Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians form a cluster of Epistles which make up the heart of the divine revelation in the New Testament. Therefore, these books are very important. Ephesians covers the church as the Body of Christ, whereas Colossians deals with Christ as the Head of the Body. Galatians is concerned with Christ, and Philippians, with the experience of Christ. In Colossians and Ephesians we receive a clear view of the Head and the Body. In Galatians and Philippians we see Christ and the experience of Christ.
Just as there are four seasons in the year, so there are seasons in our Christian experience. This means that in our experience with the Lord we pass through winter as well as summer. The winter experiences are helpful, for they prepare us for a new beginning, which comes in the spring. During the winter season the various kinds of life are reduced. Through the reduction that takes place in winter, life is prepared to grow again. Because in our spiritual experience there is the need for us to be reduced, we must be ready for winter at the appointed time. We may say that Galatians is a winter book, a book that reduces us and eliminates everything that should not be permanent. However, this reduction serves a very positive purpose: it prepares us for further growth in life.
We all need to be reduced. We need to be reduced not only in things that are natural or worldly, but even in the various aspects of our spiritual experience. For the sake of further growth in the Lord, we need to be reduced. Certain things in our Christian life may be very good, scriptural, and spiritual. But as long as these things are not Christ Himself directly, they should not be given a place with us very long. Only Christ Himself should have a permanent place in our Christian life. All other things, even the most spiritual experiences, must be reduced. In order for this reduction to take place, God ordains winter. We should never expect to have an endless summer in the Christian life. On the contrary, we should expect the recurring cycle of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Whenever we come to a winter in our experience with the Lord, we should be encouraged that spring and summer will follow in due time. Therefore, we should be encouraged to be reduced in order to have another new beginning. It is my hope that these messages on Galatians will serve this purpose.
In order to study the book of Galatians properly, it is important to know the background and the subject of this book. All the books in the New Testament have a particular background. We thank the Lord for these backgrounds, even though, for the most part, they were not very positive. The Lord uses the negative background as a basis for the release of the divine revelation. The more negative a certain background is, the greater is the opportunity for the Lord to release His revelation. The worse the background, the greater is the need for God’s revelation. If we see this, we shall thank the Lord for all the negative backgrounds that made it necessary for the books in the New Testament to be written.
The Gospel of John is a good example of a New Testament book written against a negative background. This Gospel was written during the last decade of the first century. At that time there was a tendency, even among Christians, to deny the deity of Christ. Some were doubting Christ’s deity, and others were even denying this truth. With such a trend as the background, this Gospel was written by the Apostle John. Without this Gospel, we could not have an adequate understanding of Christ’s deity and His eternal existence. Neither could we realize how Christ could become our life. But through the Gospel of John we clearly see that Christ’s deity is eternal and absolute. In this Gospel we also have the clear view of eternal life and of how Christ can be life to us. If there had not been such a dark background at the end of the first century, this wonderful Gospel probably would not have been written.
The Epistles of Paul were also written according to certain backgrounds. First Corinthians, for example, was written because of the confusion and divisiveness in the church at Corinth. If we did not have the book of 1 Corinthians, we would not know how Christ could be our enjoyment in all kinds of situations. This book describes the enjoyment of Christ in a way not found elsewhere in the New Testament. We should thank the Lord for the confusion in Corinth that gave rise to this Epistle.
The book of Colossians was also written according to a particular background, the background of the culture that had invaded the church at Colosse. With this cultural invasion as the background, the marvelous book of Colossians was written. Without that background, we would not have this book today.
In the same principle, the recovery of justification by faith at the time of the Reformation came forth out of a negative situation and a dark background. Apart from such a situation and background, the truth of justification by faith would not be as clear as it is today. This truth can no longer be blurred because the dark background causes it to stand out so definitely.
Now we come to the background of the book of Galatians. Written before A.D. 60, Galatians is earlier than either Ephesians or Colossians. Galatians was written in the earlier part of Paul’s ministry, before he was imprisoned.
In order to have the proper experience of the church as the Body of Christ, we need the book of Galatians. We need both an adequate experience and understanding of all that is conveyed to us in this Epistle. If we intend to practice the church life today, we need to know the Christ revealed in Galatians.
Galatians reveals that Christ is versus religion with its law. The law given by God through Moses was the foundation of the Jewish religion. Judaism was built on the law. The book of Galatians reveals that the very Christ whom we need for the church life is versus law and religion.
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