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handwriting. It was his wont to add a few words at the close Postscript of his epistles, either to vouch for their authorship, or to im- o, press some truth more strongly on his readers. Here the own hand. urgency of the case leads him to do more. In a few eager rugged sentences he gives an epitome of the contents of the epistle'. These sentences are condensed beyond the ordinary compression of the Apostle's style. The language almost bursts with the surcharge of feeling. The very forms of the letters too bear witness to his intense earnestness. He writes in large bold characters to arrest the eye and rivet the mind. He has been accused of vacillation. There has been no want of firmness in the tone of the letter, and there shall be none in the handwriting. No man can henceforth question or misapprehend the Apostle's meaning.
A rough analysis of the epistle separates it into three Threefold sections of two chapters each, the first couplet (i, ii) containing * the personal or narrative portion, the second (iii, iv) the argumentative or doctrinal, and the third (v, vi) the hortatory or practical. It will be borne in mind however, that in a writer like St Paul any systematic arrangement must be more or less artificial, especially where, as in the present instance, he is stirred by deep feelings and writes under the pressure of an urgent necessity. The main breaks however, occurring at the end of the second and fourth chapters, suggest this threefold division; and though narrative, argument, and exhortation, are to some extent blended together, each portion retains for the most part its own characteristic form.
The following is a more exact analysis of the contents of the epistle.
L PERSONAL, chiefly in the form of a narrative. Analysis
- - - - - - f th 1. The salutation and ascription of praise so worded as to in- i.
troduce the main subject of the letter (i. 1–5).
2. The Apostle rebukes the Galatians for their apostasy, de-
Analysis 3. This Gospel came directly from God. †. (i) He received it by special revelation (i. 11, 12). (ii) His previous education indeed could not have led up to it, for he was brought up in principles directly opposed to the liberty of the Gospel (i. 13, 14). (iii) Nor could he have learnt it from the Apostles of the Circumcision, for he kept aloof from them for some time after his conversion (i. 15–17).
(iv) And when at last he visited Jerusalem, his intercourse with them was neither close nor protracted, and he returned without being known even by sight to the mass of the believers (i. 18–24).
(v) He visited Jerusalem again, it is true, after a lapse of years, but he carefully maintained his independence. He associated with the Apostles on terms of friendly equality. He owed nothing to them (ii. 1–10).
(vi) Nay more: at Antioch he rebuked Peter for his inconsistency. By yielding to pressure from the ritualists, Peter was substituting law for grace, and so denying the fundamental principle of the Gospel (ii. 11–21).
[This incident at Antioch forms the link of connexion between the first and second portions of the epistle. The error of the Galatians was the same with that of the formalists whom St Peter had countenanced. Thus St Paul passes insensibly from the narrative to the doctrinal statement.]
II. DOCTRINAL, mostly argumentative.
1. The Galatians are stultifying themselves. They are sub-
(iii) Thus under the law we were in our nonage, but now
III. HoRTATORY. Practical applications.
I declare to you the true principles of the Gospel. Peace
5. Let no man deny my authority, for I bear the brand of
6. Farewell in Christ (vi. 18).
The armoury of this epistle has furnished their keenest
weapons to the combatants in the two greatest controversies which in modern times have agitated the Christian Church; the one a struggle for liberty within the camp, the other a war of defence against assailants from without; the one vitally affecting the doctrine, the other the evidences of the Gospel.
Analysis of the epistle.
Its place in modern Controversy.
When Luther commenced his attack on the corruptions of the mediaeval Church, he chose this epistle as his most efficient engine in overthrowing the mass of error which time had piled on the simple foundations of the Gospel. His commentary on the Galatians was written and rewritten. It cost him more labour, and was more highly esteemed by him, than any of his works'. If age has diminished its value as an aid to the study of St Paul, it still remains and ever will remain a speaking monument of the mind of the reformer and the principles of the reformation.
Once again, in the present day, this epistle has been thrust into prominence by those who deny the divine origin of the Gospel. In this latter controversy however it is no longer to its doctrinal features, but to its historical notices, that attention is chiefly directed. ‘The earliest form of Christianity, it is argued, ‘was a modified Judaism. The distinctive features of the system current under this name were added by St Paul. There was an irreconcilable opposition between the Apostle of the Gentiles and the Apostles of the Jews, a personal feud between the teachers themselves and a direct antagonism between their doctrines. After a long struggle St Paul prevailed, and Christianity—our Christianity—was the result. The Epistle to the Galatians affords at once the ground for, and the refutation of, this view. It affords the ground, for it discovers the mutual jealousy and suspicions of the Jew and Gentile converts. It affords the refutation, for it shows the true relations existing between St Paul and the Twelve. It presents not indeed a colourless uniformity of feeling and opinion, but a far higher and more instructive harmony, the general agreement amidst some lesser differences and some human failings, of men animated by the same divine Spirit and working together for the same hallowed purpose, fit inmates of that Father's house in which are many mansions.