Analysis Of The Argument In The Epistle To The Galatians -- By: H. B. Hackett
BSac 5:17 (Feb 1848) p. 97
Analysis Of The Argument In The Epistle To The Galatians
The epistle to the Galatians is one of the most argumentative of all the New Testament epistles; both in this respect and in point of doctrinal importance, it stands confessedly next to the epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews. The following is an attempt to exhibit with conciseness a logical outline of the contents of this epistle. It will be perceived that in two or three instances the course of thought as developed here, is founded on passages which are controverted, and which some might choose to understand differently;1 but for the most part, the nerve of the argument will be found to be contained in expressions which by general consent admit of only one explanation.
The general object of the epistle was to arrest the progress of the false sentiments respecting the mode of acceptance with God, which the Judaizing errorists were spreading in the Galatian churches, and to bring back the Galatians to their original dependence on Christ as the only foundation of their hope of salvation. For the accomplishment of this object, the writer adapting himself to the course pursued by his opponents aims, first, to establish his claim to a full equality as an apostle with the other acknowledged apostles of our Lord; second, to explain and confirm the true doctrine of justification by grace alone in opposition to that of works; and, finally, to administer such counsels and reproofs as the moral condition of the Galatians required. Of these three parts into which the epistle divides itself, the first may be termed apologetic, including the first two chapters, the second doctrinal or dogmatic, including the third and fourth chapters, and the
BSac 5:17 (Feb 1848) p. 98
third practical, embracing the two remaining chapters. These three divisions follow each other in strict logical order. The first is necessary to the second, since without an admission of the writer’s apostolic authority, his subsequent exposition of the way of salvation would have possessed the weight only of an ordinary human opinion, instead of being as it now is, authoritative and final; and since, on the other hand, the great peculiarity of the plan of salvation on which he insists is its opposition to the system of law or works, the third part becomes obviously a necessary complement to the second. Those who profess to rely on this method of justification, are to avoid the error of supposing that because they are separated from the law as a source of merit, they are released from it also as a rule for the government of their lives.
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