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Every day with Galatians

Walk through the book of Galatians in 29 days with this set of Bible readings. First read the highlighted Bible verses. Then consider the additional commentary that is included from Martin Luther’s 1535 lectures on Galatians, found in Luther’s Works, Volumes 26 and 27.

In those lectures, Luther noted that this is the main point of Galatians: “Without any merit or work on our own, we must first be justified by Christian righteousness . . . but this righteousness is heavenly and passive. We do not have it of ourselves; we receive it from heaven. We do not perform it; we accept it by faith (8). In this epistle therefore, Paul is concerned to instruct, comfort, and sustain us diligently in a perfect knowledge of this most excellent and Christian righteousness. For if the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost (9).” (Volume 26)

February

  1. Galatians 1:1-4: “The church is universal throughout the world, wherever the gospel of God and the sacraments are present (26). Grace and peace—these two words embrace the whole of Christianity. Grace forgives sin, and peace stills the conscience (26). There is no way to remove sin except by grace. This deserves careful notice (27). Believe that Christ was given not only for the sins of others but also for yours (38).” Volume 26
  2. Galatians 1:5-10: “What madness is the world up to when it so bitterly hates this Word, this gospel of eternal comfort, grace, salvation, and eternal life, and when it blasphemes and persecutes it with such satanic rage! (48). The pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, an angel from heaven—these should not be masters, judges, or arbiters but only witnesses, disciples, and confessors of Scripture. Nor should any doctrine be taught or heard in the church except the pure Word of God (58).” Volume 26
  3. Galatians 1:11-17: “The false apostles teach human doctrines, that is, what is pleasant and reasonable.  And they do this so that they can live a life of ease and earn the favor and plaudits of the people. Those who look for this find it, for they are praised and exalted by everyone (60). Therefore let every faithful person work and strive with all their might to learn this doctrine [of justification, grace, Christ, and the Gospel] and keep it, and for this purpose let him employ humble prayer to God with continual study and meditation on the Word (65).” Volume 26
  4. Galatians 1:18-24: “[Paul’s] purpose [is] to persuade the churches of Galatia, which had been led astray by the false apostles, and to convince them beyond any doubt that his gospel was the true Word of God (76). In short, the issue in the controversy was a matter of eternal life and death. For once the pure and certain Word is taken away, there remains no consolation, no salvation, no life. Thus the reason Paul recites all this is to keep the churches in true and sound doctrine (77).” Volume 26
  5. Galatians 2:1-5: “The basic issue [is] this: Is the law necessary for justification or is it not (85)? The truth of the gospel is this, that our righteousness comes by faith alone, without the works of the law. The falsification or corruption of the gospel is this, that we are justified by faith but not without works of the law [or faith and works]. The false apostles preached the gospel but they did so with this condition [or addition] attached to it (88).” Volume 26
  6. Galatians 2:6-10: “Let the apostles be ever so great; let them even be angels from heaven—that makes no difference. . . . The issue in this controversy is the Word of God and the truth of the gospel. This must be preserved at all costs; this must prevail (93). In short, we can stand the loss of our possessions, our name, our life, and everything else; but we will not let ourselves be deprived of the gospel, our faith, and Jesus Christ. And that is that (99).” Volume 26
  7. Galatians 2:11-13: “The text clearly states that Peter was deserving of attack and had erred from the truth (107). The truth of the gospel was being endangered. In order to keep this truth sound [Paul] withstood Peter to his face (111). Paul did not rebuke Peter for some trivial reason, but . . . he rebuked him for the sake of the most important doctrine of Christianity, which was being threatened by Peter’s pretense (114).” Volume 26
  8. Galatians 2:14-16: “You cannot deserve grace by your works. . . . If you want to be saved, your salvation does not come by works but God has sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him. . . . The Law only shows sin, terrifies, and humbles; thus it prepares us for justification and drives us to Christ (126). . . . For God is he who dispenses his gifts freely to all, and this is the praise of his deity. But he cannot defend this deity of his against the self-righteous people who are unwilling to accept grace and eternal life from him freely but want to earn it by their own works. They simply want to rob him of the glory of his deity (127).” Volume 26
  9. Galatians 2:17-21: “Consider carefully here that to want to be justified by the works of the Law is to nullify the grace of God (179). . . . To deny Christ this way is to spit at him. . . . [Whoever] performs the Law with the intention of being justified by it nullifies grace, rejects Christ and his sacrifice, and refuses to be saved by this inestimable price; instead he wants to make satisfaction for his sins . . . or to merit grace by his own righteousness (180). . . . Then you do not need Christ, but he has become useless to you and died to no purpose (181). . . . But to say that Christ died to no purpose is to get rid of him entirely (185). Volume 26
  10. Galatians 3:1-6: “Two things make Christian righteousness perfect: the first is faith in the heart, which is a divinely granted gift and which formally believes in Christ; the second is that God reckons this imperfect faith as perfect righteousness for the sake of Christ, his Son, who suffered for the sins of the world and in him I begin to believe (231). . . . And the sin that still remains in you is not imputed but is forgiven for the sake of Christ, in whom you believe and who is perfectly righteous. . . His righteousness is yours; your sin is his. (233)” Volume 26
  11. Galatians 3:7-9: “Faith is . . . the right knowledge of the heart about God. But reason cannot think correctly about God; only faith can do so. People think correctly about God when they believe God’s Word. But when they want to measure and to believe God apart from the Word, with their own reason, they do not have the truth about God (238). . . . We do not deny that the example of Christ should be imitated by the godly and that good works must be done, but . . . imitation of the example of Christ does not make us righteous in the sight of God (246-7).” Volume 26
  12. Galatians 3:10-14: “Christians do not become righteous by doing righteous works, but once they have been justified by faith in Christ, they do righteous works (256). . . . Therefore every doer of the Law and every moral saint who wants to be justified through human will and reason is under a curse, because he comes before God in the presumption of his own righteousness (268). . . . Putting off his innocence and holiness and putting on your sinful person, [Christ] bore your sin, death, and curse; he became a sacrifice and a curse for you, in order thus to set you free from the curse of the Law (288).” Volume 26
  13. Galatians 3:15-18: “God acted properly in giving the promise [to Abraham] such a long time before the Law [at Sinai] lest it be said that righteousness is given through the Law not through the promise (300). Before there was a Law, God by a promise granted Abraham the blessing of inheritance, that is, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, salvation and eternal life, which means that we are the sons and heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. . . . For before Moses was born or anyone had thought about the Law, God had already taken the initiative and granted the inheritance (304).” Volume 26
  14. Galatians 3:19-22: “The first understanding and use of the Law is to restrain the wicked. . . . The other use of the Law . . . is to reveal to [people their] sin (309). . . . Before the Law comes, I am smug and do not worry about sin; when the Law comes, it shows me sin, death, and hell . . . so that by the recognition of sin [I] may be humbled, frightened, and worn down, and so may long for grace and for [Christ] (327). God is not moved to make his promises by our worthiness, merits, or good works; but he promises purely on the basis of his inexhaustible and eternal goodness and mercy (328).” Volume 26
  15. Galatians 3:23-29: “The time of Law is when the Law disciplines, vexes, and saddens me, when it brings me to a knowledge of sin. . . . The time of grace is when the heart is encouraged again by the promise of the free mercy of God (341). For just as the [schoolmaster] scolds, drives, and troubles his pupils, [until] the pupils have been properly educated and trained . . . so those who are frightened and crushed by the Law should know that these terrors and blows will not be permanent but that by them they are being prepared for the coming of Christ and the freedom of the Spirit (347).” Volume 26
  16. Galatians 4:1-7: “[The heir] has the promise and the blessing of his inheritance [but] he is held and subjected to guardians . . . as though he were a slave (359-60). So long as we are under the elements of the world . . . we are slaves . . . even though we have the promise of the blessing to come (364). The chief point of all Scripture is that we should not doubt but hope, trust, and believe for a certainty that God is merciful, kind, and patient, that he does not lie and deceive but is faithful and true (386). [We are heirs] not of some very wealthy and powerful king . . . but of Almighty God, the creator of all (392).” Volume 26
  17. Galatians 4:8-16: “Whoever falls from the doctrine of justification is ignorant of God and is an idolater. . . . For once this doctrine is undermined, nothing more remains but sheer error . . . regardless of how great the sanctity that appears on the outside. . . . Therefore Christ alone is the means, the life, and the mirror through which we see God and know his will (395-6). . . . All people have the general knowledge, namely that God is. . . . But because [of it], they conceive vain and wicked thoughts about God apart from and contrary to the Word; they embrace these as the very truth, and on the basis of these they imagine God otherwise than he is by nature (399-400).” Volume 26
  18. Galatians 4:17-23: “For the Word proceeds from the mouth . . . and reaches the heart of the hearer; there the Holy spirit is present and impresses that Word on the heart, so that it is heard. In this way every preacher is a parent who produces and forms the true shape of the Christian mind through the ministry of the Word. (430) Those who want to be sons of Abraham must be children of promise . . . and they must believe. In the last analysis those who have the promise and believe are the true sons of Abraham and, consequently, of God (435).”Volume 26
  19. Galatians 4:24-31: “Therefore this allegory teaches . . . that the church should not do anything but preach the gospel correctly and purely and thus give birth to children (441). Those who teach the righteousness of works on the basis of the law give birth to many sons, but all of these are slaves who will be thrown out of the house and condemned (443). Believers do good works; but they do not become sons and heirs through this, for this has been granted to them by their [new] birth [by faith in Christ]. . . . They have becomes sons for Christ’s sake. They glorify God with their good deeds and help their neighbor (449).” Volume 26
  20. Galatians 5:1-6: “This is the freedom with which Christ has set us free, not from some human slavery or tyrannical authority but from the eternal wrath of God. . . . For Christ has set us . . . to make our conscience free and joyful unafraid of the wrath to come (4). The more someone tries to bring peace to his conscience through his own righteousness, the more disquieted he makes it (13). But as we suffer, we are bravely encouraged by hope, and Scripture exhorts us with the sweet and very comforting promises (25). [Truly devout people] know that they have eternal righteousness, for which they look in hope as an utterly certain possession, laid up in heaven (27).” Volume 27
  21. Galatians 5:7-12: “When there is sound teaching—which cannot be without results, since it brings the Holy Spirit and his gifts—the life of the devout is strenuous running, even though it may seem to be crawling (32). Doctrine must be one eternal and round golden circle, in which there is no crack; if even the thinnest crack appears, the circle is no longer perfect (38). [Doctrine] is a sunbeam coming down from heaven to illumine brighten and direct us. Just as the world with all its wisdom and power cannot bend the rays of the sun which are aimed directly from heaven to earth so nothing can be taken away from or added to the doctrine of faith without overthrowing it all (39).” Volume 27
  22. Galatians 5:13-15: “The whole law is completely summarized in this one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (55,56). . . . Serving another person through love seems . . . to mean performing unimportant works such as the following: teaching the erring; comforting the afflicted; encouraging the weak; helping the neighbor in whatever way one can; bearing with his rude manners and impoliteness; putting up with annoyances, labors, and the ingratitude and contempt of men in both the church and state; obeying magistrates; treating one’s parents with respect; being patient in the home with a cranky [spouse] and an unmanageable family, and the like. But believe me, these works are so outstanding and brilliant that the whole world cannot comprehend their usefulness and worth (56).” Volume 27
  23. Galatians 5:16-18: “The saints . . . should be servants of one another through love, that they should bear one another’s weaknesses and burdens, and that they should forgive one another’s trespasses. . . . You see much in me that offends you; and I, in turn, see much in you that I do not like. If one does not yield to the other through love on matters like this, there will be no end to the argument, discord, rivalry, and hostility (66). . . . We are partly sinners and partly righteous. Yet our righteousness is more abundant than our sins because of the holiness and righteousness of Christ . . . surpasses the sin of the entire world (68).” Volume 27
  24. Galatians 5:19-21: “[Those] who have been baptized and who believe in Christ . . . do not manage all at once to divest themselves of the old Adam with all his activities; but throughout their life the desires of the flesh remain with them (84). But we acknowledge our sins humbly and with a contrite hear; and we seek forgiveness. . . . Therefore God stretches the immense heaven of grace over us and for the sake of Christ does not impute to us the remnants of sin that cling to our flesh (86). Every such form of religion, which worships God without his Word and command, is idolatry. . . . Therefore all forms of worship and religion apart from Christ are the worship of idols (88).” Volume 27
  25. Galatians 5:22-26: “Pride is the mother of all heresies; indeed, as both sacred and profane history testifies, it is the source of all sin and ruin (97). There is no district without someone or other who would like to appear wiser and greater than anyone else (98). Now just as there is nothing more dangerous in the church than [pride] so there is nothing more common (98). The gospel is the sort of teaching in which the last thing to look for is our own glory. It sets forth heavenly and eternal things which do not belong to us, which we have neither made nor earned, but which it offers to us in our unworthiness purely by the kindness of God (100).” Volume 27
  26. Galatians 6:1-6: “Let one brother comfort another lapsed brother in a gentle spirit. And let the lapsed one, in turn, hear the word of him who is comforting him, and let him believe it. . . . He has paid a greater price for them than we have, namely, his own life and blood (111-12). . . . Everyone should know that his work, regardless of the station of life in which he is, is a divine work, because it is the work of a divine calling and has the command of God (120) . . . yet it is essential for us to be able to declare that we have performed our work in sincerity, in truth, and in a divine vocation (121). . . . It is impossible that true believers would permit their pastors to suffer need (124).” Volume 27
  27. Galatians 6:7-10: “All this pertains to the topic of support for minister. I do not like to interpret such passages; for they seem to commend us, as in fact they do. In addition, it gives the appearance of greed if one emphasizes these things diligently to one’s hearers. Nevertheless, people should be taught also about this matter, in order that they may know that they owe both respect and support to their preachers (126). It is extremely necessary . . . to exhort believers to do good works, that is to exercise their faith through good works; for unless these works follow faith, this is the surest possible sign that faith is not genuine (127).” Volume 27
  28. Galatians 6:11-15: “The world regards us as miserable and abominable; but Christ who is greater than the world for whose sake we are suffering pronounces us blessed and commands us to rejoice (133-134). . . . The judgment of the world about religion or about righteousness in the sight of God conflicts with the judgment of believers as much as the devil conflicts with God. . . . The more [the devil frightens] me and [tries] to bring me to the point of despair, the more I shall trust and boast in the very midst of [his] rage and malice, not in my own strength but in that of Christ, my Lord, whose power is made perfect in my weakness (137).” Volume 27

March

  1. Galatians 6:16-18: “May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Justifier and Savior, who has granted me the grace and ability to expound this epistle and has granted you the grace and ability to hear it, preserve and confirm both you and me. From the heart I pray that we may grow more and more in the knowledge of grace and of faith him, so that we may be blameless and beyond reproach until the day of our redemption. To him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory forever and ever. Amen. Amen (144).” Volume 27

All quotations are taken from Luther’s Lectures on Galatians 1535, Luther’s Works, Volumes 26 and 27.

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