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Book chapters «The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians»
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  • The books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians form a cluster of Epistles that make up the heart of the divine revelation in the New Testament. The essential subject of these four books is Christ and the church. Galatians reveals that Christ is versus religion with its law; Ephesians reveals the church as the Body of Christ; Philippians concerns the experience, the living out, of Christ; and Colossians unveils the all-inclusive and all-extensive Christ as the Head of the Body.

  • The purpose of this book is to cause its receivers to know that the gospel preached by the apostle Paul was not from man's teaching (vv. 11-12) but from God's revelation. Hence, in the very opening of this book Paul emphasized that he became an apostle not from men nor through man but through Christ and God.

  • The law dealt with man as the old creation, whereas the gospel makes man the new creation in resurrection. God made Paul an apostle not by the law according to his natural man in the old creation but through the resurrection of Christ according to his regenerated man in the new creation. Hence, Paul did not say here, "God the Father, who gave the law through Moses," but "God the Father, who raised Him [Christ] from the dead." God's New Testament economy is not with men in the old creation but with men in the new creation through the resurrection of Christ.

  • The apostle considered all the brothers who were with him co-writers that they might be a testimony and a confirmation of what he wrote in this Epistle.

  • Galatia was a province of the ancient Roman Empire. Through Paul's preaching ministry, churches were established in a number of cities in that province. Hence, churches, not church, was used when the apostle referred to the churches in Galatia collectively.

  • Lit., pluck us out, draw us out, extricate us from.

  • An age is a part of the world, which is the satanic system (see note Eph. 2:21b). According to the context of this book, the present evil age here refers to the religious world, the religious course of the world, the Jewish religion. This is confirmed by Gal. 6:14-15, where circumcision is considered a part of the world — the religious world, which to the apostle Paul was crucified. Here the apostle emphasized that the purpose of Christ's giving Himself for our sins was to rescue us, to pluck us, out of the Jewish religion, the present evil age. This is to release God's chosen people from the custody of the law (Gal. 3:23), to bring them out of the sheepfold (John 10:1, 3), according to the will of God. Thus, in his opening word Paul indicated what he was going to deal with: he wanted to rescue the churches, which were distracted by Judaism with its law, and bring them back to the grace of the gospel.

  • Here Paul came to his subject. Because the churches in Galatia were deserting the grace of Christ and backsliding to the observance of the law, Paul was burdened to write this Epistle.

  • Or, by.

  • The grace of Christ is the Triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit — processed to become our enjoyment. This grace is versus the law of Moses (John 1:17 and note John 1:171a).

  • This was the Judaic observance of the law. Paul's gospel, which is outside the Judaic law, includes all the major items of the four Gospels. Moreover, it covers many more items so that the revelation of the word of God in the New Testament might be completed (Col. 1:25) with crucial items such as Christ in the believers as the hope of glory (Col. 1:27); the Spirit of God as a seal and a pledge (Eph. 1:13-14); God's Son being revealed in us (v. 16), being formed in us (Gal. 4:19), making His home in us (Eph. 3:17), and filling us unto all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19); and Christ as the mystery of God (Col. 2:2) and as the One in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col. 2:9). The focal point of Paul's gospel is that the Son of God, God's anointed One (the Christ), has entered into our being to be our life today (Col. 3:4) and our glory in the future (Col. 1:27) that we may be the members (Rom. 12:5) of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:16), of which Christ is the Head (Eph. 4:15).

  • The observance of the law could never be a gospel that could set sinners free from the bondage of the law and bring them into the enjoyment of God; it could only keep them as slaves under the bondage of the law, entangling them with the yoke of slavery of the law (Gal. 5:1).

  • The Judaizers, whom the apostle Paul considered false brothers (Gal. 2:4).

  • The Judaizers troubled the churches by perverting, distorting, the gospel of Christ, thus misleading the believers into going back to the law of Moses.

  • Or, persuading men or God; seeking to conciliate, to satisfy, men or God.

  • Neither...from man corresponds with not from men in v. 1.

  • The revelation given to the apostle Paul by the Lord Jesus Christ concerning the gospel.

  • I.e., the Jewish religion, which is in contrast to the Son of God and the church (vv. 13-16).

  • Traditions in the sect of the Pharisees, of which Paul was a member. He called himself "a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees" (Acts 23:6). The Jewish religion was composed not only of the God-given law and its rituals but also of manmade traditions.

  • I.e., designated or distinguished for a purpose.

  • I.e., before he was born.

  • After he was born, at his conversion.

  • Paul was called to be an apostle through the grace of Christ, not through the law announced by Moses.

  • Not to teach but to unveil, to give a vision of, to show.

  • The Son of God, as the embodiment and expression of God the Father (John 1:18; 14:9-11; Heb. 1:3), is life to us (John 10:10; 1 John 5:12; Col. 3:4). God's heart's desire is to reveal His Son in us that we may know Him, receive Him as our life (John 17:3; 3:16), and become the sons of God (John 1:12; Gal. 4:5-6). As the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), He is far superior to Judaism and its traditions (vv. 13-14). The Judaizers had bewitched the Galatians into considering that the ordinances of the law were above the Son of the living God. Hence, in the opening of this Epistle the apostle testified that he had been deeply involved and had become far advanced in the realm of Judaism, but that God had rescued him out of that course of the world, which was evil in God's eyes, by revealing His Son in him. In his experience he realized that there was no comparison between the Son of the living God and Judaism with its dead traditions handed down from his forefathers.

  • God's revealing of His Son to us is in us; it is not outward but inward, not by an outward vision but by an inward seeing. It is not an objective revelation but a subjective one.

    God made the apostle Paul a minister of Christ by setting him apart, calling him (v. 15), and revealing His Son in him.

  • The apostle Paul did not preach the law but announced Christ, the Son of God, as the gospel; he announced not merely the doctrine concerning Him but the living person Himself.

  • The heathen Gentiles.

  • This confirms that the apostle did not receive the gospel from man (v. 12).

  • I.e., man, composed of flesh and blood.

  • It is difficult to trace where in Arabia Paul went and how long he stayed there after his conversion. However, the place must have been away from the Christians, and the time of his stay there must not have been short. His purpose in referring to his stay in Arabia was to testify that he did not receive the gospel from man (v. 12). In Arabia he must have received some revelation concerning the gospel directly from the Lord.

  • The Greek word implies to visit in order to become acquainted with.

  • This indicates that James, the brother of the Lord, and Cephas (v. 18), who was Peter, were at that time the leading ones among the apostles.

  • Arabia (v. 17), Syria, and Cilicia were all regions of the Gentile world. By mentioning his journeys to all these places, Paul testified that the revelation he received concerning the gospel was not from any men, that is, from any Christians, who at that time were mainly in Judea (v. 22).

  • Paul said this to strengthen the point that he did not receive the gospel from any who were believers in Christ before him.

  • The churches, which included all the believers in Christ in Judea, only heard the news of Paul's conversion and glorified God because of him. They had nothing to do with his receiving the revelation concerning the gospel.

  • The faith here and in all the verses c-r. implies our believing in Christ, taking His person and His redemptive work as the object of our faith. The faith, replacing the law, by which God dealt with people in the Old Testament, became the principle by which God deals with people in the New Testament. This faith characterizes the believers in Christ and distinguishes them from the keepers of law. This is the main emphasis of this book. The law of the Old Testament stresses letters and ordinances, whereas the faith of the New Testament emphasizes the Spirit and life.

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