Summary: Survey of Galatians

Survey of Galatians

Galatians 1:1-10

On July 19, 2007 Taliban militants abducted and took hostage 23 South Korean Christian aid workers -- most of them women -- as they traveled on a bus in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan.

Because their demands were not met, the kidnappers later executed two of the South Koreans. On August 13, they freed two women who were said to be ill, as a "gesture of goodwill," according to a Taliban spokesman.

During the last of August 2007, Taliban kidnappers released the seven remaining South Korean hostages and handed them over to Red Cross officials, Afghan and Taliban officials said.

On Wednesday, Taliban militants released a total of 12 South Korean hostages, part of the group of 19 Christian aid workers who have been held for nearly six weeks.

The kidnappers freed the 10 women and two men in three separate groups, a day after South Korea announced its team of negotiators in Afghanistan had reached a deal with them.

Under the terms of an agreement reached on Tuesday, South Korea agreed to stick by its decision to withdraw its 200 non-combat troops from Afghanistan, who do mostly engineering and medical work.

In addition, Seoul promised to halt all Christian missionary work in Afghanistan.

A South Korean presidential spokesman said there was no agreement to pay the captors, nor was there any mention of releasing Taliban prisoners -- a major demand of the kidnappers.

(Source - Insight For Living Bible Study Guide, Early edition)


* Can you imagine any one of those 21 freed hostages wanting to return back into a hostage situation in Afghanistan?

- Especially after the vivid images of executions being broadcast for the entire world to see coming out of the Middle East.

* Anyone in their right mind would not want to go back into bondage.

* Strange – what we would never do physically, we do spiritually without a fight.

* That’s why we have the letter to the Galatians!

* It’s a letter about freedom! …specifically, freedom from the law!

* Most commentaries on the book of Galatians contain the word ’Free’ in the title.

* In one of the dark parts of American history, some of the slaves of the 1860’s chose to stay enslaved – even though they had been emancipated - rather than strike out on their own as free people.

* In Paul’s day, and in ours, there were those who still felt more secure in a life of bondage than in a life of freedom.

* Galatians is a letter that has the potential to liberate you.

* You would think that living in a free country, we would be free!

Quote – Eugene Peterson – "Traveling light – Reflections on the free life" –

"Living in the land of the free has not made us free; we are a nation of addicts and complainers. Being provided with freedom of religion has not made us free; coercive cults and enslaving superstitions continue to proliferate. Assembling with people in church and listening to ringing proclamations of freedom – "He whom the Son sets free, is free indeed" – has not made us free. Our churches are attended regularly by the inhibited, the obsessive –compulsive, the fearfully defensive – enough of them to provide outside observers with a stereotype.

* Paul could not understand why the Galatians wanted to return back to the bondage of the law. – it was enslaving, not liberating!

I. Author - Paul 1:1; 6:11

Gal 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

* Paul wrote and authored this letter.

* Unlike Romans where Paul was the author, but not the writer.

Rom 16:22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

* Not just Paul, but the Apostle Paul, - Paul spends the first 2 chapters defending his Apostleship.

* Theodore Graebner, In preface of Commentary on Galatians by Luther - One cannot discuss this famous document of the Reformation Age without adverting of the experience of John Bunyan. Greatly afflicted on account of his “original and inward pollution” and wretched in the knowledge of his transgressions, Bunyan looked around for some ancient work that might satisfy him. He had found that the writers of his own day had not gone “down themselves into the deep.” Rummaging around he found an old copy, ready to fall to pieces, of Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians. He says “When I had but a little way perused, I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled, as if his book had been written out of my heart. I prefer this book of Martin Luther on the Galatians (excepting the Holy Bible) before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience.”

II. General Observations

A. One of Paul’s shorter epistles

* Romans is long and comprehensive

* I and II Corinthians considerably longer

* Galatians has been called by some a "short Romans"

* Being short doesn’t make the letter less effective or less influential.

* It was called “the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation.”

* M. Luther was especially attached to Galatians and referred to it as his wife.

- In his table talks the saying is recorded: “The Epistle to the Galatians is my epistle. To it I am as it were in wedlock. It is my Katherine.”

B. It contains strong warnings

1) False teachers are accursed 1:8-9

Gal 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (9) As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2) Some Galatians were called fools 3:1-3 (hypnotized, mesmerized)

Gal 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (2) This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

3) Paul calls for the castration of false teachers 5:11-12

Gal 5:11-12 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased. (12) I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

III. Dominant Teachings in Galatians

A) It warns against adding anything to the true Gospel 1:6-8

Gal 1:6-8 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

? True gospel? – Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, apart from works

* v. 7 – "trouble" – ’upset the mind’…’disturbing you’

* If you add anything… (perverting the gospel)

- being good

- living a good life

- doing the best you can

- baptism, obedience,

- speaking in tongues

- going to church regularly

- good works

- obedience to the law

- circumcision

- giving to the poor

* It is the sheer work of Jesus Christ plus nothing

* It is accepting the gift of God

* Accursed – Paul calls down an oath from heaven against those who pervert the gospel.

* Jesus needs no help in saving us.

* God requires and accepts no other payment than the blood of His Son.

B. It teaches clearly the doctrine of justification by faith, apart from works 2:16,21

Gal 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…. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

* False teachers were adding to the gospel,…changing the gospel.

* Sure you need Jesus, but you also need some Judaism along with it.

* Justification – "Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous while the sinner is still in a sinning state."

* CI Scofield = "Justification originates in grace; (Rom_3:24); (Tit_3:4); (Tit_3:5) is through the redemptive and propitiatory work of Christ, who has vindicated the law; (Rom_3:24); (Rom_3:25); (Rom_5:9) is by faith, not works; (Rom_3:28-30); (Rom_4:5); (Rom_5:1); (Gal_2:16); (Gal_3:8); (Gal_3:24) and may be defined as the judicial act of God whereby He justly declares righteous one who believes on Jesus Christ. It is the Judge Himself (Rom_8:31-34) who thus declares. The justified believer has been in court, only to learn that nothing is laid to his charge. (Rom_8:1); (Rom_8:33); (Rom_8:34).

* Paul supports this teaching in Romans:

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

* We will get a clearer picture of grace.

* The law never saved anyone and never will save anyone.

C. It presents the true function of the Mosaic Law 3:23-28

Gal 3:23-28 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (26) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

* "schoolmaster" – tutor

- not one who stands in front of a classroom to teach English or math

- "child conductor"

- a trusted slave who watched over the child of his master

- He was in charge of the discipline and care of the child

- when the child reached a certain age, he would no longer need his tutor or guardian

* vs. 24 – law was to bring us to Christ

* vs. 19-21 – to show us the enormity of our sin

Gal 3:19-21 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (20) Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. (21) Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

* for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom_3:20), and the law entered that sin might abound, Rom_5:20.

* It was not given to establish a new way of justification

D. It gives a balance to Christian freedom 5:13

Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

* Freedom did not mean freedom to sin.

* Christian freedom is not a life of license.

* Grace doesn’t mean we have the freedom to sin all we want to.

* Being free from the law doesn’t mean we can do all the evil we want to.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

E. It warns against the bondage Christians can experience 4:9; 5:1; 2:4-5

Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

* Paul is asking this of believers not unbelievers.

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.

* The word ’again’ suggests a previous condition of bondage.

Gal 2:4-5 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: (5) To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

*Even Paul and Titus were tempted to go again into bondage. (2:4-5)

* Liberty has to be fought for.

- Paul, - "We didn’t give in"… 2:4-5

* Freedom is not automatic.

* Seems there are always those who want to take away our freedom.

F. It teaches Christianity is a matter of the heart, not the externals. 6:12-15

Gal 6:12-15 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (13) For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. (14) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (15) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

* The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy.

* Christianity is not what you wear,…it’s not about your diet… it’s about being a new creation.

- having the heart changed by God.