Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure. 3My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised, 4although some wanted it done. Pretending to be fellow-believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us, 5but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute.
But those who seemed to be the leaders — I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances — those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me. 7On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews. 8For by God's power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews. 9James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have2.10 have; or had. been eager to do.
11But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile brothers and sisters. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favour of circumcising them. 13The other Jewish brothers and sisters also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”
15Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners”, as they are called. 16
Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires. 17If, then, as we try to be put right with God by our union with Christ, we are found to be sinners as much as the Gentiles are — does this mean that Christ is serving the cause of sin? By no means! 18If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law. 19So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead — killed by the Law itself — in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, 20so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. 21I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!
31You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! 2Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? 3How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? 4Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! 5Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it?
Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” 7
You should realize then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith. 8
The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless the whole human race.” 9Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was.
Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God's curse!” 11
Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”3.11 put right with God through faith shall live; or put right with God shall live through faith. 12
But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.”
But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God's curse.” 14Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God.
15My brothers and sisters, I am going to use an everyday example: when two people agree on a matter and sign an agreement, no one can break it or add anything to it. 16
Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant. The scripture does not use the plural “descendants”, meaning many people, but the singular “descendant”, meaning one person only, namely, Christ. 17
What I mean is that God made a covenant with Abraham and promised to keep it. The Law, which was given 430 years later, cannot break that covenant and cancel God's promise. 18
For if God's gift depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on his promise. However, it was because of his promise that God gave that gift to Abraham.
19What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham's descendant, to whom the promise was made. The Law was handed down by angels, with a man acting as a go-between. 20But a go-between is not needed when only one person is involved; and God is one.3.20 and God is one; or and God acts alone.
21Does this mean that the Law is against God's promises? No, not at all! For if human beings had received a law that could bring life, then everyone could be put right with God by obeying it. 22But the scripture says that the whole world is under the power of sin; and so the gift which is promised on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ is given to those who believe.
23But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until this coming faith should be revealed. 24And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith. 25Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us.
26It is through faith that all of you are God's children in union with Christ Jesus. 27You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. 28So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. 29
If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.
41But now to continue — the son who will receive his father's property is treated just like a slave while he is young, even though he really owns everything. 2While he is young, there are men who take care of him and manage his affairs until the time set by his father. 3In the same way, we too were slaves of the ruling spirits of the universe before we reached spiritual maturity. 4But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law, 5
to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's sons and daughters.
6To show that you are4.6 To show that you are; or Because you are. his sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.” 7So then, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter. And since that is what you are, God will give you all that he has for his heirs.
8In the past you did not know God, and so you were slaves of beings who are not gods. 9But now that you know God — or, I should say, now that God knows you — how is it that you want to turn back to those weak and pitiful ruling spirits? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10You pay special attention to certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11I am worried about you! Can it be that all my work for you has been for nothing?
12I beg you, my brothers and sisters, be like me. After all, I am like you. You have not done me any wrong. 13You remember why I preached the gospel to you the first time; it was because I was ill. 14But even though my physical condition was a great trial to you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you received me as you would an angel from heaven; you received me as you would Christ Jesus. 15You were so happy! What has happened? I myself can say that you would have taken out your own eyes, if you could, and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17Those other people show a deep interest in you, but their intentions are not good. All they want is to separate you from me, so that you will have the same interest in them as they have in you. 18Now, it is good to have such a deep interest if the purpose is good — this is true always, and not merely when I am with you. 19My dear children! Once again, just like a mother in childbirth, I feel the same kind of pain for you until Christ's nature is formed in you. 20How I wish I were with you now, so that I could take a different attitude towards you. I am so worried about you!
21Let me ask those of you who want to be subject to the Law: do you not hear what the Law says? 22
It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by a free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the usual way, but his son by the free woman was born as a result of God's promise. 24These things can be understood as a figure: the two women represent two covenants. The one whose children are born in slavery is Hagar, and she represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai. 25Hagar, who stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia, is4.25 Hagar… is; some manuscripts have Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, and it is. a figure of the present city of Jerusalem, in slavery with all its people. 26But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother. 27
For the scripture says:
“Be happy, you childless woman!
Shout and cry with joy, you who never felt the pains of childbirth!
For the woman who was deserted will have more children
than the woman whose husband never left her.”
28Now, you, my brothers and sisters, are God's children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was. 29
At that time the son who was born in the usual way persecuted the one who was born because of God's Spirit; and it is the same now. 30
But what does the scripture say? It says, “Send the slave woman and her son away; for the son of the slave woman will not have a part of the father's property along with the son of the free woman.” 31So then, my brothers and sisters, we are not the children of a slave woman but of a free woman.