Preaching Tools: Galatians

With tomorrow being the 4th of July, freedom will be a constant theme on social media, television programming, and sermons on Sunday. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

To help you preach this passage and others in Galatians, here’s an excerpt from Preaching Tools: An Annotated Survey of Commentaries and Preaching Resources for Every Book of the Bible.

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Exegetical Commentaries

Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Galatians. NIGTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

Bruce never complicates or oversimplifies. He is always a steady Antares for the preacher.

Eadie, John. A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869.

Smith considered it one of the most satisfying commentaries strictly devoted to the interpretation of the text. Hodge, Ellicott, and many others praised this volume. The Scottish Eadie served as a pastor for 41 years, and in his early 30s became chairman of the Department of Biblical Literature in the Divinity Hall of the University of Glasgow. Eadie also wrote commentaries on Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, all of which should be in your library. Though his exegesis is dated, his pastoral heart and devotional spirit isn’t.

Lightfoot, Joseph Barber. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966.

Regarded as a classic. Hendrickson Publishers has combined his Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon commentaries in one volume [1981]. Without question, one of the greatest commentaries on the Greek text of Galatians, says Barber.

Moo, Douglas J. Galatians. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.

From the prolific pen of the professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School, this might well be ranked as the best exegetical commentary available on Galatians. A work of painstaking exegesis combined with serious theological reflection. Moo is fair and balanced in the presentation of alternative views, including the New Perspective on Paul. The prose is easily readable for all. You cannot afford to be without this volume!

Schreiner, Thomas. Galatians. ZECNT. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

Schreiner has written an exegetical volume that will not overwhelm the pastor in the minutiae of details. By all means consult it if preaching through Galatians.

Silva, Moises. Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001.

Wide-ranging, semi-technical work that covers aspects of the history of interpretation, key exegetical issues in the text, background and date, and Paul’s theology.

Expository Commentaries

Fung, Ronald Y. K. The Epistle to the Galatians. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

Replaces the Ridderbos volume in the series. A work very helpful to preachers in the tradition of the NIC series. Carson calls it “workmanlike.”

George, Timothy. Galatians. NAC. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994.

Many consider this to be the best volume on a New Testament book in the NAC series. I certainly would not argue differently. Its major strength is its survey of interpretation of Galatians, especially from the Reformation forward. The exposition is succinct, clear, and on point. Pastors cannot afford to ignore this volume when preaching through Galatians.

Gromacki, Robert. Stand Fast in Liberty: An Exposition of Galatians. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.

Gromacki packs muscle in small places. He was professor of Bible and Greek at Cedarville University in Ohio. This brief work, and all of his commentaries, is worth the preacher’s time and use.

Longenecker, Richard. Galatians. WBC. Dallas: Word, 1990.

Longenecker has always favored Galatians, and this volume is the fruit of serious study. While probably of less interest to most preachers, one strength of this work is its strong introduction dealing with the history of the debate over destination. Longenecker makes a good effort at synthesizing the main theological issues. Detailed (over 70 pages of introduction) but useful.

Luther, Martin. Commentary on Galatians. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1979 reprint of the 1850 edition.

This is an abridged volume. If you want the whole, consult volumes 26 and 27 in Luther’s Works in the Concordia edition. If you have the time, take a gander at Luther and be inspired!

McKnight, Scot. Galatians. NIVAC. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

This volume by a gifted New Testament Arminian scholar will be very helpful to pastors preaching through Galatians. As the series intends, it focuses strongly on application.

Vaughan, Curtis. Galatians. SGC. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972.

Excellent, brief but meaty treatment of Galatians from Southwestern Seminary’s beloved teacher of New Testament and Greek. Vaughan was my favorite professor while a student at Southwestern from 1978–1981, and I now have the privilege of occupying his study carrel containing some of his memorabilia, which he allowed me to keep just before his death.

Witherington, Ben, III. Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

The strength of this work is Witherington’s analysis of the overall rhetorical macrostructure of the book and its concomitant sociological background. One helpful aspect of this work for preachers is each chapter concludes with a consideration for contemporary application.

Special Studies

Barclay, William. Flesh and Spirit: An Examination of Galatians 5:19–23. Nashville: Abingdon, 1962.

Great word studies on this passage that contrasts the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Can’t be without this one when preaching on this passage.


Stott, John. The Message of the Galatians: Only One Way. BST: Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1968.

Rich expository messages from this evangelical Anglican master expositor.

Click here to get FREE ebook versions of Preaching Tools and two other books
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