1:1 From Paul to the churches of Galatia, and from all the brothers who are here with me,

1:2 an apostle who does not owe his authority to men or his appointment to any human being but who has been appointed by Jesus Christ and by God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead.

1:3 We wish you the grace and peace of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

1:4 who in order to rescue us from this present wicked world sacrificed himself for our sins, in accordance with the will of God our Father,

1:5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

A warning

1:6 I am astonished at the promptness with which you have turned away from the one who called you and have decided to follow a different version of the Good News.

1:7 Not that there can be more than one Good News; it is merely that some troublemakers among you want to change the Good News of Christ;

1:8 and let me warn you that if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one we have already preached to you, whether it be ourselves or an angel from heaven, he is to be condemned.

1:9 I am only repeating what we told you before: if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one you have already heard, he is to be condemned.

1:10 So now whom am I trying to please – man, or God? Would you say it is men’s approval I am looking for?[*a] If I still wanted that, I should not be what I am – a servant of Christ.


God’s call

1:11 The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realise this, the Good News I preached is not a human message

1:12 that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

1:13 You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it,

1:14 how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors.

1:15 Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb,[*b] called me through his grace and chose

1:16 to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being,

1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia[*c] at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus.

1:18 Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days,

1:19 I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord,

1:20 and I swear before God that what I have just written is the literal truth.

1:21 After that I went to Syria and Cilicia,

1:22 and was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judaea,

1:23 who had heard nothing except that their one-time persecutor was now preaching the faith he had previously tried to destroy;

1:24 and they gave glory to God for me.


The meeting at Jerusalem

2:1 It was not till fourteen years had passed that I went up to Jerusalem again. I went with Barnabas and took Titus with me.

2:2 I went there as the result of a revelation, and privately I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed.

2:3 And what happened? Even though Titus who had come with me is a Greek, he was not obliged to be circumcised.

2:4 The question came up only because some who do not really belong to the brotherhood have furtively crept in to spy on the liberty we enjoy in Christ Jesus, and want to reduce us all to slavery.

2:5 I was so determined to safeguard for you the true meaning of the Good News, that I refused even out of deference to yield to such people for one moment.

2:6 As a result, these people who are acknowledged leaders – not that their importance matters to me, since God has no favourites – these leaders, as I say, had nothing to add to the Good News as I preach it.

2:7 On the contrary, they recognised that I had been commissioned to preach the Good News to the uncircumcised just as Peter had been commissioned to preach it to the circumcised.

2:8 The same person whose action had made Peter the apostle of the circumcised had given me a similar mission to the pagans.

2:9 So, James, Cephas and John, these leaders, these pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me as a sign of partnership: we were to go to the pagans and they to the circumcised.[*a]

2:10 The only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor, as indeed I was anxious to do.

Peter and Paul at Antioch

2:11 When Cephas came to Antioch, however, I opposed him to his face, since he was manifestly in the wrong.

2:12 His custom had been to eat with the pagans,[*b] but after certain friends of James arrived he stopped doing this and kept away from them altogether for fear of the group that insisted on circumcision.

2:13 The other Jews joined him in this pretence, and even Barnabas felt himself obliged to copy their behaviour.

2:14 When I saw they were not respecting the true meaning of the Good News, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, ‘In spite of being a Jew, you live like the pagans and not like the Jews, so you have no right to make the pagans copy Jewish ways’.

The Good News as proclaimed by Paul

2:15 ‘Though we were born Jews and not pagan sinners,

2:16 we acknowledge that what makes a man righteous is not obedience to the Law, but faith in Jesus Christ. We had to become believers in Christ Jesus no less than you had, and now we hold that faith in Christ rather than fidelity to the Law is what justifies us, and that no one can be justified[*c] by keeping the Law.

2:17 Now if we were to admit that the result of looking to Christ to justify us is to make us sinners like the rest, it would follow that Christ had induced us to sin, which would be absurd.

2:18 If I were to return to a position I had already abandoned, I should be admitting I had done something wrong.

2:19 In other words, through the Law I am dead to the Law, so that now I can live for God. I have been crucified with Christ,

2:20 and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in this body I live in faith: faith in the Son of God who loved me and who sacrificed himself for my sake.

2:21 I cannot bring myself to give up God’s gift: if the Law can justify us, there is no point in the death of Christ.’



Justification by faith

3:1 Are you people in Galatia mad? Has someone put a spell on you, in spite of the plain explanation you have had of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

3:2 Let me ask you one question: was it because you practised the Law that you received the Spirit, or because you believed what was preached to you?

3:3 Are you foolish enough to end in outward observances what you began in the Spirit?

3:4 Have all the favours you received been wasted? And if this were so, they would most certainly have been wasted.

3:5 Does God give you the Spirit so freely and work miracles among you because you practice Law, or because you believed what was preached to you?

3:6 Take Abraham for example: he put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him.[*a]

3:7 Don’t you see that it is those who rely on faith who are the sons of Abraham?

3:8 Scripture foresaw that God was going to use faith to justify the pagans, and proclaimed the Good News long ago when Abraham was told: In you all the pagans will be blessed.[*b]

3:9 Those therefore who rely on faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, the man of faith.

The curse brought by the Law

3:10 On the other hand, those who rely on the keeping of the Law are under a curse, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in observing everything prescribed in the book of the Law.[*c]

3:11 The Law will not justify anyone in the sight of God, because we are told: the righteous man finds life through faith.[*d]

3:12 The Law is not even based on faith, since we are told: The man who practises these precepts finds life through practising them.[*e]

3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being cursed for our sake, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who is hanged on a tree.[*f]

3:14 This was done so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might include the pagans, and so that through faith we might receive the promised Spirit.

The Law did not cancel the promise

3:15 Compare this, brothers, with what happens in ordinary life. If a will has been drawn up in due form, no one is allowed to disregard it or add to it.

3:16 Now the promises were addressed to Abraham and to his descendants – notice, in passing, that scripture does not use a plural word as if there were several descendants, it uses the singular: to his posterity, which is Christ.

3:17 But my point is this: once God had expressed his will in due form, no law that came four hundred and thirty years later could cancel that and make the promise meaningless.

3:18 If you inherit something as a legal right, it does not come to you as the result of a promise, and it was precisely in the form of a promise that God made his gift to Abraham.

The purpose of the Law

3:19 What then was the purpose of adding the Law? This was done to specify crimes, until the posterity came to whom the promise was addressed. The Law was promulgated by angels,[*g] assisted by an intermediary.

3:20 Now there can only be an intermediary between two parties, yet God is one.

3:21 Does this mean that there is opposition between the Law and the promises of God? Of course not. We could have been justified by the Law if the Law we were given had been capable of giving life,

3:22 but it is not: scripture makes no exceptions when it says that sin is master everywhere. In this way the promise can only be given through faith in Jesus Christ and can only be given to those who have this faith.

The coming of faith

3:23 Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the Law; we were being looked after till faith was revealed.

3:24 The Law was to be our guardian until the Christ came and we could be justified by faith.

3:25 Now that that time has come we are no longer under that guardian,

3:26 and you are, all of you, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

3:27 All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ,

3:28 and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

3:29 Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised.


Sons of God

4:1 Let me put this another way: an heir, even if he has actually inherited everything, is no different from a slave for as long as he remains a child.

4:2 He is under the control of guardians and administrators until he reaches the age fixed by his father.

4:3 Now before we came of age we were as good as slaves to the elemental principles of this world,[*a]

4:4 but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law,

4:5 to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.

4:6 The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’,

4:7 and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.

4:8 Once you were ignorant of God, and enslaved to ‘gods’ who are not really gods at all;

4:9 but now that you have come to acknowledge God – or rather, now that God has acknowledged you – how can you want to go back to elemental things like these, that can do nothing and give nothing, and be their slaves?

4:10 You and your special days and months and seasons and years!

4:11 You make me feel I have wasted my time with you.

A personal appeal

4:12 Brothers, all I ask is that you should copy me as I copied you. You have never treated me in an unfriendly way before;

4:13 even at the beginning, when that illness gave me the opportunity to preach the Good News to you,

4:14 you never showed the least sign of being revolted or disgusted by my disease that was such a trial to you; instead you welcomed me as an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

4:15 What has become of this enthusiasm you had? I swear that you would even have gone so far as to pluck out your eyes and give them to me.

4:16 Is it telling you the truth that has made me your enemy?

4:17 The blame lies in the way they have tried to win you over: by separating you from me, they want to win you over to themselves.

4:18 It is always a good thing to win people over – and I do not have to be there with you – but it must be for a good purpose,

4:19 my children! I must go through the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you.

4:20 I wish I were with you now so that I could know exactly what to say; as it is, I have no idea what to do for the best.

The two covenants: Hagar and Sarah

4:21 You want to be subject to the Law? Then listen to what the Law says.

4:22 It says, if you remember, that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave-girl, and one by his free-born wife.

4:23 The child of the slave-girl was born in the ordinary way; the child of the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

4:24 This can be regarded as an allegory: the women stand for the two covenants. The first who comes from Mount Sinai, and whose children are slaves, is Hagar –

4:25 since Sinai is in Arabia – and she corresponds to the present Jerusalem that is a slave like her children.

4:26 The Jerusalem above, however, is free and is our mother, since scripture says: Shout for joy, you barren women who bore no children! Break into shouts of joy and gladness, you who were never in labour. For there are more sons of the forsaken one than sons of the wedded wife.[*b]

4:28 Now you, my brothers, like Isaac, are children of the promise,

4:29 and as at that time the child born in the ordinary way persecuted the child born in the Spirit’s way, so also now.

4:30 Does not scripture say: Drive away that slave-girl and her son; this slave-girl’s son is not to share the inheritance with the son[*c] of the free woman?

4:31 So, my brothers, we are the children, not of the slave-girl, but of the free-born wife.



Christian liberty

5:1 When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

5:2 It is I, Paul, who tell you this: if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all.

5:3 With all solemnity I repeat my warning: Everyone who accepts circumcision is obliged to keep the whole Law.

5:4 But if you do look to the Law to make you justified, then you have separated yourselves from Christ, and have fallen from grace.

5:5 Christians are told by the Spirit to look to faith for those rewards that righteousness hopes for,

5:6 since in Christ Jesus whether you are circumcised or not makes no difference – what matters is faith that makes its power felt through love.

5:7 You began your race well: who made you less anxious to obey the truth?

5:8 You were not prompted by him who called you!

5:9 The yeast seems to be spreading through the whole batch of you.

5:10 I feel sure that, united in the Lord, you will agree with me, and anybody who troubles you in future will be condemned, no matter who he is.

5:11 As for me, my brothers, if I still preach circumcision,[*a] why am I still persecuted? If I did that now, would there be any scandal of the cross?

5:12 Tell those who are disturbing you I would like to see the knife slip.

Liberty and charity

5:13 My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love,

5:14 since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself.[*b]

5:15 If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

5:16 Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence,

5:17 since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions.

5:18 If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.

5:19 When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility;

5:20 idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions,

5:21 envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22 What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness,

5:23 gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course.

5:24 You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.

5:25 Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

5:26 We must stop being conceited, provocative and envious.


On kindness and perseverance

6:1 Brothers, if one of you misbehaves, the more spiritual of you who set him right should do so in a spirit of gentleness, not forgetting that you may be tempted yourselves.

6:2 You should carry each other’s troubles and fulfil the law of Christ.

6:3 It is the people who are not important who often make the mistake of thinking that they are.

6:4 Let each of you examine his own conduct; if you find anything to boast about, it will at least be something of your own, not just something better than your neighbour has.

6:5 Everyone has his own burden to carry.

6:6 People under instruction should always contribute something to the support of the man who is instructing them.

6:7 Don’t delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated: where a man sows, there he reaps:

6:8 if he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life.

6:9 We must never get tired of doing good because if we don’t give up the struggle we shall get our harvest at the proper time.

6:10 While we have the chance, we must do good to all, and especially to our brothers in the faith.


6:11 Take good note of what I am adding in my own handwriting and in large letters.

6:12 It is only self-interest that makes them want to force circumcision on you – they want to escape persecution for the cross of Christ –

6:13 they accept circumcision but do not keep the Law themselves; they only want you to be circumcised so that they can boast of the fact.

6:14 As for me, the only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

6:15 It does not matter if a person is circumcised or not; what matters is for him to become an altogether new creature.

6:16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, who form the Israel of God.

6:17 I want no more trouble from anybody after this; the marks on my body are those of Jesus.

6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my brothers. Amen.


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