The Unchanging Truth of the Gospel: An Exposition of Galatians 2:1–101 -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 011:1 (Summer 2002)
Article: The Unchanging Truth of the Gospel: An Exposition of Galatians 2:1–101
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

The Unchanging Truth of the Gospel:
An Exposition of Galatians 2:1–101

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.a


Galatians, Paul’s most explosive letter, in vigorous language sets forth Paul’s gospel of grace, and the effects of it have transformed the world. To see the truth of this we only have to think of the Roman monk, Martin Luther, the “fulfiller and destroyer of the Middle Ages.”2 That the just live by faith is the heart of the epistle, and it is this truth that opened the Gates of Paradise for the Augustinian monk.

“If ever a monk got to heaven by monkery,” exclaimed Luther, “I would have got there too; all my brothers will testify to that. For if it had gone on much longer, I would simply have martyred myself to death with vigils, prayers, reading and other work.”3 But then the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ shone into his troubled heart by means of the apostle’s words, “the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel” (cf. Rom. 1:17).

Listen to Luther’s own words:

Then I began to comprehend the “righteousness of God” through which the righteous are saved by God’s grace, namely, through faith; that the “righteousness of God” which is revealed through the Gospel

was to be understood in a passive sense in which God through mercy justifies man by faith, as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Now I felt exactly as though I had been born again, and I believed that I had entered Paradise through widely opened doors. As violently as I had formerly hated the expression “righteousness of God,” [a moment later he added,] so I was now as violently compelled to embrace the new conception of grace and, thus, for me, the expression of the Apostle really opened the Gates of Paradise.4

This truth was at stake in the Pauline churches of Asia Minor. Troubled by infiltrating Judaizers, who claimed connections with the mother church in Jerusalem and the storied apostles of Christ, and who were teaching that righteousness came by faith in Christ and the works of the Law, the churches were turning renegade from Him who had called them in the grace of Christ to a different gospel.

The facts of the good news were not at stake. That Christ had died and been buried they believed. And, further, that He had been resurrected and se...

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