ciwlogo_sm.gif An Overview Of The Book Of Galatians

Writer:

Paul, an apostle who was sent not from men but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.

For more information about Paul and his ministry, see An Overview Of The Book Of Acts.

Recipients:

The Book of Galatians was originally written as a letter to the Christians in southern Galatia, which was a Roman province in what is now Turkey. Galatia was the area where on his first missionary journey Paul established the congregations in Pisidia Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

Date of Writing:

The date of Paul's writing his letter to the Galatians has been placed between 48 to 52 AD. The exact year is difficult to determine.

One school of thought places the date of Paul's writing this letter before the Jerusalem Council, which addressed the issue of whether the law of Moses, particularly circumcision, remained binding on New Testament Christians. The argument favoring this time of writing is that the letter to the Galatians does not mention the Jerusalem Council. Surely, if the council had met before the date of Paul's writing his letter, it would have been logical for Paul to have mentioned the decisions of the apostolic council in Jerusalem, since Paul's letter dealt with the same issue addressed and resolved by the Jerusalem Council. Since Paul made no reference to the decisions of the council that addressed the issue, it is asserted that Paul must have written his letter to the Galatians before the Jerusalem Council, which would place the year of writing around 48 to 49 AD.

Another school of thought places the date of Paul's letter after the Jerusalem Council. To support this dating, it is asserted that after the council met Paul began his second missionary journey. He then revisited the churches of Galatia and, according to Acts 16:4, then delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in the Jerusalem Council. Paul then proceeded to Greece, where he spent more than a year and half teaching in Corinth. While he was in Corinth false teachers caused problems among the churches in Galatia by asserting that the Gentile Christians must be circumcised according to the law of Moses to be saved. The false teachers were overturning the decision of the Jerusalem Council that circumcision was unnecessary to be saved. To try to settle the matter, Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians from Corinth, where he was unable to leave his missionary work at the time. Since Paul wrote his letter from Corinth while on his second missionary journey, this would place the date of its being written around 52 AD.

In either case, it would appear that the letter to the Galatians was Paul's first epistle.

The Reason for Its Being Written:

False teachers, called Judaizers, were troubling the Christians in Galatia. They were insisting that the Gentile Christians must be circumcised and abide by the ceremonial laws as given by Moses to be saved. Faith in Jesus alone was not enough to save the Gentile Christians. They must add their own works of the law to be saved. This false teaching of the Judaizers threatened the true gospel of salvation by God's grace alone through faith alone in Jesus. This false teaching also endangered the faith and salvation of the Christians in Galatia. Paul wrote the letter to clarify and uphold the true gospel that we are justified by grace through faith without the works of the law and to prevent the Christians in Galatia from losing their faith and salvation.

Brief Outline:

Greetings & Introduction. Galatians 1:1-10

Part 1: Paul defended his apostolic ministry of the pure gospel. Galatians 1:11-2:21

Part 2: Paul defended the gospel of justification and salvation by grace and faith alone. Galatians 3:1-4:31

Part 3: Paul defended the freedom Christians have to love one another and live by the Spirit. Galatians 5:1-6:10

Concluding Summation. Galatians 6:11-18

Detailed Outline:

Greetings. Galatians 1:1-5

Introduction: There is only one gospel of Christ. Let those who distort it be condemned. Galatians 1:6-10

Part 1: Paul defended his apostolic ministry of the pure gospel. Galatians 1:11-2:21

Paul did not receive the gospel he preached from men but from Christ himself. Galatians 1:11-24

Paul later explained the gospel he preached to the most reputable apostles in Jerusalem, who endorsed it and his apostolic ministry. Galatians 2:1-10

Paul rebuked Peter himself for distorting the gospel. Paul upheld before Peter and other Jewish Christians from Jerusalem the true gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ without the works of the law. Galatians 2:11-21

Part 2: Paul defended the gospel of justification and salvation by grace and faith alone. Galatians 3:1-4:31

As in the case of Abraham, no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith alone. Galatians 3:1-14

God's covenant with Abraham that promised the inheritance of salvation is by faith was not invalidated by God's giving the law 430 years later. The law was added because of transgressions. Galatians 3:15-22

The purpose of the law was to conduct us to the gospel of Christ, that we may be saved by faith as the children of God who are heirs of the promise. Galatians 3:23-29

We are the heirs of the promise as a result of God's sending Christ, his Son, to redeem us, so we would be the sons of God who hold the right to the inheritance. Galatians 4:1-7

Now that we have been freed from demands to observe various practices and ceremonies, why desire to be enslaved to such demands again? Galatians 4:8-11

Paul urged the Galatians to receive him and his gospel as they did at first. Galatians 4:12-20.

The children of promise are free, like Isaac who was born of Sarah the free woman, while those bound to the law are slaves like Ishmael who was born to Hagar the slave woman. Galatians 4:21-31

Part 3: Paul defended the freedom Christians have to love one another and live by the Spirit. Galatians 5:1-6:10

Stand firm in the freedom Christ has given us. Do not submit to circumcision to be justified by the law, lest you forfeit the grace of God in Christ that gives the righteousness that saves. Galatians 5:1-12

The freedom we have in Christ is not a license to sin but to love one another, which is what fulfills the law. Galatians 5:13-15

The freedom we have in Christ means living by the Spirit who produces his fruits in us, rather than living by our sinful natures which produce its evil deeds. Galatians 5:16-26

The freedom we have in Christ means being considerate of the weak and erring. Galatians 6:1-5

The freedom we have in Christ means a loving generosity and support of God's messengers who instruct us in his Word. Galatians 6:6-9

The freedom we have in Christ means doing good to all people, especially to our fellow believers. Galatians 6:10

Concluding Summation. Galatians 6:11-18



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