This commentary series is established on the presupposition that the theological character of the New Testament documents calls for exegesis that is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical, linguistic, and textual context. Such thorough exegetical work lies at the heart of these volumes, which contain detailed verse-by-verse commentary preceded by general comments on each section and subsection of the text.
The modern mood is that we do not want to argue about religion. We do not want to quarrel, but to be comfortable with each other. Galatians is not that kind of a letter. Paul argues with other Christians, not with unbelievers, and his message in the letter has in turn caused many arguments. Arguments can be good. If Luther had not been willing to get into an argument, the Reformation would not have occurred. When we come to Galatians, we are handling some of the biggest issues of all. There are fundamental issues without which you lose the Christian gospel, so, I am afraid, fighting is involved. Many of the biggest battles that Christians have to face are inside the church, not outside it. That is painful. Who likes a family that is arguing? Whenever the devil attacks the church from the outside, the church gets stronger and bigger. His attacks are much more successful when they come from the inside, and one of the quickest ways to do that is to pervert or corrupt or erode the gospel. If he can do that, he knows that he has destroyed the church from the inside. Legalism and licence are still with us. But so is true liberty. We must stay and walk with others along the narrow path, the wind of the Spirit blowing in our faces and the blessing of God’s grace upon us. We are free not to sin and free to be bold, if we will only walk in the Spirit. Galatians is one of the most powerful letters you will ever read.
Betz exhibits a massive control of the literature on Galatians and especially of the ancient literatuer relevant for understanding it. He has a gently rigorous way of demolishing fanciful and unsupported exegesis of the past while still taking clear positions on controversial issues.
Recent biblical studies have shed considerable new light on the New Testament and its world. Ben Witherington brings together all the latest findings on St Paul's Letter to the Galatians, and presents a comprehensive, textbook commentary on Galatians and early Pauline thought. Professor Witherington draws on recent work in the fields of archaeology and social history to provide an illuminating description of the life and context of the Galatian Christians, together with many new and important insights. He also discusses how the many teachings in Galatians can be applied to the modern world.