Galatians has been called the "Magna Charta of spiritual emancipation". It declares our redemption from the curse of the law.
The book of Galatians appears to be the only book written in Paul's own handwriting. The conditions and corruption of the gospel was so serious that Paul sat down and wrote with his own hand. The book is a strong and persuasive argument against the Judaizers who were attempting to undermine Paul's work and ministry in Galatia.
The epistle is intensely doctrinal in nature and so has not been overly popular. From the fifth century to the Reformation it was nearly lost from sight. It became a main force during the Reformation.
1. The book contains 6 chapters with 144 verses.
2. The writer was clearly the Apostle Paul. His signature appears twice in the book (1:1;5:2). His status is plainly recorded. There are several historical references that can be verified with the life of Paul as it is recorded in Acts. (Compare Gal.1:3 & Acts 8:1-3; Gal.1:21-24 & Acts 9:26-30; Gal.2:1-10 & Acts 15:2-30)
3. The dating of the book is effected by the people to whom one feels it is written. There are two dates suggested one is A.D. 56 or 58 and the other is A.D. 48 or 49. The earlier date is probably the correct one, although there are credible scholars for either date.
There are two theories as to the group to whom the book was written. The one theory states it was to Northern Galatia, which was in North Central Asia Minor. This area was originally settled by the Gauls and Paul visited here on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6).
Galatia was the name given originally to this area and the Gauls settled there in the third century before Christ. They had an independent kingdom for many years but gradually were absorbed into the people of the area. There were several political changes but the area became Roman property in 25 B.C. The Romans incorporated this section into a larger division of land which they made a province and called it Galatia. In Roman times Galatia could refer to the northern territory or the whole province which included the southern cities such as Antioch, Iconium, Derbe and Lystra.
The other theory is the South Galatia Theory which states that the book was written to a group of churches in the Roman province of Galatia to churches Paul founded on his first missionary journey. This is the preferred theory and then would make the writing of the book the earlier date.
The theme is Christian liberty based on Christ and our incorporation into the line of inheritance. Tied into that theme is the truth that we are justified by God through faith not by the keeping of the law.
Christ is revealed as the One who gave Himself for our sins, the great Redeemer. He is seen as the seed of Abraham, and the great Liberator.
Key words include gospel, circumcise(ed,ion) or uncircumcision, justified and righteousness. Other important words are Jew, Gentile, flesh and Spirit.
Gal.3:13,14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Gal.5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
1. One reason for the writing of this book is to rebuke the Galatians for their lack of stability in allowing themselves to be turned away from the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, so soon after they had been converted.
2. Paul wrote to counteract the attack upon his apostolic authority.
3. Paul wrote to reestablish the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.
4. A fourth purpose for this letter was to appeal to the Galatian Christians to practically apply the doctrine of salvation by grace to their daily lifestyle.
Events and Characters
1. The letter begins with Paul marvelling at the rapidity with which the Galatian Christians moved away from grace to another gospel. Anyone who teaches another gospel is to be considered accursed. Paul himself had once persecuted this way but God had changed it around and revealed Jesus to and in him. He reminds them he made a second trip to Jerusalem to verify the gospel he was preaching. No Gentile of his company was required to be circumcised. Peter at one point when he came to Antioch was carried away with the circumcision group until he was rebuked by Paul. Justification comes by faith in Christ not the works of the law.
2. They are fools to have been deceived from salvation by faith in Christ. God justifies the heathen through faith not the works of the law. No one is justified by the law. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. He was made a curse that we might be the children of Abraham. Christ is the heir of the promises made to Abraham, the law was only to bring us to Christ. When faith comes we belong to Christ and are the seed of Abraham. The people of God were under the law until Christ came then they were delivered from the curse of that law. Now there are two people, one symbolized by Hagar are in bondage and outside God's purposes; the other symbolized by Sarah are the children of faith the only true inheritors of God's promises to Abraham.
3. They were to be steadfast in what God has done for them and not be brought again unto the bondage of salvation by law. Circumcision is of no importance since Christ has come. The law is fulfilled in love to one's neighbour. There is a warfare between the flesh and the spirit. If we yield to the Spirit the fruits of the Spirit will be manifest. If, on the other hand, we yield to the flesh we will be trapped by the lusts of the flesh.
4. We have salvation by faith through grace so we should strive to restore fallen brethren, bear each others burdens and share good things. We will reap what we sow. If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life. Therefore, we should do good to all, but especially of the household of faith. The Judaizers glory in the flesh but we should only glory in the cross.
Lessons to Remember
1. We must constantly be on the guard for deceivers are out to undermine our liberty in Christ.
2. We should be wary when people attempt to undermine our confidence in those God has give to oversee us.
3. We need to be on guard that we do not slip into a works attitude to try to gain God's favour.
4. We are Christ's; therefore, the seed of Abraham and heir to all that to which He is heir.
5. Walking after the dictates of the flesh brings destruction and walking after the Spirit brings life.
6. We need to be careful what we sow, for there is a harvest that comes.
I. Paul Defends His Message and Apostleship 1 - 2
A. Introduction 1:1 - 5
B. Condemnation of Legalizers 1:6 - 9
C. Paul's Gospel and Message from God 1:10 - 24
D. Paul's Message Confirmed 2:1 - 21
II. Contrast Between Law and Grace 3 - 4
A. Results of the Law and Faith 3:1 - 4:19
B. Allegory Describing Law and Grace 4:20 - 31
III. Holy Living 5 - 6
A. Stand in the Liberty of Christ 5:1 - 12
B. Liberty Not to be License 5:13 - 15
C. Walk in the Spirit 5:16 - 26
D. Treatment of Fallen Brothers 6:1 - 5
E. Sowing and Reaping 6:6 - 10
F. Conclusion 6:11 - 18
I. Introduction 1:1 - 9
A. Salutation: The Ground of Liberty 1:1 - 5
B. Occasion: The Challenge to Liberty 1:6 - 9
II. Biographical Argument: An Independent Revelation 1 - 2
A. Independent of Human Teaching 1:10 - 17
B. Independent of Judean Churches 1:18 - 24
C. Independent of Judaizing Brethren 2:1 - 10
D. Independent of Apostolic Pressure 2:11 - 18
E. Independent of Selfish Interest 2:19 - 21
III. The Theological Argument: The Failure of Legalism 3 - 4
A. From Personal Experience 3:1 - 5
B. From Old Testament Teaching 3:6 - 14
C. From Priority of Promise 3:15 - 22
D. From Superiority of Mature Faith 3:23 - 4:7
F. From Contrast of Motives 4:12 - 20
G. From Contrast of Bondage and Liberty 4:21 - 31
IV. The Practical Argument: The Effect of Liberty 5 - 6:10
A. Introductory Statement 5:1
B. The Consequences of Legalism 5:2 - 12
C. The Definition of Freedom 5:13 - 15
D. Individual Practice 5:16 - 24
E. Social Practice 5:25 - 6:10
V. Conclusion 6:11 - 18
A. The Motive of Liberty: The Cross 6:11 - 16
B. The Price of Liberty: Suffering 6:17
C. The Benediction of Liberty 6:18
Feed Yourself Students:
Before the next lesson arrives do the following:
1. Read through the Book Of Ephesians three times.
2. Pick 7 verses from Ephesians and do a devotional mediation on each one.