INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
AUTHOR AND DATE
1. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE DEFENDED 1:1 – 2:21
2. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE EXPLAINED 3:1 – 4:31
3. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE APPLIED 5:1 – 6:18
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
“The letter to the Galatians was written in a spirit of inspired agitation. For Paul, the issue was not whether a person was circumcised, but whether he had become “a new creation” (6:15). If Paul had not been successful in his argument for justification by faith alone, Christianity would have remained a sect within Judaism, rather than becoming the universal way of salvation. Galatians, therefore, is not only Luther’s epistle; it is the epistle of every believer who confesses with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).”” (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
“Galatians is a classic statement of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith……written to counter false teachers who believed a person must keep the Jewish Law in order to be right with God. Like the epistle to the Romans, Galatians has played a strategic role in the history of the Christian Church. Both Martin Luther and John Wesley recorded the crucial impact of this epistle on their lives.” (from Nelsons Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts)
AUTHOR AND DATE
The authorship has been unchallenged and the epistle was written by Paul the apostle himself (6:11), while the date “is related to the question of to whom it was addressed…..due to the fact that the term “Galatia” was used in both a cultural/geographic sense and a political sense.” (from Nelsons Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts)
“Galatia is the name given originally to the territory in north-central Asia Minor where the invading Gauls settled in the third century before Christ and maintained an independent kingdom for many years. Gradually the Gallic population was absorbed into the other peoples living there, after a number of political changes the territory became the property of Rome in 25 B.C. The Romans incorporated this northern section into a larger division of land that they made a province and called by the name of Galatia. Galatia, then, under Roman rule, could mean Galatia proper, which the Gauls had founded, or it could be applied to the whole province, which included the southern cities of Antioch, lconium, Derbe, Lystra.
To which of these did Paul refer when he wrote his epistle to churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:2)? The usage of the New Testament appears in seven passages. In Galatians 1:2 and 3: 1 the people of the churches are addressed, but no hint is given of their location beyond the mere use of the name. In I Corinthians 16: 1 Paul spoke of “the churches of Galatia” whom he had asked for a contribution for the poor in Jerusalem. In the context he referred to Macedonia (16:5), Achaia (16: 15), and (16: 19). Since these last three names refer to Roman provinces, it probable that Galatia in the context should also mean the province as a whole.
The two other passages that allude to Galatia are found in Acts. The former of the two, Acts 16:6, says, “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia. . . . ” The expression is peculiar and could be translated better “the Phrygian and Galatian region,” or “the Phrvgio-Galatic country.” Since Paul and his company were on their way westward, the territory must have been adjacent to Asia and Mysia, which they were prevented from entering. The second allusion occurs in Acts 18:23, “the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order.” Here the same terms are used, but in reverse order. Perhaps both refer to the mountainous country that lay on the borders of Galatia and that had been ethnically Phrygia. Whether the Lukan and Pauline usages of these terms coincided exactly or not, both referred to the same general region included within the bounds of Roman province of Galatia. The problem is this: Was Galatians written to the churches in the southern part of the province, which Paul and Barnabas evangelized on the first journey, or was it written to a group churches in Galatia proper, which were founded on the second and third journeys?” (from the “New Testament Survey” by Merrill C. Tenny p267-368)
So we find that depending on the destination of the letter, whether to the Roman political province of Galatia, or to the ethnic Galatia, the dates could span from 51 AD to 53 AD.
Some Jewish believers (called Judaizers) held that certain O.T. practices of the Law were still binding on the N.T. believers, and insisted that the Gentile converts abide by these rites. They argued that Paul was not an authentic apostle and that he was making the gospel message appeal to the Gentiles by removing certain legal requirements. Paul sets out to clarify these accusations.
NOTE: All scripture references quoted in the following Posts are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise indicated, and where used “cf”means to compare.
The letter to the Galatians teaches an important principle:
“The doctrine of justification is by FAITH ALONE”. Mankind cannot be justified by the Jewish Law, for the law only condemns us.”