Introduction to Galatians

Galatians Teaches Us How to Be Free From the Burden of the Law

Galatians
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Introduction to Galatians

Gospel or Law? Faith or works? These are key questions in the life of every Christian. In the epistle to the Galatians, we are assured that keeping the law, even the Ten Commandments, cannot save us from our sins. Instead, we find freedom and salvation through placing our faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Who Wrote the Book of Galatians?

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians.

Date Written

Galatians was written about 49 A.D. from Antioch.

Written To

This letter, the ninth book of the New Testament, was written to churches in southern Galatia in the first century but was included in the Bible for the instruction of all Christians. Paul wrote the letter to disprove the claims of the Judaizers, who said Christians must follow the Jewish laws, including circumcision, to be saved.

Landscape of the Book of Galatians

Galatia was a province in the Roman Empire, in central Asia Minor. It included Christian churches in the cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

At the time, the Galatian churches were being troubled by a group of Christian Jews who were insisting that Gentile believers be circumcised. They were also criticizing Paul’s authority.

Themes in Galatians

Keeping the law does not save us. Paul countered the claims of Jewish teachers that we need to obey the law in addition to faith in Christ.

The law serves to reveal our inadequacy to obey.

Faith in Jesus Christ alone saves us from our sins. Salvation is a gift from God, Paul taught. We cannot earn righteousness through works or good behavior. Belief in Christ is the only way to become accepted by God.

True freedom comes from the gospel, not from legalism.

Christ instituted a new covenant, freeing his followers from the bondage of Jewish law and tradition.

The Holy Spirit works in us to bring us to Christ. Salvation is not by our doing but by God's. Further, the Holy Spirit enlightens, guides, and empowers us to live the Christian life. God's love and peace flow through us because of the Holy Spirit.

Key Verses

Galatians 2:15-16
We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (NIV)

Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (NIV)

Galatians 5:22-25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)

Galatians 6:7-10
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Galatians

  • Paul defends his credentials as an apostle, cites the Jerusalem apostles' acceptance of his gospel teaching, and tells of his challenge to Peter to teach the true gospel - Galatians 1:1-2:14.
  • Believers in Christ are justified by faith, not by works of the Law. Abraham's belief in God was credited to him as righteousness. All people who are baptized into Christ are one, as Abraham's offspring and heirs to God's promise - Galatians 2:15-3:29.
  • Paul is concerned that the Galatians will be as bad off as pagans if they return to the Jewish law. He warns them not to accept circumcision but to use their freedom in Christ to love one another - Galatians 3:30-4:15.
  • In the final sections, Paul urges the Galatians to walk by the Spirit, bear each other's burdens, and do good to everyone. He gives a final warning to deny circumcision and follow the gospel of Christ - Galatians 4:16-6:18.