PLUS Resource: 6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety

Galatians - Introduction

      This Epistle differs from most of those written by Paul, in that it is not addressed specially to the church in some great city, but to the churches throughout a district of the Roman Empire. Galatia will be seen on any map of the empire in the apostolic period in the interior of the great peninsula called Asia Minor, which was the theatre of so large a part of the labors of Paul. The people were of the Gallic stock, had marched from the Rhine to Greece, and thence into Asia about B. C. 280, and had conquered a home in the interior of Asia Minor, which henceforth took a new name from the people (Galli, or Gauls) who made it their seat. They learned the Greek language, but retained in part their old tongue and the traits of their race. Cæsar describes the Gauls as restless and changeable, characteristics still of the French, and this epistle shows that the Galatians were not unlike their European kinsmen.

      In the Second Part of the Letter, chapters 3 and 4 , he contrasts the free gospel salvation by a living faith in Christ with the slavish legalism of the false teachers who would virtually place Moses in the stead of Christ. The Third Part, the 5th and 6th chapters , is devoted mainly to practical duties which grow out of the gospel.

      The Place where written and the Date of the Epistle can be determined only approximately. It must have been written after Paul's two visits to Galatia, the last of which was in A. D. 54 or 55. See note on Gal. 4:13. It must have been written not very long after the second visit. See note on Gal. 1:6. There are many points of resemblance between Epistle and that to the Romans which indicate that they were written nearly at the same time; since this epistle is the less elaborate, it was probably written first. There are also points of resemblance to Second Corinthians which indicate that they belong to the same period. All these facts point to the last year of the Third Missionary Journey, or about A. D. 57. As we learn from Acts that this period was spent in Ephesus, Macedonia and Corinth, it must have been written at one of these places.

      It only remains to say concerning its Genuineness, "that the internal evidences of the authorship of Paul is so strong that no sane divine has ever denied or even doubted it" (Schaff). There is no other writer of the early church who could have written it. It bears the Pauline stamp in every line.

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