This is a basic commentary on the Greek text of Galatians, written for Schools and Colleges and should be of great assistance to those learning Greek. My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this public domain work for digitisation.
Table of Contents
- The History of the Galatians and of the Province of Galatia
- The Galatians of the Epistle: Who were they?
- The Galatians of the Epistle: Who were they? (continued)
- The Time of Writing
- The danger to which the Galatians were exposed, and the manner in which St Paul met it
- The permanent value of the Epistle
- The Canonicity of the Epistle
- The Text
- A Plan of the Epistle
- Commentaries, etc.
- Chronology of part of St Paul’s life
- Note A: The term “Arabia” in the Epistle
- Note B: ii. 1–10 in relation to Ac. xv. 4–29
- Note C: Legal customs mentioned in the Epistle
- Note D: Archbishop Temple on iii. 20
- νόμος and ὁ νόμος
- πνεῡμα and τό πνεῡμα
The same methods have been adopted in the preparation of the following Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians as in that of the volume on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, viz. first, the independent use of concordance and grammar, and only afterwards the examination of commentaries and other aids.
The difficulties of the Epistle are not of the same kind as those of Colossians and Philemon. There (especially in Colossians) many strange words which in after years acquired highly technical meanings had to be considered; here rather historical circumstances and Jewish modes of thought.
The former of these unfortunately are still far from certain. Even the district intended by Galatia is doubtful, and the discussion of it is often conducted with more warmth than its importance warrants. Personally I greatly regret that I am unable to accept the very attractive theory presented with so much brilliancy of expression and originality of thought by Sir William Ramsay, viz. that the Churches of Galatia to w horn St Paul here writes are those whose origin is described at length in Acts xiii. and xiv. Its fundamental presupposition is that, as St Paul’s plan of campaign was to win the Roman Empire for Christ by seizing strategic points, he would not have visited so outlying a part as Northern Galatia. Hence if the Acts and our Epistle, backed up though they are by the consensus of Patristic evidence, appear to say that he did do so, this can be only in appearance not in fact. But I confess that the more I study the arguments adduced against the prima facie meaning of the passages in question the less they impress me, and, in particular, all attempts to date the Epistle on what may be called the Southern theory appear to me to fail. I therefore find myself reluctantly compelled to adhere to the older opinion that the Epistle was written to the Churches of North Galatia, at a date between the writing of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Romans.
Of more permanent interest is the revelation in this Epistle of St Paul’s training in Jewish modes of thought and exegesis. These indeed may be traced in every book of the N.T. (though the words and phrases due to them are often grossly misunderstood by friend and foe), but here they obtrude themselves on the most careless of readers. No one but a Jew accustomed to Rabbinic subtlety would have thought of the argument of the curse (iii. 13, 14), or of the seed (iii. 16), or even of Sarah and Hagar (iv. 21- 27). These and other examples in our Epistle of the working of Paul’s mind ought perhaps to have given more stimulus to the study of his mental equipment than has been the case.
Far more important however in our Epistle than either of these two rather academic subjects is its insistence upon the true character of the Gospel. St Paul opposed, with all the warmth of knowledge bought by experience, the supposition that Christ came only to reform Judaism, to open its door more widely to the Gentiles, or to attract them by the substitution of another Law of commands and ordinances for that to which they had been accustomed as heathen. It is the verdict of history that his efforts, though successful for the moment, have to a great extent been a failure….Pages iv-v