5. There are two Parts to the Epistle: I. Defense of the Gospel preached by Saint Paul, especially of the freedom of the New Testament from the servitude of the law (Galatians 1:1-5:12). II. An admonition concerning the use and abuse of Christian liberty (Galatians 5:13-6:18). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
There are two principal Parts of the Epistle, if you remove the inscription and the epilogue. For, first, the Apostle defends the truth of the Gospel preached by himself, especially the liberty of the New Testament, Chapters 1:1-5:12. Second, he shows the use and abuse of Christian Liberty, Chapters 5:13-6:18.
I. Defense of the truth of the Gospel preached by Saint Paul, especially of the liberty of the New Testament, Chapters 1:1-5:12. See:
1. The general defense of the Gospel preached by Saint Paul: chapters 1, 2. In which:
a. Saint Paul, with an inscription and salutation prefaced (verses 1-5), solemnly attesting the truth of his Gospel, from which the Galatians have allowed themselves to be led astray (verses 6-9), asserts the same, and in accordance with that, that he persuades God, not men (verse 10), and also in accordance with that, that the Gospel was communicated to him, not by men, but immediately by God, for he, a persecutor, was converted in such a way that he consulted not with flesh and blood (verses 11-16), nor did he go up to Jerusalem, until after three years, where he saw Peter and James, and afterwards betook himself into Syria and Cilicia, being unknown to the Jews (verses 17-24): chapter 1.
b. He proves the truth of his Gospel in this, that, after fourteen years coming to Jerusalem, he commended that to the pillars of the Church (verses 1-10), and that he, at Antioch withstanding Peter to his face, and his associates not walking rightly, defended his Gospel, asserting that man is justified, not by works, but by faith alone (verses 11-18), and that he himself is dead to the law, so that he might live in God and Christ (verses 19, 20), and refers all things received to the grace of Christ (verse 21): chapter 2.
2. His defense of Christian liberty from the yoke of the law: chapters 3:1-5:12. In which Saint Paul:
a. With the Galatians severely reproved, demonstrates liberty in this, that they received the Spirit, not by works, but by the hearing of faith (verses 1-5); that they are the children of Abraham by faith (verses 6, 7); that believing Gentiles are blessed with faithful Abraham, and so are not under the law, otherwise they would not be blessed, but liable to cursing (verses 8-13); that the inheritance of the Gentiles depends, not on the law, but on the promise (verses 14-18); and that finally the law, although added on account of transgressions, and although a pedagogue leading to Christ, does not render the promise void (verses 19-29): chapter 3.
b. In a parable concerning a son of the house, the heir indeed, but in subjection to servants, teaches that formerly believers, although sons, were nevertheless servants, but now, with the Son of God sent propitiator of sin, only sons, no longer obnoxious to the law (verses 1-7); that hence there is to be no return for them to the weak elements of the World (verses 8-20), which he represents by yet another figure, namely, of the two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, the former of which was born of Sarah the freewoman, the latter of Hagar the bondwoman (verses 21-31): chapter 4.
c. Expressly commends liberty to the Galatians, without which it would happen that Christ would little profit them, since in Him alone faith is efficacious through love (verses 1-6), with the Galatians again rebuked, whose fault he nevertheless imputes to troublers (verses 7-12): chapter 5:1-12).
II. His admonition concerning the use and abuse of Christian liberty, Chapters 5:13-6:18. In which Saint Paul:
1. Forbidding the abuse of liberty for an occasion for the flesh (verse 13), commends both the mutual servitude of law (verses 14, 15), and walking in Spirit, fighting against the flesh, and liberating from the law (verse 16-18), since the fruits of the Spirit, to which he also opposes the fruits of the flesh, free a man from the condemning law, and draw the crucifixion of the flesh after them (verses 19-26): chapter 5:13-26.
2. Prescribes precepts concerning the gentle recalling into the right way of the erring by those spiritual (verses 1, 2), concerning the avoiding of ambition (verse 3), concerning the testing of one’s own work (verses 4, 5), concerning gratitude toward teachers (verses 6-8), concerning perseverance in good works and benevolence (verses 9, 10); and then he closes the Epistle with a demonstration of his zeal and passion (verse 11), with sentence brought against the architects of circumcision (verses 12-16), with an averting of further molestation (verse 17), and a prayer (verse 18): chapter 6.