Galatians: Free in the Spirit

Writer: Paul the apostle and founder of the Galatian Churches (Galatians 1:1; 4:19-20; 5:2).

Addressee: The Churches of Galatia (“Northern-Central Asia Minor, modern Turkey), predominantly Gentile converts of Gaul descent (4:8; 5:2; 6:12).

Date and Place Written: Before the Jerusalem Council of A.D. 50, probably spring of A.D. 50 from Antioch. (Agrippa I death is established at A.D. 44 and Acts 12:1 links the famine visit to this date and Galatians 2:1 dates the visit as after 14 years).

Occasion: False doctrine of “Jewish-Christians” teachers (Judaizers) infiltrated the churches (Galatians 1:6-9; 3:1; 4:17; 5:12) and undermined Paul’s authority and God’s grace. The Judaizers charged Paul’s Gospel with loose living since it did away with the OT Law (Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial)

Issues:

How is one made right with God?
Must one be circumcised and obey the OT Law to be saved?
Is one kept saved by works?
Can the Christian life begun in the Spirit be brought to maturity by the works of the flesh?

Purpose: Galatians is a Polemic

1. Vindication of the Apostle (1-2)
2. Exposition of Justification by Faith (3-4)
3. Call to Life in the Spirit (5-6).
4. It is the Magna Charta of Spiritual Emancipation and the Manifesto of Faith

Key Verses: Galatians 2:16; 2:20; 3:11; 5:1

Key Phrases: “The righteous WILL LIVE by faith” (3:11) and “the Spirit” (5:16)

Key Words: Christ (38); Law (35); God (32); Faith (19); Spirit (18); Nature/Flesh (18 Greek); Gospel (12); Free/dom (11); Promise/s (11); Circumcision/ed (10); Justified/Righteous/ness (9) Grace (8)

Thematic Theme: Christian Freedom arises from Justification by Faith—Free in the Spirit

Primary Themes:

1. Grace over Law; Conflict of the Spirit and Flesh/Sinful Nature (Gal 5:16-18)
2. Liberty over Law, but not a license
3. Liberty over Flesh, set free from bondage; Living in/by the Spirit (5:16-26)—Crucifying the Flesh (2:20)

Subordinate Theme:

1. The Role of the Trinity in Salvation (4:4-7; cf. God, Christ & Spirit)
2. A Personal Relationship with God (2:19-20; 3:26; 4:4-9)

Style: Vibrant with passion, yet consistent with principle; there is no commendation or thankfulness.

Tone (1:6 and 3:1). There are thirteen commands in 5:13-26; 6:1-10.

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