Usually when Paul wrote his letter to the various churches, he would begin with the positives and praise the congregations for their faith and commend them in many areas but would later move on to deal with the issues the churches were having, whether it be disorderly worship, moral laxity and tells the congregations to press on in holiness, remaining faith to Jesus no matter what. However with the letter to the Galatians, Paul does not begin on a positive note after giving his peace and greeting and immediately asks them, Why have you abandoned the Gospel so quickly?
See Galatians 1:6-10
"6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Individuals, specifically the Judaizers had come in and mislead the Galatians. Where did they come from?
Let us read Galatians 2:11-16
"11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[f] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified."
These men were Jewish believers who followed Paul everywhere. There are various views as to what it means when they are called men from James, whether they were sent by him or left Jerusalem without his knowledge. There are various commentaries that mention who they may have been, differing in some ways:
I also recommend the following papers and judge for yourself:
https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/18847/what-role-did-james-have-in-pauls-conflict-with-peter (Warning, there is an individual who accuses Paul of lying about Peter, a very serious charge. His name was).
The message however is absolutely clear, these were men who were subverting the Gospel that Paul had given and he had to correct Peter in public for shrinking back from the Gentiles because of these men, who were claiming that a Gentile had to be saved by keeping the Mosaic Law, a controversy that had already been addressed in the book of Acts.
We have an idea of what the Judaizers are. They are not the following:
- An anti-semitic slur for individuals
- Jews who practice Torah apart from Jesus Christ.
- Jews who practice Torah for the glory of Jesus but don't force Gentiles under the Mosaic Law
I have written other papers on which laws apply to Christians and which do not so feel free to check some of those out:
Read my response to 119 Ministries on the book of Acts also:
There is nothing insulting about the term Judaizer in and of itself, it is not an insult to all Jews period, it's a term used by Christians (and even Messianic Jews like Michael L Brown I might add) used to describe individuals putting Christians under the Mosaic covenant, when the New Testament writings record that this isn't the case.