Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
Dr. Rod Rosenbladt
Introduction & Preface
1. The Argument
A. We begin with the issue with which Paul wants to deal in this epistle.
B. Paul wants to establish the doctrine of “Christian righteousness.”
1. that is, the righteousness of faith, of grace, of the forgiveness of sins
2. Why? So that we may know the difference between Christian righteousness and all other kinds of righteousness (AE 26: 4)
C. . . . “righteousness” is of many kinds (AE 26: 4)
1. “political righteousness”
a. what the emperor, the princes of this world, philosophers, and lawyers consider
2. “ceremonial righteousness”
2. Teaching Christians to Ignore the Law; Necessity of the Law in the World
A. earth & rain as analogy of “Christian righteousness” (AE 26: 6)
1. earth does not produce rain, is unable to acquire it by its own strength, worship, and power
a. rather receives it only by a heavenly gift from above
2. “. . . so this “heavenly righteousness” is given to us by God without our work or merit.
a. As much as the dry earth is able to accomplish in obtaining the blessed rain, that much can we men accomplish by our own strength & works to obtain divine, heavenly, and eternal righteousness.
b. We obtain it only through the free imputation & indescribable gift of God.
B. Therefore, the highest art & wisdom of Christians is not to know the Law, [but] to ignore works and all “active” righteousness. (AE 26: 6)
3. On Rightly Dividing these Two Words of God (AE 26: 7)
A. calls for a wise and faithful father who can moderate the Law in such a way that it stays within its limits (AE 26: 6-7)
B. Were I to teach men the Law in such a way that they suppose themselves to be justified by it before God, I would be going beyond the limit of the Law, confusing these two righteousnesses – the “active” and the “passive” . . .
1. I would be a bad dialectician, one who does not properly distinguish.
C. But when I go beyond the “old man,” I must also go beyond the Law.
1. because “the flesh” (or the “old man”), the Law, and works are all joined together
2. likewise, “the spirit” (or the “new man”) is joined to the promise & to grace.