I was thumbing through an religious books catalog this morning and happened to catch that noted scholar Gordon D. Fee also has a different outlook on the message of Galatians. Here is the excerpt from the back of Fee’s commentary on Galatians:
At issue throughout the letter is not the question, “How are people saved?” (to use contemporary language) but whether people who are already “saved” also need to practice specific aspects of the Jewish law. The concern, then, lies not in how one begins life in Christ, but whether, once begun, one must also add these aspects of the law to be completed in one’s faith in Christ.”
After having my breakthrough this last week about the nature of the “truth of the gospel” that the apostle Paul is dealing with in Galatians 2, I think Fee has summarized the Galatian problem well. The battle was not how one became a Christian because the audience was full of Jewish and Gentile Christians. Rather, the battle was about if there was more that had to be done (particularly, circumcision and maintaining clean/unclean laws) to be in the body of Christ, part of God’s house and family.
I hope I can find other scholars who have made similar insights just to know that I am not standing on a limb alone with this different view concerning the message of Galatians. Standing against the majority view is never easy, but we cannot be assured we are understanding the scriptures correctly unless we are willing to test our own beliefs and the beliefs of the majority.