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The apostle Paul gets pushed around a bit by many who aren’t willing to read him carefully. Paul stood in the line of thinkers in the Bible who might be called “liberation gospelers.” We have to think of Moses and the Exodus and we have to think of Isaiah and the return from Exile. We have to think of Jesus and liberating people from all kinds of problems — and Paul is in that line. He believed deeply in freedom. So deeply he defined the gospel by the word “freedom.” We are doing a series on the meaning of the word “gospel” and we are now into Paul’s letter to the Galatians, his Magna Carta of freedom.
In Galatians 2 Paul uses the word “gospel” a few more times.
Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with
Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation
and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I
did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I
was running or had run my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was
with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a
Here we see that Paul’s gospel is not
something that involves circumcision; here we also learn that
circumcision is the (or one of the) issues for the opponents. Paul thought imposing circumcision on the gospel was to enslave the gospel.
This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks
to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5
We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the
gospel might remain with you.
creates freedom — from sin, from obligation to certain laws (like
circumcision). This freedom from such restraints Paul calls the “truth
of the gospel.”
And we see in 2:6-10 that Paul’s task is to
preach this gospel to the Gentiles. Gentile inclusion is central to
Paul’s understanding of the gospel. For Paul, the freedom-shaped gospel was expanding.