Galatians: God’s Antidote to Legalism By Ron Merryman. (Duluth, MN: Merryman Ministries, 1999), 130 pp. Paper, $13.00.
“Galatians is God’s antidote for legalism. As no other book, it clarifies the issue of the believer’s relationship to Old Testament Law and the grace provision for sanctification clearly expressed in the New Testament…Thank God for the Epistle to the Galatians: It establishes us in God’s grace provision for justification, sanctification, and life of the Spirit. Sink your moorings deep into the message of this book” (pp. i, v). So writes able Bible teacher Ron Merryman in his newly revised commentary on Galatians.
This is a thorough, verse-by-verse, exegetical commentary ideally suited to assist Bible teachers; yet it is written clearly enough to be used profitably by the average believer as a guide to studying this epistle for personal enrichment.
This commentary is divided into several major sections. Most of the commentary is a verse-by-verse analysis, as might be expected. There are also introductory sections dealing with the theological importance of this epistle, its historical setting within the first century church, and an outline of the book. It concludes with a brief annotated bibliography for further study of Galatians.
Galatians: God’s Antidote to Legalism is a revised second edition of Merryman’s previous commentary entitled Analytical Notes on Galatians published in 1979. Even if readers have the original commentary, it would be worth investing in this new edition. It has several enhancements. First, it is completely re-typeset, making it more reader friendly. There are insightful quotations sprinkled throughout by grace-oriented Bible teachers of the past. There are ten very helpful doctrinal summaries at various points on such topics as “Apostleship,” “7 Key Aspects of Justification,” “Legalism,” “The Doctrine of the Believer’s Relationship to the Mosaic Law,” “Understanding Spirituality,” etc. In addition, fourteen new graphics have been added which illustrate the truths explained in the text.
Though I personally own many commentaries on Galatians, in my estimation, this is the most useful at capturing Paul’s flow of thought and accurately interpreting the text. If a pastor, teacher, or student were to limit his commentaries on Galatians to just five, this one should be included. During my own pastoral teaching of Galatians this is one commentary that has remained “on my desk” instead of “on the shelf.”
Thomas L. Stegall
Word of Grace Bible Church
Editor’s Note: This review has been adapted and revised from one that appeared originally in The Grace Family Journal (July-Aug 1999), p. 23. It is used with permission.