Studying the Book of Galatians
By David J. Riggs
- Paul had planted churches in Galatia. Gal. 1:11; 4:12-14
- Some view a part of Paul's work on the first missionary journey as being done in the larger area of Galatia (See
Map), while others object, saying that Galatia did not reach that far south.
- Probably Paul, Silas, and Timothy preached in this area for the first time on the second missionary journey. Acts
- In Acts 16:1-5, they revisited those churches established on the first journey, and then went through the
Phrygia and the region of Galatia.
- Paul visited these churches again on his third journey. Acts 18:23
- No one knows when the book of Galatians was written. The most conservative scholars seem to think it was
written from Corinth in the winter of A.D. 57.
- In Barnes Notes, Barnes, after quoting several sources stated it was absolutely impossible to determine
when Galatians was written.
- Soon after Paul had planted churches in Galatia, false teachers had entered in, and tried to bring the Christians under the
Law of Moses.
- These false teachers tried to destroy Paul's influence by denying he was an apostle.
- The main purpose of the book, therefore, is to establish the fact that Christianity was a religion independent of Judaism,
and that Paul was an apostle independent of the twelve.
- The book is easily divided into three sections.
- Chapters 1-2 - Arguments for the gospel Paul preached and His apostleship.
- Chapters 3-4 - Justification is by faith and not by the Law of Moses.
- Chapters 4-6 - Exhortations to steadfastness and faithfulness to Christian duty.
1:1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him
from the dead),
Chart #1 - Arguments for Paul's Gospel, 1:1-10.
- Personal greetings, 1-5.
- Source and agency of his apostleship, 1:1.
- His associates in the gospel, 1:2.
- Salutation, 1:3.
- Occasion of the epistle, 1:6-10.
- Their removal to a different gospel, 1:6-7.
- Divine judgment upon perverters, 1:8-9.
- His passion to please God, 1:10.
- "Paul, an apostle" - The word "apostle" means literally, "one sent." It is used in the New Testament with reference to:
- Men appointed and sent by churches for various purposes.
- It is used of Barnabas. Acts 14:14; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25
- Other men are called "apostles of the churches," but is translated "messengers." 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25
- It is used, of course, of those men who were personally appointed by Jesus Himself. Luke 6:12-13
- "Not from men nor through man" - It was not "from" men as to its source.
- It was not "through" man as a representative of a group of men such as a church or the other apostles.
- "But through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead" - Paul was an apostle appointed to the
office by Jesus Christ and God the Father; e.g., "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine..." Acts 9:15-16
- The vision on the road to Damascus was not to save him, but to qualify him as a witness. Acts 22:14-15; 26:16-18
- Paul affirmed his apostleship in many of his letters. 1 Cor. 9:1-2; 2 Cor. 12:12
- The teachers who were troubling the churches of Galatia, no doubt, could show they were apostles of churches in
Judea, but they could not affirm they had been appointed by Jesus Christ and God the Father.
- "Who raised Him from the dead." - That the Father raised Jesus from the dead is a fundamental of Christianity. Acts 2:24;
3:15; Rom. 10:9
1:2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
- Please see notes above under the introduction.
1:3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
- This is Paul's usual salutation. Rom. 1:6; 2 Cor. 1:2
- "Grace" is God's unmerited favor. It is unmerited as far as the source is concerned.
- Some think that the grace of God and works are incompatible. On the contrary, salvation is both by grace
and works. Suppose a particular rich uncle said to his nephew, "I will give you a million dollars if and when
you graduate from college, are married, and name your first child after me." When the young man meets
those conditions, will he have actually earned the million dollars? No, it is a gift; he simply receives it by
meeting the conditions. So it is with the grace of God.
- "Peace" is a state of tranquility or quietness.
- As part of a contest, a number of artists were invited to paint a picture of perfect peace. Eventually, the
judges narrowed their choice to two entries. The first contestant created a scene of a quiet lake high in the
mountains. The second one depicted a thundering waterfall above which the branch of a birch tree was
bending. On the fork of that limb and in the gentle spray, a robin sat undisturbed in her nest. Both paintings
were equally beautiful and spoke of tranquility, but the second won the prize. It showed by contrast, and in
graphic detail, the absolute calmness that can be found in the midst of turbulent surroundings. This well
depicts the peace which comes from God. John 14:27; 16:33
- "From God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ" - There is no distinction as to the source. There is equality in the
Godhead in the giving of spiritual blessings.
- The same was true in the giving of Paul's apostleship.
1:4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our
God and Father;
- "Who gave Himself" - Christ voluntarily sacrificed Himself. John 10:17-18
- "For our sins" - This is the object of His sacrifice: He was offered up as a sacrifice for our sins. Heb. 7:27; 9:28
- Jesus was our sin-offering through which we obtain forgiveness of our sins on the condition that we obey Him.
- "That He might deliver us from this present evil age" - This is the purpose of His sacrifice: to deliver us from this present
evil world. Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9
- Application: Why would one want to turn back to the world and go against His purpose?
- "According to the will of our God and Father" - Jesus gave Himself up according to the will of the Father. Luke 22:42
- Also, the deliverance out of this present evil world was according to the will of the Father. 2 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9
1:5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
- This is the goal sought - that God might be glorified in all things.
- Christ sought the glory of God. John 7:18; 8:50
- Paul placed His glory above everything. Eph. 3:20-21
- We, too, should seek to glorify God in all that we do. 1 Pet. 4:11
1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
- "I marvel that you are turning away so soon" - It doesn't take several generations for some to be removed from the
- They can accept error within a very short period of time.
- "From Him who called you in the grace of Christ" - The "Him" who called them was the Father. 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 2:12
- It is the Father who does the calling, but He does not call directly or miraculously. 2 Thess. 2:14; 2 Pet. 1:3-4
- The "grace of Christ" stands for all that Christ has done and provides for us. All spiritual blessings are in Him.
1:7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
- "To a different gospel, which is not another" - They were removing to another gospel (vs. 6).
- Verse 7 defines the meaning of verse 6 so as to correct the false impression that there might be two gospels by
which men could be saved.
- They were removing to a gospel of a different kind (Greek: "heteros," - another of a different sort) which was not
another of the same kind (Greek: "allos," - another of the same sort) because it was perverted.
- Paul didn't want to give the idea that there are two gospels by which men might be saved.
- That which they had accepted, therefore, was not another gospel of God, but a perversion of the gospel.
- "But there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" - Paul says the Galatians are troubled by
those who pervert the gospel.
- The gospel in its purity brings peace, but the perversion of it brings trouble, division, and apostasy.
- Application: This can be applied regarding denominational teaching which perverts the gospel and brings trouble
among those who believe in Christ. It also has it application concerning various errors taught among God's people.
1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you,
let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than
what you have received, let him be accursed.
- No matter how learned a preacher or teacher might be, or what reputation he might have, when he teaches a perverted
gospel, he brings the anathema of God.
- Paul emphasizes his warning by repeating his statement.
- Many other passages in the New Testament teach regarding the consequences of not abiding in the truth of the gospel. 2
John 9; Matt. 15:9; Titus 1:14; Matt. 7:21-23
1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a
bond-servant of Christ.
- "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?" - His strong condemnation of those who were
perverting the gospel in verses eight and nine demonstrates he wasn't a man-pleaser.
- No one speaks this way when he is seeking the favor of men.
- The Galatians probably didn't like Paul's strong language and Paul uses this to show he wasn't pleasing men.
- "For if I still please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." - Paul had deep regard for the souls of men, but His
main objective was to serve Christ.
- When anyone puts pleasing men above pleasing Christ, he gives up his relation to Christ.
1:11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
Chart #2 - Paul's gospel divinely revealed, 1:11-24.
- The divine source, 1:11-12.
- Not according to man, 1:11.
- By revelation of Christ, 1:12.
- Proof of its source, 1:13-24.
- His conversion and early ministry independent of man, 1:13-17.
- His early life - opposition to Christianity, 1:13-14.
- His call and conversion - not from man, 1:15-17.
- His visit to Jerusalem, not long enough, 1:18-24.
- Saw only a few, 1:18-21.
- Still unknown to churches of Judea, 1:22-24.
- "The gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." - It is not human in character, and is not constructed on
principles of human wisdom. 1 Cor. 1:18-24
- In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul also emphasized the divine origin of the gospel which he, and those with
him, preached. 1 Thess. 2:4-6
1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- "For I neither received it from man" - Again, his gospel was not human in its origin. It is the product of God's wisdom.
- "Nor was I taught it" - He did not learn it from man. 1 Cor. 2:7-10
- "But it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." - Paul's preaching and writings were not of human origin, but were
given by revelation from Christ.
- Other generations had not known it. Eph. 3:1-5
- It was given in the Spirit's words. 1 Cor. 2:10-11
- The writings were "God breathed." 2 Tim. 3:16-17
1:13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure
and tried to destroy it.
- This verse begins the autobiography of Paul which shows that his teaching didn't come from man.
- In his early life, Paul persecuted the church of the Lord. Gal. 1:13
- He imprisoned disciples, compelled them to blaspheme, and persecuted them even to foreign cities. Acts 8:3;
- During the rest of his life he regretted his mistreatment of God's children. He called himself, "the chief of sinners."
1 Tim. 1:13-15
1:14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly
zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
- "I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries" - Paul was well educated and trained in the Jewish religion.
- He could speak both Greek and Hebrew. Acts 21:37-22:2
- He advanced far beyond many of his generation. Phil. 3:4-6
- "Being more exceeding zealous for the traditions of my fathers." - Though extremely zealous, he was wrong.
- "Anyone can be honestly mistaken, but when he is confronted with the truth, he either ceases to be mistaken or
ceases to be honest."
- Those who have great zeal in the practice of error can be zealous servants of Christ once they are shown the truth.
1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,
- Paul shows that his separation and call were not from man.
- He relates his call to further demonstrate that he received his revelation from Jesus Christ.
- In others words, he appeals to his conversion to show that he was not a man's apostle, nor even an apostles'
apostle, but a true apostle of God.
- "Who separated me from my mother's womb" - Paul had no part in his separation and call. He could not have fitted or
qualified himself for his work since God had chosen him from his birth.
- There were others who had been called from birth to their God-given work.
- Isaiah. Isa. 49:1
- Jeremiah. Jer. 1:5
- John the Baptist. Luke 1:11-17
- Paul's predestination to the office of an apostle is entirely different from predestination to salvation.
- He nowhere affirms he was predestinated to salvation, but indicated the opposite. 1 Cor. 9:27
- "Through His grace" - God called him through His grace.
- Paul was chosen that he might be used as an example. 1 Tim. 1:16
- Application: We, too, are called through God's grace. 2 Tim. 1:9
- We should walk worthy of our call. Eph. 4:1
1:16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh
- "To reveal His Son in me" - God had a purpose for choosing Paul.
- "That I might preach Him among the Gentiles" - Paul was commissioned (mainly) to take the gospel to the
- The Lord said to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the
children of Israel." Acts 9:15
- When the Lord told Paul to leave Jerusalem, He said, "Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles."
- "I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood" - He did not go into conference with men; thus, showing that he
derived nothing from men.
- He did not learn his gospel from men, nor was he taught it by men. Gal. 1:12
Chart #3 - If Paul Had Conferred With Flesh and Blood:
Apostles - The twelve. If he had been taught by them only, he would have been an ordinary uninspired man liable to
Gamaliel - His old teacher. He would have learned nothing about the gospel.
Sanhedrin - Theologians - highest court. They would have only given adverse criticism.
Pharisees - Traditionalists. They would have compelled him to follow the traditions of the fathers.
Sadducees - Materialists. They would have opposed his idea of the resurrection.
Mother and Father - They would have pleaded with threats and tears for him not to leave Judaism.
Young Friends - Paul, you are getting too serious, becoming a fanatic, don't desert your friends, etc.
1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to
- Paul did not go to Jerusalem, as might have been expected, if indeed he had received a commission from the apostles and
- Instead of going to Jerusalem, Paul went to Arabia and returned back to Damascus.
- We know nothing concerning Paul's trip into Arabia.
1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.
- His purpose of this visit was to become acquainted with Peter who, of course, was prominent and well known among the
- "And remained with him fifteen days." Fifteen days was hardly enough time to receive his knowledge of the gospel if,
indeed, he had received it from those at Jerusalem.
- We learn from the book of Acts that Paul was not occupied in learning the gospel, but was busy preaching it. Acts
1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.
- Some regard this as a contradiction to Luke's words, "But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles." Acts
- It has been suggested that two separate trips might be under consideration, yet both accounts seem to refer to
Paul's first visit to Jerusalem after becoming a Christian, and his departure to other regions after it.
- We learn from Paul's statement that he saw only two of the prominent men at that time.
- Since this event occurred several years after Pentecost, most of the apostles, no doubt, were already
scattered to various places in their preaching.
- Luke's writings were more concerned with the development of the church than with the details of Paul's personal
- "Except James, the Lord's brother" - A possible translations of this verse is: "But I saw none of the other apostles but
only James, the Lord's brother."
- It is possible that this James, the physical brother of Jesus, came to hold such a prominent place in the Lord's
church that he is here styled as an apostle along with Peter.
- James, "the elder," son of Zebedee and brother of John, was one of the twelve, and was martyred under Herod
Agrippa in about 44 A.D. Acts 12:1-2
- James, "the younger" or "the less," son of Alphaeus, was also an apostle. Matt. 10:1-4
- Though they did not believe at first (John 7:5), the brothers of Jesus later became prominent disciples. Acts 1:14; 1
- James, "the Lord's brother," mentioned above, is probably the author of the book of James, and Jude, another of
the Lord's brothers, was probably the author of Jude.
1:20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)
- "Before God, I do not lie." - In view of the accounting he must give before God, he is affirming that the things he writes
(concerning himself, the gospel, etc.) are true.
- The gravity of the situation (regarding the divine source of his gospel) warrants Paul's serious affirmation.
- There is nothing in Paul's early personal life or ministry which indicate human source or authorization of the gospel
which he preached.
1:21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
- It was in Antioch of Syria that Paul had begun his notable ministry in companionship with Barnabas. Acts 11:25-26
- Tarsus of Cilicia was Paul's home town. Acts 21:3
- After visiting Jerusalem for only a short time, a time far to brief to learn the gospel if, indeed, he had learned it from man,
he went preaching in places far distant from Jerusalem.
1:22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.
- Paul would have been personally known if he had lingered in Judea long enough to acquire a knowledge of the gospel.
- "The churches of Judea which are in Christ." - Not only are individuals spoken of as being "in Christ," but local churches
are as well.
- Local congregations have their identity (acceptance by the Lord) just as individuals. The candlestick of a local
church can be removed. Rev. 2:5
1:23 But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to
- Paul was unknown to the churches of Judea, but they had heard about him.
- Imagine their reaction when they heard that Paul the persecutor had become a Christian!
- Their reaction is shown by the next verse.
1:24 And they glorified God in me.
- They gave thanks and glory to God that the persecutor was now preaching the gospel.
- Application: Let us live in such a way as to cause others to glorify God because of us.
2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
Chart #4 - At the Jerusalem meeting his gospel was fully recognized by the other apostles, 2:1-10.
- They did not censure his teaching and practice on circumcision, 2:1-5.
- Those of repute told him nothing new, but recognized the evidences of his apostolic ministry, 2:6-8.
- James, Cephas and John sanctioned his work among the Gentiles, 2:9-10.
- "Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem" - Paul continues to show that his apostleship was independent of
those in Jerusalem.
- This incident is the same as the one in Acts 15.
- The difference between the two accounts is that Paul describes a private conference he had with those of
repute, whereas Luke describes the meeting of the entire group.
- Paul skips an earlier trip to Jerusalem because it had no bearing on his subject. See Acts 11:27-30; 12:25
- "And also took Titus with me." - As we will see, it was important to have Titus, a gentile Christian, with them on their
trip to Jerusalem.
- Titus is mentioned often in the book of 2 Corinthians. 2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6; 8:6,16,23; 12:18
- The letter to Titus was written after Paul had left him in Crete to appoint elders in every city. Titus 1:5
- In 2 Timothy, which was probably Paul's last epistle, he mentioned that Titus had gone to Dalmatia.
2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but
privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
- "And I went up by revelation" - He was guided and instructed to do this by the Holy Spirit.
- The record in Acts 15, and Paul's letter to the Galatians, should settle for all time the question regarding
circumcision and the keeping of the Law.
- "But privately to those who were of reputation" - Paul first had a private conference with those of repute. He and
Barnabas later spoke to the public assembly. Acts 15:12
- We learn from this section that the prominent leaders were Peter, James (probably, the Lord's brother), and John.
- "Lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain." - He is saying, "Lest perhaps, being suspected of preaching
differently from them, his future and past labors might become useless."
- Paul is not indicating that his gospel needed confirmation.
2:3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
- In referring to this meeting at Jerusalem, Paul not only further establishes his apostolic authority, but answers the very
questions which were troubling the churches of Galatia. Gal. 6:12-13
- When the apostles and elders at Jerusalem did not compel Titus to be circumcised, they were admitting that circumcision
wasn't necessary for Gentile Christians. Acts 15:10,19,24,28-29
2:4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty
which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
- "And this occurred" - He went up by revelation to Jerusalem because of intruding false brethren.
- "Because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth...)" - These false brethren are the ones mentioned
in Acts 15:1,5
- The word "stealth" means "having or providing the capacity to evade detection; e.g., a thief, or an airplane."
- The "stealth plane" has the ability to evade radar and from this it gets its name.
- Error can slip in secretly and undetected. See Peter's warning in 2 Peter 2:1-3 and Jude's in Jude 4.
- "To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus" - The Messiah, among other things, was to bring a spiritual
deliverance. Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19; John 8:36
- We have freedom from sin. Rom. 6:17-18
- We have freedom from the fear of death. Heb. 2:14-15
- We have freedom from the condemnation of the Law. Rom. 8:2-4
- "That they might bring us into bondage." - The binding of the Old Law brought people into bondage. Acts 15:10; Gal.
- The errors of men produce bondage.
- We refuse to be in bondage to the traditions and doctrines of men. Col. 2:20-23
- We refuse to be in bondage to anyone except Christ. 1 Cor. 7:22-23; 2 Pet. 2:19
2:5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
- "To whom we did not yield submission even for an hour" - When certain brethren came to Antioch and taught that one
must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them. Acts
- Under no circumstances would Paul compromise the truth.
- He diligently strived to defend, uphold, and teach the truth.
- "That the truth of the gospel might continue with you." The devil has deceived many people today into thinking that as
long as they are believers, it doesn't matter what doctrine they might espouse. Paul taught otherwise.
- In matters of opinion or indifference we should be willing to give up something to keep from causing a weak
brother to go against his conscience, but we can never compromise the truth of the gospel.
- For example, it does not matter as to what time on the Lord's day the church partakes of the Lord Supper;
however, if the church sought to change the day, it would be a different matter.
2:6 But from those who seemed to be something; whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows
personal favoritism to no man; for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
- "But from those who seemed to be something; whatever they were, it makes no difference to me" - We, too, should not
have too high regard for men.
- There have always been prominent men to whom God has given special abilities; however, they should be regarded
no differently than the lowly Christian who serves in some humble fashion.
- Jesus said, "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." Matt. 20:16
- "God shows personal favoritism to no man" - God is no respecter of persons. Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25; James 2:1;
1 Pet. 1:17
- God doesn't accept a man on the basis of his standing among men. Matt. 11:11
- This should also show the Galatians that the Jews did not have better standing than the Gentiles because of their
race or any such thing.
- "For those who seemed to be something added nothing to me." - Those of repute did not add anything regarding the
gospel which Paul had received.
- They gave or imparted nothing. They made not corrections nor additions to his gospel.
- If Paul was a false teacher, as some were claiming, this would have been an excellent time for the apostles and
elders to rebuke or correct him.
2:7-8 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the
gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the
circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
- Instead of opposing him, they recognized that he had received a divine commission to preach among the Gentiles just as
Peter had to preach among the Jews.
- The word "gospel" and "apostleship" can be used interchangeably here.
- We understand, of course, that Paul's work was primarily among the Gentiles, and Peter's primarily among the
- They both were inspired apostles of the Lord.
2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me,
they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the
- "Perceived the grace that had been given to me" - In many other passages, Paul calls his apostleship a grace. 1 Cor. 3:10;
- Notice that Peter is not considered a pope as head of the church, but simply one of the pillars.
- James' name even appears before Peter.
- Bertrand L. Conway, in the Catholic Book, The Question Box, on page 148, says, "Indeed the preeminence of St.
Peter is suggested in many a passage in the New Testament. His name is changed at the first meeting with Christ
(John 1:42), thus indicating the office of rock foundation, which was to be given him later on. He is always named
first in the list of the Apostles (Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:13,14)..."
- "The right hand of fellowship" - This is an old gesture showing common acceptance. Job 17:3; Prov. 6:1
2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
- Paul's teaching and work regarding the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem shows that he was eager to remember
the poor. 1 Cor. 16:1-3; Rom. 15:25-27
- Judea, especially southern Judea, was subject to harsh desert conditions; thus, the saints who lived in this area
often needed help.
2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
Chart #5 - Arguments for the gospel Paul preached, Ch. 1 & 2.
- Paul's gospel or apostleship not from man, 1:1-10
- His conversion and ministry independent of man, 1:11-24
- His gospel maintained against Peter, 2:11-21.
- The hypocritical attitude and conduct of Peter and the Jewish Christians, 2:11-13.
- Paul's reproof, 2:14-21.
- "When Cephas came to Antioch" - Since Paul's account is chronological, no doubt this event occurred after the incidents
recorded in Acts 15, and probably the period mentioned in Acts 15:35
- "I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed" - Paul openly rebuked Peter, not behind his back, but directly
to him in the presence of others.
- There is no place for backstabbing in the body of Christ.
- On this occasion, Peter's conduct conflicted with his own belief and teaching.
- It is much easier to want to do right than to actually do it.
- Just because one was inspired, it did not mean they could not make a mistake in their conduct.
- Though Paul was inspired, he had to exercise constant self-control. 1 Cor. 9:27
2:12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew
and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
- "For before certain men came from James" - James' attitude and knowledge was correct. Acts 15:14-21
- Thus, these men probably weren't the Judaizers, but simply other Jewish Christians.
- "He would eat with the Gentiles" - He was correct at first.
- "But when they came, he withdrew and separated himself" - Peter's conduct was in accord with the false teachers who
tried to bring people back under the requirements of the Old Law.
- Under the Old Law, it was unlawful for a Jew to eat with those of other nations. Deut. 7:3-12; Ezra 9:11-12; Acts
- It had been revealed to Peter that he was not to call the Gentiles "common" or "unclean." Acts 10:28
- He made a defense regarding the Gentiles. Acts 11:1-18
- Notice his testimony at Jerusalem: "us" and "them," "we" and "they." Acts 15:7-11
- However, "old customs die hard."
- "Fearing those who were of the circumcision" - This is the reason for Peter's conduct. Prov. 29:25
- He acted out of fear of what his Jewish brethren might say if they knew he was eating with the Gentiles.
- Peter should have made his stand and insisted that the old Mosical distinctions had been broken down under the
New Testament system.
2:13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their
- "And the rest of the Jews" - The Jewish converts at Antioch followed Peter's example.
- "Also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy."
- The phrase "played the hypocrite with" is from one compound Greek word in the original: "with" and "hypocrite."
The Nestle Aland Interlinear has: "They were hypocritical together" with him.
- The word "hypocrisy" is from the Greek word "hupokrisis" from which we get our English word "hypocrisy."
- The verse shows the power of example. One's example can easily lead others astray.
- Since Barnabas had labored so diligently among the Gentiles; e.g., the first missionary tour, it was strange that he
also was led astray.
- They were being hypocritical in several ways.
- They had formerly eaten with the Gentiles, but now were refusing to do so.
- They knew that Christianity involved full fellowship with all other Christians, but they were untrue to their
2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them
all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as
- "But when I saw that they were not straightforward" - "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly." (KJV).
- The problem was not that they did not know the truth of the gospel, but their actions were not in harmony with it.
- Paul sees the possible danger of a division in the church; namely, Jews and Gentiles.
- It is difficult to say where Paul's rebuke ends. Is it verse 16, 18, or 21?
- We probably have here his rebuke and some of his speech in regard to the faith and the Law.
- "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" -
Peter, by his actions, was compelling the Gentiles to live as the Jews.
- If Peter came to Antioch and began living like Gentiles, he had no right to change and imply that Gentiles should
live like Jews.
- "Actions speak louder than words." What we practice tells people what we believe.
2:15 "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
- These Jews were in some ways better than the common Gentiles, but once a Gentile becomes a Christian, he is in
complete harmony with all others who are Christians.
- The Jews were implying that they were in some way better than the Gentiles; and stronger yet, they were going
back to the old idea that the Gentiles were like dogs and were unclean.
- The Jewish Christian certainly could not look upon the Gentile Christian in this manner.
2:16 "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed
in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the
law no flesh shall be justified.
- Paul mentions three times in this one verse that we are not justified by the works of the Law.
- "Even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ" - This is the purpose for which the
Jews believed (to be justified), and is our purpose for believing as well.
- If we seek justification by pleading our own case before the Judge of the universe, the only possible verdict is,
"guilty as charged." Psalm 143:1-2
- A man who appeared in court was trembling so much so that he could hardly stand up. The judge said to him, "Do
not be afraid; justice will be done." The man replied, "Your honor, justice is what I'm afraid of. What I need is
2:17 "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a
minister of sin? Certainly not!
- If while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners, it does not make Christ the minister of sin.
- Although many so-called Christians do not live up to the principles of Christianity, it does not make Christianity
- The problem lies with man, not with Christ.
- In the book of Romans, as he considered various objections that Jews might raise, Paul said, "For what if some did not
believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?" He answers, "Certainly not!" Rom. 3:3-4
- The way and truth of God does not depend upon the beliefs and actions of men.
2:18 "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
- Paul is saying that if be builds again that which he destroyed (the Old Law which did not justify), he would make himself
- He would be a great transgressor if he rebuilt that which only condemned him.
- When Jewish Christians claimed that Gentiles had to keep the Law, they were self-condemned because they
themselves could not be saved by keeping the Law.
2:19 "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
- "For I through the law died to the law" - The Law itself taught that it would end. Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13
- The Law was a schoolmaster to bring one to Christ. Gal. 3:24-25
- If one follows the Law today, he would no longer be under it, because it teaches him to not be under it.
- Instead of finding in the Law a way of justification, by the very teaching of the Law, Paul was led to abandon the
Law that he might live to God. Rom. 7:1-6; 8:1-2
2:20 "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.
This is a very beautiful verse with numerous personal applications.
- "I have been crucified with Christ" - I have put to death that old man of sin. Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:5-9
- "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" - I am now a new creature in Christ. Christ is now the Master and Lord
of my life.
- I have confessed Him as Lord. Rom. 10:9-10
- I no longer live for myself, but for Him who died for me. 2 Cor. 5:14-15
- Christ lives in me. He is my power for living and my hope for the future. Col. 1:27
- "And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" - Faith in Christ is the guiding force of my
- Since I am in Christ, I have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. Gal. 5:24
- The old man has been crucified, and I no longer serve sin. Rom. 6:6
- "Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - He loves me and washed me from my sins in his own blood. Rev. 1:5
2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
- "I do not set aside the grace of God" - All that God has done through His grace, in sending His Son into the world to
save the world, who be of no avail if righteousness came through the law.
- The words "righteousness" and "justification" come from the same root word.
- "Righteousness" (justification) is having the death of Christ credited as payment for one's sins; thus, through
Christ, one's debt is paid and he stands just (righteous) before God.
- Without Christ there is no justification.
- The false teachers who claimed that one must keep the Law to be saved were undermining the very foundation of the
- The Jews sought justification by the Law, but because of their own weaknesses, instead of being righteous, were
- To be righteous by the Law, one could never violate it in any way. This, no one has ever done, except Christ.
- The death of Christ was unnecessary if the Law made one righteous.
3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ
was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
Chart # 6 - Justification by Faith - Not by the Law, 3:1-5:1.
- By their personal experience, 3:1-5.
- By the case of Abraham, 3:6-9.
- By the inability of the Law to justify, 3:10-12.
- By the redemptive work of Christ, 3:13-14.
- By showing that the blessings promised to Abraham do not come through the Law, 3:15-18.
- By showing the nature and design of the Law, 3:19-22.
- By showing that the faith makes sons of God, 3:23-29.
- By showing they were as children under the Law, but full-grown sons under the faith, 4:1-7.
- By showing that this heirship would be forfeited by a return to bondage and would make Paul's labors in vain, 4:8-20.
- By the allegory of Sarah and Hagar, 4:21-5:1.
- "O foolish Galatians!" - Paul will show how foolish they have been in accepting a Law that had been abolished by the
death of Christ.
- Paul will show them the true nature of the Law of Moses.
- Likewise, an appeal to our own salvation shows us why we should not seek salvation through the Law.
- "Who has bewitched you...? - They were charmed or misled by flattery and false promises.
- Their false concept could only have been introduced by an outside force.
- "Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?" - Christ had been so clearly and vividly
preached, it was the same as if He had been crucified in their presence.
- There was no excuse for them to exchange their glorious salvation through Christ for an old Law which had been
nailed to the cross.
3:2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of
- Paul appeals to their own experience for his first argument to show that Christians are no longer under the Law.
- "This only I want to learn from you" - Paul could ask many questions to expose the false teaching of the Judaizers, but
this one alone should more than suffice.
- "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing of faith?" - The "hearing of faith" can be translated,
"hearing with faith."
- The honest answer to Paul's question should settle the matter once for all; that is, if they appreciated the receiving
of the Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is promised to all who obey the gospel. Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 4:6-7
- If one does not have the Holy Spirit, he is none of His. Rom. 8:9-11
- In that early age, they had the special endowments of the Spirit by the laying on of the apostles' hands. Acts
8:14-16; 19:5-7; 1 Cor. 12:4-11
- All of this came by the hearing with faith, not by the works of the Law.
3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
- Having begun your Christianity in the Spirit (it is the Spirit that gives life), are you trying to perfect your salvation by the
flesh (in the sensual and earthly)? John 6:63
- They were formerly in the flesh. Phil. 3:1-3; Eph. 2:1-3,11
- All Christians are of the Spirit. Rom. 8:1-4
- The Galatians had begun in the power of the Spirit, but now they were trying to perfect their salvation by fleshly means;
e.g., by circumcision and keeping the Law.
3:4 Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain?
- That which they had suffered for Christ when they first believed, is it to be in vain?
- No doubt, they had been persecuted by the Jews and their own unbelieving fellow countrymen, and it would be in
vain if they departed from the faith.
- "If indeed it was in vain" - Paul knew they might see the folly of their course, and turn to God before they lost the reward
of their sufferings.
- Paul's efforts in teaching and encouraging them was to lead them to repentance so that they would not lose the
reward of their sufferings.
- Application: Those who become unfaithful will lose the reward promised for all their sufferings. Matt. 5:11-12
3:5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the
law, or by the hearing of faith?;
- The answer to Paul's question, again, is obvious.
- The Law was unknown to most of the Galatians when they were first converted.
- As mentioned in verse 2, they had received the Spirit.
- The one who supplies (present tense) the Spirit here is probably God. If it was past tense (supplied), it probably
would have been Paul.
- God had supplied the Spirit to the Galatians, and had given them the power to work miracles, and Paul asks, "Did
He do it by the works of the Law, or by the message of faith?"
3:6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
- Paul follows by using Abraham as an example of receiving the blessings of God through faith instead of through the
works of the Law.
- Abraham is a good example to show that one's faith can bring rewards.
- He is also a good example to show that acceptable faith leads to obedience. Heb. 11:8; James 2:20-24
3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
- Only those (notice the word "only") who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
- They are descendants of his faith, not his flesh. Matt. 3:8-9; John 8:39-40; Rom. 4:11,16
- All those who have faith in Christ are indeed spiritual descendants of their father Abraham.
- Believing Jews and Gentiles are the true spiritual children of Abraham because they follow his example of faith.
- They are no longer Hebrews or Gentiles but are simply Christians who are no longer under the Law of Moses but
under the Law of Christ.
3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham
beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed."
- The Scripture is personified as though it was doing the foreseeing and preaching.
- Actually, it was God who foresaw and, through the Scriptures, mentioned these things.
- "Preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand" - Preached the good news to Abraham about the Gentiles being justified
by faith in Christ (the Messiah).
- Paul quotes Gen. 12:3 to show that the Gentiles are included in God's promise to bless all people through
- Paul proceeds to show later in this chapter that Christians are justified by faith in Christ, the "Seed" by whom "all
nations shall be blessed."
3:9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
- Abraham's blessings had been by faith, not by circumcision or works of the Law.
- This verse, and others like it, is not teaching that faith is the only thing that is required.
Chart #7 - What does "Justification by Faith" involve?
(A synecdoche - "a part standing for the whole" - "Faith" stands for everything involved in faith).
- It involves obedience. Rom. 1:5; 16:26
- It involves diligently seeking God. Heb. 11:6
- Abraham had faith that obeyed. Heb. 11:8.
- Faith must work through love. Gal. 5:6.
- We are justified by a faith that works. James 2:14-26.
- The works which must characterize our faith are not the works of the Law, but "works of God" or "works of faith." John
3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does
not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."
In verses 10-12, Paul gives his third argument - The inability of the Law to justify.
- Very plainly, those who seek to be justified by the works of the Law are under a curse.
- Paul quotes Deut. 27:26, one of the 12 curses given in Deut. 27.
- No one continued in "all things" of the Law. Rom. 3:10, 23
- One violation of the Law brought the curse of the Law from which no one could be justified or made right before
- Application: Likewise, no one can keep the Law of Christ perfectly; however, God has blessed us by providing
forgiveness (justification) under Christ. 1 John 1:9
3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
- The Law could not justify because justification is of faith.
- Paul quoted Hab. 2:4 to show that one is justified by faith.
- Though spoken of in Habakkuk, the Law itself did not provide justification by faith as Paul shows in the next
3:12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them."
- The contrast is between "live by faith" (he relies on his faith which is accounted even though his works are not perfect)
and "live by them" (he relies solely on his works) as the conditional element wherein one is justified.
- One had to do "all things" written in the Law; hence, the Law was not primarily of faith, but of works.
- The Law did not rest primarily on faith, but on works.
- If one is justified by the Law, it would not be of faith, or vice versa.
Chart #8 - What the Law could not do:
- Cause one to receive the Spirit, vs. 2
- Cause the working of miracles, vs. 5
- Redeem one from the curse, vs. 13
- Annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God, 17
- Bring the inheritance, vs. 18
- Give life, vs. 21
- Make one a son of God in Christ, vs. 26-29
What the Law did:
- Placed everyone under a curse, vs. 10
- Caused everyone to do all of the Law to be approved, vs. 12
- Made one aware of sin and its consequences, vs.19; see also Rom. 3:20; 7:13
- Brought all under the bondage of sin, vs. 22
- Was a tutor to bring one to Christ, vs. 24
What of those who attempt to follow the Law today?
3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is
everyone who hangs on a tree"),
- Paul gives his fourth argument: Christ's redemption by becoming a curse for us.
- The curse of God rests on all who have sinned. Deut. 21:22-23; Rom. 6:23
- Christ took the curse upon Himself. He suffered in our place for our sins.
- Christ's death satisfied God's justice and appeased His wrath toward the sinner.
- Christ actually redeemed believers from the guilt of sin and from the sentence of eternal death.
3:14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise
of the Spirit through faith.
- Putting the two verses together: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law (1) that the blessings of Abraham might
come upon the Gentiles in Christ, and (2) that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
- "The promise of the Spirit through faith" - This refers to the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts through faith as does
Christ. Eph. 3:17; Rom. 8:9
- We summarize Paul's arguments up to this point which show why the Galatians, or anyone else, should not go back under
the Old Law.
- Their own experience could tell them that the Holy Spirit doesn't come through the Law.
- It is not those who are keeping the Old Law, but those who are of faith, who are blessed with faithful Abraham.
- The Old Law did not provide justification; it brought a curse on all violators.
- We have the blessings through the redemptive work of Christ, not through the Old Law.
- Application: We should never involve ourselves in things of the Law because Christ has redeemed us from its curse.
3:15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one
annuls or adds to it.
Paul continues with his fifth argument by showing that the blessings promised to Abraham did not come through the Law.
The false teachers in Galatia were probably affirming that the observance of the Law was necessary to receive the
Chart #9 - Promise - - - - - Law - - - - - Individual
- Draw an arrow from "Promise" to "Law," and then from "Law" to the "Individual."
- This represents the argument the false teachers were making.
- "I speak in the manner of men" - Paul starts with an illustration from a common human transaction in their dealings with
- "No one annuls or adds to it." - A third party cannot change or add to a confirmed contract.
- Even human covenants, once ratified, are considered final and unchangeable, how much more a covenant made by
God. Mal. 3:6; James 1:17
- No one could add to God's promise the condition of keeping the Law.
3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of
one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
- "He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many" - Paul shows what God had in mind when He said, "And in thy seed shall
all nations of the earth be blessed."
- Often Bibles with cross-references give the wrong cross-reference. Most of them give Gen. 12:3; 18:18; however;
the correct reference is Gen. 22:18.
- The word "seed" can refer to "one or many"; "seeds" refers to only "many." Paul shows what God had in mind.
- The false teachers, no doubt, were saying that all nations of the earth would be blessed in fleshly Israel ("Seeds,"
the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people).
- But God did not use "seeds," (plural only) but the singular "seed"; thus, God meant only one (singular).
- This verse supports "verbal inspiration" (God gave the words), and not "idea inspiration" (God gave the ideas and man
put them into their own words).
- The fact that Paul made an argument on a single word shows that he understood every word to be inspired.
3:17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that
was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
- Putting verses 16 and 17 together, Paul is saying that if a human agreement cannot be annulled or added to, surely the
promise given by God to Abraham cannot be made void or altered by the later giving of the Law.
- Chart #10 - Promise - - - - - Law - - - - - Individual
- Draw an arrow from "Promise" over "Law" to the "Individual."
- The "promise" which we receive today bypasses the Law. Our spiritual blessings do not come to us through the
3:18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
- This verse shows that the inheritance cannot be both by promise and the Law.
- The "inheritance" here represents all the blessings which come to us through God's promise to Abraham.
- These blessings include all spiritual blessings which come through Christ: redemption, sanctification, and
- God granted how the inheritance should be given - by promise.
- This should settle the matter once for all in the minds of the Galatians.
3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to
whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
In Paul's sixth argument, in proving that justification is by faith and not by the Law, he shows the nature and design of the
Law. The false teachers would ask, "If the Law had nothing to do with the promise, why was it given?
- "It was added because of transgressions" - "Added" shows it was independent of the promise.
- The Law was added on account of the wickedness of the people, to curb their sinfulness.
- The Law showed what sin was, why it was wrong, and gave just penalty for it. Rom. 7:13
- The Law revealed man's utter sinfulness, his inability to save himself, and his desperate need for a Savior.
- "Till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made" - The Law was given until the Messiah would come to bless
- The "to whom" refers generally "to all nations," but specifically "to those who receive the benefits of the promise,"
- "It was appointed through angels" - Angels were involved in the giving of the Law. Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2
- "By the hand of a mediator." - The mediator was Moses.
- Deut. 5:5 says, "I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD..." This
is the very meaning of a mediator.
- In the giving of the Law, the angels were representatives of God; Moses, as mediator, represented the people.
3:20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
- "Now a mediator does not mediate for one only" - "There is no intermediary where there is only one..." (Confraternity
Catholic Translation). "Now an intermediary implies more than one..." (RSV).
- There are many interpretations on verses 19c and 20.
- The best way to understand any passage is in the light of its context. In context, Paul is examining the giving of the
Law and the giving of the promise.
- The Law required a "mediator" which indicates a contract depending for its fulfillment on the observance of the
- The promise requires no mediator. Its fulfillment depends on the One God by whom it was given. Heb. 6:13-19
- Thus, Paul shows the superiority of the promise by simply reminding the Galatians how both the Law and promise
- The Law was not superior to the promise, because it had a mediator, whereas the promise came directly
- "But God is one" - God is the One Sovereign.
- The One, unchangeable God, dealt with Abraham by direct promise as a Sovereign, and not as one forming a
contract with another party with conditions and a mediator.
- God couldn't have been the mediator of Himself because God is One.
- The promise came directly from God, and it was dependent on Him alone for its fulfillment.
3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have
given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
- In this verse, Paul answers a second objection that might be raised.
- The false teachers, no doubt, would say that Paul's reasoning on the Law and promise makes the Law and promise
in opposition to each other.
- Paul uses the strongest Greek negative, "Certainly not!" to show that the Law is not in opposition to the promise.
- If there had been a Law which could have given life, righteousness (justification) would have been given by it.
- However, the Law did not give life; thus, justification was not by it.
- The Law and promise were in harmony with each other.
- The Law revealed man's sinfulness and the need for the salvation which was offered in the promise.
- If the Law could have provided righteousness, there would be no need for the promise.
3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those
- "But the Scripture has confined all under sin" - The Greek word translated "confined" means "to enclose on all sides."
- Thus, the "Scripture," (the Old Testament Scriptures, often used synonymously with "the Law"), had hopelessly
imprisoned in sin all those who were under it.
- The New Testament Scripture has likewise proven all to be sinners (Rom. 3:19,23), the difference being that
complete and immediate forgiveness is readily available to all who will repent (Acts 3:19).
- "That the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" - The Law caused people to long for the
deliverance that would come through faith in the Messiah.
- If the Galatians understood the design of the Law, that it made one realize his need for a Savior, they would not want to
go back under it.
- Application: Let us strive to have acceptable faith that we might receive the glorious benefits which were promised.
3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be
Paul gives his seventh argument to show that justification is by faith and not by the Law. He shows that justification is by
faith because it is the faith that makes sons of God.
Chart #11 - 7. By showing that the faith makes sons of God, vs. 26-29.
- This sonship is through faith, vs. 26.
- This sonship is through baptism into Christ, vs. 27.
- This sonship declares oneness in Christ regardless of nationality, social status, or sex, vs. 28.
- This sonship identifies baptized believers as Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise, vs. 29.
- "We were kept under guard by the law" - "Under guard" in the Greek is, literally, "Kept in ward, prison."
- Paul personifies the Law as a jailer who kept guilty, condemned sinners in prison.
- The Law did not deliver them (those under it) from sin, but served to bring them to Christ who would deliver
- "Kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed." - The Jews were bound (kept under guard) until the faith would
- The faith unlocks the door where the Law kept sinners bound.
- The faith releases people from the bondage of the Law.
3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
- The Greek word "tutor" or "schoolmaster," (literally "pedagogue") referred to a faithful servant entrusted with the care
of a child until it reached adulthood.
- They escorted the child to and from school and watched over their behavior at home.
- They were often strict disciplinarians, which caused those under them to long for the day when they would be
freed from their custody.
- The Law served as a tutor who watched over them (those under it) as children until they should attain their manhood and
be justified by faith in Christ.
- The Law revealed their sinfulness, and need of a Savior.
- It also contained many prophecies and much information regarding the coming Messiah.
3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
- The Law led to Christ, and thereupon, its purpose ceased.
- The coming of the faith, or the gospel system, revealed that the Law had served its purpose and was no longer binding.
- When the new system came, they were freed from the restraints of the Law. They were no longer under the tutor.
3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
- They were no longer under a tutor (watched over as children), because now they were sons (full-grown with all the
privileges of the sons of God).
- They are now emancipated, and walking in liberty as children of the King.
- All who are sons of God are such through faith in Christ Jesus.
- It follows that those who do not have faith in Christ are not God's children, but children of the devil. Matt. 13:38;
Eph. 2:2-3 1 John 5:19
- The term "faith" often stands for the whole of faith (all that is involved in acceptable faith).
- Acceptable faith requires much more than mental acknowledgment. Matt. 7:21
3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- Thus, this sonship is "through baptism."
- They were sons of God "for" or "because" they were baptized into Christ.
- This verse clearly shows that a person does not put on Christ until he is baptized.
- In the very act of baptism, one "puts on" or "clothes himself with" Christ.
3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus.
- This sonship declares oneness in Christ.
- All baptized believers are one in Christ regardless of nationality, social status, or sex.
- The advantages of birth, social position, or human relationships do not secure the promise made to Abraham, but
baptized believers are his true descendants and heirs of the blessings.
3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Chart #12 - All the Jewish Terms Are Applied to Christians
Children of Abraham - Gal. 3:7
Abraham's Seed - Gal. 3:29
The Israel of God - Gal. 6:16
The Circumcision - Phil. 3:3
A Jew Inwardly - Rom. 2:28-29
The Chosen People - 1 Pet. 2:9
- "Then you are Abraham's seed" - This sonship identifies baptized believers as Abraham's descendants who are the heirs
according to the promise.
- They are Abraham's spiritual descendants in the sense that they follow the pattern of his faith.
- "And heirs according to the promise." - All baptized believers are heirs of the spiritual blessings which came through the
- These spiritual blessings are found in Christ. Eph. 1:3
- Also, we are heirs of eternal life (the eternal kingdom) which has been promised. Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:11-19; James
- If the Galatians could understand that the purpose of the Law was to bring one to Christ, and that baptized believers were
the sons of God, recipients of the promise, surely they would not want to go back under the Law.
4:1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
Paul now gives his eight argument for "Justification by faith, and not the Law." He shows that the Jews were as children
(under age) while under the Law, but now they are as full grown sons under the faith.
Chart #13 - 8. Children under the Law, but full-grown sons under the faith, 4:1-7.
(Note: This chart can be reproduced in columns to show the contrast).
- The Law (physical side)
- Children (under age), 1a
- Like slaves, 1b
- Under guardians - bondage, 2a, 3
- Not reached time appointed, 2b
- The faith (spiritual side)
- Sons (maturity), 5b
- No longer slaves, 7
- Free - redeemed, 5a
- Fullness of time came, 4
- "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child" - The word "child" in the Greek means "one under age, a minor."
- "Does not differ from a slave, though he is master of all." - When the child is under age, he is in the same situation as a
- He may be "master of all" by title, future position, and future ownership, but now, since he is under age, he is no
different from a slave.
- While the Jews were under the Law, they were as slaves, not as the rightful heirs.
4:2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
- "But is under guardians and stewards" - "Guardians" were slaves entrusted with the care of underage children, and
"stewards" managed their property until they became of age.
- Along with the tutor (3:24), they had almost complete charge of the child so that, for all practical purposes, a child
under their care did not differ from a slave.
- "Until the time appointed by the father." - Both Jews and Gentiles would readily understand Paul's imagery because they
had ceremonies to mark a child's coming of age.
- Under the Mosical age, they had not reached the time appointed by God.
4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
- "Were in bondage under the elements of the world" - The word "element" means, "Any first thing from which the others
belonging to some series, or composite whole, take their rise; rudimentary, first principals." (Derived from Thayer).
- For example, it can refer to the elements from which all things have come, the material makeup of the universe.
- Also, it can refer to the basic elements and rituals of religion. Gal. 4:9-10; Col. 2:8,20
- Again, under the Law, they were in bondage to the basic elements like immature children in bondage to a guardian.
4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
- "But when the fullness of time had come" - When the time appointed by God was ready (when the exact religious,
cultural, and political conditions were in place), He sent forth His Son to free all those under the Law. Mark 1:15
- Had Christ come immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, the enormity and deadly fruits of sin would not have
been fully realized.
- Later, man's inability to save himself by obedience to Law, whether that of Moses or the conscience, was
- "God sent forth His Son" - Jesus was not His Son by adoption as we are, but He was the only begotten Son who was in
the bosom of the Father. John 1:18
- "Born of a woman" - This emphasizes Jesus' humanity. Rom. 1:3
- Jesus was fully God, but was also fully man.
- "Born under the law" - Jesus lived under the Law and submitted Himself to it.
- Unlike anyone else, He perfectly obeyed that Law. John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15
- His sinlessness made Him the perfect sacrifice without blemish and spot. 1 Pet. 1:18-19.
4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
- "To redeem those who were under the law" - In his analogy, Paul is referring primarily to the Jews, but the Gentiles, too,
were included in the redemption. Gal. 3:13
- "The adoption as sons" - "Adoption" is "the act of taking into one's family through legal means someone who is the child
of another." (Webster)
- Since alien sinners are the children of the devil, the only way they can become God's children is by spiritual
adoption. Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5
4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba,
- "And because your are sons, God has sent forth" - Since through the work of Christ we have received the adoption of
sons, His Spirit can be sent to us who belong to Him. Rom. 8:15
- Notice that His Spirit is not sent "to make you sons," but is sent "because you are sons."
- "The Spirit of His Son" - Here "the Spirit of His Son" refers to the Spirit of Christ and not the Holy Spirit.
- "Abba Father" - The Jew said, "Abba" (a Hebrew term), and the Greek said, "Father" (a Greek term for "father" in the
- Both Jews and Greeks now unite in one sonship and one cry to the Father.
- The Spirit of God's only begotten Son in our hearts, leading us to cry, "Abba, Father," attests to our sonship by
- The ability to pray in such a fashion is the consequence of our adoption.
4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
- We, as the adopted sons of God, are the rightful heirs who have received the spiritual blessings which came through
- Also, we are the heirs who are to receive the eternal inheritance. Rom. 8:17; Rev. 21:7
- The Law had kept the Jews in the state of children under age, whereas the faith had brought them into the position of
- The Christians of Galatia should see why they shouldn't become entangled in the bondage of the Jewish Law, but
should enjoy the spiritual liberty which they had in Christ.
- We also learn this principle.
4:8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
Paul now gives his ninth argument showing that justification is by faith and not by the Law.
Chart #14 - 9. By showing that this heirship would be forfeited by a return to bondage and would make Paul's
labors in vain, 4:8-20.
- Paul rebukes them for their observances, 8-11.
- Paul makes a personal appeal concerning his labors among them, 12-20.
- He showed how they originally received him, 12-15.
- The motives of the false teachers, 16-18
- Paul's genuine concern for them, 19-20.
- "When ye did not know God" - Any person who does not obey the word of God does not know God. 1 John 1:3-5
- "Those which by nature are not gods" - Their gods existed only in their own imagination.
- Consider Isaiah's satire on the gods made of wood. Isa. 44:16-20
4:9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and
beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
- "Or rather are known by God" - To be truly known (recognized, favored) by God is what really matters. 2 Tim. 2:19; 1
- "Weak and beggarly elements" - Why turn again to the weak (powerless to justify) beggarly (poor and lacking regarding
riches) elements (rudimentary or elementary things of religion)?
- "To which you desire again to be in bondage?" - Though the Gentile Christians had never been under the Mosical yoke,
they had been under the "elements of the world" (Gal. 4:3).
- Both the Jew and Gentile were in bondage to the elements in the sense that they thought that justification and
sanctification could be given through the laws they were under.
- Justification can only be bestowed through the gospel system through Christ.
4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
- "Sabbaths, new moons, and set feasts" (1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 31:3), answer to "days, months, seasons and years" of
the Jewish calendar.
- The false teaches in Galatia (the judaizers) were making circumcision and observing the Old Law necessary for salvation.
- The "binding" of these observances on others makes them wrong.
- For one to observe a particular day; e.g., for prayer and study, is not wrong. Rom. 14:5-6
- However, if one binds such on others as necessary for salvation, it becomes wrong.
4:11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
- "Afraid for you" - He had fear regarding their soul salvation.
- He was concerned about the apparent danger of them being lost.
- "Lest I have labored for you in vain" - All of his work toward them would be in vain if they departed from the faith.
4:12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.
In verses 12-20, after rebuking the Galatians, Paul changes his approach and makes a personal appeal based on his strong
affection for them. First, he reminds them how they had first received him.
- "I urge you to become like me" - Paul often appealed to brethren to imitate him as he imitated Christ. 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1;
- "For I became like you." - He became all things to all men so that he might convert some. 1 Cor. 9:22
- Though he was a Jew, he became as a Gentile among the Gentiles.
- Also, he had become like them regarding their non-injurious, gentle spirit.
- "You have not injured me at all." - They did not try to harm him as others did; e.g., at Lystra. Acts 14:19
4:13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
- An illness had something to do with his preaching there on the first occasion.
- Perhaps a sickness (malaria, or something similar), detained him among them and, thus, was the occasion of his
preaching the gospel to them.
4:14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even
as Christ Jesus.
- "My temptation" or "my trial" appears in several manuscripts and in the KJV and NKJV.
- It means that the physical infirmity was a trial to Paul.
- The Galatians received Paul in spite of his illness.
- "Your temptation" or "your trial" appears in the Vulgate and Coptic versions, and in the American Standard Version.
- His illness could have been a temptation for the Galatians to reject Paul. No one likes to be around a sick person
or one with a disease of some sort.
- However, his illness was in no way a barrier to their acceptance of him.
- "As an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." - Instead of persecuting him as many others did, they graciously received him
as a messenger from heaven, even as the Lord Himself. 1 Thess. 2:3
4:15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out
your own eyes and given them to me.
- "What then was the blessing you enjoyed?" - Literally: "the congratulation of yourselves."
- "Where then is that sense of blessing you had?" (NASV). "What has happened to all your joy?" (NIV). "You were
happy then, but where is that joy now?" (NCV).
- The Galatians had been happy and content with his preaching and he is asking why they had now changed.
- They once counted themselves blessed and favored by his work among them, but they had now changed.
- "You would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me." - Great love for Paul was initially expressed by the
- Some say this shows that Paul's infirmity had somehow affected his eyes.
- However, it probably is simply a figure of speech showing their gracious attitude toward him.
4:16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
- They were at first very thankful for Paul and his service, so much so that no sacrifice for him would have been too great,
but now through the influence of the false teachers, they regarded him as an enemy.
- Paul hadn't changed; the gospel hadn't changed; and they shouldn't now consider Paul an enemy when he preached
the same truth to them.
- Fools and sinners hate reproof, but the righteous are profited by it. Psalm 141:5; Prov. 9:8; 13:18
- We, too, will make enemies by teaching truth.
4:17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
- "They zealously court you, but for no good" - "They zealously seek you in no good way" (ASV). "These people are
zealous to win you over, but for no good." (NASV).
- The evil teachers among them appeared to have a genuine interest in the Galatians, but their motive was to win
recognition for themselves.
- "Yes, they want to exclude you" - We suggest two ways they were excluding them:
- From justification by the gospel alone.
- By their false teaching (binding the Law), they excluded the Gentile Christians from true justification in
- From the fellowship of the faithful.
- They would exclude the Gentile Christians on the grounds that they were on a lower spiritual level.
- The only way they could reach a higher level was, of course, relying on them, and what they taught.
- Thus, they promised liberty, but brought them into bondage. Matt. 23:15; 2 Pet. 2:19
- "That you may be zealous for them" - Thus, they were purely selfish in motive.
- These teachers wished to separate the Galatians from Paul. When separated from him, they would then turn to
these teachers for guidance.
- Application: The same is true today of false teachers who would turn people from the Bible so that they will rely
on them; e.g., the Catholic and Mormon systems.
4:18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
- "It is good to be zealous in a good thing always" - This corresponds to "zealously court" in verse 17.
- Paul is saying he did not find fault with those teachers in zealously courting them, or for them to be zealous
toward their teachers; provided, it be in a good sense.
- The mutual affection between the teacher and students is good when it is there for the right motive.
- Their gratitude for Paul at the first was good because it was there for the right cause.
- "And not only when I am present with you." - Their affection toward Paul shouldn't have changed because Paul was no
longer with them.
- Application: To always have zeal is good (toward the Lord and gospel teachers), and it should be there without
undue pressures from men.
4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
- "My little children" - An expression of affectionate love.
- The very pain and anguish that Paul endured in bringing the Galatians into Christ, he was again experiencing because of
their present failures.
- He would be in anguish until they were again in the right relation with the Lord.
4:20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
- This verse indicates that Paul knew he could probably change their attitude if he were present with them.
- He wanted to be there working with them so that he could change his tone (from rebuke to praise, from harshness
- "For I have doubts about you." - He was perplexed regarding them.
- As he had mentioned earlier, he marveled that they had so quickly removed from the gospel. Gal.1:6
4:21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
Paul makes his final argument (tenth) to show that justification is by faith and not by the Law. He gives an allegory of Sarah
AN ALLEGORY OF TWO COVENANTS
|Hagar - Mount Sinai in Arabia
Jerusalem which now is
||Sarah - mother of all the free
The Jerusalem above
Jews under O.C.
Christians under N.C.
|Born by natural birth - Ishmael
Gives birth to bondage
Jews born under O.C.
||Born through promise - Isaac
Gives birth to freedom
Spiritual birth under N.C.
|Ishmael a persecutor
|Hagar in bondage with her children
Bondage under the Law
||The mother of us all is free
Christians are free
|Bondwoman cast out with her son
Shall not be heir
Abrogation of O.C.
Rejection of Jews
||We are the children of the freewoman -
Establishment of N.C.
Acceptance of Christians
- "You who desire to be under the law..." - No one should desire to be under the whole or any part of the Law.
- "Do you not hear the Law?" - The Law, itself, teaches that one should not be under the Law; e.g., Jer. 31:31-34; Heb.
- The Law, itself, leads one away from itself to Christ; e.g., it served as a schoolmaster to bring one to Christ.
4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
- The two sons, of course, were Ishmael and Isaac. The two women were Sarah and Hagar who was Sarah's Egyptian
4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
- "Born according to the flesh" - Ishmael was born through natural means. Gen. 16:1-4,15
- Isaac was born through the promise of God. Gen. 18:10; 21:1-7
- God miraculously enabled Sarah to bear Isaac when she had been barren all her life, and was well past the
childbearing age (90 years old, Gen. 17:17).
4:24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to
bondage, which is Hagar;
- "Which things are symbolic" - The word "symbolic" is literally, "allegory" in the original and means, "a story that
conveyed a meaning beyond the literal sense of the words."
- Paul uses actual historical events, whereas modern allegories often use fictitious stories; e.g., John Bunyan's
- Perhaps Paul's reason for using his allegory was to confront the Judaizers with their own weapons.
- They used subtle, mystical, allegorical interpretations, unauthorized by the Spirit; e.g., the Talmud is
full of such.
- The "Talmud" is a collection of ancient Rabbinic writings constituting the basis of religious authority
in Orthodox Judaism.
- Paul meets them with an allegorical exposition, not from the human imagination, but by revelation of the
- As shown in Chart #15 above, Paul used mothers, places, sons, births, dispositions, states, and results to form his
- The two mothers represent the two covenants - the old and the new.
- The first mother "from Mount Sinai gives birth to bondage."
- Ishmael, born by natural birth, gives birth to bondage, and represents the Jews born under the Old
4:25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with
- The Arabians to this day call Mount Sinai, "Hadschar," that is, "Hagar," meaning "a rock or stone."
- Hagar twice fled into the desert of Arabia. Gen. 16:1-16; 21:9-21
- Hagar, the bondwoman, is symbolic of the covenant given at Mount Sinai.
- She corresponds to the Jerusalem that now is (the one in Paul's day) which was formed on the Old Covenant and
was in bondage to it.
- She and her children are characteristic of the Jews under the Law in a state of bondage.
4:26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- The second mother, Sarah, fitly represents the heavenly Jerusalem.
- She and her son represent Christians under the New Covenant who have the state of freedom.
- Christians are already citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem which is to be manifested in the hereafter. Heb. 12:22-24;
- In contrast, non-Christians are in bondage as were Hagar's children .
4:27 For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband."
- Paul quotes Isaiah who had made this allusion to the experience of Sarah.
- Isaiah was describing the restoration of literal Jerusalem, the enlargement of her borders, and the coming greatness
of the rebuilt city. Isa. 54:1-15
- Paul pictures the joyful spirit and the prosperity of Sarah and makes Christians a part of it along with Isaac.
- The "desolate" in this passage has reference to Sarah and, thus, "she who has an a husband" refers to Hagar.
- In the long run, Sarah, who was desolate and barren, had more descendants than Hagar who, for a time, appeared
to be the only one who would have children by Abraham.
- Likewise, in the long run, the spiritual children of the desolate (Christians) far out number the children of the
bondwoman (those under the Law).
4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
- As Isaac, we had a spiritual birth, and have freedom.
- Isaac, born through promise, gives birth to freedom, and represents the spiritual birth under the New Covenant.
- Just as Isaac was a child given by the promise of God, so we are the recipients of God's redemptive promises,
because we are spiritual heirs of Abraham.
4:29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even
so it is now.
- Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac back then (Gen. 21:9), the Jews persecuted Christians in Paul's day. Acts 9:29; 2 Thess.
- Those who are not born of promise (by the spiritual birth) are in bondage, and are still persecuting Christians
- Unbelievers persecute believers because the behavior of believers (their actions and teaching) condemns that of
unbelievers. Heb. 11:7; John 3:19-21; Eph. 5:13
4:30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the
bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
- God agreed to what Sarah had said (Gen. 21:9-12); thus, when God sanctioned it, it was the same as God saying it, or as
the Scripture saying it.
- What the Scripture said is representative of the rejection of the Jews and the abolishing of the Law.
- Also, it is symbolical of the acceptance of Christians who are made heirs and given liberty; e.g., the son of the
freewoman shall be the only heir.
- Those who are attempting to be justified on the basis of the Law will be cast out from God's presence.
4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
- We are not children of the bondwoman whose son, according to Scripture, was not to be heir, but of the freewoman
whose son, according to Scripture, was to be heir.
- All who are made free by Christ are free indeed. John 8:31-36
- We are not cast out as Ishmael was, but are accepted as sons and heirs.
5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke
- This verse gives personal application of the preceding verses.
- To be benefitted, we must make application to ourselves. Paul is exhorting each one of us to stand fast in the
liberty in Christ.
- When one has glorious liberty in Christ, why would he want to be entangled again in a yoke of bondage?
- The verse implies that if we don't stand fast in our liberty in Christ, we will have bondage all over again. 2 Pet.
5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
In the closing two chapters, Paul mainly gives personal application for basic Christian living.
Chart #16 - Paul's appeal to the Galatians to steadfastness, faithfulness, and duty. Ch. 5 & 6
- Liberty in the gospel, 5:2-12.
- Circumcision demands complete obedience to the Law, 2-5.
- Words against the false teachers, 7-12.
- Limitations and powers of freedom, 5:13-26.
- Freedom should produce love (serving each other, not devouring one another), 13-15.
- Victory over the flesh, 16-26.
- Demands of freedom, 6:1-10.
- Mutual helpfulness and responsibilities, 1-5.
- We will reap what we sow, 6-10.
- Concluding remarks, 6:11-18.
- Motives of the Judaizers compared with his own, 12-17.
- Benediction, 18.
- "If you become circumcised" - In verses 2 and 3, Paul gives two things which follow if one becomes circumcised in order
to be justified.
- "Christ will profit you nothing." - All of the spiritual blessings which are "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3) are lost when one seeks to
be justified by the things of the Law.
5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
- "He is a debtor to keep the whole law." - The Law stands as a unit.
- We cannot pick out the things we want to do, and leave the others undone. James 2:10-11
- Denominational churches have not learned this basic divine principle.
5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
- "You have become estranged from Christ" - The Greek word for "estranged" means "made void, severed, or abolished."
- "You have been abolished from Christ." (Nestle Aland Greek Interlinear).
- Those who attempt to be justified by the Law are severed or abolished from Christ.
- Christ can benefit only those who seek to be justified by Him, and only those who abide in Him. John 15:6
- "You have fallen from grace." - Clearly, one can fall from the grace of God.
- One cannot fall from where he hasn't been. As the country boy said, "You can't no more fall from where you ain't
never been, than you can come back from someplace you ain't never gone!"
- The Hebrew writer exhorts God's children to be careful lest they fall short of the grace of God. Heb. 12:15
5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
- "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness." (ASV)
- Paul shows the view or stand of the true Christian.
- Those of us who are in union with Christ, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and by the faith which we have
in our hearts, eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
- The "hope of righteousness" is someday being in heaven where righteousness dwells, and where one receives the
crown of righteousness. Rev. 21:27; 2 Tim. 4:8
- "Righteousness," or "justification" is already obtained by the believer, but he eagerly waits for the consummation
of it in glorification (the object of his hope). Rom. 8:30
5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
- To those in Christ, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any profit or benefit.
- It is the faith that works through love that avails.
- According to John, to be "born of God," we must:
- Have faith - 1 John 5:1.
- Be working - 1 John 2:29.
- Have love - 1 John 4:7.
- The one who has acceptable faith does the works of God because he has genuine love for God and man is his
- A faith that does not work through love cannot avail anything.
5:7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
In verses 7-12, Paul, again, gives words of rebuke to the false teachers.
- "You ran well." - Paul compares the Christian life to running a race.
- The Galatians were like a runner who had a good beginning, but soon failed to run.
- So it is today, many make a good beginning, but soon fall away. Luke 8:13
- "Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" - The word "hindered" "...Was used of impending persons by breaking up
the road, or by placing an obstacle sharply in the path; hence, metaphorically...of hindering progress in the Christian
- Continued obedience is necessary.
5:8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
- It was not God who hindered them from obeying the truth.
- It certainly was not God who had persuaded them to now accept error.
5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
- A small amount of leaven placed in the lump of dough soon permeates the whole lump. So it is with error. Error left
unchecked soon spreads to the whole church.
- Paul used the same thought with reference to allowing immorality within the congregation. 1 Cor. 5:5-6
- When sin is looked upon lightly and tolerated within the congregation, it influences others to sin.
- The teaching of one (or a few) can corrupt a whole church (and sometimes several churches); thus, it must be
refuted and exposed.
5:10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his
judgment, whoever he is.
- "I have confidence in you" - Paul still had confidence in the Galatians. He always used words of commendation whenever
- "In the Lord" - Paul knew that without the Lord both he and the Galatians would be nothing.
- "That you will have no other mind" - He had confidence that they would be as he desired of them, as he was requesting
of them throughout his epistle.
- "But he who troubles you shall bear his judgment" - All false teachers will incur strict and devastating eternal judgment
from Almighty God.
- Paul gave a solemn charge to Timothy to "preach the word"; in others words, don't preach your own, or some
man's doctrine, but preach the word of God. 2 Tim. 4:1-4
- "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." 1 Pet. 4:11 (KJV)
5:11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross
- Paul's question shows that he was not preaching circumcision (as perhaps some were claiming), because he was still being
persecuted by the Jews.
- False teachers often claim sympathizers to their cause when they have no right to do so.
- "Then the offense of the cross has ceased." - "Then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away." (ASV).
- If Paul would preach circumcision alone with the gospel, the preaching of the cross would no longer be an offense
or a stumbling-block to the Jews.
- The Jews would have tolerated his teaching, if he had mixed in circumcision and keeping the Law, and if he
had, through the medium of Christianity, brought converts to Judaism.
5:12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
- "Would even cut themselves off!" - There are two possible ideas here:
- Paul gives an exaggeration for effect; that is, he is saying that he wishes they would mutilate or castrate
- This is a possibility as shown by various versions; e.g., "mutilate themselves" (NASV), "castrate
themselves," (NRSV) "emasculate themselves" (NIV).
- The Greek word for "cut themselves off" was often used of castration such as was in various cults where
the priests were self-made eunuchs.
- Since the Judaizers were so insistent on circumcision as a means of pleasing God, Paul is saying that they
should go to the extreme of cult devotion and mutilate themselves.
- Paul is saying that he wishes they would cut themselves off from the church.
- In other words, these teachers who insist on "cutting off" (circumcision), need to go all the way and cut
themselves off from the body of Christ.
5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but
through love serve one another.
- "Have been called to liberty" - "Called for freedom" (ASV). "Called unto liberty" (KJV).
- The false teachers were causing the Gentile Christians to return to a bondage which was somewhat similar to their
- "Only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh" - "Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for
- With reference to the negative side, freedom in Christ does not give us exemption from restraints. 1 Pet. 2:16
- "But through love serve one another." - It is through love that they were to be servants to one another.
- With reference to the positive side, we use our freedom to be servants to one another.
5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
- Love fulfills the whole Law. Matt. 22:36-40; Rom. 13:8-10
- When a Christian genuinely loves others, he fulfills all the moral requirements of the Law.
- Love is the ruling principle of Christian freedom.
5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
- In contrast, if you don't have love, and bite and devour one another, you will be destroyed by one another.
- Consider this old illustration regarding bird dogs. "Well-trained bird dogs are a marvelous sight to behold as they
work the brushy fields. They work hard at sniffing out the game birds. They are trained so that when they
eventually find the birds, they will freeze in a pointing stance. Often, the dogs shake and tremble as they are in their
frozen position. It is against their nature to stand and do nothing. When the hunter gets into position, he gives the
command and the dogs flush out the birds. The hunter shoots the birds as they fly off, and the dogs find the dead
ones and bring them to the hunter. Well trained bird dogs all work together in their task of hunting birds.
However, when the dogs are back in their pens, they often bark and growl at one another. With no birds to hunt,
they often turn to bite and snap at each another."
- Likewise, when Christians are not busy in the Lord's work, they often bite and devour one another. Let us,
through love, be busy in our service to one another, and in reaching lost souls for Christ. Biting and devouring
leads to self destruction.
5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Paul continues with the duties connected with the possession of freedom in Christ. In verses 16-26, Paul shows that liberty
in Christ is not to be perverted into licentiousness, but maintained through walking by the Spirit and crucifying the flesh.
- "Walk in the Spirit" - "Walk by the Spirit" (ASV, NASV).
- Some commentaries use "Spirit" to indicate man's spiritual part - the mind and conscience.
- Here, no doubt, it refers to the Holy Spirit and involves following the teaching revealed by the Holy Spirit in the gospel.
- "Shall not fulfill the lust of flesh." - Walking in the Spirit keeps one from fulfilling evil fleshly desires.
- Jesus taught a lesson regarding seven evil spirits who returned to possess a person. It emphasizes the need to
supply good in the place of the bad. Matt. 12:43-45
5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so
that you do not do the things that you wish.
- "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" - The flesh lusts (strives, contends) against the
Spirit, and the Spirit strives against the flesh and its influence.
- These two forces are at war with each other.
- There is a constant struggle within the individual.
- Paul vividly described that inward struggle when he referred to his condition under the Law in Rom. 7:7-8:2
- "So that you do not do the things that you wish." - The force of the lust of the flesh holds one back from doing want he
wants to do.
- The flesh opposes the Spirit and leads one toward sinful behavior.
- We should seek to totally yield ourselves to the Spirit.
5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
- Those who are led by the Spirit are not under a system which in based mainly on law as was the various systems of old.
- Other passages show that we are indeed under law to Christ. Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21
- Law has its primary application to the wicked, fleshly man, not the righteous; in other words, the righteous man, in
his present condition, is not driven primarily by the condemning force of law. 1 Tim. 1:8-11
- The righteous are driven primarily by the Spirit which is a far more powerful force.
5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
In verses 19-23, Paul confirms what he said in verses 16-18 by contrasting the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
For other similar lists, see Rom. 1:24-31; 1 Cor. 6:9-10.
- "Adultery" - Illicit sexual relations of married persons.
- This carried the death penalty under the Law. Lev. 20:10
- "Fornication" - Illicit sexual relations; sexual immorality; it includes illicit sexual relations of single or unmarried persons,
adultery, homosexuality, etc.
- When listed alone, it includes adultery.
- "Uncleanness" - Similar to lasciviousness, lewdness; it refers to unnatural practices; and covers a wide range of moral or
- 2 Cor. 12:21 uses "uncleanness" alone with fornication and lasciviousness.
- "Lewdness" - Similar to uncleanness; shameful indulgences in impurity; denotes that which tends to produce lewd
emotions; licentiousness, absence of restraint, indecency, wantonness.
- The difference between "uncleanness" and "lewdness" is "unnatural practices" and "that which tends to produce
- This same term (translated "filthy") is used of the conduct of men of Sodom. 2 Pet. 2:7
5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
- There was an old sermon entitled, "The Devil's Hamburger" (e.g., the meat between the buns) which showed that the sins
most common among brethren are those in the middle of this list. It starts with "hatred" and ends with "envy."
- Those sins have to do with human relationships; especially, those among brethren.
- "Idolatry" - The worship of a physical object as a god; an attachment or devotion to something in the place of God.
- Covetousness is idolatry. Col. 3:5
- "Sorcery" - Witchcraft; the employment of drugs in charms and enchantments; pretending to have magical powers.
- "Hatred" - Enmities; suggests positive enmity which may be opened or concealed; it leads to the making of enemies,
- "Contentions" - Variance, strife, fightings, discord; bitter, sometimes violent, conflict or dissension; outward conflict.
- "Jealousies" - Emulations, ambitious or envious revelry; the hostile and envious attitude shown when others equal or
excel; similar to envyings.
- "Outbursts of wrath" - Uncontrolled anger, passion, usually with physical harm in mind; bitter resentment.
- "Selfish ambitions" - Similar to dissensions and heresies; seeking to win followers for selfish reasons; the party spirit
marked by contentions.
- "Dissensions" - Divisions; denotes dissension and discord to the point of causing others to depart.
- "Heresies" - An opinion, especially a self-willed opinion which is substituted for submission to the power of truth and
leads to the formation of sects or parties.
5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in
time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- "Envy" - Grieving at the happiness of others; the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the
advantages or prosperity of others.
- Similar to jealousies, but stronger. It causes one to seek harm to the one envied.
- "Murders" - To unlawfully kill someone; unlawful taking of a life, especially when done with deliberation or
- The word "murders" is left out of some of the ancient manuscripts.
- "Drunkenness" - Drinking alcoholic beverages; drinking to intoxication.
- "Revelries" - Carrying to excess such things as feasting and drinking; a wild party or celebration accompanied by
- 1 Pet. 4:3 lists drunkenness, revelries, and drinking parties
- "And the like"- Works which are similar to these.
- Chart # 17 - Discerning Both Good and Evil
Discerning Both Good And Evil
||Works of the Flesh
|To which group
do these belong?
|Fruit of Spirit
- "Will not inherit the kingdom of God." - Those who practice such things will not receive eternal life in heaven. Rev. 21:8;
1 Cor. 6:9-10
- Let us thank God that we as Christians have continual forgiveness as we daily comply with the Lord's terms of
pardon. 1 John 1:9
5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
- "Fruit of the Spirit" - Notice that the word "fruit" is singular; however, other passages do use it in the plural, "fruits."
Phil. 1:11; James 3:17
- The word "fruit" is used figuratively of works or deeds; it refers to those glorious things produced in our lives by
- "Love" - Active good will toward others; unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good.
- "Joy" - To rejoice; to be glad; the emotions excited by expectations of good; state of happiness, bliss.
- "Peace" - Unity, tranquility, harmony, untroubled by conflict.
- "Longsuffering" - Patience and forbearance with the mistakes and wrongs which grow out of weakness; steadfastness and
- "Kindness" - Similar to gentleness; fair, moderate; not harsh or violent, but mild; similar to meekness.
- "Goodness" - Uprightness of heart and life; of good praiseworthy character.
- "Faithfulness" - Fidelity; beinging trustworthy, reliable; the character of one on whom you can rely or trust.
5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
- "Gentleness" - Meekness; a quiet and forbearing spirit, that suffers wrong without resentfulness, but firm and yielding
devotion to right.
- "Self-control" - Temperance; the restraining and controlling of our passions and desires.
- "Against such there is no law." - There is no legislation against these.
- There are no limitations or restraining factors regarding these.
5:24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- "And those who are Christ's" - This has reference to those who belong to Christ, those who are led by the Spirit.
- "Have crucified the flesh" - We must mortify or put to death our members which are on the earth. Col. 3:9
- We have nailed our old sinful selves to the cross, upon believing and being baptized, and we are no longer slaves
of sin. Rom. 6:3-7
- "With its passions" - This has reference to the sinful affections or emotions.
- "And desires" - This refers to the sinful lusts and enticements.
5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
- The Greek is: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
- "Life by the Spirit" is not an occasional influence, but an abiding state wherein we live.
- "Let us also walk in the Spirit" - If we live in the Spirit, we need to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
- Paul is exhorting us to continue to live the Christian life.
5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
- "Let us not become conceited" - "Let us not be desirous of vain glory" (KJV) "Let us not become boastful" (NASV).
- Let us not have excessive pride in our achievements or intelligence, and present a vain display or show.
- This sign was attached to the playhouse which some children had made: Rules: (1) No one act big; (2) No one act
small; (3) Everyone act medium.
- This has its parallel in Scripture, especially the part about no one acting big. Luke 14:10; Phil. 2:1-3; James
- "Provoking one another" - Let us not be challenging one another to controversy or battle; rather, let us provoke to love
and good works. Heb. 10:24
- "Envying one another" - Let us not be grieving over the happiness or success of others; rather, let us rejoice with those
who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
- Usually, vain glory or conceit is a problem with the stronger, and envy is a problem with the weaker. Both
provoke others in a bad sense.
6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness,
considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Paul continues with his exhortations to righteous living.
- "Brethren" - Paul's use of this word brings warm attention.
- "If a man is overtaken in any trespass" - The word for "trespass" or "fault" means a "transgression" or "fall."
- It refers to any sin or error; e.g., as in context, falling back into bondage.
- "You who are spiritual" - This refers to those who are under the guidance and influence of the Spirit, and are walking by
- One cannot restore others if he practices the same things. Matt. 7:1-5; Rom. 2:1-3
- "Restore such a one" - To "restore" means literally to "mend, or repair." It is used of "mending" nets in Matt. 4:21.
- "In a spirit of gentleness" - The term "gentleness" does not mean cowardice or weakness. It means to be "mild or kind,"
yet, at the same time being "austere, strict, or stern."
- Restoring sometimes requires reproving and rebuking. 2 Tim. 4:2; Jude 22-23
- "Considering yourself lest you also be tempted." - 1 Cor. 10:12; Luke 11:35
- We must deal gently with others realizing that we, too, could fall.
- Let us realize the ever present danger of falling.
6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- "Bear one another's burdens" - Phil. 2:3-4; Rom. 15:1
- This, of course, has it limitations. 2 Thess. 3:10
- "And so fulfill the law of Christ" - This shows that we are indeed under law. 1 Cor. 9:21
- By doing what He commanded we fulfill His law. 1 John 2:3-6
- Among other things, Christ's law required that we love one another. John 13:34-35; 15:12
6:3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
- "For if anyone thinks himself to be something" - No one should think that he has special preeminence in knowledge or
- "When he is nothing" - In truth, we all are as nothing. 1 Cor. 3:18-21
- Humility is hard to learn because it is contrary to human nature.
- Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 1 Cor. 8:1; 13:4
- People want to listen to those who supposedly have great knowledge; e.g., one who has a Ph.D.
- However, the Bible gives warning. Col. 2:8,18; 1 Cor. 4:6
- "He deceives himself." - The one who through pride thinks he is someone great, not only deceives others, but himself as
- There is no deception harder to overcome than self-deception. James 1:22,26; 1 John 1:8
6:4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
- "But let each one examine his own work" - I need to examine my own work, not that of others.
- We will give account of our own lives. Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10
- A thorough examination of self leaves no room for self-glory.
- If we are busy examining ourselves regarding our own works, we will not have time to be examining the good
works others are doing.
- "Then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." - 2 Cor. 1:12
- One's own self worth (what he knows about his inward self) is what's important.
- "To thine own self be true."
- There is no better feeling that one can experience than to know he is doing God's will. 1 John 3:19-21
6:5 For each one shall bear his own load.
- Thus, the Christian should bear his own load (or burden), and should also help to bear the burdens (or loads) of others
- In other words, he bears his own burdens, not expecting nor relying on others to bear his load for him, but at the
same time, he helps others.
6:6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
- The word "share" is "koinoneo" (fellowship) in the original, and means to come into communion or fellowship with, to
become a sharer or partner with.
- Verse 6 teaches the individual support of teachers; thus, not only should churches support preachers (Phil.
4:15-16; 2 Cor. 11:8-9), but so should individuals.
- There are other passages which refer to individual support of gospel preachers. 3 John 5-7; Titus 3:13
- The word "teaches" here is the word "katecheo," from which comes the words "catechize" and "catechism" and means
"to indoctrinate, inform, instruct, or teach."
6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
- The word "mock" means literally, "to turn up the nose at"; hence, to sneer at, scorn, or deride; to treat with ridicule or
- The one who thinks he can sow to the flesh and not reap evil consequences is only mocking God.
- One can sow to the devil.
- He can sow discord. Prov. 6:14,19
- He can sow strife. Prov. 16:28
- He can sow iniquity. Prov. 22:8
- He can sow to his flesh. (Verse 8).
- One can sow to God.
- "I planted, Apollos watered." 1 Cor. 3:6
- "Sows the word." Mark 4:14
- "Sows the good seed." Matt. 13:37-42
- "Sow to the Spirit." (Verse 8).
- We reap what we sow.
- God will help those who sow good to reap good. 2 Cor. 9:6-11; Hosea 10:12
- Those who sow evil will reap evil. Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7; Prov. 1:30-33; Matt. 26:52
6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap
- "For he who sows to his flesh" - He sows to his flesh by seeking to fulfill its fleshly desires.
- "Reap corruption" - The word "corruption" means "destruction or ruin."
- Those who sow to the flesh will reap destruction in this life and especially in the life to come.
- "Everlasting life" - They will have an enduring life.
- A new body will be fashioned for those who sow to the Spirit. 2 Cor. 5:1; Phil. 3:20-21
- Great glory will be harvested by those who sow to the Spirit. Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:48, 53
- Those who sow tares cannot reap wheat.
- Only those who sow to the Spirit will reap eternal life. Prov. 11:18; Rom. 8:9-11
6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
- "Let us not grow weary" - Paul gives exhortation to not be tired or slack.
- "While doing good" - In doing the good works which are ordained in the Scriptures.
- "For in due season we shall reap" - We need to keep the time element in mind.
- God is faithful in His promises. Let us be patient. James 5:7-8
- "If we do not lose heart" - We shall reap if we do not become faint-hearted.
- We shall reap if we do not weaken, relax, grow weak, or become weary.
- The expressions "grow weary" and "lose heart" are very similar in meaning.
- Thus, Paul gives a simple but strong exhortation to faithfulness.
- Let us strive to endure. Luke 13:24
6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
- The word "opportunity" is often translated simply as "time."
- Thus, as we have time, let us do good to all.
- "Especially to those who are of the household of faith." - We are to show preference to fellow Christians.
- The good works done in Matthew 25 in the great judgment scene were done to brethren. Matt. 25:40
- Our love for fellow Christians is a test of our love for God. 1 John 4:20-21
- Verse ten is used by the "Liberals" to teach that the church has authority for "General Benevolence." Please carefully
consider the following chart.
- Chart #18 - Referring To The Church? (Note: the following chart was designed to be in three parallel columns).
vs. 2 - branch...branch
vs. 3 - Ye (plural)...you
vs. 4 - branch...ye...ye
vs. 5 - ye...branches...He ...him...ye
vs. 6 - man...he...they
vs. 7 - ye...you...ye...you
vs. 8 - ye...ye...disciples
vs. 1 - man...ye...one ...thyself...thou
vs. 2 - ye...one another's
vs. 3 - man...he...himself
vs. 4 - man...his...he ...himself
vs. 5 - man...his
vs. 6 - him...him
vs. 7 - man...he
vs. 8 - he...he (personal judgment)
vs. 9 - us...we...we
vs. 10 - we...us
vs. 18 - begat...us...we ...firstfruits
vs. 19 - brethren...man
vs. 20 - man
vs. 21 - your souls
vs. 22 - ye doers...your own selves
vs. 23 - any...he...man...his
vs. 24 - he...himself... man...he
vs. 25 - whoso...he
vs. 26 - man among you...his...his...man's
vs. 27 - himself
Note #1: The "Liberals" argue, "The book of Galatians was addressed to churches; thus, Gal. 6:10 applies to the church."
Answer: The word "church" is not used in Gal. 6:1-10. The book of 1 Thessalonians is also addressed to the church (1
Thess. 1:1), but has instructions to individuals (1 Thess. 4:11-12).
They argue, "Individuals make up the church, and the church is made up of individuals."
Answer: We can have links (individual members) without the chain (the church).
Note #2: Gal. 6:8 speaks of personal judgment. The church will not be judged as a group; thus, the context demands
individual application of these verses.
6:11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
Chart #19 - Paul's Concluding Remarks
- His token of authorship, 6:11.
- The motives of the Judaizers compared with his own, 6:12-16.
- Refuting the charge made by the Judaizers, 6:17.
- His wish of grace on all, 6:18.
- "See with what large letters" - It is thought that instead of the normal cursive style of writing, Paul used the large, block
letters such as were used in various manuscripts in his time.
- "With my own hand!" - No doubt Paul mentions this to the Galatians to establish the authorship of his epistle which gives
importance and severity to its contents.
- Paul did, however, sometimes use qualified scribes to whom he dictated his messages. Rom. 16:22; 2 Thess. 3:17
6:12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that
they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
- Paul is showing the weaknesses of the evil teachers in Galatia.
- Their teaching and practice of circumcision was for the purpose of escaping persecution from their fellow Jews.
- Many Christians today (e.g., "liberal churches"), have compromised the truth so that they won't be persecuted by
their denominational friends.
- They want to be received and respected as another denomination, but God's true servants want to be
respected by the Lord as one of his churches.
6:13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may
boast in your flesh.
- "For not even those who are circumcised keep the law" - Those evil teachers did not keep the Law.
- Likewise, those who teach that the Law is binding today, do not keep the Law; e.g., animal sacrifice, going to
Jerusalem for worship, stoning Sabbath breakers.
- How would a high priest today go into the holy of holies for the sins of the people?
- "But they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh." - They wanted people to be circumcised so
that they could boast to the Jews regarding their proselytes to the Jewish faith.
- Thus, their motives were base and selfish.
- Many denominational people have the same selfish reasons for converting people today. Matt. 23:15
- Let us seek to convert people to the Lord that they might be saved eternally.
6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been
crucified to me, and I to the world.
- Paul had much he could have boasted in, if he were given to boasting as some were.
- He could have gloried in his noble fleshly birth, religious attainments under the Law, zeal for his faith, etc.
- Also, he could have boasted of his attainments as a worker for the Lord. Few people have traveled farther to
preach, made more converts, and established more churches than he.
- Paul gloried only in the atoning sacrifice of the cross of Christ. Rom. 8:1-3; 1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:24
- "By whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - The word "world" here stands for the world of sin,
iniquity, and unrighteousness.
- The world of sin had been put to death to Paul, and he had been put to death to it.
- "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Gal. 5:24
6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
- "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything" - See also Gal. 5:6; 1 Cor. 7:19
- "But a new creation." - A new creation by the new birth is what's avails. John 3:5; Rom. 6:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:17
- Whether one is circumcised or uncircumcised is of no benefit spiritually.
6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
- "And as many as walk according to this rule" - According to this rule; that is, being crucified to the world and being a
new creature in Christ.
- "Peace and mercy be upon them" - No greater wish could be requested, and no greater blessing could be received than to
have the peace and mercy of God.
- "And upon the Israel of God." - Christians are the true Israel of God as distinguished from the Israel according to the
- All the O.T. Jewish terms are applied to Christians in the N.T. See Chart #12
- Christians have received the circumcision made without hands and, thus, are the true Israel of God. Col. 2:11-12
6:17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
- Paul had been troubled by the false teachers who claimed he was teaching their doctrine and was as they were. Gal. 5:10-11
- However, the marks on his body proved he was not preaching circumcision. 2 Cor. 11:24
- The Judaizers gloried in the circumcision mark of the flesh, but Paul gloried in the marks of suffering for Christ on
his own body. Col. 1:24; Phil. 3:10
- Though we may not have literal marks of the Lord on our bodies, we bear the marks of the Lord in others ways;
e.g., by the various persecutions we face as Christians.
6:18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
- Again, as he closes, Paul wishes God's glorious blessing upon them.
- With the Lord's grace and control over our spirits, we will be able to overcome the lust of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
- After much rebuke and admonition, he bids them farewell in the spirit of brotherhood.
- Actually, the word "brethren" in the Greek appears as the last word in the book, before the "Amen."