The Salutation 1:1-5
The Reason for writing 1:6-9
Paul's Conversion & Call 1:10-17
The First Visit to Jerusalem 1:18-24
The Situation in Antioch, Part 1 2:11-16
The Situation in Antioch, Part 2 2:17-21
The Appeal to Experience 3:1-5
The Faith of Abraham 3:6-9
The Curse of the Law 3:10-14
The Law & the Promise 3:15-22
Bondage & Freedom 3:23-29
From Bondage to Freedom 4:1-7
Has my Labor been in Vain? 4:8-11
An Urgent Appeal, Part 1 4:12-15
An Urgent Appeal, Part 2 4:16-20
The Allegory of Hagar & Sarah 4:21-27
The Application of the Allegory 4:28-31
Stand Fast! 5:1-6
Sowing & Reaping 6:6-10
Improper & Proper Boasting 6:11-18
1. Luther's twin theses on which his ''Liberty of A Christian" is based:
a. A Christian is a perfectly free agent, subject to none.
b. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all.
2. In the Old Testament three types of Law are found:
a. Civil Law: Those laws, which governed Israel as a nation.
b. Ceremonial Law: Those laws and ceremonies, which point to Christ. (Cf. the letter to the Hebrews)
c. Moral Law: Those laws, which pertain to all men at all times.
3. The three uses of the Moral Law in the New Testament:
The law, inscribed on man's heart, inhibits the
crude outbursts of sin.
Second use: Mirror: The written law shows us our sin.
c. Third use: Rule: The written law is a guide for the converted man for sanctified living.
4. The relation of the books of James, Romans, and Galatians.
"Fides sola justificat sed fides numquam sola est." (Faith alone
justifies but faith is never alone.)
James tells us that faith is never alone.
Romans tell us how a man is saved.
d. Galatians tells us that a man is saved by faith alone.
5. Galatians divides itself into three main parts.
Chapters 1-2: Paul's qualifications
Chapters 3-4: The true Gospel verse the Judaistic heresy
c. Chapters 5-6: Practical applications
A. The greeting - 1:1-5
B. The denunciation - 1:6-10
II. The authenticity of the Apostle of Christian liberty (from the works of the Law) and God's grace.
A. Paul's gospel was given by special revelation - 1:10-12
B. Paul's gospel was independent from the Apostles and churches in Jerusalem.
1. Evidenced by his early activities after his conversion - 1:13-17
2. Evidenced by his first visit to Jerusalem (after 3 years) - 1:18-20
3. Evidenced by the fame of his conversion and the glorification of God through his teaching - 1:21-24
4. Evidenced by his second trip to Jerusalem - 2:1-10
5. Evidenced by his rebuke of Peter at Antioch - 2:11-21
III. The doctrine of Christian liberty & of grace
A. Galatians receive the Holy Spirit by faith, not by works - 3:1-5
B. Abraham was justified by faith, not works - 3:6-9
C. Christ redeems us from the curse of the Law - 3:10-14
D. God's promise to Abraham has priority over the Law - 3:15-18
E. The Law's purpose is to bring us to faith - 3:19-25
F. Faith makes sons of God, not slaves - 3:26-4:11
G. Paul appeals to the believers to rely on faith, not on works of the Law - 4:12-20
H. Allegory -- Law & Grace cannot coexist, as the sons of Hagar and Sarah couldn't coexist - 4:21-31
IV. How to practice the life of liberty and faith
A. Stand fast in freedom - 5:1-12
B. Practice freedom by service to one another - 5:13-15
C. Walk in the Spirit, not by the flesh - 5:16-18
D. Works of the flesh - 5:19-21
E. Results of the Spirit - 5:22-26
F. The need of mutual assistance - 6:1-10
A. The contrast of motives between Paul & advocates of the Law - 6:11-17
B. Benediction - 6:18
The date of Galatians depends to a great extent on the destination of the letter. There are two main points.
A. The North Galatian Theory: The older view holds that the letter was addressed to churches located in north-central Asia Minor, where the Guals had settled when they invaded the area in the third century BC. It is held that Paul visited this area on his second missionary journey, though Acts contains no reference to such a visit. Galatians, it is maintained, was written between AD 53 and 57 from Ephesus or the Macedonian region.
B. The South Galatian Theory: According to this view, Galatians was written to churches in the southern area of the Roman province of Galatia and that Paul had founded this church on his first missionary journey. Some believe that Galatians was written from Syrian Antioch in 48-49 after Paul's first journey and before the Jerusalem council meeting (Acts 15). Others say that Galatians was written in Syrian Antioch or Corinth between 51 and 53.
2. Occasion & Purpose
Judaizers were Jewish Christians who believed, among other things, that a number of the ceremonial practices of the Old Testament were still binding on the church of the New Testament. Following Paul's successful campaign in Galatia, they insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity abide by certain Old Testament rites, especially circumcision. The Judaizers argued that Paul was not an authentic apostle and that out of a desire to make the message more appealing to Gentiles he had removed from the Gospel certain legal requirements.
Paul responds by clearly establishing his apostolic authority and thereby substantiating the Gospel he preached. By introducing additional requirements for justification (e.g. works of the law), his adversaries had perverted the gospel of grace and, unless prevented, would bring Paul's converts into the bondage of false legalism. It is by grace through faith alone that man is justified, and it is by faith alone that he is to live out his new life in the freedom of the Spirit.
The Judaizers may have been motivated by a desire to avoid persecution. Jews known as Zealots objected to Jews who fraternized with Gentiles. They wanted a pure Jewish state. See Galatians 6:12 as a possible explanation to the problem in Galatia.
The key verse to the Galatians letter is 2:16."Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Three times it tells us that no one is justified by observing the law, and three times it underscores the indispensable requirement of placing one's faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Paul, an apostle-- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- 2 and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Verse 1 - It is clear from this Epistle that false teachers had told the Galatian converts that Paul was an inferior apostle, not on a par with Peter, James, and John. Paul attacks that false idea immediately.
Paul is most emphatically denying that his apostleship is derived from and originates with mere man. It came to him only through Jesus Christ and God the Father. Jesus revealed Himself and the Word to Paul on the road to Damascus. Not even Peter or the other Apostles taught Paul about Jesus.
Paul received his apostleship equally from Jesus and the Father. The first part of this verse makes it very clear that Jesus is more than a mere man. There are two proofs of the divinity of Jesus in this first verse. Note also that the resurrection is placed prominently forward in this epistle.
Verse 2 - These brethren are not identified. Were they coworkers or members of Galatian congregations who had come to report the Galatian situation to Paul? We do not know. But the point is clear. Other Christians agree with Paul as to his office, greetings, and admonitions. Unanimity, not number, is indicated.
Verse 3 - Grace is God's unconditioned good will towards us that is decisively expressed in the saving work of Christ. (Cf. verse 6; 2:21) Peace is the state of life--peace with God (Romans 5:1) and peace with others (Eph.2:14-18)--enjoyed by those who have effectively experienced divine grace (Cf.5:22; 6:16).
Luther remarks: ''These two words, 'grace' and 'peace,' contain a summary of all of Christianity. Grace contains the forgiveness of sins, a joyful peace, and a quiet conscience. Peace is impossible unless sin has first been forgiven, for the Law accuses and terrifies the conscience on account of sin...your bones and mine will know no rest until we hear the Word of grace and cling to it firmly and faithfully. (Cf. John 14:27)
Verse 4 - Jesus gave Himself willingly. No one forced Him to die. (Cf.1 Tim.2:6; Hebr.10:14-18; Psa.103:3; Psa.51:1; Romans 6:23; John 20:22,23) The forgiveness of sins is God's greatest gift to us.
Two characteristics are noted. It is temporary for Paul calls it "present.” Secondly, it is "evil'' which denotes an active evil. Luther comments: "Paul is correct in calling it the evil world; for when it is at its best, then it is at its worst." Cf. Eph.2:1-3; Acts 2:40; Eph.5:16; 1 John 5:19.
In our time today we see the active wickedness of the world very plainly. But when Christ gave Himself for my sins, He delivered me from this present age, which is characterized by wickedness. This is Gospel and needs to be stressed.
Verse 5 - "To God alone goes all the credit!" All boasting of man about himself must go. All uncertainty about our salvation vanishes. This credit that is due the Father will remain in all eternity. That makes my salvation sure and certain. Paul says "Amen" which means, "YES!"
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by 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 him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Verse 6 - F.S. Bruce, in his commentary, tells us that in this epistle Paul has an omission of any thanksgiving. Paul is impelled by a sense of overmastering urgency to come to the point. This is the only epistle of Paul where there is no thanksgiving.
What is the point? Paul has just received news that the Galatian converts had abandoned the gospel of free grace, which he had preached. Paul at once must act and react to that news at once.
Paul also shows affection toward the Galatians. He speaks gently to them and yet in such a way that he scolds them. We will see later on that, towards their betrayers, by contrast, he is extremely violent and indignant. Paul is almost saying, "I just can't believe that,'' etc. He is utterly perplexed at the fickleness of the Galatians.
Sometimes parents and perplexed by the fickleness of their children and vice versa. Luther felt that the Galatians had been completely duped. The Gospel had been used to call the Galatians into the kingdom of God. Judaizers were now preaching a different message and the Galatians believed that message.
Verse 7 - There really is no other Gospel. The false teachers were turning the Galatians upside down. But try as they might, they could never pervert the Gospel. Man can confuse people but he cannot actually pervert the Gospel.
Verse 8 - In verse 8 it is "we have preached to you" whereas in verse 9 it is "you have received." It is unthinkable that a heavenly angel would preach a Gospel different from what Paul preached. The point that Paul is making here is that the preaching of the Gospel dare never differ from what Scripture teaches in the Gospel.
Verse 9 - False teaching always tries to lie next to the true teaching and tries to attract attention to itself as a viable alternative or perhaps even as a preferable alternative.
Question: Is Paul actually pronouncing God's curse on such a person who teaches a message contrary to the Gospel? Yes, he is! A person who teaches a false gospel is leading people to damnation rather than to eternal life. God's curse plainly rests on such a person.
The Book of Concord quotes verse 8 six times. The point that our Lutheran fathers saw in this verse is that we must obey when bishops teach rightly. We must disobey when bishops teach wrongly. Only the Word of God establishes articles of faith. Acts 5:29 and Matthew 7:15 contain parallel thoughts.
Luther comments on verse 9: “In this way the ministers of Satan invade, and insinuate themselves into the minds of men by promising that they will bring something better. They admit that those who taught the Gospel before them made a good start, but they say that this is not enough."
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
In verses 6-9 Paul showed the Galatians the danger of succumbing to a false Gospel. In this new section, Paul defends himself showing that he is not a slave of men. As he begins to account his life, he wants the Galatians to know that he received the Gospel from God Himself and not from men or other Apostles.
Verse 10 - A true preacher of the Gospel pleases God by persuading men. He pleases God by passing on to men what God wants him to preach. He persuades men to change their minds from unbelief to faith in Christ.
In this verse, Paul asks two rhetorical questions, questions which the listeners can answer themselves. The first question Paul expected them to answer: “You are persuading people, not God. You are trying to regain fallen Christians not trying to persuade God of something new."
To the second question Paul expected them to answer: "You are not endeavoring to please men." This is clear from the sentence which is contrary to fact at the end of verse 10, "If I were still pleasing men, I would not be a slave of Christ."
Verse 11 - Before Paul was a Christian, he persecuted Christians. Evidently Paul is implying here that the false teachers were maintaining that Paul was out to please men. He was teaching salvation by grace in order to please men. Verse 11 implies that the false teachers were accusing Paul of teaching a gospel that is merely of human origin. At the end of verse 10 Paul says, "I am a slave of Christ." This implies that Jesus is true God. To be a slave of Christ means to have no will of one's own.
For the first time in this Epistle, Paul addresses his readers as ''brothers." (By the way "brothers" covers both men and women.) He still considers them Christians.
Verse 12 - Paul neither received his Gospel nor was he taught by a man. He received the Gospel by revelation from Jesus Christ. Having received the Gospel, Paul passed it on to others. Luther comments: ''And this is a sure sign that we have it (the Gospel) for no one is able to teach others what he himself does not know. ''
Verses 13-14 - The revelation of Jesus Christ was a turning point in Paul's life. In verses 13-14, he describes himself and his teaching before the revelation. In verses 15 to 17, Paul makes it abundantly clear that his revelation was of God, not of man. The Galatians knew of Paul's character and conduct prior to his conversion.
Cf. Philippians 3:5-11 - Paul's former religion was based on the righteousness of the law. His conversion brought him the righteousness of Christ. Cf. verse 14 with 1 Corinthians 15:10. Paul was first among equals both under Judaism and, after he was converted, when it cam to zeal, conviction, and industry.
Verses 15-17 - This is pure grace. Paul's conversion, separation, revelation, and call proceeded only from the kind goodness and grace of God. He was chosen before he was born.
Verse 17 is a strong argument for the fact that Paul's revelation was from God and not human. The only difference between the other apostles and Paul is that they were apostles longer.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.19 I saw none of the other apostles-- only James, the Lord's brother.
20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
Verses 18-20 - In his commentary, Lenski remarks concerning Jesus' revelation to Paul: “...after fifteen brief days Paul went far away from any contact with the Twelve for so many years. This fact speaks volumes against the Judaistic falsifications."
By a simple recounting of the historic facts, Paul sets before the Galatians what they should never have allowed anyone to make them doubt: he had his Gospel directly from God and Christ, by revelation, and not at second hand, the identical Gospel of all the other apostles, of all the churches in Judea.
Paul's apostolic office was independent of that of the other apostles. The "James" mentioned here is the blood brother of the Lord, mentioned in John 7:2; Acts 15:13; I Corinthians l5:7; James 1:1 (Cf. Acts 9:26-27)
Paul is telling the Galatians that he went to Jerusalem merely to learn to know Peter. They must have had a cordial visit.
In verse 20 we have an oath. Not all oaths are forbidden. (Cf. Matthew 5:33-36). Oaths are made for the sake of those sworn to, not for the benefit of the one who takes the oath. The Judaizers considered Paul an inferior Apostle. Today many take the same view of Paul. They don't take Paul seriously. We dare not join them or sympathize with their views.
Verses 21-24 - After fifteen days in Jerusalem, Paul proceeded to Tarsus. (Cf. Acts 9:30). Between the time of Paul's flight to Tarsus and his return to Jerusalem, we have a period of 8 to 12 years. Paul's point is that he received his theology neither from Apostles nor from the laity. Furthermore, as F.S. Bruce points out, "Paul was actively engaged in preaching the gospel, without requiring or receiving any authorization to do so from the leaders of the mother-church."
What these Christians must have been hearing about Paul must have been staggering news. It implies that Paul's preaching and theology after his conversion were totally different from that before his conversion.
The Christians in Judea had a high opinion of God because of what Paul was preaching. Paul is implicitly saying to the Galatians: "Why should you have a low opinion of my preaching? Your view is contrary to that of the Judean Christians!" Thus every Lutheran preacher ought to have as his objective that his hearers glorify God. In this case, that is, that his preaching gives the hearers a high opinion of God.
1 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 Greek.4 [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.
At the second visit in Jerusalem, Paul was acknowledged as Apostle to the Gentiles and his Gospel was considered genuine inasmuch as Titus was not compelled to be circumcised.
Verses 1:18-24 shows us Paul's theological independence from the apostles. Verses 2:1-5 shows us the theological concurrence among the apostles. They taught him nothing but agreed with his totally. In his comments on these verses, Luther shows how Paul was constantly fighting with the Judaizers who were trying to ruin salvation by grace through faith alone.
"Fourteen years later," probably from the date of Paul's conversion, Paul went up again to Jerusalem. This visit is mentioned in Acts 11:30.
Barnabas had the given name of Joseph; he was a Levite from the island of Cyprus (Acts.4:36). He was Paul's companion on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-14:28). Titus was a Gentile Christian who served as Paul's delegate to Corinth and later was left in Crete to oversee the church there (cf. Titus 1:5)
Verse 2 - "Those who seemed to be leaders" - Paul recognized their authority and is referring to James, Peter, and John. Paul is not saying that he had doubts about his gospel. He simply wants to make sure that what happened in the private meeting did not destroy his gospel preaching among the Gentiles.
Verse 3 - From here to the end of verse 10 it becomes increasingly clear that Paul and the Jerusalem Apostles concurred totally concerning the preaching of the Gospel. These verses (3-10) deal with the private, not the public, meeting on this occasion. That is where the trouble arose.
The unauthorized false brethren by their works-righteous teaching were rejecting circumcision as something necessary for salvation. The Judaizers were requiring circumcision in addition to saving faith for salvation. The false teachers of each generation put forth their false requirements.
In Luther's day, it was fasting, rituals, etc. In our day, some people require special gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Judaizers appear in different ways but it's always the same old heresy. Those who stress works over grace in our day are Judaizers. They require faith as a cause. The Bible speaks of it as a means.
Verse 4 - "False brothers" are people who are still regarded as Christians but who hold to a teaching that is dangerous to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Verse 5 - Paul acted decisively immediately. He and all the others rejected the demand of circumcision for Titus.
Church practice must be in keeping with our preaching. If not, either we were wrong to begin with or we are playing the hypocrite. Paul did what he did because he had future Christians in mind.
The church father, Jerome, according to Luther, thought that the practice of circumcision was wrong. Paul is not saying that here. Circumcision is what we call "adiaphoron." It is neither commanded nor forbidden in the New Testament. But when it is made a requirement in addition to faith and grace, then it becomes wrong. Luther in his writings makes this point very clear.
6 As for those who seemed to be important-- whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance-- those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8 For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Verse 7 - The Judaizers evidently favored the Jerusalem Apostles over Paul because they said that they were with Christ longer than Paul. From Paul's refusal to have Titus circumcised, they "saw that" Paul had been sent to preach to the Gentiles.
The Judaizers evidently mistakenly attributed the necessity of circumcision to Peter, James, and John. Furthermore, they regard the three as socially higher than Paul. This amounts to party politics. When personalities and their relationships obscure the true issues, politics results!
Verse 8 - Not only did the Apostles concur but God also concurred and energized.
In verses 7-8 we have one to one, Peter and Paul. That will grow to three to two in verse 9, Peter, James, and John on the one hand and Paul and Barnabas on the other.
Verse 9 – After, and because of, seeing Paul's performance Peter, James, and John came to realize the Apostleship of Paul. Paul knows that through the grace of God he has been called to be an apostle and that he has been fitted out with the powers and capabilities requisite for this office from the same source. (Cf. Romans 1:15; 12:3; 15:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 15:10a 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:2-7; Philippians1:7) In all of Paul's writing, John is mentioned only here in this verse.
Verse 10 - We can take verse 10 in two ways. It is a request of an agreement. If it is a request, it means, "I have been (since that time) zealous." If it is agreement, it means ''I (already) have been zealous."
Whether verse 10 denotes a request or a point of an agreement, it is clear that feeding the poor is secondary to preaching the Gospel. By the way, note Acts 11:29.
11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.12 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 Peter 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 'Gentile sinners'16 know that a man is not justified by observing 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 Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Paul scolds Peter for hypocrisy. This establishes freedom from Ceremonial Law and shows that Paul is not beneath Peter. In verse 16, we have the theme of the letter—Not through works of the law but through faith in Christ are we justified. And, thereby, we live the new life in Jesus Christ.
Verse 11 - See Acts 11:27 for the occasion of Galatians 2:11-14. This incident took place after Acts 10, which tells of Peter's visit to the house of the Gentile Cornelius. Peter had thought that it was wrong for him to eat with or associate with Gentiles.
God, through a vision, instructed Peter otherwise. Peter was told that he should not consider the Gentiles unclean. Peter went to the house of Cornelius and preached the Gospel. The congregation in Jerusalem objected. They called Peter to Jerusalem to explain.
Peter informed them that God had instructed him not to consider Gentiles unclean. After Peter spoke to them, we are told at Acts 11:18: “And after they had heard this they became quiet and glorified God by saying: ‘Well, then, God has granted repentance to life also to the Gentiles.’" Peter's action in Antioch was absolutely inexcusable.
Verse 12 - Verses 12-14 explains verse 11. James did not have ulterior motives of catching Peter in wrongdoing. From Acts 15 we know that James was clear on the matter of Jewish Christians dealing with Gentile Christians. James insisted that Gentiles were not required to be circumcised in order to become Christians.
It had become Peter's custom to eat with Gentile Christians. If Peter had preferred to eat with Jewish Christians, so long as he did not attach righteousness to this, he would not have sinned. That would not have been hypocrisy. "But when they came." That's when the trouble started. Peter feared the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem although they did not cause the fear. He was his own cause of fear.
Verse 13 - Paul is implicitly saying that it was well nigh unthinkable that staunch Barnabas went along with Peter and the Jewish Christians. Note that their sin is called hypocrisy twice in this verse. Hypocrisy is the sin of acting contrary to one's own convictions. All the Jewish Christians at Antioch, without exception, became guilty of hypocrisy, sinning against their own consciences.
Verse 14 - Paul realized that the whole Jewish contingency at Antioch was offensive to the Gentile Christians. They were giving the Gentile Christians the impression that they (the Jews) were more righteous than the Gentiles. By the way, this is often the disastrous thing about the charismatic movement today. They often leave the impression that non-charismatic believers are second-grade believers.
Verse 15 - Now Paul is speaking exclusively to the Galatians. Note Luther: “Although Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were indeed children of God righteous according to the Law, and ministers, they were not declared righteous in the sight of God on this account.”
Verse 16 - The key verse. Three times it tells us that no one is justified by observing the law, and three times it underscores the indispensable requirement of placing one's faith in Jesus Christ. Paul is not denigrating the law; he is arguing that following the law by faith makes us right before God. (Cf. Romans 3:20,28; Philippians 3:8-9; Romans 3:24) Faith is a gift of God. (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9)
17 "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.19 for through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
Verse 17 - Paul had both Jewish and Gentile Christians in mind. They had an error in common: mixing works and human worthiness in with the Gospel. Paul is saying: “If what Christ did for us is not sufficient, does He then aid and abet sin?” That idea horrifies Paul. "By no means!"
Verse 18 - Paul is speaking in the person of Peter. Paul is saying of himself what actually was done by Peter. Peter had torn down the idea that Gentiles are not saved in the same way, as are the Jews.
At Antioch, Peter espoused the pharisaic works-righteousness of the Judaizers. The awful part in doing that was that he set himself up as a transgressor, a sinner not forgiven. By his hypocrisy, Peter was actually denying the most important article of faith: justification by grace through faith.
Verse 19 - Now Paul is no longer speaking in the person of Peter, but now speaks in the name of all Christians. By taking the Law and its burden upon Himself, Christ redeemed all men.
Paul says that life comes through death. Works-righteousness people remain dead to God. Only the believer in Christ is alive from God's point of view. He is alive because he is declared righteous in Jesus Christ. Luther reminds us: "Since I am in Him (Jesus) no evil can harm me!" How true!
Verse 20 - This is the "sum and marrow of Christianity" as one commentator puts it. The issue in this verse is whether or not the Law of God is a life-principle. The Law is good and it is necessary, but it is never a basis for justification before God. That comes only from Christ through the Gospel.
Notice that, through the use of verbs and pronouns, Paul, in the name of all Christians, mentions himself at least seven times in this verse! It is done in such a way that all credit, honor, and glory go to Jesus for justifying and sanctifying the Christian. Luther reminds us: "Therefore read these words "me" and "for me" with great emphasis, and accustom yourself to accepting this "me" with a sure faith and applying it to yourself. Do not doubt that you belong to the number of those who speak this "me."
Verse 21 - This last verse is a summary of chapters one and two of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Paul had evidently been accused of doing away with the grace of God. "Grace of God" here means "the saving grace of God."
This little verse brings out so many things. It warns against all works-righteousness and selfishness. It shows the "forensic" nature of the atoning work and righteousness of Christ. It shows the disastrous consequences of any and all who do not teach the "vicarious" atonement to the exclusion of all human works and worthiness.
1. What is the meaning of the word "law" in verse 19?
2. When Paul says "I am crucified with Christ'' is he speaking of an example or of an actual crucifixion?
3. Who is the "I'' in "yet not I?"
4. Explain the phrase, "Christ lives in me."
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing-- if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
That the Holy Spirit comes through the preaching of the Gospel is proof that this preaching is of God.
Verse 1 - This one verse can speak of many things.
a) The subtle work of Satan;
b) The fickleness of human nature;
c) The deadliness of religious enthusiasm;
d) The only cure: the pure teaching of justification by faith.
Paul is saying here if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ is a minister of sin and died to no purpose. Those who require an additional experience to prove that a person is a Christian fail to see the pure work of Jesus.
Verse 2 - The Law always demands nothing but works. The Gospel always bestows nothing but gifts. The Law should never be used for justification. It should always be used to bring people to knowledge of their sin and as a guide to correct living after they have repented. Note also the difference in thrust between verses 2 and 5. The first denotes how man receives. The second stresses who bestowed it.
Verse 3 - Natural man thinks his only struggle is with man. The spiritual man knows his struggle is with Satan whose primary objective is to blind him to justification by faith. Whoever says that he has a higher gift than justification by faith is the devil's agent. To abandon justification by faith means to become fleshly, to rely on one's own powers, to say: "Look what I am!"
Verse 4 - In verse 1 Paul spoke quite harshly. Here he mellows and speaks more gently. To know when to be harsh and when to speak softly is, indeed, a great gift! Learn it from Jesus, Paul, and others.
Verse 5 - "In view of what's been said" both sums up verses 1-4 and for the third time the idea of verses 2 and 3 is repeated for us.
Four translations are possible in this verse:
a) Spiritual powers IN you;
b) Spiritual powers AMONG you;
c) Miracles IN you;
d) Miracles AMONG you.
No matter which you choose, it is only by faith in the Word.
To summarize this section: Verse 1 sets the stage—Christ crucified. Verses 2-5 ask again and again: "Did you receive this message by your own endeavor or was it a gift of God through the means in which you were passive, not active?" Underlying this section we have: Scripture alone, Grace alone, Faith alone.
1. How does Satan bewitch elements of the visible church today?
2. Why should we read the Acts of the Apostles today?
6 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The following arguments from Scripture prove that we are justified by faith and not by works:
1. Verses 6-7: An argument from Scripture for the correct understanding of Paul's teaching.
2. Verses 8-9: Another argument from Scripture. Through Abraham all nations are blessed by faith.
Verse 6 - In commenting on this verse, we find Luther's most famous phrase: "A Christian man is righteous and a sinner at the same time." Or the Latin "Simul justus et peccator."
The reference to Genesis 15:6, "Abraham believed God,'' means "Abraham believed what God said." ''It was reckoned" means, ‘‘what he believed was reckoned."
Romans 4:1-12 tells us that Abraham was still a Gentile when he was justified. Therefore, justification does not depend on circumcision. Circumcision was a sign and seal of justification by faith. From 3:6 to 4:31 Paul appeals to Old Testament Scripture to prove that also in the Old Covenant justification was only by faith.
Verse 7 - In this section Luther quotes John 8:56 in answer to those who say that the faith of Abraham was about something physical and therefore misapplied by Paul. Paul and Jesus are teaching the very same thing about the relationship of Abraham and the believer today.
Verse 8 - In Christ God blessed, God justified, all nations. The quotation here is a conflation of Genesis 12:3 and 18:8. “That the nations are blessed” means that righteousness is granted to them; that they are reckoned as righteous, which does not happen except through the Gospel. Abraham was not justified in any other way than by hearing the Word of promise, of blessing, and of grace.
This passage from the Old Testament teaches the same thing as does Romans 5:19; and 2 Corinthians 5:19, universal justification, universal reconciliation of the whole world through Christ's atonement. Even before God made His Covenant with His people, universal redemption in Christ was promised.
Verse 9 - Verse 7 grows out of verse 6, and verse 9 grows out of verse 8. We have two thoughts, both based on Scripture, and both thoughts are true and the same in both Testaments.
Abraham lived 4,000 years ago. Paul wrote to the Galatians almost 2,000 years ago. Abraham, the Galatians, and we have one and the same justifying faith in Jesus Christ. No wonder he is called "the father of us all" in Romans 4:16
Two thoughts from Luther: Luther distinguishes the Abraham of works and the Abraham of faith. Correct. Once Scripture speaks of Abraham, the worker, and then again of Abraham, the believer. The two must be distinguished in sanctification and justification.
Secondly, Luther here mentions that Paul is here speaking a purely spiritual blessing, the only blessing, not about a physical blessing.
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Paul continues with his argument for the correct understanding of justification coming from faith and not of works.
1. Verse 10 - There is no third possibility.
2. Verses 11-12 - The law demands doing, but life comes by faith. Therefore it must be by faith.
3. Verses 13-14 - The true blessings come only through the Vicarious Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Verse 10 - In verse 10 we have an example of "an argument from the opposite point of view." It is the opposite of verse 9.
Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26 with a slight change. Note that Paul changes "the words'' to ''those things written in the Book." In the Old Testament these words were spoken to believers who were laboring under merit, these words are the second use of the Law.
Verse 11 - Paul shows what the Old Testament really teaches. There are two ways to get eternal life: one, life is EARNED by complete doing; again life is given to us. The trouble with the former is that it is closed to the sinner. Before he can begin any doing, his sin bars the way to life by any use of law.
Verse 12 - In verses 12 and 13 the word ''law'' means "the Mosaic Law.” In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:15 was used as a third use of the Law. Here in Galatians it is a second use of the Law.
At this point we have yet another famous Luther quote: ''Faith always justifies and makes alive; and yet it does not remain alone, that is, idle." Faith alone justifies but faith is never alone. The Christian must always say to himself: "Believe the Gospel. Do the Law." The Gospel requires no doing. The Law requires nothing but doing.
Verse 13 - If you ever become confused as to what the Gospel is, read Luther on this verse. He has fifteen wonderful pages of commentary. He says in part: "If the sins of the entire world are on that one man, Jesus Christ, then they are not on the world. But if they are not on Him, then they still are on the world." And again, “As I often warn, therefore, the doctrine of justification must be learned diligently. For in it are included all the other doctrines of our faith and if it is sound, all the others are sound as well..."
The Jewish eye saw Jesus on the cross as an accursed object. (Cf. Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; 1 Peter 2:24) Plautus and Terrence, the writers of Roman Comedy, recorded everyday Roman speech. In their comedies, we hear people especially slaves, say to each other: ''I in crucem" which means, "Go to the cross" which is similar to "Go to hell!" Jesus turned the symbol of the curse into the symbol of the blessing of Abraham for all. This truly is the “Vicarious Atonement.”
Verse 14 - "The blessing of Abraham" is a synonym for ''the Gospel'' and for the promise of the Holy Spirit. The blessings of Abraham became effective because of Christ Jesus. Faith merely apprehends what is already accomplished.
15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
3:15-18 - God's Covenant with Abraham involves a promise, which pointed to Christ. The law, which came later, cannot annul this Covenant.
3:19-22 The Law, given through a mediator, could only show sin for what it is. Therefore it cannot bestow righteousness and life.
Verse 15 - Here we see a proper distinction between the Law and Gospel. The Law cannot save because it is inferior:
a) Given at a later date, verses 15-18;
b) Is of a temporary nature, verse 19;
c) Requires a mediator, verse 19;
d) Cannot give life, verse 21;
e) Merely imprisons, verse 22.
Law and Gospel are not opposed to each other. Both are of God. Both are good. Both have the same final objective. But they differ radically in function or immediate objective. The proper distinction between Law and Gospel is distinctively Lutheran. All theology is distorted if Law is assigned the wrong function. Law and Gospel are paradoxical but not contradictory.
Verse 16 - Verse 16 is explanatory to the application of the lesser to greater argument, which reaches its conclusion in verse 17. The promises given to Abraham are at the same time given to Christ. Christ is not only the content of the promise, but also the one to receive it. The promise refers to Abraham in this that he was the first to receive it, and refers to Christ in this that it was fulfilled in Him. Christ is the actual goal of the promise.
The quotation in verse 16 is based on Genesis 22:18; 13:15; and 17:8
Verse 17 - The lesser to greater argument reaches its climax. If a mere human will is inviolable, how much more inviolable is God's covenant and testament? The Law is by no means a saving addition to the Gospel and it in no way negates or annuls what the promise said. God confirmed His promise with an oath (Hebrews 6:13-18). To call this oath perjury is monstrous.
Verse 18 - Here we have a fact condition. The reader is either to affirm or deny what's stated in the verse. It makes him think. Here he must deny what is stated.
Verse 19 - Paul asks: "Why, then, was the Law given?" This is plainly the Mosaic Law. Here it is the Mosaic Law that underwent a change (ceremonies fulfilled) when Christ came. The point here is that the Law was ordered through angels with Moses as mediator. But for the promise, God spoke directly to Abraham. According to verse 19, the Law magnifies sin. It stirs up transgressions. Cf. Romans 5:30; 7:5; 7:8; 7:15
Verse 20 - This verse has been called "a cross of the interpreters" because there have been so many explanations! A mediator involves two, Moses and God, according to verse 19. The promise was given in the first instance to Christ, verse 16, who is a man but more than a mere man. He is also God and God is one in essence. Therefore, the promise is superior to the law. In verse 16, Jesus' humanity is stressed. In verse 20, His divinity is stressed. Already when God spoke directly to Abraham there was no mediator. Christ spoke to Abraham. The axiom in verse 20 simply shows the superiority of the Gospel over Law.
Verse 21 - As in verse 20, another question about the law. Paul answers his own question.
Verse 22 - Verse 22 makes clear all the grief, toil, and trouble in the world. It is a very sober thought, but it also follows with a more glorious thought.
Both are true. 22a is true since man fell into sin. 22b is true since God first promised the Savior at Genesis 3:15
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Before Christ came, man was imprisoned. It was burdensome. It all pointed forward to Christ who would bring freedom.
It should not be overlooked that this paragraph is really a continuation of the thought begun in verse 19. The thought in these verses is the same, though we have a change in metaphor. Paul is repeating himself on the purpose of the Law. He is making an emphatic point. (Note: Verses 23-29 are used as the Epistle lesson for New Year's Day.)
The following is a summary of what we have seen in chapter three:
VERSES 1-5: The appeal to experience
VERSES 6-9: An argument from Scripture, blessed with believing Abraham
VERSES 10-14: A second argument from Scripture - The Law brings a curse, the Gospel a blessing
VERSES 15-22: The Covenant was given 430 years before the Law was given. The Law only enslaves and shows sin.
VERSES 23-29: The Law is a bondsman; faith brings freedom.
In this final section, verse 25 is a ''hinge" verse. If it is taken with verses 23 and 24, these three verses speak about the Jews under the Law and verses 26-29 speaks about Jews and Gentiles under grace. But if verse 25 is taken with verses 26-29, then verses 23-24 speak about bondage and verses 25-29 speak of freedom.
Some points drawn by Luther from this section:
1. "God wounds in order to heal; He kills in order to make alive."
2. "The Gospel makes us free in our conscience. That's where Christian freedom stops. It stops in our conscience. What happened to the Old covenant Jews historically happens to the Christian many times each day theologically. Whenever the Law accuses the Christian, the Gospel rushes into free him."
3. What makes a person a child of God? Faith in Jesus Christ is the answer. The believer is in Christ and Christ is in him. Cf. John 15:5
4. In Romans 13:14, the metaphor of putting on Christ denotes sanctification. Children of God are in Christ, have put on Christ, are one in Christ, are heirs of Christ. They are completely free in their conscience from sin, death, the devil, and hell.
5. Galatians 3:28 does not grant civil rights or liberties. It neither aids nor forbids slavery, stations among people, etc. It simply makes clear that God is not a respecter of persons, that He has justified all people alike in Christ Jesus. The freedom of Galatians 3:28 stops in the conscience.
6. A silent contrast runs through all these blessed statements: the Mosaic Law does NOT make sons of God, does NOT make us Abraham's seed, and does NOT constitute us heirs. It is the promise alone.
1 What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Under the law, people were in bondage. Christ fulfilled the law and granted freedom. Christians stand in this freedom as the Holy Spirit testifies.
In 3:22-29 Paul spoke of the imprisonment to inheritance. In 4:1-7 he speaks of from slavery to inheritance. What do they have in common? Both are from bondage to freedom.
The Jewish authorities battled Jesus and finally wanted to kill him because they were works-righteous. We are tempted to think, when we read Luke 18:9-14, that we ought to thank God because we are not like that self-righteous Pharisee. But, by so doing, we are just like him and throw ourselves back under the bondage of the Law. The Bible never calls the Law an evil thing. It is holy and just and good. God is its Author. The final objective of both Law and Gospel is the salvation of mankind. But, Law and Gospel are totally different in function. The Law cannot save. It can only condemn. The Gospel saves. It never condemns. The Gospel says: "Done" The Law says: "Do."
VERSES 1-7 comprise the final paragraph in this section. Here the Scriptural argument comes to an end.
Verse 2 - In verses 1-2 we have illustration. In verses 3-5 we have application. In verses 6-7 we have further application. Paul moves from objective to subjective justification—from the salvation of the world to the salvation of an individual Christian believer. All men are redeemed for individual appropriation.
Verse 5 - There is a close relationship between 3:10-14 and 4:1-7. Read the two side by side and note how the vicarious, universal atonement is so prominent in both passages. Why did Christ redeem us from the curse of the Law? "In order that Abraham's blessing (the Gospel) in Christ Jesus might come to the nations (3:14)." Why did God send His Son into the world? ''In order that He might redeem those under the Law (the cursed, all men) 4:5." This is clearly objective justification.
In 3:14 it reads, ''In order that we might receive the promised Holy Spirit (the Gospel) by faith." In 4:5 we read: "In order that we might receive the adoption of sons." This is what we call subjective justification.
In 4:1-7 Paul is speaking about passing from the bondage under the Law to the freedom under the Gospel. Before, in 3:10-14, Paul was discussing the awful danger of salvation by works.
Verse 6 - The Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father but also from the Son. (Cf. The Nicene Creed). The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit into the heart of the repentant sinner to assure that sinner of forgiveness of sins. When that happens, that sinner prays: ''Abba Father." Redemption from condemnation of the law, reception of Sonship, and the gift of the Spirit, are a unit...we never separate them. They stand or fall together.
Verse 7 - This verse concludes everything that has been said since Galatians 3:6 where Paul began his discussion of the faith of Abraham. In all things we are justified by faith for Jesus' sake. Luther reminds us: "We come to these eternal goods--the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, the glory of the resurrection, and eternal life--not actively but passively. Nothing whatever interferes here; faith alone takes hold of the offered promise."
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God-- or rather are known by God-- how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
It would be retrogression and disastrous if the Galatians were to succumb to the Judaizers.
Luther says: "From here until the end of the epistle Paul will not argue very much but will set forth commandments about morality." Chapters 4-5 have been called the practical or parental section.
Verse 8 - Luther says: "Whoever falls from the doctrine of justification is ignorant of God and is an idolater." Man is either God's slave (Romans 6:18-23) or an idol's slave (Galatians 4:8). There is no third possibility. In this verse, Paul is saying that idols are not gods so far as their nature is concerned, but deluded man makes gods of them!
Verse 9 - Says Luther on this verse: "Falling away from the grace of God is the same as losing all knowledge of the truth!"
Verse 10 - This verse proves that the Galatians had gone far beyond circumcision. It seems they were espousing the entire ceremonial law. When people espouse false doctrine and practice, they very often become more enthusiastic then they were before.
Verse 11 - We should remember that Paul is not condemning the use of rites or ceremonies. He is condemning attaching righteousness to ceremonies or rites. The article of justification by faith is a strong defense. Where it is not taught and believed one can expect delusion. The only person who is not kidding himself is he who believes in John 14:6.
God commanded the ceremonies in the Old Testament as shadows of the Christ who was to come. But when those ceremonies were misused after He had come, disaster, delusion, and condemnation resulted.
1. What form did the Galatians' idolatry take?
2. How did the idolatry of Gentile and Jew differ?
3. What is meant by the observance of days, months, etc.?
12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Paul now speaks of the-contrast between former loyalty and their present attitude.
Notice what Paul calls the Galatians. (Cf. 1:11; 3:15; 4:28,31).
Human nature can be quite fickle. People have short memories. False doctrine can quickly change devotion to antipathy. Learn soon that the ministry can be toilsome work is what Luther suggested as well as others! Consider the life of the Savior. Because of difference in doctrine, the leaders hated Him though He continued to love them.
A pastor need not be handsome and outgoing to be effective. All ugly ducklings in the ministry should remember that. A pastor may have an affliction that truly puts his hearers to the test of being offended. But, under the Lord's blessing, rather than reject him the hearers receive him as an angel of the Lord, yea, as Christ Himself.
Paul is using a strong metaphor (verse 15) to show how much the Galatian Christians loved him despite his ''bodily infirmity." Evidently at that time there was something repulsive in Paul's appearance.
Note Matthew 10:40 - The attitude of the Galatian Christians toward Paul indicates the proper attitude toward the Lord Himself. (Cf. John 13:20; Luke 10:16)
Despite the difficulties in this passage, the message is so clear. Paul shows that the difference in the Galatians' attitude from what it was when they first heard him, in spite of his offensive condition, is appalling. A very serious situation indeed!
1. Why the sudden change in tone at this point?
2. How are the words, ‘‘because as I am," etc. to be understood?
3. How does "this weakness of the flesh in the pious" appear to human reason?
16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them.18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Verse 16 - This verse shows the utter perversity of fallen nature, not the sharp contrast between verses 15 and 16. God proves faithful to His people even though they prove unfaithful. The Christian must sometimes bear the scorn not only of false teachers but also of misled Christians. We are to be known not only in our serving of others but also in bearing their hatred.
Verse 17 - Paul loved the Galatian Christians with a divine jealousy. The highest good, which a person can possibly seek for others, is their justification by faith before God. That is what “courting” other people in this section means.
Verse 18 - Paul in 18b is implying that the Galatian Christians have become two-faced. (Cf. John 1:2)
Verse 20 - The New English Bible reads: "I am at my wits' end about you." When people wander from faith in Christ, they become a mystery to other Christians. Their attitude is hard to bear. True Christian teachers of the Gospel make men slaves of Christ, i.e., completely free. False preachers of the world make men slaves of themselves, i.e., total slaves.
1. What is the possible objection that Paul is anticipating?
2. In what sense is every pastor a parent of his hearers?
3. In what does Christ being formed in man consist?
21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."
The allegory and its application (verses 21-31) are the final Scriptural argument in Galatians. At this point we need to briefly discuss three illustrative figures of speech in the New Testament.
1. Type/anti-type: A miniature followed by a major. Both are Scriptural. One is
Prophetic; the other, a fulfillment. Examples: The Paschal Lamb and Melchizedek. The major always governs the minor. (Cf. Hebrews 7:3)
2. Allegory: On the basis of a historical narrative, the same nature in two things is compared. Allegory is Scriptural but is not prophetic.
3. Parable and metaphor: Illustrates with a point of comparison. Neither is necessarily historical. The story of Jonah is not a parable because it is definitely true history, but the so-called parable of the Good Samaritan is parabolic. Its historicity is beside the point.
Man cannot fulfill God's promises. Only God can do that. For man, both promise and fulfillment are received by believing, not by achieving. The point of saying that salvation is by faith is that God, in Christ, did it all. If a man claims to be saved by his own merits, he is implying that he himself fulfills the promises of God. Apart from promise there is no inheritance.
Verse 21 - In this verse, Paul is practically saying, "You misunderstood the Old Testament."
Verse 23 - It has been suggested that this phrase be translated "he took matters into his own hands." The promise alone caused the conception and birth of Isaac. The main thought here is the same as in 3:10-4:7 but under a different figure. It is the last and final argument for salvation by faith alone.
Verse 26 - The ''above'' Jerusalem is the present Jerusalem, which originates in heaven. This represents the Gospel way of salvation. The justification of a sinner is always from above. Even here Paul still considered the Galatians as Christians.
Verse 27 - The allegory is extended with a quotation from Isaiah 54:1 The barren woman will have more children than the woman who has a husband. This is figurative for the spiritual wealth of the true believer though in his own estimation he is poor, wretched and blind. Note that Isaiah 54:1ff. follows immediately after the great passage on the Suffering Servant.
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
From the Old Testament it is clear that the Law is inferior to the promise and that we are free from the Law.
Verse 28 - The point of this verse is that they have been regenerated through the means of grace. The birth is wholly by grace. (Cf. John 1:13)
Verse 29 - The point of verse 29 in this context is that the Judaizers were persecuting the believers among the Galatians. The somber truth underlying verse 29 is the presence of God's enemies among the Christians.
Paul calls this the persecution of him that was begotten after the Spirit by him that was begotten after the flesh and discerns in this a prediction of the persecution, which the Church of those who are born after the spirit of faith endures from those who are in bondage to the righteousness of the Law.
This verse reminds us that the work-righteous persecutes the truly righteous in all generations of Biblical and Church history. It began with Cain and will last until Judgment Day. (Cf. TLH #528 verse 11) Romans 8:37 is a great comfort. On persecution: Cf. John 15:19; 16:2; Acts.16:20; Acts 24:5; Luke 12:49ff.
Verse 30 - This verse is still part of the allegory. In application it is saying that law and grace cannot live together in the same camp. It is not a proof passage for church discipline. (Cf. John 8:35)
Originally these words were the words of Sarah. Paul calls them the words of Scripture, which means plainly that it is a Word of God. Ishmael received no part of the inheritance at all. Likewise, God will exclude the persecutors from the inheritance. The inheritance is solely by promise. (Cf.1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Romans 9:1-13; 2 Corinthians 1:20)
Verse 31 - This verse is addressed not only to Galatian Christians but also to all Christians of all generations. At this point Paul is introducing the subject of Christian freedom. In this life, we will be persecuted for believing, confessing, and teaching the article of justification by grace through faith.
Furthermore, our flesh fears and despises controversy and persecution, but they are bound to come. When they do come, we must cling to our Christian liberty and our freedom from sin, death, and the power of the devil. All this solely because of what Jesus did for us.
1. Does the offense given the non-spiritual man have any relevance today?
2. Why must the doctrine of justification be learned diligently?
3. For what two reasons did Ishmael make fun of Isaac?
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The importance of disavowing the Judaizers and clinging to Christian Freedom: Now we begin the practical section of this epistle. The section begins at 5:1 and runs to the end of verse 12 in this chapter. Chapters 5 and 6 afford a test as to whether a person has abandoned the teaching of the Judaizers or their modern equivalent. Note that faith (verse 6), hope (verse 5), and love (verse 6) are mentioned in this section. Here Paul is not opposing circumcision or any other rite but is opposing work-righteousness.
For the first time in this epistle, in verses 2 and 3, it is indicated that the Christians of Galatia were being urged to be circumcised for conscience reasons. Though circumcision was the real problem, Paul artfully waited until he had carefully explained the article of justification by faith before speaking to them directly about their problem. That's real counseling.
Verse 1 - The Gospel gives us spiritual freedom from sin, death, and the devil. The Law demands that we do and act. It obligates. Never forget this distinction. The Gospel does not free me to do. The Gospel stops in my conscience. From there on it's obligation.
The yoke and slavery explain each other. Slavery means to have no will of one's own, to be trapped by the will of someone or something else. Verse la gives us a summary of justification. Verses 1b-4 are a warning against work-righteousness. In verse 1a we have an instance of what is called a repetition of the same word stem within a sentence.
Verse 2 - The first five works make Paul's apostolic authority plain. In verse 3 Paul will speak as God's witness. Now follows a future more vivid condition, which denotes a logical consequence yet lying in the future.
The grace of God in the Gospel is not irresistible. God does not force anyone to become a believer. Christ can be of no benefit to the person who insists on works-righteousness. Paul is not condemning the practice of circumcision. He is condemning its misuse. In verses 2 and 4 mutually exclusive ideas are set side by side.
Verse 3 - As noted before, Paul speaks as God's witness. In verse 2 Paul warned against an attitude that excludes Christ. In this verse he warns that life becomes burdensome slavery if we espouse works-righteousness.
Verse 4 - To prefer works-righteousness to saving faith results in falling from grace.
Verse 5 - Verse 5 is a summary statement about heaven, the great goal of justification by faith. Verse 6 is a summary statement about the Christian's life this side of heaven. Our hoping, waiting, and believing all rule out works-righteousness.
Verse 6 - In the New Testament, since Christ has abrogated the ceremonial law, circumcision has lost all relevance to righteousness and religion. It is often practiced now for hygienic reasons but is no longer a matter of faith.
Bruce reminds us: ''Justification by faith and life in the Spirit are like two sides of one coin; neither is present without the other."
The word ''love'' in this verse anticipates the ideas in verses 14 and 22.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Verse 7 - In verses 7-9, we have reproach; in verses 10-11, defense; and in 12, a curse on the seducers. Strong language to be sure! The truth of the Gospel is the persuasion of God who calls us. It won't permit the least leaven of works-righteousness. It comes through the preaching of the cross, which causes opposition.
Verse 8 - Most translations of the New Testament render the first two words with "this persuasion." In the Gospels, it can be the effective call or the thwarted call. God constantly calls the Christian. The word of God eliminates all ''decisions'' to believe in God.
Verse 9 - This verse is an axiom. It is understood readily wherever yeast and dough are known and used. It takes very little yeast to permeate a lump of dough in its entirety. The point is the all-pervasiveness. It occurs both when dough is leavened and when a bit of false doctrine gets hold of a person.
The whole lump means the Galatians, with all of the doctrine they had before, believed. The little leaven refers to doctrine, not to persons. He is not placing the one doctrinal system over against another, but is issuing the warning: resist the beginnings!
Says Luther: ''A little yeast leavens the whole lump. In philosophy a tiny error in the beginning is very great in the end. Thus in theology a tiny error overthrows the whole teaching."
Verse 10 - In verses 10-11 Paul states his defense. The meaning may be that Paul is not quite sure of the identity of the agitators, or of the authority behind them. Or it may be that he suspects the identity of that authority, but prefers to name no names.
Verse 11 - Paul proves that the accusations of the Judaizers against him are illogical. "My fellow Christians, if I'm still preaching that people have to be circumcised, why am I still persecuted?" False doctrine often leads to illogical thinking.
When false doctrine attempts to make inroads, examine the false doctrine very carefully. Expose its illogic. It is devastating.
What does "to preach circumcision" mean? It does not denote actual preaching but preaching by acts. To preach circumcision means to preach it as a way of salvation. The Judaizers had attacked Paul's practice and had interpreted it wrongly. On occasion he allowed circumcision (Cf. Acts 16:3), but on occasion Paul forbade it. (Cf. Gal.2:3) Paul treated it as an adiaphoron, not as a requirement of the Gospel.
Verse 12 - Paul's sharp words here show his utter contempt for those whom would lead the Galatian Christians away from the chief article of faith.
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Love, the fulfilling of the law, not strife, must reign among Christians if they are to win the day.
Verse 13 - The believer constantly faces two dangers:
a) Using his own works to justify himself before
God (verses 2-12)
b) Misusing his Christian liberty to live in sin.
Verse 13 prohibits a conscious misuse of our Christian liberty and commands a conscious selfless service toward others, the only antidote to misusing liberty for license.
The Gospel frees me from sin, death, and the devil. The Law obligates me to love my neighbor.
Verse 14 - Verse 14 explains verse 13. (Cf. Leviticus 19:18 and Romans 13:8-10) Love is an obligation, not a freedom.
Verse 15 - Paul is not saying that the Galatians are biting and devouring each other. They are to examine themselves. If they are doing these things, only one thing can result: mutual destruction. No one ever wins a battle like this. It will be one or the other. When the vacuum is not filled with deeds of love, mutual destruction takes over.
Verse 16 - God created human nature sinless and holy but it became thoroughly sinful in the fall. Verse 16 is saying that, if we really take justification seriously, we will not fulfill sinful desires. To be tempted is not wrong, but to yield is wrong.
Verse 17 - The Christian ought to be aware of his own sinfulness. That will put him into a good position when dealing with others. Paul is saying that the result of this conflict within the Christian is that you cannot do the things that you wish to do.
Paul is not saying that the Christian does not do good works. Nor is he saying that it is all right to live in sin. He is saying that the sinful flesh is a burden, a hindrance, to the Christian. It is because of the conflict within the Christian that the Christian life is work.
Verse 18 - Verse 17 ended on a somber note. The reader needs comfort at this point. Despite the burden of the flesh, which constantly hampers the Christian, the Christian is to be comforted. Here we have another fact or particular condition. The reader or hearer is to examine himself with the word, which reads: "But if you are led by the Spirit."
How does the Spirit lead the Christian? By his faith in Jesus Christ. To be led by the Spirit means to be free from the guilt of sin, the power of death and the devil. God is not angry with the believer, with the one who is being led by the Spirit.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The God-pleasing life comes through the Holy Spirit, who opposes the flesh and its works and grants a life of true love.
Verse 19 - Says Luther: "A saint is one who has been baptized and who believes in Christ. Such a saint will also abstain from the desires of the flesh by means of the faith through which he is justified and through which his sin, past and present are forgiven; but he is not completely cleansed of them. For the desires of the flesh are still against the Spirit. This uncleanness remains in him to keep him humble, so that in his humility the grace and blessing of Christ taste sweet to him."
Verse 20 - The use of synonyms brings out two points:
1) The viciousness of the flesh
2) The danger of division, caused by the flesh, even among Christians
Verse 21 - Here is a good definition of a hypocrite. He is one who boasts about the Gospel, faith, and the Spirit but meanwhile goes on smugly performing the works of the flesh. Bruce reminds us: "While good deeds in themselves do not admit one to the kingdom, evil deeds of the type mentioned certainly exclude one."
Verse 22 - Says Luther: "Faithfulness means that one man keeps faith with another in the matters that pertain to this present life." Bruce says: ''Because God is faithful, because he can be relied upon, his people are to be faithful too, and the Spirit enables them to be so."
Verse 23 - There is the added thought that no one would think of enacting a law against such fruits of the Spirit. They are spontaneous fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 24 - Christians look back to Jesus' crucifixion for forgiveness and strength to fight the flesh along with its passions and desires. The words "passions and desires'' denote the intensity of the activities of the flesh. Christians are severely tempted by desires of materialism, earthly fame, sex, etc.
Verse 25 - This verse denotes source and direction. The new man needs constant evangelical nudging. The spontaneity does not come mechanically but through the Spirit. And He comes only through the Word.
Verse 26 - Paul here wants us to quit doing what one is already doing. Everybody is vainglorious, seeking his own glory. This must not be. By means of these actions, people prove that they are vainglorious. They do these things to each other. This implies that all are guilty, guilty of provoking each other and envying one another. Luther also has noted that though this is a vice of all men; this sin is at its worst in false teachers. Luther had a profound knowledge of the sinfulness of human nature.
1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.
If the Spirit leads us, we won't lord it over our brethren but bear their weaknesses.
Verses 1-5 are a test to determine whether we are walking in the Spirit. A spiritual person tries to restore the fellow Christian who is overcome temporarily by the lusts of the flesh. Furthermore, this spiritual person lives a responsible life of repentance and faith toward God.
Two thoughts underlie these five verses: The total sinfulness of human nature and the total adequacy of the Gospel. Here Paul admonishes us to do two things, which are natural to the Spirit and to the mutual brotherly relationship: (1) Restore the weak, (2) Look to yourselves.
This becomes a mutual bearing of burdens. This is what Paul calls fulfilling the "law of Christ."
There is no Gospel in these verses. Here all is sanctification and constant repentance. In these verses the individual tests his view of justification.
Verse 2 - ''The law of Christ is the law of love..." In the family many things happen that displeases the householder. But, if we are able to bear and overlook our own faults and sins, which we commit in such great numbers every day, let us bear those of others as well.
Verse 3 - A Christian who assumes a superior attitude toward fellow Christians is totally deluded and becomes ineffective so far as truly loving his fellow Christians is concerned.
Verse 4 - On this boasting, compare Matthew 25:20 and 22. The individual joyfully presents the Lord with the gain that His grace has wrought (also 1 Corinthians 15:9-10). Paul could forthrightly say that he worked harder than all the rest and yet it was not he but the grace of God, that accomplished it.
Verse 5 - Verses 4-5 are the very antithesis of Luke 18:9-12. In verse 2, Paul speaks of a forgiving spirit. In verse 5, he speaks of a responsible spirit. In verse 2, it's "each other's burdens." In verse 5, it’s "his own load." The drift of verses 4-5 is: If the Christian examines himself, he finds so many sins and shortcomings that all boasting toward self ceases. He responsibly bears his burden of confession to God and a life in repentance at all times.
In summary: Verses 1-5 say that there is a sense in which we bear each other’s burdens, but there is also a sense in which each one bears his own load.
6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Christians should not fail to support pastors and teachers and in general should be beneficial to all, especially to fellow Christians.
In this section, verse 6 speaks of contributing for pastors. Verse 7 looks back to verse 6 but applies to all, Christians as well as the heathen. Verse 8 shows the difference between unbelievers and Christians. Verse 9 looks back at verse 6 but also ahead to verse 10
Verse 6 - On this verse (cf. Luke 10:7 and 1 Corinthians 9:14), Bruce says at this point: "The teacher relieves the ignorance of the pupil; the pupil should relieve the teacher of concern for his subsistence."
Verse 7 - This is an axiom, a general truth, understandable to all.
Verse 8 - The intended sense of "sowing to the flesh" is the use of liberty for license to commit sin, using neither faith toward God nor works toward the neighbor. The intended sense of "sowing to the Spirit" denotes the proper use of Christian liberty in the interest of the neighbor, using faith toward God and fervent love for the neighbor.
''Natural desires" are not in themselves sinful. A healthy appetite in itself is not sinful. They are ''natural." But, because of the fall, these natural desires easily degenerate into sinful desires.
This verse once again eliminates salvation by works. Only God can give the increase after sowing has taken place, but this verse plainly stresses the necessity of good works in the life of the Christian.
Verse 9 - This verse implies that there will be periods in the life of the Christian when it seems that his good works go for naught or that God has forgotten and does not care. Christians are like little children sometimes. They so easily grow weary and so quickly become discouraged. They must be prodded. Take a good look at 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16 and Luke 18:1
Verse 10 - A conclusion is drawn. ''Therefore'' points back to the previous section. As parents have a duty toward neighbors, nevertheless their first obligation is toward their own children. So Christians have a duty toward all men but their first obligation is toward fellow Christians. Most English versions read: "the household of faith" while some read: "family of believers."
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. 17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Paul reminds the hearers that not externals but rather the Cross is the Christian's highest principle. He closes with a heartfelt blessing.
This section is the conclusion to Galatians. A number of thoughts and themes form the conclusion to this important letter.
In verse 11 Paul assures the Galatians that he loves them dearly.
In verses 12-13 he uncovers the false teacher's true attitudes. They are concerned only about their own sinful image. They don't even care about the Law, much less the Gospel. Their sole objective of boasting and glorying is the physical circumcision of the misled Galatians. There is utter contrast between verses 12-13 and 14-16.
Verses 14-16 portray the proper boasting. They show its source and its object. Because of what Jesus did and suffered, all association between the world and Paul has ceased. They are dead to each other. The peace of God rests on those who are a new creation. Both faith and works are indicated in verse 15. It must have been a jolt to the Judaizers to hear Paul call the true believers "the Israel of God!" What a parting shot. Paul turns the tables on them at last.
In verse 17 Paul tells us why from henceforth the false teachers should let him alone. The literal sense of Paul's remarks is ''the Lord is with me." The false teachers are not with the Lord.
In verse 18 we have the usual Pauline farewell. Only those who receive these gifts appreciate this epistle by faith.
Scripture taken from New International Version (NIV) © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, Zondervan Publishing House
Notes on the Epistle to the Galatians Harold Buls © 1987 Concordia Theological Seminary Press, Ft. Wayne, IN
Called to Freedom A study of Galatians Edited by Board of Parish Education Staff © 1978 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Concordia Self Study Bible © 1984 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO