Introduction to the Book of Galatians
Paul the apostle (Gal. 1:1; 5:2; 6:11).
According to the records of
the Bible, Paul was Saul previously (Acts. 13:9) and he was an Israelite, of tribe of Benjamin (
II. The Recipients
the church in
III. The Time and Location the Book was Written
Paul mentioned that he came to
From the contents of this
book and the book of Romans, probably these two books were written in one
period. The book of Galatians should be written before the book of Romans
because the words in the book of Romans were more detailed. The book of Romans
was written about A.D. 56-57 before Paul arrived at
IV. The Background
After Paul went to the south
1) they defamed Paul and questioned his ministry of apostleship.
2) they held that the Gentiles should be circumcised and Judaised and then they shall be saved.
3) they opposed Paul that he only preached grace and did not preach the law. They emphasized that men had to pay attention to behaviors beyond grace and they agitated Christians to keep the Jewish ceremonies and regulations.
These churches had shallow knowledge of the truth. They actually accepted the statements of the Judaizers and held that they won’t be saved unless they kept the circumcision and the Law of Moses.
When Paul went to Greece on his third journey, some people told him that how the Judaizers misled them and the churches in Galatia hesitated. And then Paul wrote this book to guide, encourage them and make them abandon the wrongness and return to the truth. And it is the book of Galatians.
V. Special Points
1) There aren’t words of praise. In the other epistles of Paul, he always praised the good points of the recipients first.
2) There aren’t words of thanksgiving. Paul
was accustomed to giving thanks to God for the recipients and Paul even thanked
God for the church in
3) The words are quite sharp-pointed. The terms in the book were quite frank and Paul denounced them relentlessly. He accused those who preached the heresy and he would they were even cut off (Gal. 1:8-9; 5:12).
4) The letter that Paul had written with his own hand was large (Gal. 6:11).
5) This book is the sharp weapon to deal with those who insisted on the law.
VI. General Description
The three themes of this book:
1) It guides men how to have freedom------only rely on the pure Christ’s gospel which God reveals (Gal. 1).
2) It tells men the good pointes of having freedom:
a. One does not need to be circumcised if he has freedom (Gal. 2:1-10).
b. One should not follow the life style of the Jews if he has freedom (Gal. 2:11-21).
c. One is not restrained by the law if he has freedom (Gal. 3-4).
3) It tells men how to enjoy the freedom that they have:
a. Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh (Gal.5:1-6:10).
b. Deal with the old men by cross and be a new creation (Gal. 6:11-18).
VII. It’s Relations with Other Books in the Bible
1) This book and the book of Romans: the salvation is both talked about in these two books and one is primary and the other is secondary, just as the book of Ephesians and the book of Colossians in which Christ and the church are discussed. Justification is both mentioned in these two books and the contents of the two books are similar. However, the book of Galatians is quite simple and the book of Romans, abundant. The book of Galatians is to restrain the present baneful influence and the book of Romans is to prevent the prospective baneful influence. These two books are the bases of the religious doctrines of Christianity and they are quite important.
2) This book and the book of Hebrews: these two books have many similar points:
a. the similar aim: the aim of this book is to save them from falling from grace (Gal. 5:4) and the aim of the book of Hebrews is to save them from losing God’s grace (Heb. 12:15).
b. the similar objects: this book is written to the churches that were confused by Judaism and the book of Hebrews is written to the churches who had not fully departed from Judaism and wanted to returned to Judaism.
c. the scriptures that are quoted are similar: “the just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).
d. the similar title: the law is talked about in these two books; however, the recipients of this book are the Gentile believers and therefore grace is spoken earlier than the Law. And the recipients of the book of Hebrews are the Jewish believers and therefore the law is spoken earlier than grace.
similar content: in these two books the author both mentioned “
f. the heresies that are talked about in these two books are similar: a different gospel is discussed in this book and the different teachings are discussed in the book of Hebrews. It is written in this book that the heretical ones changed the Lord’s gospel (Gal. 1:17) and it is written in the book of Hebrews that the gospel is better than the law of the Old Testament (Heb. 9:11). It is discussed in this book that we should not fall from grace and it is written in the book of Hebrews that there remains no more sacrifice for sins if one departs from the Lord. It is written in this book that the freedom of the truth of the gospel is not restrained or controlled by Judaism and the advantages of the New Testament is talked in the book of Hebrews. It is written in this book that men are misled because of ignorance and it is written in the book of Hebrews that believers who do not make progress are babies. Judaism is called the elements in both books (Gal. 4:3; Heb. 5:12).
VIII. Key Verses
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1).
IX. Key Words
“Law” is used thirty-one times; “flesh” is used eighteen times; “the Holy Spirit is used twenty-two times; “faith” is used twenty-two times; “freedom” is used eleven times; “promise” is used ten times; “justification” is used six times.
X. Outlines of the Book
I. Paul defended for his apostleship and the authority to preach the gospel of grace:
A. Paul’s apostleship was not from men but from God (Gal. 1:1-5).
B. Some people preached a different gospel that was different from what Paul preached (Gal. 1:6-10).
C. The gospel that Paul preached was of God’s revelation and it was not according to men (Gal. 1:11-24).
D. The gospel that Paul preached was proved by all apostles (Gal. 2:1-10).
E. Paul was faithful to the gospel that he preached and stood fast (Gal. 2:11-21).
II. Paul restated the contents of the gospel of grace and verified that grace is the only way to be saved:
A. The experience that the Galatians were saved proved that the gospel is justification (Gal. 3:1-5).
B. The fact that Abraham was justified by faith proved that the gospel was of God (Gal. 3:6-14).
C. God’s covenant of promise was before the law and it proved that one receives grace not by keeping the law (Gal. 3:15-22).
D. The convention that babies cannot inherit the inheritance proved that the law was only the herald of the gospel (Gal. 3:23-4:11).
E. The situation that the Galatians were saved proved that they had received Christ by faith (Gal. 4:12-20).
F. The two covenants that were typified by Sara and Hagar proved that believers of the covenant of grace were born by promise (Gal. 4:21-31).
III. Paul pointed out the result of the gospel of grace that makes men depart from the control of the law and live freely in grace:
A. In Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything (Gal. 5:1-5).
B. Believers walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh and therefore they are not under the law (Gal. 5:16-26).
C. Only when men do good by the Spirit will the law of Christ be fulfilled (Gal. 6:1-10).
D. We should be a new creation and only boast the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:11-18).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren