Galatians 1

** The churches in Galatia were formed partly of converted Jews,

and partly of Gentile converts, as was generally the case. St.

Paul asserts his apostolic character and the doctrines he

taught, that he might confirm the Galatian churches in the faith

of Christ, especially with respect to the important point of

justification by faith alone. Thus the subject is mainly the

same as that which is discussed in the epistle to the Romans,

that is, justification by faith alone. In this epistle, however,

attention is particularly directed to the point, that men are

justified by faith without the works of the law of Moses. Of the

importance of the doctrines prominently set forth in this

epistle, Luther thus speaks: "We have to fear as the greatest

and nearest danger, lest Satan take from us this doctrine of

faith, and bring into the church again the doctrine of works and

of men's traditions. Wherefore it is very necessary that this

doctrine be kept in continual practice and public exercise, both

of reading and hearing. If this doctrine be lost, then is also

the doctrine of truth, life and salvation, lost and gone."

* The apostle Paul asserts his apostolic character against such

as lessened it. (1-5) He reproves the Galatians for revolting

from the gospel of Christ under the influence of evil teachers.

(6-9) He proves the Divine authority of his doctrine and

mission; and declares what he was before his conversion and

calling. (10-14) And how he proceeded after it. (15-24)

1-5 St. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was expressly

appointed by him, consequently by God the Father, who is one

with him in respect of his Divine nature, and who appointed

Christ as Mediator. Grace, includes God's good-will towards us,

and his good work upon us; and peace, all that inward comfort,

or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us. They come

from God the Father, as the Fountain, through Jesus Christ. But

observe, first grace, and then peace; there can be no true peace

without grace. Christ gave himself for our sins, to make

atonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to this

he freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinite

greatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appear

plainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by no

means be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He that

considers these things well, understands that sin is a thing the

most horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, and

make us afraid indeed. Especially mark well the words, "for our

sins." For here our weak nature starts back, and would first be

made worthy by her own works. It would bring him that is whole,

and not him that has need of a physician. Not only to redeem us

from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also to

recover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we are

naturally enslaved. But it is in vain for those who are not

delivered from this present evil world by the sanctification of

the Spirit, to expect that they are freed from its condemnation

by the blood of Jesus.
6-9 Those who would establish any other way to heaven than what

the gospel of Christ reveals, will find themselves wretchedly

mistaken. The apostle presses upon the Galatians a due sense of

their guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; yet he

reproves with tenderness, and represents them as drawn into it

by the arts of some that troubled them. In reproving others, we

should be faithful, and yet endeavour to restore them in the

spirit of meekness. Some would set up the works of the law in

the place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corrupted

Christianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, every

one who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospels

than that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering to

self-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, are

devices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the moral

law as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroy

true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for

justification on good works, whether real or supposed, is as

fatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for good

works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of

Christ's righteousness, and not to advance any thing which may

betray others into so dreadful a delusion.
10-14 In preaching the gospel, the apostle sought to bring

persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. But Paul would

not attempt to alter the doctrine of Christ, either to gain

their favour, or to avoid their fury. In so important a matter

we must not fear the frowns of men, nor seek their favour, by

using words of men's wisdom. Concerning the manner wherein he

received the gospel, he had it by revelation from Heaven. He was

not led to Christianity, as many are, merely by education.
15-24 St. Paul was wonderfully brought to the knowledge and

faith of Christ. All who are savingly converted, are called by

the grace of God; their conversion is wrought by his power and

grace working in them. It will but little avail us to have

Christ revealed to us, if he is not also revealed in us. He

instantly prepared to obey, without hesitating as to his worldly

interest, credit, ease, or life itself. And what matter of

thanksgiving and joy is it to the churches of Christ, when they

hear of such instances to the praise of the glory of his grace,

whether they have ever seen them or not! They glorify God for

his power and mercy in saving such persons, and for all the

service to his people and cause that is done, and may be further

expected from them.
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