Galatians



by Ken Cayce



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Galatians Explained





Galatians Explained

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Title: Galatians derives its title (pros Galatas), from the region in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), where the churches addressed were located. It is the only one of Paul's epistles specifically addressed to churches in more than one city (1:2; compare 3:1; 1 Cor. 16:1).


The letter is addressed "unto the churches of Galatia" (1:2), and its readers are called "Galatians" (3:1). The term Galatia was originally used in an ethnic manner, referring to north central Asia Minor settled by the invading Gauls. Later "Galatia" was employed in a political sense, referring to the Roman province that included the cities south of the Gaulish territory: Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. While it is uncertain whether the letter was sent to North or South Galatia, this problem has little bearing on the value or understanding of the epistle.


Author - Date: The letter to the Galatians claims the apostle Paul as its writer (1:1, 5:2), and this is attested by the brief autobiography in 1:12-24, as well as by the epistle's language, style, vocabulary, and theology.


Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in the province of Cilicia, not far from Galatia. Under the famous rabbi, Gamaliel, Paul received a thorough training in the Old Testament Scriptures and in the rabbinic traditions at Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). A member of the ultra-orthodox sect of the Pharisees (Acts 23:6), he was one of first century Judaism's rising stars (1:14; compare Phil. 3:5-6).


The course of Paul's life took a sudden and startling turn when, on his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to persecute Christians, he was confronted by the risen, glorified Christ (see notes on Acts 9). That dramatic encounter turned Paul from Christianity's chief persecutor to its greatest missionary. His 3 missionary journeys and trip to Rome turned Christianity from a faith that included only a small group of Palestinian Jewish believers into an Empire wide phenomenon. Galatians is one of 13 inspired letters he addressed to Gentile congregations or his fellow workers.


In chapter 2, Paul described his visit to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 (see note on 2:1), so he must have written Galatians after that event. Since most scholars date the Jerusalem Council about A.D. 49, the most likely date for Galatians is shortly thereafter.


If the letter was sent to North Galatia, Paul and his missionary team planted the Galatian churches during his second missionary journey. So the epistle was written to them from either Ephesus (A.D. 54), or Macedonia (A.D. 55), while on his third missionary journey. But if the letter was addressed to the political (South), Galatia; then Paul started the church on his first missionary trip, writing to them at the end of this journey from his home church in Antioch (A.D. 49). Paul had led the Galatians to Christ (3:1). They had made a good start in the Christian life (3:3), and were doing well spiritually (5:7). Later, some Jewish teachers (called Judaizers), taught the Galatians that to be saved one must not only believe in Christ, but must also obey the Mosaic Law, the sign of which is circumcision. In preaching this heresy, they also attacked Paul's apostleship and gospel. Their false gospel had a detrimental effect on the Galatians: it was beginning to hinder their obedience to God (5:7), they were starting to observe some parts of the law (4:10), and they were considering a complete acceptance of the law (12:6; 4:9).


Background - Setting: In Paul's day, the word Galatia had two distinct meanings. In a strict ethnic sense, Galatia was the region of central Asia Minor inhabited by the Galatians. They were a Celtic people who had migrated to that region from Gaul (modern France), in the third century B.C. The Romans conquered the Galatians (in 189 B.C.), but allowed them to have some measure of independence until 25 B.C. when Galatia became a Roman province, incorporating some regions not inhabited by ethnic Galatians (e.g., parts of Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Pisidia). In a political sense, Galatia came to describe the entire Roman province, not merely the region inhabited by the ethnic Galatians.


Paul founded churches in the southern Galatian cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 13:14 - 14:23). These cities, although within the Roman province of Galatia, were not in the ethnic Galatian region. There is no record of Paul's founding churches in that northern, less populated region.


Those two uses of the word Galatia make it more difficult to determine who the original recipients of the epistle were. Some interpret Galatia in its strict racial sense and argue that Paul addressed this epistle to churches in the northern Galatian region, inhabited by the ethnic descendants of the Gauls. Although the apostle apparently crossed the border into the fringes of ethnic Galatia on at least two occasions (Acts 16:6; 18:23), Acts does not record that he founded any churches or engaged in any evangelistic ministry there.


Because neither Acts nor Galatians mentions any cities or people from northern (ethnic) Galatia, it is reasonable to believe that Paul addressed this epistle to churches located in the southern part of the Roman province, but outside of the ethnic Galatian region. Acts records the apostle's founding of such churches at Pisidian Antioch (13:14-50), Iconium (13:51 - 14:7; compare 16:2), Lystra (14:8-19; compare 16:2), and Derbe (14:20-21; compare 16:1). In addition, the churches Paul addressed had apparently been established before the Jerusalem Council (2:5), and the churches of southern Galatia fit that criteria, having been founded during Paul's first missionary journey before the Council met. Paul did not visit northern (ethnic) Galatia, until after the Jerusalem Council (Acts 16:6).


Paul seeks to expose the error of the Judaizers' gospel and their impure motives (6:12-13). His ultimate goal is to prevent the readers from embracing a false gospel and to encourage them to retain their spiritual freedom in Christ (5:1). The apostle does not want his dear converts to be tied up with all the now abolished rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law, which will lead them into legalism.


Paul wrote Galatians to counter Judaizing false teachers who were undermining the central New Testament doctrine of justification by faith (see note on Romans 3:31). Ignoring the express decree of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:23-29), they spread their dangerous teaching that Gentiles must first become Jewish proselytes and submit to all the Mosaic law before they could become Christians (see 1:7; 4:17, 21; 5:2-12; 6:12-13). Shocked by the Galatians' openness to that damning heresy (compare 1:6), Paul wrote this letter to defend justification by faith, and warn these churches of the dire consequences of abandoning that essential doctrine. Galatians is the only epistle Paul wrote that does not contain a commendation for its readers, that obvious omission reflects how urgently he felt about confronting the defection and defending the essential doctrine of justification.


The central feature of the letter is justification by God's grace through faith.


In chapters 1 and 2 Paul defends his gospel, arguing that it is the true message of salvation since he received it directly from Christ. Then in chapters 3 and 4 he defines exactly what his gospel is: man is justified (saved), not by keeping the law, but by God's grace alone. That is, through his faith in Christ's atoning death. Lastly, in chapters 5 and 6 the apostle briefly applies his gospel to various areas of daily living.





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Galatians 1 Galatians 4
Galatians 2 Galatians 5
Galatians 3 Galatians 6

Galatians 1



Galatians Chapter 1

Galatians is a letter from Paul to the churches in Galatia. At the time that Paul wrote this letter, Galatia was a Roman province. This area is now known as the southern part of Turkey. This letter was probably written about 54 or 55 A.D.

 

In this letter, Paul is explaining again the doctrine of justification through faith. Some of the Judaizers were trying to include keeping of the Law of Moses as part of the Christian doctrine. Paul is not saying in this letter, that justification through faith gives the Christian the privilege of sinning without being held responsible for the sin. He is explaining that Christianity is a fellowship with the Father provided through His Son Jesus Christ.

In this, Paul is explaining that he is truly an apostle of the Lord. Many were doubting Paul’s right to apostleship, because He was brought into the work after the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

The churches in Galatia had been founded on the first missionary journey of Paul. Paul was very concerned about these converts and visited them on his second and his third missionary journey, as well. These people were strong-willed people, and Paul felt that he must keep as tight a reign as he possibly could from a distance. It seemed in all of these churches, the minute he left, people with other doctrines tried to come in and change what Paul had established. This was a warning not to do that. Many Jews had received Christ, but were trying to incorporate Christianity and Judaism. You cannot mix other beliefs with Christianity, and have Christianity remain strong. We should remember that today. Christianity must not be diluted to include other beliefs.

 

Galatians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”

“Paul”: See introduction to Romans (see note on Acts 9:1).

 

“Apostle”: In general terms, it means “one who is sent with a commission.” The apostles of Jesus Christ, the 12 and Paul, were special ambassadors or messengers chosen and trained by Christ to lay the foundation of the early church and be the channels of God’s completed revelation (see note on Rom. 1:1; Acts 1:2; 2:42; Eph. 2:20).

 

“Not of men … but by Jesus Christ”: To defend his apostleship against the false teachers’ attack, Paul emphasized that Christ Himself appointed him as an apostle before he met the other apostles (verses 17-18; Acts 9:3-9).

 

“Raised him from the dead” (see notes on Rom. 1:4). Paul included this important fact to show that the risen and ascended Christ Himself appointed him (see notes on Acts 9:1-3, 15). Thus, Paul was a qualified witness of His resurrection (Acts 1:22).

 

Paul vehemently denies that his apostleship is due to human agency. He was not commissioned an apostle, by any group (“not of men”), nor by any mortal individual (“neither by man”). But “by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:”

 

Unlike the other apostles, Paul received his call from the resurrected, glorified, and exalted Jesus. This special reference to the Lord’s resurrection implicitly confirms Paul’s appointment as an apostle.

 

We see a declaration of who Paul is right at the very beginning. We find that Paul reminds them immediately that his call was of the Lord Himself. When we speak of a disciple of that day, we think of the 120, who had disciplined themselves to follow Jesus. We also think of the twelve who Jesus chose out of that larger group to make them apostles.

 

We then realize that Matthias was also one of them. The Lord Himself had chosen him to replace the traitor, Judas Iscariot. Paul was an apostle also, even though he was not of the original group. Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus, and called him to apostleship.

 

Paul never forgets to remind them that Jesus rose from the dead. These people all believed in God the Father, and Paul reminds them that it was the Father’s will for Jesus to rise from the dead. To call Paul an apostle, verifies the fact that his authority is from God.

 

Mighty signs and wonders followed these apostles. They were empowered of God to represent him in the earth. They were, also, empowered to lay hands on others that they might receive the Spirit to minister in a certain capacity. These are called, gifts of the Spirit.

 

One very important thing we must note in Paul’s statement is that he was not called of men, or by a man. Jesus was much more than man. That is what Paul is saying here.

 

Galatians 1:2 “And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:”

 

“Churches of Galatia”: The churches Paul founded at Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe during his first missionary journey (Acts 13:14 – 14:23).

 

Notice in this, that Paul travelled with many others. There was usually a large group who went with him into each area. Probably some of these very brethren with Paul now, were the same that had been with him establishing the churches of Galatia. Galatia was an area with many small towns, and, perhaps, each had a small group of Christians meeting in a church.

 

This letter is of a general nature. It is not to a specific church, but to all in this little province. These Galatians were partly European. When Gaul and this group came through this area on their way to Greece, they were stopped and surrounded. They intermarried with the local people. This, then, is speaking to these Europeans mixed with the local people.

 

In the 18th chapter of Acts, Galatia is spoken of as a region. It seems there was not idolatry in this area as in other areas, but Jewish teachings filtering into the church. The argument was between law and grace. This could even be thought of as between the flesh and the spirit also. This was not an argument with those who were idolaters, but those with another doctrine.

 

Verses 3-5: Paul’s deep concern over the churches; defection from the gospel is evident from his greeting, which lacks his customary commendations and courtesies, and is instead brief and impersonal.


Galatians 1:3 “Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ,”

 

“Grace be to you and peace” (see note on Rom. 1:1). Even Paul’s typical greeting attacked the Judaizers’ legalistic system. If salvation is by works as they claimed, it is not of “grace” and cannot result in “peace,” since no one can be sure he has enough good works to be eternally secure.

 

This statement is strictly a statement of Paul. He spoke this often. “Grace”, of course, means unmerited favor. All Christians received grace, not because of their actions, but because of God’s love toward them.

 

The only real peace, is the peace of God. Even in the midst of terrible trials and temptations, we can know this peace of God. It surpasses the reason of man. Jesus is the King of Peace.

 

Peace will reign on this earth the 1000 years that Jesus brings peace to the earth. In the meantime, there will be no peace on the earth, except that inner peace that Christians have when they totally trust the Lord Jesus.

 

We have mentioned before, the name of Jesus meaning Savior, and the name Christ meaning the anointed one, or Messiah. The Old Testament uses the name Lord for the same person the New Testament calls Jesus Christ. These Jewish people were looking for Messiah. This is Paul’s way of telling them that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah.


Galatians 1:4 “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”

 

“For our sins”: No one can avoid sin by human effort or law-keeping (Rom. 3:20). Therefore, it must be forgiven, which Christ accomplished through His atoning death on the cross (3:13; see notes on 2 Cor. 5:19-21; 1 Pet. 2:24).

“Present evil world”: (or age). The Greek word for “age” does not refer to a period of time, but an order or system. And in particular to the current world system ruled by Satan (see notes on Rom. 12:2; 1 John 2:15-16; 5:19).

 

“To the will of God”: The sacrifice of Christ for salvation was the will of God designed and fulfilled for His glory (Matt. 26:42; John 6:38-40; Acts 2:22-23; Rom. 8:3, 31-32; Eph. 1:7, 11; Heb. 10:4-10).

 

“Who gave himself for our sins” (“since He gave Himself for our sins”): This confirms the divine desire expressed (in verse 3). In view of Jesus’ sacrificing Himself for believers, it is certainly His wish that they may receive “grace” and “peace.” “That he might deliver us”, is more accurately rendered “that He alone might deliver us.”

 

The expression “He alone” means Jesus rather than anyone else. This strikes the epistle’s keynote, for the gospel is an emancipation from a state of spiritual bondage. And the clause also strikes at the Galatians’ theological error of trying to rescue themselves by their own effort through the law.

 

Jesus willingly gave Himself to save His people. All of creation belonged to Jesus. He was Creator God. In John chapter one, we find that He made all things, and without Him was not anything created. It was right that the Creator would give His flesh for His creation.

 

Jesus did follow the will of the Father in the crucifixion, but it was Jesus’ choice to do, or not to do. He gave His body on the cross to purchase our salvation. We see in the following Scripture, that it was within the will of Jesus to do with His own life as He would.

 

John 10:18 “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

 

Egypt is a type of this evil world we live in. I have said over and over that we must leave Egypt, before we can go to the Promised Land. The Promised Land for a Christian is heaven. Jesus is the door that we enter in by.


Galatians 1:5 “To whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Paul stops to glorify the Father and the Son here. This glory shall never cease. “Amen” means so be it.

Verse 6-7: “Ye are so soon removed” can be translated, “you are so quickly deserting.” The Galatians are in the initial stages of defecting from God to “another gospel.” The Greek word rendered “another” is heteron which means “another of a different kind.” The Judaizers’ gospel is not the same one Paul preached to the readers.

 

(In verse 7), the apostle goes on to affirm that their gospel “is not another.” The Greek word here translated “another” is allo which means “other or different.” So the message of salvation proclaimed by the legalists is vastly different from the true one.


Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”

 

“So soon”: This Greek word can mean either “easily” or “quickly” and sometimes both. No doubt both senses characterized the Galatians’ response to the false teachers’ heretical doctrines.

 

“Removed” or deserting: The Greek word was used of military desertion, which was punishable by death. The form of this Greek word indicates that the Galatian believers were voluntarily deserting grace to pursue the legalism taught by the false teachers (see notes on 5:4).

 

“Called you”: This could be translated, “who called you once and for all” (2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:15), and refers to God’s effectual call to salvation (see note on Rom. 1:7).

 

“Grace of Christ”: God’s free and sovereign act of mercy in granting salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ, totally apart from any human work or merit (see note on Rom. 3:24).

 

“Another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4). The Judaizers’ perversion of the true gospel. They added the requirements, ceremonies, and standards of the Old covenant as necessary prerequisites to salvation (see notes on 3:3; 4:9; 5:7; Phil. 3:2).

 

God Himself, had called them into the grace of Christ, through the teaching of Paul. He is amazed that they have already forgotten the teachings he had brought to them, and had gotten into error. It seems that the very minute he left, they started listening to these Judaizers who were trying to put them under Moses’ law.

 

Paul is very disappointed that the gospel that he gave them was not better rooted within them. The thought that they would turn from his teachings so fast, makes Paul believe they are unstable in their belief. They would be like those fallen away from grace. They are saying, that grace is of none effect. All of this is beyond Paul’s comprehension.


Galatians 1:7 “Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”

 

“Trouble”: The Greek word means “to shake back and forth,” meaning to agitate or stir up. Here, it refers to the deep emotional disturbance the Galatian believers experienced.

 

“Pervert”: To turn something into its opposite. By adding law to the gospel of Christ, the false teachers were effectively destroying grace, turning the message of God’s undeserved favor toward sinners into a message of earned and merited favor.

 

“The gospel of Christ”: The good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (see notes on Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).

 

Christianity brings hope. To go back to the law would not be good news (gospel), at all. The condemnation of the law brought hopelessness. For any Christian to give up the hope that is in Christ for the hopelessness of the law is not understandable.

 

“Pervert” in this Scripture, means corrupt. This then, would mean that they had changed it, and corrupted the message of hope that Paul had brought them.

 

Verses 8-9: Throughout history God has devoted certain objects, individuals, and groups of people to destruction (Joshua 6:17-18; 7:1, 25-26). The New Testament offers many examples of one such group: false teachers (Matt. 24:24; John 8:44; 1 Tim. 1:20; Titus 1:16). Here the Judaizers are identified as members of this infamous company.


Galatians 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

 

This verse shows that the message, not the messenger, is of utmost importance. The Galatian controversy is not over teachers or personalities, but over truth and error. Even a heavenly angel, if he preaches error, is to “be accursed,” that is, eternally condemned.

 

We know that Paul was primarily speaking of the message he had brought them, but as we have said before, many ministers traveled with Paul and they all brought this same message of hope. There are two kinds of angels. The angels that stayed in heaven, and did not follow Lucifer, minister good. The angels that followed Lucifer out of heaven are already cursed of God.

 

They minister lies and deception, because they are working for that old devil Lucifer. Many people call them demons. They would certainly try to bring another message that would put you back under the law. Jesus commissioned Paul to bring the good news of the gospel, not the bad news of the law.


Galatians Chapter 1 Questions

  1. Who wrote Galatians?
  2. Who was Galatia ruled by at the time this letter was written?
  3. What country is this a part of today?
  4. Approximately when was this letter written?
  5. What doctrine is Paul explaining over again in this letter?
  6. Christianity is a ____________ with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
  7. Many were doubting Paul’s right to _____________.
  8. When were the churches in Galatia founded?
  9. What happened in these churches the minute Paul left?
  10. What two doctrines were they trying to incorporate?
  11. What did Paul call himself in verse 1 of Galatians?
  12. Who called Paul to minister the gospel?
  13. Who do we think of when they mention the disciples?
  14. Who were spoken of as apostles?
  15. Where did Paul get his authority from?
  16. Verse 2 includes whom, in the sending of this message to the Galatians?
  17. Was this letter written to an individual? Explain.
  18. These Galatians were part _____________.
  19. Where were these people of Gaul headed when they were stopped here?
  20. Was the argument about idolatry?
  21. What does grace mean?
  22. Who is the King of peace?
  23. What does Jesus mean?
  24. What does Christ mean?
  25. Who was Creator God?
  26. What is Egypt a type of?
  27. Where is the Promised Land for the Christian?
  28. What does “Amen” mean?
  29. Who had called them into the grace of Christ?
  30. What were the Judaizers trying to do?
  31. What about all of this was beyond the comprehension of Paul?
  32. Christianity brings _____.
  33. The condemnation of the law brought ______________.
  34. What does pervert in verse 7 mean?
  35. What are the two types of angels?
  36. What had Jesus commissioned Paul to do?


Galatians Chapter 1 Continued

Galatians 1:9 "As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."


"As we said before": This refers to what Paul taught during an earlier visit to these churches, not a previous comment in this epistle.


"Any man": Paul turns from the hypothetical case of (verse 8, the apostle or heavenly angels preaching a false gospel), to the real situation faced by the Galatians. The Judaizers were doing just that, and were to be devoted to destruction because of their damning heresy.


This is so important that Paul has mentioned it the second time. This should be a lesson to all of us, about how important it is to not look for another doctrine after we have been saved. If the message we receive is good enough to save us, it is also good enough to keep us.


In our time frame, there are many false doctrines being proclaimed as the truth. We must examine the things that we hear and make sure they line up with the Word of God. False doctrine is usually close to the truth. There will be just minor variations here and there. It will sound very near the truth. We are told to try the spirits and see whether they are of God or not.


1 John 4:1 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."


Look with me, at how you can tell if they be of God or not.


1 John 4:2-3 "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:" "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."



Verses 10-12: Because the false teachers sought to undermine Paul's spiritual credentials, he set out to defend his apostleship, explaining once again (verse 1), that he was appointed by God and not by men.


Galatians 1:10 "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."


"I yet pleased men": Paul's previous motivation when he used to persecute Christians on behalf of his fellow Jews.


"The servant of Christ" (see note on Rom. 1). Paul had become a willing slave of Christ, which cost him a great deal of suffering from others (6:17). Such personal sacrifice is exactly opposite the goal of pleasing men (6:12).


"For" explains the harsh language of (verses 3-9): If Paul were to "persuade men" (i.e., court their favor), or "seek to please" them by preaching a false gospel they want to hear, he "should not be the servant of Christ."


1 Thessalonians 2:4 "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."


You see that Paul is fully aware of the obligation to speak exactly what God has given him to say. Choose now whom you will serve, God or man. We must make the same decision that Paul faced. Paul had been a Pharisee; he knew exactly what they taught. He also knew that the teaching of Judaism was another doctrine. Grace and law were not the same.


The natural thing for Paul to do would have been to side in with these Jews, of whom he had been one, but he found out better when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul knew better than anyone else, the bondage that the law brought. He also, had experienced first-hand the freedom of grace through Jesus Christ. Man is a free agent. We may choose God, or man.


It is our choice. The way of the law is very similar to what we see in many countries today. The law burdens people down with a heavy load to bear. Grace lifts that load.



Verses 11-12: In (verses 6-9), Paul implied that his gospel was the only true one; the message he preaches is the yardstick by which all others are to be measured. The reason for this is that his gospel is human neither in nature ("not after man," verse 11), nor in origin ("I neither received it of man, verse 12). The apostle's gospel is genuine; because he received it directly from the risen Lord ("was I taught it ... by the revelation of Jesus Christ").


Galatians 1:11 "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man."


"But I certify you": The strong Greek verb Paul used here often introduced an important and emphatic statement (1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 8:1).


"The gospel ... not after man": The gospel Paul preached was not human in origin or it would have been like all other human religion, permeated with works righteousness born of man's pride and Satan's deception (Rom. 1:16).


Paul had been taught the law in the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, but God the Holy Spirit had taught Paul the lesson in grace. His teaching of man had made him a Pharisee, not a Christian. The gospel that Paul had brought these Galatians was not what he had learned as a Pharisee, but was a direct revelation of Christ to Paul through the Holy Spirit.


Paul's learning of the gospel of Christ, then, was not of man, or by man, but of God. Jesus Christ is the Truth. This is what Paul taught. Jesus Christ and Him crucified.


Galatians 1:12 "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."


"Neither received it of man, neither was I taught it": In contrast to the Judaizers, who received their religious instruction from rabbinic tradition. Most Jews did not study the actual Scriptures; instead they used human interpretations of Scripture as their religious authority and guide. Many of their traditions not only were not taught in Scripture but also contradicted it (Mark 7:13).


"By the revelation of Jesus Christ": This refers to the unveiling of something previously kept secret, in this case, Jesus Christ. While he knew about Christ, Paul subsequently met Him personally on the road to Damascus and received the truth of the gospel from Him (Acts 9:1-16).


Paul was 3 years in the desert, and the Holy Spirit of God taught him during that time. Paul's first encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus was a revealing in itself. When the Light of Jesus shines upon you, you are never the same as you were before. Immediately, Paul was transformed from a doubter to a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Before, he believed that a trouble maker called Jesus existed. Now his eyes have been opened, and he realizes that this Jesus, whom he persecuted, was in fact, God manifest in the flesh. He even immediately called Him Lord.


His eyes of understanding were opened at this time, and he was prepared to receive the real truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had been taught of man, but it was the Jewish traditions that he had been taught, not the gospel of Christ. The Truth was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.



Verses 13-24: "For" begins to confirm his assertion of receiving the gospel straight from God and not from men (verse 12). Neither before (verses 13-14), nor after (verses 15-22), conversion did Paul obtain a knowledge of salvation from any human source. Prior to conversion he was an enemy of the gospel, interested not in learning it but only in destroying it.


During the 14 years following his conversion he was not with the apostles long enough to have been adequately instructed by them in the gospel. The point is that he received the message of salvation from Christ, not from man (verse 12).


Verses 1:13 to 2:21: Paul offers a brief biographical sketch of important events in his life to further defend his apostleship and prove the authenticity of the gospel of grace he proclaimed.


Galatians 1:13 "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:"


"Jews' religion": The Jewish religious system of works righteousness, based not primarily on the Old Testament text, but on rabbinic interpretations and traditions. In fact, Paul will argue that a proper understanding of the Old Testament can lead only to Christ and His gospel of grace through faith (3:6-29).


"Persecuted": The tense of this Greek verb emphasizes Paul's persistent and continual effort to hurt and ultimately exterminate Christians (see notes on Acts 8:1-3; 9:1; 1 Tim. 1:12-14).


"My conversation in time past" means my former conduct.


Paul is speaking of the law that had been given to the Jews. Paul was educated by Gamaliel in this law, that they called the Law of Moses. Paul believed that he was doing God's will, when he persecuted the Christians. He was very anxious to be rid of these Christians and their gospel.


Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, as we said before. Paul was on a journey to persecute Christians, when he first met Jesus. It is easier for Paul to witness to someone that is in the same position he had been in.


Galatians 1:14 "And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers."


"Profited ... above": The Greek word means "to chop ahead," much like one would blaze a trail through a forest. Paul blazed his path in Judaism (Phil. 3:5-6), and because he saw Jewish Christians as obstacles to its advancement, he worked to cut them down.


"Exceedingly zealous": Paul demonstrated this by the extent to which he pursued and persecuted Christians (Acts 8:1-3; 26:11).


"Traditions of my fathers": The oral teaching about Old Testament law commonly known as the "Halakah." This collection of interpretations of the law eventually carried the same authority as, or even greater than the law (Torah), itself. Its regulations were so hopelessly complex and burdensome that even the most astute rabbinical scholars could not master it by either interpretation or conduct.


This verse could be translated, "I was progressing in Judaism ahead of many contemporaries in my nation, because I was far more zealous for my ancestral traditions."


Let's look at a few of the Scriptures pertaining to the very thing Paul is saying here.


Acts 22:3 "I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."


Acts 26:5 "Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."


Acts 26:9 "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth."


We see from this and the next 2 verses, that Paul had been a Jew, just like them. In fact, he had been a very strict Jew, a Pharisee.


Philippians 3:5-6 "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;" "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."



Verses 15-16: Since Paul's conversion to Christianity was due to God and not man, and since he did not consult with men subsequent to his conversion, then the apostle could not possibly have received the gospel from any but the Lord. "To reveal his Son in" [to] "me:" the divine disclosure to man of the person and work of Christ is the essence of the gospel.


Galatians 1:15 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called [me] by his grace,"


"Separated me from my mother's womb": Paul is not talking about being born, separated physically from his mother, but being separated or set apart to God for service from the time of his birth. The phrase refers to God's election of Paul without regard for his personal merit or effort. (Isa. 49:1; Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:13-17; Rom. 9:10-23).


"Called me by his grace": This refers to God's effectual call (see note on Rom. 1:7). On the Damascus Road God actually brought Saul; whom He had already chosen, to salvation.


God's foreknowledge was that Paul would be an apostle. God called Paul even in his mother's womb. We are all saved by grace, but Paul's calling was of grace. God knew the heart of Paul. He knew that Paul wanted to do the will of God. Paul just did not know the will of God for his life, until he was blinded by the Light of Jesus on the road to Damascus.


Paul's call was of God, and not man. Paul owed no explanation to the others. It pleased God to make Paul an apostle.


Galatians 1:16 "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"


"Reveal his Son in me": Not only was Christ revealed to Paul on the Damascus Road, but in him as God gave him the life, light, and faith to believe in Him.


"Preach him among the heathen": Paul's specific call to proclaim the gospel to non-Jews (see notes on Acts 9:15; 26:12-18; Rom. 1:13-16; 11:13; 15:18).


"Conferred not with flesh and blood": Paul did not look to Ananias or other Christians at Damascus for clarification of or addition to the revelation he received from Christ (Acts 9:19-20).


Paul did not run and get advice from his friends to make sure God had called him. This is good advice for us, as well. We must not question our call. We must do exactly what God has called us to do without conferring with our friends first. God called you, not your friends. It would be nice if they approved of your call, but that is highly unlikely.


Notice what happened to Paul. Jesus was revealed inside of Paul when the Light of God shined inside his understanding. This Light of Jesus does away with all darkness and deception.


Notice this was for a purpose. Paul was to bring the message God had revealed to him, so that he would bring it to the Gentiles. God does not idly call us to a job. Each job God gives is for a purpose. We do not question God by getting confirmations from people.


Galatians 1:17 "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."


"Jerusalem ... Arabia ... Damascus": Rather than immediately traveling to Jerusalem to be instructed by the apostles, Paul instead went to Nabatean Arabia, a wilderness desert that stretched east of Damascus down to the Sinai peninsula. After being prepared for ministry by the Lord, he returned to minister in nearby Damascus.


Following his Damascus road conversion Paul made no trip to Jerusalem, where the apostles were, but spent approximately three years in Arabia. It is implied that he conferred with God there. During these three years, he was not taught by men.


Not even the other apostles were to teach Paul. He was to be taught of the Spirit of God. Paul was in the desert of Arabia 3 years in training by the Holy Spirit. We will see this in the next verse.


Galatians 1:18 "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."


"Three years": The approximate time from Paul's conversion to his first journey to Jerusalem. During those years, he made a visit to Damascus and resided in Arabia, under the instruction of the Lord. This visit is discussed (in Acts 9:26-30; see note on Acts 9:23).


"Up to Jerusalem": Travelers in Israel always speak of going up to Jerusalem because of its higher elevation (see note on Acts 18:22).


"Peter": (see notes on Matthew 10:2). The apostle Peter, who was the personal companion of the Lord and the most powerful spokesman in the early years of the Jerusalem church (read Acts chapters 1 - 12).


When Paul did first go to Jerusalem as a Christian, the purpose of his visit was "to see Peter." The verb "to see" means "to get to know." Paul's purpose, then, was to become acquainted with Peter, not to be instructed by him.


Peter was the head of the Christian movement at this time. Paul was showing, that not even Peter taught him what to say. It was the Holy Spirit. When Paul was ready to minister the gospel, it was understandable that he would go tell Peter. Jesus had given the keys to Peter, as we read in the following verses.


Matthew 16:18-19 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."


We can easily see why Paul would have gone to inform Peter of his intentions to minister.


Galatians 1:19 "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."


"James the Lord's brother" (2:9, 12; see note on Acts 15:13).


James was Mary's son, and would be the half-brother of Jesus. James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. We remember that James and Jesus' other brothers and sisters did not believe Jesus to be the Christ, until He arose from the dead. Paul is going into detail about who he had been with, so that all would know that he was not taught of the other disciples.


Galatians 1:20 "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."


The directness of this statement indicates that Paul had been accused by the Jewish legalists of being a liar, who was shameless or deluded.


We see an almost identical Scripture in Romans;


Romans 9:1 "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,"



Verses 21-23: From (2:1), Paul apparently spent about 14 years in "the regions of Syria and Cilicia" (verse 21). During this period, he preached "the faith which once he destroyed" (verse 23). Because of his absence from Jerusalem, he "was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea" (verse 22).


Throughout this lengthy evangelistic activity in the north, Paul was too far removed from the apostles in Jerusalem to have received any instruction from them. Had he been a student of theirs at this time, he would have doubtlessly worked in, and been personally known by, the Judean churches.


Galatians 1:21 "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;"


"Syria and Cilicia" (see note on Acts 15:23; Acts 9:30). This area included his home town of Tarsus. He was preaching in that region for several years. When word of revival in that area reached Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas (see Acts 11:20-26).


Paul stayed on in that region as a pastor in the church at Antioch. With Barnabas, they went from there on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3), and afterward returned to Antioch (Acts 14:26), from where they were sent to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 14:26 - 15:4).


Most of Paul's ministry was done as a missionary. He did minister in Jerusalem, but his primary ministry was in the out-lying area. Paul established many churches on these journeys.


Galatians 1:22 "And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ:"


"Judea" (see note on Acts 1:8).


Paul did not go to churches that had already been established by someone else. Paul was an evangelist. His ministry was in starting new churches in areas where there was no Christian activity. He was one of the very first missionaries. Jesus had started many churches in Judea, Himself. They were well cared for. They were not Paul's calling.


Galatians 1:23 "But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed."


"Over the 14 years before the Jerusalem Council (see note on 2:1), Paul had come only twice to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30; 11:30), so the Christians there only knew him by reputation.


The word had gotten to these churches in Judea that Paul, who had persecuted them in the past, had been saved and was preaching the gospel to the lost. Some had a difficult time believing that Paul had changed. Perhaps, this is one reason that Paul went to places that were not yet committed to Christianity.


Galatians 1:24 "And they glorified God in me."


This had been such a drastic change in Paul that they knew it had to be God who did it. Paul was not glorified by these people, but God. To think that God would save someone who had been so terribly opposed to Him, was almost unbelievable.


Galatians Chapter 1 Continued Questions


  1. What danger was Paul writing these Galatians about?
  2. Why did Paul mention this warning the second time?
  3. Why do so many people accept a false doctrine for the truth?
  4. How can you tell if a spirit is of God, or not?
  5. Do I now persuade _____, or _____?
  6. Galatians chapter 1 verse 10 and what other Scripture are saying the same thing?
  7. What is the decision that Paul made that we have to make also?
  8. The law burdens people down, but ______ lifts that load.
  9. Paul's teaching by man had caused him to be a __________.
  10. Who taught Paul the message of grace?
  11. What was the message Paul brought?
  12. How long was Paul in the desert being taught?
  13. When was the first moment Paul was changed?
  14. Paul was changed from a _________ to a __________.
  15. In verse 13, Paul speaks of the law as what?
  16. Who had Paul been educated by?
  17. Where do we find the Scriptures that tell us exactly what Paul had been?
  18. What things did he say that showed beyond a shadow of doubt that he had been a Pharisee?
  19. Describe Paul's calling?
  20. Who had Paul conferred with to make sure of his calling?
  21. Who was Paul called to bring the good news to?
  22. Exactly where had Paul first gone after his conversion?
  23. Who was the first apostle Paul went to after his 3 year stay in the desert?
  24. How long did Paul stay with him?
  25. Why had Paul gone to him?
  26. What half-brother of Jesus is mentioned as being the second Paul saw?
  27. What does Galatians chapter 1 verse 20 and Romans chapter 9 verse 1 have in common?
  28. Why did Paul not go to Judea to preach?
  29. Verse 24 says, they glorified whom?



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Galatians 2



Galatians Chapter 2

Verses 1-21: The argument (in 1:11-24), was that Paul's gospel is divine in its origin. The argument (in 2:1-21), is that his gospel is divine in nature. This is proved in two ways:


(1) The Pauline gospel was acknowledged by the apostles to be authentic (verses 1-10);


(2) Paul's rebuke of Peter for his reinstating the law attests the authenticity of the Pauline gospel (verses 11-21).


Galatians 2:1 "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also."


"Fourteen years ... again to Jerusalem": This was the period from the time of his first visit to Jerusalem (1:18), to the one Paul refers to here, which probably was for the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-22), called to resolve the issue of Gentile salvation. Linguistically, the word "again" need not refer to the next visit; it can just as easily mean "once again", without respect to how many visits took place in between.


And in fact, Paul did visit Jerusalem during that 14-year period to deliver famine relief to the church there (Acts 11:27-30; 12:24-25), but he does not refer to that visit here since it had no bearing on his apostolic authority.


"Barnabas" (see note on Acts 4:36). Paul's first ally who vouched for him before the apostles at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27), and became his traveling companion on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3).


"Titus": A spiritual child of Paul and a coworker (Titus 1:4-5). As an uncircumcised Gentile, Titus was fitting proof of the effectiveness of Paul's ministry.


Paul's second trip to Jerusalem came 14 years after his first visit when he had met Peter (1:18). Two important figures accompanied him on this occasion, "Barnabas" and "Titus".


It really does not matter whether these 14 years is from the time of Paul's conversion to Christianity, or that it is from the time he met with Peter. I believe in the first chapter, Paul was showing that his training was not of man, but God. In this chapter, however, we will see that Paul has ministered with the approval of the apostles who were part of the twelve.


This does not even mean that this is the second visit that Paul has made. It more probably means another time, not the second time. We know that Paul had been involved in ministry for many years at this point.


We will find in Paul's journeys that several ministers traveled with him. He really had a large following everywhere he went. The reason he mentions the 14 years here, is possibly to show the success of his ministry. He was so believed, that men and women followed along with his group and helped him minister.


Galatians 2:2 "And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain."


"Went up by revelation": This revelation from God was the voice of the Holy Spirit (see notes on Acts 13:2-4). He refers to the divine commissioning of his visit in order to refute any suggestion by the Judaizers that they had sent Paul to Jerusalem to have the apostles correct his doctrine.


"Gospel" (see note on 1:7).


"Them which were of reputation": The 3 main leaders of the Jerusalem church: Peter, James (the Lord's brother, 1:19), and John (verse 9). This phrase was typically used of authorities and implied a position of honor.


Paul refers to them in a similar way two other times (verses 6, 9), suggesting a hint of sarcasm directed toward the Judaizers, who claimed they had apostolic approval for their doctrine and Paul did not. They had likely made a habit of exalting these 3 leaders at the expense of Paul.


"Run ... in vain": Paul hoped the Jerusalem leaders would support his ministry to the Gentiles and not soften their opposition to legalism. He did not want to see his ministry efforts wasted because of conflict with the other apostles.


The reason for this second trip was "by" [because of] "revelation;" that is, by prompting him to go; God foresaw the necessity for this consultation with the apostles. In Jerusalem, Paul "communicated" (laid before) his gospel to the apostles. The Greek word rendered "communicated" means "to refer something to another party for his opinion of it."


So Paul "privately" sought the judgment of "them which were of reputation" (the Jerusalem apostles), regarding the gospel he had been proclaiming for 14 years. Why did Paul seek the apostles' opinion? He had no doubt as to the validity of his gospel, for he had received it directly from Christ; so his consultation with John, James and Peter was not to ascertain whether his gospel was correct.


Rather it was to obtain their approval of the way he was bringing Gentiles into the church: they were admitted without circumcision on the basis of their faith in Christ. Apart from the apostles' consent, Paul's ministry among the heathen would be hindered, he would "run" [labor] ... "in vain."


It appears from this, that Paul had preached what the Spirit had taught him, and now he was coming to see Peter, James, and the others in authority to tell them what he had preached. The message, that Paul gave here, was not for everyone, but for those in authority, for their approval.


Paul had been ministering this message for over 11 years. He now wanted the others to approve his ministry. The fact that he "went up by revelation" means that God sent him. He had never questioned the message before, but since he was sent by the Spirit, he felt he now needed Peter and James' approval.



Verses 3-9: These verses reveal the outcome of Paul's submission of his gospel to the apostles for their opinion. That they acknowledged his gospel to be genuine and to be the same gospel they preached is seen in three ways;


(1) Circumcision was not required of the uncircumcised Titus (verse 3). Had Paul's gospel been lacking in this respect, Titus would have been circumcised.


(2) The Jerusalem apostles ("they who seemed to be somewhat in conference") "added nothing to me" (verse 6), that is, they found nothing lacking in his gospel so as to require the addition of something (e.g., circumcision).


(3) The apostles "gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: (verse 9). In antiquity the giving of the right hand was a sign of agreement made between peers. The Jerusalem apostles viewed Paul and Barnabas as partners in the gospel ministry. The apostles would never had done this had they looked upon Paul's gospel as erroneous.


Galatians 2:3 "But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:"


"Greek" (see note on Romans 1:14).


"Compelled to be circumcised": At the core of the Judaizers' works system was the Mosaic prescription of circumcision (see notes on Gen. 17:9-14; Rom. 4:9-12). They were teaching that there could be no salvation without circumcision (Acts 15:1, 5, 24). Paul and the apostles denied that and it was settled at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-22).


See (notes on 5:2-12; 6:15; Rom. 4:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:19). As a true believer, Titus was living proof that circumcision and the Mosaic regulations were not prerequisites or necessary components of salvation. The apostles' refusal to require Titus' circumcision verified the church's rejection of the Judaizers' doctrine (Acts 16:1-3).


The doctrine of circumcision and of sacrificing has sprung up in the church. The Judaizers have insisted that the Christians go back to keeping the Jewish law. These people had forced Titus to be circumcised before they would accept him, because he was a Greek.


In fact, not many years after this very happening is when the temple was destroyed. Either Jesus did it all on the cross for us, or we worship Him in vain. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for all time for everyone. To sacrifice after this would be to say that Jesus was not the perfect Lamb of God. Paul wants to get this question settled.


Galatians 2:4 "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"


"False brethren": The Judaizers, who pretended to be true Christians. Yet, their doctrine, because it claimed allegiance to Christ, was opposed to traditional Judaism, and because it demanded circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic Law as prerequisites for salvation, was opposed to Christianity.


"To spy out": This Greek word pictures spies or traitors entering by stealth into an enemy's camp. The Judaizers were Satan's undercover agents sent into the midst of the church to sabotage the true gospel.


"Liberty": Christians are free from the law as a means of salvation, from its external ceremonial regulations as a way of living, and from its curse for disobedience to the law, a curse that Christ bore for all believers (3:13). This freedom is not, however, a license to sin (5:13; Rom. 6:18; 1 Pet. 2:16).


"Bondage": Conveys the idea of absolute slavery to an impossible system of works righteousness.


"Unawares brought in" means "smuggled in." these "false brethren" tried to get Titus circumcised (verse 3). These unbelievers "came in privily" (sneaked in), or infiltrated Christian churches. Their purpose was to "spy out" and carefully examine the believers' "liberty", or freedom from the Mosaic Law.


The ultimate aim of this spying was to "bring" the Christians "into bondage" by tying them up with all the rules and regulations of Judaism.


Notice in this verse, that Paul says these people were pretending to be believers in Christ. They were really troublemakers to try to break up the Christian movement. Many Jews were converted to Christianity, so it was hard to determine sometimes who was really converted, and who was there to try to put them back under the law.


Galatians 2:5 "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."


"We gave place": Paul and Titus (verse 3), never budged from their position of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.


"Truth of the gospel": The true gospel as opposed to the different (1:6-8), and false one propagated by the Judaizers (see note on Rom. 1:1).


Paul refused to summit to the Judaizers' demands of imposing the law on Christians. To have done so would have corrupted the pure truth of the gospel.


Since Paul had founded these churches with belief in Christ, he felt responsible to keep them in the faith. He would not even give these false brethren any time to bring their law to the people. He did not want his people confused by allowing them to hear false messages.


Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."


Colossians 2:4 "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words."


Galatians 2:6 "But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me:"


"These who seemed to be somewhat": Another reference to Peter, James and John (see note on verse 2).


"Accepteth no man's person": The unique privileges of the 12 did not make their apostleship more legitimate or authoritative than Paul's, Christ commissioned them all (Rom. 2:11). Paul never saw himself as apostolically inferior (see 2 Cor. 12:11-12).


These troublemakers that had come into the church had intended to put them back under the law. These brand new Christians were impressed with the authority with which they had spoken, even if they were not bringing the good news of the gospel. They were tender believers and must be carefully guarded from false teachings.


Paul says it really does not matter that they are supposed to be someone special. Probably they were Pharisees, who thought they were better than other men. God is no respecter of persons. All of their education meant nothing to God. Paul had been taught of God. God's teaching was much above the teaching of man.


Galatians 2:7 "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter;"


The Judaizers claimed Paul was preaching a deviant gospel, but the apostles confirmed that he proclaimed the true gospel. It was the same gospel Peter proclaimed, but to a different audience.


"Of the uncircumcision": Paul preached the gospel primarily to the Gentiles (also to Jews in Gentile lands), as his pattern was to go to the synagogue first (Acts 13:5).


"Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter": Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews.


"The gospel of the uncircumcision:" the apostles perceived that Paul had been divinely entrusted with the gospel to Gentiles, while Peter was entrusted with the gospel to Jews. They had been entrusted with the very same gospel, but sent to two different peoples.


We know that Paul had been sent to the Gentiles. It was the Jew who practiced circumcision.


Acts 13:47 "For so hath the Lord commanded us, [saying], I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."


The Jews had thought themselves to be the only family that God wanted. They thought themselves to be better than others. Paul had been specifically sent to the Gentiles. It was Peter, however, who had been present when the Holy Ghost descended on the uncircumcised Gentiles.


Acts 10:45 "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost."


God had shown Peter that the Gentiles were acceptable to God, even though they had never been circumcised. We see a direct statement in the next Scripture about Paul being called to the Gentiles.


Romans 15:16 "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."


Galatians 2:8 "(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)"


"He that wrought effectually in Peter ... in me": The Holy Spirit, who has but one gospel, empowered both Peter and Paul in their ministries.


I see in this, that Paul is recognizing the ministry of Peter. He is just explaining that his call and Peter's call of God is to two different people. This does not mean that Paul never spoke to the Jewish converts, nor does it mean that Peter never spoke to the Gentiles. It does mean, that the main focus of their ministry was Paul to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews.


Let us look at the commission Jesus gave to Paul in the following verses.


Acts 26:17-18 "Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee," "To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."


Galatians 2:9 "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."


"Grace ... given unto me": The only conclusion these leaders could make was that God's grace was responsible for the powerful preaching of the gospel and the building of the church through Paul's efforts.


"James, Cephas and John": This James was Jesus' half-brother (1:19), who had risen to a prominent role in the Jerusalem church. Cephas (Peter) and John (the brother of James the apostle, martyred in Acts 12:2), were two of Christ's closest companions and became the main apostle in the Jerusalem church (see Acts chapters 2-12).


Pillars": Emphasizing the role of James, Peter and John in establishing and supporting the church.


"Barnabas" (see notes on verse 1; Acts 4:36).


"The right hands of fellowship": In the Near East, this represented a solemn vow of friendship and a mark of partnership. This act signified the apostle's recognition of Paul as a teacher of the true gospel and a partner in ministry.


We should go unto the heathen": Further confirmation of Paul's divine call to ministry and a blow to the Judaizers, since the apostles directed him to continue in his already flourishing ministry to the gentiles.


"Circumcision" (see note on verse 7).


Now, we see three of the real pillars of the church approving the ministry of Paul. The right hand signifies the spiritual blessing. Of course Cephas, in the verse above, is the same as Peter. Peter, James (the half-brother of Jesus), and John blessed Paul and Barnabas in their endeavor to reach the Gentile world for Christ.


Peter actually was over all of the churches, whether they were made up of Jew or Gentile. His preaching, however, was focused on the Jew. James was head of the church at Jerusalem. John is the same as John the Revelator.


Galatians 2:10 "Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do."


"Remember the poor": A practical reminder for Paul and the growing ranks of Gentile Christians. The number of Christians in Jerusalem grew rapidly at first (Acts 2:41-45; 6:1), and many who were visiting the city for the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 5), remained and never returned to their homes.


While the believers initially shared their resources (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37), many had little money. For years the Jerusalem church was economically pressed (see note on Acts 11:28).


The one request the apostles made of Paul was that he would "remember" [help], "the poor". Paul willingly complied, saying that he "was forward" [zealous], "to do" so.


Even though their ministries were to a different people, they were all to remember the poor. Paul did not need instruction in this; he had been doing that very thing from the very beginning. It seems the believers in Jerusalem had been poverty stricken, and Paul had brought the message of charity to the Gentile churches.


He explains to them in the following verses that they are to help their converted Jewish brothers.


Romans 15:25-27 "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints." "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." "It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."


The church in Jerusalem was made up of mainly Jews who had converted to Christianity.


Galatians Chapter 2 Questions


  1. How many years had passed before Paul took Barnabus and Titus with him to Jerusalem?
  2. How does this chapter differ from chapter 1?
  3. Why do you suppose that Paul mentioned the 14 years?
  4. Paul went up by ___________?
  5. What is meant by this statement?
  6. Who did Paul bring this message to?
  7. Why did Paul feel that he needed Peter and James' approval at this time?
  8. What had they compelled Titus to do?
  9. What two things, that the Jews had brought, has sprung up in the church?
  10. What had the Judaizers insisted upon?
  11. Why does the author believe God allowed the temple to be destroyed?
  12. What does the statement "went up by revelation" show us?
  13. To sacrifice after the resurrection of Jesus was saying what?
  14. Why had the false brethren come in?
  15. Why was it difficult to know those who had come to make trouble?
  16. Why did Paul feel responsible for the Christians?
  17. What does Colossians chapter 2 verse 8 warn them to beware of?
  18. What was the difference in Peter's ministry and Paul's?
  19. Where do we find the commission, Jesus gave to Paul?
  20. Who gave Paul and Barnabus the right hand of fellowship?
  21. What does the right hand signify?
  22. Who was this James?
  23. Why were the Gentile believers to remember the poor Jews?



Galatians Chapter 2 Continued

Verses 11-13: A brief account of the darkest of days in the history of the gospel. By withdrawing from the Gentile believers to fellowship with the Judaizers who held a position he knew was wrong, Peter had in appearance supported their doctrine and nullified Paul's divine teaching. Especially the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (see notes on 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 John 10-11).


Galatians 2:11 "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."


"Antioch" (see note on Acts 11:19). The location of the first Gentile church.


"He was to be blamed": Peter was guilty of sin by aligning himself with men he knew to be in error and because of the harm and confusion he caused his Gentile brethren.


We see in this, a confrontation between Paul and Peter. Since Paul was primarily ministering to Gentile believers and Peter was ministering to Jewish converts, it would be a natural thing for them to bring different messages. I do not believe this is speaking of that however. It appears there was a definite difference in Paul and Peter's belief.


This is in an area where Paul had preached more. It appears that Peter, from time to time, went around the area and checked on the churches. Many Jews had converted to Christianity, as well as the Gentiles. It appears that Peter was like an overseer.


Paul did not talk behind Peter's back, but met with him in person to accuse him of error. This trip to Antioch was probably quite a bit later than Paul's visit to Jerusalem that we read about in the last lesson.


Galatians 2:12 "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision."


"Certain came from James": Peter, knowing the decision the Jerusalem Council had made (Acts 15:7-29), had been in Antioch for some time, eating with Gentiles.


When Judaizers came, pretending to be sent by James, they lied, giving false claims of support from the apostles. Peter had already given up all Mosaic ceremony (Acts 10:9-22), and James had at times held only to some of it (Acts 21:18-26).


"Withdrew": The Greek term refers to strategic military withdrawal. The verb's form may imply that Peter's withdrawal was gradual and deceptive.


To eat with the Judaizers and decline invitations to eat with the Gentiles, which he had previously done, meant that Peter was affirming the very dietary restrictions he knew God had abolished (Acts 10:15). And thus striking a blow at the gospel of grace.


"Fearing them which were of the circumcision": The true motivation behind Peter's defection. He was afraid of losing popularity with the legalistic, Judaizing segment of people in the church, even thought they were self-righteous hypocrites promoting a heretical doctrine.


"Them which were of the circumcision": This refers to Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who were troubled about the Jewish Christians in Antioch, who were taking meals with gentiles, thus probably eating forbidden foods.


The question in Jerusalem was this: were Gentile Christians obligated to observe the law, of which circumcision is the sign? The answer was no (verses 1-10). Peter's action in Antioch of withdrawing from Gentile meals raised another issue: were Jewish Christian's also free from the law?


It seems that Peter had eaten with the Gentiles, until these men came from James. Peter withdrew himself (as the Jews had done in times past), from the Gentiles while the men from James were there. You remember, James was the head of the church in Jerusalem, which was almost entirely made up of Jewish converts.


Peter it seemed, did not want a report going back to James of his fellowshipping with the Gentiles. It appears to me, from this that perhaps the teaching of the keeping of the law by the converted Jews has come from James. Peter did not want a bad report going back to James.


Galatians 2:13 "And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation."


"And the other Jews" The Jewish believers in Antioch.


"Likewise with him": (Hypocrisy). A Greek word referring to an actor who wore a mask to depict a mood or certain character. In the spiritual sense, it refers to someone who masks his true character by pretending to be something he is not (Matt. 6:1-6). They were committed to the gospel of grace, but pretended to accept Jewish legalism.


"Dissembled" could be said, "acted hypocritically." The detrimental effect of Peter's action was to influence other Jewish Christians to separate themselves from their Gentile brethren. Even the spiritual giant Barnabas, who had championed Gentile freedom (in verses 1-9), "was carried away with their dissimulation" (hypocrisy).


The hypocrisy here was the false impression left by their behavior; they really believed it was all right to eat with Gentiles, but acted as through these convictions were not theirs.


"Dissembled" in the verse above, means to act hypocritically in concert with. "Dissimulation" means hypocrisy, deceit, or condemnation. This then, is a terrible accusation of Paul against Peter.


Until this happened, Paul had thought the last one to do this would be Barnabas. For anyone to be one way in front of one group of people, and be another way in front of another group would be hypocrisy.


We must remember however, that the church was in its formative stage here. It was very difficult for those who had begun with the law (even Paul), to just be transformed overnight in their thinking, and do an about face on all the things they had been taught. Part of their problem arose from the fact that, they had separate rules for the Jews and the Gentiles.


Even Paul, sometimes conformed to the wishes of the people around him when he made decisions, such as when he circumcised Timothy. In those early days, they did things, they would not have done later to try to get into a certain group to preach. They bowed to the customs of the people, so they would be allowed to preach there.


Galatians 2:14 "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"


"Uprightly": Literally to walk "straight" or "uprightly." By withdrawing from the Gentile Christians; Peter and the other Jewish believers were not walking in line with God's Word.


"Truth of the gospel" (see note on verse 5).


"Livest after the manner of Gentiles": Before his gradual withdrawal, Peter regularly had fellowship and ate with the Gentiles, thus modeling the ideal of Christian love and liberty between Jew and Gentile.


"Compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews": By his Judaizing mandate, he was declaring theirs was the right way.


"They walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel:" That is, "They were not acting rightly regarding the truth of the gospel." The gospel teaches that a person is saved by grace, not by law. Therefore, he is not obligated as a Christian to live under the law.


"Thou ... livest after the manner of Gentiles:" Peter was living like a Gentile in that he was mixing freely with Gentile believers and not observing Jewish custom. He was eating Gentile foods. Yet Peter compelled "the Gentiles to live as do the Jews", in separating himself from them.


By refusing to eat with them he left Gentile believers no alternative but to either adopt Jewish dietary regulations, or suffer a split in their church. In short, Peter was forcing them to become Jewish proselytes. Peter's hypocrisy lay not in his observing Jewish laws, but in making Gentiles keep them.


Paul is questioning Peter, why he lived one way before these Jewish brothers arrived, and then changed when they came. Even though Peter knew the Gentiles had been accepted of God in their uncircumcised condition, he still felt that it would be good if they would not fight the Jews on this issue. It seems that many of the Christians were afraid of the Jews.


It appears to me that Paul is saying, make up your mind whether you are a Jew or a Christian, and live accordingly. Let the Gentiles alone. If they are good enough for God in the condition He called them, then leave them alone. Do not try to make them conform to Jewish customs.


Verses 15-16: Even though Jews are in some respects not outwardly "sinners" like Gentiles, they still know one cannot be justified by observing the law but only by faith in Christ. Paul therefore affirms that "even we" [Jews], "have believed in Jesus Christ" in order to be saved.


Paul's rebuke of Peter serves as one of the most dynamic statements in the New Testament on the absolute and unwavering necessity of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith (see note on Rom. 3:24). Peter's apparent repentance acknowledged Paul's apostolic authority and his own submission to the truth (2 Pet. 3:15-16).


Galatians 2:15 "We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,"


"Sinners of the Gentiles": This is used in the legal sense since Gentiles were sinners by nature because they had no revealed divine written law to guide them toward salvation or living righteously.


"Sinners" is a derogatory term almost synonymous with Gentiles. Since Gentiles did not live under the law, their immorality was usually worse than that of the Jews, whose behavior was generally restrained by the law. So in Jewish opinion Gentiles were, by the nature of the case, sinners.


Paul is saying that he too, had been a Jew by birth. "Sinners of the Gentiles" is a sarcastic remark about how the Jews had always looked down on the Gentiles.


Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."


To be "justified", is to be accounted by God as acceptable to him. This occurs "not by the works of the law" [meritorious works], "but by the faith of" [in] "Jesus Christ": (i.e., by relying on Christ's atoning death.


"Works ... faith": Three times in this verse Paul declares that salvation is only through faith in Christ and not by law. The first is general, "a man" in not justified"; the second is personal, "we might be justified"; and the third is universal, "no flesh be justified."


"Justified": This basic forensic Greek word describes a judge declaring an accused person not guilty and therefore innocent before the law.


Throughout Scripture it refers to God's declaring a sinner not guilty and fully righteous before Him by imputing to him the divine righteousness of Christ and imputing the man's sin to his sinless Savior for punishment (see notes on Rom. 3:24; Phil. 3:8-9).


"Works of the law": Keeping the law is a totally unacceptable means of salvation because the root of sinfulness is in the fallenness of man's heart, not his actions. The law served as a mirror to reveal sin, not a cure for it (see notes on 3:22-24; Rom. 7:7-13; 1 Tim. 1:8-11).


Paul is reminding Peter and the others, that even though they had been Jews, they had to come to Christ through faith, not works. It was not the keeping of the law that saved Abraham. His faith was counted unto him as righteousness. By the law, no one would be saved, because all have sinned and deserve death.


"Justified", means just as if I had never sinned. Look with me, at the next Scriptures which say it so well.


Romans 3:19-24 "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin." "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;" "Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:" "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"


This next Scripture says it all. Romans 3:28 "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."


Galatians 2:17 "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid."


"We ... also are found sinners": If the Judaizers' doctrine was correct, then Paul, Peter, Barnabas and the other Jewish believers fell back into the category of sinners because they had been eating and fellowshipping with Gentiles, who according to the Judaizers were unclean.


"Minister of sin: If the Judaizers were right, then Christ was wrong and had been teaching people to sin because He taught that food could not contaminate a person (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:13-15). He also declared that all who belong to Him are one with Him and therefore each other (John 17:21-23).


Paul's airtight logic condemned Peter, because by his actions he had in effect made it appear as if Christ was lying. This thought is utterly objectionable and caused Paul to use the strongest Greek negative ("certainly not", 3:21; Rom. 6:1-2; 7:13).


The Judaizers' objection to this doctrine of justification by faith alone is this: If a Jew seeks "to be justified by Christ" apart from the law he is then outside the law and thus a "sinner" like the Gentiles. The Judaizers fear that a Christian outside the law will lead an immoral life since his conduct is no longer restrained by the law.


Followed to its logical conclusion, under this theory "Christ" is "the minister of sin." That is, He promotes sin and encourages His followers to transgress. But the apostle's exclamation, "God forbid," denies this false teaching.


A Christian is a believer in and a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have made Christ the Lord of our life, then we no longer make our decisions. Christ makes the decisions. Christ will never decide to sin. The Lord Jesus Christ will not live in the person who habitually sins. We must let Jesus Christ become so real in our lives that we will be a reflection of Him.


Galatians 2:18 "For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor."


"Which I destroyed": The false system of salvation through legalism (see note on 1:13), done away with by the preaching of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.


"For" confirms the denial that Jesus, by the doctrine of justification alone, would encourage sin. To "build again" is to reinstate "the things" (the demands of the law), which one previously "destroyed" (i.e., renounced).


Paul declares that "I make myself a transgressor" if he again puts himself under the law which he formerly abandoned. How? The law awakens and incites sin in a man (Rom. 7:7-11). So, to obligate oneself again to the law is to put oneself under that legal system which awakens sin. Christ removes the law, thus delivering him from sin.


This is just saying if you go back into sin after you have received forgiveness for the sin, you make yourself a transgressor. "Transgressor" here, means, violator or breaker. God gives us freedom from sin. It is our obligation to live in the salvation provided for us.


Romans 6:4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."


Galatians 2:19 "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God."


"Dead to the law": When a person is convicted of a capital crime and executed, the law has no further claim on him. So it is with the Christian who has died in Christ (who paid the penalty for his sins in full), and rises to new life in Him, justice has been satisfied and he is forever free from any further penalty (see notes on Rom. 7:1-6).


"For" substantiates the declaration that it is the law, not Christ, which promotes sin. To be "dead to the law" is to be free from the obligation to obey it. This freedom came "through the law." The law's intention, by awakening and revealing man's sin, was to lead him to Christ, who alone could properly deal with his sin (3:19-25).


The purpose of being freed from the law is that the Christian "might live unto" [for], "God." For the whole of his earthly Christian life the believer is to live for God's sake, obeying, serving, and glorifying Him.


Jesus became our substitute for our sin on the cross. He fulfilled the law for each of us who will accept it. The law is of none effect in the believer. The price has been paid in full.


Romans 7:5-6 "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter."


Sin for the Christian, died on the Lord's body on the cross. We live in Him.


Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."


"I am crucified with Christ" (see notes on Rom. 6:2-6). When a person trusts in Christ for salvation, he spiritually participates with the Lord in His crucifixion and His victory over sin and death.


"Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me": The believer's old self is dead (see note on Eph. 4:22), having been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:3, 5). The believer's new self has the privilege of the in-dwelling Christ empowering him and living through him (see notes on Rom. 8:9-10).


"Gave himself for me": The manifestation of Christ's love for the believer through His sacrificial death on the cross (John 10:17-18; Rom. 5:6-8; Eph. 5:25-30).


To be "crucified with Christ" means the believer has been freed from the law (verse 19), and from the ruling power of sin that was aroused by the law. "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" is interpreted, "And I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."


Since the believer has been freed from the law and sin, the old sinful life no longer asserts itself as formerly. Instead, "Christ liveth in me;" that is, Jesus cultivates within the believer (Paul), His own desires, virtues, character and power, thus morally transforming him and working through him on others.


Paul lives his current Christian life "by the faith of" [in], "the Son of God," that is, by depending on Him for strength and all necessities.


This tells exactly what happens to the believer in Christ. My flesh must be crucified that my spirit might live. That spirit took up a dwelling place in my body. The soul is the will. My spirit and my body are constantly fighting for control of my will. When I became a Christian and made Jesus Christ Lord of my life, my flesh loses this battle. The Spirit of the risen Christ takes up abode in me, and He is in control of me.


I have turned my will over to God. It is my faith in God which gave me the confidence to turn myself over to the will of God. Christ lives in me to the glory of God. There is no need for me to worry, because He has everything under control. Temptations fade away, because I have turned the decision making over to Him. Christ in me, the hope of glory.


Galatians 2:21 "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."


Paul concluded that Peter, by taking his stand with the Judaizers and thus against Christ, was in effect denying the need for God's grace and thereby nullifying the benefit of Christ's death.


"Righteousness" (see note on Rom. 1:17).


"Christ is dead in vain": Those who insist they can earn salvation by their own efforts undermine the foundation of Christianity and render unnecessary the death of Christ.


"Frustrate" (nullify): Paul is pointing out that one would deny "the grace of God" by accepting Christ's atonement and then viewing His atonement as having little value, reverting back to the law in order to secure salvation. "For", gives the reason Paul does not attempt to nullify God's grace. It is not owing to "righteousness" [i.e., salvation], "by the law."


If that were the case, "then Christ" died needlessly. These words bring Paul's strong rebuke (verses 14-21), of his fellow apostle to a close. Peter's return to the law, having believed in Jesus, was like an admission that Christ's sacrifice was inadequate; his hypocrisy diluted God's grace by attempting to add his works to it.


But Peter's evident silence in receiving Paul's reproof shows that he acknowledged Paul's charge as correct. Peter then, recognized Paul's gospel to be genuine.


If we could have been saved by the law, then it would have been useless for Jesus to give His body on the cross for us.


Romans 10:3 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."


Hebrews 7:11 "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need [was there] that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?"


Galatians 3:21 "[Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."


The law was our schoolmaster to reveal to us how badly we needed a Savior. Christ gave His body on the cross that we might live. He purchased our salvation with His precious blood. He quickens our spirit to eternal life in Him.


Galatians Chapter 2 Continued Questions


  1. Who was Paul primarily ministering to?
  2. Who was Peter ministering to primarily?
  3. What had Peter done before certain men came from James, that he was not doing after they came?
  4. Why had Peter done this?
  5. What does this indicate?
  6. What does "dissembled" mean in verse 13?
  7. What is Paul accusing Peter of being?
  8. What is one thing we need to keep in mind about these churches?
  9. Sometimes, to be able to preach in a certain area, they bowed to the _________ of the people.
  10. In verse 14, what does Paul say to Peter?
  11. Paul is saying, if these Gentiles are alright with God, _______ ______ ________.
  12. What was Paul, by nature?
  13. What did the statement "sinners of the Gentiles" mean?
  14. Man is not justified by the works of the _______.
  15. What does justify mean in the sight of God?
  16. Who can be justified by the law?
  17. How had even these Jews come to Christ?
  18. What was counted unto Abraham as righteousness?
  19. What does justified mean?
  20. By the law is the knowledge of _____.
  21. What had Paul concluded from Romans chapter 3 verse 28?
  22. What is a Christian?
  23. How can a Christian make himself a transgressor?
  24. What does transgressor mean?
  25. I am dead to the law that I might live unto ______.
  26. Memorize and quote Galatians chapter 2 verse 20.
  27. What does the author believe about the spirit, the body, and the soul?
  28. What would cause the Lord Jesus Christ to be dead in vain?



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Galatians 3



Galatians Chapter 3

Verses 3:1 - 4:31: In the first two chapters, Paul has argued that his gospel is the true one. Now the question is: "What is Paul's gospel?" So (in chapters 3 and 4), the apostle defines his gospel. In short, it is that justification (salvation), comes as the result of one's faith in Christ, not as a result of trying to obey the law.


Paul argues this point by appealing to the Galatians' own experience (3:1-5), to Old Testament Scripture (3:6-14), to the Abrahamic covenant (3:15-18), to the purpose of the law (3:19-29), to the law's temporary nature (4:1-11), and to allegory (4:21-31).


Galatians 3:1 "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"


"Foolish": This refers not to lack of intelligence, but to lack of obedience (Luke 24:25; 1 Tim. 6:9; Titus 3:3). Paul expresses his shock, surprise, and outrage at the Galatians' defection.


Foolish does not denote natural stupidity, but failure to use moral and spiritual discernment. "Bewitched" means to cast an evil spell on someone. Paul is thus saying that the only way to account for their theological deception is by malicious magic.


"Who": The Judaizers, the Jewish false teachers were plaguing the Galatian churches.


"Bewitched": Charmed or misled by flattery and false promise. The term suggests an appeal to the emotions by the Judaizers.


"Set forth": The posting of official notices in public places. Paul's preaching had publicly displayed the true gospel of Jesus Christ before the Galatians.


The Greek word rendered "hath been evidently set forth", means to show forth as on a placard (billboard). The message of salvation had been set forth before the Galatians' "eyes" (spiritual understanding), as on a billboard. They had clearly understood the gospel, now they were confused about it.


Paul is not calling these Galatians a fool, but is saying that their actions are foolish. Foolish means to give the appearance of a fool. Paul reminds them that they have been blessed with the glorious Truth.


"Crucified": The crucifixion of Christ was a one-time historical fact with continuing results into eternity. Christ's sacrificial death provides eternal payment for believer's sins (Heb. 7:25), and does not need to be supplemented by any human works.


God thought enough of them that He sent Paul to them to open their eyes to the Truth of God. Paul had taught Jesus Christ and Him crucified. As we said before, Paul taught that Jesus fulfilled the law. He became the substitute for our sin. The law was fulfilled and all who believe live in the grace of God.


Galatians 3:2 "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"


"Received ye the Spirit": The answer to Paul's rhetorical question is obvious. The Galatians had received the Spirit when they were saved (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 John 3:24; 4:13), not through keeping the law, but through saving faith granted when hearing the gospel (Rom. 10:17).


The hearing of faith is actually hearing "with" faith. Paul appealed to the Galatians' own salvation to refute the Judaizers' false teaching that keeping the law is necessary for salvation.


Paul appeals to the Galatians' own spiritual experience to argue salvation by faith. Note that here the apostle refers to salvation by the reception of the Spirit. Why? Because the moment one is converted he receives the Holy Spirit. By a question, Paul states that they received the Spirit not "by the works of the law" (meritorious or good works), but "by the hearing of faith" (as a result of their faith).


Look with me, at the Scriptures which describe exactly what happens to those who are believers.


Ephesians 1:13-14 "In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," "Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."


Paul is attempting to make them realize that the law was of the flesh and true Christianity is of the Spirit. Why would anyone who had known the Spirit of God go back to a fleshly religion of ordinances? The answer is so obvious in verse 2 above. The Spirit comes through faith, and not works.


Galatians 3:3 "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"


"Are ye so foolish": Incredulous at how easily the Galatians had been duped, Paul asked a second rhetorical question, again rebuking them for their foolishness.


"Begun in the Spirit ... by the flesh": The notion that sinful, weak (Matt. 26:41; Rom. 6:19), fallen human nature could improve on the saving work on the Holy Spirit was ludicrous to Paul.


That which they have "begun in" [by], "the Spirit" is the Christian life. To be "made perfect by the flesh" is to bring the Christian life to successful completion by human achievement and one's religious accomplishments. Paul's rhetorical question denies the possibility; one begins and ends his Christian career through the work of God's Spirit.


The Spirit that fell at Pentecost was jubilee, as well. It set them free from the bondage of the law. It empowered them to minister. What a foolish thing to even consider giving up the freedom of the Spirit to go back into the bondage of the law. The flesh has nothing to offer, but suffering. Hope comes through the Spirit.


Hebrews 7:19 "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God."


Galatians 3:4 "Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if [it be] yet in vain."


"Suffered": The Greek word has the basic meaning of "experience," and does not necessarily imply pain or hardship. Paul used it to describe the Galatians' personal experience of salvation in Jesus Christ.


"Many things": This refers to all the blessings of salvation from God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:3).


"It be yet in vain" (see Luke 8:13; Acts 8:13, 21; 1 Cor. 15:2; 2 Cor. 6:1; 13:5-6).


This verse could be translated, "Have you experienced so many wonderful things without effect? If so, then it really would be to no avail." The "wonderful things" experienced are an understanding of the gospel (verse 1), reception of the Spirit (verse 2), and seeing miracles performed in their midst (verse 5).


Should they try to earn salvation by good works, then all these "wonderful things" they have experienced would have had no positive influence on them.


It seems that the suffering spoken of here, is the persecution of the Christians by the Jews. It was not a popular thing to be a Christian. Much ridicule came against them. Paul is saying, why did you suffer all of that to turn back now?


Galatians 3:5 "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, [doeth he it] by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"


"Hearing of faith" (see note on verse 2).


"Ministereth" (or, supplies): God gives the Spirit to new converts and "worketh miracles among" the readers not "by" [because of] "the works of the law," but "by" [as a result of], "the hearing of faith."


Paul is reminding them, that his ministry was accompanied with signs and wonders. There was no healing going on in the Jewish synagogue. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Jesus had said; your faith has made you whole, when He healed them. Faithful Abraham was accepted, because of his faith, not because of his works.


Faith is the key to receive anything from God.


Acts 19:11-12 "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:" "So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."


Paul's ministry was one of many miracles. The Jewish faith brought no miracles. What proof did they need?


Galatians 3:6 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."


As he does in Romans (see note on Rom. 4:30), Paul quoting (Gen. 15:6), uses Abraham as proof that there has never been any other way of salvation than by grace though faith. Even the Old Testament teaches justification by faith.


"Even as" (or, "just as"): These two words draw a similarity between the Galatians and Abraham: they received the Spirit by faith (3:2, 5), "just as" Abraham received "righteousness." This verse quotes (Genesis 15).


15:6: When "Abraham believed God," his faith "was accounted" [credited, reckoned] "to him for" [as] "righteousness."


Righteousness is the moral condition in which one ought to be, hence, that state acceptable to God.


Romans 4:3 "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."


We know that all those who ever pleased God did so because they believed. Read (Hebrew Chapter 11), and you will see a long list of those who put their faith in God.


"Righteousness", means being in right standing with God. The Christians are righteous, because they are washed in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). They have placed their faith in Jesus.


Galatians 3:7 "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham."


Believing Jews and Gentiles are the true spiritual children of Abraham because they follow his example of faith (verse 29; Rom. 4:11, 16).


The verse may read: "therefore recognize that those who believe, these only, are Abraham's sons."


If we are truly the children of Abraham, then we must believe the same thing he believed. The one thing that set Abraham aside from all others was that he believed God. The thing that should separate all believers in Christ from the rest of the world is that we believe Christ. We are like Abraham in the fact that we have faith in God, and faith that what He promised He will do.


Galatians 3:8 "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed."


"Scripture, foreseeing": Personifying the Scriptures was a common Jewish figure of speech (4:30; John 7:38, 42; 19:37; Rom. 7:17; 10:11; 11:2; 1 Tim. 5:18). Because Scripture is God's Word, when it speaks, God speaks.


"Preached before the gospel unto Abraham": The "good news" to Abraham was the news of salvation for all the nations (quoted from Gen. 12:3; 18:18; see Gen. 22:18; John 8:56; Acts 26:22-23). Salvation has always, in every age, been by faith.


"Preached before the gospel" is better said, "announced good news beforehand." Paul equates "justify" with being "blessed."


The physical house of Abraham is just one nation. The Hebrew nation is the physical house of Abraham. They are the physical house of Israel. All believers in Christ make up the spiritual house of Israel and are the nations, plural, mentioned here as nations blessed through Abraham. We are children of Abraham, because we have faith as he had faith.


Galatians 3:29 "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."


This seed of Abraham is in the spirit realm. Jesus is the seed spoken of. The justification of the heathen is in Jesus Christ, because they believed.


Galatians 3:9 "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."


"They which be of faith ... with faithful Abraham": Whether Jew or Gentile. The Old Testament predicted that Gentiles would receive the blessings of justification by faith, as did Abraham. Those blessings are poured out on all because of Christ (John 1:16; Rom. 8:32; Eph. 1:3; 2:6-7; Col. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:9; 2 Pet. 1:3-4).


This verse might be, "so then they who believe are blessed along with believing Abraham", that is, they are justified.


Faith pleases God.


Romans 4:16 "Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"


Read the 4th chapter of Romans beginning with about the 15th verse to get the full impact of this. In fact, it continues on in the 5th chapter as well for a few verses. The fact is, if we believe as Abraham believed, then the covenant promises made to Abraham are ours as well through faith.


Galatians 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."


"As many as are of the works of the law": Those attempting to earn salvation by keeping the law.


"Under the curse" (quoted from Deut. 27:26), to show that failure to perfectly keep the law brings divine judgment and condemnation. One violation of the law deserves the curse of God (Deut. Chapters 27 and 28).


"All things" (see James 2:10). No one can keep all the commands of the law, not even strict Pharisees like Saul of Tarsus (Rom7:7-12).


"As many as are of the works of the law" refers to all who rely upon obedience to the Mosaic Law as the means of winning divine approval (salvation). To be "under the curse" is to be subject to God's wrath and condemnation. "Continueth" is explained by "to do," which means "to obey."


The recipient of divine wrath is "everyone" who, believing salvation can be obtained by meritorious works, fails to obey the law perfectly. Complete obedience to the law is impossible for sinful man (Acts 15:10; James 2:10). All then, who attempt to secure salvation by this route are doomed.


The law was impossible to live up to. If you are under the law, you would be cursed if you did not do every little thing the exact way it was given. Even in the Old Testament, we find that to obey God was better than sacrifice.


1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams."


God wanted our love and loyalty from the beginning. He wanted us to have unwavering faith in Him. Every time I read the law that was given Moses, I praise God for the gift of grace through faith. There would be no way to remember all of the sacrifices and ordinances, much less keep them.


Galatians 3:11 "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith."


"No man is justified by the law" (Rom. 3:20).


"Justified": Made righteous before God.


"The just shall live by faith" (see note on Rom. 1:17). Paul's earlier Old Testament quote (verse 10; Deut. 27:26), showed that justification does not come from keeping the law; this quote (from Hab. 2:4), shows that justification is by faith alone (Heb. 10:38).


The last part of this verse means, "He who is just because of his faith shall live," that is, forever.


There is no one who ever completely kept the law, it is an impossibility.


Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."


The law condemns, grace sets us free.


Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."


Romans 5:21 "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."


The law brings death to the law breaker. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ brings life eternal.


Galatians 3:12 "And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them."


Justification by faith and justification by keeping the law are mutually exclusive, as Paul's Old Testament quote from (Lev. 18:5) prove.


This verse declares that the law is a matter of performance, not of faith; it is a principal of doing, not believing.


The law is obligations and ordinances. Those who are under the law must keep every single one of them.


Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:"


On this scripture (Deut. 21:23 is quoted).


"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law": The Greek word translated "redeemed", was often used to speak of buying a slave's or debtor's freedom.


Christ's death, because it was a death of substitution for sin, satisfied God's justice and exhausted His wrath toward His elect. So that Christ actually purchased believers from slavery to sin and from the sentence of eternal death (4:5; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rom. 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:12).


"Being made a curse for us": By bearing God's wrath for believers' sins on the cross (see note on 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18), Christ took upon Himself the curse pronounced on those who violated the law (see note on verse 10).


"For it is written": The common New Testament way (61 times), of introducing Old Testament quotes (see note on Rom. 3:10).


"The curse of the law", from which "Christ hath redeemed" [delivered] "us," is that of verse 10, incurred because of incomplete obedience to the law. "Being made a curse for us" means "by becoming accursed for us."


Jesus Christ is the redeemer of all who have faith in Him. He became our substitute on the cross. He took the sin of the whole world upon His body on the cross. The curse of the cross was the sin that we each laid upon Him. The Father turned away at the moment that the sin was placed upon the body of Jesus on the cross.


This was the moment Jesus said, Father why hast thou forsaken me? God had not turned away from the Spirit within the body, but had turned away from the sin upon the body. God cannot look upon sin. Sin died on the cross for all who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Accept the salvation Jesus offers you in the place of your sin.


Galatians 3:14 "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."


"The blessing of Abraham": Faith in God's promise of salvation (see note on verse 9).


"Promise of the Spirit": from God, the Father (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; 59:19-21; Ezek. 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Luke 11:13; 24:49; John 7:37-39; 14:16, 26).


The word "that" appears twice in this verse, identifying two reasons "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law" (verse 13):


(1) that Gentiles might receive "the blessing of Abraham" (i.e., justification as in verses 8-9);


(2) that believers "might receive ... the Spirit" (i.e., the indwelling of the Holy Spirit).


This implies that when one is justified, he is at the same time divinely granted the Holy Spirit.


The following Scriptures tell of the promises made to faithful Abraham. These are the promises to all believers in Christ, as well.


Genesis 12:2-3 "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:" "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."


Isaiah 44:3-4 "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:" "And they shall spring up [as] among the grass, as willows by the water courses."


1 Corinthians 2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."


Galatians Chapter 3 Questions


  1. Is Paul calling them a fool? Explain.
  2. What had Paul taught them?
  3. Jesus became the _____________ for our sin.
  4. Received ye the Spirit by the _________ of the law, or by the ________ of faith?
  5. After you believe, you are sealed with what?
  6. What is the earnest of our inheritance?
  7. Why does Paul say, they are foolish in verse 3?
  8. The Spirit that fell at Pentecost was _________, as well.
  9. With the Spirit there is ________.
  10. With the law there is ___________.
  11. What does the author believe is the suffering spoken of in verse 4?
  12. Without ________, it is impossible to please God.
  13. God wrought special miracles by the hands of ________.
  14. When handkerchiefs and aprons were brought to the sick from Paul what happened?
  15. What was counted unto Abraham as righteousness?
  16. What message is in the 11th chapter of Hebrews?
  17. Who are the children of Abraham?
  18. What set Abraham aside from all others?
  19. God would justify the heathen through ________.
  20. Who make up the spiritual house of Israel?
  21. As many are as of the works of the law are under the __________.
  22. The just shall live by _______.
  23. All we like sheep have gone _______.
  24. The law ________, grace sets us ________.
  25. The law is _______________ and _________________.
  26. Who is Jesus Christ the Redeemer of?
  27. What were some of the blessings Abraham was promised?



Galatians Chapter 3 Continued

Verses 15-22: Paul anticipated and refuted a possible objection to his use of Abraham to prove the doctrine of justification by faith, that the giving of the law at Sinai after Abraham brought about a change and a better method of salvation. The apostle dismissed that argument by showing the superiority of the Abrahamic Covenant (verses 15-18), and the inferiority of the law (verses 19-22).


Galatians 3:15 "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man's covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto."


"Brethren": This term of endearment reveals Paul's compassionate love for the Galatians, which they may have begun to question in light of his stern rebuke (verses 1, 3).


"Man's covenant": Even human covenants, once confirmed, are considered irrevocable and unchangeable, how much more a covenant made by an unchanging God (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17).


"Confirmed" (ratified, validated): The stipulations of a will, once ratified, cannot later be invalidated or added to.


A covenant is an unbreakable agreement. Many times, the covenant was sealed with blood. Even covenants between two earthly men were binding.


The word "disannulleth" means neutralize, or violate. A covenant was more than just an agreement. It was an unbreakable agreement. We see then, that the covenant that God made with Abraham was not ever to be broken.


Galatians 3:16 "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."


"Promises": Those associated with the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3, 7; 13:15-16; 15:5, 18; 17:8; 22:16-18; 26:3-4; 28:13-14). Because they were made both to Abraham and his descendants, they did not become void when Abraham died, or when the law came.


"Seed" (verse 19). The quote is from (Gen. 12:7). The singular form of the Hebrew words, like its English and Greek counterparts, can be used in a collective sense. Paul's point is that in some Old Testament passages (e.g., Gen. 3:15; 22:18), "seed" refers to the greatest of Abrahams' descendants, Jesus Christ.


This leaves no doubt at all, that the promises that were made to Abraham belong to all believers in Christ. We need not try to explain this Scripture, just know that it is true, and accept it.


Romans 12:5 "So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."


We see beyond a shadow of doubt that these promises made to Abraham were for all who believe in Christ.


Galatians 3:17 "And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect."


"Four hundred and thirty years": From Israel's sojourn in Egypt (Exodus 12:40), to the giving of the law at Sinai (1445 B.C.). The law came 645 years after the initial promise to Abraham (2090 B.C.; Gen. 12:4; 21:5; 25:26; 47:9), but the promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:24) and later to Jacob (in 1928 B.C.; Gen. 28:15).


The last known reaffirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob occurred (in Gen. 46:2-4; 1875 B.C.), just before he went to Egypt, 430 years before the mosaic law was given.


"The covenant": The Abrahamic Covenant (see note on Gen. 9:16; 12:1-3; Rom. 9:4).


"Confirmed before of God" (see note on verse 15). Once God ratified the covenant officially (see notes on Gen. 15:9-21), it had lasting authority so that nothing and no one could annul it.


The Abrahamic Covenant was unilateral (God made the promise to Himself), eternal (it provide for everlasting blessing), irrevocable (it will never cease), unconditional (in that it depended on God, not man), but its complete fulfillment awaits the salvation of Israel and the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ.


The verse might be read as follows: "I say this: the law, which appeared 430 years later, cannot void the covenant earlier ratified by God, so as to make the promise ineffective." Paul's point is this: If a human will, once confirmed, cannot be altered (verse 15), how much less will the divine covenant be changed 430 years after its ratification by God.


The Abrahamic covenant promised justification by faith. In the 430 years after its ratification by God, the Abrahamic covenant promised justification by faith. In the 430 years between the giving of this covenant and the law's appearance, God justified man by faith.


When the law appeared, it did not, indeed it could not, void this principle of justification by faith. Had it done so, the law would have made God's promise of no effect.


This is saying, that even though the law was given to Moses about 430 years after this promise was made to Abraham, it does not fulfill the promise made to Abraham, or do away with it. God had to bring them this way, so they could see that law alone would not save anyone.


This 430 years was really the time the family of Jacob lived in Egypt before Moses, sent by God, delivered them. This is certainly not the exact time from the time of Abraham, until the children were delivered out of Egypt.


The law was like Ishmael, it was of the flesh. Grace and Isaac were of the Spirit. This covenant, made with Abraham, was not flesh, but Spirit. The first was not the Spirit, but the second.


Galatians 3:18 "For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise."


Paul again emphasized that there is no middle ground between law (works), and promise (grace); the two principles are mutually exclusive ways of salvation (Rom. 4:14). An "inheritance" by definition is something granted, not worked for, as proven in the case of Abraham.


The first half of this verse is only hypothetical. Were "the inheritance" (salvation), a result of obeying "the law," then it would not be the result of believing God's "promise." The verse's latter half rejects the hypothesis of the first half: "Abraham" was divinely given justification because of his faith in God's "promise."


If the keeping of the law could bring the inheritance, it would not be an inheritance. An inheritance is something you receive at the death of another, which you have not earned. It is given to you because of your relation to the one who died. This shows, not only the greatness of the inheritance, but the greatness of the giver of the inheritance. God, through Jesus Christ, willed us the great inheritance. It is ours by sonship.



Verses 19-22: Having shown the superiority of the promise to Abraham (verses 15-18); Paul described the inferiority of the law, and its purpose.


Galatians 3:19 "Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."


"Was added because of transgressions": Paul's persuasive argument that the promise is superior to the law raises an obvious question: What was the purpose of the law? Paul's answer is that the law reveals man's utter sinfulness, inability to save himself, and desperate need of a Savior, it was never intended to be the way of salvation (Rom. 7:1-13).


"By angels": The bible teaches that angels were involved in the giving of the law (Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2), but does not explain the precise role they played.


"Seed" (see note on verse 16).


Since the law can neither save (verses 10-14), nor can it annul the Abrahamic covenant (verses 15-18), what purpose did it serve? "It was added" [alongside the covenant], "because of transgressions," that is, to reveal the hideous character of man's sin. Transgression was subsequent, not prior to, the law.


The law laid down the divine standard, and when man overstepped it, he became guilty of transgression. The inferiority of the law to the Abrahamic covenant is seen in three ways.


(1) The law "was added" after the covenant and thus was subordinate to it.


(2) The law was temporary; being in effect only "till the seed" (Jesus), "should come."


(3) Unlike the covenant God gave directly to Abraham, the law "was ordained" (handed down), indirectly by God through "angels" to its "mediator," Moses (Acts 7:53).


The laws and ordinances were for a purpose. Had there been no law, we would not have been aware of our need for the Savior. Every man was doing what was right in his own sight, and God gave the law to show the error. All of the sacrifices for sin and transgressions were a type and shadow of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us.


The mediator (go between), we see here, is no other than Moses. Moses received the law and passed it on to the people. God used angels to communicate with man, as he did with the three angels that appeared to Abraham. The seed (singular), the promise was made to, of course, was Jesus Christ.


Galatians 3:20 "Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one."


"Mediator": Paul's point is apparently that a "mediator" is required when more than one party is involved, but God alone ratified the covenant with Abraham (see notes on Gen. 15:7-21).


We see from this, that the mediator is actually a go-between. In the case of Moses as mediator, he is between God and mankind. He represented God to mankind and mankind to God. The way "God is one", is in the Spirit.


1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."


Galatians 3:21 "[Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."


Paul uses the strongest Greek negative (see note on 2:17), to disdain the idea that the law and the promise are at opposite purposes. Since God gave them both and does not work against Himself, law and promise work in harmony. The law reveals man's sinfulness and need for the salvation freely offered in the promise. If the law could have provided righteousness and eternal life, there would be no gracious promise.


The many differences between law and covenant ("promise"), might seem to imply that the two are opposed to one another. This is not the case. Assuming for the moment that "righteousness" (salvation), could come by meritorious works, then law and promise would be in competition. But as it is, they are complementary.


This is saying, if man could have lived up to the law, it would have brought life. Man, however, could not keep every little detail of the law. Jesus did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill the law. He took care of all the sacrifices and the ordinances for us.


The sacrifice of Jesus' body on the cross took care of all sacrifices for all time for everyone who will believe. Our righteousness is ours, because we have been washed in the blood of Jesus and been clothed in His righteousness.


Verses 22-24: In antiquity the "schoolmaster" was a family slave who led a boy to and from school, overseeing his conduct. In like manner, "the law" pointed out our "sin" and led us to "Christ," who alone can put away sin.


Galatians 3:22 "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."


"Concluded all under sin": The Greek verb translated "shut up" (concluded), means "to enclose on all sides." Paul portrays all mankind as hopelessly trapped in sin like a school of fish caught in a net. That all people are sinners is the express teaching of Scripture (see note on Rom. 3:19; 1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:9-19, 23; 11:32).


If you say you have not sinned, you are a liar, and the truth is not in you. We have all sinned; we are just forgiven if we believe that Jesus was our payment for our sin.


John 3:17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."


Romans 4:13 "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."


Galatians 3:23 "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed."


"Before faith came": From the viewpoints of both the history of redemption and through all times in the area of individual salvation (verses 19, 24-25; 4:1-4), only saving faith unlocks the door of the prison where the law keeps men bound.


"We were kept under the law": Paul personifies the law as a jailer of guilty, condemned sinners, on death row awaiting God's judgment (Rom. 6:23).


"The faith ... afterwards be revealed": Again, Paul was looking at the coming of Christ, historically and at each believer's salvation, individually. Faith in Christ alone releases people from bondage to law, whether the Mosaic law, or the law written on the hearts of Gentiles (Romans 2:14-16).


Those who depended on the law did not operate in faith. They felt that the keeping of the law made them perfect in the sight of God. The sad thing about all the sacrifices that they made was that it did not clear their conscience of their sin. Their sin was covered for a year, but not done away with.


Jesus does away with our sin. He put our sin as far away as the east is from the west, and He does not want us to remember it any more. His blood washed our sin completely away. The "we", which was spoken of in the verse above, is all God's people, not just Jews.


Galatians 3:24 "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."


"Schoolmaster": The Greek word denotes a slave whose duty it was to take care of a child until adulthood. The "schoolmaster" escorted the children to and from school and watched over their behavior at home.


Schoolmasters were often strict disciplinarians, causing those under their care to yearn for the day when they would be free from their tutor's custody. The law was our schoolmaster which, by showing us our sins, was escorting us to Christ.


When I study the laws and ordinances of the Old Testament, I feel terrible guilt. That is what is meant by the law being our schoolmaster. The law taught us how guilty of sin we really are and that within ourselves there is no way to pay the awful price that we owe.


We needed a Savior. Jesus Christ took our place on the cross. The pain that He bore should have been paid by each of us. He substituted Himself for us. He paid our debt in full.



Verses 25-26: Believers, through faith in Jesus Christ, have come of age as God's children. Thus, they are not under the tutelage of the law (Rom. 6:14), although they are still obligated to obey God's holy and unchanging righteous standards which are now given authority in the New Covenant (6:2; Rom. 8:4; 1 Cor. 9:21).


Galatians 3:25 "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."


After one's conversion to Christ, he is no longer under the curse of the law, as it has fulfilled its divinely intended purpose.


There is a confidence that comes in knowing (having faith), the Lord Jesus has taken care of it for us. We do not go around trying to keep a group of laws in a book. We keep the law God has placed in our heart.


Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. His commandments are written on the fleshly part of every believer's heart. We no longer need a schoolmaster; we just follow Jesus in our heart.


Galatians 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."


"Children of God": While God is the Father of all people in a general sense because He created them (Acts 17:24-28), only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ are God's true spiritual children. Unbelievers are the children of Satan (Matthew 13:38; John 8:38, 41, 44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10; Eph. 2:3; 1 John 5:19).


"For" corroborates the assertion of the Christian's no longer being under law. The reason is "ye are all the children" [or, sons] "of God." The Greek word rendered "children" is huioi, which means full-grown, adult sons. As the minor is no longer under his schoolmaster upon reaching adulthood, so one is no longer under the condemnation of the law upon believing in Christ and becoming God's son.


Romans 8:15 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."


Look, with me, at what happens just because we believe in Jesus.


John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:"


In the following Scripture, we will see that the promise to the seed of Abraham is our promise, as well, if we believe in Jesus.


Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together."


Galatians 3:27 "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."


"Baptized into Christ": This is not water baptism, which cannot save (see notes on Acts 2:38; 22:16). Paul used the word "baptized" in a metaphorical manner to speak of being "immersed," or "placed into" Christ (2:20) by the spiritual miracle of union with Him in His death and resurrection. See notes on Rom. 6:3-4: 1 Cor. 6:17.


"Put on Christ": The result of the believer's spiritual union with Christ. Paul was emphasizing the fact that we have been united with Christ through salvation. Positionally before God, we have put on Christ, His death, resurrection, and righteousness (see notes on Phil. 3:8-10). Practically, we need to cloth ourselves with Christ before men, in our conduct (Rom. 13:14).


"For" confirms the Galatians' place as the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. "As many of you" means "all of you." "Baptized into Christ" means "brought into an intimate relation with Christ." As such they "have put on Christ." To "put on someone" is an ancient idiom for assuming the standing or position of another person.


To "put on Christ," therefore, means to assume (adopt); His standing before God. Since Jesus is God's Son, the Galatians are God's sons, thus confirming verse 26. This verse may be paraphrased, "For all of you who have been brought into an intimate relationship with Christ have assumed His own standing before God, namely, His Sonship."


True baptism for a believer is being buried in the watery grave and rising to new life in Him. We no longer live, but Christ liveth in us. We are actually clothed in His righteousness. We were clothed in sin, before we became a Christian, but after we receive Him, He takes our sin and clothes us in His righteousness.


Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."


"For ye are all one in Christ Jesus": All those who are one with Jesus Christ are one with one another. This verse does not deny that God has designed racial, social, and sexual distinctions among Christians, but it affirms that those do not imply spiritual inequality before God.


Nor is this spiritual equality incompatible with the God-ordained roles of headship and submission in the church, society and at home. Jesus Christ, thought fully equal with the Father, assumed a submissive role during His incarnation (Phil. 2:5-8).


This expresses the logical outcome of the Galatians' having "put on Christ" (verse 27) and, hence, being "the sons of God" (verse 26). God views them all the same ("ye are all one"), as His sons. There being no ethnic ("Jew, Greek"), social ("bond, free"), or sexual ("male, female"), distinctions.


I have said so many times in these lessons, that God is not interested in the flesh of mankind. It is in the flesh that we are different nationalities and different genders. The spirit does not have a color or a sex. It is the spirit of mankind that Jesus quickens, not the flesh. The part of us that is made in the image of God is the spirit. God is a Spirit.


If we are in the image of someone who is Spirit, then we must be spirit, too. The real me, is not the flesh you see with your eyes, but is the spirit which dwells within this body of flesh. My spirit is a son of God. Look in the words of Jesus, how we are one in Him.


John 17:21 "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."


Galatians 3:29 "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."


"Abraham's seed" (see note on verse 7). Not all physical children of Abraham are the "Israel of God" (6:16), that is, true spiritual children of Abraham (Rom. 9:6-8). Gentile believers who are not physical children of Abraham are, however, his spiritual children in the sense that they followed the pattern of his faith (see note on Rom. 4:11-12).


"Heirs according to the promise": All believers are heirs of the spiritual blessing that accompanied the Abrahamic Covenant, justification by faith (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3-11).


The only "if" in all of this, is if ye be Christ's. Have you given yourself over completely to Christ? Are you truly His, or are you pretending? He knows the difference. He will separate the pretenders, when we stand before Him on judgment day.


His sheep will be gathered into heaven to be with Him. The pretenders will go the way of the goats to eternal damnation. The seed of Abraham is Jesus. We inherit the promises, because we belong to Jesus. Do not let even one more hour pass, before you give yourself completely to Jesus.


Galatians Chapter 3 Continued Questions


  1. What is a covenant?
  2. What was the covenant sealed by many times?
  3. What does disannulleth mean?
  4. What does that tell us about the covenant God made with Abraham?
  5. Who were the promises made to?
  6. Who is the seed of Abraham?
  7. Did the law do away with the promise?
  8. Is this 430 years a literal time?
  9. What son of Abraham was the law like?
  10. How was it like him?
  11. Which son of Abraham was the son of promise?
  12. What is an inheritance?
  13. The law was added, because of ___________________.
  14. Who was the mediator spoken of in verse 19?
  15. All of the sacrifices in the Old Testament were a type and shadow of what?
  16. Who was Moses the mediator between?
  17. Jesus did not come to do away with the law, but to ___________ it.
  18. What has the Scripture concluded about all men?
  19. What is the law called in verse 24?
  20. When are we no longer under a schoolmaster?
  21. What law does the Christian keep?
  22. How can we be children of God?
  23. What special name can we call the Father, after we have been adopted?
  24. What is true baptism?
  25. The part of us that is made in the image of God is our ________.
  26. What is the only "if" to becoming heirs?



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Galatians 4



Galatians Chapter 4

Verses 1-7: Paul expands on the analogy of a child's coming of age (3:24-26), contrasting believers' lives before salvation (as children and servants), with their lives after salvation (as adults and sons). Both Paul's Jewish and Gentile readers readily understood this imagery, since the Jews, Greeks, and Romans all had a ceremony to mark a child's coming of age.


Paul uses the Roman practice of tutela impuberes, "guardianship for a minor," to illustrate man's temporary subjection to the law. A Roman father appointed guardians to manage his child's affairs until 25 years of age, at which time the heir came of age. Similarly, man's earlier period of spiritual immaturity under the law is contrasted with the Christian's new freedom of adult Sonship in Christ.


Galatians 4:1 "Now I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;"


"Child": The Greek word refers to a child too young to talk; a minor, spiritually and intellectually immature and not ready for the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.


We see in this, that Paul is still speaking of the same things that he did in chapter 3, but with a slightly different slant. Some servants were entrusted with the wealth of the family. This was the case with Abraham. His trusted servant was even sent to bring a wife for Isaac.


A small child will inherit his father's fortune, if the father dies. When he is small, he is not capable of handling the affairs. In a case such as this, the trusted servant would care for the inheritance for the child, until he became of age. It may all belong to him, but he cannot take possession, until he is more mature.


The child must be in obedience to his father the same as the servant, until he is of age.


Galatians 4:2 "But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father."


"Tutors and governors" or "Guardians and managers". "Guardians" were slaves entrusted with the care of an underage boy, while "managers" managed their property for them until they came 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.


This is reverting back to the schoolmaster in the chapter before. A brand new Christian cannot really handle his own affairs, until he is schooled in God's ways. It is really not for us to decide when we are ready to be released from training. Only God knows when we can begin to teach, instead of being taught.


Galatians 4:3 "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:"


"When we were children ... in bondage": Before our "coming of age" when we came to saving faith in Jesus Christ.


"Elements of the world": "Elemental" is from a Greek word meaning "row,' or "rank," and was used to speak of basic, foundational things like the letters of the alphabet. In light of its use (in verse 9), it is best to see it here as a reference to the basic elements and rituals of human religion (see note on Col. 2:8).


Paul describes both Jewish and Gentile religions as elemental because they are merely human, never rising to the level of the divine. Both Jewish religion and Gentile religion centered on man-made systems of works.


They were filled with laws and ceremonies to be performed so as to achieve divine acceptance. All such rudimentary elements are immature, like behaviors of children under bondage to a guardian.


"We ... were in bondage under" means "we ... were subject to."


"The elements of the world" refers to elementary religious teachings and practices. For the Jew, it was the law. For the Gentile, it was the truths of the law written in his heart (Rom. 2:14-15). Before Christ, man was as it were, spiritually immature. Therefore, he was subject to the rudimentary teaching of the law.


The battle raging for a Christian is the battle between the flesh and the spirit. When we are first saved, habits still call out to our flesh, and put us under bondage of the desires of our flesh. As we grow in the Lord, our spirit becomes stronger and takes over control. When the spirit reigns, sin no longer has us under bondage. We overcome the world and the flesh, and live for Jesus.


Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,"


"The fullness of the time" In God's timetable, when the exact religious, cultural and political conditions demanded by His perfect plan were in place, Jesus came into the world. This corresponds to "the time appointed of [by] the father" (in 4:2).


"God sent forth his Son": As a father set the time for the ceremony of his son becoming of age and being released from the guardians, managers and tutors, so God sent His Son at the precise moment to bring all who believe out from under bondage to the law. A truth Jesus repeatedly affirmed (John 5:30, 36-37; 6:39, 44, 57; 8:16, 18, 42; 12:49; 17:21, 25; 20:21).


That the Father sent Jesus into the world teaches His pre-existence as the eternal second member of the Trinity (see notes on Phil. 2:6-7; Heb. 1:3-5; Rom. 8:3-4).


"Made of a woman" (or, "born of a woman"): This emphasizes Jesus' full humanity, not merely His virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:20-25). Jesus had to be fully God for His sacrifice to be of the infinite worth needed to atone for sin. But, He also had to be fully man so He could take upon Himself the penalty of sin as the substitute for man (see Luke 1:32, 35; John 1:1, 14, 18).


"Under the law": Like all men, Jesus was obligated to obey God's law. Unlike anyone else however, He perfectly obeyed that law (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:54). His sinlessness made Him the unblemished sacrifice for sins, who perfectly obey God in everything. That perfect righteousness is what is imputed to those who believe in Him.


This stresses Jesus' humiliation at leaving His pre-existent glory and becoming man; without having done so He could not have died for our sins. "Made under the law" (or, "born subject to the law"): He was born a Jew under the law, in order to free those under the curse of the law (4:5).


In heaven, Jesus was the Word of God. At a time appointed of the Father, the Son of God was sent to this earth in the form of man to save His people. The Holy Spirit hovered over Mary, and she conceived of the Spirit of God. The flesh of the Lord Jesus was as a man. It was a flesh body. It (the body of Jesus), was made under the law.


Mary was a natural woman. The body of Jesus was natural man. The Spirit, within that body, was God the Son, or God the Word. Jesus was made of the woman and not of man (in Genesis 3:15), this had been promised.


Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."


The Father of Jesus was not Joseph. The Father of Jesus was God. This plan had been made from the foundation of the world.


Galatians 4:5 "To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."


"Redeem" (see note on 3:13).


"Them ... under the law": Guilty sinners who are under the law's demands and its curses (see notes on 3:10, 13) and in need of a savior (see note on 3:23).


"The adoption of sons": "Adoption" is the act of bringing someone who is the off-spring of another into one's own family. Since unregenerate people are by nature children of the devil (see note on 3:26). The only way they can become God's children is by spiritual adoption (Rom. 8:15, 23; Eph. 1:5).


The Greek word huiotes would have denoted Sonship by birth. But the word rendered "adoption of sons" is huiothesia, which means Sonship conferred. Through Christ believers have become God's sons by adoption.


The reason that all must be redeemed from the law is the fact that by the law all are condemned to die. The law brings death.


Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


Every Christian has been redeemed by Jesus Christ with His precious blood and been adopted into the family of God. We are the adopted sons of the Father, if we accept Jesus as our Savior Redeemer.


Galatians 4:6 "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."


"Because ye are sons:" Every child of God was divinely given the Holy Spirit the moment he was adopted by God. "Abba" is an Aramaic domestic term by which the father was called in the affectionate intimacy of the family. It corresponds to our "daddy" or "papa." The Spirit gives us an awareness that God is our Father.


"Abba"; An Aramaic term of endearment, used by young children to speak to their fathers; it is the equivalent of the word "Daddy" (see note on Rom. 8:15).


"Spirit of his Son": It is the Holy Spirit's work to confirm to believers their adoption as God's children (see note on Rom. 8:15). Assurance of salvation is a gracious work of the Holy Spirit and does not come from any human source.


Only Jesus and Jesus' followers can call the Father Abba. It is actually the Spirit of Jesus within us that cries out Abba. The Holy Spirit within us reveals the fact to us of our sonship. This Spirit of the Risen Christ within us opens our understanding to this.


Galatians 4:7 "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."


"Thou art no more a servant" is Paul's way of concluding that the believer is no longer under law. He is instead "a son", that is, a full-grown adult son who does not need the law's elementary instruction and guidance.


Our inheritance is in Christ and we are His inheritance as well.


1 Peter 1:4 "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,"


We must not lose sight of the fact that Paul is explaining to these Galatians the benefits of the grace of God over the law. The Judaizers were trying to put them back under the law. Christians receive sonship through the Spirit of Christ within them.



Verses 8-11: While salvation is the free gift of God (Rom. 5:15-16, 18; 6:23; Eph. 2:8), it brings with it serious responsibility (Luke 12:48). God requires believers to live a holy life because they are children of a holy God and desire to love and worship Him (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15-18).


That obligation was to the unchanging moral and spiritual principles that forever reflect the nature of God. However, it did not include the rituals and ceremonies unique to Israel under Mosaic law as the Judaizers falsely claimed.


Galatians 4:8 "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods."


"When ye knew not God": Before coming to saving faith in Christ, no unsaved person knows God (see notes on Eph. 4:17-19; 2 Cor. 4:3-6).


"By nature are no gods": The Greco-Roman pantheon of non-existent deities the Galatians had imagined they worshiped before their conversion (Rom 1:23; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 10:19-20; 12:2; 1 Thess. 1:9).


"Howbeit then" means "although at an earlier time", and refers to the Galatians' pre-Christian, pagan past. They "did service" to, or served, false gods.


Many of the Galatians had been heathen people, before they received Christ as their Savior. They truly had not known what, or whom to worship, until they received the Truth through Jesus Christ.


The creation of God is not to be worshipped. Anything that you can see with your natural eye is not God. The things of nature can glorify God, but they are not God and should not be worshipped. They worshipped things which really were not God.


Galatians 4:9 " But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"


"Are known of God": We can know God only because He first knew us, just as we choose Him only because He first chose us (John 6:44; 15:16), and we love him only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).


"Turn ye again" (see notes on 3:1-3).


"Weak ... beggarly elements ... again ... bondage" (see note on verse 3).


"But now" refers to the recipients' Christian present. The question raised by "how", contains a prohibition, by which Paul says, in effect, "Don't you dare turn again to the weak and beggarly elements!" (i.e., the law).


As unbelievers, the Gentile Galatians were formerly under law in that its truths were written in their consciences (Rom. 2:14-15). The law ("elements") is described as "weak" because it cannot save, and it is depicted as "beggarly" (poor) because, as a system, it is inferior to the New Covenant.


Paul is speaking directly to the Christians in Galatia now. We will never know God in the fullest sense, until we are in heaven with Him. He knows us though. How can they even think of turning away from the freedom they know in Christianity and go back to the bondage of the law?


Galatians 4:10 "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."


"Days ... years": The rituals, ceremonies and festivals of the Jewish religious calendar which God had given, but were never required for the church. Paul warns the Galatians, as he did the Colossians (see notes on Rom. 14:1-6; Col. 2:16-17), against legalistically observing them as if they were required by God or could earn favor with Him.


The Galatians were beginning to "observe" that part of the law least repugnant to them, the calendar: "days" (Sabbath, fast, and feast days), "months" (new moons or feast days beginning with each month); "times" (Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles); and "years" (sabbatical years, and the Year of Jubilee).


This was very much a part of the law. This observance of days had to do with the Sabbath and with the feast of the law. There are some religions today that are doing like these people in Galatia were doing. On one hand, they wanted the benefits of Christianity, but they were very much caught up in the law.


This is one of the reasons the Christians celebrate Sunday instead of Saturday for their holy day. The Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. The others are living in the law.


Galatians 4:11 "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain."


"Labor ... in vain": Paul feared that his effort in establishing and building the Galatian churches might prove to be futile if they fell back into legalism (3:4; 1 Thess. 3:5).


"In vain" means "without saving result." Should the Galatians completely embrace the law and the Judaizers' message of salvation by works; it would show their profession of faith in Paul's gospel to have been merely outward and not real.


Paul is feeling as if they have forgotten everything he taught them. To observe all of the law would be to say that Jesus' sacrifice was not sufficient to fulfill all of the law. Paul says, perhaps, I have wasted my time on you.



Verses 12-20: Having sternly rebuked the Galatians, Paul changes his approach and makes an appeal based on his strong affection for them.


Galatians 4:12 "Brethren, I beseech you, be as I [am]; for I [am] as ye [are]: ye have not injured me at all."


"As I am, for I am as ye are": Paul had been a proud, self-righteous Pharisee, trusting in his own righteousness to save him (Phil. 3:4-6). But when he came to Christ, he abandoned all efforts to save himself, trusting wholly in God's grace (Phil. 3:7-9). He urged the Galatians to follow his example and avoid the legalism of the Judaizers.


"Be as I am", is an appeal to the readers to be free from the law as Paul is. "I am as ye are", signifies that Paul, though a Jew, regards himself as free from the law's bondage in the same way that the non-Jewish Galatians are.


"Ye have not injured me at all": means Paul's severe language of (verses 8-11), is not due to their offending him. To the apostle, this remark serves as a motivating factor for the Galatians: "Since you have not previously injured me, do not do so now by refusing my request" (of verse 9).


Though the Jews persecuted him when he first went to Galatia, the Galatian believers had not harmed Paul, but had enthusiastically received him when he preached the gospel to them (Acts 13:42-50; 14:19). How, he asked, could they reject him now?


Paul had to face this very thing himself. He had been taught from his youth the law. He had even observed some of the same things he is speaking against here. Paul says, look, I have overcome that. Paul realizes that you cannot practice the law and grace at the same time. We must choose between the two.


Paul is trying to make them understand that everything was taken care of in Jesus Christ. They had not caused him to fall away from grace.


Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come," "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Galatians 4:13 "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first."


"Infirmity of the flesh": Some think the illness Paul refers to was malaria, possibly contracted in the coastal lowlands of Pamphylia. That could explain why Paul and Barnabas apparently did not preach at Perga, a city in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13-14).


"Through infirmity of the flesh" means "because of bodily illness." Evidently physical sickness led to Paul's earlier ministry among the Galatians. Perhaps he had not planned to evangelize Galatia, but illness altered his itinerary, thus leading him there.


The cooler and healthier weather in Galatia and especially at Pisidian Antioch (3,600 feet above sea level), where Paul went when he left Perga, would have brought some relief to the fever caused by malaria. Although malaria is a serious, debilitating disease, its attacks are not continuous; Paul could have ministered between bouts with fever.


We know that Paul had an infirmity of the flesh. He did stay with them for a while and preach, in spite of his infirmity. "Infirmity", in the verse above, means feebleness of body or mind. It could, also, mean malady, frailty, disease, sickness, or weakness. It was an effort on Paul's part to bring them the message.


Galatians 4:14 "And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus."


"Received me" The Galatians welcomed Paul in spite of his illness, which in no way was a barrier to his credibility or acceptance.


"Christ Jesus" (see notes on Matt. 18:5-10).


In contrast to any supposed Galatian mistreatment of Paul (verse 12), this verse reveals how well they treated him. "My temptation which was in my flesh" might be paraphrased, "that which tried you in my body." Paul's physical ailment (verse 13), may have been repulsive to the Galatians who viewed it.


Nevertheless they "despised not, nor rejected" him because of this illness, but accepted him "as an angel of God." Paul's statement implies the question: "Having treated me so well when physically offensive, will you now mistreat me by embracing a false gospel?"


Whatever the problem that Paul had, did not cause these people to reject hearing the message of the gospel to them. There are all sorts of speculation as to what the problem was, I will not add to that confusion by guessing. If we were supposed to know, the Lord would tell us. They had overlooked the infirmity and received him as a ministering spirit from the Lord.


If we minister the way God would have us to, we do not speak of ourselves. We allow the Lord Jesus to minister through us. This was the case with Paul. Paul opened his mouth and the Lord Jesus Christ spoke through him to the people. The people accepted the message, knowing that Christ was speaking through Paul.


Galatians 4:15 "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if [it had been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me."


"Blessedness" means here "gratefulness." It indicates that the Galatians considered themselves fortunate for having been under Paul's earlier ministry. They were so grateful that they would have given him their own eyes had it been possible. The apostle's question implies that the Galatians, vacillating between grace and law, may no longer be grateful for his previous ministry.


Blessing can also be translated "happiness," or "satisfaction." Paul points out that the Galatians had been happy and content with his gospel preaching (Acts 13:48), and wonders why they had turned against him.


"Plucked out your own eyes": This may be a figure of speech (Matt. 5:29; 18:9), or an indication that Paul's bodily illness (see note on verse 13), had somehow affected his eyes (6:11). In either case, it reflects the great love the Galatians had initially expressed for the apostle.


Paul is disturbed, because they had turned away from that first message they had so readily accepted. He says, you believed every word I said and you would have done anything to help me. Why have you changed your mind about the gospel of Christ? Paul is trying to explain to them that Truth never changes. Where did your love for the message I brought go?


Galatians 4:16 "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"


"Your enemy": The Galatians had become so confused that, in spite of their previous affection for Paul, some had come to regard him as their enemy. The apostle reminds them that he had not harmed them, but merely told them the truth, a truth that had once brought them great joy (see note on verse 15).


This verse contrasts the Galatians' previous and current attitudes toward Paul. They used to esteem him highly (verse 14-15); but now, as the Judaizers turn the readers' affection from Paul, they are beginning to regard him as an opponent because he speaks "the truth" of the gospel, pointing out their erroneous ways.


The problem is that while Paul was away, the enemy crept in. Paul had brought the Truth, but while he was away, they began to believe a lie. They had even turned against Paul, because he is telling them the Truth. Paul loves them and wants to be their friend, but more than that, he wants them to accept the Truth.


Galatians Chapter 4 Questions


  1. The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a _________.
  2. What Old Testament person entrusted the choosing of a wife for his son to his servant?
  3. He is under tutors and governors until when?
  4. What must a brand new Christian do before he can handle his affairs?
  5. Who knows when someone is ready to teach instead of being taught?
  6. In verse 3, what were these children in bondage under?
  7. What is the battle that rages within a new Christian?
  8. When did God send His Son?
  9. Jesus was made of a woman, made under the _____.
  10. What was Jesus called in heaven, before He came to the earth as Savior?
  11. Jesus' body was as a natural man, what was within that body?
  12. Who was Jesus' Father?
  13. What does verse 5 say, Christians were redeemed from the law to receive?
  14. The wages of sin is _______.
  15. Who can call the Father Abba?
  16. What reveals the fact of our sonship to us?
  17. Who were trying to put them back under the law?
  18. What had many of the Galatians been, before they received Christ?
  19. The things of nature can __________ God, but are not to be _______________.
  20. What things had they been observing?
  21. Paul felt that he had bestowed labor on them in ______.
  22. To observe the law would be saying what?
  23. What was Paul's infirmity?
  24. How had they received Paul at first?
  25. What terrible extent would they have gone to for Paul at the first?
  26. Why had they started believing something that Paul had not taught them?



Galatians Chapter 4 Continued

Galatians 4:17 "They zealously affect you, [but] not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them."


"They": The Judaizers.


"Zealously affect you" (or, "seek your favor"): With a serious concern, or warm interest. The same word is used (in 1:14), to describe Paul's former zeal for Judaism. The Judaizers appeared to have a genuine interest in the Galatians, but their true motive was to exclude the Galatians from God's gracious salvation and win recognition for themselves.


The Judaizers are wooing the Galatians, "but not well," that is, with improper intentions. The heretics want to "exclude" or cut them off from Paul, so that the Galatians will then court the Judaizers' favor.


The problem that we have been dealing with in this is, that the Judaizers had been trying to put these Galatian Christians back under the Law of Moses. This to me, means that they have worked hard at getting them to go back under the law. They were even threatening to have nothing to do with them, if they did not keep the law. This is separation of the wrong kind.


We are supposed to live wholesome lives after we receive salvation, but to go back to sacrificing and circumcising the men, would be denying that Jesus fulfilled the law for all believers. It would really be denying Him to be the Christ, the Messiah.


Galatians 4:18 "But [it is] good to be zealously affected always in [a] good [thing], and not only when I am present with you."


"Not only when I am present with you": Paul encouraged the Galatians to have the same zeal for the true gospel of grace that they had once had when he was with them.


It is good to be sought after (wooed, courted), when those doing the courting do so with pure motives. Paul seeks to prevent the readers from thinking that his remark (in verse 17), means he wants to monopolize them: "I do not wish to have you all to myself," to paraphrase the apostle. "I am glad others are fond of you, provided it is with honorable motives." This is not the case with the Judaizers.


Paul is saying here, that it is a good thing to work hard for things that are right. The main thing is that Paul wants them to be strong in their belief, whether he is with them or not. He wants them to grow up in the Lord, so they will not be influenced to believe a lie. Paul cannot be with them all the time. He wants to know that they will be able to walk the Christian walk, even when he is not there.


Galatians 4:19 "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,"


"My little children" Paul's only use of this affectionate phrase, which John uses frequently "My little children" (1 John 2:1, 18, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21).


This reveals that Paul's concern for them (verse 18), is like that of a parent for his children. "I travail in birth" is the Greek word odino used of a woman suffering labor pains. It discloses the anxious concern, hard work, and pain experienced on his part for his converts.


This labor lasts "until Christ be formed in you," that is, until Christ's life, character and virtues are fully cultivated in their lives. Therefore, Paul is not speaking of their conversion but of their growth as Christians. Odino denotes not merely the anguish and exertion for giving birth, for formation of the embryo precedes labor pains.


Rather, a mother's concern and labor extend from birth until her child reaches adulthood. So it is with Paul in his pastoral concern for the Galatians. But "again" indicates they failed to reach spiritual maturity following conversion, owing to this false gospel. So, the writer is "again" laboring to bring them to full growth.


Paul is trying his best to get them into the Truth and then keep them in the Truth. Paul calls them his little children, because they came to Christ under his ministry. He calls them little children, because they had not grown up in the Lord. They were still feeding on milk and honey. He wants Christ to be so fully in their lives that they will not get off the Truth again.


Galatians 4:20 "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you."


"I stand in doubt of you" is another way of saying, "I am perplexed [disturbed] about you." The verb means "to be at wits end." (verse 6).


Paul is concerned that they have gone back into the teaching of the law. He believes if he were there, speaking directly to them, they would be stronger in the Truth.



"Verses 4:21 - 5:1: Paul continuing to contrast grace and law, faith and work; employs an Old Testament story as an analogy or illustration of what he has been teaching.


Galatians 4:21 "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?"


"Under the law" (see note on 3:10).


Paul had spoken to them of his love for them, but now he changes to a reprimand. Those who are determined that it is necessary to keep the law of Moses are the ones he is specifically speaking to in this verse.


Galatians 4:22 "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman."


"Two sons": Ishmael, son of Sarah's Egyptian maid Hagar (Gen. 16:1-16), and Isaac, Sarah's son (Gen. 21:1-7). "The one" Ishmael, "by a bondmaid" slave woman, in this case, Hagar, "the other Isaac "by a freewoman" (Sarah).


We see in this a very good argument for not going back to the law. We have discussed in a previous lesson how the law symbolized the flesh, and grace symbolized the Spirit. The law brought bondage to them. Grace had brought freedom.


Galatians 4:23 "But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise."


"Born after the flesh:" Ishmael's birth was motivated by Abraham and Sarah's lack of faith in God's promise and fulfilled by sinful human means. Ishmael was born in the ordinary manner, natural physical generation. But Isaac's birth was "by promise," in other words, as the result of divine promise. Contrary to nature, God enabled his parents to conceive in old age.


The comparison here, is in the natural birth of the nation of Israel and the law. They were symbolic of the bondwoman's children. This was a religion of works of the law.


The freewoman's son was the son the promise of the redeemer would be fulfilled through. The free woman was the mother of the son the promise to Abraham would come through. We have shown over and over in these lessons how the seed spoken of in the promise to Abraham was Jesus, and through Him His followers.


Galatians 4:24 "Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar."


"An allegory" goes beyond certain surface parts of a historical account and draws out deeper meanings seemingly not inherent in that account.


The Greek word was used of a story that conveyed a meaning beyond the literal sense of the words. In this passage, Paul uses historical people and places from the Old Testament to illustrate spiritual truth.


This is actually not an allegory, nor are there any allegories in Scripture. An allegory is a fictional story where real truth is the secret, mysterious, hidden meaning. The story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac is actual history and has no secret or hidden meaning. Paul uses it only as an illustration to support his contrast between law and grace.


Paul is saying: "These things lend themselves to the following figurative explanation." Paul makes Hagar represent the Mosaic covenant (i.e., the law) "which gendereth to bondage" (or, "which begets children for slavery"). As Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, sharing her same social status of slavery, so the law puts those subject to it in spiritual bondage.


"Two covenants": Paul uses the two mothers, their two sons, and two locations as a further illustration of two covenants. Hager, Ismael, and Mt. Sinai (earthly Jerusalem), represent the covenant of law; Sarah, Isaac and the heavenly Jerusalem the covenant of promise.


However, Paul cannot be contrasting these two covenants as different ways of salvation, one way for Old Testament saints, another for New Testament saints, a premise he has already denied (2:16; 3:10-14, 21-22). The purpose of the Mosaic Covenant was only to show all who were under its demands and condemnation their desperate need for salvation by grace alone (3:24), it was never intended to portray the way of salvation.


Paul's point is that those, like the Judaizers, who attempt to earn righteousness by keeping the law receive only bondage and condemnation (3:10, 23). While those who partake of salvation by grace, the only way of salvation since Adam's sin, are freed from the law's bondage and condemnation.


"Mount Sinai": An appropriate symbol for the old covenant, since it was at Mt. Sinai that Moses received the law (Exodus 19).


"Hagar": Since she was Sarah's slave (Gen. 16:1), Hagar is a fitting illustration of those under bondage to the law (verses 5, 21, 3:23). She was associated with Mt. Sinai through her son Ishmael whose descendants settled in that region.


We see in these two covenants, the law and the grace. The law covenant was made to the physical house of Israel, and the covenant of promise (grace), was for the spiritual house of Israel (all believers in Christ).


The strange thing is that the covenant of the law had to be, before there could be the covenant of grace from the law. The law brought bondage upon the people. Hagar was the mother of the son of the flesh (Ishmael).


Galatians 4:25 "For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children."


"For" further explains the link between Hagar and Sinai. "Hagar is mount Sinai" means, "Hagar stands for Mount Sinai." Hagar "answereth" [corresponds] "to" the then current "Jerusalem" (i.e., Judaism). Paul viewed Hagar and Judaism in the same way, for as Hagar and her offspring were in social bondage, so Judaism and her adherents were in spiritual slavery to the law.


"Answereth ... Jerusalem": The law was given at Sinai and received its highest expression in the temple worship at Jerusalem. The Jewish people were still in bondage to the law.


Galatians 4:26 "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."


"Jerusalem which is above is free": Heaven (Heb. 12:18, 22). Those who are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), are free from the Mosaic law, works, bondage, and trying endlessly and futilely to please God by the flesh.


"The mother": Believers are children of the heavenly Jerusalem, the "mother-city" of heaven. In contrast to the slavery of Hagar's children, believers in Christ are free (5:1; Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18; John 8:36; Rom. 6:18, 22; 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:17).


Christianity is represented by "Jerusalem which is above," that is, the heavenly city. This Christian community is described as being "free," that is, not under the law.


This is speaking of the New Jerusalem. This is the Jerusalem where Christ reigns. New Jerusalem and the Christians are sometimes spoken of as the same. Of course, the New Jerusalem spoken of as the bride of Christ and the believers in Christ being the bride of Christ is what I am speaking of.


Galatians 4:27 "For it is written, Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband."


Paul applies the passage from (Isaiah 54:1), to the Jerusalem above.


The "barren" woman is Christianity; "she which hath a husband" is Judaism. Initially the latter had many adherents and the former had few. But Christianity "hath" will have "many more children" (i.e. followers), than Judaism.


This has to be a spiritual statement. This could not be in the natural. This is speaking of the Christians, who are saved, being so many that they are impossible to number. The Jews, or physical Israel, is small in comparison to that.


Galatians 4:28 "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."


"Children of promise": Just as Isaac inherited the promises made to Abraham (Gen. 26:1-3), so also are believers the recipients of God's redemptive promises (1 Cor. 3:21-23, Eph. 1:3), because they are spiritual heirs of Abraham (see note on 3:29).


"Now" begins to apply the figurative manner of explanation. Paul views Christians as "children of promise." That is, as Isaac was born in fulfillment of divine promise, so the Galatians' status as God's "children" rests neither on physical descent nor on meritorious works, but on faith in God's "promise."


Believers in Christ (Christians), are the children of promise, through Jesus Christ. Isaac was the spiritual son of Abraham. He was the son of promise, not the son of the flesh. Our blessing is from the right hand. The right hand blessing is the spiritual blessing.


Galatians 4:29 "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the Spirit, even so [it is] now."


"He that was born after the flesh": Ishmael (see note on verse 23).


"Persecuted him that was born after the Spirit": Isaac, who Ishmael mocked at the feast celebrating Isaac's weaning (see Gen. 21:8-9).


"Even so it is now," says Paul; those seeking salvation by works trouble those seeking divine favor by faith in God's grace (5:10).


Ishmael's descendants (Arabs), have always persecuted Isaac's (Jews). So, unbelievers have always persecuted believers (Matt. 5:11; 10:22-25; Mark 10:30; John 15:19-20; 16:2, 33; 17:14; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 11:32-37; 1 Pet. 2:20-21; 3:14; 4:12-14).


The war has always been between the flesh and the Spirit. Christians are born of the Spirit of God. We are not of the flesh.


John 3:5-6 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."


Paul is warning them here that there will never be peace between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh wants to put you under bondage. The Spirit frees.


Galatians 4:30 "Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."


"Cast out the bondwoman" (quoted from Gen. 21:10), to illustrate that those who are attempting to be justified on the basis of keeping the law will be cast out of God's presence forever (Matt. 8:12; 22:12-13, 25:30; Luke 13:28; 2 Thess. 1:9).


Paul continues applying the allegory by citing (Genesis 21:10-12), where Abraham was advised to send Hagar and Ishmael away from Sarah and Isaac. The Galatians are to excommunicate the Judaizers from their ranks. Why? Legal bondage (justification by works), and spiritual freedom (justification by faith), cannot coexist.


Jesus is the Way to heaven. There is only one way to get there. Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ makes heaven your home. It is not possible to believe in Jesus, and not believe Him all at the same time. (Romans 10:9-10), tell what you must do to be saved.


Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."


This leaves no doubt at all. The son of the flesh denies the Lord Jesus. The son of the freewoman believes. His faith is counted unto him as righteousness.


Galatians 4:31 "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."


"We are not children of the bondwoman" (see notes on 4:24, 26).


Christians are not of the flesh, but are of the Spirit. We are righteous, with faithful Abraham, because we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is saying one more time, stay free and do not go back into the bondage of the law.


Galatians Chapter 4 Continued Questions


  1. What have the Judaizers been attempting to do?
  2. What would it be saying to go back to sacrificing?
  3. What was it good to be zealous about?
  4. Who does Paul call them in verse 19?
  5. Why did he call them this?
  6. Why is Paul concerned about them?
  7. Who is Paul specifically speaking to in verse 21?
  8. Who were Abraham's 2 sons by?
  9. What symbolized the flesh?
  10. What is the comparison in verse 23?
  11. What was the law a religion of?
  12. Which woman's son was the line the redeemer would come in?
  13. What two covenants is this about?
  14. What name was the bondwoman and her son called by?
  15. Where was the law given?
  16. What did Hagar and this mountain have in common?
  17. What city is called the mother of us all?
  18. Who, or what, is the bride of Christ?
  19. We are children of promise like _________.
  20. What is the right hand blessing?
  21. The war has always been between the ______ and the ________.
  22. What did the Scripture say to do with the bondwoman?
  23. What two Scriptures tell us how to be saved?
  24. Faith is counted unto him as _____________.
  25. Which woman are we of?



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Galatians 5



Galatians Chapter 5

Galatians 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."


"Free": Deliverance from the curse that the law pronounces on the sinner who has been striving unsuccessfully to achieve his own righteousness (3:13, 22-26; 4:1-7), but who has now embraced Christ and the salvation granted to him by grace (see notes on 2:4; 4:26; Rom. 7:3; 8:2).


"Stand fast therefore": Stay where you are, Paul asserts, because of the benefit of being free from the law and the flesh as a way of salvation and the fullness of blessing by grace.


The verse could be rendered: "For freedom Christ freed us. Therefore, stand fast and do not again be subject to a yoke of bondage." The "freedom" in view is freedom from the law, here called "a yoke of bondage." Paul wants the Galatians to "stand fast," that is, retain their spiritual freedom.


"Yoke of bondage": "Yoke" refers to the apparatus used to control a domesticated animal. The Jews thought of the "yoke of the law" as a good thing, the essence of true religion. Paul argued that for those who pursued it as a way of salvation, the law was a yoke of slavery (see note on Matt. 11:28-30).


We are to stand up for God and continually stand in the salvation the Lord provided for us. We are no longer under the bondage of the law; we are free to serve the Lord.


2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."


A person who had just been set free, would never choose to go back into bondage, if they were thinking clearly.


Galatians 5:2 "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."


"If ye be circumcised": Circumcision was the external ritual symbolizing acceptance of the law (verse 3). In such a case, one depended on legal works rather than on God's grace as the means of salvation. "Christ," then, "shall profit you nothing."


Paul had no objection to circumcision itself (Acts 16:1-3; Phil. 3:5). But he objected to the notion that it had some spiritual benefit or merit with God and was a prerequisite or necessary component of salvation.


Circumcision had meaning in Israel when it was a physical symbol of a cleansed heart (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:24-26), and served as a reminder of God's covenant of salvation promise (Gen. 17:9-10).


"Christ shall profit you nothing": The atoning sacrifice of Christ cannot benefit anyone who trusts in law and ceremony for salvation.


It appears that these Galatians believed if they were circumcised, that would somehow put them in better standing with the Lord. It is as if they believe this to be like baptism. Circumcision and sacrifices are almost as if they are saying that the shed blood of Jesus is not enough.


Hebrews 9:12-14 "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]." "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:" "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"


You can see that there was nothing left for us to do, Jesus did it all for us.


Galatians 5:3 "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law."


"He is a debtor to do the whole law": God's standard is perfect righteousness, thus a failure to keep only one part of the law falls short of the standard (see note on 3:10).


Circumcising is a recognition of the law. To recognize the law in this manner would be to deny the power of grace in Jesus Christ. If you go back to the law to make you perfect in the sight of the law, then you are under the covenant of the law, and not under the covenant of grace.


Galatians 5:4 "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."


"Christ is become no effect ... fallen from grace": The Greek word for "severed" (no effect), means "to be separated", or "to be estranged." The word for "fallen" means "to lose one's grasp on something." Paul's clear meaning is that any attempt to be justified by the law is to reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone.


Those once exposed to the gracious truth of the gospel, who then turn their backs on Christ (Heb. 6:4-6) and seek to be justified by the law are separated from Christ and lose all prospects of God's gracious salvation. Their desertion of Christ and the gospel only proves that their faith was never genuine (Luke 8:13-14; 1 John 2:19).


"Justified" (see notes on 2:16; Rom. 3:24).


This verse could be translated: "You will be severed from Christ, if you try to be justified by law; you will forfeit the favor in God's eyes which Christ won for you." This does not teach the loss of salvation which one earlier possessed.


Rather it means that if the readers truly renounce grace through faith alone as the way of salvation, if they depend on legalism to secure divine favor, then they show that they never really knew God's grace in the first place.


You have decided to look for salvation in another, if you go back to the law. Grace is a freeing of yourself, but a freeing from the law, as well. Wherever you put your trust, is what you are depending on to save you. This would be turning away from Christ as your Justifier, and looking to the law for justification.


Galatians 5:5 "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."


"Though the Spirit ... hope of righteousness": means that by the Holy Spirit's help, which is obtained "by faith," believers "wait for the hope of righteousness," that is, live the Christian life awaiting the consummation of their salvation.


Christians already possess the imputed righteousness of Christ, but they still await the completed and perfected righteousness that is yet to come at glorification (Rom. 8:18, 21).


Christians are not like the rest of the world who have no hope. We have hope of the resurrection. Our hope is in Christ Jesus. He is our blessed Hope. Our righteousness is His righteousness that He clothed us in.


Colossians 1:27 "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"


Galatians 5:6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."


"For" justifies the importance given faith in verse 5. In Christianity one does not profit spiritually either by being circumcised or uncircumcised. "Faith which worketh by love" means "faith that is produced by love." Faith is a man's response to God who loves him, and this divine love that produces faith results in his justification.


"Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision" (6:15). Nothing done or not done in the flesh, even religious ceremony, makes any difference in one's relationship to God. What is external is immaterial and worthless, unless it reflects genuine internal righteousness (Rom. 2:25-29).


Circumcision is of the flesh. This then, makes no difference either way, because Christianity is of the spirit. Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ.


"Faith which worketh by love": Saving faith proves its genuine character by works of love. The person who lives by faith is internally motivated by love for God and Christ (Matt. 22:37-40), which supernaturally issues forth in reverent worship, genuine obedience, and self-sacrificing love for others.


Romans 2:28-29 "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:" "But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God."


We see in all this that Christianity has very little to do with the flesh. The only thing it does have to do with it is that we must cut away the flesh that the spirit might live. For us to be in a position that we desire to be with Christ, we must crucify our flesh and live in the spirit.


Galatians 5:7 "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"


"Ye did run well" shows that the Galatians were making good progress spiritually. But the Judaizers "did hinder" them with a false gospel, so that now the readers do "not obey the truth."


Paul compares the Galatians' life of faith with a race, a figure he used frequently (2:2; Rom. 9:16; 1 Cor. 9:24). They had a good beginning, they had received the gospel message by faith and had begun to live their Christian lives by faith as well.


"Obey the truth" (see note on 1 Pet. 1:22). A reference to believers' true way of living, including both their response to the true gospel in salvation (Acts 6:7; Rom. 2:8; 6:17; 2 Thess. 1:8), and their consequent response to obey the Word of God in sanctification.


Paul wrote more about salvation and sanctification being a matter of obedience (in Rom. 1:5; 6:16-17; 16:26). The legalistic influence of the Judaizers prevented the unsaved from responding in faith to the gospel of grace and true believers from living by faith.


Paul is telling them that they started out correctly. They were running the race of life well. Now they have listened to those who would come in and destroy. We must apply the blood of Jesus to our ear, so only things of God will be heard in our inner mind. We should not listen to others, and let them sway us. We should be thoroughly convinced, and never waver in our belief.


Galatians 5:8 "This persuasion [cometh] not of him that calleth you."


"This persuasion": Salvation by works. God does not promote legalism. Any doctrine that claims His gracious work is insufficient to save is false (see notes on 1:6-7). This refers to the pressure tactics the heretics used to persuade the Galatians to embrace legalism.


They have listened to another doctrine other than what Paul had brought. The Lord God of heaven called you, stay with Him. God did not send the message to get back under the bondage of the law.


Galatians 5:9 "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."


"A little leaven" (false doctrine), "leaveneth" (permeates, corrupts), "the whole lump" (church). A common axiomatic saying (1 Cor. 5:6), regarding the influence of yeast in dough. Leaven is often used in Scripture to denote sin (Matt. 16:6, 12).


This is the same thing as saying; one rotten apple will ruin the whole barrel, if it is not removed. Leaven is sin. It is a sin to doubt the message of grace. Anything that displeases God is sin. Faith is the only thing that pleases God. It seems that some of these people in the church were listening to the Judaizers.


Galatians 5:10 "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be."


"Confidence in you": Paul expresses encouraging assurance that the Lord will be faithful to keep His own from falling into gross heresy (see John 6:39-40; 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39; Phil. 1:6-7). They will persevere and be preserved (Jude 24).


"Judgment": All false teachers will incur strict and devastating eternal condemnation (see notes on 2 Pet. 2:2-3, 9).


Paul believes that the Galatians will retain the true gospel and not be completely persuaded by the heretics.


It is a very dangerous thing to teach anything but the pure gospel message. Paul says; I know you will consider this and make the right decision. He knows, if they have time to consider what he is telling them, they will not accept going back into the law. Grace is too good to trade it for law.


Galatians 5:11 "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased."


"If I yet preach circumcision": Apparently the Judaizers had falsely claimed that Paul agreed with their teaching. But he makes the point that if he was preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation, why were the Judaizers persecuting him instead of supporting him?


Paul is evidently refuting the accusation that he "yet" (still), preaches a gospel of circumcision, as formerly in Judaism. But, he counters, the very fact that I do "yet suffer persecution" proves that is not the case. For Judaizers would commend, not persecute, him for preaching their gospel.


"Offence" (stumbling block). The Greek word for "stumbling block" can mean "trap", "snare," or "offense." Any offer of salvation that strips man of the opportunity to earn it by his own merit breeds opposition (Rom. 9:33).


One of the reasons they had difficulty with what Paul was saying, is the fact that he circumcised Timothy to appease the Jews. Paul had not circumcised Timothy, so that Timothy would be in better standing with God. He had done it, because the group of people Timothy would be ministering to were Jews, and they would not have let Timothy preach.


Acts 16:3 "Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek."


Paul did not believe in circumcising Christians. Paul's major persecution had come from the Jews. They even followed Paul from town to town and caused people to rise up against him, because he taught that Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah.


Paul suffered with Christ. Paul counted it as gain to be persecuted bringing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The teaching of the cross was an offense to the Jews.


Galatians 5:12 "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."


The Greek word used here is "Mutilate", and was often used of castration, such as in the cult of Cybele, whose priests were self-made eunuchs. Paul's ironic point is that since the Judaizers were so insistent on circumcision as a means of pleasing God, they should go to the extreme of religious devotion and mutilate themselves.


The verse may mean, "I wish those troubling you would have themselves castrated."


Paul was aware that those who were trying to put them back under the law, were there to destroy their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The best thing would be for these Judaizers to get out of the church, but it was highly unlikely that would happen.


Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."


"Liberty" (see note on 2:4).


"For an occasion to the flesh": The Greek word for "occasion" (or opportunity), was often used to refer to a central base of military operations (Rom. 7:8). In the context, "flesh" refers to the sinful inclinations of fallen man (see note on Rom 7:5). The freedom Christians have is not a base from which they can sin freely and without consequence.


"Serve one another": Christian freedom is not for selfish fulfillment, but for serving others (Rom. 14:1-15).


Having shown freedom from the law to be proper protection against legalism (verses 1-12), Paul now demonstrates it to be a proper antidote against unrestrained license to sin (verses 13-26).


Believers are not to abuse their "liberty" from the law "for an occasion" (opportunity), "to the flesh" (sinful nature). That is, don't think freedom from the law means you can indulge in sin; it means instead that you are free to serve God by serving "one another."


Our salvation is a free gift from God. He washed our sins away. When we become a Christian, we no longer serve sin.


Romans 6:18 "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."


What this is really saying is that our flesh controlled our will until we became Christians. Now our spirit (filled with Jesus), controls our will. If we are true Christians, it is Jesus in us who controls our will. We are no longer flesh, we are spirit. Just because we are forgiven, does not give us a license to sin.


Romans 6:19-22 "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death." "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."


You see, we have been set free to live in Christ Jesus.


Galatians Chapter 5 Questions


  1. What are Christians to stand fast in?
  2. We are not to be entangled with the yoke of __________.
  3. What would a person, who had been set free, never choose to do?
  4. What did these Galatians believe about circumcising?
  5. What does the shed blood of Christ do for the Christian's conscience?
  6. What would make a Christian debtor to the whole law?
  7. Circumcising is recognition of what?
  8. For we through the _________ wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
  9. What is the hope of the Christian?
  10. Circumcision is of the _________.
  11. Christianity is of the _________.
  12. What question did Paul ask them in verse 7?
  13. A little leaven ____________ the whole loaf.
  14. What does leaven symbolize?
  15. What is sin?
  16. What did Paul have confidence they would do?
  17. What was one of the reasons they thought Paul believed in circumcision?
  18. Why had Paul done this?
  19. Paul's major persecution came from where?
  20. What did they not like about Paul?
  21. They were not to use their liberty for what?
  22. What have we been set free to do?



Galatians Chapter 5 Continued

Galatians 5:14 "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."


"All the law": The ethics of the former Old Testament law are the same as those of the New Testament gospel as indicated in the quote from (Lev. 19:18; see notes on Rom. 7:12; 8:4; James 2:8-10).


When a Christian genuinely loves others, he fulfills all the moral requirements of the former Mosaic Law concerning them (Matt. 22:36-40; Deut. 6:5; Rom. 13:8-10). This is the ruling principle of Christian freedom (verses 6, 13).


"Fulfilled" means "obeyed." "In one word" means, "one statement".


Notice in the following verses, that love is the basis for Christianity.


Mark 12:30-31 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment." "And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."


We know the key word is love. Love does away with things not of God.


1 John 4:7-8 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."


Galatians 5:15 " But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."


"Bite and devour one another": The imagery is of wild animals savagely attacking and killing each other, a graphic picture of what happens in the spiritual realm when believers do not love and serve each other.


James 3:14-16 "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth." "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish." "For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work."


We find in the Scriptures here from James and from the Scripture in Galatians above that trying to destroy others comes home to us and many times we are destroyed in the process. Fussing and fighting have no place in the church. Look, with me, in the next Scriptures how it should be.


James 3:17-18 "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."


Be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.


Galatians 5:16 "[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."


"Walk in the Spirit": All believers have the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8-9: 1 Cor. 6:19-20), as the personal power for living to please God. The form of the Greek verb translated "walk" indicates continuous action, or a habitual lifestyle.


Walking also implies progress; as a believer submits to the Spirit's control, that is, responds in obedience to the simple commands of Scripture, he grows in his spiritual life (see notes on Rom. 8:13; Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16).


"Walk in the Spirit" (i.e., "live by the Spirit"): Christians are to live with the Spirit's help. How does one "live by the Spirit"?


(1) The Christian must believe that the Spirit is with him, having been sent by God into his heart (4:6).


(2) In every spiritual confrontation the believer must yield to the Spirit, that is, submit his own desires to those of the Spirit.


(3) One must depend on the Spirit for help, enabling him to live a God-pleasing life (verse 5)


(4) The believer should anticipate the effects of the Spirit's help in his daily life. The believer who "lives by the Spirit" will "not fulfill" (accomplish, carry out), "the lust" (strong desires), "of the flesh" (sinful nature).


"The flesh": This is not simply the physical body, but includes the mind, will, and emotions which are all subject to sin. It refers in general to our unredeemed humanness (see notes on Rom. 7:5; 8:23; see verse 13 of Galatians 5).


The lust of the flesh of man is what brings trouble and strife. When we walk in the Spirit of God, we have no lust of the flesh and have no desire to do wrong to anyone. When we make Jesus Lord of our life, He makes our decisions for us.


Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."


"Contrary the one to the other": The flesh opposes the work of the Spirit and leads the believer toward sinful behavior he would not otherwise be compelled to do (see notes on Rom. 7:14-25).


One's sinful human nature ("flesh"), and the Holy Spirit "lusteth against" one another. That is, they have desires and yearnings that are contrary to one another. The Christian then, is a battlefield, having desires to do good and evil. The outcome is the "ye cannot do the things that ye would": The flesh seeks to thwart the Spirit who, in turn, attempts to frustrate the flesh's evil desires.


The flesh is of the earth. It is then earthy. The flesh and spirit have been in mortal combat to control the will of man. The lust of the flesh has destroyed many a person. We must bury our flesh that our spirit might take control. The Spirit of God within us is the only thing that can overcome the flesh of man.


The flesh centers on the wants of man. The Spirit centers on the will of God. That which is born of flesh, is flesh, until the Spirit of God gives us new life in Him. Jesus spoke to the temptations the devil set before Him by saying, it is written. This is the only way that any of us can overcome the lust of our flesh. We must give our will over to the Spirit of God.


Galatians 5:18 "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."


(Verse 17), may leave the impression of a believer being caught in a hopeless tug-of-war between the flesh and the Spirit. This is not the case. The Christian is "led of" (by), "the Spirit." When yielding to Him, to turn away from the fleshes' evil yearnings, thus putting sin out of his daily life.


"Led of the Spirit ... not under the law": Take your choice; these are mutually exclusive. Either you live by the power of the Holy Spirit which results in righteous behavior and spiritual attitudes (verse 22-29), or by the law which can only produce unrighteous behavior and attitudes (verses 19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).


The verb "led" indicates voluntary submission. The believer decides by whom he will be led, either by his flesh or by the Spirit. The Spirit-led person is "not under the law." The Christian does not need the restraints of the law because his moral life is governed by the Spirit.


Jesus was free from sin. If we are full of Him, we are full of His righteousness. There is no law against righteousness. When we are led by the Spirit of God, we are walking in righteousness.



Verses 19-23: By contrasting "the works of the flesh" (verses 19-21), with "the fruit of the Spirit" (verses 22-23), the believer can know whether he is walking by the Spirit or being controlled by the flesh. "Uncleanness" is sexual impurity. "Lasciviousness" is sexual excess.


In verses 19-21, these sins characterize all unredeemed mankind living under the impotent commands of the law which produces only iniquity though not every person manifests all these sins nor exhibits them to the same degree.


Paul's list, which is not exhaustive, encompasses 3 areas of human life; sex, religion, and human relationships. For other such lists (see Rom. 1:24-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).


Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,"


"Manifest": The flesh manifests itself in obvious and certain ways.


"Adultery" or "immorality", the Greek word is porneia, from which the English word "pornography" comes. It refers to all illicit sexual activity, including (but not limited to), adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and prostitution.


"Lasciviousness" or "sensuality". The word originally referred to any excessive behavior or lack of restraint, but eventually became associated with sexual excess and indulgence.


When the man is walking in the lust of the flesh, he does whatever feels good to him, right or wrong. It seems that this adultery here, is also covering homosexual acts. There are two kinds of adultery. Spiritual adultery is when you follow and give allegiance to false gods. Physical adultery is having sexual relations with anyone you are not married to.


This includes having sexual relations man with another man, and also, women with other women. "Fornication", in the verse above, is speaking of sexual intercourse between people not married to each other. Uncleanness, here, means impurity, physical or moral. Lasciviousness covers many acts including wantonness and any filthy act. We would call it perversion.


Galatians 5:20 "Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,"


"Witchcraft" or "sorcery". The Greek word pharmakeia, from which the English word "pharmacy" comes, originally referred to medicines in general, but eventually only to mood and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of these drugs to aid in the communication with deities.


"Strife ... heresies": Many of these sins manifested in the area of human relationships have to do with some form of anger: "Hatred" results in "strife". "Jealousy" (hateful resentment), results in "outbursts of anger" (sudden, unrestrained expressions of hostility). The next 4 represent animosity between individuals and groups.


"Idolatry" is not just the worship of a graven image, but putting one's chief affections on any object or person instead of on God.


"Witchcraft" is sorcery, which is tampering with the powers of evil. This would include dabbling in the occult. "Variance" is strife or discord. "Emulations" means "jealousy." "Strife" is selfish ambition. "Seditions" are dissension. "Heresies" are permanent, organized division or cliques.


Paul is going on with many of the things so prevalent in our society today. He says they are all works of the flesh. Idolatry is image-worship. "Witchcraft", in this special instance, means drugs, magic and sorcery.


We all know what hatred is. Variance is wrangling and quarreling. It also includes debate. Emulations means jealousy, malice, indignation, and zeal. We know what wrath and strife mean. Seditions means divisions. "Heresies" means disunion and sect (meaning a group that has separated from an established church), which could be a cult, denomination, or a religious order.


Galatians 5:21 "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."


"Drunkenness, revellings": Probably a specific reference to the orgies that characterized pagan, idolatrous worship. Generally, it refers to all rowdy, boisterous, and crude behavior.


"Revellings" means excessive eating, or gluttony, as well as carousing. "Do" (practice): The person whose life is habitually characterized by the sins and vices of (verses 19-21), "shall not" inherit the kingdom of God." That is, he will not be in heaven because he is not a Christian.


"Do such things (or "practice" such things)": Here is the key word in Paul's warnings. The sense of the Greek verb describes continual, habitual action. Although believers undoubtedly can commit these sins, those people whose basic character is summed up in the uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of them cannot belong to God (see notes on 1 Cor. 6:11; 1 John 3:4-10).


"Shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (see note on Matt. 5:3). The unregenerate are barred from entering the spiritual kingdom of redeemed people over whom Christ now rules, and they will be excluded from His millennial kingdom and the eternal state of blessing that follows it (see note on Eph. 5:5).


What this is really saying is that to continue to do these things would cause you to be a flesh man. Flesh does not inherit the kingdom of God. When you receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior and Lord, this is that old flesh that must be buried. You rise a new person in Christ. The Christian has given his will over to the Spirit of God.


These things may have been in his past, but must not be in his future. I do not mean by this that you never, ever sin again. I mean that this is not your way of life anymore. You become a new creature in Christ. If you do unwillingly sin, ask for forgiveness. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He intercedes with the Father for us.


Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,"


"Fruit of the Spirit": Godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit produces fruit which consists of 9 characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each and are commanded of believers throughout the New Testament.


(1) "Love": One of several Greek words for love, agape, is the love of choice. Referring not to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or a familial bond, but to respect, devotion, and affection that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16-17).


(2) "Joy": A happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well-being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (1 Peter 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20-22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17; Phil. 4:4).


(3) "Peace": the inner calm that results from confidence in one's saving relationship with Christ. The verb form denotes binding together and is reflected in the expression "having it all together." Like joy, peace is not related to one's circumstances (John 14:27; Rom. 8:28; Phil. 4:6-7, 9).


(4) "Patience": The ability to endure injuries inflicted by others and the willingness to accept irritating or painful situations (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:15-16).


(5) "Kindness": Tender concern for others, reflected in a desire to treat others gently, just as the Lord treats all believers (Matt. 11:28-29; 19:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:24).


(6) "Goodness": Moral and spiritual excellence manifested in active kindness (Rom 5:7). Believers are commanded to exemplify goodness (6:10; 2 Thess. 1:11).


(7) "Faithfulness": Loyalty and trust-worthiness (Lam. 3:22; Phil. 2:7-9; 1 Thess. 5:24; Rev. 2:10).


(8) "Meekness": A humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, which having no desire for revenge or retribution. In the New Testament, it is use to describe 3 attitudes: submission to the will of God (Col. 3:12), Teachability (James 1:21), and consideration of others (Eph. 4:2).


(9) "Temperance" or self control. This refers to restraining passions and appetites (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Peter 1:5-6).


The word "fruit" is significant for three reasons.


(1) It means the result, product, outcome, or effect produced by the Spirit in the believer's life.


(2) Unlike "the gifts of the Spirit" (plural), only some of which are given to a Christian. Each believer is to have all nine virtues composing "the fruit of the Spirit (singular).


(3) As fruit on a tree takes time to grow and mature, so the Spirit does not cultivate these virtues in the believer's life overnight.


"Fruit of the Spirit": In contrast to the works (plural), of the flesh, which any individual is capable of performing. The fruit (singular), of the Holy Spirit can be produced only by God. Christian character thus results for "Christ living in me" (2:20). For this fruit to develop, all nine aspects of the fruit of the spirit must mature.


The character of Christ is the fullest manifestation of this fruit in the New Testament. Though Jesus did not recognize the traditions of men, His enemies were unable to prove any charge against Him. So today, Christians should allow the Holy Spirit to develop this character within them, so they might be blameless before others and not hinder the testimony of Christ. (Exodus 35:31; 36:2; Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:6).


Notice the drastic difference in the fruit of the Spirit and the flesh. The fruit of the Spirit is all good. These are the type things that all Christians should have in their life. These seven are examples of all the rest. Everything good in your life is from the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God brings these things into the life of the Christian.


I have found that as we walk with the Spirit in control, these grow every day, until one day we look around and they are all active in our life. Be filled right now, with the Spirit of God.


Galatians 5:23 "Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."


"Meekness" is gentleness, that is, courtesy and consideration in one's relations with others.


A humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, while having no desire for revenge or retribution. In the New Testament, it is used to describe 3 attitudes: submission to the will of God (Col 3:12), teachability (James 1:21), and consideration of others (Eph. 4:2).


"Temperance" or self control: The ability to harness and control one's passions and lusts. This refers to restraining passions and appetites (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Pet. 1:5-6).


"No law": When a Christian walks by the Spirit and manifests His fruit, he needs no external law to produce the attitudes and behavior that please God (Rom. 8:4). As we said earlier, there is no law against all of these good things. We would not even need a police force, if these were active in everyone's lives.


Galatians 5:24 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."


"Have crucified the flesh": One of 4 uses of "crucified" that does not refer to Christ's crucifixion (2:20; 6:14; Rom. 6:6). Here Paul states that the flesh has been executed, yet the spiritual battle still rages in the believer (see notes on Rom. 7:14-25).


Paul's use looks back to the cross of Christ, where the death of the flesh and its power to reign over believers was actually accomplished (Rom. 6:1-11). Christians must wait until their glorification before they are finally rid of their unredeemed humanness (Rom. 8:23), yet by walking in the Spirit they can please God in this world.


At conversion every believer "crucified the flesh," that is, in repentance he turned from and renounced his life of sin and all its wicked passions. This verse then, implies that the virtues of (verses 22-23), rather than the vices of (verses 19-21), should characterize them "that are Christ's."


Notice who does the crucifying. We must crucify our own flesh. We must get in obedience to the Spirit of God. God will not invade the will of man. Operating in our own free will, we must decide to give the Spirit of God control of our will. The Spirit does not lust, that is the flesh.


If we truly are Christ's, then we have turned everything over to Him. A man cannot have two masters, either the flesh will rule, or the Spirit.


Galatians 5:25 "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."


"Walk in the Spirit" (see note on verse 16).


This verse means "Since we live by the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit." That is, since the Spirit gave us new life at conversion, we then should stay in step with His leading and promptings throughout life.


What is meant by walking in the Spirit? It means that all of the gifts of the Spirit will be evident in our life. We will no longer have a desire to sin. We will walk in the newness of life that Christ gave us. Our walk should be such that the world around can look at us and see Jesus in us.


Galatians 5:26 "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."


To God be the glory for all things. The glory spoken of above, is speaking of one person glorying over another. What we are, what we do, and even what we will become, is because the Lord blessed us. We should not build our self up over others.


One of the problems in our society today is that everyone wants what everyone else has, even if they have not worked to get it. Be satisfied with what you have. If you desire more, work for it. Envy of others will not help you. Work hard; ask God to help you better yourself, and then be happy with what you have, whatever it is.


Galatians Chapter 5 Continued Questions


  1. What one word is the law fulfilled in?
  2. Beloved, let us ______ one another.
  3. Everyone that loveth is ________ of God.
  4. What will probably happen, if we bite and devour one another?
  5. Where envy and strife is, there is _____________.
  6. How does James describe the wisdom that is from above?
  7. When you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lust of the _________.
  8. What lusts against the Spirit?
  9. What are the flesh and the spirit in mortal combat over?
  10. What does the flesh center on?
  11. How can we overcome the lust of our flesh?
  12. When are we not under the law?
  13. Name some of the works of the flesh.
  14. What two kinds of adultery are spoken of here?
  15. What is fornication?
  16. What are some of the things witchcraft covers?
  17. What does heresies mean?
  18. Those who commit these works of the flesh shall not inherit the _______ of _____.
  19. These works of the flesh may have been part of your past, but must not be in your ____________.
  20. Who intercedes for the Christian?
  21. Name 7 of the fruits of the Spirit?
  22. If we live in the Spirit, let us _________ in the Spirit.
  23. Who should all the glory go to.
  24. If we want to better our position in life, what should we do?



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Galatians 6



Galatians Chapter 6

Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."


"Overtaken": This word may imply the person was actually seen committing the sin or that he was caught or snared by the sin itself.


"In a fault" (or, "by some transgression"): The sin in view is a deliberate overstepping of divine boundaries.


"Ye which are spiritual" refers to those who walk by the Spirit (5:16), in whose life the fruit of the Spirit is found (5:22-23). The "man" who is "overtaken" by willful sin is also a Christian, but he has not been walking by the Spirit. Those believers who are walking in the Spirit (see note on 5:16), filled with the Spirit (see notes on Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16), and evidencing the fruit of the Spirit (see notes on 5:22-23).


"Restore": sometimes used metaphorically of settling disputes or arguments, it literally means "to mend" or "repair," and was used of setting a broken bone or repairing a dislocated limb (Heb. 12:12-13; see notes on Rom. 15:1; 1 Thess. 5:14-15).


The spiritual brethren are to "restore" the erring brother. This word is used of mending fishing nets (Matt. 4:21) and of people mending their ways (2 Cor. 13:11). Restore means therefore to bring a person back to his former moral condition. The words were also used in secular Greek for setting broken bones, which has to be done gently.


"Spirit of meekness" (see note on 5:23; 2 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess. 3:15).


So, the church is to restore the lapsed "in the spirit of meekness" (i.e., gentleness). The grievous and sensitive wounds caused by sin must be handled delicately.


"Considering thyself:" those restoring the fallen must individually keep constant watch over their own lives. The spiritual man can be morally dragged down as he deals with the sin of this carnal counterpart. Also "observing", the Greek form strongly emphasizes a continual, diligent attentiveness.


This is speaking of the brothers and sisters in Christ. Just as in the parable of the 100 sheep, where one was lost was speaking of Christians. The one that was lost was a sheep the same as the ninety and nine that did not get lost. It is (not impossible), for a Christian to make a mistake and sin in the process. It is very important for that person to be restored to the group as soon as possible.


If they repent of the sin, we are not to keep on bringing it up, or remembering it. These who are stronger in their walk, because of the Spirit of God within them, should lead the way in forgiving them. Who knows, the next temptation that comes, may be this spiritual man's. The person, who sinned, must repent and turn from that sin. He cannot go on committing that same sin.


Galatians 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."


"Bear ye one another's burdens": "Burdens" are extra heavy loads, which here represent difficulties or problems people have trouble dealing with. "Bear" connotes carrying something with endurance.


Contextually, the "burdens" are the moral faults of verse 1, but can have wider application to other kinds of burdens. "The law of Christ" is the sum of all of Jesus' teachings and desires; it is Christianity itself.


This brings to mind the black man who carried the cross for Jesus. We must carry the burdens of those around us, if we are Christians. The law of Christ, spoken of here, is love your neighbor as yourself. The load can be much lighter, if we help carry that load.


"The law of Christ": The law of love which fulfills the entire law (see notes on 5:14; John 13:34; Rom. 13:8, 10).


Galatians 6:3 "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."


"For" gives a reason to bear the burdens of others (verse 2). When "a man" [thinks] "himself" to be morally above reproach, he has no sympathy with the flaws of others. Mutual bearing of others' moral burdens helps a person retain a sober, ethical estimate of himself.


This is speaking of a conceited person. Paul, is perhaps speaking of some of the Galatians, because of their being Jews who thought themselves to better than others. The thing that would make them nothing in this case, is the fact that they are still looking to the law instead of grace. Let others elevate you up. It looks conceited, if you do it yourself.


Galatians 6:4 "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another."


"Prove": Literally "to approve something after testing it." Believers first must be sure their lives are right with God before giving spiritual help to others (Matt. 7:3-5).


"Then shall he have rejoicing" If a believer rejoices or boasts, it should be only boasting in the Lord for what God has done in him (2 Cor. 12:12-18), not for what he supposedly has accomplished compared to other believers (see note on 1 Cor. 1:30-31).


The self-delusion of (verse 3), is caused by an inflated comparison of one's moral life with the known faults of his Christian brother. To prevent this, "every man" is to "prove" (examine), "his own work" (i.e., life, virtues, deeds). Then his "rejoicing" shall be "in himself alone, and not in another:"


Joy comes not from comparing one's moral strengths with the weaknesses of others, but in realizing that one measures up to God's standard by God's help.


If your work is of God, it will prove itself. Do your best, work hard, and know in your heart that you are doing the very best that you can. Regardless of the outcome, you can be proud within yourself that you have done your best.


Galatians 6:5 "For every man shall bear his own burden."


"Bear his own burden": This is not a contradiction to (verse 2). "Load" has no connotation of difficulty; it refers to life's routine obligations and each believer's ministry calling (Matt. 11:30; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). God requires faithfulness in meeting those responsibilities.


In justifying "and not in another" (of verse 4). "For", tells why one must not compare himself with others. Each believer must shoulder "his own burden" (i.e., that specific task and responsibility divinely assigned an individual).


Instead of comparing one's virtues with the moral blemishes of another, one is to compare himself with his own achievements against the backdrop of the responsibilities given him by God. No contradiction exists between (verses 2 and 5).


The Greek work for burdens (in verse 2), is baros, there meaning moral weakness, a burden too heavy for a person to bear alone. The word for burden (in verse 5), is phortion, meaning a personal responsibility that can and should be borne by the individual.


Whatever job God gave you to do, it is yours alone. You should not try to push off your work on someone else. You are the best for the job God gave you to do.


Galatians 6:6 "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."


"Communicate" (or, share): Christians are to share their material possessions with their teachers. Ministers must of necessity be compensated for the loss of income sustained in fulfilling their pastoral responsibilities.


"All good things": Although this expression could refer to material compensation, the context suggest that Paul is referring to the spiritually and morally excellent things learned from the Word, in which they fellowship together. Paul uses this same term to describe the gospel (Rom. 10:15; Heb. 9:11).


This is saying, if God has shown you something about the Word of God, you are to share it with other teachers, so they can teach the truth also. This is also saying, that those taught are to help with the day to day needs of the teacher.


Galatians 6:7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."


"Mocked (outwitted, outfoxed): To disobey God's commands and then escape divine punishment would be to outwit God, thus making a mockery of Him and His Word. "Soweth" means (does; practices). "Reap" could also be said (be requited; recompensed). Contextually, the Galatians cannot disregard the command to support their Christian instructors (verse 6), and escape divine discipline.


"Whatsoever a man soweth ... reap": This agricultural principle, applied metaphorically to the moral and spiritual realm, is universally true (Job 4:8; Prov. 1:31-33; Hos. 8:7; 10:12). This law is a form of God's wrath (see note on Rom. 1:18).


You cannot plant an English pea, and get a stalk of corn. Whatever you sow, is what your crop will be. On judgment day, we will receive according to what we sowed on this earth. God is keeping the account book. We cannot fool Him.


Galatians 6:8 "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."


"For" expands the principle of verse 7 to wider application. "Soweth to his flesh" means to conduct oneself by the evil dictates and desires of the sinful nature, thus practicing the deeds of the flesh (5:19-21).


"Soweth to his flesh" (see notes on 5:16-19; Rom. 7:18; 8:23). Here it means pandering to the flesh's evil desires.


"Corruption": From the Greek word for degeneration, as in decaying food. Sin always corrupts and, when left unchecked, always makes a person progressively worse in character (Rom. 6:23). Such a person "shall ... reap corruption," that is, be requited with eternal destruction.


"Soweth to the Spirit" means to live by His enabling help in accord with the Spirit's prompting and leading, thus cultivating the fruit of (5:22-23). Such a person "shall ... reap life everlasting," that is, be rewarded with eternal life. To walk by the Holy Spirit (see notes on 5:16-18; Eph. 5:18; John 8:31; 15:7; Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 2:6; 3:2).


With whatever measure we measure to others, God will measure back to us. A person who lives for self will die lonely. The actions we take in this life toward others are like a seed sown that we will reap in heaven.


Jesus said; in as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me. A Christian's rewards are not for this world, but are for heaven. If we live a fleshly life, we will reap the whirlwind.


Matthew 19:29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."


Sowing good here on the earth means that we are storing up treasures in heaven. Whatever we plant is the crop we will get.


Galatians 6:9 "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."


Since it is only a matter of time before the Christian shall "reap" divine reward (verse 8), then he is "not" to "be weary in well doing."


1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."


The truth of the matter is that Christians never seem to tire of doing good. That is what separates them from the rest of the world. The world is selfish. Christians are thoughtful of others. When the Lord returns for His own, we must be found working to get one more saved, before it is too late.


I have said it before, but it bears repeating, the only way some people know Jesus is by seeing Him in the actions of His believers.


Galatians 6:10 "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith."


"Opportunity": This Greek word refers to a distinct, fixed time period, rather than occasional moments. Paul's point is that the believer's entire life provides the unique privilege by which he can serve others in Christ's name. Owing to the certainty of being divinely rewarded (verses 8-9); believers are urged to seize each "opportunity" to "do good."


Contextually, doing good refers to the ministry of restoration (verse 1), bearing one another's burdens (verse 2), supporting teachers (verse 6), sowing to (living in accord with the leading of), the Spirit (verse 8), and general perseverance (verse 9). Believers are to minister first "unto them who are of the household of faith" (Christians), and second, to the rest of the world.


"Especially ... the household of faith": Our love for fellow Christians is the primary test of our love for God (see notes on John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:10-13; 1 John 4:21).


You are not responsible for all the people in the world who have a problem, but you are responsible to help those whose needs come to your attention. If a neighbor is out of food, take him some food. We are supposed to help all who we come into contact with, who have a need.


This says, especially your Christian brothers and sisters. If God has blessed you with more than is necessary for you to live on, share with someone less fortunate. Be quick to distribute to those in need. It is better to give them an opportunity, then it is to give them a hand-out. They keep their self-esteem when you give them an opportunity.



Verses 11-17: This closing section of the letter is Paul's final rhetorical attack against the Judaizers' doctrine (see notes on 1:7-9), and motives. It is also a positive statement of his own godly motives in preaching the true gospel.


Galatians 6:11 "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand."


"See how large a letter": this can be interpreted in two ways:


(1) Paul's poor eyesight forced him to use large letters (4:13, 15); or


(2) Instead of the normal cursive style of writing used by professional scribes, he used the large, block letters (frequently employed in public notices), to emphasize the letter's content rather than its form.


It was a visible picture that contrasted his concern with the content of the gospel for the Judaizers' only concern: appearances. The expression served as a transition to his concluding remarks.


"I have written ... mine own hand": The verse could be rendered: "Note with what large letters I am writing you with my own hand." As a good translation of the Greek verb, this indicates that Paul wrote the entire letter by his own hand, not merely penning a brief statement at the end of dictation to a secretary as he did other times (1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; 2 Thess. 3:17).


Paul wrote this letter himself to make sure the Galatians knew he, not some forger, was writing it, and to personalize the document, given the importance and severity of its contents.


Many times, the actual writing of Paul's letters was done by someone else, but he says here, that he wrote this himself.


Galatians 6:12 "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ."


Fair show": The Judaizers were motivated by religious pride and wanted to impress others with their external piety (Matt. 6:1-7).


"Constrain you to be circumcised" (see notes on 2:3; 5:2-6).


"Should suffer persecution": The Judaizers were more concerned about their personal safety than correct doctrine. By adhering more to the Mosaic law than to the gospel of Jesus, they hoped to avoid social and financial exclusion from other Jews and maintain their protected status as Jews within the Roman Empire.


The Judaizers want to make a good outward appearance ("make a fair show in the flesh"), by circumcising the readers. The reason is so that they will not "suffer persecution" caused by the gospel. The gospel was somewhat tolerable for orthodox Jews if accompanied by circumcision and obedience to their law.


So Judaizers, wanting to hold to the gospel, can disarm Jewish hostility by preaching grace and law. The legalists have their own interest at heart, not the Galatians'.


These Judaizers wanted to look good to their Jewish friends. This circumcising is a show for flesh worship. It appears that even though they have proclaimed Jesus as their Savior, they are not willing to suffer the ridicule from their Jewish brothers. They were not willing to suffer for Christ.


Galatians 6:13 "For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh."


"Circumcised": Specifically, in this case, the Judaizers (see notes on 2:7-8; Acts 10:45; 11:2).


"Glory in your flesh": They zealously worked to win Gentile converts to the law so they could brag about their effective proselytizing (Matt. 23:15).


They are trying to prove how religious they are by telling that they are circumcised. They do not even keep the law themselves, but want to impose this custom on others to show their religion.


They thought they might avoid being classed with the Christians, if they continued to practice circumcising. They were trying to stay in both camps. They wanted everlasting life that Christianity offered, but they kept this ordinance, so as not to lose their place with the Jews.


Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."


"Glory (or boast), save in the cross": The Greek word for "boast" is a basic expression of praise, unlike the English words, which necessarily includes the aspect of pride. Paul glories and rejoices in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:1-3; 1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:4).


Unlike the Judaizers, who brag about their religious accomplishments, Paul takes pleasure only in Jesus' atonement and all the spiritual blessings it brings. "The world" is the world system. Paul has renounced his old life and all its ways, along with its values and religious accomplishments in which he used to boast.


"The world": The evil, satanic system (see notes on 1 John 2:15-16; 5:19).


"Crucified unto me, and I unto the world": The world is spiritually dead to believers, and they are dead to the world (see notes on 2:20; Rom. 6:2-10; 1 John 5:4-5; Phil. 3:20-21).


Paul was not interested in anything bringing him personal glory. Paul was rejoicing in the salvation that he received by Jesus when He gave Himself on the cross. Paul is saying that he glories in his salvation.


Nothing in this world offered anything to Paul. He was waiting for that glorious day in heaven with Jesus. Paul was saying; I am in the world, but this world means nothing to me. My home is in heaven. Paul, like all believers, had the hope of the resurrection.


Galatians 6:15 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."


"Circumcision ... nor uncircumcision" (see notes on 5:6).


"A new creature": The new birth (see notes on John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17).


In God's sight "neither" the external "circumcision" of the flesh "nor" its omission ("uncircumcision") "availeth" (profits). Only being divinely transformed into "a new creature" (creation), this is, a morally new and different person, benefits one spiritually.


Nothing in the flesh means anything. We will discard this house of flesh and receive our spiritual body. The thing that does matter is that we are born again. We are a new creature in Christ. Christ liveth in us. This world is not our home. We are a stranger in this land. Our home is in heaven with Jesus.


Galatians 6:16 "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."


"As many as walk according to this rule" could also be stated, "All who follow this principle" (namely, the principle of the new creation of verse 15). The verse's final "and" seems to distinguish between Gentile Christians "as many as walk", and Jewish Christians ("the Israel of God").


Canonicity: The word canon originally meant "reed" (a measuring rule), and came to signify a standard for determining which books were Scripture.


The books placed in Scripture:


(1) Were considered inspired;


(2) Gave evidence of containing revelation;


(3) Gave evidence of apostolicity; and


(4) Were uniquely used by the Holy Spirit.


When the church finally collected the 66 books into a "canon," it did not make the books become Scripture: the church was only recognizing what God had done. The books were Scripture the moment they were written.


Not all Christian literature of the first century is included in the canon, only that which is inspired. The church at Ephesus was one of the first to collect the books of the New Testament, and it carefully examined them before endorsement (Rev. 2:2). As Christians read the Scriptures, they should walk according to their rule. (Exodus 19:5; Gal. 6:16; Psalm 119:18).


"Peace ... and mercy": the results of salvation: "Peace" is the believer's new relationship to God (Rom. 5:1; 8:6; Col. 3:15), and "mercy" is the forgiveness of all his sins and the setting aside of God's judgment (Psalm 25:6; Dan. 9:18; Matt. 5:7; Luke 1:50; Rom. 12:1; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5).


"Israel of God": All Jewish believers in Christ, i.e., those who are both physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham (see notes on 3:7, 18; Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6-7).


Paul is making a difference in Israel in the flesh and Israel in the Spirit here. Christians, who walk according to the Spirit, are the Israel he speaks of that will have peace and mercy.


Romans 9:6 "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:"


Galatians 6:17 "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."


"Marks of the Lord Jesus": The physical results of persecution (scars, wounds, etc.), that identified Paul as one who had suffered for the Lord (Acts 14:19; 16:22; 2 Cor. 11:25; see notes on 2 Cor. 1:5; 4:10; Col. 1:24).


Unlike the Judaizers who make much ado about the now irrelevant, insignificant mark of circumcision, Paul bears bodily "marks" which do mean something. They are the wounds and injuries incurred in serving God, the results of having willingly accepted "the persecution for the cross," which the legalists seek to avoid (verse 12).


Paul had born many stripes, because he would not renounce Jesus Christ as Messiah. Paul is explaining to them, whether they believe him or not, he belongs to Christ. His message brought to them was as an apostle of God. He is saying, he does not need their confidence in him to let him know he belongs to Christ. He says, "Leave me alone".


Galatians 6:18 "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen."


Even Paul's final benediction implicitly extols the superiority of the gospel of grace over any man-made system of works righteousness.


This whole book has been about the unmerited favor of God on his people. The one word is grace. Paul speaks to their spirit man and asks grace. "Amen" means, so be it.


To close, I would like to say that it is evident that salvation through Jesus Christ is a free gift. We do nothing to earn our salvation. It is just as evident that we must remain steadfast in the salvation we received. Law and grace are like oil and water; they will not mix. Choose life in the grace of God.


Galatians Chapter 6 Questions


  1. What are Christians to do, when a brother is overtaken in a fault?
  2. What did the parable of the lost sheep have in common with this?
  3. Who should lead the way in forgiving them?
  4. Bear ye one another's ____________.
  5. What is the law of Christ spoken of in verse 2?
  6. What kind of a person is verse 3 speaking of?
  7. Let every man prove his own _______.
  8. Who is the best person to do the job God gave you?
  9. Verse 6 is saying, for those taught in the Word to do what?
  10. Whatsoever a man ________, that shall he reap.
  11. What does 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 58 tell us about the way we should act?
  12. What should we be doing when the Lord returns?
  13. You are responsible to help whom?
  14. Why is it better to give them an opportunity than a hand-out?
  15. Who was it that kept wanting them to be circumcised?
  16. What is the only thing Paul would glory in?
  17. What is better than circumcision in verse 15?
  18. What are the two Israels?
  19. What did Paul mean when he said, he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus?
  20. What was the benediction he spoke at the last?
  21. What one word summarizes this lesson?



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