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Commentary of Galatians

Galatians, the Law, Paul's epistles, commentary, circumcision  

There are many commentaries that elaborate on word definitions or various thoughts contained in the Epistle to the Galatians.  It is the purpose here to mainly address the areas of the Epistle that those who hold to the traditional concept of the Law typically misinterpret, misunderstand or gloss over because of their flawed perspective of the Law.  For this reason this commentary will not elaborate on every verse.  In those cases others have done a sufficient job.         

There are also many commentaries that provide a background of the Epistle to the Galatians in Asia Minor.  Only the briefest summary of important points about the background of Galatians follows. 

Galatia was a province of what is now called Asia Minor, generally Turkey.  One or more congregations in the area were probably established on Paul’s 1st journey with Barnabas.  Typically Paul visited the local synagogue on the Sabbaths (Acts 13:42).  There he found a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles.  The believers there were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles.  This Epistle was probably written after 51 CE.

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1:6  “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,”  Some in Galatia had fallen victim to teaching that was different from the true gospel of Christ. The word 'Christ' is of Greek origin, meaning Messiah.  Although initially labeling it a different gospel Paul changes that assertion in his next statement.  This ‘different’ gospel at least diminished the ‘grace’ of Messiah.  This ‘grace’, used throughout the New Testament is more easily understood as ‘graciousness’.  It is the good will, loving kindness and/or favor He extends to mankind in general and His followers in particular.

1:7 “which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” This ‘different gospel’ was not very different, so Paul rectified the perspective by affirming that it was not really a different gospel, but one with a slightly different twist.  Although this epistle talks a lot about the Law, a careful examination shows that the law was not likely the specific twist that ‘troubled them’, although it was part of the problem.  The problem was that some were pushing the practice of circumcision.   Paul always comes back to this matter.   Indeed his conclusion in chapter 6 clearly focuses on circumcision.  He brings up the Law in order to put it and circumcision in their proper perspective.  He brings up circumcision in connection with that, but also in connection with people pushing the practice.  Circumcision was the issue being pushed.  Of course, it was being pushed because it was expected of Israel in the Law (Lev 12:1-2, Josh 5:2-9). 

The dissident group was called ‘those who were of the circumcision’ not ‘those who were of the Law’ (2:12).  Everyone needs to understand the shortcomings and limitations of the Law, but the twist had to do with circumcision, not the Law per se.   Undoubtedly those of the circumcision used the Law to add weight to their perspective.  It undoubtedly did that, which is likely why the Galatians were swayed by this twist of the gospel.  Messiah and the Apostles frequently cited the Law throughout the New Testament to reinforce and support some point they were making.  The Law was held in high regard.