As a seminary student, I know that many people are interested in learning more about the information and ideologies presented in the Bible. Yet because the book is so complex and intricate, they find themselves intimidated or overwhelmed when they attempt to understand its form and content. For this reason, quick reference guides which offer readers a brief overview of the Bible’s content can be helpful. Here’s one on the book of Galatians:
Written between 48 and 52 AD, Galatians was written by the apostle Paul. The book is divided into six chapters that cover various topics pertaining to Christian life.
In the first chapter of the book, Paul warns believers about the necessity of recognizing that some people seek to pervert the gospel of Christ (v.7). He goes on to encourage them to reject any gospel that did not parallel the information they had already received (v.9). He then states that the form of doctrine he delivered to them came to him through a revelation of Jesus Christ (v.11, 12). After noting the way that he had originally persecuted followers of Christ (v.13, 14), he points out that there came a specific time in which God chose to reveal the truth of Jesus to him (v.15,16).
In this chapter, Paul recants some of his travels. He talks about how he returned to Jerusalem with Barnabas (v.1). He goes on to point out that he began to preach the gospel to Gentiles (v.2). Then, he states that Peter had an effective ministry with the circumcised, a term that references Jewish people (v.7, 8). After revealing this information, Paul notes a confrontation he had with Peter. This confrontation resulted from the fact that Peter drew away from eating with the Gentiles because of fears regarding what various Jewish people might think (v.11-14). Paul condemned this activity and went on to argue that works of the law (in this case, circumcision) do not result in salvation (v.16). He goes on to note that it is faith in Christ that results in justification (v.16). To elaborate on the justificatory nature of his relationship with Christ, Paul notes that he was crucified with Christ and that Christ now lives within him (v.20). Therefore, the life he now lives is based on his faith in the son of God (v.20).
Here, Paul urges believers to understand the difference between the law and faith. In doing so, he asks them whether or not their receiving the Spirit resulted from works of the law or by the hearing of faith (v.2). He then asks them whether they think they will be made perfect by the flesh given that their walk of faith began with the Spirit (v.3). In asking this questions, Paul clearly means to establish the fact that the hearing of faith-not the works of the law-result in right standing with God. He makes this plain upon stating that no man is justified by the law but rather by living in faith (v.11). In concluding the chapter, he notes that all racial and ethnic barriers are broken through Christ, given that He makes all one in Himself (v.28).
In this chapter, Paul discusses the fact that believers were under the law prior to the era in which Christ came (v.1-5). After making this assertion, Paul notes that believers are sons of God and goes on to note that they have received the Spirit (v.6). He then asks why they continue turning to the observance of days and months now that they know God (v.9, 10). He then goes on to point out the weakness of the law. In so doing, he uses an analogy of Abraham and his two sons to make a point. The child of the bondmaid, he argues, was born of the flesh. Yet the son of the freewoman was by promise (v.23). This, he argues, is an allegory for the two covenants. One is from mount Sinai, which represents bondage. But the Jerusalem that is from above is free and she, Paul argues, is the mother of us all (v.24-26).Ultimately then, the new believers he addressed were the children of the freewoman and were not in bondage to the law (v.31).
In this chapter, Paul emphasizes the importance of believers standing in the liberty granted to them by Christ (v.1). He goes on to point out that circumcision will not profit the believer because this custom makes one a debtor to the law (v.2, 3). He goes on to point out that those born of the Spirit are reliant on the righteousness that results from faith (v.5). To expound upon this principle, he notes that faith working by love-not circumcision-is the key to this righteousness (v.6). Paul then points out the importance of walking in the Spirit rather than giving heed to the lusts of the flesh. Some of the fleshly lusts include fornication, adultery, and uncleanness (v.19). The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, includes things such as love, joy, and peace (v.22).
Here, Paul argues that believers who see another Christian in a fault should restore that individual with meekness (v.1). He also notes that whatsoever a man soweth is what he shall reap (v.7). Paul goes on to point out that people who do well should not grow weary in the act thereof. The work, he argues, will result in reaping as long as one does not faint (v.9). As the chapter closes, he reemphasizes the fact that circumcision does not profit anything (v.15). He concludes the chapter by telling the brethren to let the grace of Christ be with their spirits (v.18).
People interested in learning even more about the book of Galatians can gain more information by viewing the following articles:
1. “The Letter to the Galatians: Overview” by Scott Coleson
2. “Learn About the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians” by Saul Shandly
3. “Galatians 5: How Do We Walk in the Spirit?” by Victoria Maylo
My studies in the book of Galatians have increased my understanding of the Bible’s ideological and epistemological import. I hope this brief overview expands your knowledge also!
Jocelyn Crawley is a 28-year-old college student currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree in preparation to become a pastor. She holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies.