Book of the Week 48: Galatians

Greek Name: PROS GALATAS

Human Author: Paul                                               

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 6

Basic Facts

  1. Galatians is the forty-eighth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Galatians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Galatians is PROS GALATAS, which means “to the Galatians” or “for the benefit of the Galatians.”
  4. In Galatians, the Apostle Paul shares his personal testimony.
  5. Galatians was written by Paul to oppose the heresy of the Judaizers, who sought to make Gentile believers in Christ follow the Law of Moses.

Story of the Book

Paul writes to the people of Galatia (scholars debate whether the city of Galatia or the province of Galatia is his target audience). He confronts the Galatians for abandoning the Gospel message by giving in to Jews who were teaching them that they must obey the Law of the Torah. Paul gives his personal testimony of conversion, explaining how he was transformed from a persecutor of the Church to a follower of Jesus by faith. Paul’s testimony includes a personal revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to tell the Galatians how he came to Jerusalem and was accepted by Peter and James, and he briefly tells how he confronted Peter for being a hypocrite by briefly accepting the Judaizers' arguments. Paul argues that salvation is by faith in Christ and is to be received by faith apart from the works of the Law. Paul argues that, by faith in Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike become children of God and heirs of the promise that God gave to Abraham. As a result, God considers believers in Christ to be children of Abraham, in fulfillment of God’s Covenant promises. Paul urges the Galatian believers not to be subject to the Law, but rather to trust in Christ alone for their salvation. He concludes his letter by urging the Galatian believers to walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit, to refrain from sin, and to bear one another’s burdens as an expression of brotherly love in Christ. Paul personally hand-wrote the conclusion to this letter, urging believers not to give in to the Judaizers, but rather to remain steadfast in faith.

Jesus Revealed in Galatians

In Galatians, Paul reveals Jesus to be the one who brings fulfillment to the Law (Matthew 5:17). Jesus fulfilled the law through His sinless life and atoning work. Salvation, therefore, is found only through faith in Jesus Christ and not through the works of the Law. Paul’s portrayal of Jesus as the one who fulfills the Law is crucial to the identity of all believers, for the atoning work of Christ is the only way that believers are reckoned as children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise through faith (Galatians 3:29). Paul makes the case that the work of Christ has brought about reconciliation: both between God and men and also between Jews and Gentiles to such an extent that all believers regardless of race are now one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Paul uses this defense to refute the heresy of the Judaizers, who were trying to convince the Galatians to see their salvation as coming from both Jesus Christ and obedience to the Law. If this were true, then the atoning work of Jesus on the cross alone would not be enough to forgive sins. Paul refutes this claim in the strongest possible terms, insisting that Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law is complete and allows believers to receive salvation exclusively through faith in Jesus (Galatians 2:15-21).