The major theme of Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches can be summed up in the Latin phrases, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus. To these may be added the remaining phrases of Sola scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria, known as the Five Solae (or Solas), Martin Luther’s five founding principles of the Reformation.
The typology of Galatians juxtaposes Abraham as the father of the faithful against that of the nation of Israel turning to a man-made idol through the topic of circumcision, an element of the Mosaic Law, though it did predate Moses.
The redemptive-historical context of the book is one that includes salvation by grace through faith in the work of Christ Jesus as the acceptable way of being reconciled to God, as opposed to the old way under the old covenant, that of submission to and placing oneself under the Mosaic Law as a means of salvation from sin, again represented by the message of some that one must also be circumcised as well as having faith in Christ. Historically, this notion was up-ended by God when he told Peter to preach the Gospel of grace through faith to the gentile believers in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10).
The central theme of the book is that nothing can add to the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross in terms of our redemption, and is best reflected in my opinion by Galatians 2: 20:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
The concepts expressed in this verse colour the entire letter. They include the concept of substitution (Jesus died for us, and it is by His faith that we live), inclusion (we have been and still are crucified with Christ), indwelling (though I live, it is not I but Christ living in me), and the love of God for us seen in God’s sacrifice of His own Son, and the Son’s love for us in that He sacrificed Himself. As the letter itself is unpacked, meanings and implications will become clear, and will be addressed as we go.
1:1-5 – Initial Greetings
1:6-2:10 – The Irreplaceable Gospel
1:6-9) Paul’s rebuke at turning to a false gospel
1:10-2:10) Paul’s Gospel is the one that comes from God Himself
2:11-21 – The Heart of the Gospel
2:11-14) Peter gets it wrong
2:15-21) The Definitive Gospel
3:1-29 – Becoming an Heir of Abraham
3:1-14) Entrance Requirements
1-5) Evidence from Experience
6-9) Evidence from Abraham
10-14) Evidence from Scripture
3:15-29) But why the Law then?
15-18) Does not invalidate the promises
19-24) Purpose of the Law
25-29) Now that Faith has come
4:1-6:10 – The Freedom of Sonship
4:1-11) From Slaves to Sons
1-7) Brought by Christ into Sonship
8-11) The temptation to return
4:12-5:1) Two kinds of sons
4:12-20) Two kinds of teachers
4:21-5:1) Two kinds of lives
5:2-12) DANGER! Turn back here…
2-6) where this teaching leads
7-12) where these teachers end up
5:13-24) How to Live in True Freedom
5:25-6:10) Sowing by the Spirit
5:25-6:6) The way of the Spirit in Context
6:7-10) Why we should live by the Spirit
6:11-18) Conclusion: Defined by the Cross
Going forward, studies will be posted by chapter, not by this outline, which would be difficult to follow in a practical sense. As is standard, if the text is black and there is no link, the study has not been posted yet.