Galatians: Guide to Commentaries

Classics of the Christian Tradition Online

20th Century Commentaries Online

There are a large number of online commentaries and other resources on Galatians available here (these are mostly by preachers and popular treatments rather than academic) and also links to various whole Bible and other commentaries at StudyLight here


Which modern commentaries are best?

Biblical Studies Bulletin

In BSB 2, in Dec 1996, Mark Bonnington wrote of commentaries on Galatians:

The best introduction to Galatians is not a commentary at all but John Barclay's Obeying the Truth (T & T Clark, 1988). Mainly a persuasive study of ethics in Galatians it has readable introductory chapters on the main issues of interpretation. J B Lightfoot (1882) is the classic English response to radically polarised historical reconstruction of the Tübingen School under F C Baur but largely of historical interest. E Burton (ICC; T & T Clark, 1921) is old but still remarkably subtle on some contemporary issues, useful on Greek grammatical points and has some detailed word studies. John Stott's Only One Way (1968) is dated but has some good ideas for preaching. John Bligh (1969) is a good example of chiasmania, seeing ABBA patterns throughout Galatians: don't bother. William Barclay (1958; revised 1976) is old but always good for illustrations; be aware that many lay people read it as part of their devotions! H D Betz (1979) introduced 'rhetorical analysis' of the structure of the book; despite this influential but dubious technique it remains valuable as the most sustained attempt to read the book against the Graeco-Roman, rather than Jewish, background. Only look at G Ebeling The Truth of the Gospel (Fortress, 1985) and D Lührmann (Fortress, 1992) if you like unapologetic Lutheranism with your Paul.

F F Bruce (1982) argues in his introduction for the less popular early date and 'South Galatian' hypothesis but represents traditional middle-of-the-road interpretation. R Y K Fung (1988) follows a broadly similar line. The trouble with sitting in the middle of the road is that you get run over in the rush to propound new theories. J D G Dunn (Black's, 1993) reads the letter against the more recent discussion over the 'New Perspective on Paul' of Sanders et al. F J Matera (Sacra Pagina 1994), a Roman Catholic commentator, engages with the New Perspective, as does the Methodist John Ziesler (Epworth, 1992), but Walter Hansen's discussion (IVP NT, 1994) is the best of the trio. R Longenecker (Word 1990) is good on bibliography but tries too often to combine the older and newer approaches in a synthesis of contradictory interpretations.

Preachers with limited time will want to look at Longenecker for information, Barclay for illustrations, and Hansen for direct and sensible discussion.

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg and David Mathewson of the New Testament Department of Denver Seminary, January 2014 bibliography

The lists of top commentaries for each N.T. book are divided into three sections: the first contains those we consider the best detailed, critical commentaries using the Greek text; the second lists more mid-level works using the English text (some with references to the Greek in footnotes); and the third consists of commentaries that are briefer and/or have a special focus on application. At least one priority title is asterisked for each level.


Betz, Hans Dieter. Galatians (Hermeneia). Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979.

Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Galatians (NIGTC). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

Longenecker, Richard N. Galatians (WBC). Dallas: Word, 1990.

Martyn, J. Louis. Galatians (AB). New York: Doubleday, 1997.

*Moo, Douglas J. Galatians (BECNT). Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.

*Schreiner, Thomas R. Galatians (ZECNT).  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.


De Boer, Martinus C.  Galatians (NTL).  Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011.

Dunn, James D. G. The Epistle to the Galatians (BNTC). Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993.

Fee, Gordon D. Galatians (PCS). Blandford Forum, Dorset: Deo, 2007.

*Witherington, Ben, III. Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,      1998.


Braxton, Brad R. No Longer Slaves: Galatians and African American Experience. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2002.

*deSilva, David A.  A Sri Lankan Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.  Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011.

Ngewa, Samuel. Galatians (ABCS). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.


The Gospel Coalition

In November 2008, Keith Mathison's article on Galatians recommended

  • Philip Graham Ryken, Galatians (Reformed Expository Commentary, 2005)
  • F.F. Bruce, Epistle to the Galatians (New International Greek Testament Commentary, 1982).
  • Timothy George, Galatians (New American Commentary, 1994)
  • Leon MorrisGalatians: Paul's Charter of Christian Freedom (2003)
  • Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Other helpful commentaries also listed

Best Commentaries Website

The page on Galatians has a long list and can be searched by various criteria.  Its top 3 are Longenecker (1990), Bruce (1982) and George (1994).

Other recommendations

Tim Challies (June 2013) lists his top 5 commentaries - Bruce (1982), Ryken (2005), George (1994), Stott, Longenecker (1990)

Reading Acts has a June 2012 account of top 5  - Longenecker (1990), Witherington (1998), Fung (1988), George (1994) and Nanos (1992).

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman (March 2010) has an extensive survey of commentaries which, in addition to those noted above, highlights Fee, Martyn, Betz, McKnight and Hays

Thomas Schreiner in his "Interpreting the Pauline Epistles" (2011) gives his top 3 as

  • Gordon D. Fee. Galatians: A Pentecostal Commentary. Pentecostal Commentary Series. Blandford Forum, Dorset, UK: Deo, 2007.
  • Richard N. Longenecker. Galatians. Word Biblical Commentary 41. Dallas: Word, 1990.
  • Thomas R. Schreiner. Galatians. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

John Anthony Dunne (April 2013) offers Dunn, Longenecker, Schriner and Witherington as his best in his survey.

Roy E. Ciampa provides a list and short comment on commentaries (modern and classic) and other works he'd consult.

The blog on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians has a comprehensive listing of commentaries by series.

Scot McKnight has a short May 2009 list of recommended commentaries

Nijay K. Gupta in April 2013 offered the following assessment:

Like Romans, Galatians tends to stir up academic controversy regarding perspectives on Paul’s attitude towards Judaism, the OT, the law, and the concerns of his original readers (all aspects related to the “New Perspective on Paul”). Pre-New Perspective commentaries on Galatians of note would include F.F. Bruce’s fine work (NIGTC [Eerdmans, 1982]). J.D.G. Dunn has published a short commentary on Galatians representing the New Perspective on Paul (BNTC; Hendrickson, 1993). His work offers much discussion of potential socio-historical issues behind the letter. A more theologically rich “New Perspective” commentary by R.B. Hays can be found in the NIB (2000).

There are a number of commentaries that have sought to challenge the “New Perspective” reading on Galatians, choosing to defend more traditional views. Perhaps M. Silva’s independent commentary entitled Interpreting Galatians (Baker, 2001) offers the most incisive counter-“New Perspective” reading. More recently, T.R. Schreiner has produced a lengthy commentary for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series (ZECNT; Zondervan, 2010).

Several commentators do not fit into an “either-or” category for the “New Perspective.” Many seek to draw out the best insights of the “New Perspective” without endorsing it completely. These tend to be some of the most useful commentaries because they do not get bogged down in trying to win an exegetical debate. In this middle category I would put two excellent commentaries. First, B. Witherington’s Grace in Galatia (Eerdmans, 1995) is lucid, theologically rich, and written from a Wesleyan perspective. G.D. Fee also offers a treatment of Galatians in the Pentecostal Commentary series that focuses on the rhetorical flow of the text and its theological substance (Deo, 2008).

Fulcrum Articles on Galatians

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