Galatians: The Gospel of Grace

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The Gospel of Grace

Biographical explanation, Doctrinal exposition, Practical application.

Background: Paul writes to the Galatian Church, possibly from Syrian Antioch, around 49 AD
Theme: The Gospel of Grace
Outline: Biographical Explanation, Doctrinal Exposition, and Practical Applications
Key Verse: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1, NIV)

Galatians Chapter Index


These notes use and refer to the Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol 2, New Testament).

I. Introduction (1:1-10)

II. Personal: A Defense of Paul's Authority (1:11-2:21)

2:19-20 Mr. Campbell, BKC, summarizes "Christ does not operate automatically in a believer's life; it is a matter of living the new life by faith in the Son of God. It is then faith and not works or legal obligation that releases divine power to live a Christian life." This is a difficult concept (which must include the idea of being in fellowship with Christ) and is at the center of the life God has intended for us to live.

III. Doctrinal: A Defense of Justification by Faith (3-4)

3:1 I totally agree with the BKC statement, "To embrace a doctrine which declared the death of Christ unnecessary was irrational." I would apply the same principle to future times such as the tribulation and kingdom periods.

3:3 There is an important point here, that both justification and sanctification are by faith and not by works.

3:7-8 Christians are referred to as children of Abraham. A major decision for interpreters is how far to apply this, to only the issue of salvation by faith or also to inheritance of other promises made to Abraham. This is a distinctive of some interpreters, who strictly separate the 'spiritual' promises for Christians from all other of the aspects of the promise which they say apply only to Israel. Other interpreters apply physical and spiritual promises to all believers, sometimes in a 'typical' fashion.

3:14 Concerning "the blessing given to Abraham" BKC states, "this is a reference not to personal or national blessings but to the promised blessing of justification ..." Mr. Campbell specifies that the spiritual children of Abraham (all who believe) are heirs only to the blessing of justification by faith. The text does not limit our inheritance to this, although it is the primary emphasis.

3:17-18 Mr. Campbell, BKC, contrasts the promise and the law by stating, "They do not comingle; that cannot be combined." In the New Testament economy this is true. But it must be remembered that the promise was still in effect during the time of the law and under the economy of Moses, for Paul tells us that the law could not set the promise aside. The Law was completed and terminated by Christ.

3:19 If the purpose of the Law was "because of transgressions .. until the seed" then it has truly expired and cannot apply to the Galations, to the Church Age, or to any future ages.

3:20 Not all agree with the view of the Abrahamic covenant (BKC) that states, "God alone having responsibility to fulfill it." For instance, the 'spiritual' blessings only come to those who believe. Although there may be reason to deny that the land promises apply to the Church, the Jews should receive the same spiritual promise blessings as the Church and these are received only on the basis of faith. I do not believe it is proper to say that "God alone having responsibility to fulfill" if faith is required of the other party to the covenant. Another example is that Jesus proclaimed, "the meek shall inherit the earth". He did not say "the Jew shall inherit the earth," but those who display the quality of meekness.

3:28 The BKC has an excellent comment of the spiritual equalities of all believers while distinctions still exist in the husband's headship of a family and in some aspects of spiritual service.

3:29 Mr. Campbell (BKC) does not distinguish between a 'physical' versus a 'spiritual' seed of Abraham. This verse does not prove either the Dispensational or the 'Amillennial' (also shared by some Pre-Millennialists) view of who inherits the promises. Many pre-millennarians do see the church as the 'new Israel' while still believing in a physical return of Christ to set up a 1000 year reign on this earth. Some see this as the kingdom for Israel (Jews only) others see this as the kingdom for the 'new Israel' of believing Jews and Gentiles combined. I hold that the believing remnant of Israel is contained in the Church, which has abolished Jew-Gentile distinctions for all of Abraham's seed. To say otherwise is to leave the Jewish Remnant under the guardianship of the Law, which was temporary until the coming of Christ.

4:4 The BKC has good comments on the time of the coming of Christ, and how God historically prepared the world for it.

4:5 Remember that the BKC comments, "All the enjoyments and privileges of a mature son in a family belong to those who have entered into the benefits of Christ's redemption", are directed toward sonship in the family of God, not in the family of Abraham.

4:27 BKC: I disagree. To maintain the parallel discussion of two groups, Present Israel (unbelieving) was compared to Ishmael of Hagar, Mount Sinai under slavery, present Jerusalem, and the woman with a husband (perhaps the covenant of the Law). The Church (believing Israel and Gentiles) is Isaac of Sarah, possibly with the Abrahamic promise or the New Covenant (not specified here), the Heavenly Jerusalem, and therefore the barren woman. The barren woman did not have a husband, or relationship with God, but now does. She also now has a greater progeny than the unbelieving Israel.

4:30 Additional Note: It should always be remembered that Moses commanded (it is a requirement of the Law) that once the 'prophet like unto me' should appear (Jesus), Israel MUST 'do everything that he says'. Obedience to the Law requires following the saying of Jesus for those under the Law.

IV. Practical: A Defense of Christian Liberty (5:1-6:10)

V. Conclusion (6:11-18)


New Testament Survey by Merrill Tenney : Highly recommend this book for a good background to the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The first half covers background, what the world was like under Roman rule and what the conditions of the Jews were. The second half gives background, outline, and introductions to each of the New Testament books (including Acts).

Bible Background Commentary (New Testament) by Craig S. Keener : Printed by InterVarsity Press, this is an excellent one-volume resource for understanding the customs and background (history, language, and geography) behind the verses of the New Testament. It is not an interpretation of the New Testament as are most commentaries, its purpose is to give background information. I highly recommend this to the serious student of Scripture, who already has a good grasp of the meaning and application of the New Testament.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament, Volume II) by the Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary : Admittedly a 'dispensational' interpretation, meaning that the authors take the book of Revelation very literally and teach that Jesus will take the Church out of the world before the 'Tribulation Period'. Although I do not agree totally with their opinions, I have found this to be a fair commentary, also explaining the views of others which the authors do not hold. If you use my notes you will receive some insight as to where the points of disagreement are. Highly recommended as the best short commentary on the market. I am easily in agreement with 98% of what this commentary teaches, and who knows if I am right about the other 2%??

Updated March 2012
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