Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor through man, but through1 Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead) and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself in payment for our sins, to rescue us from2 this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

No Other Gospel

I am astonished that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by3 the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not really another, but certain men are throwing you into confusion4 and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we ourselves, or an angel from heaven, should proclaim to you any other gospel than the one we proclaimed to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone preaches to you any other gospel than the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Paul’s Apostolic Credentials

11 Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I proclaimed to you does not originate with man, 12 for I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it by man, but it was given to me by revelation from5 Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 Now at that time I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, and was more zealous than any of them for the traditions of my ancestors.6 15 But when God, who had set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in7 me so I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the men who were apostles before me. Rather, I left for Arabia and then returned again to Damascus.

18 After three years I then went up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days; 19 but I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now as for the things I am writing to you, behold, I testify before God: I am not lying.) 21 Afterwards I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea that were in Christ; 23 they8 only kept hearing people say, “The man who formerly persecuted us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy!” 24 And because of me they were continually giving glory to God.

Notes

  1. Or by
  2. Lit. out of
  3. Or in
  4. Lit. troubling you; upsetting you
  5. Lit. through (a) revelation of (from)
  6. Lit. fathers
  7. Or possibly to
  8. Lit. but they

Peter Approves of Paul

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also brought Titus with me. I did so in response to a revelation, and I set before them the gospel I proclaim among the Gentiles; but I did this in private, speaking only with those who were looked up to1 as leaders, in case I was running, or had been running, in vain. Yet not even Titus (who was with me) was forced to receive circumcision, even though he was a Greek. Now this controversy arose because certain2 false brothers, entering secretly,3 had slipped in to spy out the liberty we have in Christ Jesus and4 bring us into bondage; but we did not yield to them for a single moment, so that the truth of the gospel would always remain with you.

Now from the men who were considered important (whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God shows personal favoritism to no one) . . . well, those men5 added nothing to my message.6 On the contrary, they realized I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been for the circumcised (for he who worked effectively in Peter for an apostleship to the circumcised was also working effectively in me for an apostleship to the Gentiles). So when James, Cephas, and John (who all were looked up to as pillars) saw the grace given to me, they extended the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, so that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.

Paul Disapproves of Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, for he was clearly in the wrong.7 12 For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself, fearing the members of the circumcision party.8 13 Moreover, the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy! 14 But when I realized they were not walking in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “If you, being a Jew, are now living like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, why are you forcing Gentiles to live as Jews?”9

15 Yes, we are Jews by birth, and not “Gentile sinners.” 16 However, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but rather through faith in Jesus Christ,10 even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law—for by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if we ourselves, while seeking to be justified by Christ, are also found to be sinners, has Christ then become a minister of sin? God forbid!11 18 For if I rebuild the things I formerly destroyed, I am making12 myself a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live before13 God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and who gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside14 the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ has died in vain.

Notes

  1. Or seemed to be
  2. Lit. the
  3. Or introduced in secret
  4. Lit. in order to
  5. Lit. those of reputation
  6. Lit. me
  7. Lit. was condemned, blameworthy
  8. Lit. the circumcision
  9. Some interpreters close the quote at the end of the chapter
  10. Or possibly through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ
  11. Lit. May it never be!
  12. Lit. showing, demonstrating
  13. Lit. to
  14. Or disregard, reject, hinder, frustrate, nullify

Justification by Faith

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly1 portrayed as crucified? This one thing I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now perfecting yourselves2 by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

So answer me this: He who supplies you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, does he do so by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? He does so by faith, just as he did with Abraham, who “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness?”3 Know then that those whose way is based on faith4 are the true sons of Abraham; and Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “In you all the nations will be blessed.”5 So then: Those whose way is based on faith are blessed along with believing Abraham. 10 For those whose way is based on the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to perform all that is written in the book of the Law.”6 11 But that no one is justified by the Law in God’s sight is evident, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”7 12 Now the Law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “He who practices these things will live because of them.”8 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).9 14 And he did this so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that through faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Heirs by Promise, Not by Law

15 Brothers, I’m speaking now in terms of everyday human law.10 Even though it is only a man-made covenant, once it has been ratified no one can set it aside or add to it. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and his Seed. He doesn’t say, “And to seeds,” as if he were speaking about many, but rather about one: “And to your Seed.”11 And that Seed is Christ. 17 What I’m saying is this: The Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, cannot nullify a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to abolish the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, then it is no longer based on a promise; but God granted it to Abraham through a promise.

19 What then was the purpose of the Law? It was added to address transgressions until the coming of the Seed to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator never speaks for one party alone,12 but God is one.

21 So is the Law contrary to the promises of God? God forbid!13 For if a law had been given that was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been by the Law. 22 But the Scripture has imprisoned all men14 under sin, so that the promise, which is based on faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith arrived, we were held in custody under the Law, locked inside until the coming of the faith that was later to be revealed. 24 Thus, the Law served as15 our tutor, as a guide to bring us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith.

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you all are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female—for you all are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and therefore heirs according to the promise.

Notes

  1. Or publicly, openly
  2. Or being perfected
  3. Gen. 15:6
  4. Lit. those who are from faith
  5. Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14
  6. Deut. 27:26
  7. Or He who is righteous by faith shall live. Hab. 2:4
  8. Lev. 18:5
  9. Deut. 21:23
  10. Lit. according to man
  11. Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 24:7
  12. Lit. is not of one
  13. Lit. May it never be!
  14. Lit. things
  15. Or has served; lit. became, has become

Slaves Are Now Heirs!

But notice this:1 As long as the heir is a child, he doesn’t differ at all from a slave, even though he is master of the entire estate.2 Rather, he is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. And so it was with us: When we were children, we were like slaves, held captive under the basic principles of the world.3 But when the appointed time had fully come,4 God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption5 as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So then: You are no longer a slave, but a son; but if a son, then an heir as well, through God.

Shall Heirs Be Slaves Again?

However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were indeed slaves to things that by nature are no gods at allBut now that you have come to know God—or rather to be known by God—how is it you are turning back to the weak and beggarly principles, desiring to be their slaves all over again? 10 You observe special days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have labored over you in vain!

12 Brothers, I beg of you: Become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13 But as you well know, it was due to a physical infirmity that I first6 preached the gospel to you; 14 and though my condition was a trial for you, you neither scorned nor rejected7 me, but instead received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus himself! 15 What then has happened to the joy God gave you?8 For I bear you witness that if it were possible you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me! 16 Or is it that I’ve now9 become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17 They zealously court you, but not for your good. On the contrary, they want to isolate you from us, so that you will be zealous for them. 18 Now it is good to be zealous10 for a good cause, but to be so always, and not only when I’m present with you. 19 My little children, with whom I’m again in labor till Christ is formed inside you, 20 how I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I’m perplexed over you!

A Lesson from the Old Testament

21 Tell me, you who desire to live under the Law: Don’t you hear what the Law says22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bond-woman and one by the free. 23 But the son of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh, whereas the son of the free woman was born through a promise. 24 These things were spoken allegorically, for the two women represent11 two covenants. One proceeds from Mount Sinai and gives birth to bondage: This is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to present day Jerusalem, for she is in slavery, along with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren one, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who don’t travail! For she who was desolate has far more children than she who has a husband.”12

28 Now you, brothers, are like Isaac: promised children.13 29 But just as the child14 born according to the flesh then persecuted the child born according to the Spirit, so it is today.15 30 Nevertheless, what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman will not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”16 31 So then, brothers: We are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free.

Notes

  1. Lit. But (now) I say
  2. Lit. all things
  3. Or world-system
  4. Lit. But when the fullness of the time had come
  5. Lit. the adoption
  6. Or formerly
  7. Or loathed
  8. Lit. Where then is your blessedness?
  9. Lit. Have I therefore
  10. Or to be zealously courted
  11. Lit. for these are
  12. Is. 54:1
  13. Lit. children of promise; see Gen. 15:5
  14. Lit. the one
  15. Lit. thus also now
  16. Gen. 21:10

The Christian’s Fight for Freedom

It was for freedom that Christ set us free. So stand firm, and don’t be entangled again in a yoke of bondage. Mark this well:1 I, Paul, tell you that if you take circumcision, Christ will not benefit you at all. Moreover, I testify again to every man who takes circmcision that he is obligated to keep2 the entire Law. You who seek to be justified by the Law are severed from Christ; you have fallen from grace. For we, by the Spirit, through faith, are eagerly waiting for the hope that righteousness brings.3 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; what counts is faith working through love.

You were running well; who cut you off and kept you from following the truth?This persuasion does not come from him who is calling you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is troubling you will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 And as for me, brothers, if I still proclaim circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? If that were the case, the offense of the cross would be eliminated. 12 O that the men who are unsettling your minds4 would go all the way and5 cut themselves off!6

13 For you, brothers, have been called to freedom; only never turn your freedom into an opportunity for indulging the flesh, but instead serve one another through love. 14 For the whole Law is summed up in this one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”7 15But if you bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another!

The Christian’s Realm of Freedom

16 So8 I say: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for the two9 are opposed to one another, with the result that you cannot do the things you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are plain for all to see.10 They include11 fornication, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, rivalries, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,12 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Concerning such things13 I now forewarn you, just as I previously forewarned you, that those who practice them will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another or envying one another.

Notes

  1. Lit. Behold
  2. Lit. a debtor to do (perform, obey)
  3. Lit. hope of righteousness
  4. Or moving you to rebellion
  5. Lit would also
  6. Or mutilate themselves
  7. Lev. 19:18
  8. Or But
  9. Lit. these (two)
  10. Lit. manifest, evident, obvious
  11. Lit. which are
  12. Or heresies
  13. Lit. which

Concluding Instructions

Brothers, if indeed someone is caught up1 in a particular trespass, you who are spiritual must restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness, keeping watch over yourselves so that you are not tempted as well. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when in fact he is nothing, he is deceiving himself. Instead, each of you should focus on2 his own work; then he will have grounds for taking pride3 in himself alone, and not in someone else. For each must carry4 his own load.

Now he who is taught the word should share all good things with him who teaches. Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh; but he who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. And let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the appointed time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as often as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who belong to the household of faith.

The Israel of God

11 Notice what large letters I’m using as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good impression in mere externals5 are forcing you to be circumcised, but only so they themselves will not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the Law, yet they want you to take circumcision so they can boast over your flesh! 14 But God forbid that I should ever boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom6 the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 And to all who walk8 in step with this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, even7 upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear in my body the marks9 of Jesus.

18 Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Notes

  1. Or caught, discovered; lit. if indeed a man is caught (up)
  2. Lit. examine, inspect, scrutinize
  3. Or boasting
  4. Lit. will carry
  5. Lit. in the flesh
  6. Or by which
  7. Or and
  8. Lit. And as many as walk (march, conduct themselves)
  9. Greek stigmata: marks, scars, or brands indicating ownership