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We know a few things about Perga; first, it was the place where John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas Acts , and the trials related to the physical infirmity may have had something to do with it. Second, Perga was in lowland, marshy area. The Galatian city of Pisidian Antioch was some 3, feet higher than Perga. My trial that was in my flesh you did not despise or reject : Even though Paul was not a great example of strength and power because of his physical infirmity, the Galatians still received him, and they received him honorably.

They embraced Paul so generously that they would have plucked out [their] own eyes and given them to Paul if that could somehow meet his need. Galatians — where Paul makes reference to large letters written with his own hand — may also support this idea.

Certainly with smoky fires, no chimneys, and oil lamps, one would expect a high incidence of eye trouble in the first-century Mediterranean world. To one who had spent years poring over crabbed Hebrew tomes the risk might well be greater. But again we have no proof. In light of the great love and honor the Galatians had shown towards Paul and in light of the great blessing they received from God when they showed such to him, the Galatians should not think that Paul has now become their adversary when he confronted them with the truth.

They needed the truth more than they needed to feel good about where they were at. Both are necessary; otherwise, their teaching will not have a sweet taste. And he declares that both had been true of him among the Galatians. He had already spoken of their respect; he now speaks of their love. They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.

Christians can use the same technique in some way or another. The zeal cultivated by legalism is often more a zeal for the group itself than for Jesus Christ. Legalism is almost always associated with some kind of religious bondage. Having gotten them to adopt the festivals and perhaps the fast days, the Judaizers were now urging them to adopt circumcision. He wanted Christians to be zealous in a good thing always. But it is important to make sure that our zeal is in a good thing because zeal in a bad thing is dangerous. The Galatian Christians were no doubt impressed by the zeal of the legalists.

The legalists were so sincere, so passionate about their beliefs. Paul agreed that it is good to be zealous — but only in a good thing always. Zeal in the service of a lie is a dangerous thing. Paul knew this well, because before he became a Christian, he had plenty of zeal; even persecuting the church Acts Later, Paul looked back at that time of great zeal in the service of a lie and deeply regretted it 1 Corinthians , 1 Timothy And not only when I am present with you : Paul wanted the Galatians to be zealous for what is good when he was absent, not only when he was present among them.

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you. My little children : Paul rightly considers himself to be a father to the Galatians. Yet this challenge has made him feel as if he must bring them to Jesus all over again for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.

Paul knew that his work of forming Christ in them was not complete until they stayed in a place of trusting Jesus. The idea of Christ is formed in you is similar to the idea of Romans For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. It would be wrong for Paul to seek to form himself in the Galatians. That is never to be the job of the pastor. He was right to seek to form Christ in them. My little children : Through this section, Paul masterfully mixed metaphors to give a powerful picture.

Something unnatural has happened — the Galatians are drifting away from Jesus and to the law. So Paul has to labor in birth again , and this is unnatural to have labor pains a second time. Paul has the labor pains, but Christ is formed in them. Paul will keep laboring until it is Christmas for the Galatians, and Jesus is formed in them. This is a pattern found in all Biblical ministry. The Holy Ghost impregnates the Word so that it brings forth the fruit of faith. In this manner every Christian pastor is a spiritual father who forms Christ in the hearts of his hearers.

He had been in labour over them previously at the time of their conversion, when they were brought to birth; now their backsliding has caused him another confinement. He is in labour again. The first time there had been a miscarriage; this time he longs that Christ will be truly formed in them. I would like to be present with you now and change my tone : Paul wished two things.

First, that he could be present with the Galatians. But he also wished that he did not need to speak to them in such strong words, that he could change his tone. This section, Galatians , shows us principles for the attitude for people in the church toward their pastor. This section, Galatians , shows us principles for the attitude for the pastor towards the people in his church.

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law : Now Paul writes directly, both to those who promoted legalism and to those who succumbed to legalism. He writes to those who desire to be under the law , living under law keeping as the basis for their relationship with God. There are many advantages to being under the law as your principle of relating to God.

First, you always have the outward certainty of a list of rules to keep. Second, you can compliment yourself because you keep the rules better than others do. Finally, you can take the credit for your own salvation, because you earned it by keeping the list of rules. Under the law it is what you do for God that makes you right before Him. Under the grace of God, it is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ that makes us right before Him.


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Under the law the focus is on my performance. Under the grace of God, the focus is on who Jesus is and what He has done. Under the law we find fig leaves to cover our nakedness. Under the grace of God we receive the covering won through sacrifice that God provides. The Christian has no business living under the law. It is not above a Christian — it is under a Christian. The law is under a Christian; it is for him to walk on, to be his guide, his rule, his pattern… Law is the road which guides us, not the rod which drives us, nor the spirit which actuates us.

Do you not hear the law? Open your Bibles to Genesis chapter Paul took it for granted that his readers knew the Bible. He explains his point from the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah in Genesis 16 without a lot of detail from the story. He assumes that they knew the story. It is important that Paul refer back to the Scriptures again and again.

Devotionals From This Study

Yet Paul will show that they were not handling the Old Testament Scriptures correctly, and he will show that a true understanding of the Law of Moses will support the true gospel he preaches. For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons : The legalists who troubled the Galatians protested that they were children of Abraham, and therefore blessed. Paul will admit they are children of Abraham, but they forget that Abraham had two sons. The first contrast Paul draws between real Christianity and legalism is the contrast between freedom and slavery. One son of Abraham was born by a freewoman , and one was born by a bondwoman. The real Christian life is marked by freedom. This is living like a descendant of Abraham — but it is living like Ishmael. It also means judging other believers on the basis of these standards.

Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar; for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:. Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband. Which things are symbolic : Paul wanted it understood that he used pictures from the Old Testament.

His reference to Hagar and Ishmael were pictures, meant to illustrate his point. Now he would bring in another picture. Paul was clearly guided by the Holy Spirit here. For us, we must be careful about reading allegorical or symbolic things into the Scriptures.

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I acknowledge that Scripture is the most rich and inexhaustible fount of all wisdom. But I deny that its fertility consists in the various meanings which anyone may fasten to it at his pleasure. Let us know, then, that the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and simple one, and let us embrace and hold it resolutely. Paul brought it right down to the issues confronting the Galatian Christians. This covenant gives birth to bondage. It puts us on a perpetual treadmill of having to prove ourselves and earn our way before God. It is therefore if used wrongly a covenant according to the flesh Galatians This covenant corresponds to Jerusalem which now is , that is, earthly Jerusalem which was the capital of religious Judaism.

The third contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between heaven and earth. Real Christianity comes from heaven and not earth. The Jerusalem above is free : Paul will now tell us more about the covenant represented by the heavenly Jerusalem. This covenant brings freedom — it is free. Which is the mother of us all : This covenant has many children; it is the mother of us all. Every Christian through the centuries belongs to this new covenant, the covenant of the heavenly Jerusalem.

And every birth under this covenant is a miracle, like the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah , Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Every one is born because of a miracle by God. The desolate has many more children : The quotation from Isaiah also suggests that there will soon be more Christians than Jews — a promise that was fulfilled.

The fourth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between many more and many. The abundance and glory of the New Covenant is shown by the fact that it would soon have many more followers than the Old Covenant. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was , are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.

Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? We identify with Isaac , as children of a promise that was received by faith.


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  • But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now : Ishmael and his descendants persecuted Isaac and his descendants. So we should not be surprised that the modern day people who follow God in the flesh persecute those who follow God in faith through the promise. The fifth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between persecuted and persecuting. The legalists — represented by Ishmael — have always persecuted true Christianity, represented by Isaac.

    There is no specific mention of Ishmael persecuting Isaac, though Genesis says that Ishmael did mock Isaac. This is the lesson of history… Today the greatest enemies of the believing church are found among the members of the unbelieving church, the greatest opposition emanating from pulpits and church hierarchies. We must cast out the bondwoman and her son. Law and grace cannot live together as principles for our Christian life. Hagar and Sarah could not live together in the same house Genesis The point is that God told Abraham to send Hagar away.

    So also every Christian must send away the idea of relating to God on the principle of law, the principle of what we do for Him instead of what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. Significantly, Sarah could live with Hagar and Ishmael until the son of promise was born. Once Isaac was born, then Hagar and Ishmael had to go. In the same way, a person could relate to the law one way before the promise of the gospel was made clear in Jesus Christ. But now that it has been made clear, there is nothing to do but to cast out the bondwoman and her son.

    For the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman : Ishmael was not necessarily a bad man or a cursed man. But neither was he blessed with the promise of inheriting the glorious covenant of God given to Abraham and his descendants. That was the inheritance of one heir — Isaac, the son of the freewoman. The sixth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between inheriting all and inheriting nothing.

    We are heirs of God through the principle of grace, not works. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free : For Paul, one of the great issues in this was freedom. He knew the bondage of trying to earn his own way before God, because he lived that way for decades. And I learned more about this letter than I'd ever know before. And now, after reading Galatians For You , Galatians is quickly becoming one of my favorite sections of the New Testament, simply because I understand it so much better then ever before.

    I was very impressed with the simplicity of Galatians For You. I'm pretty excited to see the next books that will be published in this series. I'm excited because they are great tools to use in ministry. But I'm looking forward even more to the challenge of deepening my own personal understanding of God and his Word. I loved Galatians For You , and am excited to see what's next in the series. I highly encourage you to check it out. Grab a copy and read it. You may end up like me, unable to put it down.

    If that's the case, take the time after you finish it to reread it more slowly.

    Who know just how much you can learn from such a tool? Paul wrote a significant portion of the New Testament. Which of his letters do you like the best?

    Who Were the Galatians?

    You can leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Sep 14, Jeremy rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. So far, Tim does a pretty good job bringing out heart dynamics a la Jack Miller, but he is still dismissive of new scholarship on Galatians emphasizing the contextual nature of the letter. Through chapter 2, he has missed a lot of details in the text, even if he has done a decent job re-contextualized the message into our context.

    He still is pretty driven by a Lutheran "works-righteousness" reading of Judaism, though, which is problematic. For someone as missiologically informed as Tim Keller, I So far, Tim does a pretty good job bringing out heart dynamics a la Jack Miller, but he is still dismissive of new scholarship on Galatians emphasizing the contextual nature of the letter. Paul was trying not to argue that they were being legalists, but that they hadn't fully understood JESUS.

    They hadn't actually gone all the way in embracing who Jesus was and how he fulfilled Israel in God's redemptive purposes, so that they could no longer go back towards defining Israel in the old way. Jesus was now the way Israel was defined. Law was primary, not Jesus. Paul wants to show them that Jesus is the conclusion of Israel's story,. I usually find Keller so illuminating, especially when he is writing topically. His exegesis of Biblical text, here, was constrained by systematic-theological categories that he was reading into the text. Though I always appreciate his way of pastorally drawing out heart-motivation implications of the good news, this book is essentially that - a psychologized reading of Galatians, which in the end, I think, fails to do justice to the real occasion and purpose of the letter.

    View all 5 comments. Apr 12, Gigi rated it it was amazing. Changed my life. I devoured the rest of the book with new eyes Changed my life. I devoured the rest of the book with new eyes, but it was within the first few chapters I realized I had believed a false gospel, one that said my salvation partially depended on me, as well as my justification before God. I am still going back through it slowly with my husband, but now as a secure, saved by grace, believer.

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great loved with which he loved us, even when we were DEAD in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ-by GRACE you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus Galatians is about reminding believers what the gospel they were taught was and warning them not to alter it in any way.

    I know because I lived it. But God, in His rich mercy helped me see the lies I had believed. My burden was lifted and I am free! May everyone who studies Galatians with this experience the freedom of the true gospel of Jesus and be transformed no matter where they are in their faith. View 2 comments. May 22, Shannon rated it it was amazing Shelves: life-changing. Me, reading Galatians: "Hmm. Okay, I think I get the point. I say this knowing fully that I am wrong to feel this way, just like I knew in college it was immature of me to dislike salads.

    But alas, Paul's writing style or the translator's? That's why Tim Keller is such a valuable guide to Paul. He LOVES this letter, and you can sense his professionally expressed, academic and intellectual enthusiasm for every verse. Having him take you on a tour of Galatians is like having someone who knows their city well and loves it ardently show you around. In Galatians, Keller points things out you'd never notice, highlights things you've gotten too familiar with to appreciate, and connects things that you could never see the link between before. Keller's by now familiar verbiage, in which he labels both legalism and license "self-salvation projects," really connected Galatians' concerns to my daily life.

    And Galatians really IS so mind-blowingly explosive that it's hard to make it stick in my feeble brain! These familiar Christian truths and verses, collecting dust on my mental shelf, were actually priceless trophies, like The Antiques Roadshow or at least I think so, since I've never seen the show. I'll be keeping my marked-all-over copy of this book as a guide whenever I return to Galatians. I will also add that this book had great synergy with You Who?

    Never Enough

    Reading both at once, I found their arguments reinforcing each other. Their combined effect was completely transforming in my life. Feb 20, Chris Harrod rated it really liked it. Really loved working through this book alongside Galatians. Reading through this forced me to sit in tough to understand and complex passages in Galatians that I would have only read once and zoomed past had I not used this commentary. Once again, I love Keller's writing style, and I love how purposeful this series and Keller are in intentionally pointing the reader to Christ and not themselves.

    I left this guide enjoying Galatians and God's Word more than before. This guide is for pastors, Bible Really loved working through this book alongside Galatians. I would highly recommend this guide to anyone. But Galatians more so. Apr 10, Hank Pharis rated it liked it. Tim Keller is one of my favorite preachers and thinkers.

    But while this is good I would have enjoyed more listening to a sermon series on Galatians by him.

    A Fruity Reflection on Galatians 5:16-26

    Preaching is often more powerful than the written word, although there are a few preachers who are better writers than they are speakers. Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. Jan 03, Arlie rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. Clear, concise, clarifying. Great questions to ponder at the end of each chapter. Sep 08, Sarah rated it it was amazing. Will be reading again. Oct 30, Donny Teeter rated it it was amazing.

    Great detailed study on the book of Galatians, especially how it discusses in depth that we are no longer bound by the law, but received as God's children. We are saved by grace and no longer have to live in fear of God, but live in love for him. This is an excellent, popular level summary of the book of Galatians. It's very easy to read, and yet profound. I especially enjoyed the treatment of justification, and of conceit.

    Feb 25, Craig Hurst rated it it was amazing. This series is designed to be an expository guide through the books of the Bible. It is not a detailed commentary on the Greek and Hebrew though it has helpful detail when needed.

    It is not so focused on the practical that it spends very little time on the text itself. This is a series that is purposely anchored to the text with the intent of bringing its truth to bear on the reader. This is a series that strikes such a perfect balance between any kind of commentary method that it can be profitable for anyone. Regarding the book of Galatians itself this is the perfect book to kick off the series. Paul deals strongly and passionately with the Galatians about getting the gospel right and Keller allows his strong emotions to come out without covering them up or apologizing for them.

    In typical Keller fashion he ably presents the material in a clear and understandable way to produce maximum benefit for the reader. To get a feel for how good this book is here are some excerpts: The gospel did not come to him Paul through a process of reasoning and reflection; it was received not arrived at. To leave out how we think, or how we feel, its to give an incomplete picture of how comprehensive Christian commitment is p.

    If His taking the curse means that He was regarded by God as a sinner, then our receiving the blessing means that we are regarded by God as if we are perfectly righteous and flawless. By one for yourself and all your friends. I look forward to reading more of these books by Keller. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words and thoughts expressed are my own. Apr 14, Kevin Thompson rated it it was amazing Shelves: commentary , new-testament. Galatians for You is an apt title for this new commentary by Tim Keller. In this short book Keller unpacks a great deal of thought-provoking doctrinal content and challenging personal application of said content.

    It is incredibly easy to read and can be understood by new and old Christians alike. Tim Keller, like R. Sproul, possesses that unique gift of having a highly-intellectual mind and the ability to communicate to the common man. This is seen best in the appendix concerning the New Persp Galatians for You is an apt title for this new commentary by Tim Keller. This is seen best in the appendix concerning the New Perspective on Paul.

    In this book in particular, Dr. The key issue at stake here is nothing less than the gospel itself. Anyone familiar with Tim Keller realizes his passion for this subject. Anyone who reads this book walks away with a clearer understanding of just what the gospel is. The reader is also warned against the counterfeit gospel which is not a gospel of legalism. God is pleased with us. These are fruits of the Spirit which I am supposed to have or cultivate if I am a true Christian. So, I especially found pages extremely helpful in interpreting this concept of fruit bearing in light of the gospel.

    Keller is quick to remind us that real fruit is gradual. In other words, it grows over time. The fruit of the Spirit grows as well as the Holy Spirit does His sanctifying work within us over time. We are free to acknowledge where we have given up ground to the sarx in our lives; free to confess where we have not sought to keep in step with the Spirit; free to realize where we have confused our gifts or natural abilities with the fruit of the Spirit.

    Buy it; use it; give it to a friend. I think new Christians in particular will find it most helpful. But, really, anyone who is struggling with legalism and is therefore having difficulty seeing the gospel for what is would benefit from this work. Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review.

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    A Devotion Through Galatians 1 | ChurchWord Resources

    I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review. Jan 11, Lord Tedric rated it did not like it Shelves: non-fiction , read-out. Timothy Keller has a wonderful message to preach; the Gospel of Grace. Unfortunately Mr Keller tries to force his message onto every part of the letter to the Galatians regardless of whether it fits or not. There were a number of occasions when I was left puzzled and frustrated by things he wrote and the statements he made.

    To be honest, I only finished the book because it was a gift. I regret not keeping a list of the concerns I had as I read the book so I can't list them here, and I don;t have Timothy Keller has a wonderful message to preach; the Gospel of Grace. I regret not keeping a list of the concerns I had as I read the book so I can't list them here, and I don;t have the heart to go through the book to do it find them again on the off chance that someone might be interested.

    If though someone does want a detailed analysis I am will reluctantly give it a go and add it here. I can not recommend this book as a commentary on Galations to the discerning reader. Jun 30, Ian rated it it was amazing. I studied Galatians at college not so long ago so I thought I had a pretty good understanding of it. However, this excellent study opened my eyes to far more. I can't speak highly enough about it. This is practical expository teaching, taking each verse of the epistle and unpacking it so we can both understand but also use it.

    Keller uses excellent layman's language and the conversational style reads like he is sitting alongside guiding you through the epistle. Then after each section of teaching I studied Galatians at college not so long ago so I thought I had a pretty good understanding of it. Then after each section of teaching there are three challenging questions for self or group reflection that assist in personalising the message. Galatians is all about the gospel of grace. As Keller writes in the last paragraph: "The gospel of grace is what the Galatians need to know , and love, in "your spirit.

    If you are soon to study Galatians then grab a copy of this book. Nov 07, Nathan Mckinney rated it it was amazing Shelves: christian , bible-study. I found this to be an awesome read. Keller is incredibly gifted at taking Scripture and going under the surface and digging deep into it and then communicating it clearly to the lay-person.

    This is a very accessible, but not easy read. I took several months to go through this book and really enjoyed the space in between readings to really work through and chew on the material. The text definitely drives the subject of this book. My biggest take-away from reading through Galations with Keller is the importance of never stopping preaching the gospel to others and to myself. The gospel is not something that we need to know once and then move beyond, but it needs to live with us and drive us every day.