Book Review: Galatians: Freedom Through God’s Grace

Paul’s letter to the Galatians has long held a place of importance for those seeking to understand the power of the Gospel. One of the first books of the New Testament to be written, Galatians forcefully presents many of the Apostle Paul’s most central ideas and themes of grace and justification, displaying in brief, impassioned terms the theological categories and concepts that would find later expression in his letters to Rome and Corinth. If one hopes to understand the message of Christianity, Galatians offers a worthy starting point.

It was therefore with eager anticipation that I engaged Phillip Long’s Galatians: Freedom Through God’s Grace. And indeed, I walked away informed, encouraged, and impressed.

This is no technical commentary thickly layered with Greek exegesis, nor is it the kind of sweeping systematic commentary that one might expect a preacher to regularly consult. Rather, this is a reader’s commentary, the kind of book that any inquisitive Christian mind can bring with them as they thoughtfully engage Galatians.

Long’s prose is clear and compelling; his structure, simple and easy to follow. Readers are informed, without being overwhelmed, by historical details, the nuances of Greek, and the history of scholarship. Long includes snippets of those things, of course, but in ways that illuminate the text rather than insulate it from understanding.

The commentary proceeds section by section, with each section’s chapter including an introduction, conclusion, and discussion questions. Each section is divided into pericopes, and important aspects of each pericope are commented on. Footnotes to secondary literature are limited, but helpful when included. As with other commentaries, this one is best read next to an open Bible; unlike many other commentaries, however, you can actually consult this book section by section alongside your reading of Scripture.

Especially noteworthy is Long’s treatment of the chronology of Galatians and Acts. For those invested in understanding any biblical writing, there are few pieces of context more important than the audience and setting of a writing. In a reasoned but non-argumentative manner, Long suggests that Paul wrote Galatians before the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15. While this is not a majority position among contemporary New Testament scholars, the book’s argument is clear and compelling, and Long suggests a chronology that provides useful answers for some of the otherwise difficult parts of Paul’s letter.

In short, I want more commentaries like this; commentaries that are at once brief and helpful for the busy academic or pastor, while also accessible for the lay reader. This is the kind of slim book that’s worth its weight in gold for those who are engaging Galatians, whether for the first time or the hundredth. In terms of audience, this is not a commentary for the technical preacher or graduate student working in the minutiae of Galatians. However, it is an exceedingly helpful volume for the vast majority of people who want to better understand Galatians, be they pastors, small group leaders, or new Christians. I plan to use this commentary in the future as I lead groups through Galatians, and I know readers of all backgrounds and purposes will benefit greatly from Long’s insights.

Phillip J. Long, Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2019), 156 pages. I received a complimentary copy of this volume in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

October 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival

Welcome to the October 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival—and Happy All Saints’ Day!

I’m honored to be hosting this honorable event on this sacred day of remembering all those who have gone before in faith. Before we get on with the business of remembering all the best Biblical Studies articles from this past month, first the business of future carnivals.

  • Bob McDonald will be hosting the November 2018 carnival (due December 1, 2018).
  • Christopher Scott will be hosting the December 2018 carnival (due January 1, 2019).

As carnival Godfather Phil Long has made clear in recent months, we need additional volunteers for future carnivals—especially for January 2019 and forward. If you’re interested in hosting, contact the good doctor (email, @plong42) and let him know your availability. And speaking of Phil, I want to thank him for continuing to curate these carnivals.

Now, on to the main attractions, which have been categorized in the following groups: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Reading Phil Long, Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, and News. Happy reading! Continue reading

February 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival

Welcome to the February 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival!

This 144th Biblical Studies Carnival marks the twelve year anniversary of these events. I’m honored to be facilitating today’s overview of the very best that the Biblioblogging world has to offer.

Over the next several months, these fine people will be hosting the carnival:

If you’re interested in signing up to host a future Biblical Studies Carnival (or just want to have a conversation with a truly pleasant person), contact Phil Long (email, @plong42). Hosts are needed for June, July, August, October, November, and December. Speaking of Phil, I want to thank him for continuing to coordinate these carnivals, and for allowing younger scholars such as myself the opportunity to host.

In lieu of categorizing this month’s posts into 12 categories and having 12 representative articles for each, I’ve organized them into Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Reading Phil Long (an homage to our Godfather of Biblical Studies Carnivals), Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, and News. Happy reading! Continue reading

February 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival

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Welcome to the February 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival!

Assembled below are the very best articles written this past month from around the Biblioblogging world.  I know this firsthand because I have spent all month sifting through as many blogs as possible to find the finest that scholars and students have to offer. This month’s carnival includes submissions from the categories of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Reading Phil Long (an homage to the Godfather of Biblical Studies Carnivals), Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, Tools and Resources, and News.

Looking forward to future Carnivals, March will be hosted by Jonathan Robinson and April by Joshua Gillies of Theologians, Inc. (@Whitefrozen). Cassandra Farrin (email) of Ethics and Early Christianity hosts in June, Reuben Rus of Ayuda Ministerial/ Resources for Ministry hosts in July, and Jason Gardner of eis doxan hosts in August.

You’ll note that this schedule lacks a host for May. If you’re interested in signing up to host in May (or any other future carnival), contact Phil Long (email, @plong42). Speaking of Phil, I want to thank him for his continued coordination of these carnivals, and for allowing younger scholars such as myself the opportunity to host. Happy reading! Continue reading

February 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival

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Welcome to the February 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival!

Assembled below are the very best articles written this past month from around the Biblioblogging world.  I know this because I spent the extra day of February tracking down and reading a plethora of fascinating offerings. This month’s carnival includes submissions from the categories of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christianity, Theology and Hermeneutics, Book Reviews, Tools and Resources, and News. May you find them as informative as I did.

Before leaping into this February’s readings, I encourage you to also visit Manuel HG’s Spanish Language Carnival.  Looking forward to future Carnivals, N. T. Wrong (email) will be hosting March’s Carnival. The April offering will come via That Jeff Carter Was Here. May’s Carnival will be moderated by Brian Renshaw (email). Finally, the June festivities will be hosted by Kris Lyle (@KristopherLyle). If you’re interested in signing up to host a future Biblical Studies Carnival, contact Phil Long (email or @plong42).  My thanks again to Phil Long for managing the carnival rotation and giving me the opportunity to host this month. Happy reading!

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March Biblical Studies Carnival

Color March 2015 BSCWelcome to the March 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival!

In honor of March’s patron saint (Patrick) and in lieu of what would have been a terrible attempt at an April Fool’s Day joke, start off your morning by (re)visiting the classic “St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies of the Trinity.

Before delving into this month’s suggested articles, I would like to thank Phil Long for asking me to host this carnival. Looking forward to future Carnivals, Jeff Carter will be hosting April’s Carnival. The May Carnival will be hosted by Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary. In June, Cambridge doctoral candidate William A. Ross will be moderating this forum. There are plenty of open Carnival spots for the rest of the year, so if you are interested in hosting, contact Phil Long.

Without further ado, then, check out this month’s selection of posts below (and be sure to look over the “News” section for some exciting ongoing/upcoming events in the world of Biblical Studies).

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