THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
NO. OF CHAPTERS
CHRIST SEEN AS
Liberty In Christ
The Apostle Paul
Christ is the Deliverer from the law and mere externalism and leads unto glorious liberty.
Reference material compiled by Ray
Various Authors, Edited as reference material
THE EPISTLE TO THE
Contents: The regenerated life as a brotherhood of believers.
Conclusion: The new life in Christ Jesus is not simply one of being good, but doing good. It manifests itself, not by taking a “more holy than thou” attitude, but by bearing the burdens of others and seizing every opportunity to help saints and save sinners.
Key Word: Well doing, v. 9
Strong Verses: 1, 2, 7, 10, 14
Promises: 8, 9.
Christ Seen: v. 14. The cross which connects us with God separates us from the world. Having died with Christ we should therefore be done with the world. Haven risen with Christ, we are connected with God in a new life. We cannot glory in the benefits Christ’s cross secures if we refuse the rejection which His cross involves.
Introduction: This chapter chiefly consists of two parts. In the former the apostle gives us several plain and practical directions, which more especially tend to, instruct Christians in their duty to one another, and to promote the communion of saints in love (v. 1-10). In the latter he revives the main design of the epistle, which was to fortify the Galatians against the arts of their Judaizing teachers, and confirm them in the truth and liberty of the gospel, for which purpose he,
Gives them the true character of these teachers, and shows them from what motives, and with what views, they acted (v. 11-14). And,
On the other hand he acquaints them with his own temper and behavior. From both these they might easily see how little reason they had to slight him, and to fall in with them.
And then he concludes the epistle with a solemn benediction.
Verse 1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Brethren—Paul now tries to reach the Galatians with this friendly means of address. Furthermore, this shows that he did not view himself as superior, but saw them as his brothers in Christ.
Overtaken in a fault—Although Paul does not specifically mention the fault (or, trespass); the rest of the book might hint that this is the sin of falling back into legalism.
Ye which are spiritual—i.e., you who live in the Spirit. Paul is here speaking to those who have not fallen into this sin.
Restore—The Greek is used of a dislocated limb put back into place.
In the spirit of meekness—in a spirit of meekness. The stronger Christians are told that they are to conduct themselves in a spirit of meekness, which thus evidences the Holy Spirit working in their lives (5:22, 25). To be meek is to be one who “endures injury with patience and without resentment” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary).
Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted—it is important for Christians to have the right motives and attitudes as they try to correct or help their fellow believers. Those who correct others without meekness are likely to need correction themselves at a future date (Matt. 7:2-5; 2 Tim. 2:25; James 2:13).
Verse 2: Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Bear ye one another’s burdens—Have sympathy; feel for each other; and consider the case of a distressed brother as your own.
And so fulfill the law of Christ—that law or commandment, ye shall love one another; or that, Do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you. We should be as indulgent to the infirmities of others, as we can be consistently with truth and righteousness: our brother’s infirmity may be his burden; and if we do not choose to help him to bear it, let us not reproach him because he is obliged to carry the load.
Verse 3: For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
This verse stresses that self-conceit, the chief hindrance to helping others, must be put aside.
If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing—Paul was speaking to those who thought that they were so spiritually superior to others that they did not have any defects.
Deceives himself—lit., “mentally deceives himself.”
Verse 4: But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Prove his own work—Let him examine himself and his conduct by the words and example of Christ; and if he find that they bear this touchstone, then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone, feeling that he resembles his Lord and Master, and not in another—not derive his consolation from comparing himself with another who may be weaker, or less instructed than himself. The only rule for a Christian is the word of Christ; the only pattern for his imitation is the example of Christ. He should not compare himself with others; they are not his standard. Christ hath left us an example that we should follow his steps.
Verse 5: For every man shall bear his own burden.
At first glance this verse seems to contradict what Paul says in 6:2, which declares that men are to share each other’s troubles and infirmities. The main idea however, is that each man, by self-examination, will feel that he has enough to worry about with his own faults without comparing himself boastfully with his neighbor. Since he recognizes that he is not superior to his neighbor, he will better be able to help bear with his neighbor’s faults.
Verse 6: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
Him that is taught in the word—The Christian who receives the instruction.
Unto him that teacheth—the teacher.
In all good things—material benefits. There was a great deal of teaching that went on in the early church. The teachers who shared the word with the believers were entitled to a share of beneficence from those they taught.
Verse 7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Verses 7 to 10 return to the thoughts of 5:22, with emphasis on the fruits of the Spirit. Be not deceived—this might better be understood as meaning “Stop being misled.”
God is not mocked—Excuses which may seem valid before men will not be valid before God (Ps. 50:21). Although this verse is often quoted with reference to unbelievers, it is significant to remember that Paul applied it to Christians. God’s children, especially, must live their lives with him in mind.
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap—whatever works a man does during his lifetime he will get back in judgment from God at the end of time.
Verse 8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
He that soweth to his flesh—Men naturally try to get what will be to their own advantage, since they are naturally selfish.
Shall of the flesh reap corruption—this is presented as a normal result of sowing to the natural desires, not as a special punishment for it? The idea is that the
future life is but the outgrowth and result of what is sown in this life.
He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting—only those who sow to the Spirit will reap eternal life, both now and in the future. Since the Spirit is the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), to invest our being to the Spirit yields life, i.e., God’s life manifests in our lives. Note that in both cases the text says “of the flesh” and “of the Spirit.” Both flesh and Spirit produce their own nature: flesh yields corruption, for flesh is itself corrupt (and corrupting); Spirit yields life, for Spirit is itself life (Rom. 8:2, 10; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:6).
Verse 9: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Let us not be weary in well doing in due season—When the harvest time has come and the grain is ripe, we will get our reward (1 Tim. 6:15).
If we faint not—Paul tried to have the Galatians understand the importance of persevering in their faith. If they wanted to receive their deserved reward, they would have to keep on working.
Verse 10: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
This is the conclusion Paul drew from his illustration of the harvest.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men—Our lives are so short that it is important to take advantage of each opportunity available to be good to others.
Especially unto them who are of the household of faith—every man naturally wants to do as much as he can to help along his own family (1 Tim. 5:8), so believers should do as much as they can to help their brothers in the faith. Christians have a special obligation in relationship to one another. Some interpreters suggest that this verse was written with the need of the Christians who were in Palestine in the back of Paul’s mind. He was organizing relief projects to help them, and the Galatians would have a particular opportunity to apply the teaching Paul was stating here (Rom. 15:24-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:9).
Verse 11: Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand—It is probable that Paul dictated the letter to the Galatians up to this point, but finished it in his own handwriting. This was something he seems to have done in several of his letters (Rom. 16:22; 1 Cor. 16:21). The large letters suggest to some interpreters that Paul’s eyesight was weak. This was an early tradition in the church, and it was specifically mentioned by Jerome. The oldest manuscripts were written entirely in capital letters. He made his letters larger than the person who had written the rest of the letter. The mention of these large letters seems to be a sign to the readers that this letter was really from Paul.
Verse 12: 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.
They constrain you to be circumcised . . . lest they should suffer persecution—the message which Paul preached, that justification was through faith alone, was not popular with the Jews, for it did not keep the Mosaic Law as a part of justification. The Judaizers wished to have the Galatians submit to circumcision so that they would be able to remain popular with the Jews, since the Mosaic Law would then be a prerequisite for becoming a Christian. Christian converts would thus first be Jewish proselytes.
Verse 13: For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Translate, "For not even do they who submit to circumcision, keep the law themselves (Ro 2:17-23), but they wish you (emphatically) to be circumcised," They arbitrarily selected circumcision out of the whole law, as though observing it would stand instead of their non-observance of the rest of the law.
That they may glory in your flesh -- namely, in the outward change (opposed to an inward change wrought by the SPIRIT) which they have effected in bringing you over to their own Jewish-Christian party.
Verse 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.
But God forbid that I should glory—Whatever others may do, or whatever they may exult or glory in, God forbid that I should exult, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; in the grand doctrine, that justification and salvation are only through Christ crucified, he having made an atonement for the sin of the world by his passion and death. And I glory, also, in the disgrace and persecution which I experience through my attachment to this crucified Christ.
By whom the world is crucified unto me—Jewish rites and Gentile vanities are equally dull to me; I know them to be empty and worthless. If Jews and Gentiles despise me, I despise that in which they trust; through Jesus, all are crucified to me—their objects of dependence are as vile and execrable to me, as I am to them, in whose sight these things are of great account.
Verse 15: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Neither circumcision . . . nor uncircumcision—Paul here makes a final statement about the circumcision/uncircumcision issue; to him, this was not even worthy of a Christian’s attention. What matters is the new creation in Christ.
New creature—actually, new creation. The difference is not external, as it is with circumcision, but rather internal. The important thing is the transformation of the individual
Verse 16: And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Walk according to this rule—In the Greek this means “line up with this principle” (i.e., the principle [or, rule] of caring only for one’s new position and disposition in Christ).
Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God—Peace comes from God (Eph. 2:14-17; 6:23) and is the spiritual condition resulting when grace has done its work. Mercy is defined as the grace which God promised to his people, and which his people can thus expect to receive from him. The people of this promise are not the literal descendants of Abraham, but rather the spiritual seed of Abraham who have become his children by faith (3:9, 29; cf. Rom. 2:28, 29; Phil. 3:3), whether Jews or Gentiles.
Verse 17: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Let no man trouble me—by opposing my apostolic authority.
I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus—Marks that were branded on slaves indicated their owners’ names. So Paul’s scars or wounds received for Christ’s sake indicate to whom he belonged and in whose free and glorious service he was involved. The Judaizing teachers gloried in the circumcision mark in the flesh of their followers; Paul gloried in the marks of suffering for Christ on his body. Paul’s intense emotions are vividly conveyed in this verse.
Verse 18: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Brethren—Paul began this chapter with an appeal to Christian brotherhood, and he ended it with the same.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit—After having written so much scolding and rebuke, he ends this letter with kindness and encouragement, and a prayer that God’s grace would be with their spirit to help them defeat the desires and temptations of the flesh. This grace is with the Christian’s regenerated spirit. The second half of this epistle (3:1) began with a call for the Galatians to return to the Spirit, a call that was resounded again and again in the following chapters (3:1-3, 5, 14; 4:6, 29; 5:16-18, 22, 25; 6:1, 8, 18). How fitting to conclude on the same note: grace is with your spirit.
This lesson was prepared using the following: Brooks, Keith I., The Summarized Bible; Clark, Adam, Commentary on the N. T.; Henry, Matthew, Commentary on the N. T.; Green, Oliver, Commentary on Galatians; Walvoord, John, Commentary on the Book of Galatians.
All scripture is from the King James Version.
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