Lesson 2 of 6
In Progress

Outline of Galatians

rev. by Kristofer Phan Coffman (03/2023)

1. Address and Greeting (Galatians 1:1-5)

Paul greets the churches of Galatia, underscoring his commissioning as an apostle by the authority of God who raised Jesus from the dead and now sets us free from the present evil age.

2. Expression of Astonishment (Galatians 1:6-10)

Paul avoids the more common thanksgiving that regularly opens his letters and instead expresses dismay at how quickly the Galatians have turned from the grace of God’s call in Christ in order to pursue a different and false gospel.

3. God’s Call to Preach the Gospel (Galatians 1:11-2:14)

Paul testifies how God’s call through grace turned him from persecuting the faith into a bold apostle of the truth of the gospel to the Gentiles, a commission ratified by the acknowledged leaders of the church in Jerusalem.

4. The Heart of the Gospel: Justified by Faith in Christ (Galatians 2:15-21)

The climatic point of Paul’s personal testimony is in this summary of the heart of the gospel: we are justified, or made right, by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, and we now live a new life by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.

5. Supporting Arguments: Heirs through Promise (Galatians 3:1-4:31)

In a series of arguments Paul now supports his assertion that being made right, or being included as heirs among God’s children, depends not on “doing” something but on “faith in Christ.”

A. An Argument from Experience (Galatians 3:1-5)

The Galatians’ own experience confirms that they became believers not by “doing” something but by “hearing” the good news and responding by the Spirit through faith.

B. An Argument from Tradition (Galatians 3:6-9)

Even the great hero of faith, Abraham, is to be counted among those whose hearing of God’s promise resulted in belief and blessing.

C. An Argument from Scripture (Galatians 3:10-14)

On the basis of intricate argumentation, bringing one passage of Scripture into conversation with another, Paul shows how the Scriptures confirm that the promise and blessing of Abraham is accessible to the Galatians only by “the Spirit through faith.”

D. An Argument from the Public Arena (Galatians 3:15-18)

Paul plays on the double sense of “will” and “promise” and draws on the function of legal wills in the public arena. Inheritance through a will depends on the promise of the one who makes and ratifies the will.

E. An Argument Regarding Law (Torah) (Galatians 3:19-29)

If it is now argued that we are heirs according to God’s promises through faith, “why then the Law?” In an argument that works backward from its conclusion, Paul asserts that the law has done what was intended, and that in the coming of Jesus Christ and through baptism into him we have become united as God’s children through God’s promises given and received by faith.

F. Return to Argument from the Public Arena (Galatians 4:1-7)

Once again Paul returns to the analogy of inheritances. Just as the validity of an inheritance awaits fulfillment of the conditions set by the one who writes the will, so we have become heirs through the death of God’s Son through whom the terms of the inheritance and promise have been ratified. (See Covenant vs. Testament <in “Bible in the World” section>)

G. An Argument through Personal Appeal (Galatians 4:8-20)

As if none of the preceding arguments have been sufficient, Paul now turns to personal appeal, expressing his passionate longing that those who have become so dear to him through their reception and care for him in the past will now experience the forming of Christ within them.

H. An Argument through Allegory (Galatians 4:21-31)

In a style of argument almost unique in the New Testament, Paul develops an elaborate allegory of Sarah and Hagar and the two children of Abraham, one born according to the flesh and for slavery, the other born according to the promise and for freedom according to the Spirit.

6. The Gospel Means Freedom (Galatians 5:1-6:10)

Christ has set the Galatians free for active service of the neighbor in love, and so to submit to circumcision is to return to the slavery of flesh and the law. Guided by the Spirit, the Galatians now live not by the flesh but by the Spirit, bearing fruit that works for the good of all.

7. Conclusion (Galatians 6:11-18)

In the cross of Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. The cross of Christ occasions a new creation that lives by and boasts in the grace of God.