GALATIA- A district of central Asia Minor, bordered by:
To the North - Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Pontus
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.
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.
It is disputed in which sense the term "Galatia" is used:
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)
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:
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 Pauls 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"
(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. Pauls 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 Christs 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 Christs 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. Cains 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 ...
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 Pauls 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 Christs Voice, he had not seen His face, he had not attended on Christs 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:
AN ANALYSIS OF THE LETTER
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.
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.
PRACTICAL - CHAPTERS 5 & 6
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 = 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