Commentary on Galatians (Luther Classic Commentaries)


This sort of thing makes me so impatient at times that I wish the swine who trampled precious pearls under foot were back once again under the tyranny of the Pope. You cannot wake up the people of Gomorrah with the gospel of peace. Even we creatures of the world do not perform our duties as zealously in the light of the Gospel as we did before in the darkness of ignorance, because the surer we are of the liberty purchased for us by Christ, the more we neglect the Word, prayer, well-doing, and suffering. If Satan were not continually molesting us with trials, with the persecution of our enemies, and the ingratitude of our brethren, we would become so careless and indifferent to all good works that in time we would lose our faith in Christ, resign the ministry of the Word, and look for an easier life.

Many of our ministers are beginning to do that very thing. They complain about the ministry, they maintain they cannot live on their salaries, they whimper about the miserable treatment they receive at the hand of those whom they delivered from the servitude of the law by the preaching of the Gospel. These ministers desert our poor and maligned Christ, involve themselves in the affairs of the world, seek advantages for themselves and not for Christ.

With what results they shall presently find out. Since the devil lies in ambush for those in particular who hate the world, and seeks to deprive us of our liberty of the spirit or to brutalize it into the liberty of the flesh, we plead with our brethren after the manner of Paul, that they may never use this liberty of the spirit purchased for us by Christ as an excuse for carnal living, or as Peter expresses it, I Peter 2: In order that Christians may not abuse their liberty the Apostle encumbers them with the rule of mutual love that they should serve each other in love.

Let everybody perform the duties of his station and vocation diligently and help his neighbor to the limit of his capacity. Christians are glad to hear and obey this teaching of love. When others hear about this Christian liberty of ours they at once infer, "If I am free, I may do what I like. If salvation is not a matter of doing why should we do anything for the poor? We want them to know, however, that if they use their lives and possessions after their own pleasure, if they do not help the poor, if they cheat their fellow-men in business and snatch and scrape by hook and by crook everything they can lay their hands on, we want to tell them that they are not free, no matter how much they think they are, but they are the dirty slaves of the devil, and are seven times worse than they ever were as the slaves of the Pope.

As for us, we are obliged to preach the Gospel which offers to all men liberty from the Law, sin, death, and God's wrath. We have no right to conceal or revoke this liberty proclaimed by the Gospel. And so we cannot do anything with the swine who dive headlong into the filth of licentiousness. We do what we can, we diligently admonish them to love and to help their fellow-men.

If our admonitions bear no fruit, we leave them to God, who will in His own good time take care of these disrespecters of His goodness. In the meanwhile we comfort ourselves with the thought that our labors are not lost upon the true believers. They appreciate this spiritual liberty and stand ready to serve others in love and, though their number is small, the satisfaction they give us far outweighs the discouragement which we receive at the hands of the large number of those who misuse this liberty.

Paul cannot possibly be misunderstood for he says: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. It is customary with Paul to lay the doctrinal foundation first and then to build on it the gold, silver, and gems of good deeds.

Now there is no other foundation than Jesus Christ. Upon this foundation the Apostle erects the structure of good works which he defines in this one sentence: In adding such precepts of love the Apostle embarrasses the false apostles very much, as if he were saying to the Galatians: Now I will also teach you what truly good works are. I am doing this in order that you may understand that the silly ceremonies of which the false apostles make so much are far inferior to the works of Christian love.

Their foundation vitiated, they can only build wood, hay, and stubble. Oddly enough, the false apostles who were such earnest champions of good works never required the work of charity, such as Christian love and the practical charity of a helpful tongue, hand, and heart. Their only requirement was that circumcision, days, months, years, and times should be observed.

They could not think of any other good works. The Apostle exhorts all Christians to practice good works after they have embraced the pure doctrine of faith, because even though they have been justified they still have the old flesh to refrain them from doing good. Therefore it becomes necessary that sincere preachers cultivate the doctrine of good works as diligently as the doctrine of faith, for Satan is a deadly enemy of both.

Nevertheless faith must come first because without faith it is impossible to know what a God-pleasing deed is. Let nobody think that he knows all about this commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. None of us heed, or urge, or practice this commandment properly.

Though the conscience hurts when we fail to fulfill this commandment in every respect we are not overwhelmed by our failure to bear our neighbor sincere and brotherly love. The words, "for all the law is fulfilled in one word," entail a criticism of the Galatians. To skip the least requirement of their order would be a crime of the first magnitude.

At the same time they blithely ignored the duties of charity and hated each other to death. That is no sin, they think. The Old Testament is replete with examples that indicate how much God prizes charity. When David and his companions had no food with which to still their hunger they ate the showbread which lay-people were forbidden to eat. Christ's disciples broke the Sabbath law when they plucked the ears of corn. Christ himself broke the Sabbath as the Jews claimed by healing the sick on the Sabbath. These incidents indicate that love ought to be given consideration above all laws and ceremonies.

For all the Law is fulfilled in one word. We can imagine the Apostle saying to the Galatians: Leave off this foolishness and listen to me. The whole Law is comprehended in this one sentence, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The one thing He requires of you is that you believe in Christ whom He hath sent. If in addition to faith, which comes first as the most acceptable service unto God, you want to add laws, then you want to know that all laws are comprehended in this short commandment, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Paul knows how to explain the law of God. He condenses all the laws of Moses into one brief sentence. Reason takes offense at the brevity with which Paul treats the Law. Therefore reason looks down upon the doctrine of faith and its truly good works. To serve one another in love, i.

The fact is, they are such excellent works that the world cannot possibly estimate them at their true value. It is tersely spoken: You cannot find a better or nearer example than your own. If you want to know how you ought to love your neighbor, ask yourself how much you love yourself. If you were to get into trouble or danger, you would be glad to have the love and help of all men. You do not need any book of instructions to teach you how to love your neighbor. All you have to do is to look into your own heart, and it will tell you how you ought to love your neighbor as yourself.

My neighbor is every person, especially those who need my help, as Christ explained in the tenth chapter of Luke. Even if a person has done me some wrong, or has hurt me in any way, he is still a human being with flesh and blood. As long as a person remains a human being, so long is he to be an object of our love. Paul therefore urges his Galatians and, incidentally, all believers to serve each other in love. If you are so anxious to do good works, I will tell you in one word how you can fulfill all laws. The world is full of people who need your help.

But if ye bite and devour one another take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. When faith in Christ is overthrown peace and unity come to an end in the church. Diverse opinions and dissensions about doctrine and life spring up, and one member bites and devours the other, i. To this the Scriptures and the experience of all times bear witness. The many sects at present have come into being because one sect condemns the other.

When the unity of the spirit has been lost there can be no agreement in doctrine or life. New errors must appear without measure and without end. For the avoidance of discord Paul lays down the principle: No person is to vaunt himself above others or find fault with the efforts of others while lauding his own. Let everybody serve in love. It is not an easy matter to teach faith without works, and still to require works. Unless the ministers of Christ are wise in handling the mysteries of God and rightly divide the word, faith and good works may easily be confused.

Both the doctrine of faith and the doctrine of good works must be diligently taught, and yet in such a way that both the doctrines stay within their God-given sphere. If we only teach words, as our opponents do, we shall lose the faith. If we only teach faith people will come to think that good works are superfluous. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Because I exhort you to mutual love you are not to think that I have gone back on my teaching of justification by faith alone. I am still of the same opinion. To remove every possibility for misunderstanding I have added this explanatory note: With this verse Paul explains how he wants this sentence to be understood: By love serve one another.

When I bid you to love one another, this is what I mean and require, 'Walk in the Spirit. Nevertheless, you should endeavor to walk in the spirit, i. It is quite apparent that Paul had not forgotten the doctrine of justification, for in bidding the Galatians to walk in the Spirit he at the same time denies that good works can justify. All I mean to say is that you should take the Spirit for your guide and resist the flesh.

That is the most you shall ever be able to do. Obey the Spirit and fight against the flesh. And ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The lust of the flesh is not altogether extinct in us. It rises up again and again and wrestles with the Spirit. No flesh, not even that of the true believer, is so completely under the influence of the Spirit that it will not bite or devour, or at least neglect, the commandment of love.

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And now I am cleansing it with the books that my soul craves. More in Crossway Classic Commentaries Series. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. Gwynne provides the Greek text, the English translation, and then notes and explanation. Welch — was a British theologian who embraced dispensationalism, writing numerous books and other materials on the subject. You are reminding me of God's fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Unable to prevail by force, he engages wicked and ungodly teachers who at first make common cause with us, then claim that they are particularly called to teach the hidden mysteries of the Scriptures to superimpose upon the first principles of Christian doctrine that we teach.

At the slightest provocation it flares up, demands to be revenged, and hates a neighbor like an enemy, or at least does not love him as much as he ought to be loved. Therefore the Apostle establishes this rule of love for the believers. Serve one another in love. Bear the infirmities of your brother. Without such bearing and forbearing, giving and forgiving, there can be no unity because to give and to take offense are unavoidably human.

Whenever you are angry with your brother for any cause, repress your violent emotions through the Spirit. Bear with his weakness and love him. He does not cease to be your neighbor or brother because he offended you. On the contrary, he now more than ever before requires your loving attention. The scholastics take the lust of the flesh to mean carnal lust.

True, believers too are tempted with carnal lust. Even the married are not immune to carnal lusts. Men set little value upon that which they have and covet what they have not, as the poet says:. I do not deny that the lust of the flesh includes carnal lust. But it takes in more. It takes in all the corrupt desires with which the believers are more or less infected, as pride, hatred, covetousness, impatience. Later on Paul enumerates among the works of the flesh even idolatry and heresy. The apostle's meaning is clear. But you do not do it. In fact you cannot do it, because of your flesh.

Hence we cannot be justified by deeds of love. Do not for a moment think that I am reversing myself on my stand concerning faith. Faith and hope must continue. By faith we are justified, by hope we endure to the end. In addition we serve each other in love because true faith is not idle. Our love, however, is faulty. In bidding you to walk in the Spirit I indicate to you that our love is not sufficient to justify us. Neither do I demand that you should get rid of the flesh, but that you should control and subdue it.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. When Paul declares that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," he means to say that we are not to think, speak or do the things to which the flesh incites us.

The thing for you to do is to resist the flesh by the Spirit. But if you abandon the leadership of the Spirit for that of the flesh, you are going to fulfill the lust of the flesh and die in your sins. And these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. These two leaders, the flesh and the Spirit, are bitter opponents.

Of this opposition the Apostle writes in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans: O wretched man that I am! The scholastics are at a loss to understand this confession of Paul and feel obliged to save his honor. That the chosen vessel of Christ should have had the law of sin in his members seems to them incredible and absurd.

They circumvent the plain-spoken statement of the Apostle by saying that he was speaking for the wicked. But the wicked never complain of inner conflicts, or of the captivity of sin. Sin has its unrestricted way with them. This is Paul's very own complaint and the identical complaint of all believers. Paul never denied that he felt the lust of the flesh. It is likely that at times he felt even the stirrings of carnal lust, but there is no doubt that he quickly suppressed them.

And if at any time he felt angry or impatient, he resisted these feelings by the Spirit. We are not going to stand by idly and see such a comforting statement as this explained away.

Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther - Human voice reading (The whole book)

The scholastics, monks, and others of their ilk fought only against carnal lust and were proud of a victory which they never obtained. In the meanwhile they harbored within their breasts pride, hatred, disdain, self-trust, contempt of the Word of God, disloyalty, blasphemy, and other lusts of the flesh. Against these sins they never fought because they never took them for sins. Christ alone can supply us with perfect righteousness. Therefore we must always believe and always hope in Christ.

Do not despair if you feel the flesh battling against the Spirit or if you cannot make it behave. For you to follow the guidance of the Spirit in all things without interference on the part of the flesh is impossible. You are doing all you can if you resist the flesh and do not fulfill its demands. When I was a monk I thought I was lost forever whenever I felt an evil emotion, carnal lust, wrath, hatred, or envy. I tried to quiet my conscience in many ways, but it did not work, because lust would always come back and give me no rest. Your joining this holy order has been in vain, and all your good works are good for nothing.

I would have said to myself: Despair not, but resist the flesh. I remember how Doctor Staupitz used to say to me: From now on I am not going to make any more vows. Experience has taught me that I cannot keep them. Unless God is merciful to me for Christ's sake and grants unto me a blessed departure, I shall not be able to stand before Him. No true believer trusts in his own righteousness, but says with David, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

No man is to despair of salvation just because he is aware of the lust of the flesh. Let him be aware of it so long as he does not yield to it. The passion of lust, wrath, and other vices may shake him, but they are not to get him down. Sin may assail him, but he is not to welcome it. Yes, the better Christian a man is, the more he will experience the heat of the conflict. This explains the many expressions of regret in the Psalms and in the entire Bible. Everybody is to determine his peculiar weakness and guard against it. Watch and wrestle in spirit against your weakness.

Even if you cannot completely overcome it, at least you ought to fight against it. According to this description a saint is not one who is made of wood and never feels any lusts or desires of the flesh. A true saint confesses his righteousness and prays that his sins may be forgiven. The whole Church prays for the forgiveness of sins and confesses that it believes in the forgiveness of sins.

If our antagonists would read the Scriptures they would soon discover that they cannot judge rightly of anything, either of sin or of holiness. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Here someone may object: You yourself say, Paul, that we have the flesh which wars against the Spirit, and brings us into subjection.

But Paul says not to let it trouble us. As long as we are led by the Spirit, and are willing to obey the Spirit who resists the flesh, we are not under the Law. True believers are not under the Law. The Law cannot condemn them although they feel sin and confess it. Great then is the power of the Spirit. Led by the Spirit, the Law cannot condemn the believer though he commits real sin. For Christ in whom we believe is our righteousness. He is without sin, and the Law cannot accuse Him.

As long as we cling to Him we are led by the Spirit and are free from the Law. Even as he teaches good works, the Apostle does not lose sight of the doctrine of justification, but shows at every turn that it is impossible for us to be justified by works. The words, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law," are replete with comfort. It happens at times that anger, hatred, impatience, carnal desire, fear, sorrow, or some other lust of the flesh so overwhelms a man that he cannot shake them off, though he try ever so hard.

What should he do? Let him say to himself: Go to it, flesh, and rage all you want to. But you are not going to have your way. I follow the leading of the Spirit. When the flesh begins to cut up the only remedy is to take the sword of the Spirit, the word of salvation, and fight against the flesh. If you set the Word out of sight, you are helpless against the flesh. I know this to be a fact. I have been assailed by many violent passions, but as soon as I took hold of some Scripture passage, my temptations left me.

Without the Word I could not have helped myself against the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Paul does not enumerate all the works of the flesh, but only certain ones. First, he mentions various kinds of carnal lusts, as adultery, fornication, wantonness, etc. But carnal lust is not the only work of the flesh, and so he counts among the works of the flesh also idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, and the like. These terms are so familiar that they do not require lengthy explanations.

The best religion, the most fervent devotion without Christ is plain idolatry. It has been considered a holy act when the monks in their cells meditate upon God and His works, and in a religious frenzy kneel down to pray and to weep for joy. Yet Paul calls it simply idolatry. Every religion which worships God in ignorance or neglect of His Word and will is idolatry.

They may think about God, Christ, and heavenly things, but they do it after their own fashion and not after the Word of God. They have an idea that their clothing, their mode of living, and their conduct are holy and pleasing to Christ. They not only expect to pacify Christ by the strictness of their life, but also expect to be rewarded by Him for their good deeds.

Hence their best "spiritual" thoughts are wicked thoughts. Any worship of God, any religion without Christ is idolatry. In Christ alone is God well pleased. I have said before that the works of the flesh are manifest. But idolatry puts on such a good front and acts so spiritual that the sham of it is recognized only by true believers. This sin was very common before the light of the Gospel appeared.

When I was a child there were many witches and sorcerers around who "bewitched" cattle, and people, particularly children, and did much harm. But now that the Gospel is here you do not hear so much about it because the Gospel drives the devil away. Now he bewitches people in a worse way with spiritual sorcery. Witchcraft is a brand of idolatry.

As witches used to bewitch cattle and men, so idolaters, i. They bewitch and deceive themselves. If they continue in their wicked thoughts of God they will die in their idolatry. Under sects Paul here understands heresies. Heresies have always been found in the church.

What unity of faith can exist among all the different monks and the different orders? There is no unity of spirit, no agreement of minds, but great dissension in the papacy.

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There is no conformity in doctrine, faith, and life. On the other hand, among evangelical Christians the Word, faith, religion, sacraments, service, Christ, God, heart, and mind are common to all. This unity is not disturbed by outward differences of station or of occupation. Paul does not say that eating and drinking are works of the flesh, but intemperance in eating and drinking, which is a common vice nowadays, is a work of the flesh.

Those who are given to excess are to know that they are not spiritual but carnal. Sentence is pronounced upon them that they shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Paul desires that Christians avoid drunkenness and gluttony, that they live temperate and sober lives, in order that the body may not grow soft and sensual. Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in the past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is a hard saying, but very necessary for those false Christians and hypocrites who speak much about the Gospel, about faith, and the Spirit, yet live after the flesh.

Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther

But this hard sentence is directed chiefly at the heretics who are large with their own self-importance, that they may be frightened into taking up the fight of the Spirit against the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. The Apostle does not speak of the works of the Spirit as he spoke of the works of the flesh, but he attaches to these Christian virtues a better name. He calls them the fruits of the Spirit. It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit.

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In I Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to love all the fruits of the Spirit: Here he lets love stand by itself among other fruits of the Spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, "in honor preferring one another," to esteem others more than themselves because they have Christ and the Holy Ghost within them. Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves.

God does not like doubt and dejection. He hates dreary doctrine, gloomy and melancholy thought. God likes cheerful hearts. He did not send His Son to fill us with sadness, but to gladden our hearts. For this reason the prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself urge, yes, command us to rejoice and be glad. In the Psalms we are repeatedly told to be "joyful in the Lord. Peace towards God and men. Christians are to be peaceful and quiet. Not argumentative, not hateful, but thoughtful and patient.

There can be no peace without longsuffering, and therefore Paul lists this virtue next. Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run. He knows that we are weak and cannot stand anything long.

Therefore he repeats his temptation time and again until he succeeds. To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game. Gentleness in conduct and life. These are different approaches to theology but in my experience they also shape the kind of worship and spiritual life one encounters within Protestant circles. For all that Reformed theology is based, as Abraham Kuyper argued, on the direct relationship of God with each individual, Reformed thought and practice tends much more toward a cerebral enunciation and affirmation of pure doctrine rather than deep spiritual wrestling and personal relationship with the living God.

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  • Classic Commentaries and Studies on Galatians (43 vols.) - Logos Bible Software.

For this reason alone Luther is valuable. One does not read Luther's commentary so much for the sake of acquiring expert knowledge about the book, as for the sake of reading Galatians with a partner, with another man with whom one might wrestle with God and with the text. I would recommend that any Protestant read Luther's commentary; it is simply essential for understanding what the Reformation was about.

But I also recommend it for non-Protestants, not only to understand the driving force of the Reformation, but for the sake of reading Galatians alongside in the late Richard John Neuhaus's words "the possessed prophet of the utter gratuity of grace. I got this book for free from Gutenberg, and I was excited to read Luther. However, this translation by Graebner makes Luther sound like an old-time Baptist preacher. The depth of Luther's convictions on grace, as well as his hatred of the Catholic church, are still apparent, but, in my opinion, if you are going to take the time to read Luther, you should find a better translation.

Here is an example: He is a true theologia I got this book for free from Gutenberg, and I was excited to read Luther. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night.

If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law.

Classic Commentaries and Studies on Galatians (43 vols.)

If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don't you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you! But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain. In civil life obedience to the law is severely required. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. If we bear in mind this distinction, neither Gospel nor Law shall trespass upon each other.

The moment Law and sin cross into heaven, i. On the other hand, when grace wanders unto the earth, i. You belong in heaven. Paul had to do something about it. He reproved Peter, not to embarrass him, but to conserve the difference between the Gospel which justifies in heaven, and the Law which justifies on earth. The right separation between Law and Gospel is very important to know. Christian doctrine is impossible without it.

Let all who love and fear God, diligently learn the difference, not only in theory but also in practice. When your conscience gets into trouble, say to yourself: Let the Law now depart, and let the Gospel enter, for now is the right time to hear the Gospel, and not the Law. Dec 29, Brian Cuaron added it. Therefore, whatever the Bible says is true since God cannot lie. The Bible is made up of 66 books written by various authors over hundreds of years. Christians believe that God inspired those human authors to write what they what wrote, making it the word of God.

Basically, the Bible is God's only written message to mankind. Throughout their history, Christians have taken the Bible to be God's final authority on what is true and what is false. One of the books is Galatians. In this book, the Apostle Paul is writing to a group of churches he founded in the region of Galatia, located in present-day Turkey.

The Apostle Paul founded the churches in Galatia in one of his missionary journeys. During those journeys, Paul taught that men, women and children are all condemned to an eternal hell because humanity's first man Adam sinned in the garden of Eden. Since Adam was God's ordained representative for all of humanity, all of humanity was condemned to hell because of Adam's sin. Paul goes into detail about this in Romans 5. However, Paul preached the forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus Christ: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

You see, there were many Jews that became Christians after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of these Jews didn't want to give up their "law of Moses," which God had given Moses hundreds of years before. As a result, these Jews told others that not only must a person believe to receive the forgiveness of sins, but that they must also follow the law. Evidently, these Jews or Judiazers as they were called had preached their false gospel to the churches of Galatia. The book of Galatians is Paul's rebuke against the Judiazers and a defense of the doctrine or teaching that humans get the forgiveness of sins by faith alone in Christ alone.

In his commentary, Martin Luther does a good job of showing the voice of Paul: Luther also helps us to understand Paul's reasonings about the doctrine of justification being declared righteous by God by faith reliance. Feb 02, David Eagen rated it really liked it Shelves: A classic well worth reading. Much of the deep divisions between Luther and the Roman Catholic church can be seen in Luther's exposition of Galatians. I learned much from this commentary and only disagree with Luther on a few points.

One of the things that stood out to me was Luther's rejection of the idea that only the ceremonial law has passed away and that the moral law as given by God to Moses still stands. Luther points out that the christian is freed from the Law with no exceptions. He doe A classic well worth reading. He does this in the context of refuting the idea that by doing good works you can merit salvation.

Paul is clear that we are freed from even the moral law. After all, the only the law can do is make us aware of sin. Instead of rule following, our salvation depends on Christ who fulfilled the Law perfectly. This of course does not mean that a true christian will live in conflict with the law. A christian will still do the things the Law commands and more than that too but not out of an obligation to follow rules in an attempt to be "good enough" for God.

Instead, a christian lives in harmony with the Law and with the even more demanding commands given by Jesus because he is a new creation living in the power of God through the Holy Spirit. So while the same things may be done the reasons for doing them are vastly different. Dec 08, Philip Meinel rated it liked it Shelves: But when confronted at base of Mount Siani, they My notes: But when confronted at base of Mount Siani, they want to hide from great terror of God and of His law.

This is the purpose of the law, to condemn, not to save. Law is the prison, grace is the key that frees. Talk to your conscience self-talk. The law put Jesus to death. In the court of God, the law is found guilty of putting innocent Jesus to death and is therefore overruled and placed under Jesus Christ.

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Commentary on Galatians (Luther Classic Commentaries) [Martin Luther] on domaine-solitude.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A classic commentary by one of. Editorial Reviews. Review. A most penetrating analysis and clear statement of doctrine in a way .. Commentary on Galatians (Luther Classic Commentaries).

Jesus now holds power over the law and death. Reverting back to the belief that a man can save himself through obedience to the law is the same as idolatry. Jun 07, Lori Galaske added it Shelves: Having grown up Catholic, I vividly remember the first time, as an adult, I heard someone say Martin Luther's name in a positive context.

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So when I saw this commentary as a Kindle freebie, I thought I'd read it to learn more about the man I'd grown up believing was a heretic and the instigator of rebellion against the church. While I fully believe in the salvation by grace that was the crux of Luther's teachings, I'm afraid I can't read about it from Luther himself.

I understand that his experie Having grown up Catholic, I vividly remember the first time, as an adult, I heard someone say Martin Luther's name in a positive context. I understand that his experience with the Catholic church is VASTLY different than mine and that he was trying to turn a very large ship with his "new" teaching and thus had to expose the non-Biblical teachings of his day, but his words sound so angry and bitter that I find them difficult to read. My point in reading this was to hear what Luther himself says about grace and to learn about the man through his words which I suppose I have , but I'm afraid his comments against Catholicism are so vehement and so constant that I find them too distracting to be able to finish the book.

View all 9 comments. Mar 24, Shawn Willson rated it it was amazing. This is surely the most important commentary in church history. Luther altered the course of history with his expositions from the Epistle to the Galatians. After finishing my one year trek on Galatians as I have preached through this Epistle in my own church, I am not sure how someone could preach through Galatians and not devour Luther's Commentary.

Luther gives wonderful insight and additional passion to Paul's letter. His application at times is as relevant today as when Luther was battling This is surely the most important commentary in church history. His application at times is as relevant today as when Luther was battling against Rome. His exposition wasn't always the most helpful due to his struggles with Rome, but it was the most colorful and at times the most insightful.

Here is my ranking of the most helpful and instructive commentaries that I read as I preached through Galatians. It is possible for us to be in error--we who have received the Holy Ghost? He has not seen Christ, nor has he had much contact with the other apostles. Indeed, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long time.

When men claiming such credentials come along, they deceive not only the naive, but also those who seemingly are well-established in the faith. This same argument is used by the papacy. Or do you suppose that God would have left His Church floundering in error all these centuries? Against these boasting, false apostles, Paul boldly defends his apostolic authority and ministry.

Humble man that he was, he will not now take a back seat. He reminds them of the time when he opposed Peter to his face and reproved the chief of the apostles. Paul devotes the first two chapters to a defense of his office and his Gospel, affirming that he received it, not from men, but from the Lord Jesus Christ by special revelation, and that if he or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than the one he had preached, he shall be accursed.

Every minister should make much of his calling and impress upon others the fact that he has been delegated by God to preach the Gospel. As the ambassador of a government is honored for his office and not for his private person, so the minister of Christ should exalt his office in order to gain authority among men.

This is not vain glory, but needful glorying. Paul takes pride in his ministry, not to his own praise but to the praise of God. Writing to the Romans, he declares, "Inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office," i. Paul exalts his ministry out of the desire to make known the name, the grace, and the mercy of God. Paul, an apostle, not of men, etc. Paul loses no time in defending himself against the charge that he had thrust himself into the ministry. He says to the Galatians: But those who have come to you are either called of men or by man.

My call is the highest possible, for it is by Jesus Christ, and God the Father. When Paul speaks of those called "by men," I take it he means those whom neither God nor man sent, but who go wherever they like and speak for themselves. When Paul speaks of those called "by man" I take it he means those who have a divine call extended to them through other persons. God calls in two ways. Either He calls ministers through the agency of men, or He calls them directly as He called the prophets and apostles. Paul declares that the false apostles were called or sent neither by men, nor by man.

The most they could claim is that they were sent by others. My call is in every respect like the call of the apostles. In fact I am an apostle. Elsewhere Paul draws a sharp distinction between an apostleship and lesser functions, as in 1 Corinthians Matthias was called in this manner. The apostles chose two candidates and then cast lots, praying that God would indicate which one He would have. To be an apostle he had to have his appointment from God. In the same manner Paul was called as the apostle of the Gentiles.

The call is not to be taken lightly. For a person to possess knowledge is not enough. He must be sure that he is properly called. Those who operate without a proper call seek no good purpose. God does not bless their labors. They may be good preachers, but they do no edify. Many of the fanatics of our day pronounce words of faith, but they bear no good fruit, because their purpose is to turn men to their perverse opinions. On the other hand, those who have a divine call must suffer a good deal of opposition in order that they may become fortified against the running attacks of the devil and the world.

This is our comfort in the ministry, that ours is a divine office to which we have been divinely called. Reversely, what an awful thing it must be for the conscience if one is not properly called. It spoils one's best work. When I was a young man I thought Paul was making too much of his call. I did not understand his purpose. I did not then realize the importance of the ministry. I knew nothing of the doctrine of faith because we were taught sophistry instead of certainty, and nobody understood spiritual boasting.

We exalt our calling, not to gain glory among men, or money, or satisfaction, or favor, but because people need to be assured that the words we speak are the words of God. This is no sinful pride. It is holy pride. And God the Father, who raised him from the dead. Paul is so eager to come to the subject matter of his epistle, the righteousness of faith in opposition to the righteousness of works, that already in the title he must speak his mind. He did not think it quite enough to say that he was an apostle "by Jesus Christ"; he adds, "and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

The clause seems superfluous on first sight. Yet Paul had a good reason for adding it. He had to deal with Satan and his agents who endeavored to deprive him of the righteousness of Christ, who was raised by God the Father from the dead. These perverters of the righteousness of Christ resist the Father and the Son, and the works of them both. In this whole epistle Paul treats of the resurrection of Christ. By His resurrection Christ won the victory over law, sin, flesh, world, devil, death, hell, and every evil. And this His victory He donated unto us.

These many tyrants and enemies of ours may accuse and frighten us, but they dare not condemn us, for Christ, whom God the Father has raised from the dead is our righteousness and our victory. Do you notice how well suited to his purpose Paul writes? He does not say, "By God who made heaven and earth, who is Lord of the angels," but Paul has in mind the righteousness of Christ, and speaks to the point, saying, "I am an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. And all the brethren which are with me.

This should go far in shutting the mouths of the false apostles. Paul's intention is to exalt his own ministry while discrediting theirs. He adds for good measure the argument that he does not stand alone, but that all the brethren with him attest to the fact that his doctrine is divinely true. Unto the churches of Galatia. Paul had preached the Gospel throughout Galatia, founding many churches which after his departure were invaded by the false apostles.

The Anabaptists in our time imitate the false apostles. They do not go where the enemies of the Gospel predominate. They go where the Christians are. Why do they not invade the Catholic provinces and preach their doctrine to godless princes, bishops, and doctors, as we have done by the help of God? These soft martyrs take no chances. They go where the Gospel has a hold, so that they may not endanger their lives.

The false apostles would not go to Jerusalem of Caiaphas, or to the Rome of the Emperor, or to any other place where no man had preached before as Paul and the other apostles did. But they came to the churches of Galatia, knowing that where men profess the name of Christ they may feel secure. It is the lot of God's ministers not only to suffer opposition at the hand of a wicked world, but also to see the patient indoctrination of many years quickly undone by such religious fanatics.

This hurts more than the persecution of tyrants. We are treated shabbily on the outside by tyrants, on the inside by those whom we have restored to the liberty of the Gospel, and also by false brethren. But this is our comfort and our glory, that being called of God we have the promise of everlasting life. We look for that reward which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man.

Jerome raises the question why Paul called them churches that were no churches, inasmuch as the Galatians had forsaken the grace of Christ for the law of Moses. The proper answer is: Although the Galatians had fallen away from the doctrine of Paul, baptism, the Gospel, and the name of Christ continued among them. Not all the Galatians had become perverted. There were some who clung to the right view of the Word and the Sacraments. These means cannot be contaminated.

They remain divine regardless of men's opinion. Wherever the means of grace are found, there is the Holy Church, even though Antichrist reigns there. So much for the title of the epistle. Now follows the greeting of the apostle. The terms of grace and peace are common terms with Paul and are now pretty well understood. But since we are explaining this epistle, you will not mind if we repeat what we have so often explained elsewhere. The article of justification must be sounded in our ears incessantly because the frailty of our flesh will not permit us to take hold of it perfectly and to believe it with all our heart.

The greeting of the Apostle is refreshing. Grace remits sin, and peace quiets the conscience. Sin and conscience torment us, but Christ has overcome these fiends now and forever. Only Christians possess this victorious knowledge given from above. These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.

Commentary on Galatians

Grace involves the remission of sins, peace, and a happy conscience. Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors.

The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God. In actual living, however, it is not so easy to persuade oneself that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God. The world brands this a pernicious doctrine. The world advances free will, the rational and natural approach of good works, as the means of obtaining the forgiveness of sin. But it is impossible to gain peace of conscience by the methods and means of the world.

Various holy orders have been launched for the purpose of securing peace of conscience through religious exercises, but they proved failures because such devices only increase doubt and despair. We find no rest for our weary bones unless we cling to the word of grace.

The Apostle does not wish the Galatians grace and peace from the emperor, or from kings, or from governors, but from God the Father. He wishes them heavenly peace, the kind of which Jesus spoke when He said, "Peace I leave unto you: But in affliction, particularly in the hour of death, the grace and peace of the world will not deliver us. However, the grace and peace of God will. They make a person strong and courageous to bear and to overcome all difficulties, even death itself, because we have the victory of Christ's death and the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins.

The Apostle adds to the salutation the words, "and from our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a principle of the Bible that we are not to inquire curiously into the nature of God. All who trust in their own merits to save them disregard this principle and lose sight of the Mediator, Jesus Christ. True Christian theology does not inquire into the nature of God, but into God's purpose and will in Christ, whom God incorporated in our flesh to live and to die for our sins.

There is nothing more dangerous than to speculate about the incomprehensible power, wisdom, and majesty of God when the conscience is in turmoil over sin. To do so is to lose God altogether because God becomes intolerable when we seek to measure and to comprehend His infinite majesty. We are to seek God as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 1: We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

He came down to earth, lived among men, suffered, was crucified, and then He died, standing clearly before us, so that our hearts and eyes may fasten upon Him. Thus we shall be kept from climbing into heaven in a curious and futile search after the nature of God. If you ask how God may be found, who justifies sinners, know that there is no other God besides this man Christ Jesus. Embrace Him, and forget about the nature of God. But these fanatics who exclude our Mediator in their dealings with God, do not believe me.

Did not Christ Himself say: Without Christ there is no access to the Father, but futile rambling; no truth, but hypocrisy; no life, but eternal death. When you argue about the nature of God apart from the question of justification, you may be as profound as you like. But when you deal with conscience and with righteousness over against the law, sin, death, and the devil, you must close your mind to all inquiries into the nature of God, and concentrate upon Jesus Christ, who says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

We are to hear Christ, who has been appointed by the Father as our divine Teacher. At the same time, Paul confirms our creed, "that Christ is very God. He hates our faith. He knows that it is the victory which overcometh him and the world.

  • Bible Commentaries.
  • US Army, Technical Manual, TM 55-1730-201-12, MAINTENANCE PLATFORM, TYPE B-, (NSN 1730-390-5618), 1969.
  • Galatians, The Crossway Classic Commentaries?
  • The Spaniards Defiant Virgin (Mills & Boon Modern).
  • University of Hartford 2012.
  • Through the Eyes of the Promise: a short book on reading the Old and New Testaments as one Story!
  • Just Cross References.

That Christ is very God is apparent in that Paul ascribes to Him divine powers equally with the Father, as for instance, the power to dispense grace and peace. This Jesus could not do unless He were God. To bestow peace and grace lies in the province of God, who alone can create these blessings. The apostles could only distribute these blessings by the preaching of the Gospel. In attributing to Christ the divine power of creating and giving grace, peace, everlasting life, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins, the conclusion is inevitable that Christ is truly God.

John concludes from the works attributed to the Father and the Son that they are divinely One. Hence, the gifts which we receive from the Father and from the Son are one and the same. Otherwise Paul should have written: I stress this on account of the many errors emanating from the sects.

The Arians were sharp fellows. Admitting that Christ had two natures, and that He is called "very God of very God," they were yet able to deny His divinity. The Arians took Christ for a noble and perfect creature, superior even to the angels, because by Him God created heaven and earth. Mohammed also speaks highly of Christ. But all their praise is mere palaver to deceive men. Paul's language is different. Who gave himself for our sins. Paul sticks to his theme.

He never loses sight of the purpose of his epistle. He does not say, "Who received our works," but "who gave. Not gold, or silver, or paschal lambs, or an angel, but Himself. Not for a crown, or a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins. These words are like so many thunderclaps of protest from heaven against every kind and type of self-merit. Underscore these words, for they are full of comfort for sore consciences. How may we obtain remission of our sins? For if our sins could be removed by our own efforts, what need was there for the Son of God to be given for them?

Since Christ was given for our sins it stands to reason that they cannot be put away by our own efforts. This sentence also defines our sins as great, so great, in fact, that the whole world could not make amends for a single sin. The greatness of the ransom, Christ, the Son of God, indicates this. The vicious character of sin is brought out by the words "who gave himself for our sins.

When we reflect that the one little word "sin" embraces the whole kingdom of Satan, and that it includes everything that is horrible, we have reason to tremble. But we are careless. We make light of sin. We think that by some little work or merit we can dismiss sin. This passage, then, bears out the fact that all men are sold under sin.

Sin is an exacting despot who can be vanquished by no created power, but by the sovereign power of Jesus Christ alone. All this is of wonderful comfort to a conscience troubled by the enormity of sin. Sin cannot harm those who believe in Christ, because He has overcome sin by His death. Armed with this conviction, we are enlightened and may pass judgment upon the papists, monks, nuns, priests, Mohammedans, Anabaptists, and all who trust in their own merits, as wicked and destructive sects that rob God and Christ of the honor that belongs to them alone.

Note especially the pronoun "our" and its significance. You will readily grant that Christ gave Himself for the sins of Peter, Paul, and others who were worthy of such grace. But feeling low, you find it hard to believe that Christ gave Himself for your sins. Our feelings shy at a personal application of the pronoun "our," and we refuse to have anything to do with God until we have made ourselves worthy by good deeds.

This attitude springs from a false conception of sin, the conception that sin is a small matter, easily taken care of by good works; that we must present ourselves unto God with a good conscience; that we must feel no sin before we may feel that Christ was given for our sins. This attitude is universal and particularly developed in those who consider themselves better than others. Such readily confess that they are frequent sinners, but they regard their sins as of no such importance that they cannot easily be dissolved by some good action, or that they may not appear before the tribunal of Christ and demand the reward of eternal life for their righteousness.

Meantime they pretend great humility and acknowledge a certain degree of sinfulness for which they soulfully join in the publican's prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner. The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul "who gave himself for our sins" as true and efficacious. We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained.

Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair, particularly in the last hour, when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. If I had no sin I should not need Christ. No, Satan, you cannot delude me into thinking I am holy. The truth is, I am all sin.

My sins are not imaginary transgressions, but sins against the first table, unbelief, doubt, despair, contempt, hatred, ignorance of God, ingratitude towards Him, misuse of His name, neglect of His Word, etc. Granted that I have not committed murder, adultery, theft, and similar sins in deed, nevertheless I have committed them in the heart, and therefore I am a transgressor of all the commandments of God. Let us equip ourselves against the accusations of Satan with this and similar passages of Holy Scripture. If he says, "Thou shalt be damned," you tell him: In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan.

You are reminding me of God's fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure. Paul also presents a true picture of Christ as the virgin-born Son of God, delivered into death for our sins. To entertain a true conception of Christ is important, for the devil describes Christ as an exacting and cruel judge who condemns and punishes men.

Tell him that his definition of Christ is wrong, that Christ has given Himself for our sins, that by His sacrifice He has taken away the sins of the whole world. Make ample use of this pronoun "our. Do not permit yourself to be robbed of this lovely conception of Christ. Christ is no Moses, no law-giver, no tyrant, but the Mediator for sins, the Giver of grace and life. Yet in the actual conflict with the devil, when he scares us with the Law, when he frightens us with the very person of the Mediator, when he misquotes the words of Christ, and distorts for us our Savior, we so easily lose sight of our sweet High-Priest.

For this reason I am so anxious for you to gain a true picture of Christ out of the words of Paul "who gave himself for our sins. He does not trample the fallen but raises them. He comforts the broken-hearted. Otherwise Paul should lie when he writes "who gave himself for our sins. I do not bother my head with speculations about the nature of God. I simply attach myself to the human Christ, and I find joy and peace, and the wisdom of God in Him. These are not new truths. I am repeating what the apostles and all teachers of God have taught long ago.

Would to God we could impregnate our hearts with these truths. That he might deliver us from this present evil world. Paul calls this present world evil because everything in it is subject to the malice of the devil, who reigns over the whole world as his domain and fills the air with ignorance, contempt, hatred, and disobedience of God.