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by Joseph Sutcliffe
ST. PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
SACRED criticism has contemplated every circumstance of time and place, in regard to the writing of this epistle, and weighed every expression in the text; yet much obscurity remains. The expression in Galatians 1:6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel,” is thought not to refer to the departure of Paul from Galatia, but to some short space after the arrival of the false apostles, who had endeavoured to subvert the liberty of the gospel by the yoke of the ceremonial law.
This epistle was written in Greek, and it would seem, from Galatians 6:11, with the apostle’s own hand. The Arabic and the Syriac versions add, that it was sent from Rome by Timothy; but as Paul’s bonds are not named, that assertion is not proved, though it might be correct. But as there were “brethren” with the apostle when he wrote, ministers of Christ, he must have written from some great city.
The internal characters of this epistle correspond with the divine authority of the christian religion; that the gospel which Paul had preached in the province was not of men, nor by man, but was delivered to him by immediate revelation.
The second argument is, that the churches of Galatia did not receive the Spirit by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith; the Holy Ghost having fallen upon them, as in other instances, while the gospel was preached. By this divine influence they had been converted, made the children of God, and Christ was formed in their hearts the hope of glory.
The third argument is, that the false apostles, and others, who seduced them were designing men. They did not themselves keep the law, but enforced circumcision, with other rituals, that they might glory in their flesh.
The whole character of the epistle is sanative, associating the liberty of the gospel, with liberation from fleshly desires, which war against the soul. It exhibits the church as adorned with all the fruits of the Spirit, its members being made new creatures in Christ Jesus.
the Second Week of Advent