Martin Luther, who married a former nun named Katherine, called Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,
“…my epistle. To it I am as it were in wedlock. It is my Katherine.”
High praise from a man who adored his beloved Katie, and Luther’s commentary on Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows his love. So today, as we start our reading of this wonderful letter in Scripture, I thought I would include 5 of my favorite Luther quotes (we’re just scratching the surface here) from the first chapter of his commentary on Galatians. (By the way, a FREE electronic version of the translation I used is found here. Get the Kindle app and download it to your computer or smartphone.) Now, let me say, Luther is fun. He was, after all the guy who said, “I fart at the devil.” And so there is lots of fun to be had in this majestic work that had a part in saving John Wesley, but also some serious words about the good yet despair-inducing law, and of course, glorious words about the gospel.
1. Help in dying (Galatians 1:4): “Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained.
Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair, particularly in the last hour, when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. Say with confidence: “Christ, the Son of God, was given not for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I should not need Christ. No, Satan, you cannot delude me into thinking I am holy. The truth is, I am all sin…”
2. Dealing with the Devil (1:4): “If he says, ‘Thou shalt be damned,’ you tell him: ‘No, for I fly to Christ who gave Himself for my sins. In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God’s fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure…'”
3. On the German people (1:6): “At first we Germans are very enthusiastic, but presently our emotions cool and we become slack. When the light of the Gospel first came to us many were zealous, heard sermons greedily, and held the ministry of God’s Word in high esteem. But now that religion has been reformed, many who formerly were such earnest disciples have discarded the Word of God, have become sow-bellies like the foolish and inconsistent Galatians.” (Unfortunately, Luther was a bit of a racist, but you gotta love that sow-belly epithet)
4. About the church he pastored (1:6): “A man labors for a decade before he succeeds in training his little church into orderly religion, and then some ignorant and vicious poltroon comes along to overthrow in a minute the patient labor of years. By the grace of God we have effected here in Wittenberg the form of a Christian church. The Word of God is taught as it should be, the Sacraments are administered, and everything is prosperous. This happy condition, secured by many years of arduous labors, some lunatic might spoil in a moment.”
5. The importance of the Bible (1:11, 12): “God creates faith in us through the Word…Hence the best service that anybody can render God is diligently to hear and read God’s Word. On the other hand, nothing is more perilous than to be weary of the Word of God. Thinking he knows enough, a person begins little by little to despise the Word until he has lost Christ and the Gospel altogether.”
For Tuesday, June 16th: Galatians 2