The six chapters of this epistle are divided into three main sections of Paul’s teaching.
Chapters 1 & 2 are personal in nature and deal with Paul’s authority.
Chapters 3 & 4 are doctrinal in nature and deal with justification by faith.
Chapters 5 & 6, are practical in nature and deal with the application of the doctrine of justification.
Section Two - The Doctrine of Justification by Faith
Paul warns the Galatians concerning the bondage of works.
He uses three illustrations to drive home the contrast between legalism and liberty.
A. A personal illustration.
1. An example from their own experience (3:1-5).
> Paul reminds them of their own salvation experience.
2. He asks them four questions:
<1> How did you receive salvation in the first place? (v.2).
<2> Do you really believe that salvation by faith, is maintained by works? (v. 3).
<3> Have you suffered persecution when they firs embraced salvation by faith. Paul asks them, if they turn from this, will they have suffered in vain? (v. 4).
<4> They had witnessed the power of God in healing, and working of miracles. Paul asks them, if God did these things because of their works, or by faith? (v. 5).
3. His first argument is their own experience.
> They had experienced salvation by faith, in their own lives.
B. A legal illustration.
1. Abraham and the law (v. 6-9).
> Abraham received his righteousness by faith in God long before the law was given (v. 6, 17).
> The law would not be given for another 430 years AFTER God told Abraham he was justified by faith.
> God told Abraham (Gen. 12:3) that Gentiles would also receive their righteousness by faith (v. 8-9).
> This refutes the teaching that O.T. saints were saved by anoy other means than N.T. saints.
> God not only pardons sinners by faith, but then preserves them by faith: "The just shall live by faith" (v. 11).
> This all-important statement is taken from the Old Testament book of Habakkuk (2:4) and is used three times in the New Testament. [Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:38].
2. Sinners and the law (v. 10-14).
> (compare v. 10 with Deut. 27:26; see also Jas. 2:10).
> Thus the Old Testament law may be likened to a long chain. To break this chain a person need only snap but a single link and the entire chain is broken!
> If salvation were by keeping the law, then breaking just one of the commandments condemns you to eternal judgement.
> Therefore, the Galatians had to conclude that either they were saved by grace, or they were condemned by their inability to be perfectly obedient to all the commandments.
3. Israel and the law (v. 15-25).
> It was given to Israel 430 years after the promise (justification by faith) was given (v. 15-18).
> It was given because of sin. “It was added because of transgression” (v. 19).
> It was "ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator" – God sent men to preach it (v. 19).
> It thus acted as Israel’s "schoolmaster" (child-discipliner): "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (v. 24).
4. Christ and the law (v. 13; 26-29).
> He has redeemed us from its curse (compare v. 13 with Deut. 21:23).
> He unified all repenting sinners by joining them into his own body through Spirit baptism (v. 26-29).
There were three great divisions in the Roman world:
(1) Racial and religious - Jew and Greek.
(2) Social and class - bond and free.
(3) Man’s world and woman’s world - Male and female.
> But in Christ there is no spiritual distinction whatsoever.
> Christ thus guarantees our full adoption as sons of God:
Paul contrasts the differences between a child and a son under the Roman legal system of the day (4:1-5).
(1) A child in training was treated no worse or better that a servant in training (4:1-3).
(2) But, by Christ’s coming and redemption, we have been given a position of authority in the family (4:4-5).
Paul also contrasts the differences between a son and a servant (4:6-7).
(1) A servant retains his old nature, while a son enjoys the nature of his father.
(2) A servant has a master, while a son has a father.
(3) A servant obeys out of law and fear, but a son out of liberty and love.
(4) A servant is promised no inheritance, while a son can legally expect to inherit all things.
5. The promise and the law.
> The law cannot change the promise (3:17).
> The law is not contrary to the promise (3:21-26).
> The law cannot do what the promise can do (3:27-29).
C. "Wherefore serveth the law?" (3:19).
1. The uses of the law.
> Without it we would have no convictions.
> The word "convictions" comes from the root word "convince".
> The law convinces us of our sin.
> Without it we would have no feelings.
> Humility, gratitude, and zeal, are feelings derived from the belief that we have been redeemed from the curse of the law.
> Without it we would have no scriptural hopes.
> The same word that condemns us by the law, also shows us redemption that is in Christ.
2. The Scriptural use of the law.
> It teaches us our failures, and shows us our need of Christ (schoolmaster).
> It teaches us how to live for Christ (as a rule of life).
D. The Galatians and the law (4:8-20).
1. After being released from spiritual slavery, why did they now desire to put back on their chains of bondage again? (4:9-10).
> They were doing exactly this by observing days (Jewish holy days such as weekly sabbaths and special feast days)...
> Months (celebrations of new moons which began each month of the Jewish lunar calendar)...
> Times (seasons of week-long festivals such as the feast of tabernacles, unleavened bread, etc.)...
> And years (Sabbatical and Jubilee years).
2. Where was that happy spirit once enjoyed between the apostle and the Galatians? (4:11-15).
> He reminds them of their past affection for him, which had made them willing (if it were possible) to pluck out their eyes for him!
3. Why had they thus turned from him, viewing him, their real spiritual mother, as their enemy, and attached themselves to false legalizing teachers? (4:16-20).
> In perhaps no other single verse does the apostle display more of his agony and aspiration for all his converts than he does here in 4:19.
E. An allegorical illustration.
1. An example from Hagar and Sarah (4:21-31).
> He uses this Old Testament doctrinal events to allegorize a point.
2. The facts of Paul’s allegory:
> Abraham had two sons and two wives.
> One son (Ishmael) was born naturally from his slave-wife Hagar.
> The other (Isaac) was born supernaturally from his freeborn wife Sarah.
> Isaac is ridiculed by Ishmael at his weaning ceremony. Therefore God orders Abraham to send away both Hagar and Ishmael.
3. The applications of Paul’s allegory:
> Hagar represents the law, while Sarah speaks of grace.
> Ishmael is a type of the flesh and the law; Isaac is a type the spirit and of grace.
> The law came first as did Ishmael.
> Ishmael is a son by carnal disobedience, Isaac is a son by the promise of God.
> Hagar also represents Mount Sinai and the earthly city of Jerusalem, headquarters of legalism.
> Sarah represents Mount Zion (inferred) and the heavenly city of Jerusalem, headquarters of liberty.
> All of these show the inferiority of the flesh and the law, to the spirit and grace.