As we begin our journey through Galatians, let me offer a few suggestions as to study resources. I’ll limit myself here to brief comments on English translations of Galatians and some quality commentary that is available online at no charge. I’ll comment tomorrow on my favorite commentaries and other helps to consider purchasing.
Obviously, anytime we’re studying the Bible, there’s simply no substitute for becoming extremely familiar with the Bible passage at hand. So read the text, read the text, and then, having read the text, read the text. And so, as we delve into Galatians, determine to saturate yourself with this letter. Read it repeatedly. Read it in different English translations, particularly the NRSV, NIV 2011, CEB, and the KNT (Kingdom New Testament). To a lesser degree, take note of the renderings by J.B. Phillips, the CEV, and The Message. With the exception of the NRSV and the KNT (by N.T. Wright), you’ll find all of these available online at my go-to site of choice for online Bible reading: BibleGateway. As for the NRSV, you can access it on Oremus, but you’ll need to pick up either a printed copy or an e-book edition of the KNT if you want to make use of it (a shame, for the KNT is my hands-down favorite rendering of Galatians). I will say you can read the first two chapters of Galatians in the KNT on HarperCollins’ site.
We always do well to seek truly informed, quality counsel in all areas of life, but this is especially in regard to our understanding of the Scripture. Few of us have the luxury of having the benefit of counsel on a face-to-face basis whenever we want it. But a great many of us can access the distilled work of many who have spent huge chunks of their focused on Galatians by consulting quality commentaries on that letter. However, quality material comes with a price tag and our funds are likely limited. What to do then?
One avenue is to consult the previews of such commentaries that are available online. Google Books is a resource you should be aware of in this regard not only when you’re studying Galatians, but any Biblical book or topic. While Google Books will very rarely reveal all of a book to you to read online for free, it will typically reveal a great deal; far more than the preview available via most other sources. If you don’t want to, or simply can’t, spend much money on quality counsel, but you still would like to peek inside some of the fine works available on Galatians, this is the tool for you!
With that in mind, following are links to several quality works or commentaries on Galatians that are partially available for viewing via Google Books. I’ve listed them here generally in the order of increasing depth and/or complexity.
Galatians: Why God Accepts Us by Jack Kuhatschek (discussion guide)
Galatians by G. Walter Hansen (part of the IVP NT commentary series)
Understanding Galatians by L. Ann Jervis
Galatians by Frank Matera (a part of the Sacra Pagina series)
The Epistle to the Galatians by Ronald Y.K. Fung (part of the NICNT series)
Galatians, Ephesians & Philippians edited by Mark J. Edwards (part of the Ancient Christian Commentary series)
A Critical & Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians by Ernest De Witt Burton (part of the old ICC series)
A final note. A.T. Robertson was one of the finest Greek scholars of the New Testament during the latter part of the nineteenth and the early third of the twentieth century. Among his many works is a multi-volume set entitled Word Pictures of the New Testament (WPNT). Yes, much of it you’ll say, “This Greek to me,” so do as I do, “read around it” when you must. Still, in doing so, you’ll profit much from the experience. As an example, read Robertson’s comments on Galatians 3.1.
The complete text of WPNT is available for online reading at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org). Following are the links to the six chapter of Galatians as discussed in WPNT.