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Commentary on Galatians (Luther Classic Commentaries) Paperback – May 16, 2006
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A most penetrating analysis and clear statement of doctrine in a way that everyone, from scholar to layman, may understand. (Messenger 20040603)
I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before all books that have ever seen. (John Bunyan 20040603)
One cannot understand well the Reformation without reading Luther's Commentary on Galatians. (Standard Bearer 20040603)
This book indeed is a classic and one every student should use. (Presbyterian Journal 20040603) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Following St. Paul, Luther sees a life and death (literally) opposition between law and faith. Under law, we believe that God approaches us as an angry judge, and we try to win this angry judge over by doing good works for him. Since we are sinners by nature, we cannot fulfill the demands of God who by nature must demand perfection, to remain under the law is to remain under sin, its death, and the devil. As Luther reads Paul, the man under law lives by works, always striving to please this angry God, yet in his heart of hearts he blasphemes Him for demanding the perfect works man cannot give. Yet in Christ God shows that He demands nothing of us but loves us and is heartily willing to forgive us, a promise He sealed in blood on the cross. When we see Christ crucified and have faith that now God is now no angry judge but a tender father eager only to give us all good things, then we are no longer under law but under grace, which brings us freedom, hope, and the desire to do good works, not of a bitter and despairing heart, but freely.
As Luther notes, church fathers like Jerome felt profoundly uncomfortable with Paul's violent denunciation of the law, and in their commentaries tried to tone it down. They insisted that by "law" Paul meant only the Jewish law with its out-dated ceremonies and sacrifices, and at several points treated Paul's categorical statements as almost scandalous exaggeration (see, for example, Luther's citations of Jerome's commentary on Gal. 3:13). Luther, however, insists that law here, as in Paul's other epistles, means exactly the moral law and his statements about the moral law for a sinner leading only to death and the curse of God must be read seriously, not dismissed as hyperbole.
I read this work in the 19th century translation published by Kregel which uses the King James Bible text and a somewhat archaic language to match. To me it seemed both powerful and suitable to the Luther's pithy and picturesque language, but others may find it somewhat off-putting and prefer the "Modern Language Version" published by Fleming H. Revell.
That is what I love about Luther's commentary. Luther was learning this stuff and loving it as he was teaching it. He was not a theologian who had the benefit of walking in the steps of bible-loving, grace-espousing mentors. He was pierced by the word and the Spirit changed his heart by it. This is what you see in Galatians. During my study I read many great commentaries, but my favorite was Luthers. Luther acts in this commentary as both an exegete and a pastor. This is a commentary that you may just want to curl up with on the couch after you finish studying a section and read and read again. His passion is contagious.
(By the way, my other favorite Galatians commentaries were MacArthur's and Hendriksen's. Calvin's and Stott's came in a close #4 and #5). I hope this helps.
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obviously done after he posted the 95 theses based on statements made