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Galatians Background & Introduction

  1. Galatians
    1. 6 chapters, 149 verses, and 3084 words (KJV)
    2. 1 of the 9 epistles written by Paul to seven various churches. This excludes the pastoral epistles. 
    3. These 9 letters can be divided as:
  • Salvation in Christ
    • Romans 
    • 1 & 2 Corinthians 
    • Galatians 
  • Body of Christ
    • Ephesians
    • Philippians 
    • Colossians
  • Coming of Christ
    • 1 & 2 Thessalonians 
  • Together, these epistles formulate the “form of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13).

       2.    Structure

  1. Conceptual structure:
  • Galatians 1-4; Warning against heresy, defense of the Gospel, promotion of the Body of Christ
  • Galatians 5-6; Walking in the Spirit, rejection of the flesh, products of righteousness
  1. Epistle structure:
  • Greeting & Prolegomenon (Introduction) [1:1-5]
  • Doctrinal [1:6-2:21]
    • Defense of the Gospel 
  • Doctrinal
    • Deliverance from the Law [3-4]
  • Doctrinal
    • Life in the Spirit; Practicality
  • Epilogue & Benediction (Blessing)

      3.     Notes regarding the nature of Galatians

  1. The Epistle to the Galatians is regarded as the “Declaration of Independence for Christian Liberty” and or the “Magna Carta of Christian Liberty” for non-American counterparts.
  • It is written in light of and response to the Gospel’s assault by a sect of Jewish believers known as Judaizers.
    • Judaizers were a group who attempted to meld faith and works by adding works of the Law as a necessary proponent of salvation. This particularly included the covenant of circumcision.
    • Tainting the grace of God infuriated the Apostle Paul led him to author this letter (Galatians 1:8; Galatians 2:16).
  • This letter contains some of Paul’s strongest language and most vibrant warnings against heresy. Vice versa, it teems with beautiful illustrations of newfound grace.
  • Readers will notice Paul’s reestablishment of authority early in the book and something that can be seen in the fabric of his diction.
  • There is an interesting portion that highlights a rebuke from Paul to Peter over the mistreatment of Gentile Christians (Galatians 2:11-12).

     4.      Date: Between A.D. 49 – 58

  • There is an extensive possible range of authorship dates by the apostle Paul because of the dispute regarding who and where this letter was written. If this could be settled, the date of penmanship could be narrowed.

     5.      Title: To the Churches of Galatia

  1. Galatia [Although it is not entirely known, what Galatia is being written to]
  • .Nonetheless, Paul addresses the churches of Galatia
    • The problem with penning a date was that this province had constant transference of boundaries and the land being of large area.
    • On top of this, the apostle Paul made numerous trips to Galatia, referred to Galatia, and is referred as to visiting in other books (e.g., Acts 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:1).
    • These are just a few of the factors that make dating and geographic precision difficult.

     6.       Galatians background:

  • There are likely two destinations to which this letter is written: Northern or southern Galatia.
    • “Galatia” often referred to one of two things:
      • The territory of Galatia
      • Or an ethnographic term from the middle of Asia Minor
    • The province of Galatia was in Biblical central Anatolia, within modern-day Turkey, and named after the Gaul’s who inhabited the area.
    • The Gaul’s were of Celtic origin and settled the land nearly 300 years prior.
  • The Celtic people over the course of their history were Hellenized and assimilated well into Greek culture and eventually ruled by the Roman empire which ensued.
  • As a pagan society, the Galatians worship numerous gods and goddesses with the most notable being Phrygian sky god Sabazios and goddess Cybele.
    • These mad gods and goddesses of chaos likely were fertile ground for the conversion of the pagan Gentiles who would be amazed by the power of the much more real and monotheistic God of Paul.
    • The Galatians are believed to be among the youngest Gentile Christian communities although obviously through the writing of the letter.
    • There was a large number of Jews who inhabited the area as well that received the Gospel and were, unfortunately, falling away from the Faith.

     7.       Author: The Apostle Paul

  • *Unlike many books in the Bible, liberal scholarship does not argue Paul’s authorship as heavily for the Galatian epistle
    • This is one of the least disputed books.

     8.       Written from: 

  • Common consensus concludes Paul likely wrote from one of three places:
    • Either Ephesus, Antioch, or (some scholars suggest) Corinth
      • This once again hinges on when and where the letter was written to.

Author’s Introductory Note on Galatians:

To me, it appears that Galatians is always a timely message for the Christian. Heresy is always prevalent. Performance based theology is always cunning. Furthermore, liberty is always just a lie away from suffering. Even still, grace still abounds more and more. Follow along with Paul’s epistolary confrontation with Judaizers and you will find much truth that is still relevant, always evergreen, and in alignment with contemporary society. God bless!

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