Well, Bishop Boyea’s Year of the Bible today reaches Chapter 2 of Saint Paul’s Letter to the several churches in the Roman Province of Galatia probably about 55 AD — and to help us better understand what Paul is saying to us, here’s a great explainer video by Dr. Peter Williamson of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
“In this verse Paul is stating that for both Jews and Gentiles the way a person obtains a right relationship with God, which he call being “justified,” is not by being very good at keeping the law of Moses or any other law. Rather it comes about through putting our faith in Jesus Christ,” says Dr. Williamson who holds the Adam Cardinal Maida Chair in Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart, March 15.
By the way, it’s not too late to join the 12,000 or so other who have signed up to the BIshop’s Year of the Bible. Just text BYOB – that stands for Bishop’s Year of the Bible – to 84576. Meanwhile, Dr. Williamson’s script is reproduced below:
* Dr. Peter Williamson on Galatians 2, Bishop’s Year of the Bible:
Hello I am Dr. Peter Williamson from Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Thanks for joining me as we make our way, together, through Bishop Boyea’s Year of the Bible.
I am very happy today to introduce Galatians chapter 2 to you, since this chapter contains succinct statements of two of St. Paul’s most important teachings.
At the beginning of the chapter Paul tells about visiting Jerusalem to confer with the apostles Peter (here called Cephas, the Aramaic version of his name), John, and James, about the content of the message he was preaching to the Gentiles. His goal was to preserve unity in the Church and he succeeded.
Then Paul recounts a fascinating story about a time when he felt it necessary to publically confront St. Peter, our first pope, because Peter was conducting himself in a manner that was not consistent with the gospel. Peter’s motive was to avoid offending some members of the Church who had a different opinion, but Paul insists that the truth of the gospel has to come first.
Paul’s narrative in this chapter comes to a climax in verse 16 where he states the main point of the letter that he will explain and defend in the rest of the book. Paul writes:
[We…] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ; even we [Jews] have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
In this verse Paul is stating that for both Jews and Gentiles the way a person obtains a right relationship with God, which he call being “justified,” is not by being very good at keeping the law of Moses or any other law. Rather it comes about through putting our faith in Jesus Christ. In verse 20, one of the most beautiful verses in the New Testament, Paul explains what this means in his own life:
“I have been crucified with Christ.” [Paul refers to dying and rising with Christ in baptism.] He continues: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh [meaning, in his body] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul knows that Christ loved him and voluntarily died for him. Sometimes we can forget that the basis of our relationship with God is not our keeping the rules or our good deeds, but Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus’ love and our faith in him is what justifies us.