Jerome once said that when he read the letters of the apostle Paul he could hear thunder. Nowhere in the Pauline corpus is such stormy dissonance more evident than in the Epistle to the Galatians. Though written from prison, Philippians is a love letter on the theme of joy. Romans reflects the considered objectivity of a master theologian reveling in the doctrines of grace. Ephesians is an uplifting commentary on the body of Christ. Even the Corinthian correspondence, though obviously written out of great personal anguish and pain, revolves around the great triad of faith, hope, and love, with Paul’s hardships and concerns set over against his greater confidence in the God of all comfort who causes his children to triumph. In 2 Cor 13:12 Paul could admonish the believers in Corinth to greet one another with a holy kiss.
But Galatians is different. From beginning to end its six chapters of 149 verses bristle with passion, sarcasm, and anger. True, there is a touch of tenderness as well; once in the midst of the letter Paul referred to the Galatians as his “dear children” (4:19). As the context reveals, though, this was the tearing tenderness of a distraught mother who must endure all over again the pains of childbirth because her children, who should have known better, were in danger of committing spiritual suicide. Paul was astonished and “perplexed” by their departure from the truth of the gospel. He feared that they had been “bewitched” and deceived. In frustration he dubbed them, as J. B. Phillips translates it, “my dear idiots” (3:1).Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, NAC, 21–22
How’s that for an introduction!? Thankfully, we have someone very capable of helping us navigate such a book: Dr. Mark Yarbrough. Dr. Yarbrough currently serves as the president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Along with his presidential duties, he is also a professor of Bible Exposition, an elder at his home Church, a regular tour-leader in Israel, a conference speaker, and author.