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notes on galatians -machenI had this Saturday off (May 18th) and decided to go through another book, this time by Machen. This is my first book I read by Machen (I tried going through C&L a while back but it was difficult to grasp) and it was great!

Machen is best known for his polemical works against Liberalism streaming into Presbyterianism in the late 19th and early 20th century, so this commentary of sorts was an unexpected work.

Machen writes concisely and wont go into heavy detail of argumentation here. It is an outline of sorts. He goes chapter by chapter highlighting main areas in the book.

I wanted some more on chapters 3 and 4 especially with regards to some debated texts even in Reformed circles (Galatians 3:12, 4:21-31) but they were missing. However what he does write is spot on.

I believe he takes a Southern Galatian view (meaning the book was written probably during 49-50 AD) but he does leave it up for debate. (pg. 13, 24, 119, 123, etc)

Some evidence to support that:
1. Paul never planted churches in Northern Galatia
2. Galatians 2:! Paul is talking about a second visit not a third (So Paul is converted in 33 AD, has his first visit to Jerusalem in 36 AD (as he says “after three years” Galatians 1:18; cf. Acts 9:25-26), after 14 years (46-47 AD) from his conversion he has his second visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas (as he says “after fourteen years…” Galatians 2:1; cf. Acts 11:27-30), then comes the Jerusalem Council in 50 AD.)
3. He went up by revelation not by being appointed
4. He communicated privately not publicly to a Council.

Here are some of my favorite quotations:

Concerning the Christian and the world he writes, “The Christian should by no means adopt a negative attitude toward arts, government, science, literature, and other achievements of mankind, but should consecrate these things to the service of God. The separateness of the Christian from the world is not to be manifested  as so many seem to think that it should be manifested, by the presentation to God of only an impoverished man; but it is to be manifested by the presentation to God of all man’s God-given powers developed to the full.” (pg. 32-33)

Machen was no 2 Kingdom guy, that’s for sure!

Concerning the misunderstanding of salvation by the Judiazer’s he writes, “The central point at issue between Paul and the Judiazer’s concerned merely the logical–not even the temporal–order of three steps

1. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
2. at that moment you are saved
3. immediately proceed to keep the law of God.

but the Judiazer’s said

1. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
2. keep the law as best as you can
3. you are saved.” (pg. 48-49)

So in essence the Judiazer’s mixed the logical order of salvation. Paul wouldn’t have chided them for their emphasis on keeping the law provided where it was placed logically in the order of salvation.

On page 159 Machen makes clear that the pedagogical use of the law is done away with for all Christians because it has done its job. He writes, “The connection which existed between me and the law when  I was still liable to the law’s penalty of death is done away with now that Christ has died in my stead; the law has nothing more to say against a man after its penalty has been paid.” (pg. 159)

All in all I loved this book and would recommend it to all Presbyterians who want a concise yet thorough understanding of the book.

4.5/5 stars for Machen.

Click on the picture if you want to go directly to the Amazon page a purchase a copy.

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