The book of Galatians (Galatians 1)

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The apostle Paul wrote Galatians (Galatians 1:1). The date for the letter’s composition depends upon whether the Galatians to whom Paul addressed the letter were located in the northern part of the province og Galatia (the “North Galatian theory”) or the southern part (the “South Galatian theory”). The North Galatian theory maintains that Galatians was written from Ephesus o Macedonia in the mid -50s. Of those subscribing to the South Galatian theory, some believe that Galatians was written from Syrian Antioch in 48-49, while others assert that it was drafted in Syrian Antioch or in Corinth between 51 and 53. Today most scholars accept the South Galatian theory and the earlier date for the letter (see Which Galatia? also on Galatians 1).

As indicated above, the original recipients of this letter are uncertain. The addressees may have been believers in northern Galatia in the region of Ancyra (these churches would have been founded by Paul during his second missionary journey; see Acts 16:6, 18:23) or churches founded by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:1-23) during Paul’s first missionary journey into southern Galatia included in Pisidian Antioch as well as Iconium, Lystra and Derbe – the more widely accepted view.

Judaizers were Jewish Christians who believed that a number of ceremonial practices of the Old Testament were still binding on the New Testament church. This thorny issue, in various forms, dogged Paul throughout his ministry (see Galatians 3). Paul wrote Galatians to convince his readers that this perspective was no less than an abandonment of the principle of salvation by grace through faith.

Note the accusations levelled against Paul and the vigorous arguments he put forth to defend the gospel of grace and freedom in Christ that he preached. Apply the truths laid out by Paul to your own (or your church’s) battles with legalism. Identify Paul’s explanation of the doctrine of justification by faith.

Did you know that to “live like a Gentile” meant to disregard Jewish customs, especially dietary restrictions (2:14)? Did you know that the expression “put in charge” refers to the personal slave-attendant who accompanied a freeborn boy wherever he went and exercised a certain amount of discipline over him? His function was more like that of a baby-sitter than a teacher (3:24). Did you know that in ancient times the Greek word for “mark” was used for the brand that identified slaves or animals (6:17)?

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