothing; uncircumcision is is nothing; the only thing that counts is new creation! 16Whoever they are who take this principle for their guide, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the whole Israel of God!

17In future let no one make trouble for me, for I bear the marks of Jesus branded on my body.

18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my brothers. Amen.


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