The Letters of Paul
This is part of ‘the epistles*’. The word epistles* means ‘letters’.
A leader of the new church*, named Paul, wrote these letters. These letters tell the readers how to live as God’s people. The letters remind them that God will keep his promises.
THE NEW TESTAMENT | THE LETTERS OF PAUL
PEOPLE TO KNOW
Sarah and Hagar
PLACES TO GO
There was bad news – ‘another gospel*’.
Paul told his story.
We are sons of God by faith*.
Keep in step with the Spirit*.
Help the one who falls.
Paul wrote this letter to a group of people that followed Jesus. They lived in a place named Galatia. Paul had visited that area on one of his journeys. He went there to tell the people about Jesus. When he told them the story, many people believed in Jesus. Most of the first people that followed Jesus were Jews*. But, now, many people who were not Jews* began to follow Jesus. After Paul left Galatia, some false teachers came. They thought that the new Christians should not only believe on Jesus. They should become Jews* as well. So they tried to teach people these things. They said that people needed to follow the customs of the Jews*. They needed to keep the laws that God gave the Jews* too. If they did not do these things, God would not accept them. They would not be right with God.
Paul heard about the false teachers. That was why he wrote this letter. He wanted the Galatians to know that these teachers were not from God. What they said was wrong. Most of the letter tells the Galatians why these teachers were wrong.
He began by saying some very hard things. He told them that these new teachers had not helped them know the gospel* better. Instead, they had caused them to leave the gospel* behind. The people who taught new ideas would be cursed if they did not change their minds. What they said was not from God.
No one make himself right with God by obeying the law. God gave the law to the Jews* to protect them. He wanted them to listen and obey him. When they did those things, God gave them a land. He protected them from their enemies. But when they did not obey those laws, they lost their land. And their enemies carried them away. The law did not change them inside. It only showed them how to act. But they could not keep all of the rules God gave them. The law could not make them free from their sin*. It could only tell them what was right and what was wrong.
The only way the law could help people is if they kept it all. They must keep the whole law, every moment, and never fail to obey it. When they failed to obey the law, they came under the curse* of the law.
That was why the story of Jesus was good news. God sent his son. He was born under the law. He came to rescue the people under the curse* of the law. He did this by taking the curse upon himself. He died on a cross*. Jesus died to take the punishment for our evil* ways. All of the people that believed in him were no longer under the curse* of the law. They were free from the law. They were free to follow the way of Jesus.
The people that followed Jesus were not under the law that God gave the Jews*. But they did have a ‘law’ to follow. It was the ‘law of Christ’. The Holy Spirit* would lead them to love their neighbour. They were free. They were not slaves to the desires that caused them to sin. They could be people of love, kindness and self-control. Paul called these things the fruit of the Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that made these good things grow in the people who followed Jesus. This was the new life that Jesus gave them. It was the life of Jesus living in them.
All of these things came to the people who lived by faith*. They believed in Jesus. They believed that what Jesus said was true. They believed that Jesus would keep all of his promises to them. They believed that what Jesus did for them on the cross* was enough.
The Galatians did not have to become Jews to be right with God. When they believed in Jesus, they became part of God’s family. They were not slaves to the law. They were sons and daughters of God.