Return to Front Page

Introduction to the Books of the Bible

Return to

Contents Page

Paul's Letter to the Galatians





BOOK : Galatians

Description : A letter to the churches in Galatia that Paul had raised up and who had come under pressure from other Jewish Christians who wanted believers to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses. Paul wrote to refute these pressures.

Author: The apostle Paul

Date written : Probably somewhere between AD51 and AD57

Chapters 6



Brief Synopsis:

•  Before Paul can refute these Jewish pressures, referred to above, he has to establish his credibility as an apostle.
•  After this he chides the Galatian believers for going back on the basic Gospel and relying on a salvation by works (which may be seen in different forms)
•  After this he writes about life in the Spirit and caring for one another as an outworking of that life.



Outline :


1:1-9 Introduction
1:1-5 Salutation
1:6-9 Denunciation
1:10-2:21 Personal: Authentication of the Apostle of Liberty and Faith
1:10-12 Paul's Gospel Was Received by Special Revelation
1:13-2:21 Paul's Gospel Was Independent of the Jerusalem Apostles and the Judean Churches
1:13-17 Evidenced by his early activities as a Christian
1:18-24 Evidenced by his first post-Christian visit to Jerusalem
2:1-10 Evidenced by his visit to Jerusalem 14 years later
2:11-21 Evidenced by his rebuke of Peter at Antioch
Ch.3 & 4 Doctrinal: Justification of the Doctrine of Liberty and Faith
3:1-5 The Galatians' Experience of the Gospel
3:6-9 The Experience of Abraham
3:10-14 The Curse of the Law
3:15-18 The Priority of the Promise
3:19-25 The Purpose of the Law
3:26-4:11 Sons, Not Slaves
4:12-20 Appeal to Enter into Freedom from Law
4:21-31 The Allegory of Hagar and Sarah
5:1-6:10 Practical: Practice of the Life of Liberty and Faith 
5:1-12 Exhortation to Freedom
5:13-26 Life by the Spirit, Not by the Flesh
6:1-10 Call for Mutual Help 
6:11-18 Conclusion



Some Key Verses:


An opening declaration of what the real Gospel is

1:3-5 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


A challenge to these Christians – you are being led astray

1:6,7 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.


The Gospel Paul preached came directly from God

1:11,12 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.


Jew and Gentile are saved the same way, by faith in Christ

2:15,16 We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified


Countering their folly: think about how you received the Holy Spirit

3:1-3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?


Countering their folly: think about Abraham, saved by simple belief

3:6 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness


Countering their folly: think about the Law, cursed fro failure to keep it

3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”


Countering their folly: realise circumcision is ‘works' not belief in Christ

5:2-4 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.


Countering their folly: it's now a life in the Spirit whose power transforms us

5:16,17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.


Countering their folly: His power brings this radical change

5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


Countering their folly: it's either self of Spirit

6:7,8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.



Concluding Comments


The letter to the Galatians is a reminder to us that our salvation is all about believing, about faith in Christ and we are not saved by works in whatever form they come

•  struggling with our body
•  trying to keep the rules
•  having special religious days

None of these things save us and they don't make us ‘more of a Christian'.




Additional Resources on this site