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J. Gresham Machen, Edited by John H. Skilton

The chief feature of this volume is that it makes available in convenient form the "Notes on Biblical Exposition" which Dr. J. Gresham Machen published in the earlier 'Christianity Today' from January 1931 to February 1933. Students at Westminster Seminary have made profitable use of these Notes on Galatians 1:1 - 3:14 by following them, with minor inconveience, through bound periodical volumes; but for many others who might greatly benefit from them, they have long been inaccessible.

Here you will find a master exegete opening up important and essential meterial to help undertsand the import of the great Apoostle on this vital portion of Scripture.

"Notes on Galatians is one of the hidden jewels of J Gresham Machen's outstanding contributions to Christian literature. As Galatians has again become a battleground for theological controversy over the nature of the gospel, Dr Machen's exegetical insight and theological sturdiness provide wise and careful guidance for a new generation of Bible students. Written for a previous generation it continues to speak to the contemporary one." - Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

"Dr. Machen was a master at crystal clear teaching and his work on Galatians is a good model of this gift. In a day of confused and confusing teaching on this Book, Dr. Machen reminds us of the dynamic power of this Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone that is opened so richly by the Apostle Paul." - Pastor Bill Shishko

"Machen wrote on Galatians to inform his students and to help Sunday School teachers. It is written with delightful clarity and incidentally introduces us to what Machen did very well, teach the New Testament to students at Princeton and Westminster Seminaries. It is wonderfully lucid; a pleasure to read; a model for anyone who preaches the Bible." - Geoff Thomas

"This is Machen at his best, and surely begs to be re-printed. Especially the introductory chapters are needed nowadays." - Pastor Tom Lyon

"J. Gresham Machen is perhaps best known for his defense of Christianity and especially for his articulate advocacy of confessional Reformed theology. By training, however, he was a New Testament scholar and by practice he was a biblical exegete of the first order. This little work on Galatians is still useful as a witness to Machen's clear-headed insight into the nature and message of Paul's letter to the Galatians. This witness seems particularly relevant in the midst of the current confusion surrounding Paul and the doctrine of justification." - Dr. R. Scott Clark

The late John H. Skilton did a great service to the church by getting this material from various places and putting it all conveniently in one place.



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Table of Contents


The chief feature of this volume is that it makes avail-able in convenient form the "Notes on Biblical Exposition" which Dr. J. Gresham Machen published in the earlier Christianity Today from January 1931 to February 1933. Students at Westminster Seminary have made profitable use of these Notes on Galatians 1 :1--3:14 by following them, with minor inconvenience, through bound periodical volumes; but for many others who might greatly benefit from them, they have long been virtually inaccessible.

In the four decades which have passed since these Notes began to appear, they have not lost their instructive value and their power to arouse and move the Christian soul. By design they were more popular and less technical than Dr. Machen's brilliant classroom instruction in Galatians and, unlike his classroom presentation, they did not refrain from making specific applications to the ecclesiastical controver-sies of their time ; but they are not in the slightest degree superficial; they present the teaching of Galatians with an exemplary penetration and clarity; and their contemporary references and applications still have a lively relevance. Machen's Notes should encourage a Pauline and Reformation testimony today.

It is of course to be regretted that the "Notes on Bibli-cal Exposition" carry us only to Galatians 3:14. We might sincerely wish that their author had found occasion or op-portunity in the crowded and demanding years between 1933 and his death in 1937 to give the rest of the epistle similar coverage. However, compensation for our loss is not com-pletely lacking. The enlightened grammatico-historical method of interpretation employed by Machen did not sanction the viewing of a portion of Scripture in a kind of atomistic isolation. He was aware of the grand particularities of a given text or passage, but he did not lose contact with the nearer and the more distant context. For him the part contributed to the whole and the whole contributed to the part. Accordingly, his treatment of the earlier text of Galatians was writ-ten without neglect of the epistle as a whole. It drew upon the whole and it also laid a substantial foundation for the interpretation of the remaining portion of the epistle. But in addition to this, there are in Machen's other writings many references to Galatians, some very extensive and some to verses or passages not directly covered in the Notes, and these provide a most welcome supplement. Part II of this volume draws upon these references by reproducing a number of them and by providing an index of others. Included in Part II, along with other materials, are the syllabus of questions dealing with the exegesis of Galatians 1:1--4:4 which Dr. Machen prepared for the use of students in his introductory course in New Testament Exegesis and surveys of Galatians as a whole from The Literature and History of New Testament Times (from both the Teacher's Manual and the corresponding Student's Text Book).

The text of the Notes and of Machen's other writings included in this book has been left almost untouched. A few minor changes have been made to remove typographical or other minor imperfections in the available printed form. The Rev. George R. Demass has helped greatly by making copies of the "Notes on Biblical Exposition" in the form in which they were originally published. Gratitude is also expressed to Mrs. Robert H. Skilton, III, and to Miss Margaret Anne Skilton for assistance in proofreading.

Under the caption "Teaching Galatians" in his biographical Memoir of Machen, Dr. Ned B. Stonehouse, Machen's successor as Professor of New Testament at Westminster Semi-nary and himself one of Machen's students at Princeton, paid his professor the following tribute :

"The Epistle to the Galatians was traditionally chosen as the portion of the New Testament with which the semi-nary students [at Princeton] grappled in the required course in Exegesis. Though Machen had heard Armstrong, Jiilicher and Bousset lecture on the Epistle, he never seemed to be passing on a rehash of the opinions of others. He engaged in-deed in a thorough study of the literature, and his analysis of exegetical problems and questions, which he came to pre-pare for the students, exhibits his insistence upon the most painstaking evaluation of the text in its minutest details. Nevertheless, Machen possessed an unusual gift of bringing into bold relief the larger questions, and thus giving a vision of the forest as well as the trees.

"The Epistle to the Galatians, moreover, was admirably suited to the purpose of exegetical study as well as to bring to expression Machen's special gifts as a teacher. Historical questions currently in hot dispute and doctrinal issues bearing upon the very nature of the gospel confronted the student in forceful and fascinating fashion and stimulated him to en-gage his best powers of analysis and decision. The message of Galatians may take on an extraordinary freshness and contemporaneity, especially in an age when the gospel of the grace of God in Christ is undergoing eclipse, as Luther had discovered. And in the hands of Machen it became alive and relevant to the present situation, though his devotion to his task of expounding the text was such that he did not yield to the temptation of making direct applications to the ecclesiastical scene of his own day. At least when the present writer was in his classroom, it was not felt merely that Luther had been reborn, but that Paul himself had become alive, and was teaching and proclaiming as a fresh message the evangel that stands in irreconcilable opposition to `another gospel which is not another.'"

It is hoped that through the writings included and referred to in this volume Machen's special gifts as a teacher will long continue to be exercised for edification and reformation.

John H. Skilton