Galatians — Introduction
Saul (Hebrew) = “asked for” — last used in Acts 13:9
Paul (Roman) = “little” — first used in Acts 13:9
Paul was born at Tarsus in Cilicia about 1 BC (three to seven years after the birth of Jesus Christ). He was saved in about 32 AD and was executed in Rome in about 67 AD.
Galatia — a region in Asia Minor, a Roman province with a mixed population including Greeks, Jews, and others.
The book of Galatians was probably written around 55 AD to churches in the south of Galatia in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and maybe others, churches made up mostly of Greeks with some Jews.
The Epistle to the Galatians addresses a group of churches scattered over a rural district, with a population of rustics and “country” folk. The mass of the people lived on the land, and the towns were few and unimportant. Antioch in Pisidia was merely a seat of government; Derbe a large village; Lystra-on-the-Hill won its place upon the map because of its garrison; and Iconium seems to have been little more than a police outpost. In consideration of the mental outlook of his readers, Paul uses the simplest language and the homeliest illustrations he can find. — The Outlined Galatians, by Robert Lee, from the forward
Paul started the churches when, on his second missionary journey, he was forced to stay in Galatia by illness.
Judaizers — Jews who taught the necessity of circumcision and observance of Jewish feasts and ceremonies as necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1).
Our first source of information is Philippians 3:2-6, where Paul warns the Philippians saints against the Judaizers. He calls them dogs. The Greek word was a term of reproach among both Greeks and Jews. He calls them evil workers. The term implies not merely evil doers, but those who actually wrought against the gospel. He speaks of them as the concision. The Greek word occurs only here in the New Testament. A kindred verb is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, speaking of the mutilations forbidden by the Mosaic law such as the pagans were wont to inflict upon themselves in their religious rites. The Greek word which Paul uses is a play upon the Greek word “circumcision.” Paul characterizes those who were not of the true circumcision as merely mutilated. Heathen priests mutilated their own bodies. The Judaizers mutilated the message of the gospel by substituting works for grace, and thus their own lives and those of their converts. — Galatians in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 17
What Paul taught in Romans logically and systematically, he teaches in Galatians emotionally and with severity. He opens the book with no word of thanksgiving or praise.
His [Paul’s] beloved converts were in such grave religious peril that he felt there was not a moment to spare. His usual amanuensis not being at hand, he himself wrote it in haste, in spite of poor sight. — The Outlined Galatians, by Robert Lee, from the preface
Pursuing the natural trend of the mind, men seek some refuge from the implication of guilt involved in accepting a salvation provided in grace, and available to faith alone. Hence they are forever adding something thereto in which a merit of their own, however attenuated, is implied.
[They say] there must be faith in Christ indeed, but there must be something besides. And that something invariably implies merit on the part of him who has it, or who does it. This, affirms the apostle, is to make the Cross of Christ of none effect. — Galatians, by W.E. Vine, page 128
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