Galatians - Christian Liberty Explained

  • It was written in an emergency. False teachers were trying to mix law with grace as a condition of salvation. In other words, they taught it was faith plus works. This theological problem threatened the very existence of these infant assemblies. These false teachers were saying that to really be saved, a person must generally “keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5) and especially “be circumcised” (Acts 15:1).
  • The Apostle Paul did not open this letter in his usual fashion of praise to God and prayer for the saints. He jumped right in with both feet, condemning the error and admonishing the believers to turn back to the purity of the Gospel.
  • It was probably written during Paul’s third missionary journey and not addressed to just one assembly but “the churches of Galatia” (1:2). No other book (except perhaps Romans) so forcefully points out that we are saved by believing and not by achieving.
  • The location of the Galatian churches was in central Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey. These churches were founded by the Apostle Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-14) and included such places as Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
  • This book warns of a popular substitute for spiritual living that we find in many churches today: that people think they are “spiritual” because of what they do or don’t do, because of the leader they follow, or because of the group they belong to.
  • In the doctrinal section of this book are some arguments that are hard for us to understand. However, the main point of the entire letter is very clear. Paul returned again and again to one central question: Are we saved by what we do or by what Christ has done for us?
  • Every verse and every argument in this book ultimately makes its way back to that core issue. It’s faith versus works, or grace versus the Law of Moses. The very heart of the Gospel is at stake in these words penned by the Apostle Paul.
  • Paul explains how the Galatians were beginning to turn from faith to legalism. This struggle between the Gospel and legalism is still prevalent today.

This short letter can be outlined in three parts:

  1. The personal section: The Gospel of grace defended (chapters 1-2).
  2. The doctrinal section: The Gospel of grace explained (chapters 3-4).
  3. The practical section: The Gospel of grace applied (chapters 5-6).