At one time, Paul stood diametrically in opposition to Peter, because Peter tried to Judaize the nations (read: non-Jews). This is what it says, literally translated, in Galatians 2:14. Judaizing means: wanting to make non-Jews to be Jews. It was against this background that in the Ecclesias of Galatia, circumcision was preached (5:3, 6:13), Jewish feasts were observed (4:10) and also, indirectly, eating kosher foods was suggested (2:12). These errors were the direct reasons for the Galatian-letter.
Also in our days, there are again a significant number of Jews, who profess Jesus to be the Messiah and who explicitly express themselves to be "zealots of the law" (Acts 21:20). Around them emerged, during recent decades and all over the world, numerous, so-called "messianic" congregations which are diligently pursuing an observance of the Mosaic law. Although the details of belief among them are diverse, the characteristic idea is that in order to live righteously (= to be justified), believers have to live in harmony with the law. This makes the Galatian-letter more contemporary than ever!
It is true that throughout the centuries of church history, this letter has been very relevant, because believers, since the beginning of Christendom, have been highly "judaized". Just think of priests, altars, sacred buildings, vestments for the clergy, blessing formulas, the reading of the ten words, Sunday worship, fasting periods, baptismal fonst, church calendars, etc. – all of this is copied from Judaism. But it is also a poor substitute of it. Sunday-worship is a replacement of Sabbath-keeping. Infant baptism came in the place of circumcision. And Easter and Pentecost replaced Passover and the Feast of Weeks. And so on. Many Jewish customs and statutes have, literally and figuratively, been ‘renamed' and Christianized.
In contrast, the Messianic movement in our day, wants to return to the original law of Moses. She is a revival of the movement, as it once was, under the direction of James (Gal.2:7.12). It rejects, for instance, ever so intensely, Sunday-observance and the church calendar, because these are departures from the law of Moses. They say: Sabbath is Sabbath and not Sunday. Period! And in it, they are undeniably correct! They represent pure judaizing.
But this is precisely what the Galatian-letter is all about…
Translation: Peter Feddema