Treasures from Paul Galatians
Treasures from Paul Galatians is a study on Galatians that majors so much on the theme of Justification. This was a discovery I did not truly make until, many years ago, I was asked to present a series of lectures in a Bible School on the doctrine of “Justification”. I glibly agreed and set to work preparing the twelve lectures. After a week or two, I gave up in despair, telling the principal of the college that I couldn’t do it. I had the ideas in my head clearly enough; but in my soul, they had no life, no drama, no sparkle! I asked him to postpone the lectures until the last term of the year. He agreed, and I set to again. Then a miracle happened! After some weeks of pouring through scripture, ingesting many a massive tome, thinking, and praying – suddenly – I knew!
I knew what it means to be justified by faith alone, apart from any works of my own. I knew it vividly. I knew it deeply. It became an explosive force in my soul. I jumped up from the desk, hastened down to the kitchen, swooped Alison away from what she was doing, and danced her around the table, shouting, “I know what justification means!
About Treasures from Paul Galatians
Perhaps ten years after that, and after teaching on “justification” many times in many places, I came across Martin Luther’s 16th-century commentary on Galatians. I devoured all 600 pages of it. What a book! Luther’s passion, fire, wit, his tough language and sharp insights, carried me along with delight from the first page to the last. Not that I agreed with all that I read. Some paragraphs had me steaming with indignation! But mostly, the book was a revelation, and my life was changed again.
However, the experience did have one unhappy consequence. I have ever after been chary of writing anything of my own on Galatians. Luther did the job so well that anything more seems superfluous, and must be inferior. Still, having embarked on this series, Treasures from Paul, it would be irresponsible not to include Galatians. So here it is. Treasures from Paul Galatians. I cannot pretend to anything like Luther’s erudition, genius, or to the sheer power of his writing. After all, he changed the face of Western Civilisation and altered the course of human history! So much, that our modern world is still deeply influenced by the doctrines that Luther propounded, notably his writings and sermons on justification by faith. I cannot aspire to such universal impact.
Nor will I make any attempt, in emulation of Luther, to present a verse by verse commentary on Paul’s letter. I will be content to follow the pattern of the other books in this series, and simply discover “treasures” in Galatians that I hope and pray will enrich your life. Nor will I write 600 pages! A smaller, more modest, volume will suffice.
The following Preface contains a brief Introduction to Galatians. If you are interested in more information about the historical background of the letter, of how and why Paul wrote it, the circumstances in which it was born, and many other questions and issues the letter raises, simply turn to the internet. Countless excellent articles and studies exist online. My intention here is only to pluck a number of pearls from its pages and expound them for you to the best of my ability. And if you happen to come to the end of the book shouting, as I did while I was waltzing my wife around a table, “Now I know!” – I shall be satisfied indeed.
- This became one of the five catch-cries of the 16th century Reformation – we are saved Sola Gratia – by grace alone; Sola Fide – by faith alone; Solus Christus – by the work of Christ alone; Sola Scriptura – by scripture alone; Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone.
You could also do yourself a wonderful favour by purchasing and reading a copy of Luther’s Commentary on Galatians.
And a final word. There is inevitably an overlap between some of the ideas in this book and other books that I have written, notably Great Words of the Gospel. I hope the differences will be sufficient to compensate for the similarities. The reason, of course, is that I found it impossible to exclude those ideas when Galatians itself is full of them. But even if you have read the earlier book and recognise some sentences akin to it in this one, I still pray that you will find as much pleasure and benefit from reading this book as I gained from its writing.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)