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Getting to Know the Bible: Galatians Overview

Updated: Jan 20

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Galatians. But before we get to Galatians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Galatians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Galatians, as we prepare to behold and discern Galatians, beginning with Galatians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: fourth Pauline Epistle; the ninth book of the New Testament; the forty-eighth book of the Bible.

Author: Paul

Date of Writing: ~between A.D. 48 - 57

Audience: Jewish and Gentile Christians in Southern Galatia.

Theme: Grace through Faith; Justification

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Purpose of Writing: Galatians was written because the churches of that region were facing a theological crisis. The essential truth of justification by faith rather than by human works was being denied by the Judaizers—legalistic Jews who insisted that Christians must keep the Mosaic Law. In particular, the Judaizers insisted on circumcision as a requirement for Gentiles who wished to be saved. In other words, convert to Judaism first, and then you are eligible to become a Christian. When Paul learned that this heresy was being taught to the Galatian churches, he composed an epistle to emphasize our liberty in Christ and to counter the perversion of the gospel that the Judaizers promoted.

Summary: Paul's letter to the Galatians was addressed to a group of churches in Galatia, a region of present-day Turkey. Paul had preached the gospel in these churches. He wrote to counter those who taught that Christians must be circumcised in order to be accepted by God. Paul began with a defense of his apostolic authority (chapters 1-2), then made it clear that all believers, Jew and Gentile alike, enjoy complete salvation in Christ (chapters 3-4). In chapters 5-6 Paul showed how the gospel of grace leads to true freedom and godly living. Perhaps the central message of Galatians is "a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ" (2:16).

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).

Application: One of the main themes of the book of Galatians is found in 3:11: “The righteous shall live by faith.” We must stand firm in this truth. Any compromise with legalism or the mixture of human effort and the grace of God for salvation leads to heresy. If we could be saved through the keeping of the Law, then Jesus did not need to die (Galatians 2:21). Trying to save ourselves nullifies grace.

Not only are we saved by faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9), but the life of the believer in Christ—day by day, moment by moment—is lived by and through that faith (Galatians 2:20). Not that faith is something we conjure up on our own—it is the gift of God, not of works (see Ephesians 2:8–9)—but it is our responsibility and joy to exhibit our faith so that others will see the work of Christ in us and to grow in our faith by the application of spiritual disciplines (Bible study, prayer, obedience, etc.).

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."

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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