The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians - Audio and Written Bible Commentary

While all of the podcasts and notes to our commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians are freely available on the pages linked below, there is also a CD available for purchase which contains all of the podcasts and notes to the programs. See Christogenea.com for more information.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 1: The Gospel to the Germanic Galatae

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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 1: The Gospel to the Germanic Galatae

Here we shall present Paul's epistle to the Galatians, and before doing so we must establish the identity of the Galatians whom Paul was writing to. The name Galatia at the time of Paul's ministry referred to either one of two things. First, the word referred to the kingdom of the Galatae which was established in Anatolia in the 3rd century BC, or secondly it may have referred to the Roman province of Galatia, which incorporated the ancient kingdoms of Lycaonia, Phrygia and Galatia. Considering only the use of the term Galatia in reference to the Roman province, there have long been academic debates disputing whether Paul had written to the “northern Galatians” of the province, which refers to the somewhat Hellenized Galatae of the ancient kingdom, or to the “southern Galatians” which more numerously included the Greeks and Hellenized Lycaonians of the larger cities. But the so-called scholars who debate on these terms do not even seem to realize that Luke did not use the term Galatia in reference to the Roman province, but only as it was originally used, in reference to the ancient kingdom, and that was only the northern part of the Roman province.

In his accounts in Acts, in chapters 13 through 16, Luke specifically mentions the cities Derbe, Lystra and Iconium several times each, and many commentators imagine that it was the Christians in these cities who were the recipients of Paul's epistle to the Galatians, because these cities were all in the southern portion of the Roman province of Galatia. But Derbe, Lystra and Iconium were cities of the ancient kingdom of Lycaonia, which the Romans had later incorporated into the province of Galatia, and in Acts 14:6 Lystra and Derbe are called “cities of Lycaonia”, and then in Acts 14:11 we see a reference to the “speech of Lycaonia”, and the ancient Lycaonians were properly neither Greeks nor Galatians, although they had been Hellenized to a great degree. Then later, in Acts 16:6, Luke mentioned “Phrygia and the region of Galatia” as being separate places, and the ancient kingdom of Phrygia, like Lycaonia, had also been incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia. Then in Acts 18:23 Luke once again describes Paul as having traveled through “the country of Galatia and Phrygia” where he had strengthened “all the disciples”. So we see that in Luke's writing, Phrygia and Galatia are clearly distinguished from one another and also from the cities of Derbe, Iconium and Lystra mentioned in verses 1 and 2 [of Acts 16], which were in Lycaonia.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 2: The Works of the Law

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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 2: The Works of the Law

In Galatians chapter 1 Paul had begun to establish his credentials and his authority as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ. Here he shall continue to do this, and he did it because, as we shall see here in this chapter, he is addressing the Judaizers who had obviously infiltrated among the Galatians in order to bind them to the circumcision and other rituals of the Old Testament law. Ostensibly, these Judaizers had credentials of their own, and therefore Paul, writing in opposition to them, was compelled to present the evidence of his own legitimacy.

At Galatians 1:18 Paul spoke of his time in Jerusalem as described at Acts 9:26, where he had said “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to relate an account to Kephas, and remained with him fifteen days”. Here Paul is talking about his visit to Jerusalem in Acts Chapter 15, then he continues in Galatians chapter 2 and says:

1 Then after fourteen years I had again gone up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titos along also; 2 and I had gone up after a revelation, and laid upon them the good message which I proclaim among the Nations, but privately to those of repute, lest in any way I strive, or have strived, in vain.

Paul must be referring to the events described by Luke in Acts chapter 15, and especially at Acts 15:12 where Luke wrote: “Then all the multitude was silent, and they heard Barnabas and Paul relating as many signs and wonders as Yahweh had done among the Nations through them.”

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 3: The Seed of Seeds

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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 3: The Seed of Seeds

In order to understand what Paul has written in Galatians chapter 3, one must have the same Scriptural world view which Paul of Tarsus had, understanding ancient history and the ethnic constitution of Judaea in the manner which Paul had understood those things. But because they rarely actually study ancient history, that worldview is far out of reach for most denominational Christians. Even their academics prove this every time they speak of how Flavius Josephus wrote of Jesus, but they never speak of how Flavius Josephus described the conversion of all of the Edomites to Judaism. If they would study that, they may realize that the Jews of today are actually Edomites and not Israel at all, something which is absolutely true. Understanding that history would turn their whole world upside-down. But even that is only one crucial aspect required in order to understand this third chapter of this epistle.

In our presentation of Galatians chapter 1, we established the identity of these Galatians as the tribes of the Germanic Galatae who had settled in Anatolia in the 3rd century BC. We asserted that they in turn had descended from Israelites of the Assyrian captivity, and to help prove those assertions there is a much more detailed demonstration in our German Origins series which we have also recently presented here. In discussing that chapter we also showed how Paul often referred to the children of Israel collectively as the anointed, using the same term which he used to describe Christ. Understanding all of these things is also crucial to understanding Paul's words here in Galatians chapter 3.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 4: Heirs of the Covenant

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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 4: Heirs of the Covenant

The typical denominational Christian understanding of Galatians 3:16 is not only absolutely contrary to the original intent of its author, Paul of Tarsus, but it is also absolutely contrary to all of the promises of Scripture. It goes so far as to endeavor to make void all of the promises of Scripture which we see that Yahweh had made to Abraham and to the children of Israel exclusively, in spite of Paul's actual words confirming them, but especially in spite of the words of Yahweh God Himself. It is an outright theft and a grave deception to imagine that the “seed” of Galatians 3:16 is the single individual, Jesus Christ. Those who insist on saying this must not be able to understand just how or why Yahweh would keep His promises to a particular race, they cannot even properly identify that race, and therefore they seek to twist the Word of God. Here we shall see that in the balance of Paul's statements, it is clear that Yahshua (Jesus) Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant, and not its lone beneficiary, since Paul also attests that the intended beneficiary of the promises to Abraham are a plural entity, and not a singular individual, and Paul himself connects these promises to Abraham to the promises of a New Covenant.

In spite of the traditional explanations of the denominational sects, it is quite clear that here in Galatians chapter 3 Paul is explaining that the promises of Yahweh God fulfilled in Christ are indeed going to be kept according to what Yahweh had already promised to Abraham as it is recorded in Genesis, which ensured Abraham that his seed would become many nations and as the stars of heaven, and that they would inherit the world as well as inheriting his blessing. This is what Abraham believed, so this belief alone is the “faith of Abraham”. Paul also said, in Galatians 3:15, that the covenant could not be amended or added to. There is no man capable of adding to or amending the promises of God. There is no changing the nature or definition of Abraham's seed, and there is no adding to the promises of a New Covenant as they are found in Jeremiah or Ezekiel. Paul once again reinforces this statement in Galatians 3:17.

Where earlier in Galatians chapter 3 Paul had written that “6 Just as 'Abraham had trusted Yahweh, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' 7 then you know that they from faith, they are sons of Abraham”, he is making a rather direct statement that those who are from of the faith which Abraham had, they are the sons of Abraham, because the faith of which Paul speaks can only be what Abraham himself had believed, and certainly not what anyone else may believe. Abraham's faith was his belief that his offspring would become many nations, that nations and kings would come from the seed in his loins, and that it was that seed which would ultimately inherit the earth.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 5: Sons of the Promise

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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 5: Sons of the Promise

Perhaps after his epistle to the Romans, Paul's epistles to the Galatians is a paramount exhibition of the practical conception of covenant theology. But this is only apparent when the individual sentences of the epistle are read and interpreted in their own context, rather than being isolated and their interpretations perverted as the commentators of the denominational sects are accustomed to doing.

In Galatians chapters 1 and 2 Paul addressed the fallacy that one's righteousness could be obtained through the works of the law, by clinging to ordinances in ceremonies and rituals, which certainly is contrary to Scripture since the Scripture itself professes that no living man can be justified in the sight of Yahweh God: for all men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. From Romans chapter 9 it is evident that there were Edomites in Judaea who claimed to be of Israel and who were seeking their righteousness by the law, but there were also many Israelites remaining in Judaea who were persuaded by them, which we can tell from Acts chapter 21, and it is these Judaizers whom Paul is addressing here in the bigger picture which he began to explain in those same opening chapters of Galatians. Then in Galatians chapter 3 Paul explained that in spite of the law, righteousness is inferred by God through the promises to Abraham, but that those promises to Abraham were not passed on to all of Abraham's descendants. Rather they were passed on only to those which had been anointed by God, which are the children of Israel. The children of Jacob-Israel are the anointed seed out of all of Abraham's seeds, or the various races which could claim descent from Abraham, and therefore the children of Israel are the exclusive heirs of the covenant, in spite of whether the Edomites or Ishmaelites would keep the law.

However just because as we read this epistle the chapter number now changes, that does not mean that the subject of Paul's discourse is changing, and in this chapter it becomes absolutely manifest that Paul has indeed been teaching what we may call Covenant Theology, which is the knowledge that the promises to Abraham which in the New Covenant are fulfilled in Christ, are fulfilled along the same lines as the promises to Abraham fulfilled in Kingdom Israel under the Old Covenant: they are promises made to Abraham concerning his seed, or offspring, and they are eternal. Each of these Covenants represents the fulfillment by Yahweh God of the promises to Abraham in their respective ages. The promises of God do not change, and were upheld in spite of the fact that the children of Israel had failed to keep the Levitical covenant, which, as we learn from Paul here, was supplementary to the promises to Abraham. As Paul had explained, and as we had seen in the Psalms and in the records of the promises themselves while discussing Galatians chapter 3, the promises to Abraham cannot fail, and they are without condition. Further, as Paul had said in Romans chapter 4, the promise to Abraham is assured to all of the offspring of Abraham, which are accounted through Jacob-Israel, because the offspring are accounted according to the promise, as Paul had said, “thus your offspring will be”.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 6: Liberty in Christ

 
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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 6: Liberty in Christ

For most of the first four chapters of this epistle to the Galatians, Paul has been explaining that the works of the law, which were the required rituals and ceremonial ordinances, are done away with in Christ. At the same time, Paul has explained the circumstances of the fulfillment in Christ of the Abrahamic covenant and the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to their seed after them, after the same manner which Yahweh God had made those promises in the Old Testament. Because the children of Israel shall not any longer be judged by the law, but instead have mercy in Christ, and because they are no longer bound to the rituals and ceremonies of the law, they have liberty in Christ, which Paul is about to explain here in Galatians chapter 5. But liberty in Christ is not liberty from morality or from the commandments of Yahweh God. Rather it is the freedom to love and have mercy for one another, and to receive of the same, to a much greater extent than the letter of the Hebrew law allowed, as Paul shall also explain here in this chapter of Galatians.

It should be clear from Scripture as well as from experience that a man cannot be found righteous by the law, because all men sin and fall short of the glory of God. That is why those promises to Abraham are so important to the New Covenant, because the New Covenant, as Paul has explained here, is the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham which must be kept by Yahweh God in spite of the dissolution of the Old Covenant due to Israel's failure to keep the law of God. In this manner Paul is attempting to put the covenants in perspective. But before Christians can do the same, it must be understood that both covenants, the Old and the New, were made with the same genetic people according to the Word of God in the promises which He had made to Abraham. Neither covenant circumvents nor supersedes the promises to Abraham, which were passed down through Isaac and Jacob and to the seed of their loins after them. So the New Covenant is not at all predicated on the Old Covenant. Rather, the New Covenant is predicated on the Abrahamic covenants. Wherever it says “forever” in the Old Covenant, that “forever” depends upon whether the children of Israel would keep the law. But wherever it says “forever” in the original promises to Abraham, that “forever” only depends upon Yahweh. Man fails, but Yahweh God cannot fail.

The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 7: The Family of the Faith

 
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The Epistles of Paul - Galatians Part 7: The Family of the Faith

The concept of antinomianism has meant different things to different theologians. However to accuse Paul of Tarsus of being an antinomian in the sense of one who would set aside or negate or diminish the Laws of God, or to have derived a doctrine which includes those things and claim for it the authority of Paul of Tarsus, is to be a liar. In both Galatians and Romans, and also in his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul has explained how and why the “works of the law”, which are the ordinances such as the sacrificial rituals and ceremonies conducted by the priests, are done away with in Christ. However in all of these epistles Paul also fully demonstrates that the moral laws of Yahweh which are found in the commandments of the law are to be upheld in Christ. Apparently, all of the theological confusion in regard to antinomianism as opposed to the equally wrong concept of salvation by works has resulted because Christians have failed to perceive between the “works of the law” and the commandments which even Christ has admonished them to keep.

In Galatians chapter 5, Paul had said in verse 18 that “if you are led by the Spirit, you are under no law.” The denominational sects often use that phrase by itself to give approbation to whatever it is that they may desire. But Paul had already said earlier in verse 13 that the freedom in which Christians are called is “not that freedom for occasion in the flesh”, and insisted in verse 14 that “all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: 'You shall love him near to you as yourself.'” With that, we must discern that Paul had indeed remained concerned with the keeping of the commandments of the law.