The Case Against James Part 4 of 7

1. Paul’s Gospel.
2. The Book of Acts; Division in the Church.
3 . Epistles to A Church Divided.
4. Galatians: Justification by Faith.
5. The Epistle of James.
6. Summary and Overview.
7. Peter and John: Food for Thought.
8. Return to Index (Intro)
9. Return to Top

Concerning the evidence against James in the epistle of Galatians, we will study

Galatians in two sections. The two major topics in Galatians are the doctrine and people. The first part of Galatians deals primarily with the people involved in moving the Galatian believers from the true gospel to a false gospel. After the issue of these persons and reputations has been settled, the epistle goes on to focus on the doctrinal issues relating to the two gospels.


Galatians begins by addressing the issue of persons and reputations.

Gal. 1:1. Paul, an apostle – special messenger appointed and commissioned and sent out – not from [any body of] men nor by or through any man, but by and through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and God the Father Who raised Him from among the dead;

The parenthetical insertion, the figure of speech parembole, immediately calls our attention to this issue. Paul’s apostleship is presented as one of God as distinct from men. It is neither of (apo): from men, nor by (dia: through) man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father. This figure sets Paul’s apostleship equal with, if not above those of any other men with whom the Galatians may have been familiar. After having noted this, we must remind ourselves again that God does not waste words. Everything he says has a distinct purpose. Why does Paul’s epistle to the Galatians begin with such an emphatic endorsement of the divine authority of Paul’s ministry?

Verses 2-5 complete the greeting and salutation. Verse six begins the “meat” of the letter. It begins with an astonishing statement.

Gal. 1:6. I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you by the grace (unmerited favor) of Christ, the Messiah, [and that you are transferring your allegiance] to a different, even an opposition gospel.

For some reason, the Galatian believers had moved from the truth Paul had taught them in a remarkably short period of time. As is the case in II Corinthians 11:4, Paul speaks here of another gospel. The major difference is the Galatians had already succumbed to that of which Paul warned the Corinthians. They had already been beguiled into accepting another gospel, another Jesus, and another spirit. Of this fact there can be no doubt for Galatians 3:1 asks, “Who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…?” That is the central question of this epistle. It is a question we cannot afford to ignore, yet that is precisely what the Church has done, despite the fact that the answer is also here. But it is given to those of who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Paul marveled at the speed with which the Galatians were removed from the grace of Christ unto another gospel. Why were they so quickly beguiled? What gospel was the other gospel? As we shall see, the reason they were so quickly removed from grace is that they were beguiled in the manner warned of in II Corinthians; by reputable Hebrews, false apostles. And the other gospel into which they were bewitched was the Law. As the next verse boldly testifies, this was a perversion of the gospel of Christ.

Gal. 1:7. Not that there is [or could be] any other [genuine Gospel], but there are [obviously] some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you (with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel) and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ, the Messiah [into something which it absolutely is not].

There be some that trouble you. These who troubled them are the reason they were so quickly removed unto another gospel. The verse further says that these troublesome people perverted the gospel of Christ. They changed it from the gospel of the grace of Christ into something perverse. How did they accomplish this in such a remarkably short period of time? Apparently through the influence of their reputations. Verse 8 indicates that this was the case.

Gal. 1:8. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to and different from that which we preached to you, let him be accursed – anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment!

God doesn’t waste words. Verse 8 clearly indicates that those who had troubled them and perverted the gospel of Christ were quite well known and well respected men. Otherwise this verse is so much hot air. Why else would Paul say, though WE –even if he himself changed the gospel, it would be a grave sin – “or an angel from heaven”? What higher authority could another gospel come from? This tells us that the perverters of the gospel were men of great renown in the church.

If such a person, even an angel from heaven, were to come to us with the other gospel, what should we do? Offer them an easy chair so they can explain it fully in comfort? No! “Let him be accursed”! Considering the fact a curse in the biblical culture could be a deadly serious thing (Acts 23:12), this is the most emphatic condemnation possible. Those who change the gospel of grace into THE other gospel are not to be respected, heeded, or even tolerated. They are to be accursed. Is God encouraging us to pray for evil upon the heads of those who teach error? I don’t think so. I think this expression of intense disdain is intended to counteract the influence of personality. We often decry modern American culture as a “cult of personality” in which drug using felons walk the streets and even murderers go free because of the weight of their reputations. There is nothing new under the sun. In the biblical culture as well, people of good reputation could do much damage in the body of Christ. This emphatic warning in Galatians 1:8 screams at us to take note of who was perverting the gospel of the grace of Christ.

And as if that weren’t enough, it is immediately repeated! This is a figure of speech called a pleonasm; emphasis by redundance.

Gal. 1:9. As we said before, so I now say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us], let him be accursed – anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment!

If there was any lingering doubt that God’s Word is calling our attention to the negative influence of respected people, verse 10 reiterates.

Gal. 1:10. Now, am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to be a man-pleaser? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ, the Messiah.

The word “men” is used three times in this short verse. Again, we have a figure of speech, this time repetitio calling our attention to the damaging influence of men. The message here is that Paul’s apostleship is neither directed toward, nor limited by the approval of men. The truth of his gospel was not to be judged by its acceptance among his peers. Just to make sure we haven’t missed it, the scripture goes on to state plainly that what Paul taught was not learned from other church leaders.

Gal. 1:11-12. For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel – a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard. For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it; [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Since we know God has a reason for everything He says, we must acknowledge that this verse, especially in the context in which it is presented, differentiates the apostleship and gospel of Paul from those of other men. The background and mindset of the other men is alluded to in verses 13 and 14, in which Paul mentions his past experiences in “the Jews religion.”. The Jews religion is in these verses associated with vehement hatred and persecution of the church and with the traditions of the Patriarchs. Verses 15 – 17 reaffirm the truth of verse 12 about the divine source of Paul’s gospel.

Gal. 1:15-17. But when He Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born, and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), [Isa. 19:1; Jer. 1:5.] saw fit and was pleased to reveal (unveil, disclose) His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles [the non-Jewish world] as the glad tidings, immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood – did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with any one. Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles – special messengers of Christ – before I was; but I went away and retired into Arabia, and afterward I came back again to Damascus.

The presentation of Paul’s credentials as being separate and independent from the other apostles is almost excruciatingly redundant. Again we must ask ourselves WHY God went to such lengths to drive this point into the minds of the Galatians. Why was it so important for these people to realize that Paul’s apostleship was not less than the others?

Gal. 1:18. Then three years later, I did go up to Jerusalem to become (personally) acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and remained with him for fifteen days.

How much influence could Peter possibly have had on Paul in 15 days? Not much. That’s the point.

Gal. 1:19. But I did not see any of the other apostles (of a different [heteros] kind) – the special messengers of Christ – except James the brother of our Lord.

“But” sets a contrast to the preceding verse indicating that while he was in Jerusalem he didn’t see anyone else of note and therefore, couldn’t have been trained or influenced by the other apostles. So again we are told that Paul’s gospel didn’t come from another man. This independence of Paul’s doctrine is yet again emphatically reinforced in verses 20-23 to close the introduction of this critically important epistle.

Gal. 1:20-24. Now -[note carefully] what I am telling you, [for] it is the Truth; I write it as if I were standing before the bar of God; I do not lie. Then I went into the districts (countries, regions) of Syria and Cilicia. And so far I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea [the country surrounding Jerusalem]. They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now proclaiming the very faith he once reviled and which he set out to ruin and tried [with all his might] to destroy. And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me.

Having exceedingly thoroughly established that Paul’s apostleship was divinely ordained and independent of any man’s influence, including that of the other apostles, chapter two goes to the heart of the matter. We must bear in mind all that we have just learned, especially with regard to the other gospel and the perversion of the gospel of Christ. Before we got into an extended resume of Paul’s divine qualifications, the topic was the marvelously short period of time in which the Galatian believers turned from the Grace of Christ unto the other gospel: the Law.

Chapter two begins with the story of Paul and Barnabus’ journey to Jerusalem to discuss the contentious issue of circumcising the Gentiles who had believed. We have already considered the testimony of Acts chapter 15 which gives a more detailed history of this council. The contention began in Antioch when believers from Jerusalem taught the ‘Gentiles’ there that they could not be saved without circumcision. You will no doubt recall that the issue was apparently settled to everyone’s satisfaction by James sentence and the letter to the ‘Gentiles’ which Paul and Barnabus delivered.

Galatians chapter two gives us another perspective on this pivotal time in church history.

Gal. 2:1-2. Then after (an interval) of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem. [This time I went] with Barnabas, taking Titus along with [me] also. I went because it was specially and divinely revealed to me that I should go., and I put before them the Gospel, [declaring to them that] which I preach among the Gentiles. However, [I presented the matter] privately before those of repute, [for I wanted to make certain, by thus at first confining my communication to this private conference] that I was not running or had not run in vain – guarding against being discredited either in what I was planning to do or had already done.

Note that, despite the factual statement that he went with Barnabus and Titus, he says he went by revelation to communicate that gospel that “I” preach; not “we”. He is distinguishing himself even from Barnabas. The reason for this distinction becomes clear as the narrative develops.

We are also told that Paul preached it privately to them who were of reputation lest he had run in vain. The indication is that it would have been unwise to openly declare his gospel to the church leaders. Why? Obviously, the church was so deeply divided over these issues regarding the law that it was unwise to publicly proclaim them. Now let’s take a close look at a fascinating and revealing passage regarding the tone and events of that meeting.

In Greek, there are two words that communicate negation; me, which indicates conditional negation such as ‘I could not go yesterday’ and oude, which connotes unconditional, full and absolute negation, such as’ I shall never go’. The word used here in Galatians 2:3 is oude.

Gal. 2:3. But [all went well]; even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, although he was a Greek.

Oude is most often translated “not even” or “neither”. In the King James version the translation is “neither”, which makes for an awkward phrase. “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised”. The insertion of the negative is obvious and inherently contradictory. The inherent conflict is clearly seen by removing the word “neither”.

Gal. 2:3. But Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Some have said that if we simply translate oude as “not even”, the apparent contradiction is removed. Then, verse 3 would read;

Gal. 2:3. But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

This eliminates the contradictory language from verse three, but it reappears when we move to verse four. Note that verse four begins with the conjunction “and.” “And” makes a logical connection between the verses, continuing the thought of the previous statement. If we translate oude as not even, that continuity of thought is lost when we get to the next verse.

Gal. 2:3. But not even Titus, being a Greek, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised.

Gal. 2:4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in,…

You see, the combination of verses 3 and four just don’t make sense. The reason for the apparent problem is the figure of speech anaeresis which is a parenthetical insertion of a negative phrase. The parenthesis seems to mitigate or lessen the sense of the message, but actually adds to it. The word oude is inserted parenthetically to highlight the conflict at that meeting between the Pharisees who compelled Titus to be circumcised and Paul and his company who resisted.

Reading the passage with and without the word “neither” illustrates the impact of the figure. Read without the figure, verse three factually asserts that Titus, being a Greek at the council was compelled to be circumcised.

Gal. 2:3. But Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Gal. 2:4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in,…

The word “compelled” is the Greek word anagkazo, which Bullinger’s lexicon defines as “to necessitate or constrain, (by persuasion or force). ” Its first use is in Matthew 14:22 which says that Jesus constrained his disciples to get aboard a ship. Did he grab them and heave them into the boat? Did he affix them with a hypnotic stare under which they were unable to resist? No. He made it clear what he wanted them to do and they complied. They had a freewill choice whether to comply or not. He persuaded them. They of the circumcision tried to persuade Titus to be circumcised. After all, the whole reason the group had been convened was to decided whether or not Gentiles could be saved without cutting. Titus’ presence at the council put him under the gun personally. So Titus, who was with Paul in Jerusalem, being a Gentile, was compelled to be circumcised.

Remember, verse 4 begins with the word “and” which continues the thought from verse 3. Titus was compelled to be circumcised because of “false brethren unawares brought in who came in privily”. Such language! The phrase “unawares brought in” is translated from the Greek word pareisakto, meaning brought in beside, introduced privately. “Came in privily” is from the word pareiserchomai, which means to come in by stealth; to sneak or steal in. Bullinger defines it as “( “Come” No. 1[erchomai], with para beside \and eis, into prefixed,) to come or go in beside, so as to be present along with it. The idea of stealth being implied.”

The use of these two words together is the figure of speech alliteration; which is the use of two or more words in succession that begin with the same letter or syllable. If I were to say, James is just jealous, this would be a common form of alliteration using the repetition of the first letter. In this case, the first half of the words are shared. As always, God uses figures for emphasis. The literal meaning of the verse is that these false brethren snuck in and set themselves right beside the genuine. The use of the figure alliteration makes the same statement more loudly and reinforces the truth that this was not done in an open honest manner, but craftily. Just as the Serpent beguiled Eve with subtlety, these fellows were crafty and deceitful. Read it once again with the word “neither” and the figure alliteration highlighted in blue to illustrate the emphasis.

Gal. 2:3. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised;

Gal. 2:4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in (pareisakto), who came in privily (pareiserchomai) to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

There is a deeper truth here, revealed in part by the Biblical use of the word pareisakto; unawares brought in. This is the only biblical use of the word pareisakto. According to the Strong’s Concordance, it’s a derivative of pareisago, another word that’s only used once, in II Peter 2:1

II Peter 2:1. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

The phrase ‘privily (shall) bring in’ is the translation of the word pareisago. Here again, the prefix pareis gives it the sense of sneaking something in and laying it beside the genuine. What was brought in? Damnable heresies! Remember that the only occurrence of the related word pareisakto refers to “false brethren unawares brought in.” Here in II Peter, we are reading about false prophets and false teachers! Do you see a correlation between these verses? Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so! Remember also that the false teachers mentioned here in II Peter are leaders in the church. These leaders snuck in damnable heresies and laid them right beside the truth of the gospel.

Putting these records together, I assert that the word “false brethren” used in Galatians 2:4 is itself a figure of speech (Metonymy) whereby the brethren are put for their false doctrine. The brethren did not sneak into the church. They got in the only way one can; by believing in Christ (Acts 15:5). It’s actually the false doctrine, the damnable heresies, that were snuck into the church. That’s why they were arguing in Jerusalem!

So these brethren tried to persuade or force poor Titus to get circumcised in order to subject him to the false doctrine they were sneaking into the church. Fortunately for Titus, and for us, they did not give in. This is the loud testimony of verse 5.

Gal. 2:5. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

The phrase “gave place” is translated from eiko, meaning to yield. “By subjection” is from hupotage, which means submission. Verse 5 begins, “To whom we yielded by submission”, then immediately contradicts itself with, “No, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Now ask yourself this question. Why doesn’t it simply say, “To whom we did not yield for a moment”? Because it’s written using the figure of speech negatio which is God’s way of making the negation even more intense. Remember also that the passage began with the figure anaeresis with the insertion of a negative. Now it ends with another figure of speech of passionate negation.

Gal. 2:3. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised;

Gal. 2:4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage;

Gal. 2:5. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the Truth of the gospel might continue with you.

The passage is in effect book ended by figures involving negation that highlight the intense conflict of this time. We dare not overlook the manner in which God inspired Paul to write this account. It’s not a casual account of a friendly get-together. This meeting in Jerusalem was an intense confrontation with born-again people who had craftily introduced a false doctrine in the church with the intent to torpedo the grace of Christ and pervert the gospel. Paul was passionate in his defense of the gospel he’d been given by revelation and had preached effectually among the Gentiles.

With that in mind, let us proceed.

Gal. 2:6. Moreover, [no new requirements were made] by those who were reputed to be something, though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me; God is not impressed with the positions that men hold and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions. Those [I say] who were of repute imposed no new requirements upon me – had nothing to add to my Gospel and from them I received no new suggestions. [Deut. 10:17.]

Well here we are again looking at a parenthetical figure of speech. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Those at the council are described as those who “seemed to be somewhat”. Somewhat sounds archaic, but we understand it as the biblical equivalent of our term ‘be somebody’. It implies VIP status. But the verse doesn’t say “those who were somewhat”, it says But of those who seemed to be somewhat. The insertion of the word “seemed” into the equation puts the status of these men, or at least the validity of their stature, in doubt. The word “seemed” is the Greek word dokeo. It is often translated think or suppose and often indicates an erroneous assumption!


Matt 3:9. And think (dokeo) not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto


Matt. 6:7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think (dokeo) that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Matt. 24:44. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think (dokeo) not the Son of man cometh.

Luke 8:18. …and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth (dokeo) to have.

So those who seemed to be somewhat are probably not what they seem. This might be a presumptuous statement if not for the false doctrine “unawares brought in” of the previous verse and the parenthetical figure that immediately follows.


Gal. 2:6. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person)…

Here we are reminded that no matter how highly esteemed someone may be, God, who knows the hearts, sees us all as equals. Ironically this is the same truth Peter had spoken in Jerusalem quite a while before this meeting after he facilitated and witnessed the salvation of the first Gentiles. Verse six closes by reiterating the phrase “seemed to be somewhat. This is probably a figure of speech as well, but we’ll simply note here that it is deliberately repeated. Obviously, the other apostles and leaders at that meeting weren’t deserving of their exalted status in the Church.


Gal. 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

Not only did they “seem” to be somewhat, they added nothing to Paul. This is actually the thirteenth statement in the epistle of Galatians that sets Paul’s ministry apart from those of the other apostles. The reason becomes crystal clear in the following verses. The outcome of the meeting was that the validity of Paul’s apostleship and the truth of Paul’s gospel were publicly recognized by the other apostles and the elders, but privately undermined by James and his associates, who continued to use their reputations and influence to subvert and pervert the gospel of the grace of Christ.

Gal. 2:7-8. But on the contrary, when they [really] saw that I had been entrusted [to carry] the Gospel to the uncircumcised [Gentiles, just as definitely] as Peter had been entrusted [to proclaim] the Gospel to the circumcised [Jews, they were agreeable]; For He Who motivated and fitted Peter and worked effectively through him for the mission to the circumcised, motivated and fitted me and worked through me also for [the mission to] the Gentiles.

I find it interesting that Peter’s apostleship is singled out in contrast with Paul’s and that it is given equal weight here despite the fact that it was James’ sentence, not Peter’s testimony, that finally settled the matter at Jerusalem. Perhaps James saw himself as presiding over the outreach ministries of Peter and Paul as an administrator or manager of some sort. But the record here in Galatians clearly sets Peter’s ministry among the Judaeans as comparable to Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.

Gal. 2:9. And when they knew (perceived, recognized, understood and acknowledged) the grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing) that had been bestowed upon me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars of the Jerusalem church, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, with the understanding that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised (Jews).

Here we have the first specific mention of anyone other than Peter, Paul and James. This is the only reference to John’s participation in the events of the council. The fact that he was still highly regarded is significant and raises the question of how he perceived all this. We have Peter’s testimony in Acts 15, but Acts says nothing of John after his visit with Peter to Samaria. I’ll discuss John’s role in this a little later.

So was everything settled? It would seem so. But remember; appearances can be deceiving.

Gal. 2:11-12. But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned. For up to the time that certain persons came from James, he ate his meals with the Gentile [converts]; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived he withdrew and held himself aloof from the Gentiles and [ate] separately for fear of those of the circumcision [party].

Well now we know why the word “seemed” was sprinkled throughout the preceding verses. The appearance of unity and understanding at the council was not genuine. The evidence of this in verses 11 and 12 is abundant. First note that verse 11 begins with the preposition “but”. “But” sets a contrast to that which precedes it. (I love you Honey, but I’m not going to kiss your toes.) Peter, John, and James extended the right hand of fellowship to Barnabus and Paul and agreed that, as they ministered to the circumcision, Paul and Barnabus would be free to minister to the Gentiles; presumably without objection or interference from Jerusalem. But when Peter came to Antioch…the ruse was revealed. Was Peter himself deceitful? No, not at all. Paul withstood him to the face not because Peter denounced his former testimonials of the grace of Christ, not because he compelled the Gentiles to be circumcised. In fact, when Peter went to Antioch, he walked according to the revelation God had given him. Remember it was Peter who said God had shown him not to call any man common or unclean and it was Peter who pronounced that revelation to them of the circumcision in Jerusalem. So it was that, after the issue of the salvation of the Gentiles was seemingly settled, Peter was visiting and eating with them. So why did Paul confront him in front of God and everybody? Because Peter performed an abrupt and dramatic about-face.


Gal. 2:12. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

So the seeming doctrinal harmony, the acknowledging of Paul’s gospel, and the “right hand of fellowship” resulting from the Jerusalem council, were all false. When James’ emissaries arrived in Antioch, the appearance of Christian unity established at the council was dashed.

There are those who would have us believe that the reference to James here is purely coincidental and entirely irrelevant. They say that the fact that these men who brought division and hypocrisy to Antioch are identified as “certain…from James” doesn’t mean James had anything to do with their negative impact. In order for this statement to be true; in order to disconnect James from the impact of the “certain who came from James, we must assume one of the following;

1. Paul is by his own will and mind, slandering James, his brother in Christ and leader of the church in Jerusalem.
2. God inspired Paul to slander James, his brother in Christ and the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
Neither of these is a logical conclusion. Remember. God does not waste words, and he certainly does not slander innocent men; especially not innocent men of God. Why does it not say, “certain of the circumcision”? Why not, “certain of the Jews?” These men are called certain who came from James for a reason. They represented James’ interests, beliefs, agenda, and authority.

The authority of James is what is paramount here. Remember that at the council that had just been adjourned, it was not the apostles’ declarations, but James’ sentence that closed the matter and ended the meeting. Here in Antioch, when certain came from James, Peter removed himself from his gentile brethren because –he – was — afraid! Just think about that for a moment. This is the same man who stood up on the day of Pentecost and boldly proclaimed a new era of grace to the multitudes. The same man who stood before the Sanhedrin, that group of evil men who orchestrated the crucifixion of the Messiah, and charged them with murder. The same man who was held in prison awaiting a death sentence. Never in all these situations, did Peter withdraw in fear. Yet when certain came from James, Peter was afraid. Those who close their eyes to this scripture will never understand what was really going on in the Church at this time.

Why was Peter afraid of James? The Word of the Lord doesn’t specify. I have some ideas, but I won’t speculate about it in the body of this article. What we do know from Galatians is that the gospel was under siege. Men of renown had challenged, changed, and perverted it and had brought in unawares a false gospel of legalism. This false gospel was being driven into the minds and lives of believers. What power was behind all this? THE other gospel is from the other god. Just as the serpent beguiled Eve with his subtilty, the adversary was working overtime to steal the truth from these new Christians and drag them into the bondage of the law. Would he give up just because the apostles and elders called a meeting? Does Satan give up just because Christians declare that they’re no longer going to advocate sin? No. He is relentless. He was behind the drive toward legalism in the church, the ensuing division in the church, the decline of the apostles’ influence in the church and he did not roll over and die just because there was a meeting in Jerusalem. If he cannot get his doctrines publicly adopted, he will promote them some other way.

The reason the first chapter of Galatians goes to extreme lengths to establish Paul’s gospel as the one with God’s seal of approval is now evident. The reason the Acts 15 council and its leadership is presented with the repeated use of the word “seemed” is now clear. The adversary did not give in and his gospel was not dismissed at that meeting. Under his influence, James and his charges continued to advocate the other gospel; despite what Peter, Paul, and the Holy Spirit had testified about the grace of Christ. James and his associates did so with such vehemence and zeal that their very appearance in Antioch caused the Apostle Peter to withdraw in fear.

Gal. 2:13. And the rest of the Jews along with him also concealed their true convictions and acted insincerely, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy – that is, by their example of insincerity and pretense.

This concludes the first part of the epistle to the Galatians. From here on, the main focus of the epistle is not the people and power behind the false gospel, but the clarification and resounding declaration of Paul’s gospel. Because of the scope of this material, the length of this article, and the work yet to come in the book of James, I will only touch on these issues as they pertain to James and his epistle. Once I’ve presented a clear sense of the doctrinal truths presented in the rest of Galatians, I’ll compare them to the content of the book of James.


Gal. 2:14. But as soon as I saw that they were not straightforward and were not living up to the Truth of the Gospel,…..

The “truth of the gospel”. Thus begins the doctrinal section of Galatians. What follows is not only a summary of Paul’s reproof to Peter in Antioch, but an amazingly rich summary of Paul’s gospel. The remainder of chapter two undeniably establishes justification by faith as the central truth of our age.

Gal 2:14(cont’d)-16… I said to Cephas (Peter) before everybody present, If you, though born a Jew, can live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not as a Jew, how do you dare now to urge and practically force the Gentiles to [comply with the ritual of Judaism and] live like Jews? [I went on to say], Although we ourselves – you and I – are Jews by birth and not Gentile (heathen) sinners, yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God, not by works of Law/law but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by the faith of Christ and not by works of the Law – for we cannot be justified by any observance of [the ritual of] the Law [given by Moses]; because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified – declared righteous and put in right standing with God. [Ps. 143:2.]

This verse 16 is the central truth of this chapter; perhaps of the entire epistle. As I said earlier, God marks by figures of speech that which he wishes to call to our attention. This verse is marked by at least seven figures of speech! It’s like a trumpet blast in the pages of the Bible!


Gal. 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed [trusted] in Jesus Christ, that we faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed [trusted] in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

1. Structure: Biblical structure is the figure of speech Correspondence. E.W. Bullinger lists the structure of this verse on page 378 of his remarkable reference Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. The form of structure used here is Introversion.

A – Knowing that a man is not justified
B — by the works of the law,
C – but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
C — even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,

B – and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law

A – shall no flesh be justified.}

2-4. Repetitio There are three instances of repetitio in this verse! Each is there for emphasis, so the occurrence of three in one verse is remarkable. God has gone to great lengths to mark this verse to call it and its truths to our attention. The words “justified” is used three times. The word “Christ” is used three times. And the entire phrase “works of the law” occurs three times. God is driving home a point. We are not justified by works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. We are not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ. And by the way, did you know that our justification is by faith in Christ, not by the works of the law?

5. Polyptoton: Polyptoton is the repetition of a word in different cases or parts of speech. Not only is this figure used here, but it is at the very heart of the verse! “…but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ. The importance of this declaration is seen most in contrasting it with the false doctrine of justification by works in the preceding context. The “other gospel” was a retreat to the works of the law. Paul’s gospel was of justification, not by the works of the law, but purely by the faith of Jesus Christ; by believing in Christ’s accomplishments rather than relying on our own. If I could stand up right now and scream, “Look at this! Faith, not works, is the foundation of the gospel!” it would be woefully inadequate to communicate the power and beauty with which God is expressing this monumental truth.
6. Idiom or Hebraism: The verse ends with an idiom which is lost in the translation.
Using the adjective “every” or “all” with a negative to make an emphatic statement is a Hebrew idiom. “The Hebrews would say “everything is not”, and this is put instead of the ordinary Greek idiom, “nothing is”. Psalm 103:2 Forget not all his benefits: i.e. forget not any (Bullinger, pg. 836).” The phrase “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified” would read “not by the deeds of the law shall any flesh be justified.”

7. Synecdoche: Speaking of “flesh”, this too is a figure of speech. Synecdoche is the exchange of one idea for an associated idea. God doesn’t justify flesh. He justifies people. People need justification because of the sinful nature of our flesh. “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Romans 8:3 and 4 add depth to this truth.
Rom. 8:3-4. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [that is, the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of Sinful flesh and as an offering for Sin, [God] condemned Sin in the flesh – subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power [over all who accept that sacrifice]. [Lev. 7:37.] So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us, who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the Ways of the Spirit – our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the {Holy) Spirit.

The law was weak through the flesh because it set a standard of righteousness men of sinful flesh could not maintain. And because the works of the Law could not eradicate the sinful nature of man’s flesh. No matter how hard he tried, man under the Law was doomed to sin and sin again. Mercy was the only hope, as David testified, and as Paul reminds us in Romans 4:6-8. By God’s tender mercies and loving kindness man under the law was justified, but by the works of the law shall no flesh, no man, no person of sinful flesh, be justified.

Having thus marked, highlighted, and electrified this verse, God has made it abundantly clear that the works of the law avail nothing in justification of mankind. We are justified only by believing on Christ and receiving the benefit of His perfect work and unfailing faith. The importance of this truth cannot be overstated.

Gal. 2:17-18. But if, in our desire and endeavor to be justified in Christ – to be declared righteous and put in right standing with God wholly and solely through Christ – we have shown ourselves sinners also and convicted of sin, does that make Christ a minister (a party and contributor) to our sin? Banish the thought! – Of course not! For if I [or any other] – who have taught that the observance of the Law of Moses is not essential to being justified by God, should now by word or practice teach or intimate that it is essential – building up again what I tore down, I prove myself a transgressor. [See Hebrews 6:1-6.]

This is a particularly interesting verse. It’s marked by the Figure ellipsis, which is a deliberate omission. With the missing phrase added, it reads, ‘For if I build again the thing which I destroyed, I make myself to have been a transgressor in destroying it’. In other words, if we go back and rebuild all the carnal, self-righteous works that we abandoned, we’re confessing that it was a sin to have discarded them in the first place. Paul is saying that for him to return to the works of the law, he’s confessing that it was a sin to have preached the gospel!


Gal. 2:19. For I through the Law – under the operation [of the curse] of the Law – have [in Christ’s death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law’s demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God.


Gal. 2:19. For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God.

This statement is, on the surface, perplexing. It sounds contradictory. There is obviously a figure of speech here, but which one? Because of the contradictory language, most explanations I’ve heard on this verse interpret the two uses of the word law as meaning two different laws. The basic rule regarding figures of speech however is that God’s Word must be interpreted literally wherever and whenever possible. So I don’t believe we should interpret this as two different laws. If we interpret both these uses as references to the same law, we still have the figure polyptoton in the repetition of the word “law” in different cases. (Bullinger, page 282), but it’s a simpler and much deeper truth communicated and it fits in the context of what’s being presented regarding justification by faith in verse 16 and being crucified with Christ in verse 20. But if these are two references to the same law, how could Paul say I “through the law am dead to the law”?

Jesus’ crucifixion was the offering of The sacrifice for sin. Remember, Jesus Christ was our Passover; the Lamb of God. As such, as Jesus hung on the cross, he was the ultimate fulfillment of the law. In the final sin offering, Paul’s sins (and yours and mine, praise God) were atoned. Justification is the legal process of paying for your sins or crimes.

Once a felon has been released from prison, he is said to have “paid his debt to society”. He is justified because his sin is paid for. If he committed a capital offense, the only way to pay this debt, to be justified from that sin, is to be executed. Spiritually, we are all born as capital offenders, having inherited a death sentence from Adam. Once you die, you’re justified from the original sin. But that’s not much comfort is it?

Jesus Christ was offered as The Passover so he could pay the price for our sins in our place. So his crucifixion is our justification. Once we confess Jesus as our Lord and believe God raised him from the dead, we receive the benefit of Christ’s death and our “debt to society” is paid; we are justified. We are accounted as dead. Therefore, through (Christ’s fulfilling of) the law, we are dead to the law. Is the ultimate purpose of this is so we can walk around steeped in guilt and morosely confess our sins and shortcomings? No! So we can LIVE unto God. Verse 20 makes this abundantly clear.


Gal. 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.


Gal. 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ – [in Him] I have shared His crucifixion; it is no longer I who live, but Christ, the Messiah, lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by [the] faith – by adherence to and reliance on and [complete] trust [in] – [of] [the] Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

The blue text illustrates the intent of the use of the figure polyptoton , seen here in the repetition of various forms of the word “Live”. The purpose of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross was so we could receive justification from Adam’s death sentence and yet live unto God. Because of Jesus’s death, we live anew!

The underlined words illustrate the emphasis provided by the figure “Correction (Epanorthosis)”. This is a figure in which a statement made is immediately denied and restated in order to say it more poignantly. “Yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH in me.” The emphasis then, the focus of our lives should not be our works, but the grace and power of Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Following the declaration that he, through the law, was dead to the law, Paul expounds on this by specifying the means by which he died to the law. “I am (was) crucified with Christ”. Suffice to say this is not literally true and therefore must be a figure of speech. But Paul was identified with Christ on the cross (You are too!). Nevertheless I live. This is a powerful truth in and of itself for it testifies of the grace of God in providing justification by faith not by works. We live through HIS works, not ours!

This is the chewy caramel center of Christianity. (They were first called “Christians” at Antioch. Coincidence?) Christ liveth in me. So my witness is not what I did for God, not what I gave up, not who I witnessed to, not what I know! It’s what Christ did for me and what Christ does in me and can do in you too! Gee, it sounds like we’re back to the mystery and the preaching of the gospel. How did that happen? You see, the works of the law undercut outreach because no one has as powerful a testimony or as much zeal to witness when he supplants the saving power of grace with his own (filthy rags) righteousness.


Gal. 2:21. I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.


Gal.2:21. [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the Grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ, the Messiah, died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. – His death was then wholly superfluous.

“…then Christ is dead in vain.” My, that’s a pretty powerful statement. If we are justified by works, God put His only begotten Son through incredible shame, agony and death for nothing. Are you willing to charge God with such a heinous crime?

Galatians 3-5

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, it’s time for …the rest…. of the story.

Having established the gospel of justification by faith and the grace of living for God with Christ within, curiously enough, chapter three of Galatians goes right back to the ‘whodunit’ question. Perhaps this is just to remind the readers of the contrast between the false doctrine they’d been snookered into and the glory of the gospel. However, in following up on my somewhat controversial assertion earlier that Satan was behind James negative influence and the preaching of the false gospel, I must point out the unmistakably blunt language of verse one.

Gal. 3:1. O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galations! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom – right before your very eyes – Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified?

Why did Paul ask this question? God wanted the Galatians to think hard about how they had come to the sorry state in which they found themselves. If they forgot how they got beguiled and bewitched, they would remain vulnerable to these same wicked people. To be sure, the first part of Galatians indicates clearly, as we have seen, that the influence of James was behind this witchcraft. It was James who presided over the meeting referred to in Galatians 2:1-10 and it was the arrival of emissaries from James that struck fear into the heart of Peter. It may not have been James himself who bewitched the Galatians, but they were exhorted to remember who had done this to them.

God says they’d been bewitched. I say again, that meeting in Jerusalem was no friendly get-together. It was a confrontation between the forces of light and darkness and it raged at the uppermost levels of the church. Satan was pushed back at the council but he persisted in exporting legalism to the brethren. Having set the record straight in chapters one and two about who was right and who was wrong, and having reestablished the truth of the gospel, the gloves come off, so to speak, and Paul reveals just how wicked the legalists influence has been. We may want to close our eyes to this truth, and deny that James could ever have been responsible for bewitching believers. But I think if we look from James backward through the history of Israel and forward through that of the Christian church, we will see that he is not alone in this dubious distinction.

This is not to say that James or any of his Pharisee cohorts were consciously opposing

God. They were sincere. But they themselves were deceived by the adversary just as Eve was beguiled by the Serpent. And they in turn deceived others; including the Christians of Galatia.

Verses 2-5 reiterate that we were saved by grace and assert that it makes no sense to return to works. Verse 5 connects justification and walking by the spirit. They are both accomplished through faith not works.

Gal. 3:2-5. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the (Holy) Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing (trusting) [it]? – Was it from observing a Law of rituals or from a message of faith? Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the (Holy) Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing – to no purpose? If it really is to no purpose and in vain, then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous (Holy) Spirit, and works powerfully and miraculously among you, [do so on the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the Message that you heard?

Verses 6-9 lay the foundation for this new gospel on the oldest of the Old Testament patriarchs; Abraham. As is the case in Romans 4, Abraham’s example, or rather God’s example in his dealings with Abraham set the foundation for our justification by faith.

Gal. 3:6-9. Thus Abraham believed and adhered to and trusted in and relied on

God, and it was reckoned and placed to his account and accredited as righteousness – as conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought and action. [Gen. 15:6.] Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by the faith of God who are [the true] sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify – declare righteous, put in right standing with Himself – the Gentiles in consequence of faith, proclaimed the Gospel [foretelling the glad tidings of a Savior long beforehand] to Abraham in the Promise, saying, In you shall all the nations [of the earth] be blessed. [Gen. 12:.] So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham.

Notice again that the elements of the gospel are woven into this passage. Verse six reiterates that, even before the day of Pentecost, righteousness came by faith. Verse 8 makes it crystal clear. God “preached the gospel” unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations, including the Gentiles who were now at last hearing the word of the gospel, be blessed. Verses 10-13 speak further about the law. Part of the problem was that those who were zealous for the law didn’t really understand the law. As Paul wrote in I Timothy 1:7, they were “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.”. So Paul summarizes the nature of the law in a way that makes its shortcomings and frustrations clear. The first and last verses in this passage are marked by a figure of repetition emphasizing the word “curse”.

Gal. 3:10-13. And all who depend on the Law – who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals – are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction; for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the book of the Law, and practice them. [Deut. 27:26] Now it is evident that no person is justified – declared righteous and brought into right standing with God – through the Law; for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God (the just, the righteous) shall live by and out of faith, and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live. [Hab. 2:4] But the Law does not rest on faith – does not require faith, has nothing to do with faith – for it itself says, He who does them (the things prescribed by the Law) shall live by them, [not by faith]. [Lev.

18:5] Christ purchased our freedom (redeeming us) from the curse (doom) of the

Law’s (condemnation), by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); [Deut. 21:23.]

The repetition of the word curse, (using the figure polyptoton in both instances) loudly proclaims that going back to the law is a deadly serious matter. Subjecting ourselves to circumcision or baptism or any single statute of the law obligates us to do the entire thing!! Churches who teach the Ten Commandments as essential to gaining entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven rarely require sin offerings. They obviously don’t understand what they’re doing any more than the Galatians did. The law is an all-or- nothing deal. Therefore, it is called repeatedly and emphatically a CURSE. Those who today believe that we are not saved without water baptism place themselves under a curse. Those who believe we must continue to observe the Sabbath place themselves under a curse. Those who ironically use the word “full gospel” to put people under all kinds of legalistic bondage place themselves under a curse. The roots of all these accursed “Christian” doctrines are found here in the battle that raged in Galatia.

Nestled between these emphatic curses is a restating that the law and faith are diametrically opposed to one another. No man is justified by the law in the sight of God. The righteous (the just) shall live by faith. The law is not of faith. Redundant? Maybe so, but the point cannot be missed. Faith and the works of the law are on opposite ends of the spectrum and just as baptism in Holy Spirit replaced water baptism, [Acts 1:5] the former has replaced the latter.

Verses 16-18 contrast the giving of the law with the giving of the promise of God to Abraham. Both are covenants, but the second covenant cannot legally supplant or nullify the first covenant, which is distinguished from the second by referring to it (four times, using the figure repetitio) as the PROMISE.

Gal. 3:16-18. Now the promises (covenants, agreements) were decreed and made to Abraham and his Seed (his Offspring, his Heir). He (God) does not say, And to seeds (descendants, heirs), as if referring to many persons; but, And to your Seed (your Descendant, your Heir), obviously referring to one individual, Who is [none other than] Christ, the Messiah. [Gen. 13:15; 17:8.] This is my argument: The Law, which began four hundred and thirty years after the covenant [concerning the coming Messiah], does not and can not annul the covenant previously established (ratified) by God, so as to abolish the Promise and make it void. [Exod. 12:40.] For if the inheritance [of the Promise depends on observing] the Law [as these false teachers would like you to believe], it no longer [depends] on the Promise; however, God gave it to Abraham [as a free gift solely] by virtue of His Promise.

Many people who study the Law refer to it as the Mosaic Covenant. Note please that verse 17 sets it in its proper perspective. It was the second, and lesser, covenant. The first covenant was the Promise of God to Abraham, which was confirmed by faith. It was Abraham’s faith in this first covenant that brought him righteousness. The works of the later covenant do not overshadow the righteousness achieved by faith in the former. This is an important argument because the legalists considered themselves children of

Abraham, but they rarely looked past the law of Moses to see Abraham’s example of righteousness by faith. So setting Abraham as the foundation for God’s justification of Israel by faith and for God’s inclusion of the Gentiles is a powerful and persuasive argument. The law could not and did not supersede the precedent laid with Abraham, so to insist on keeping the law was really an affront to the memory of Abraham and violated their claim to be his children. When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with their claim to be Abraham’s seed, He challenged them to follow Abraham’s example. (John 8:39). Paul is doing the same thing here in Galatians. No doubt this is one of the truths Paul frequently preached in the synagogues during his travels.

Verses 19-21 put the law into perspective. It was added because of transgressions and could not therefore impart righteousness. If God could have provided righteousness by the law, He certainly would have done so. It just wasn’t possible. So why bother with the law in the first place? To preserve Israel until the promise made to Abraham could be fulfilled and justification by faith could be made available. Then the chapter closes with yet another emphatically constructed passage distinguishing the works of the law from justification by faith. One would think the message was quite thoroughly established by this point, but we have to remember that, like Peter who said “No so Lord”, the Jews had been raised with and in a wrong understanding of the law of Moses. So God spares no effort to correct their thinking so as to bring them into the fullness of His grace and goodness. We must also remember that these people had been bewitched and were therefore not seeing or thinking clearly. So God had to go to great lengths to awaken their minds.

Verses 22 – 26 are another example of the figure correspondence, or structure. Do you see it? It’s set not in Introversion, as Galatians 2:16, but Alternation, an A B A B pattern, illustrated here by blue text and italics.

Gal. 3:22. [A] But the Scripture [pictures all mankind as sinners] shut up and imprisoned by Sin, so that [the inheritance, blessing] which was promised through [the] faith [of] in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, might be given (released, delivered and committed) to [all] those who believe – who adhere to and trust in and rely on Him.

Gal. 3:23. [B] Now before the faith came we were perpetually guarded under the Law, [A] kept in custody in preparation for the faith that was destined to be revealed (unveiled, disclosed).

Gal. 3:24. [B] So that the Law served [to us Jews] as our trainer – our guardian, our guide to Christ, to lead us – until Christ [came], [A] that we might be justified (declared righteous, put in right standing with God) by and through [the] faith. Gal. 3:25. But now that the faith has come, [B]we are no longer under a trainer – the guardian of our childhood.

Gal. 3:26. [A] For in Christ Jesus you are all sons [children] of God through [the] faith.

The correspondence illustrates the transition from the limitations of the law to justification by faith and is bracketed in verses 22 and 26, by declarations of salvation and sonship and the receiving of the promise by faith in Jesus Christ.

Before we bid adieu to Galatians and move on the the conclusion of the matter, let’s take a brief look at the instruction on how to practically apply these great truths regarding faith, works, and righteousness.

Gal. 5:16-23. But I say, walk and live habitually in the (Holy) Spirit – responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh – of human nature without God. *For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the (Holy) Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (Godless human nature; for these are antagonistic to each other – continually withstanding and in conflict with each other – so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. But if you are guided (led) by the (Holy) Spirit you are not subject to the Law. Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear – obvious. They are: immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit, [the work which His presence within accomplishes] – is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, (meekness, humility) gentleness, self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no Law [that can bring a charge].

The italics magnify the repetitive use of the word Spirit which occurs seven times in this passage. We are saved by grace and justified by faith so we can walk by the spirit. Verse 18 says if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law. That’s because righteousness and eternal life couldn’t be given by the law, therefore the law could not bring anyone into the living relationship with God that we enjoy by holy spirit. This is why Romans 8:3 says the law was weak through the flesh. As we walk by the spirit, the old nature is nullified and the works of the flesh are overcome. The result of walking by the spirit is the fruit of the spirit, “against which there is no law.” The law cannot produce love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith. The fruit of the spirit comes not by keeping the law, or by any other stringent self-discipline designed to clean up the flesh or earn the blessings of God. The fruit of the spirit is only produced by walking in the spirit; heeding Our Father’s voice, living in light of God’s grace, and the indwelling power of holy spirit which we receive only by faith in Jesus Christ.


1. Paul’s Gospel.
2. The Book of Acts; Division in the Church.
3 . Epistles to A Church Divided.
4. Galatians: Justification by Faith.
5. The Epistle of James.
6. Summary and Overview.
7. Peter and John: Food for Thought.
8. Return to Index (Intro)
9. Return to Top