The Galatians Project

The Galatians Project began on January 1, 1998, when Sandy decided to spend a year studying a book of the Bible. He picked Galatians. It had the benefit of being short, and he felt that in a year, he would have more than enough time to learn all he needed to know about the letter. He would later say, "It was not the first time I have been wrong."

Over the first few months, he read the letter almost every day and he read three one-volume commentaries, but after several months, it seemed like he had more questions than answers. So he decided to dig deeper. He ordered scholarly commentaries through the interlibrary loan system, and each time one would arrive, he would hurry to pick it up and see if it held the answers he was seeking. He never got used to the disappointment. That weighed on him, and he made a decision that changed his life.

He decided to learn the bare rudiments of New Testament Greek and do a word study on every Greek word in Galatians. When he made that decision, he boarded a ship that took him on a voyage for which no brochure could do justice. Every word became a port of call and in every port, he found a cliff with a stunning vista.

Let’s visit one of those.

Galatians opens with Paul’s immediate vindication of his authority as an apostle, and then he greets his readers. Then, in verse four, he says that Jesus died to save us from “this present evil world.” (KJV)

When people think of “this present evil world,” things like drugs and the violence that comes with them, political corruption, the Cosa Nostra, and wife beaters come to mind, and we usually move to the top of the list those forms of “evil” which have personally affected us in some way. That is not an incorrect reading of “evil,” but there is something deeper there.

The word “evil” comes from a root that means “to painfully and vainly labor,” and that was the
real problem the Galatians were facing. At the Fall, men and women began, by necessity, to painfully and vainly labor to fix the problem in their hearts that Jesus spoke of when he said that that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts . . . thefts . . . blasphemies, and so on. All people struggle with this condition. The way in which they struggle and the effects that they struggle with vary from person to person, but no one is exempt from this task.

The Lord gave us Conscience and Law to ride herd on the problem. But Conscience and Law had another purpose. If a person can perfectly obey either, he or she can earn a new heart, and what people are laboring to do, in the most profound sense, is to earn, or at least try to earn, a new heart and the results that come with it. It can’t be done, and the effort to do that may be rightly described as “painfully and vainly laboring.”

Paul preached a gospel which promised, by faith without works, a new heart and the results it produces, but his opponents – the Judaizers – did not grasp this idea and they followed Paul saying that the people should readopt the Law as a means of transforming and guiding their lives. Paul saw that for what it was: painful and vain laboring. His gospel set people free from that, and so he writes to the Galatians telling them that Jesus came to set them free from this present evil world, which meant that they were set free from painfully and vainly laboring to earn Life.
Galatians: An Expository Paraphrase says it like this:

“. . . I send to you churches in Galatia the blessing of
grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We experience the magnificent realities those two words represent because Jesus personally made the full ransom payment for our sins and in doing so, bought our freedom from a world that is painfully and vainly laboring to earn Life.”

Sadly, the vast majority of Christians are
still painfully and vainly laboring to earn Life. It couldn’t be done then. It can’t be done now. And so it is critical to understand the message of Galatians and be able to explain it to others. That “understanding and explaining” is the goal of Sandy's expository paraphrase. Dozens of insights are scattered throughout its pages, and if “painfully and vainly laboring” resonates with you, perhaps He will use the book in your life, as He has in Charlie’s.

Letter from Charlie

Galatians: An Expository Paraphrase may be purchased as an eBook in a variety of formats. Visit our StoreFront to make your selection.

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