Have you ever thought about which book in the Bible is the most passionate—the most intense? Which tome of Scripture runs the gamut of emotion—more than any other—from compassion to anger, confrontation to complicity, flesh to Spirit, blessing to cursing, badgering to begging?
There are a number of books that are passionate, and several that are intense (Job comes to mind), but I believe Galatians outdoes them all.
Paul fills his letter with words evoking forceful emotion: accursed, cut off, bewitched, foolish, condemned, hypocrisy, shut up, weak, worthless, perplexed, slavery, severed, mutilation, devour, vain, consumed, and corruption, just to name a few.
At one point, Paul recounts, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (2:11). Knowing what you know of Peter, and the fiery indignation of Paul, how intense do you suppose the toe-to-toe, beard-to-beard confrontation between the Rock and the Crusader was?
And over what issue?
Simply put: Their argument was over the attempt to mix legalism and flesh with grace and the Spirit.
The crux of the issue is this: Mixing legalism with grace nullifies the work of God in Christ at the cross (Gal. 2:21). This is why Paul is so intense. This is what fueled his confrontation with Peter.
In Paul’s mind—and in the Word of God—it is intolerable to link legalism and grace, thinking that coexistence is acceptable.
Next is a very bad idea…