After an introduction (1:1–5), Paul rebuked the Galatians for turning to false gospel and cursed those who preached it (1:6–10). The heresy was that one had to add the Law of Moses to his faith in order to be righteous, shown representatively by being circumcised. As Paul would explain, if this “gospel” were true, hearing the gospel with faith was unnecessary, and one could earn his own righteousness by keeping the Law.
In showing this “gospel” to be false, Paul gave the story behind the true gospel that he preached and how it was confirmed by others. He received it from Jesus Christ (1:11–17) and was confirmed of its truth two times by Peter in Jerusalem, the second time along with Peter and John (Gal 1:18–2:10). He even confronted Peter for acting out of accord with what he had previously confirmed (2:11–14). Summarizing his gospel in contrast to the heresy at hand, Paul stated that “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16; cf. 2:15–21).
Explaining the role of faith further, Paul reminded that it was through faith that the Galatians received the Spirit, persevered, and saw miracles (3:1–5). And, just as Abraham was saved by faith without the Law, so also their salvation came in the same way (3:6–9). Relying on the Law was impossible and brought about a curse that is canceled only through the work of Christ on the cross (3:10–14). The purpose of the Law was to show how sinful man was and that his ability to keep it was impossible. When Christ came, this temporary function of the Law ended, and now we live by faith in the gospel through the Spirit (3:15–4:11).
After exhorting his readers to continue in the gospel they had once so gratefully received (4:12–20), Paul allegorized the story of Hagar and Ishmael and their relation to Sarah and Isaac to show how the Galatians were now enslaving themselves to the Law, persecuting those who had the Spirit, and were not acting as heirs of the New Jerusalem (4:21–31).
Paul again exhorted them to stand firm in the gospel and not accept circumcision as the basis for their righteousness, something of no advantage that would sever themselves from Christ (5:1–6). He was confident that they would return to the gospel (5:7–12) and detailed a life lived by the Spirit in contrast to a life lived in the flesh (5:16–26).
Giving general instructions that likely dealt with a matter at hand, Paul commanded that any transgressor (such as a false teacher) should be restored and treated gently, not thinking themselves better than the transgressor but boasting, if anything, in Christ (6:1–5). Influenced by false teachers, the Galatians may have waned in their giving to the church, so Paul commanded them to share their good things (e.g., finances) with their teachers, promising spiritual reward (6:6–10).
Paul closed the letter by once more attacking the false doctrine of finding righteousness by keeping the Law, promising peace and mercy to those who could boast instead in the cross of Christ (6:11–18).
Many solid Christian works are old enough to be in the public domain, leaving us with many free biblical study resources online, commentaries and more. There are so many helpful resources online that it can be overwhelming. Below are a handful of recommendations among many others that could be mentioned. (And always feel free to ask your pastor for further recommendations!)
Free Online Bible Study Tools
Bible Hub (biblehub.com/commentaries) gives a list of links to numerous commentary sets. Follow the links, and specifically recommended are Keil and Delitsch Old Testament Commentary, Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, Matthew Henry’s Concise or Full Commentary on the Whole Bible, and Calvin’s Commentaries.
For the New Testament, while not technically commentaries, John MacArthur’s sermons are nonetheless thorough and address every passage in the NT. They are all transcribed by Grace to You at www.gty.org/library/resources/sermons-library/scripture.
For digging into a passage itself, helpful Bible study sites are Bible Arc (biblearc.com), the Bible Web App (biblewebapp.com/study/).
Free Bible Software
E-Sword is a program that is free for download at www.e-sword.net. This program allows you to download multiple public domain commentary sets, Bible translations, lexicons, atlases, and more. The website provides training on how to use the program as well. It has been downloaded over 35,000,000 times and is used in 235 countries.
Recommended Christian Blogs
While I obviously cannot endorse every single thing that anyone might say, for those who enjoy Christian blogs that generally give solid answers to current topics, here are a few worth recommending:
A few passages about Mark (or John; cf. Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37) teach us a lesson about failure in ministry and then serving again thereafter.
As a young man, Mark’s home was used by the church for prayer and possibly worship (Acts 12:12). With a home large enough for a church gathering, complete with at least one servant (Acts 12:13), his family enjoyed both physical and spiritual blessings. Unsurprisingly, he was recruited for missionary ministry by Barnabas and Saul (not yet Paul) in Acts 12:25.
However, shortly after joining their missionary journey, “John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Though “they had John to assist them” (Acts 13:5), he became “one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). Thus, Paul distrusted him and split from Barnabas who desired Mark to join them on a later journey (Acts 15:36–41).
Why did mark abandon the work? Perhaps he did not like the team’s leadership shift from “Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2) to “Paul and his companions” (Acts 13:13). Perhaps the salvation of Gentiles was hard for him to accept as a Jew. Perhaps he did not enjoy the travel, threat of persecution, or distance away from home. We do not know why he abandoned the work, but we know his abandonment was a negative thing.
Thankfully, Mark made a quick recovery. If he deserted in AD 46 in Acts 13:13 but was serving with Barnabas in Acts 15:35–41 in AD 48, his failure did not last long. However, consequences remained. Paul distrusted him and refused to travel with him again.
As time went on, Paul wrote the Colossians about a dozen years later (AD 60 or 61), speaking this of Mark: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him)” (Col 4:10). As told by Paul, Mark was to serve and be welcomed by this congregation, implying a reconciliation between Mark and Paul.
Yet later, we Mark serving with Peter (1 Pet 5:13), likely during the mid-60s AD when he wrote his Gospel. Paul’s last letter in AD 66 requested of Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim 4:11).
Mark’s desertion was disappointing and brought about the distrust of Paul and likely others. Over time, however, he persisted and regained a reputation for faithfulness. In the end, he was very useful to many and certainly the imprisoned Paul in his final days of ministry.
We all fail from time to time, and our consequences vary according to our failures. Not everyone is so fortunate as Mark to be completely restored over time to a previous position. Nonetheless, whatever our failure may be, God forgives the repentant sinner, and we can serve Him and be faithful again. May God help us towards this end.
An examination of the five times we see name Tychicus in Scripture gives us a picture of Christian service in the early church.
The first mention is in Acts 20:4, a list of Paul’s companions on his third missionary journey (AD 52–57), including “the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
The second and third mentions were written from prison in Rome (AD 60 or 61). To the Colossians, Paul stated, “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Col 4:7). He said basically the same to the Ephesians (Eph 6:21). Willing to travel hundreds of miles by boat and foot from Rome to these nearby congregations, Tychicus was a messenger to the churches, a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant.
The fourth mention was to Titus in AD 64 or 65. Titus was told by Paul, “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there” (Titus 3:12). Tychicus was one of the men that Paul, from wherever he wrote Titus, was possibly sending to Crete to free Titus to join Paul at Nicopolis, about 400 miles away from Rome, roughly halfway between Rome and Ephesus.
Written in AD 66, the fifth mention of Tychicus is brief: “Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus” (2 Tim 4:12). Tychicus may have carried this letter or was coming later to likely replace Timothy for him to be able to join Paul in prison in Rome (2 Tim 4:9, 21; cf. 1:8, 16–17).
From these few mentions of Tychicus in the Bible, we can learn some lessons for ourselves today.
First, we should be enduringly faithful in service. From the dates above, the ministry of Tychicus spanned at least ten years.
Second, we should be willing to work hard for the sake of the gospel. In each reference above, Tychicus is actually or potentially traveling. Given the frequency and length of these travels, it is not improbable that he shared in Paul’s travel sufferings to some degree (cf. 2 Cor 11:23–28).
Third, we should expect God to give us tasks that are fitted to who we are. When sent to Asia Minor, Tychicus the Asian was native to this general region. He was a welcome servant to the Jewish missionary Paul.
Fourth, we should be ready to go wherever the body of Christ most needs us. Sometimes God moves Christians from one congregation to another to use their unique gifts to meet unique needs.
These are some tips that we can take from Tychicus in serving as Christians today. May God give us grace as we learn from this example and serve Him all the better.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.