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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture KnowledgeTreasury of Scripture Knowledge

- Galatians

by Editor - R.A. Torrey

The Galatians, or Gallograecians, were the descendants of Gauls, who migrated from their own country, and after a series of disasters, got possession of a large district in Asia Minor, from them called Galatia (Pausanias, Attic. c. iv). They are mentioned by historians as a tall and valiant people, who went nearly naked, and used for arms only a buckler and sword; and the impetuosity of their attack is said to have been irresistible. Their religion, before their conversion was extremely corrupt and superstitious; they are said to have worshipped the mother of the gods, under the name of Adgistis; and to have offered human sacrifices of the prisoners they took in war. Though they spoke the Greek language in common with almost all the inhabitants of Asia Minor, yet it appears from Jerome that they retained their original Gaulish language even as late as the fifth century. Christianity appears to have been first planted in these regions by St. Paul himself (Galatians 1:6; Galatians 4:13); who visited the churches at least twice in that country (Acts 16:6; Acts 18:23). It is evident that this epistle was written soon after their reception of the gospel, as he complains of their speedy apostasy from his doctrine (Galatians 1:6); and as there is no notice of his second journey into that country, it has been supposed, with much probability, that it was written soon after his first, and consequently about ad 52 or 53. It appears that soon after the Apostle had left them, some Judaizing teachers intruded themselves into the churches; drawing them off from the true gospel, to depend on ceremonial observances, and to the vain endeavour of “establishing their own righteousness.” It was in order to oppose this false gospel that St. Paul addressed the Galatians, and after saluting the churches of Galatia, and establishing his apostolic commission against the attacks of the false teachers, he reproves them for departing from that gospel which he had preached to them, and confirmed by the gift of the Holy Ghost - proves that justification is by faith alone, and not by the deeds of the law, from the example of Abraham, the testimony of Scripture, the curse of the law, the redemption of Christ, and the Abrahamic covenant, which the law could not disannul - shows the use of the law in connection with the covenant of grace; concludes that all believers are delivered from the law, and made the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith in Christ; illustrates his inference by God’s treatment of the Jewish church, which he put under the law, as a father puts a minor under a guardian; shows the weakness and folly of the Galatians in subjecting themselves to the law, and that by submitting themselves to circumcision they become subject to the whole law, and would forfeit the benefits of the covenant of grace; gives them various instructions and exhortations for their Christian conduct, and particularly concerning the right use of their Christian freedom; and concludes with a brief summary of the topics discussed, and by commending them to the grace of Christ.

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