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Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

(from Google Images)

(from Google Images)

Probably this epistle to the Galatians is Paul’s least contested letter. Most scholars agree that Paul wrote this epistle. Some, however,seem to believe that the letter was written to unidentified northern cities in the Roman province, but I am not persuaded by this point of view. This study follows the popular view that Paul wrote the letter to cities in southern Galatia, to the very cities Luke identifies in Acts 13 & 14.

I reckon the timeline to be shortly after the Jerusalem council of Acts 15. I believe Paul sent Timothy from Antioch with the letter, while he, Barnabas and the approved representatives from Jerusalem headed by Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32) preached to the churches of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:35, 41) in order to show that Paul’s Gospel was the very same Gospel that was preached by those in Jerusalem. The men who had recently come to these churches claiming the gentiles needed to be circumcised, i.e. needed to become Jews in order to be saved by the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, was a false gospel and was not supported by the Apostles or James at Jerusalem.

Paul’s missionary journeys seemed to last for about three years. He spent three years in and around Damascus (Galatians 1:18) which occurred cir. spring of 35 AD to spring of 38 AD. From cir. 38 AD to 41 AD Paul spent preaching in Cilicia headquartered in Tarsus (Acts 9:29-30), but when the gentiles began to receive Christ in Antioch, Barnabas went to Cilicia to get Paul for the work there (Acts 11:25-26). I believe the time Paul spent in Antioch and preaching in northern Syria was another three years or cir. 41 AD to 44 AD. At end of which time, Paul and Barnabas embarked on their first recorded missionary journey which brought them to the Galatian province (Acts 13 & 14), which I believe took another 3 years or cir. early spring of 44 AD to spring of 47 AD. Upon their return to Antioch, Luke tells us that they remained there a long time (Acts 14:26-28), which I take to be another three years or cir. spring of 47 AD to the spring of 50 AD. It was during this time that the “men from James” came to Antioch (and to many other churches), preaching their false gospel, and it was also during this time, cir. 49 AD, that the Council of Jerusalem was convened (Acts 15). According to this timeline, Paul spent 6 months to about a year (depending upon the time of the visit from “the men from James”) in Antioch, northern Syria and Cilicia undoing the work these Judaizers had done in the churches where Paul and Barnabas had been the greatest influential preachers.

It was, therefore, just after the Jerusalem Council cir. 49 AD that Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians, which he sent to the churches there by the hand of Timothy (cf. Acts 16:1-3). Most folks believe Timothy was from Galatia, but I believe he was from Antioch. Luke’s introduction of Timothy at this point in Acts does not identify him as a Galatian. The good report the men of Lystra and Iconium gave him in Acts 16:2 could just as well refer to the mission Paul had given him in Antioch to set the Galatians on the right track concerning the recent visit of the Judaizers from Jerusalem.

What occasioned the coming of the Judaizers at this particular time seems to have been the long prophesied famine had come to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-28). The Judaizers had “come from James” to announce the need of the poor at Jerusalem, and overstepped their authority, probably by design, and began preaching their false gospel to the predominantly gentile churches of Antioch and Galatia. Whether the churches in northern Syria and Cilicia were predominantly gentile is a matter of opinion, but the Judaizers’ false gospel was also announced in those churches together with the announcement from James that the poor in Jerusalem desperately needed their help.

  1. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 1 — Paul, the Apostle of God
  2. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 2 — Paul’s Gospel
  3. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 3 — Paul’s Astonishment
  4. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 4 — How Do We Overcome the World?
  5. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 5 — Questioning Paul’s Authority
  6. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 6 — From Persecutor to Preacher
  7. Galatians 1Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 7 — Paul v/s the Apostles at Jerusalem
  8. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 8 — Paul Officially Meets with the Apostles
  9. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 9 — The Circumcision Controversy
  10. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 10 — Paul and the Men of Reputation
  11. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 11 — Paul’s First Argument with Peter
  12. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 12 — Paul’s Second Argument with Peter
  13. Galatians 2Reestablishing Paul’s Credibility — 13 — Paul’s Third Argument with Peter
  14. Galatians 3Introduction to Paul’s Theology — Paul’s Theological Arguments
  15. Galatians 3First Theological Argument (Part 1) It is God’s Presence in us!
  16. Galatians 3First Theological Argument (Part 2) Paul’s Scriptural Argument
  17. Galatians 3First Theological Argument (Part 3) The Gospel Was Preached to Abraham!
  18. Galatians 3Second Theological Argument — Living Under the Curse of the Law
  19. Galatians 3Third Theological Argument (Part 1) Paul’s Logical Argument
  20. Galatians 3Third Theological Argument (Part 2) What Purpose Did the Law Serve?
  21. Galatians 3Fourth Theological Argument (Part 1) Paul’s Argument of Maturity
  22. Galatians 4Fourth Theological Argument (Part 2) Coming of Age in the First Century A.D.
  23. Galatians 4Fourth Theological Argument (Part 3) The Fullness of Time and the Gospel
  24. Galatians 4Fifth Theological Argument (Part 1) Paul’s Argument of Relationships
  25. Galatians 4Fifth Theological Argument (Part 2) Paul and Zealous Evangelism
  26. Galatians 4Fifth Theological Argument (Part 3) Hagar and Sarah, According to Paul
  27. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 1 — Standing Fast in Liberty
  28. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 2 — Freedom and Authority
  29. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 3 — The Battle for the Good News
  30. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 4 — Living Without License
  31. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 5 — Walking in the Spirit
  32. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 6 — War Between the Flesh and the Spirit
  33. Galatians 5Paul’s Ethical Argument — 7 — How Victory Is Won
  34. Galatians 6Paul’s Ethical Argument — 8 — Fulfill the Law of Christ
  35. Galatians 6Paul’s Ethical Argument — 9 — Liberty Has Responsibilities
  36. Galatians 6The Authentic Boast
 

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