In Galatians, the apostle Paul makes his most passionate and direct appeal for a gospel free of ethnic or ritual exclusion. Paul's gospel is that of salvation through Christ alone - in him there is 'neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus'. By placing Paul's discussion firmly within its historical context, R. Alan Cole illuminates the potency and power of Paul's message to the Galatian church.
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“‘If, at the very moment when we say that we ourselves are justified by faith alone, we turn out to be preaching to others that ‘faith alone’ is inadequate, but that they must keep the law as well, does that not mean that trusting in Christ is only leading them into sin? for it is teaching them not to trust the law.’” (Page 123)
“No-one can be justified in two ways at once; we cannot be justified at the same time by faith in Christ and by our own efforts. It is ‘all or nothing’ as far as faith and grace are concerned.” (Page 192)
“In many ways, this is one of the central passages of Galatians. It is, indeed, a text frequently used by preachers, but it is important to realize that it is not so much an exhortation to personal sanctification as a powerful argument for the total sufficiency and efficacy of the work of Christ. It is true that it deals with the great motives for Christian service, but the central thought is the complete breach with the old ways of thought and life which is demanded by faith-committal to Christ. The ‘faith that justifies’ is total, in extent if not in quantity: it is a radical faith, in this sense.” (Page 124)
“Rather, they were Jewish Christians who were insisting on circumcision, and probably also full observance of the law of Moses, on the part of Gentile Christians, as essential for salvation.” (Page 29)
The late R. Alan Cole was lecturer in Old Testament at Moore Theological College, Sydney, and Trinity Theological College, Singapore.