Do not return to the beggarly elements!
Many people today are confused by the Book of Galatians. Sunday-keepers claim Galatians teaches the Sabbath was nailed to the cross. Saturday-keepers use the same texts to claim Yahuwah's feasts are no longer binding. All claim that the "weak and beggarly elements" mentioned in Galatians 4, refer to Israelite law that is no longer binding on Christians today. An understanding of the issues involved reveals something entirely different. Paul wrote primarily for a Gentile audience and Heaven greatly blessed his labors.
"The gospel for the uncircumcised [Gentiles] had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised [Israelites] was [committed] to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles) . . . ." (Galatians 2:7, 8, NKJV)
Paul's message was very straightforward:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Yahuwah, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (See Ephesians 2:8, 9.)
Satan sought to disrupt the tremendous success attending Paul's ministry among the Gentiles. He inspired Pharisees who had "converted" to Christianity to corrupt Paul's message of salvation by faith. The message brought by Christian-Pharisees was: salvation by works. The Pharisees always added extra laws to Yahuwah's law. These were known as the "traditions of the elders." Yahushua repeatedly denounced these Pharisaical additions to the divine law.
The Pharisees . . . bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders. (See Matthew 23:2 & 4.)
When the Pharisees asked Yahushua why His disciples broke the tradition of the elders, His response was:
Why do you also transgress the commandment of Yahuwah because of your tradition? (See Matthew 15:3.)
Christian-Pharisees, known as Judaizers, taught the Gentile converts that they must be circumcised in order to be saved.
"And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas . . . should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about the question . . .
"And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders . . . But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, 'It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.'
"So the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter." (Acts 15:1-6, NKJV)
Rembrandt's "Apostle Paul"
The apostles concluded that the Judaizers were wrong. Circumcision was not to be required of the Gentile converts as necessary for salvation. The Jerusalem decree stated:
"The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles . . . Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law' - to whom we gave no such commandment - it seemed good to us . . . to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well." (Acts 15:23-29, NKJV)
This should have forever settled the issue, but conflict with Judaizers remained an ongoing problem Paul was repeatedly called upon to address. This was the situation when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. Judaizers had told the Galatians that salvation by faith was not enough. In order to be saved, they must also be circumcised.
"But when the Galatians were turned from faith to works, they did not stop with the works which the Pharisees recommended and urged. Having at first been heathen, and having now been driven back from faith to works, they took up their own heathen works, as well as the works which the Pharisees recommended. Having been turned from the Spirit to the flesh, it was only to be expected that they would do this: seeing that the ways of the heathen were more satisfying to their flesh than the ways of the Pharisees could be, because these were the things to which their flesh had formerly been accustomed." ("Studies in Galatians," A. T. Jones, Review & Herald, 1900, #20.)
When Paul received the news, he was heart-sick. He knew that "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20) Paul immediately wrote the Galatians:
"A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in . . . [Yahushua] . . . for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth . . . ?
"This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 2:16, 3:1-3, NKJV)
Paul wanted to reestablish their faith in the merits of the Saviour's blood as the all-sufficient sacrifice. No deeds preformed by man can save anyone. It is in Chapter 4, that many become confused by Paul's message to the Galatians.
When you did not know Yahuwah, you served those which by nature are not gods.
But now after you have known Yahuwah, . . . how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (See Galatians 4:8-11.)
Because the message to the Galatians was for the express purpose of refuting the Judaizers, many have assumed that the "weak and beggarly elements" Paul refers to must be the law of Yahuwah, with the statutes and judgments. The statement, "You observe days and months and seasons and years," is offered as proof that the Sabbath and the annual feasts were nailed to the cross and are no longer binding. It must be remembered that the Galatians were Gentiles. The Galatians could not turn back again to something they had never believed in the first place before becoming Christians!
"Anybody who reads the Epistle to the Galatians, and thinks as he reads, must know that the Galatians were not Jews. They had been converted from heathenism. Therefore, previous to their conversion they had never had anything to do with any religious custom that was practiced by the Jews. They had nothing whatever in common with the Jews.
"Consequently, when they turned again to the 'weak and beggarly elements' to which they were willing again to be in bondage, it is evident that they were not going back to any Jewish practice. They were going back to their old heathen customs." (Glad Tidings, E. J. Waggoner, 175.)
Paul loved the divine law. He would never have disparagingly referred to Yahuwah's law as "weak and beggarly." Rather, he emphatically stated:
"The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (Romans 7:12, NKJV)
"The apostle had just stated that before they knew . . . [Yahuwah], they were in bondage unto them which by nature are no gods, and now, having been turned from . . . [Yahuwah], they turned AGAIN to those things, and AGAIN to that bondage. And . . . these elements whereunto they were formerly in bondage, and to which they were now AGAIN in bondage, were 'the elements of the world' . . . ." ("Studies in Galatians," A. T. Jones, Review & Herald, 1900, #20.)
Some have claimed that the Lunar Sabbath is wrong by pointing to Paul's admonishment of the Galatians for observing "days and months and seasons and years." However, Paul is not saying that. In Yahuwah's calendar, there are holy days, festal weeks and even sabbatical years. But there are no holy months or seasons. Paul was referring to pagan practices, thus confirming that the "weak and beggarly elements" to which the Galatians had returned, were pagan rites. Among the pagan practices to which the Galatians were returning was the observance of certain celebrations. These were the very observances which Yahuwah had specifically warned against when the Israelites first entered Canaan:
"When thou art come into the land which . . . [Yahuwah your Elohim] giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you . . . an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard . . . For all that do these things are an abomination unto . . . [Yahuwah]: and because of these abominations . . . [Yahuwah thy Elohim] doth drive them out from before thee." (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, KJV)
Galatians is a powerful affirmation that salvation is a free gift to all, by faith; not of works, lest anyone should boast.
For in Yahushua
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new
creation. And as many as walk according
to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.
(See Galatians 6:15-16.)