Two Favorite Commentaries on Galatians

We finished our three and a half month journey through Galatians this past Sunday morning, and it has been life-changing for me. Paul’s relentless attack against legalism has cut into my own self-righteous soul every week, and the Gospel-grace he faithfully poured into my wounds has brought healing and freedom and joy. I pray the Lord has so used this powerful epistle in the lives of all the members here at Curve Baptist Church.

I thought I would mention the two commentaries I found to be the most useful during this journey. By useful I mean that they helped me to understand the text at difficult points, but also that they stirred my soul with powerful application. I think these are the best kinds of commentaries.

Timothy George, Galatians. New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1994.

There may not be another commentary I have ever enjoyed reading as much as this one. As a Baptist, this commentary has a distinct appeal to me: the NAC is an SBC publications, and many of the applications and references made speak specifically to SBC life. In addition, this work was published in the wake of an incredibly tumultuous time in the SBC when the authority of Scripture and historic doctrines of the church were being recovered across the denomination, and parts of this book crackle with the intensity of a “tract for the times.” This is by no means strictly a niche-y Southern Baptist commentary though. Dr. George has a remarkable grasp on church history and numerous Christian traditions, as the school of which he is the founding dean, Beeson Divinity School, can attest. The illustrations from the history of the church which are woven in throughout enrich this commentary tremendously. His commitment to bringing forth key texts for historic Christian orthodoxy – – the Trinity, the person of Christ, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, etc. – – also make this one a real gem. Highly recommended.

Martin Luther, Galatians. The Crossway Classic Commentary Series. Wheaton, IL: 1998.

Galatians was perhaps the key book of the Reformation, and Luther’s work on Galaians is, of course, the classic exposition. The Lord has used these comments powerfully in the conversion of John Bunyan and in the lives of both Wesleys. His comments on Galatians 5 are worth far more than the price of the book. This particular edition is condensed from the original version, but the editors are J.I. Packer and Alister McGrath, who seem to know a thing or two about Biblical studies. Judging by the benefit I received from this commentary, I would never have guessed that anything essential is missing from it. George is more helpful in guiding you through the text and showing how the parts make up the whole, but Luther’s great contribution is the fire and passion with which he brings justification and freedom home to bear on the Christian’s soul. This one is a non-negotiable.

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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