Survey of GalatiansBook Type: The New Testament's fourth Pauline Epistle; the ninth book of the New Testament; the forty-eighth book of the Bible.
Author: Paul, directly stated in Galatians 1:1.
Audience: Paul wrote to the churches in southern Galatia, which consisted of both Jewish and Gentile believers. He wrote strong words to defend against the rise of false teaching in these congregations. In particular, this was regarding those who insisted Christians must keep the Mosaic Law. This included circumcision, with people dividing over whether to fellowship with believers who were not circumcised. Paul countered this false teaching with a focus on salvation by faith apart from works.
Date: Approximately AD 49; Galatians is perhaps the first of Paul's New Testament epistles to be written.
Overview: Galatians includes six chapters, which address three major sections. The topics covered in this book are similar to those of the book of Romans, though presented in a simpler, shorter format.
The first section is Paul's personal perspectives on salvation by faith (Galatians 1—2). After a brief greeting (Galatians 1:1–5), he condemns the Galatians' abandonment of salvation by faith alone (Galatians 1:6–9), reminding them of his own credentials as an apostle of Christ (Galatians 1:10—2:10). Paul provides the history of his own acceptance by the apostles regarding his message of the gospel, his opposition of Peter in Antioch when Peter was acting hypocritically in regard to faith and the Mosaic Law (Galatians 2:11–14), and a reminder of justification by faith (Galatians 2:15–21).
The second section explains various teaching aspects of salvation by faith alone (Galatians 3:1—4:31). Paul refers to the Galatians'own experience (Galatians 3:1–5), then walks through the history of Abraham, the Law, and the covenant to point out the true focus of believers (Galatians 3:6—4:7). He also dismisses the nonsense of attempting justification by rituals (Galatians 4:8–20), with an illustration from the Old Testament to support his view (Galatians 4:21–31).
The third section transitions to practical aspects of Paul's teaching (Galatians 5—6). Believers are free from the law and legalism (Galatians 5:1–21). Instead, there is freedom in the Spirit of the Lord, with an emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Believers are likewise free from the bondage of sin and can rejoice that Christ has made the way to be right with Him by faith (Galatians 5:24—6:18).
Key Verses (ESV):
Galatians 2:16: "Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."
Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Galatians 3:11: "Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for 'The righteous shall live by faith.'"
Galatians 4:4–6: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"
Galatians 5:22–23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap."