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Charles Cousar, in his Galatians commentary from the Interpretation series, notes Paul perceives how completely the Galatians have misunderstood the heart of the Christian faith. They work from the wrong end of the relationship with God, all about what they can do to deal with the power of the flesh and fulfilling the law. The answer lies at the other end - what God has done in Christ, and how he has done it. The reality is that "God sent forth his Son, ...to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5) and there can be no compromise with any other means of dealing with the law or gaining membership in God's family, no middle ground where God does his part and humans theirs.
Grasping this radical grace may be difficult in the current times, where handouts are either suspect or expected. Per Cousar, "Circumcision has its religious and secular counterparts in the various ways in which we 'supplement' God's free gift of himself and prescribe for ourselves (or others) a particular accomplishment which becomes a "must." A piety which turns into anxiety about our spritual health and searches for unforgiven sins has forgotten what God has done in Christ and how he has done it."
Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching is a distinctive resource for those who interpret the Bible in the church. Planned and written specifically for teaching and preaching needs, this critically acclaimed biblical commentary is a major contribution to scholarship and ministry.
Charles B. Cousar is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is the author of numerous books, including Galatians in the Interpretation commentary series. He is also coauthor of the three volumes of Texts for Preaching.