The following will be of interest only to those engaged in the study of Kingdom Exclusion:
What I note in Galatians is that Paul does address a thing that is subsequent to salvation, but that which is consequential to it. What I mean is this. Paul is concerned that the Galatians have abandoned the gospel, not the pursuit of the millennial kingdom, but the gospel itself. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to another gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6). Notice, Paul is not concerned that they will fail to obtain the millennial kingdom, but that they will be consigned to futility in the pursuit of the law.
He explains that “false brethren” came in and sought to “bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4). Here, Paul warns the Galatians against submitting to circumcision. He rebukes them (chapter 3), not because they are failing to live with the end in view, but because they are abandoning the gospel that they first heard. Notice, Paul repeats this thought: “[we] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
Now, if, as some suppose, Galatians is written to Christians who might fail to obtain the kingdom, i.e., to reign with Christ in the millennial age, why is he concerned with the gospel of saved by faith only?
Paul is preeminently concerned with their salvation — he is concerned that they will return to their old state: “How can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal. 4:9).
The issue is not that the Galatians are giving up the pursuit of good works, but that they are abandoning the gospel — this language cannot be ignored — and returning to the old way. Paul encourages them to return to faith: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
From this warning comes another. That if they pursue salvation by works of the law, they will be consigned to works of the flesh. And he reminds them, rhetorically, that no one in the flesh inherits the kingdom.
(That he is referencing the millennial kingdom is to be rejected. The millennial kingdom was not revealed until nearly 50 years after this letter was written. That the Galatians would have understood Paul to be speaking of the thousand-year rule of Christ — a period not even called the Kingdom of God in Revelation — is beyond belief.)
The issue is not whether Paul is warning Christians, but what he is warning them about.
© 2008, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.