By Charles H. Welch
The questions "Where is Galatia?", "What cities did the Apostle visit?",
"When was the epistle to the Galatians written?" have been considered
in the article entitled CHRONOLOGY,
Acts and Epistles, in Part One, and evidence has been provided to show
that this epistle was the first written by the apostle Paul. The opening
words sound like the challenge of one entering the arena.
"Paul, an apostle
|NOT of men,
||NEITHER by man,
||BUT by Jesus Christ."
The relationship of Galatians with the remaining epistles of Paul, written
during the Acts, will be seen set out in the article mentioned above.
Assuming that the reader is acquainted with these introductory studies,
we now turn our attention to the epistle itself.
Galatians as a whole
The Apostle's authority.
"Though an angel from heaven"
Circumcision not compelled
Persecution for the gospel
I am crucified with Christ
Not I but Christ
Redeemed from curse
Covenant and Adoption
The Apostle's Infirmity
"As an angel of God"
Circumcision availeth nothing
Persecution for the cross
I am crucified to the world
Not circumcision: but new creature
Israel of God
The Apostle's marks in his body
||Benediction and sign manual
(see 2 Thess. 3:17)
The great controversy that shook the Galatian Church and which called
forth this vehement epistle revolved around the question of justification,
whether it was by faith, or works, or a blend of both.
We might have thought that this mighty theme would meet us at the very
forefront of the epistle, but it is not so. One whole chapter and a part
of the second is occupied in establishing the absolute independence and
authority of the apostleship of Paul, so important to all subsequent teaching,
and so important to a correct appreciation of dispensational truth this
Apostleship of Paul really is. The first chapter therefore can be set
out as follows:
Neither through man
But through Jesus Christ
according to man
Neither from man nor teaching
But by revelation
flesh and blood
But unto Arabia
The importance of the due recognition of Paul's apostleship is considered
in the article entitled APOSTLE, which
should be read as an extension of this chapter of Galatians. This recognition
is given by those "who seemed to be pillars" at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9),
and the theme of Galatians 2:1-14 revolves around the word "compel" as
it refers to the circumcision of the Gentile believer (Gal. 2:13,14),
and "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5,14) for the sake of which Paul
gave place by subjection "not for an hour" (Gal. 2:5), glorious hour indeed
in the history of the fight of faith. For the structure of Galatians
2:1-14 see the article entitled GOSPEL. The remainder
of the epistle is devoted to the subject of "adoption" illustrated as
it is by the nature of the Galatian will (Gal. 2:15-4:12). This great
section is in correspondence with Galatians 6:11-16, the former showing
the relationship of the CROSS to the LAW, the latter the relationship
of the CROSS to the WORLD.
"By nature" Jews
Build again palin
Personal "I am dead to the law"
Ei gar For if righteousness
came by law
| C 3:8-12
THE SCRIPTURE preached beforehand
Justification by faith ek pisteos
Hupo under a curse
Exagorazo Redeemed Heirs
Covenant prior to law
Ei gar For if law could give
The SCRIPTURE concluded
Promise by faith ek pisteos
Hupo Under sin and law
School master before Christ
Exagorazo Redeemed Adoption
"By nature" gods
Turn again palin
Personal "Be as I am".
The Galatian will is explained in the article on ADOPTION,
and the word COVENANT is also considered
in the article that bears that name. Two features more must suffice for
this brief analysis of a mighty epistle. Galatians 5:10-12 and 6:1,2 place
over against one another "the troubler" who shall "bear his judgment,
whoever he be", and "the restorer" who is enjoined to "bear one another's
burden". The law of love is put in correspondence with the law of Christ
(Gal. 5:13,14,6:2,3). The question of the authorship of the epistles is
one that is very near the basis of the truth for the present time, and
as one feature, namely the matter of Paul's signature or sign-manual and
handwriting, comes before us at the close of Galatians, we will devote
a larger space to it than may at first seem proportionate, as it will
provide an answer to the question that arises with the study of every
succeeding epistle attributed to Paul, and particularly the authorship
of the epistle to the Hebrews. A full discussion of Hebrews and its authorship
necessarily involves many more items and proofs than the one dealt with
here, and these will he found in the article that bears the name of that
We come therefore to the closing section of Galatians, namely 6:11-16,
which opens with the words:
"Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand"
(Gal. 6:11) which the R.V. retranslates:
"See how with large letters I have written (margin 'or write') unto
you with mine own hand."
It is remarkable what differences of opinion have been expressed by
commentators concerning the meaning of these words, but they may be summarized
under the following headings:
- That Paul wrote the whole of the epistle to the Galatians with his
own hand, and calls this epistle "a large letter".
- That the words "how large a letter" refer to the length of the epistle,
being equivalent to "how long an epistle".
- That Paul wrote the whole of the epistle to the Galatians with his
own hand, and calls the Galatians' attention to "the large letters"
he used, referring to the size of the characters, and not to the length
of the epistle.
- That Paul dictated, as was his usual custom, the bulk of the epistle,
but at verse 11 he took the pen from the hand of the amanuensis and
wrote the postscript himself.
- That the postscript alone was written "with large letters".
- That the large letters were a sign of the Apostle's earnestness,
the largeness of the letter used, being equivalent to the use of CAPITALS
or Italics on the printed page.
- That the large letters were not adopted by the Apostle for the sake
of emphasis, but that owing to his defective ,eyesight (already alluded
to, to arouse the latent affection of the Galatians) he could not write
other than with "large letters".
- Finally, Deissmann's opinion that to soften the angry tone of same
previous portion of the epistle, Paul concludes with a little joke,
so that "his dear silly children" should understand that with the large
letters "The Galatians knew that the last traces of the seriousness
of the punishing schoolmaster had vanished from his features"
We need spend no time on Deissmann's fancy, but must give attention
to the alternatives set out under the: first seven headings. This we will
not do by taking them seriatum,
but by examining the actual wording of the passage.
First, the structure of the sentence, and the literal meaning of the
Idete pelikois humin grammasin
egrapsa te eme cheiri.
Idete "Ye see". The word is emphatic,
and not to be translated "ye see" but rather "see ye", "look ye", drawing
attention to a feature of unusual interest. In Galatians 5:2 the Apostle
uses ide "behold", as though he
said "mark this well".
Pelikois. Ellicott says that
the word "strictly denotes geometrical
magnitude "how large", in contradistinction to arithmetical magnitude
expressed by posos "how many".
Pelikos is so used in the LXX of
Zechariah 2:2. In Hebrews 7:4 the idea of magnitude in an ethical sense
is expressed by this same word. We must therefore avoid confusing the
idea of "how large" with "how many" or "how lengthy".
Grammasin. Once only does gramma
signify "epistles", namely in Acts 28:21, where the Jews at Rome declared
"we neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee". This. however,
is an isolated usage of the term and not one used by Paul here, but by
the Jews. Where Paul desires to speak of an epistle he uses the regular
word epistole, and that seventeen
times, which, together with five references in the Acts and two in 2 Peter,
is very strong evidence in favour of translating this word in Galatians
6:11 "letters" and not "an epistle". Grammasin
is in the plural dative, and we are compelled to translate these words
as it is translated in Luke 23:38, "and a superscription also was written
over Him in letters of Greek and
Latin and Hebrew". Paul himself has so used the word grammasin
in 2 Corinthians 3:7. "In letters having been engraved in stones." The
fact that the word is plural prevents us from translating "epistle" and
no sense can be extracted from the translation "ye see how large epistles
I have written to you".
Egrapsa. This word is in the
aorist tense, but it is extremely difficult to decide whether this is
the "epistolary aorist" where Paul refers to the time at which the letter
is received, or whether it should be translated "I wrote" or in idiomatic
English "I have written", referring to the entire epistle. It was the
custom of Paul, and of writers in his own day, to employ the services
of a trained scribe, and one, evidently a believer, has his name inserted
in the epistle to the Romans: "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute
you" (Rom. 16:22). It is common knowledge that Romans 16:25-27 was added
as a "postscript" to the epistle, and Alford has suggested that "we may
almost conceive him (Paul) to have taken his pen off from one of them
(the pastoral epistles) and to have written it (Rom. 16:25-27) under the
same impulse". He gives a list of words and expressions found in the postscript
and in the pastoral epistles that point to this conclusion. For example,
"my gospel" is found in 2 Timothy 2:8, kerugma
"preaching" in 2 Timothy 4:17 and Titus 1:3, chronois
aioniois "age times" in 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 &c.
The Apostle makes a pointed reference to his "sign manual" when writing
to the Thessalonians-for they had been deceived by a letter purporting
to come from himself (2 Thess. 2:2), consequently he draws their attention
to a feature in his salutation.
"The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in
every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all" (2 Thess. 3:17,18).
Here the Apostle draws attention to two features:
- The handwriting, "so I write."
- The form of salutation, "Grace . . . with you."
The Apostle did not always call attention to the fact that he concluded
his epistles with a note in his own, hand. He does in 1 Corinthians 16:21,
"The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand", and again in Colossians
4:18. The form of the salutation varies in small particulars in the several
epistles, but ALWAYS includes the words "Grace . . . be with . . .", no
other apostle being permitted by the Holy Ghost to end an epistle thus.
As this is a matter of first importance let us not begrudge the time spent
in noting this evidential feature, especially as Paul himself has been
at pains to call our attention to it.
"The salutation of me Paul with
mine own hand."
||"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen"
Repeated in his postscript (Rom. 16:24).
||"The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. . . .
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. . . . Amen" (1 Cor.
||"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of
God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2
||"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
your spirit. Amen" (Gal. 6:18).
||"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ
in sincerity. Amen" (Eph. 6:24).
||"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Amen" (Phil. 4:23).
||"The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my
bonds. Grace be with you. Amen" (Col. 4:18).
||"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen"
(1 Thess. 5:28).
||"I Paul add the greeting with my own hand, which is
the credential in every letter of mine. . . . May the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (2 Thess. 3:17,18 Weymouth).
||"Grace be with thee. Amen" (1 Tim. 6:21).
||"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be
with you. Amen" (2 Tim. 4:22).
||"Grace be with you all. Amen" (Titus 3:15).
||"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Amen" (Phile. 25).
||"Grace be with you all. Amen" (Heb. 13:25).
Here is a consistent witness, made even more definite by observing the
concluding words of the epistles of Peter, James, John and Jude. In this
list the epistle to the Hebrews finds a place, and while we do not limit
the evidence of its Pauline authorship to this one feature, an unbiased
reader cannot but feel that unless some evidence to the contrary is forthcoming,
the epistle to the Hebrews is as clearly signed by the apostle Paul, as
any one of his accepted epistles. If the word egrapsa
be taken as the epistolary aorist, then the actual words written with
large letters will be the postscript Galatians 6:11-18. If, however, egrapsa
refers to what has already been written, then the Apostle must
be supposed to have departed from the usual custom, and have written the
whole epistle with his own hand. The aorist usually refers either (1)
to a former letter (1 Cor. 5:9) or (2) to an epistle now concluded (Rom.
15:15), or (3) to a foregoing portion of the epistle (1 Cor. 9:15).
"With this partially conflicting evidence it seems impossible to decide
positively whether St. Paul wrote the whole
epistle or only the concluding portion" (Ellicott).
Our own conclusion which coincides with that of Lightfoot, Conybeare
and Howson and The Companion Bible,
is that the "large letters" written with Paul's own hand refer to the
postscript only. Conybeare and Howson print as a note the following illustrative
"The writer of this note received a letter from the venerable Neander
a few months before his death . . . his letter is written in the fair
and flowing hand of an amanuensis, but it ends with a few irregular
lines in large rugged characters, written by himself, and explaining
the cause of his needing the services of an amanuensis, namely, the
weakness of his eyes (probably the very malady of St. Paul). It is impossible
to read this autograph without thinking of the present passage, and
observing that he might have expressed himself in the very words of
St. Paul - Ide pelikois soi grammasin
egrapsa te eme cheiri.
"Humin, 'to you'. Standing after
pelikois, 'large', this word
can scarcely be taken with 'I write' or 'I wrote' to
you, it is connected with pelikois,
as though the Apostle said 'how large, mark you!' "
Whether the large letters were for emphasis, a thought already incipient
in the figure of the "placard" ("evidently set forth") of Galatians 3:1,
or whether Paul's handwriting was unlike that of a trained slave, rather
irregular, to which may be added the affliction of his eyes, which he
mentions in Galatians 4:15, may not be easy to decide, but emphasis
there is from whatever single or combined causes. Whether Paul wrote the
whole epistle with his own hand, whether all the epistle was written in
large letters, whether the postscript only was written by his hand, and
the postscript only in large letters, the fact remains that we have an
emphatic personal summary given by the Apostle at the close of this most
In Hebrews, we have a "summary" given in chapter 8:1 where we learn
that "a seated priest in a heavenly sanctuary" sums up what he had been
teaching in the first seven chapters. Here, in Galatians 6:12-16, we have
the Apostle's own underlining, and we should be foolish in the extreme
if we neglected so evident a guide to the understanding of the main theme
of this most important epistle.
An Alphabetical Analysis
Home | About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by ©
Levend Water All rights reserved