Galatia was a district in Asia Minor, although what the exact boundaries were are uncertain. The churches in Galatia were founded by Paul on his first missionary journey, and he had visited them on his second journey. Paul starts the epistle (letter) to the Galatian churches by identifying himself as an apostle.
Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia:
Galatians 1:1-2 (NIV)
It is important to recognize this right off the start, as the epistle continues on to defend Paul's apostleship against the Judaizers, converted Jews who felt that there was a difference between Jew and Gentile that should be stressed. They felt that it was necessary for the Law of Moses to be followed. Their tactic was to discredit Paul as an apostle and challenge his concept of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his doctrine. Paul defended the gospel, stressing that if anyone, even Paul, should preach another gospel, they are wrong.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
Galatians 1:6-8 (NIV)
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV)
A very simple outline of the Epistle to the Galatians:
Paul's Message of the Gospel - Chapter 1:1-10
Paul Defends Justification by Faith - Chapters 1:11-2:21
Paul Explains Justification by Faith - Chapters 3:1-4:31
Paul Explains Applying Justification by Faith 5:1-6:18
Paul is instructing the churches that he established in Galatia. He defends his apostleship against the Judaizers who wanted to mix Christianity with the Law of Moses. Paul says that salvation is by grace and not by law. The Law of Moses was not enough to justify the Jews, so why should the Gentile believers be expected to follow it. Justification is only through faith in Jesus Christ.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing 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 observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:14-16 (NIV)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
A more detailed outline of Galatians explains how Paul defends his doctrine against the Judaizers. He defends justification by faith and calls believers to stand firm in that freedom and liberty that Christ has purchased.
|B.||Paul's Defense Of His Apostleship|
|a)||The Divine Origin Of His Gospel||1:11-17|
|b)||His Relationship To The Other Apostles||1:18-2:21|
|C.||Paul's Defense Of The Gospel Of Justification By Faith|
|a)||The Personal Argument||3:1-5|
|b)||The Scriptural Argument||3:6-25|
|c)||The Practical Argument||3:26-4:7|
|d)||The Sentimental Argument||4:8-20|
|e)||The Allegorical Argument||4:21-31|
|D.||The Call To Stand Fast In The Liberty Of The Gospel|
|a)||A Liberty That Excludes The Necessity Of Circumcision||5:1-6|
|b)||A Liberty That Fulfills The Law||5:7-15|
|c)||A Liberty In Which One Is To Be Led By The Spirit||5:16-26|
|d)||A Liberty With A Sense Of Responsibility||6:1-10|
Paul declares that Christ now lives within him, and directs and empowers him to live as Christ's ambassador and instrument. He is living "by faith," not by his own power, but through the power of Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
It is common that people who come to Jesus Christ and acknowledge that they cannot do anything to obtain salvation on their own or through their own power, begin to think that they need to "add" to their salvation. They believe their good works will somehow make their salvation "more complete." Paul called this attitude foolish.
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
Paul wanted to let people know that everyone is equal in Christ Jesus. The attitude that the Judaizers were trying to teach was that the Jews were more important.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
Paul used the example of adoption to describe the work that Christ did for us, and what our position is with God. We are "no longer" slaves, but children, and therefore heirs, of God.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV)
Paul's teaching in this letter include how to live. Unlike the Judaizers, who wanted to operate under the Law of Moses, Paul explained that believers are led by the Spirit and are therefore not under the law. Being led by the Spirit, believers should operate in such a way as to show the fruit of the Spirit.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Galatians 5:18 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Paul ends this letter to the churches in Galatia by stressing how important he feels the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross is to him.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14 (NIV)