Commentaries on Galatians

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For more great commentaries on Galatians, be sure to check:
Commentaries on the Epistles, New Testament Commentaries
& Whole Bible Commentaries

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Order of Contents  45+

The Best Commentaries  14
Commentaries  25
Early Church  5
Medieval Church  4
On Galatians Generally  1
Northern vs. Southern Galatia  7
Chapters in Galatians

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On the Galatian heresy:
“Circumcision or Christ – not circumcision and Christ.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

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The Best Commentaries on Galatians

Reformers

Luther, Martin – Commentary on Galatians  Reformer

One exception that may be taken to this work is Luther’s teaching that Christ Himself became sin (that is: sinful) on the cross in order to make the Atonement.  On the contrary the sacrifice must be pure, righteous and without sin in order to be effectual.  There is a legal imputation of sin, but not an infusing thereof.  See John Murray on “The Imputation of Adam’s Sin” for a corrective to Luther on this point.

***  “‘I prefer this book of Martin Luther’s (except the Bible) before all the books that I have ever seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience.’ – Bunyan.  This is a great historic work, and is beyond criticism, on account of its great usefulness.  As a comment its accuracy might be questioned; but for emphatic utterances and clear statements of the great doctrine of the Epistle it remains altogether by itself, and must be judged per se.” – Spurgeon

Calvin, John – Sermons on Galatians  ToC  d. 1564

*** – Spurgeon

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1600’s

Dickson, David – An Expositon of all St. Paul’s Epistles together with an explanation of those other epistles of the apostles St. James, Peter, John & Jude, wherein the sense of every chapter and verse is analytically unfolded and the text enlightened  (Romans-Jude)  Buy  1659  

Dickson was a prominent Scottish covenanter.

*** – ‘Dickson is a writer after our own heart.  For preachers he is a great ally.  There is nothing brilliant or profound; but everything is clear and well arranged, and the unction runs down like the oil from Aaron’s head.  In this volume the observations are brief.’

Note that the Banner of Truth reprint contains Dickson’s commentary on less books than the original.

Fergusson, James – A Brief Exposition of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and the Thessalonians  Buy  1656-74

Fergusson was a Scottish covenanter.

*** – ‘He who possesses this work is rich.  The author handles his matter in the same manner as Hutcheson and Dickson, and he is of their class–a grand, gracious, savory divine.’

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Simple & Brief, 1700’s

Boston, Thomas – A Paraphrase upon the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians  33 pp.  in Works, 6:240-77

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Intermediate

1800’s

Bayley, E. – Commentary on Galatians  1869

***  “Upon each portion there is a commentary, a paraphrase and a sermon and thus the author conveys a considerable amount of instruction.  He is thoroughly evangelical and his style is clear.” – Spurgeon

Brown, John, of Edinburgh – An Exposition of Galatians  Foreign languages are kept to the footnotes for the most part.

Brown, the grandson of John Brown of Haddington, was an eminent professor in the Scottish Secession Church.

***  “Brown is a modern Puritan.  All his expositions are of the utmost value.  The volume on Galatians is one of the scarcest books in the market.” – Spurgeon
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“Perhaps one of the most satisfactory commentaries for the expository preacher.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Lange’s Commentary – Commentary on Galatians by Otto Schmoller

*** – Spurgeon

Lightfoot, J.B. – Galatians, Revised Text with Introductions, Notes and Dissertations  1870  Foreign languages are for the most part kept to the footnotes.

Lightfoot was a mid-1800’s, conservative Anglican Bible scholar though he had some liberal tendencies.

*** – The Spectator says: ‘There is no commentator at once of sounder judgment, and more liberal, than Dr. Lightfoot.'” – Spurgeon

“An important study which cannot be overlooked or ignored. Without question on one of the greatest commentaries on the Greek text of this epistle. The essays included in each work are always important.” – Cyril J. Barber

MacGregor, James – The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia, with Introduction and Notes  1881  in Hand-Books for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte

MacGregor was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

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1900’s

Machen, J. Gresham – Notes on Galatians  Buy

Machen was one of the leading founders of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary.

Pipa, Joey – Galatians: God’s Proclamation of Liberty  Buy  2010  272 pp.

Dr. Pipa is a the president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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Advanced

1800’s

Eadie, John – Commentary on Galatians

Eadie was a renowned, Scottish professor in the United Presbyterian Church.

***  “This is a most careful attempt to ascertain the meaning of the Apostle by a painstaking analysis of his words.  The author is not warped by any system of theology, but yet he does not deviate from recognized evangelical truth.  As a piece of honest grammatical exegesis the value of this commentary is very great, though there is room to differ from it here and there.” – Spurgeon

“Expositions on several of Paul’s letters to the churches of the New Testament era followed [by Eadie], and it is significant that Dr. C.J. Ellicott considered them to be superior to anything in England up to that time.”  “Scholarly, practical, and designed for those with a knowledge of Greek.” – Cyril J. Barber

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1900’s

Bruce, F.F. – The Epistle to the Galatians: a Commentary on the Greek Text  Buy  1982  280 pp.  in The New International Greek Testament Commentary

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Commentaries on Galatians

1500’s

Bray, Gerald – Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Galatians, Ephesians  Buy

Prime, John – An Exposition and Observations upon St. Paul to the Galatians, together with incident questions debated, and motives removed  ToC  1587

Prime (1550-1596) was reformed.

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1600’s

Perkins, William – A Commentary or Exposition upon Galatians 1-5  d. 1602

**  “Perkins was justly esteemed by his contemporaries as a master in theology.  This commentary is deeply theological, and reads like a body of divinity: truth compels us to confess that we find it dull.” – Spurgeon

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Simple, Brief & Devotional

1800’s

Hawker, John – Bible Thoughts in Quiet Hours: St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians

**  “These ‘thoughts’ are sound and edifying.  The book does not profess to be a thorough exposition.” – Spurgeon

Pearson, Samuel – Sermons on the Epistle to the Galatians  Buy  1874

**  “Discourses worthy of the successor of [T.] Spencer [from Hoxton] and [T.] Raffies [from Homerton].” – Spurgeon  [For a short biographical sketch of both of these English preachers, see here.]

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1900’s

Girdlestone, Robert Blair – St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: a Devotional Commentary  Buy  1928  190 pp.

Harrison, Norman – His Side Versus Our Side, Galatians: God’s Great Antithesis  Buy  1940

“A brief devotional exposition.” – Cyril J. Barber

Hamilton, Floyd E. – Epistle to the Galatians: a Study Manual  Buy  1954 

Rev. Hamilton was reformed.  He graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1919 (Th.B.) and 1926 (Th.M.), was ordained and served as a missionary to Korea.

Hamilton was a founding member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but transferred his credentials into the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (aka, Southern) in 1955 and served his last pastorate, 1964-1969, in a Reformed Presbyterian, General Synod church in Indianapolis.

“A helpful, brief study manual.” – Cyril J. Barber

Strauss, Lehman – Devotional Studies in Galatians and Ephesians  Buy  1957

“Well-outlined devotional messages aimed at expounding the text and edifying believers. Practical, evangelical, and Christ-centered.” – Cyril J. Barber

Packer, J.I. – ‘Galatians’ in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book with General and Introductory Essays and Exposition, vol. 3  Buy  ed. Carl Henry  1960

This little known commentary set by leading evangelicals (many of which were reformed) is brief (think airplane view) but helpful.

Stott, John – The Message of Galatians  Buy    in The Bible Speaks Today

“A brilliant series of expository messages.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Intermediate

1800’s

Godwin, John – The Epistle of St. Paul to Galatians, a New Translation with Critical Notes and Doctrinal Lessons  1871

**  “A helpful translation, with good textual notes.” – Spurgeon

Haldane, James – An Exposition of Galatians, Showing that the Present Divisions Among Christians Originate in Bending the Ordinances of the Old and New Covenants  1848

Haldane was a Scottish congregationalist, and, in later years, a baptist.  The latter position underlies his hard contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in the book of Galatians (and in Hebrews), which was the primary reason for him writing these commentaries: to exposit an alternate view of covenant theology that was not shared in mainstream reformed theology.

**  “This work has never been popular, because the author in the third chapter discusses the question of baptism.  This is a fault of which we may say as the Papist said of venial sin: ‘It deserves to be forgiven.'” – Spurgeon

Olshausen, H. – Biblical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians  1851

Olshausen was a liberal.

**  “Olshausen is mentioned by Alford as so rich in original material, that he has often cited him in his ‘New Testament for English Readers’.  He is one of the most devout of the Germans, and a great scholar; but we are not enamored of him.” – Spurgeon

Pridham, A. – Notes and Reflections on the Epistle to the Galatians  1872

**  “Pridham is, we suppose, of the moderate Brethren school, but he is not carried away by any theory, being essentially a man of sober mind.” – Spurgeon

Schaff, Philip – Galatians in A Popular Commentary on the New Testament  1879

Schaff (1819–1893), the famed Church historian and N.T. scholar, came from a German-Reformed background, though was also the lead proponent of the High-Church Mercersburg Theology.

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1900’s

Ramsay, William M. – A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians  Buy  1900

Ramsay (1851–1939) was a Scottish archeologist, New Testament scholar and the foremost authority in his day on Asia Minor.  

Ramsay was the one that first lighted upon and defended the ‘Southern Galatia View’, that the book of Galatians was written to churches primary in the southern political province of Galatia, rather than to churches in the northern geographical province of Galatia.

After a lifetime of research, from initially being skeptical of the early Church history recorded in Acts, he came to the conclusion that “it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement” and that “You may press the words of Luke [who wrote Acts] in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment…”

“Surprisingly rich in background material and deals expertly with the geography, culture, and history of the times. Champions the South Galatia theory and, as such, deserves careful consideration.” – Cyril J. Barber

Williams, A. Lukyn – The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, with Introduction and Notes  1914  215 pp.

“A handy, helpful, exegetical study.” – Cyril J. Barber

Tenney, Merrill C. – Galatians, the Charter of Christian Liberty  Buy  1950  193 pp. 

“Designed to help students of the Word grapple with the text firsthand. Approaches the epistle from synthetic, critical, biographical, and devotional points of view. Excellent.” – Cyril J. Barber

Cole, Robert Alan – The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians  Buy  1965  in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

“Readable, informative, and suggestive.” – Cyril J. Barber

Hendricksen, William – New Testament Commentary: Galatians  Buy  1968

“Prefaced with an extensive introduction giving the arguments for both the North and the South Galatian theories. As always, the writer’s exposition is very complete, and applies the text in a meaningful and practical manner. Not all will agree with the ‘two covenants’ of Galatians 4:24. A conservative exposition which deserves a place on every pastor’s bookshelf. Reformed.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Advanced

1800’s

Bagge, Henry – St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, the Text Revised and Illustrated by a Commentary  1856

**  “Simply a revised text and critical notes.” – Spurgeon

Ellicott, Charles J. – A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians  1876  290 pp.

“A critical and grammatical handling of the text, which retains its value and can be used by preachers who are able to work from the original text.” – Cyril J. Barber

Findlay, George – The Epistle to the Galatians  1893  470 pp. 

“A scholarly, succinct, and relevant exposition which may well be regarded as one of the more important treatments.” – Cyril J. Barber

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1900’s

Burton, Ernest DeWitt – A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Galatians  1921 645 pp.  in The International Critical Commentary

Burton was a liberal, American Biblical scholar at the University of Chicago, known for his Greek grammar.

“A most extensive, satisfactory commentary based on the Greek text.” – Cyril J. Barber

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The Early Church on Galatians

Compilation

Edwards, Mark – Ancient Christian Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians  Buy

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Individual Fathers

Ambrosiaster – Commentaries on Galatians-Philemon  Buy

Chrysostom – Homilies on Galatians, EphesiansPhilippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews

**  ‘Enough of solid truth and brilliant utterance will be found here to justify this father’s title of ‘Golden Mouth’; but still all is not gold which fell from his lips, and to modern readers Chrysostom is not so instructive as he was to his own age [A.D. 349-407].’ – Spurgeon

Marius Victorinus – Commentary on Galatians  Buy

Jerome – Commentary on Galatians  Buy

Augustine – Commentary on Galatians  Buy  Here is a review.

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The Medieval Church on Galatians

Compilation

ed. Haimo of Auxerre & Bruno the Carthusian – The Letter to the Galatians  Buy  Includes sections from Peter Lombard, Robert of Melun, Robert Grosseteste and Nicolas of Lyra

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Individual

Nicholas of Lyra – Literal Commentary on Galatians  Buy  

Aquinas, Thomas – Commentary on Galatians

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Northern vs. Southern Galatia

Intro

The traditional view from the early Church up through the late-1800’s was that the Letter to the Galatians was written to the churches in the geographic region of Galatia in Asia Minor, including the northern part.

In the late-1800’s William Ramsay, a noted archaeologist of Asia Minor, put forward a full defense of the view (which had precedents earlier in the century) that the letter was written primarily to the churches in the Roman province of Galatia which resided in the south of the larger geographical territory, and included the major cities thereof.

No doctrinal teachings are affected in taking either view, though it does affect in a small degree, besides the intended audience of the letter, its date, place of composition and how that synthesizes with Paul’s various missionary journeys and the events recorded of in Acts.

Both sides are competent positions, though the majority of N.T. scholars today have been persuaded by the Southern viewpoint (though that viewpoint is not without its difficulties).  For a comprehensible (though not always easy) survey of the issues and arguments involved, see Daniel Wallace’s article below.

For more resources to look at on the topic, see our webpage section, New Testament Survey and Introduction, which works give background material (including the audience, date and composition) of each book of the N.T.

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The Northern Galatia Viewpoint

(in the order of shortest to most detailed)

Olshausen, Hermann – Introduction:  §1. Of the Province of Galatia, as also of the Time and Place of the Composition of the Epistle to the Galatians  1851  7 pp.  in Biblical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Thessalonians  pp. 1-7

Moffatt, James –   Galatians, §4. The Destination  1911  11 pp.  in An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, pp. 90-101

Lightfoot, J.B. – Introduction:  II. The Churches of Galatia  1870  16 pp.  in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, a Revised Text, with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations, pp. 25-41  There is also information on the topic in chapter 1, starting at p. 15.

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The Southern Galatia Viewpoint

(in order of shortest to most detailed)

Wallace, Daniel –  ‘I. Introduction’  2009  31 paragraphs  in ‘Galatians: Introduction, Argument and Outline’

Wallace, a N.T. professor at Dallas Theological Seminary is known for his excellent grammar on the Greek of the New Testament.

Eadie, John – Introduction:  I. The Province of Galatia  1869  14 pp. in A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, pp. xiii-xxvii

Zahn, Theodore – III. The Three Oldest Epistles of Paul:  §11 Galatia and the Galatians  1917  20 pp. in Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 173-193  Relevant information is also found in the preceding section:  §10 The Historical Presuppositions and the Occasion of the Epistle to the Galatians, pp. 164-173

Ramsay, William M. – Historical Introduction: Society and Religion in Central Asia Minor in the Time of St. Paul  1900  234 pp. in A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians

Ramsay (1851–1939) was a Scottish archaeologist, New Testament scholar and the foremost authority in his day on Asia Minor.  

Ramsay was the one that first lighted upon and defended the ‘Southern Galatia View’, that the book of Galatians was written to churches primary in the southern political province of Galatia, rather than to churches in the northern geographical province of Galatia.

After a lifetime of research, from initially being skeptical of the early Church history recorded in Acts, he came to the conclusion that “it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement” and that “You may press the words of Luke [who wrote Acts] in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment…”

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On Galatians Generally

Mauro, Philip – Our Liberty in Christ: a Study in Galatians  n.d. early 1900’s  210 pp.

Mauro gives chapters on 18 themes through Galatians.

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Galatians 2-3

Torshell, Samuel – The Three questions of Free Justification, Christian liberty, The use of the Law, Explicated in a Brief comment on St. Paul to the Galatians, from 2:16 – 3:26  ToC  1632

Torshell (1604-1650) was English and reformed.

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Galatians 5

Barclay, William – Flesh and Spirit: an Examination of Gal. 5:19-23  Buy  1962

“A valuable series ably contrasting the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries