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GALATIANS

INTRODUCTION

GALATIA - A district of central Asia Minor, bordered by:

To the North - Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Pontus
To the East - Pontus and Cappadocia
To the South - Cappadocia, Lycaonia, and Phrygia
To the West - Phrygia and Bithynia

We know this area today as the south central part of Turkey.

The Name  =  derived from the fact that certain Gaelic tribes, after having invaded Macedonia and Greece (278-277 B.C.), migrated to Asia Minor and received this territory from Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, in return for services rendered him in war. The Gauls were commonly called "Galatia" by the Greeks.

Chief Cities  =  Pessinus, Ancyra and Tavium.

The Territory  =  varied in size at different times according to the fortunes of war:

1.  189 B.C. - the Galatians were subdued by the Romans, but retained their self-government, and were favored by their conquerors, since they were valuable allies. Hence under their last king, Amyntas, their territory was much extended to the south, to include part of Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, and Isauria.
2.  25 B.C. - After the death of Amyntas, this enlarged region became the Roman province of Galatia.
3.  7 B.C. - Paphlagonia and part of Pontus were added on the north.
4.  After A.D. 63 - Other territorial changes were frequently made.

During the travels of Paul, therefore, the term "Galatia" was applicable both to the  (1) original Galactic territory, and to the  (2) larger Roman province.

(1) Original Galatian Territory
Geographical Division

(2) Later Galatian Territory
Roman Political Division

Gal Map 1 Hurlbut.jpg (21747 bytes) Gal Map 2 Thompson.jpg (18437 bytes)

Paul's Missionary Journeys
Bible Atlas By J.L.Hurlbut

The Roman Empire in the Apostolic Age
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible

It is disputed in which sense the term "Galatia" is used:

In Acts 16:6    "They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia" - but which Ramsay translates, "They went through the Phrygo-Galactic region"  (R.V.).   
In Acts 18:23    similar problem.
In Paul’s epistle to the "churches of Galatia."

If "Galatia" meant the Roman province, then Paul evangelized it on his first missionary Journey (Acts 13, 14) in company with Barnabas.

If it meant the old territory of Galatia, then he evangelized it on his Second Journey (Acts 16:6).

DATE OF WRITING

I.   IN CONFORMITY WITH THE LATTER VIEW    (that Paul evangelized this area on his 2nd Journey)

The apostle appeals to his readers as if he alone had been their spiritual father (4:13-20), whereas on his first trip Barnabas had been closely associated with him.
Paul's description of his reception as an angel of God (4:14) hardly agrees with any known experience of his on his first journey.

Many scholars take this latter view, concluding that Galatia proper was evangelized on the 2nd trip, and date the epistle in A.D. 55 or 56.

Others put it still later, thinking that its resemblance to Romans shows that it was written shortly before that epistle, in the winter of A.D. 57-58.

Dake says it was written A.D. 58 from Rome.

II.   IN CONFORMITY WITH THE FIRST VIEW     (That Paul evangelized this area on his first Journey)

A. Wuest refers to Dr. Thiessen, stating that the letter was written primarily to the churches of Pisidia, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, for these reasons:

Is it likely, since Paul always used the provincial names of districts, that he would speak of Galatia in any other sense?
Would it not be strange for Luke to tell us so much about the founding of the churches in South Galatia, and for Paul to say nothing about them?
Does it not seem strange, on the other hand, to think that Paul would write so weighty a letter to churches whose founding is practically passed over in silence by Luke, as would be the case if the Galatian churches were located in North Galatia?
Would it not be strange also for the Judaizers of Palestine to pass by the most important cities of Iconium and Antioch in South Galatia, where there were a good many Jews, and no doubt some Jewish Christians, and go to the remoter Galatian country to do their mischievous work?

B. John Pollock puts the writing of the epistle at about A.D. 49

Whatever its readers and date, it was occasioned by the operations of certain Judaizing teachers among the Galatians, who assailed Paul’s authority, and taught the necessity of observing the Mosaic laws. They declared that Paul, not being one of the original apostles, was dependent on others for his knowledge of the gospel. They seem also to have charged him with being himself inconsistent in his preaching of Gentile freedom from the Law. They also attacked his doctrine, and persuaded his converts to adopt Jewish observances. The very gospel being thus at stake, Paul wrote this epistle with great intensity of feeling and vigorous argument.

EXCERPTS FROM   "THE APOSTLE"
BY JOHN POLLOCK

(After the stoning at Lystra, Paul is in Derbe) Here the battered Paul found welcome, response, and recovery. Indeed, it may have been the people of Derbe - who still considered themselves Galatians since the transference of rule was merely an administrative convenience - that Paul had in mind when he wrote those words in his letter to all the widely scattered churches: "You resisted any temptation to show scorn or disgust at the poor state of my body; you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God ... You would have torn out your very eyes and given them to me."

(Later, after the confrontation between Paul and Peter at Antioch in Syria) Peter returned to Jerusalem. That the question in dispute had been by no means trivial, nor fully settled, was shown by bad news which reached Antioch from Galatia.

Christian Pharisees - either those who had left Antioch defeated, or, more likely, others who had hurried on through Cilicia - had been welcomed by the Galatians, had taught them "circumcision," and had met instant, widespread success. Paul’s first missionary church, so promising and apparently healthy, had been swept into "another gospel." Former pagans who had trusted Christ and rejoiced in being "new creations" were making their lives a misery trying to keep the Jewish Law.

As Paul cross-questioned his informants he could see what must have happened in Galatia. These false teachers had first undermined his credentials by pointing out that he never had been a personal disciple of Jesus; he was the emissary of ordinary men from whom he had picked up his ideas, which held no more authority than other human opinions. His teaching had been good but incomplete. They then propounded what Paul had left out: circumcision and the keeping of the Law. The Galatians fell into the trap.

When Paul was among them they had leaped at the offer of a grace that was totally free and gave them freedom. The old sinful life, whether of self-righteousness as Jews or of Idolatry, lust and fear as pagans, had been replaced by Christ within them, and all they wanted was to please Him by molding their lives in His pattern, by His strength. After Paul had gone some of them fell back into grievous sin. They repented, but found themselves hard put to take literally that they could be utterly forgiven, cleansed and healed; that no repentant, trusting Christian could ever be in disgrace with God or need earn a return to favor. Their natural instinct was not to depend on Christ’s cross alone but on Christ AND THEIR OWN EFFORT. The very simplicity of the gospel was their stumbling block.

And now the new "apostles" who disparaged Paul taught that he was wrong and their natural instinct right; and by being circumcised and keeping the Law they would have a bonus too in that they would no longer be persecuted by Jews.

Paul and Barnabas were appalled by the news from Galatia. Paul walked around Antioch in a confusion of emotions. He was indignant with the false brethren and astonished at the Galatians’ speedy disloyalty to Christ. He was disappointed and hurt, for though he had grown a thick skin toward the malice of outsiders it was not very proof against Christian brothers who were false, or converts who failed.

Yet he had a yearning for them, his little children, for whom he felt himself undergoing birthpains all over again. And because he loved them deeply he determined to put them back on the right course. It was vital to them, it was vital to Christ. He could not bear the thought of Christ’s agony on the cross being dismissed as secondary. He could not accept that an ill-defined or partial belief in Jesus was enough to make a man a Christian, even if that led to a more numerous, popular church. Nor could he tolerate teachers - whose spiritual descendants are much in evidence in the twentieth century - who used the name of Christ as an accolade of their own ideas of the nature of God.

All these emotions and desires exploded in a letter which we call "The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians."

WHO WERE THE JUDAIZERS, AND WHAT DID THEY TEACH?

In order to answer this question properly, we must go back to Cain, for it was he who first exhibited the tendencies which form the background of the teachings and activities of the Judaizers. Adam had instructed his sons, Cain and Able, as to the proper approach of a sinner to a holy God, namely, by means of a blood sacrifice which pointed to and symbolized the actual sacrifice for sin which God would some day set forth, even the Lord Jesus. However, the offering of such a blood sacrifice in itself would not result in the salvation of the offerer. That offering was to be only an outward visible manifestation of an inward fact, namely, the act of that offerer in placing his faith in the coming virgin-born child who would crush the head of the serpent, Satan. Without that act of faith, the offering of the sacrifice would be a mere form, and a mockery in the eyes of God. Cain’s reaction to this instruction was that he rejected the teaching of salvation through faith in a substitutionary sacrifice, and substituted for it his own personal merit and good works. Abel followed the instructions of his father, his faith leaped the centuries to the Cross, and he was declared righteous. Since the time of these two men, these two diametrically opposed tendencies are seen in the human race. We see them in the history of Israel. There always was a remnant in Israel, a little group which offered the symbolic sacrifices as an indication of a real living faith in the future substitutionary sacrifice, and there was always the larger group which, while it went through the ritual of the Levitical sacrifices, yet exercised no heart faith to appropriate a salvation offered in grace on the basis of justice satisfied by the atonement, but depended upon personal merit and good works for salvation. These two groups were in existence in Israel in the first century.

An illustration of the first group     (true believers)      is found in such believers as Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary the virgin, the disciples other than Judas.

An illustration of the second group   the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians, who while observing the sacrificial ritual of the Temple, yet ignored its significance and depended for salvation upon personal merit and their own good works.

From the latter group came two attacks against New Testament truth, inspired by Satan - two attempts of the Adversary to destroy the newly formed Christian Church ...

One of these was the attempt to substitute good works for faith in Christ. This was met by the letter to the Galatians.
The other was the attempt to invalidate the atoning worth of the Cross by urging the Jewish wing of the church to return to the Levitical ritual of the Temple. This was met by the letter to the Hebrews.

The first - (Galatians) was to the Gentiles in the Church.

Paul enumerates some of the human attainments and merits which the Judaizers were depending upon for acceptance with God:

1. CIRCUMCISION - marking out that person as a member of the Chosen people, Israel. The rite had nothing to do with the personal salvation of a Jew or his acceptance before God. The Judaizers made it a prerequisite to salvation.

2. LINEAGE - they taught that acceptance with God was brought about by virtue of the fact that one was a member of the nation of Israel = "Of the stock of Israel."

3. RELIGION - they taught that an ecclesiastical position in the religious system of Israel gave one acceptance with God.

4. WORKS - the faithful observance of the law would provide for them a righteousness acceptable with God.

The Judaizers did not attempt to introduce the economy of the Old Testament into the Church, but a false view of that economy. Sinners were saved in Old Testament times by pure faith just as they are today, without any mixture of good works. Had the Judaizers believed in their hearts in the true economy of the Old Testament, they would not have been false teachers, but true believers in the Lord Jesus.

Here therefore was an attempt on the part of Satan to ruin the Christian church by going back to Cain and his system of salvation by works. Paul was the chief exponent of Grace, and the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was therefore necessary to undermine, and if possible, to destroy his work.

This the Judaizers tried to do by two methods:

1.  First, they endeavored to depreciate Paul’s apostolic position and set up the Twelve Apostles as the real interpreters of Christ to discredit his authority as a teacher of Grace. They argued that Paul was not one of the original 12, he had not listened to Christ’s Voice, he had not seen His face, he had not attended on Christ’s ministry, and that he had not been sent out like them at His express command. Furthermore, they said that he had not received the gospel by direct revelation from Christ as had the others, but had gathered it at second-hand from the twelve.

2.  Second, they substituted a salvation-by-works system for the doctrine of pure Grace which Paul preached.

In short, the Judaizers were Jews who knew in their minds that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. But their hearts were not changed, they had not been converted. And further, they could not accept the concept that God could be approached by unholy Gentiles nor reprobate Jews unless they observed all points of the Law as they had done for generations.

Paul therefore found it necessary to:

In Chapters 1 & 2 - Defend his apostolic authority.

In Chapters 3 & 4 - Show that salvation was by Grace before the Mosaic law was given, and that the coming of the law did not supersede nor affect the economy of Grace in the least.

In Chapters 5 & 6 - Introduce some corrective measures emphasizing the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Believer.

The epistle can be summed up in three words and divided into three sections:

A. PERSONAL  (Chapters 1 & 2)
B. DOCTRINAL (Chapters 3 & 4)
C. PRACTICAL (Chapters 5 & 6) 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE LETTER
(BY WUEST)

PERSONAL - CHAPTERS 1 & 2

Paul defends his apostolic authority against the efforts of the Judaizers to discredit it, by proving it to be of divine origin.

I. (1:1-5) The Salutation and Ascription of Praise. In his salutation, Paul expands his official title into a statement of his direct commission from God, thus meeting at once the attack of his opponents against his apostolic authority, and by dwelling on the work of redemption in connection with the name of Christ, he protests against their doctrinal errors.
II. (1:6-10) The Galatian Christians are rebuked and the Judaizers denounced.
III. (1:11-2:21) Paul asserts that the Gospel he preaches came to him, not from man, but directly from God.
A. (1:11 & 12) It was a special revelation given to Paul directly from God.
B. (1:13 & 14) Paul’s previous education could not have been responsible for his teaching of Grace, for it was directly opposed to Grace.
C. (1:15-17) Paul could not have learned the Gospel from the 12 Apostles at Jerusalem, for he kept aloof from them for some time after his conversion.
D.(1:18-24) When he did go up to Jerusalem, he only saw Peter and James, only remained 15 days, and returned without being recognized by the mass of believers.
E. (2:1-10) When Paul went back to Jerusalem some years later, he was most careful to maintain his independence of the apostles there. His fellowship with them was on terms of equality. He was not indebted to them for anything.
F. (2:11-21) But Paul’s independence of the Twelve is not only seen in his activities at Jerusalem, but in his act of rebuking Peter at Antioch when Peter was yielding to pressure from the legalizers, and was adding law to grace, and in that was denying the fundamentals of the Gospel.

DOCTRINAL - CHAPTERS 3 & 4

Paul defends the doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone, without works, against that of the Judaizers who taught that the works of an individual gave him acceptance with God.

I. (3:1-5) The Galatian Christians received the Holy spirit in answer to their faith in Christ, not through obedience to the law.
II (3:6-9) Abraham was justified by faith, not works. Therefore the true children of Abraham are justified in the same way.
III. (3:10-14) The Judaizers taught that the law was a means of justification. Paul shows that the law is a means of condemnation, and that it is the Lord Jesus who rescues us from its condemnation through the blood of His Cross.
IV. (3:15-18) God made provision for justification to be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, and also the gift of the Spirit to both Jew and Gentile, doing this before the Mosaic Law was given. The law therefore cannot make void that which was done by God prior to the giving of the law.
V. (4:19-4:7) If the law was never given as a means whereby a person might be saved, why was it given, and for what purpose?
A. (3:10-23) It was given to show man that sin is not a mere following of evil impulses, but a direct violation of the laws of God.
B. (3:24-29) Paul’s previous education could not have been responsible for his teaching of Grace, for it was directly opposed to Grace.
C. (4:1-7) It was given because the unbeliever was like a child in its minority, and could therefore only be dealt with in a most elementary way.
VI. (4:8-11) Yet the Galatians were determined to return to their former position as minors and slaves under law.
VII. (4:12-20) Paul appeals in a touching way to the Galatians to maintain their freedom from the law. He reminds them of their enthusiastic reception of him and the gospel which he preached. He tells them of his longing to be with them now in order that he might speak to them personally.
VIII. (4:21-31) The history of Hagar and Sarah illustrates the present status of law and grace. As the son of the bondwoman gave place to the son of the free-woman, so law has given place to grace.

  PRACTICAL - CHAPTERS 5 & 6

I. (5:1-12) Paul exhorts the Galatians to hold fast to the freedom from law which the Lord Jesus procured for them by the blood of His Cross, and not become entangled in the legalistic system.
II. (5:13-26) Paul appeals in a touching way to the Galatians to maintain their freedom from the law. He reminds them of their enthusiastic reception of him and the gospel which he preached. He tells them of his longing to be with them now in order that he might speak to them personally.
VIII. (4:21-31) They have been liberated from the law by the blood of Christ. But they are not to think that this freedom gives them the liberty to sin. The reason why they have been liberated from such an elementary method of controlling the conduct of an individual, is that they might be free to live their lives on a new principle, namely, under the control of the Holy Spirit.
A. (5:13-15) He warns them not to use their freedom from the law as a pretext for sinning, thus turning liberty into license, and he exhorts them instead, to govern their lives by the motivating impulse of divine love.
B. (5:16-26) The subjection of the believers to the personal control of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the secret of victory over sin and of the living of a life in which divine love is the motivating impulse.
1. (5:16-21) The Holy Spirit will suppress the activities of the evil nature as the believer trusts Him to do so and cooperates with Him in His work of sanctification.
2. (5:22-26) The Holy Spirit will produce His own fruit in the life of the believer as the believer trusts Him to do that and cooperates with Him in his work of sanctification.
III. (6:1-5) The Galatian believers who have not been enticed away from Grace by the wiles of the Judaizers and who therefore are still living Spirit-controlled lives, are exhorted to restore their brethren, who have been led astray, back to the life under Grace.
IV. (6:6-10) The Galatian believers who have deserted Grace for Law are exhorted to put themselves under the ministry of the teachers who led them into Grace, and are warned that if they do not, they will reap a harvest of corruption.
V. (6:11-18) Paul’s final warning against the Judaizers, and his closing words.

THE STRUCTURES
From the COMPANION BIBLE

The Structures used in this study give, not a mere Analysis evolved from the test by human ingenuity, but a SYMMETRICAL EXHIBITION of the Word itself, which may be discerned by the humblest reader of the Sacred Text, and seen to be one of the most important evidences of the Divine Inspiration of its words.

These Structures constitute a remarkable phenomenon peculiar to Divine Revelation; and are not found outside it in any other form of know literature.

This distinguishing feature is caused by the repetition of subjects which reappear, either in alternation or introversion, or a combination of both in many different patterns.

This repetition is called "Correspondence," which may be by way of similarity or contrast.

THE INTER-RELATION OF THE 7 CHURCH EPISTLES AS SHOWN AS A WHOLE:

ROMANS "Doctrine and Instruction" The Gospel of God: never hidden, but "promised before." God’s justification of Jew and Gentile individually - dead and risen with Christ (1-8). Their relation dispensationally (9-11). The subjective foundation of the mystery.
CORINTHIANS "Reproof" Practical failure to exhibit the teaching of Romans through not seeing their standing as having died and risen with Christ. "Leaven" in Practice (I Cor. 5:6).
GALATIANS "Correction" Doctrinal failure as to the teaching of Romans. Beginning with the truth of the new nature (spirit), they were "soon removed" (1:6), and sought to be made perfect in the old nature [flesh] (3:3). "Leaven" in Doctrine (5:9).
EPHESIANS "Doctrine and Instruction" The Mystery of God, always hidden, never before revealed. Individual Jews and Gentiles gathered out and made "one new man" in Christ. Seated in the heavenlies with Christ.
PHILIPPIANS "Reproof" Practical failure to exhibit the teaching of Ephesians in manifesting "the mind of Christ" as members of one body.
COLOSSIANS "Correction" Doctrinal failure as to the teaching of Ephesians. Wrong doctrine which came from "not holding the Head" (2:19) and not seeing their completeness and perfection in Christ (2:8-10).
THESSALONIANS "Doctrine and Instruction" Not only "dead and risen with Christ" (as in Romans); not only seated in the heavenlies with Christ (as in Ephesians); but "caught up to meet the Lord in the air, so to be for ever with the Lord."

ROMANS = JUSTIFIED IN CHRIST

EPHESIANS = SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST

THESSALONIANS = GLORIFIED WITH CHRIST

No "reproof", no "correction". All praise and thanksgiving.

A "TYPICAL" CHURCH

THE STRUCTURE OF GALATIANS AS A WHOLE

(1:1-5)  EPISTOLARY AND SALUTATION
(1:6 - 2:14) HIS CONCERN NO OTHER GOSPEL
(2:15 - 4:11) DOCTRINAL CORRECTION
(4:12-20) HIS CONCERN WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR JOY?
(4:21 - 6:10) DOCTRINAL CORRECTION
(6:11-14) HIS CONCERN IMPORTANCE OF THE LETTER
(6:15) DOCTRINAL CORRECTION
(6:16-18) EPISTOLARY AND BENEDICTION

To   Chapter  One

 


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