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The Date and Destination of Galatians

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Chapter 1: Introduction

The Nature of the Problem

The Epistle to the Galatians is a wonderful document designed to declare the truth of salvation by grace alone and the result of such a salvation; namely, a life of increasing freedom from sin, on the one hand, and enslavement to Christ on the other.1 It is surely, as one author has called it, “The Charter of Christian Liberty.”2 Its importance for understanding Paul and the core of his doctrine of justification by faith alone can hardly be overstated, with the result that it has received a long and extensive treatment by the church. It had a tremendous impact on the Reformers,3 including Luther, who said, “The epistle to the Galatians is my epistle. To it I am as it were in wedlock. It is my Catherine.”4 Boice, commenting on its impact since the Protestant Reformation, says, “not many books have made such a lasting impression on men’s minds as the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, nor have many done so much to shape the history of the Western world.”5

However, while the text and background of Galatians has been the subject of considerable study and reflection throughout church history, not all details related to the book are for that matter clear. It appears that none have seriously doubted the authorship,6 but many, especially since the rise of the period of modern scholarship, have questioned both the destination and the date of the epistle,7 as well as its relation to the book of Acts.

With respect to the first of the problems, that is, the destination of the letter, the text of Galatians 1:2 clearly says ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας. But, the interpretive question is: “Where is the ‘Galatia’ to which Paul refers?” Some say the term refers to Galatia in a geographical sense (i.e. the North theory) while others say it refers to Galatia as the Roman provincial title (i.e. the South theory).8 F. F. Bruce9 summarizes well the heart of the issue with respect to the destination of the epistle,

The question before us is: Where were these churches and who were the Galatians? Should we locate them in the territory of the former kingdom of Galatia or somewhere else in the more extensive Roman province of Galatia, which included the former kingdom and much additional territory? Were the recipients of the letter Galatians in the ethnic sense, or only in the political sense, as inhabitants of the Roman province of that name?

Closely connected to the destination of the epistle is its date. In fact Guthrie says that the “date of the epistle depends on the decision regarding its destination.”10 Generally speaking those who hold to a North Galatia theory, date the book on or about the time of Paul’s Ephesian ministry, ca. 56 A.D.11 On the other hand, those who hold to the South Galatia theory generally date the book either before or after the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.12 This view is generally expressed as a date around 48, 49 or 56 A. D., the latter date corresponding generally to that proposed under the North Galatia theory.13

And finally, there is the problematic question of the relation of the details in Galatians 2:1-10, wherein is a description of one of Paul’s visits to Jerusalem, to Luke’s record in Acts. To which visit in Acts,14 if any,15 does the visit in Galatians 2 relate? Indeed, this question must be answered before one can posit a date for the book. But, as with many aspects of this study, this too is a thorny issue, yielding itself only to a very tentative solution at best. As Stanley Toussaint has observed, “without a doubt, the outstanding problem in reconciling Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians with the book of Acts is the relating of Galatians 2:1-10 with Luke’s record.”16

The Purpose of the Study

The destination of the letter to the Galatians is a complicated issue involving several interrelated factors. The date of the epistle is, as a closely related subject to the destination, a complicated issue as well. And the pinpointing of Paul’s travels, as described by him in Galatians with what Luke says in Acts is also equally difficult. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the major arguments with respect to the issues raised in order to postulate satisfactory solutions to all three related questions. While the data is inconclusive, it will be seen that it nonetheless favors a destination in the South for the book and a date on or slightly before 49 A.D. with the letter being sent just prior to the Jerusalem council. The event related by the apostle in Galatians 2:1-10 is the famine visit of Acts 11:27-30 and 12:25.

Overview of the Paper

The paper will proceed along the following lines: First, some preliminary observations will be made with respect to the background of the Galatian peoples as well as an explanation of the referent in the North and South theories. Second, the paper will seek to demonstrate the most likely destination for the letter. Arguments from both sides will be discussed beginning with the Northern theory.17 Third, the date of the book will be discussed in the light of the theories of destination and certain events in the book of Acts. Fourth, the paper will discuss the relation of Galatians 2:1-10 to Paul’s various visits to Jerusalem as recorded in Acts. Finally the paper will conclude with a evaluative statement concerning the strength and certainty of the conclusions reached on each of the questions undertaken throughout.

Chapter 2: Two Preliminary Observations and the Destination of Galatians


The purpose for this chapter is threefold: 1) to explain the origin and common first century understanding of the term ‘Galatia’; 2) to explain in greater detail what is meant by the North Galatia theory and its counterpart, the South Galatia theory18 and 3) to determine the destination of the letter.

The Background and Identity of the Galatians

The term “Galatians” (Γάλαται) appears to have been used interchangeably with terms such as Κέλται and Κελτοί (Celts) among Greek authors and Galli (Gauls) among Latin authors.19 Apparently, according to many modern commentators, these Gauls, as it were, appear on the scene as residents of central Europe, in the Danube Basin. From there they migrated west and south-east, inhabiting such places as Britain and Asia Minor.20 Polhill describes in brief the advancement of the Gauls across northern Europe until their final destination in the land they possessed under Roman imperialism:

They [i.e. the Gauls] extended their dominion as far north as Phrygia and established a kingdom with Ancyra as its capital. Around 230 B.C., these Gauls (hence the term Galatia) were defeated by King Attalos of Pergamum who confined their territory to the regions of the Halys. . . this became known as the Kingdom of Galatia and has as its principal cities Ancyra. . . Pessinus, and Tavium. In 121 B.C. it became subject to Rome. . . This Roman province of Galatia included Galatia, Pisidia Isauria, and parts of Lycaonia, Phrygia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus.21

From Polhill’s comments it is apparent that the old Galatian Kingdom was to the north (near Pontus) and derived its name from the Gauls and later, under Roman occupation, was extended to cover larger regions to the south (Lycaonia for example). This is the situation at the time of the apostle Paul in the first century.22

The Referent Behind the Term ‘Galatia’ in the North and South Theories

From the preceding discussion, it is apparent that Galatia could be used in two senses. Either it could refer to an area in the north (where the Gauls originally settled and from whence it derives its name) whose primary cities are Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium (i.e. the geographical district of Galatia) or it could include these and as well refer to a much larger land mass including the north, near Pontus, and extending as far south as Pamphylia (i.e. the Roman province).23 As far as the letter to the Galatians is concerned, if the Northern theory is correct Paul probably wrote it to the churches of the three primary cities just mentioned. If the Southern theory is correct, the letter was probably addressed to churches founded on Paul’s first missionary journey, in places such as Antioch (Pisidia), Iconium (Phrygia), Lystra, Derbe and vicinity.24

The Destination of Galatians

The purpose of the following section is to outline and evaluate the evidence for the destination of the epistle to the Galatians. First, arguments traditionally raised for the Northern theory will be evaluated and finally arguments for the Southern theory will be stated and evaluated.

Arguments for a Northern Destination

There are several arguments raised in support of a northern destination. The following are some of the more important for our consideration.

The Use of the Term ‘Galatians’ and First Century Convention

According to the discussion above, under ‘Two Preliminary Observations,’ it is apparent, at least to those who hold to the North Galatia theory, that the common first century understanding and use of the term ‘Galatia’ was as a designation for the geographical region in the north. This is apparently a result of the fact that that region was inhabited mostly by the Gauls themselves. Therefore, it would be most natural, so it is thought, for Luke (Acts 16:6; 18:23) and Paul (Gal. 1:2) to have used the term in accordance with convention at the time. According to Hendricksen’s,25 interesting presentation of the issue as a court case, “convincing proof to the contrary would be needed before it would be possible to interpret this address [i.e. Gal. 1:2] in any other way than in harmony with the long established connotation of the word” (i.e. as referring to those in the North). Lightfoot,26 as an ardent defender of the northern theory, argues along similar grounds, saying that “writers [i.e. Paul and Luke] speaking familiarly of the scenes in which they had themselves taken part, [leads to the conclusion that] the term would naturally be used in its popular rather than its formal and official sense.”27 However, Guthrie28 points out that while the term ‘Galatia’ was used generally to represent the geographical region it was not used uniformly so (contra Polhill, 440). Therefore, since there is no necessary reason to believe that Luke followed the convention at the time and since the convention itself cannot be ascertained with certainty, this argument as it stands by itself, contributes little to determining the destination of the letter.

Luke’s Use of the Term ‘Galatia’

If it could be established that the reference to ‘Galatia’ in Acts 16:6 and 18:23 actually refers to ‘Galatia’ in the ethnic sense (i.e. the northern region), then obviously this would go a long way to bolster the theory that it was to the north that the letter of Galatians was sent.29 In order to demonstrate this, certain commentators have appealed to evidence in Acts30 that demonstrates that it was Luke’s habit to refer to places by geographical titles and not provincial titles. Lightfoot pointed out that Luke refers to Mysia, Phrygia and Pisidia, all of which “are ‘geographical expressions’ destitute of any political significance; and as they occur in the same parts of the narrative with Galatia, it seems fair to infer that the latter is similarly used.”31 Luke also uses geographical terms (rather than the political term ‘Galatia’) to designate towns in south Galatia.32 Therefore, the conclusion that appears to follow is that the ‘Galatia’ of Acts 16:6 and 18:23 is indeed ‘Galatia’ in an ethnic and geographical sense, i.e. in the north.

‘Phrygia and Galatia’ in Acts 16:6

The question now, after demonstrating that it was Luke’s habit to use geographical titles, is how does that fit when he actually uses the term ‘Galatia’? Two passages are key: Acts 16:6 and 18:23. In this section we will take up the issue with the first of these passages. The Greek text of Acts 16:6 reads as follows: Διῆλθον δὲ τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν κωλυθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος λαλῆσαι τὸν λόγον ἐν τῇ ᾿Ασίᾳ, “And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been kept by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (NASB). The question is posed, “To what does the phrase τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν refer?” Those who hold to the north Galatia theory generally insist that ‘Phrygia’ and ‘Galatia’ refer to two distinct regions33 and since Phrygia is unquestionably a geographical title, then so it must be with ‘Galatia.’34 (Otherwise Luke is redundant, since Phrygia would be a part of Galatia as a Roman province.) The result is that Paul most likely established the churches in north Galatia35 with the logical conclusion that that is the destination of the letter. However, this has been disputed by a number of scholars on grammatical and contextual grounds.36

‘Galatia and Phrygia’ in Acts 18:23

The Greek text of Acts 18:23 reads as follows: καὶ ποιήσας χρόνον τινὰ ἐξῆλθεν, διερχόμενος καθεξῆς τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν καὶ Φρυγίαν, ἐπιστηρίζων πάντας τοὺς μαθητάς. “And having spent some time there, he departed and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples” (NASB). Lightfoot argued that this passage is to be understood as “quite consistent with the expression”37 in Acts 16:6 in that ‘Galatia’ describes the geographical region in the north. Although Polhill feels that the passage supports a North Galatia view, he says “grammatically, Acts 16:6 and 18:23 on the most natural reading refer to two separate territories.”38 The point of the discussion is that for those who are defenders of the North Galatia view, both Acts 16:6 and 18:23 refer to the region in the north. One must keep in mind though, that even if this be granted, it does not necessarily follow that the letter was directed there. The evidence necessitates no such conclusion.

The ‘Fickle Character’ of the Galatians

Lightfoot thought that the generally ‘fickle’ character of the Gauls in the north (as gleaned from extra-biblical sources commenting on their relation to the Romans)39 fit well with the fickle character described in the letter to the Galatians. These people, that is, the addressees of the Galatian letter, had quickly (ταχέως)40 turned from the true, apostolic gospel to another (τερον) gospel. F. F. Bruce, while showing a great deal of respect for the scholarship of Lightfoot, nonetheless, says,

The weight laid by a scholar of Lightfoot’s caliber upon these alleged affinities between the recipients of Paul’s letter and the Celts known to Caesar and his contemporaries is surprising. . .The argument would be valid only if fickleness and superstition were not characteristic of other nations than the Gauls (and Galatians). We have to look no farther than the Galatians’ Phrygian neighbours for another well-known example, while Luke’s account of Paul’s adventure at Lystra suggests that fickleness and superstition were not wanting among the Lycaonians.41

Bruce’s comments are apropos and the best that one can grant Lightfoot’s work at this point is simply a minor corroborating contribution. In fact, one could possibly argue that these characteristics have been found in people groups from time immemorial.42

Acts 16:6: κωλυθέντες as a Participle of Antecedent Time

The text of Acts 16:6 reads Διῆλθον δὲ τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν κωλυθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος λαλῆσαι τὸν λόγον ἐν τῇ ᾿Ασία. If κωλυθέντες be taken as a participle of antecedent time43 to the main verb Διῆλθον,44 it would indicate that the missionary band most likely moved north from Lycaonia and then preached in Phrygia and Galatia. In other words, they were in Lycaonia when they received the prohibition not to preach in Asia so they continued north into the geographical district of Galatia.45

The foregoing discussion has been an enumeration of the major arguments in support of the northern position. We move now to a consideration of the arguments for the opposing view. This section will rebut certain arguments raised in favor of a North Galatia theory as well as cite other evidence in favor of the South Galatia theory.

Arguments for a Southern Destination

The purpose of the following section is to enumerate the arguments for the South Galatia theory and evaluate their contribution to the question at hand.

A Different Interpretation of Acts 16:6 and 18:23

Those who hold to the South Galatia theory have had to deal with the text of Acts 16:6 and 18:23 in a way consistent with the grammar and demonstrate that the terms ‘Phrygia’ and ‘Galatia’ do not refer to destinations in the north of the province of Galatia, but in the south.46 Ramsay,47 an ardent defender and popularizer of the South Galatia position, agreed with Lightfoot that the phrase τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν could only refer to “a single district to which both adjectives48 apply.” However, he parted company with Lightfoot on the actual place to which the phrase referred. He says that

it seems to me inconceivable and contrary to the evidence, either that the name of Phrygia should have remained in popular use to denote the country of the Asiatic Gauls [i.e. the north of Galatia] till the time when Acts was written, or that the author should indulge in a display of pedantic antiquarianism, suitable for Strabo’s learned work, but utterly incongruous here. To make possible the reference to North Galatia which Lightfoot and most commentators seek to derive from this passage, it is necessary to go back to the discarded reading τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν.49

Ramsay goes on to defend the notion that the phrase means “the Phrygo-Galactic territory.”50 By this he means the southern region of the province of Galatia which was inhabited by Phrygians.51 According to Ramsay this was the way in which Luke would have used the phrase. Askwith52 agrees with Ramsay’s analysis of Acts 16:6 as a summary of the journeys outlined in 16:4, 5. But, others have disagreed with Ramsay on contextual bases. First, Polhill says that Ramsay’s analysis of Acts 16:6 as a recapitulation or summary of the narrative in Acts 16:4, 5 appears to be forced, “and the natural reading of Acts 16:6 points toward a journey into new territory beyond that covered in 16:4, 5.”53 This point is not to be overlooked. One gets the distinct impression that the movement in the passage is forward and not simply a summary of previous ground covered.54 Second, Moffatt contends, in the light of passages such as Acts 19:21 and 27:5 that the phrase τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν, does not mean the “Phrygia-Galactic region.” Φρυγίαν here at any rate, (as in 2:10 18:23) is not an adjective, and καί does not mean or.55

No Record in Acts of Churches in Northern Region

It has seemed rather strange to proponents of the Southern theory that Paul should have established churches in the north of Galatia and Luke make no mention of them specifically in his account of Paul’s work in Acts. As Polhill states, “South Galatian adherents will always find it difficult to conceive of the relative silence in Acts about a group of churches to which Paul addresses a letter with such apparent familiarity.”56 Moffatt agreed with the criticism, admitting that “it is one of the most plausible pleas which are advanced by the South Galatian theorists, but it is inconclusive.”57 He countered the point with several points in order to substantiate his belief that this argument amounted to nothing decisive against the North Galatia theory.58 First, he says, Luke, according to the North Galatia theory, does mention the churches twice (Acts 16:6; 18:23) as does Peter (1 Peter 1:1) and Paul as well (1 Cor. 16:1). However, according to F. F. Bruce, these references to ‘Galatia’ or ‘Galatians,’ on several different grounds “can be disposed of quickly.”59 Second, Moffatt argues that the church of the Romans, the recipient of the weighty letter, is not mentioned by Luke. Third, Luke does not mention Paul’s work in Arabia, Syria and Cilicia, Dalmatia and Illyria, and not a word about the church at Colossae to which Paul directed a letter. Fourth, Luke does not mention the problems between the apostle Paul and the church at Corinth. All this, Moffatt says, is evidence that just because Luke does not mention in detail these churches does not mean in any way that Paul did not plant them there. The point of Acts, then, according to Moffatt, is the engrossing aim “to get Paul across to Europe; and the approach of the Macedonian mission, in which he himself just joined the apostle, leads him to hurry over the movements of the apostles in the interior of Asia Minor.”60 However, when one considers the heresy that plagued the Galatians (i.e. the Judaizing problem), it does appear rather strange that apart from Acts 16:6 and 18:23 Luke makes no mention of them. This is further confirmed when one considers that Paul, due to illness (Gal. 4:13), undoubtedly spent some time there in convalescence, and did not just quickly pass through.

The Isolation of the North Galatia District

Ramsay61 found it very difficult to believe that Paul, stricken with some form of malady in Ancyra, went on the long journeys to Tavium and Pessinus in order to preach the gospel there. And the text of Galatians clearly says that it was because of a sickness that Paul preached to them (Gal. 4:13). Moffatt contested Ramsay’s reasoning that the journey north into the geographical district of Galatia was any more difficult than that of Perga to Antioch over the Taurus. He says that “Ancyra was connected by roads with the surrounding districts; while Tavium, as a military station and road centre, was probably linked even with Pisidian Antioch.”62 While the route up north is longer, and therefore more difficult to imagine for a sick individual,63 Ramsay’s highly critical attitude may be a bit unwarranted. In other words, the route to the north may not be as likely, as a journey in the south, but it is not as impossible as Ramsay claimed it to be.

Paul’s Use of Provincial Titles

As was stated under arguments for the North Galatia theory, Lightfoot attempted to defend that Galatia was used in an ethnic sense by Luke and not a provincial sense, which for the most part was demonstrable. However, there is at least one weaknesses in the above conclusion as it stands as evidence in the matter at hand. Even if Luke uses geographical names (which is an attempt to indicate that Paul went into the north on his missionary campaigns), it does not necessarily follow that Paul used them and that his letter was sent, therefore, to Galatian churches in the north. One needs to develop the idea that Paul used ethnic or political designations. But, as Boice64 points out, this may be difficult to do with the evidence from Paul’s writings, for he seems to prefer provincial titles when referring to churches (cf. “Macedonia” in 2 Cor. 8:1; “Asia” in 1 Cor. 16:19; “Achaia” in 2 Cor 1:1). Paul also speaks of Judea, Syria and Cilicia65 (cf. Gal. 1:21), but never of Lycaonia, Pisidia, Mysia and Lydia. It appears logical and consistent then to say that the term ‘Galatia’ in Galatians 1:2 and 3:1 is probably a provincial designation in which case the letter could have been sent to the churches of the south.

Galatia Can Refer to Those in Southern Area

Lightfoot argued that Paul would not have used the term ‘Galatia’ to refer churches in south Galatia.66 But, as Bruce67 points out, “What comprehensive term could have been used to refer to those in Lycaonia and those in Phrygia all at once?” He gives a modern example from his part of the world: Do not people today refer to Englishmen, Welsh, Cornish and Scots as ‘British’ which is only appropriate ethnically to refer to the Welsh and Cornish? And, further, it may be possible that they were proud of the fact that they were Roman citizens.68

Ramsay also attacked the notion that the title ‘Galatian’ could only be applied to those who were Gauls by blood and in the north of the province. He claimed that this, like many other theories of those who hold to a destination in North Galatia, crumbles under the weight of historical inquiry: “they fall into error after error, when they try to support their theory from the facts of Galatian history or antiquities.”69 Moffatt responded to this by attempting to demonstrate that indeed the term ‘Galatian’ refers solely to those in the north. He quotes Mommsen, an ‘authority’ in the field, as saying that

‘the provinces which were combined with Galatia under a legatus, as, e.g., Lykaonia certainly had been under Claudius, were by no means incorporated into that province. Still less could the inhabitants of Ikonium and Lystra be named Galatians in the common speech of the day.’70

The discussion over the use of whether the term applies to those in the North solely, or to both those in the north and the south, is a highly intense one, that does not appear to have any definitive answer in sight. But it must be observed that all Ramsay was seeking to settle was that the term ‘Galatian’ was indeed applied to those living in the south. He did not say or attempt to argue that it was not used for those in the north or deny that that was its primary use. He simply argued from history that it would not have been out of place for Paul to refer to the churches in the south as ‘Galatian churches.’

The Participle in Acts 16:6

The participle κωλυθέντες in Acts 16:6 does not necessarily need to refer to a prohibition by the Spirit before they set out for Phrygia and Galatia (which would form the basis, in the northern view, for why they headed north along the eastern side of Asia Minor and then into Galatia). Askwith71 has shown from the Lukan material that it is equally viable to take it as a circumstantial participle of subsequent time. The idea would then be that Phrygia and Galatia had already been traversed by Paul and his companions, being equivalent to the churches of south Galatia, and then they received the prohibition not to preach in Asia. It appears though that the understanding of the participle is much more crucial to the North Galatia view as opposed to the South Galatia view.72 And again, since the evidence opens the possibility of taking the participle in either direction, (i.e. either as antecedent time in the North Galatia view or subsequent time in the South Galatia view), an argument based upon the participle is at best a corroborating witness. We must turn to other primary evidence in order to reconstruct the destination of the letter.

The Mention of Barnabas in Galatians 2:1-10

Paul and Barnabas were together on the first missionary journey (cf. Acts 13, 14) and therefore Barnabas would have been known to the churches of south Galatia. Those who hold to the South Galatia position often point out that Paul’s argument in Galatians 2, wherein Barnabas is mentioned three times (vs. 1, 9, 13), is severely weakened if the Galatians were of the North and did not know Barnabas personally.73 Guthrie says that

it must be admitted that these references would have a great deal more force if he were personally known to the readers as would be the case on the southern theory. When Paul says that ‘even Barnabas’ (2:13) was carried away by the insincerity of Peter and other Jews, he seems to imply that this was unexpected in view of what was known of Barnabas’ character.

This argument is one of silence (not unlike many of the arguments in this debate) where there is the belief that Barnabas was unknown to those in the north. This cannot be proven and conversely there is evidence in the N.T. that Paul mentions Barnabas in other instances where he might not have been known to the readers (cf. 1 Cor. 9:6).74

Help From the Epistle

Some have argued their respective positions based upon details from within the Epistle. Lightfoot argued that the fickleness of the Galatians as seen in the book (Gal. 3:1) is a help in identifying them as the Gauls of the north. Such, as we have seen, is tentative at the very best. Others claim that since Paul says he was received as an “angel of God” (4:14) that this corresponds with what happened to him in Lystra where they thought he was Hermes and Barnabas, Zeus. Burton rightly says that “the parallel is not close enough to prove anything more than that the Galatians and Lycaonians were both warmhearted, impulsive people.”75 Another argument with somewhat more weight arises out of Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:5. He says there that while he was in Jerusalem he did not give in for a moment to the legalizers so that the gospel might remain with “you” (i.e. the Galatians). If the ‘you’ refers to the Galatians in particular and not the Gentiles in general,76 then these were churches established before Paul’s visit to Jerusalem recorded in Galatians 2:1-10. The two most likely candidates for the visit mentioned in Galatians 2 are the famine visit (Acts 11) and the Jerusalem council visit (Acts 15). If they were established before the Jerusalem council,77 the latest of the two views, there is no way within the framework of the book of Acts that they were in the north for Paul does not go through the north at least until Acts 16:6, sometime after the council.

The Activity of Judaizing Christians

The letter to the Galatians is a polemical letter warning the Christians there of the danger of an improper understanding and use of the Law; i.e. in particular the Mosaic Law including ceremonial rites and circumcision (cf. Gal. 5:6). These problems appear to have been caused by Jewish Christians78 who sought to impose the Law on the Gentile converts claiming that, at some level, true spirituality, where sin was held in check, demanded an adherence to the Law (cf. Gal. 5:13-26 as Paul’s refutation of this error). Guthrie79 says that these facts favor a southern destination since it seems more plausible that Judaizers would have followed him through the southern region than to have tracked him down in the isolated districts of the north. While this argument rests on silence, the book of Acts does specifically indicate Judaizing activity in the south (cf. Acts 15:1 and the ensuing Council). But, Bruce80 says that Jewish emissaries might make it their business to visit any city where Paul had planted a church and this is not wholly unbelievable when one considers what the apostle Paul himself did in the name of a cause (Acts 9:2, 3). Nonetheless, Guthrie’s point stands, namely, that it is much more likely that they would have followed him through the southern region than through the northern.

A Summary of the Evidence

In summary, there are several good arguments for both sides of this issue. The strongest argument in favor of the North Galatia theory is perhaps the conventional use of the term ‘Galatia’ and Luke’s use of geographical titles when referring to places-names. But, there are some major problems with this line of reasoning. Luke is only a secondary source, it is Paul to whom we must turn primarily. When we do this we find that it is Paul’s custom to generally refer to places by Roman provincial titles. And since we know that Paul did indeed establish churches in the South (Acts 13, 14), the South Galatia theory seems to better accommodate the facts.

Chapter 3: The Relation of Galatians 2:1-10 to Paul’s Jerusalem Visits as Recorded in the Book of Acts


The purpose of this section is to identify Paul’s Jerusalem visit outlined in Galatians 2:1-10 with one of his visits enumerated by Luke in Acts. There are five81 such visits of the apostle to Jerusalem as recorded in the book of Acts, but in the final analysis only two appear to fall within the province of reasonable candidates as the referent to Galatians 2:1-10. They are Acts 11:27-30; 12:25 and Acts 15.82

Arguments for the Identity Between Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15

The purpose of this section is to outline and interact with the traditional arguments in favor of equating Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15. According to Guthrie83 this is the traditional view based primarily, though not solely, upon similarities84 in both accounts.

Similarity in People and Issues

In both Galatians 2 and Acts 15 there is a similarity concerning the people referred to. Both refer to Paul and Barnabas, James and Peter. This seems to lend weight to the idea that these two meetings are really one and the same meeting.85 And the issues at stake seem to be the same. In both cases Paul and Barnabas seem to be contending against strong opposition from a Judaizing sect (cf. Acts 15:1, 2 and Gal. 3:1-3). And finally, as Lightfoot86 pointed out, the geography in the two accounts is the same, namely, Jerusalem and Antioch.

However, Boice,87 who himself holds to Acts 15 being the same event as Galatians 2, lists at least three apparent discrepancies in the accounts. First, Acts gives the impression that Paul and Barnabas presented their case publicly, but Galatians seems to involve only a private meeting with the leaders. There is the possibility that both occurred, with the smaller, private conference preceded the larger, public conference.88 But this appears to diminish the point Paul is making in Galatians 2: 2, wherein he claims that he presented the gospel “privately.” It seems rather incomplete, perhaps deceitful, not to tell them that the next day or some small period of time later, he presented it publicly. Toussaint89 also observes that such a reconstruction of things makes the Jerusalem council, which Luke so strongly emphasizes, little more than a rubber stamp.

The second and third discrepancies Boice mentions include the fact that Galatians says Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, but Acts does not mention him. And, in Galatians Paul claimed to have gone up to Jerusalem due to a revelation, whereas Acts 15 says they went as envoys of the church. However, these two discrepancies may not be substantial in any way. First, just because Luke does not mention Titus, does not mean to say or even imply that he was not with them. And, on the second point, Paul could have gone up to Jerusalem at the request of the Antiochan leaders as well as a revelation from God (cf. Acts 9:29, 30 with 22:17-21). There is no need to see any special problem here.

Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles

Another argument in favor of equating Galatians 2 with Acts 15 is the fact that Paul was recognized as the apostle to the Gentiles in Galatians (cf. Gal. 2:8). This would not have been possible if Galatians 2 refers to Acts 11 because there simply would not have been enough time for those in Jerusalem to have recognized this about Paul.90 Longenecker91 has sufficiently dealt with Stein’s work by demonstrating that it depends to heavily on the book of Acts ignoring Paul’s own idea of himself and his calling. It is plain that he received his call to preach to the Gentiles at his conversion as he emphatically states in Galatians 1:15, 16. Stein’s contention does not really stand.

A Literary Argument

Another argument in favor of Galatians 2 referring to Acts 15 is literary in nature, having to do with Luke’s presentation of the leadership relationship between Paul and Barnabas. Luke says in Acts 11 that “Barnabas and Paul” went down to Antioch, but later in Acts 15 he reverses the order of their names, apparently indicating that Paul was now in command of the team. According to Stein,92 the fact that Paul is the leader in Acts 15 and appears as such in Galatians 2:1-10 indicates that these meetings should be thought of as the same. But, this appears to ignore the fact that it appears as such in Galatians because Paul is writing of his experience in the light of those who are trying to undercut his gospel and discredit him. He is not talking about Barnabas per se, but is instead fighting for the freedom of the churches he has planted.

Galatians and Romans

Lightfoot93 contended that the content of Galatians is very similar to that of Romans, which literary connection he thought, presupposes a similar time frame in which both were written. Since it is a well accepted fact that Paul wrote Romans during the winter preceding his last visit to Jerusalem (ca. 57 A.D.),94 it is most likely then, according to Lightfoot that Galatians was written then as well. The natural inference from this is that Galatians 2:1-10 would then refer to the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.95

There are several reasons for rejecting Lightfoot’s dating of Galatians according to similarities found in Romans and Corinthians. Several authors have treated his method, but the following quote from Longenecker96 serves well to make the point:

The attempt to establish a date for Galatians solely by reference to theological indices within the letter is a dubious one. Historical, exegetical, and critical considerations must be dealt with first if we are to have any hope of grounding the discussion on a solid, evidential basis. If we move the debate away from these considerations and carry it on exclusively in terms of the theology of Galatians vis-a;-vis the theology of Paul’s other letters, we run the risk of a completely subjective criticism.

Longenecker is not decrying the use of theological indices all together, but cautions us against making them primary witnesses in debates such as these. It is true that there is distinguishable progression in the apostle’s thinking on certain issues,97 but it seems that the gospel with it’s attendant freedoms, as a central and cornerstone doctrine, was revealed to him very early on—to which he remained committed (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3, 4).

᾿Εσπούδασα in Galatians 2:10

Burton, in his commentary on Galatians says “that the visit to Jerusalem recorded in 2:1-10 was for the purpose of the relieving the poor of Jerusalem is excluded by the aorist tense of ἐσπούδασα.”98 Therefore, Burton et al.99 say that the famine must have been a while before this Jerusalem visit, since Paul responded to Peter’s plea by claiming that it was the very thing he strove (past tense referring in Burton’s mind to the famine visit) to do. But this argument is really not that substantial and can be dealt with by seeing that Peter’s admonition to Paul came at the end of the visit and thus he was exhorting Paul to continue to remember (μνημονεύωμεν i.e. durative sense) the poor as he had done on this particular occasion. To this Paul simply responded by saying that it was the very thing he had (always) sought (ἐσπούδασα) to do.100

Two Objections

There are two objections that must be dealt with if one accepts Acts 15 as the visit Paul is discussing in Galatians 2:1-10. First, why then does Paul not mention the decree of the council? According to Longenecker101 this would have served the coup de grace to the conflict in Galatia. Indeed, Boice refers to it as the most serious problem in this scenario. First, he says that the decrees were addressed to Christians in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, not to Gentiles all over the Roman world. Second, according to Boice, Paul may have very well at a later time, considered the decree concerning restrictions for conscience sake a dangerous concession, likely to be misunderstood. Third, Boice says that if Paul quoted the decree, he would have played right into the hands of those who accused him of getting his gospel from those in Jerusalem.102

The first point Boice raises fails to understand the universality of the problem at hand. Acts 16:4 and 21:25 make it clear that the decree was for all Gentile believers wrestling with these issues. The second point is pure conjecture and fails in the light of the above mentioned passages: Acts 16:4 and 21:25. The final point presents no real obstacle either. Paul may have played somewhat into the hands of the Judaizers by quoting the decree, but according to Acts 15:30-16:5 he did it anyway.

The second objection raised against equating Acts 15 with Galatians 2:1-10 concerns the reading of Galatians 1:18-2:10. If this theory stands, Paul has omitted one of his visits to Jerusalem, namely, the famine visit, since 1:18-20 undoubtedly refers to his conversion experience (Acts 9:26-30). The normal reading of the πάλιν (2:1) would indicate that the visit in 2:1-10 is the next visit after the conversion visit (Acts 9), i.e. the famine visit. And it has been suggested by many commentators that a failure on Paul’s behalf to mention the famine visit may leave his integrity open to suspicion—something his opponents would have made much of.

Arguments for the Identity Between Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 11:27-30 and 12:25

The purpose of this section is to surface and evaluate certain arguments that favor the famine visit of Acts 11:27-30 and 12:25 (hereafter simply referred to as Acts 11) as that to which Paul refers in Galatians 2.

Paul and the Incident with Peter

It is difficult to imagine that the decree preceded the events of Peter’s separation from the Gentiles and Paul’s rebuking him. Surely Peter, even though he possessed a vacillating spirit, would not have done such a thing after the Jerusalem church, that is, those who caused it the first time (Gal. 2:12), had settled the issue. Indeed, if the confrontation between Paul and Peter occurred after the decree, then it is difficult to imagine that Paul would record such a thing. In such a case he has been further separated from the apostles at Jerusalem. However, the agreement among those at the Council makes such an interpretation tenuous.103

One also needs to consider the idea that it is difficult to imagine that the Judaizers could have accomplished so much, as the letter to the Galatians indicates, if Galatians 2:1-10 refers to the Council. The churches so led astray by the Judaizers would have been quite a bit less willing to go along with the heretics if they had knowledge of the decree.104

A Normal Reading of Galatians 2:1

This had already been dealt with summarily above. Suffice it to repeat here that Paul appears to be listing his visits to Jerusalem, in succession105 since his conversion. This would mean that Galatians 2:1-10 would be equivalent to Acts 11. But, some have replied to this by saying that since Acts 11:27-30 makes no reference to apostles it cannot be the same event as Galatians 2:1-10, wherein it is mentioned that Paul visited with certain apostles (2:9). But as Toussaint106 says, it was a question of responsibility. The issue in Acts 11 is a relief fund and as Acts 6:2-4 makes clear this was not the responsibility of the apostles, but elders. It may also be noted that just because Luke does not mention the apostles in Acts 11, it does not necessarily follow that Paul did not see them. One may also argue that it is Luke’s custom in Acts to emphasize gifts and giving (Acts 2:45; 4:32; 5:1-11 [a negative example] and 6:1-4) and may have simply been doing that in Acts 11.

Paul’s Work in Syria and Cilicia

In Galatians 1:21 Paul says that he visited Syria and Cilicia. This occurred after his first visit (1:18) and before his second visit to Jerusalem (2:1). This most likely refers to the fact that Paul concentrated his missionary work in Tarsus and Antioch (after Barnabas ‘retrieved’ him from Tarsus) without going to any other centers. If this is true then, he did not evangelize in Galatia until after his second visit to Jerusalem and therefore, Galatians 2:1-10 must refer to the famine visit with evangelization of Galatia (Acts 13, 14) sometime later.

Two Objections

The first objection concerns the chronological problem inherent in saying that Galatians 2 is equivalent to the famine visit. Most are in agreement that the famine visit took place around A.D. 46.107 If one adds up the years Paul mentions in Galatians 1:18 and 2:1, one has 17 years. This places Paul’s conversion around A.D. 30, which obviously does not even allow enough time for the growth of the church mentioned in Acts 2-8. This has been solved in at least three108 ways by various writers: 1) both the three years and the fourteen years refer to the date of Paul’s conversion; 2) Paul is using a method of counting years that counts parts of years as full years and 3) to push back the crucifixion to 30 A.D. from 33 A.D. and then to date Paul’s conversion about 32 A.D. With these solutions in mind, or a combination of them, the chronological problem need to not be insurmountable. For example, if the three years and fourteen years refer to Paul’s conversion then, there is no real problem.109

The second objection involves the ‘former’ visit referred to by Paul in Galatians 4:13. Those who hold to the North Galatia theory cite this as a reference to Acts 16:6 and 18:23. But this implies that the phrase to; πρότερον carries the idea of “former” only. It may also mean “initially” or “originally.”110 But if the term does mean two visits then it is possible to see them as occurring on his return from the first missionary journey as Luke records him passing back through the cities in which he established churches (cf. Acts 14:21). This would fit well with dating the letter before the Jerusalem Council.111

A Summary of the Evidence

In summary, when the evidence is taken into account, though the standard interpretation of Galatians 2:1-10 has been to see it referring to Acts 15, it seems best to refer the Galatians’ passage to Acts 11 and the famine visit. There is both solid evidence for this view as well as no insurmountable problems.

Chapter 4: The Date of the Epistle to the Galatians

The destination of the letter appears to have been in the region of the South, including most likely the churches of Antioch (Pisidia), Iconium (Phrygia), Lystra, Derbe and vicinity. This interpretation of the destination opened the door for the possibility that the letter preceded the Jerusalem Council. Indeed, there is an identity between Galatians 2 and Acts 11. The general parameters of the letter’s date then, would be sometime after the first missionary journey (Acts 13, 14) and before the Council. Working within these parameters, Bruce says the most probable place to put the letter seems to be on the eve of the Jerusalem meeting described in Acts 15:6.112 Thus, the date would be approximately, A.D. 49.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

This paper has taken up the issue of the destination and date of Galatians. The best reckoning of the data as far as the destination is concerned is to see the letter being sent to churches that existed in the south Galatia district. These would include the churches of Antioch (Pisidia); Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. These churches would have been founded by the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey (cf. Acts 13, 14).

The date of the letter depends on the destination of the letter. The South Galatia theory opens the door for the possibility of an early date. Since this theory is the most tenable, in conjunction with the fact that the letter probably preceded the Jerusalem Council, the best date for Galatians is around A. D. 49, just before the Council and after Paul’s first missionary journey.



Askwith, Edward Harrison. The Epistle to the Galatians. London: Macmillan, 1899.

Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Trans. by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Blass, F. and A. Debrunner. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. and ed. by Robert W. Funk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Boice, James Montgomery. “Galatians” in The Expositors Bible Commentary. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. vol. 10. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976.

Bruce, F. F.The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Commentary on Galatians. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.

Burton, Ernest De Witt. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. The International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1921.

Goetchius, Eugene Van Ness. The Language of the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965.

Guthrie, Donald. Galatians. New Century Bible Commentary. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1973; reprint, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981.

Harrison, Everett F. Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964.

Lightfoot, J. B. Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London: Macmilland and Co., Limited, 1866; reprint, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957.

Longenecker, Richard N. Galatians. Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 41 Dallas: Word Books, Publisher, 1990.

Pliny Natural History. Loeb Classic Library.

Ramsay, W. M. A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Vol. 1. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1899; reprint, Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1978.

________. A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Vol. 2. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1899; reprint, Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1978.

________. The Church in the Roman Empire. 3rd ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894.

________. St. Paul The Traveller and the Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949.

Tenney, Merrill C. Galatians: The Charter of Christian Liberty. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950.

The Holy Bible. New American Standard Version. Chicago: Moody Press, 1960.

Thiessen, Henry C. Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955.

Zahn, Theodor. Introduction to the New Testament. vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Kregal Publications, 1953.

Zerwick, Maximilian, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples. trans. Joseph Smith. 5th reprint, Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1990.

Periodical Articles

Bruce, F. F. “Galatian Problems. 2. North or South Galatians?” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 52 (Spring 1970): 243-66.

________. “Galatian Problems. 4. The Date of the Epistle.” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 54 (Spring 1972): 250-67.

Hoehner, Harold. “The Chronology of the Apostolic Age.” Th.D. Diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1965.

Hoerber, Robert G. “Galatians 2:1-10 and the Acts of the Apostles.” Concordia Theological Monthly 31 (August 1960): 482-91.

Polhill, John B. “Galatia Revisited, The Life Setting of the Epistle.” Review and Expositor 69 (Fall 1972): 437-48.

Stein, Robert H. “The Relationship of Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-35: Two Neglected Arguments.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 17 (Fall 1974): 239-42.

Talbert, Charles H. “Again: Paul’s Visits to Jerusalem.” Novum Testamentum 9 (January 1967): 26-40.

Toussaint, Stanley D. “The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10.” Bibliotheca Sacra 120 (October-December 1963): 334-40.

Other Material

Teo, Peter. The Legitimacy of Aorist Participle of Subsequent Action and its Significance to the South Galatian Theory in Acts 16:6. Dallas Seminary: non-published paper for Advanced Greek Grammar, 1992.

1For an excellent summary treatment of the meaning and significance of the message of Galatians, see William Hendriksen, “Galatians and Ephesians” in the New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), 3, 4.

2Merrill C. Tenney, Galatians: The Charter of Christian Liberty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950).

3Richard N. Longenecker, “Galatians,” in the Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 41, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Books Publishers, 1990), 43-57.

4Luther, Commentary on Galatians, cited in Hendricksen, op. cit., 3.

5James Montgomery Boice, “Galatians,” in The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 10, Gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 409.

6Ernest De Witt Burton says, “From the end of the second century quotations from our epistle are frequent, and no question of its Pauline authorship was raised until the nineteenth century.”  Eernest De Witt Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians,  (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1921), 69.  According to Burton, Bruno Bauer is credited with the first person to doubt Pauline authorship, but many commentators point to the “Dutch School of critics” as those who attempted to popularize the notion—without success. See Donald Guthrie, “Galatians” in the New Century Bible Commentary,  ed. Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black, (Grand Rapids: W, B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), 1. cf. also, Boice, op. cit.,420.

7Donald Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 4th ed.  ( Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 465.  cf. also, Richard N. Longenecker, op. cit. 63; John B. Polhill, “Galatia Revisited, The Life-setting of the Epistle,” Review Expositor  69: 4  (Fall 1972): 439. Ernest De Witt Burton, op. cit., 24, says that “ancient interpreters took it for granted without discussion that the churches were in the northern” region.

8There does not seem to be, historically, any other widely advocated and supported option.  It is either north Galatia or south; cf. Burton, op. cit., 30.  But, Longenecker, op. cit., (p. 67) makes reference to the work of J. Schmidt (whom most people think was the first scholar to really break with the totally North Galatia view) and J. P. Mynster as two scholars who held to a ‘Pan-Galatian’ view.  Their view had serious problems and was never really embraced as viable. James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920), 92, says that “this modification attempts to do justice to the plain sense of Acts 16:6, but it fails to bring out the evident homogeneity of the churches addressed in Galatians and involves more difficulties than it solves.” But, cf. also Henry C. Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 216, as a contemporary expression of this position.  He says that “we hold, then, that the Epistle to the Galatians is primarily addressed to the churches in South Galatia,” but allows for it also to be sent to the disciples in the north (cf. Acts 18:23). 

9F. F. Bruce, “Galatian Problems. 2  North or South Galatians?”  Bulletin of the John Rylands Library  52 (1969, 70): 243.

10Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 472.  See also F.F.Bruce, “The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text” in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 43—”The dating of the letter in the context of Acts will depend partly on whether the addressees are regarded as ‘South Galatians’ or ‘North Galatians.’”

11F.F.Bruce, “Galatian Problems. 4. The Date of the Epistle,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 54 (Spring 1972): 251.

12This, of course, requires the explanation of the relationship of Galatians 2:1-10 to Paul’s visits to Jerusalem as recorded in the book of Acts.  This will be addressed later.

13see Donald Gutherie, “Galatians” in The New Century Bible Commentary, 27-37. 

14Luke records five visits of the apostle Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30; 11:27-30; 12:25; 15:1-30; 18:22; 21:15-23:35).

15Apparently Manson believes that Galatians 2:1-10 describes a visit to Jerusalem just before the first missionary journey.  This view is attractive, on the one hand, in that it does not need to be ‘fitted’ directly with particular statements in the text of Acts, but may, on the other, simply be an attempt to put to rest the tension between Luke and Paul on this point by giving up on a harmony of the known data.  T.W. Manson, “St. Paul in Ephesus: The Problem of the Epistle to the Galatians,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 24 (April 1940): 59-80; cited by Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10,” 334, footnote 3.

16Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10,” Bibliotheca Sacra 120 (1963): 334. cf. also Robert G. Hoerber, “Galatians 2:1-10 and the Acts of the Apostles,” Concordia Theological Monthly  31 (1960): 482;  F. F. Bruce, “Galatian Problems, 4, The Date of the Epistle,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 54 (Spring 1972):250; Charles Talbert, “Again: Paul’s Visits to Jerusalem,” Novum Testamentum 9 (Jan. 1967): 26, 27.

17The North Galatia theory will be evaluated first since in it’s fullest expression it antedated its rival.

18This was briefly addressed in the introduction under the ‘Nature of the Problem,’ but will enlarged upon slightly here.

19Richard N. Longenecker, op. cit., 62.  For a discussion of Greek authors wherein the term is found see, J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Pauls Epistle to the Galatians, (London: Macmilland and Co., Limited, 1866; reprint, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians:  Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957), 2-4.

20F.F. Bruce, New International Greek Testament Commentary, 3.

21Polhill, Galatia Revisited, 438.

22Virtually all the commentators and writers (Boice, Bruce, Burton, Gutherie, Hendricksen, Longenecker, Ramsay, Lightfoot, Thiessen, Zahn) reconstruct the historical antecedents of the arrival of the Gauls in the land of the Phrygians along similar lines.  Ramsay has the fullest development of the historical background in W. M. Ramsay, A Historical Commentary on St. Pauls Epistle to the Galatians, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1899; reprint, vol. 1, Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1978), 1-234.

23Pliny, Natural History, 5:146, 7. “This district is occupied by Gallic settlers.  Along the North and East of Galatia is Cappadocia. . .the towns are Ancyra. . .Tavium and Pissinus.  Galatia also touches on Cabalia in Pamphylia. . . and the district of Orando in Pisidia, and Obizene which is part of Lycaonia.” From the recording of Pliny (23-79 a.d.) we can tell the region occupied as the Roman province of Galatia at the time of the writing of the book of Galatians.

24Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary,  5.  see also Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, 18.

25Ibid., 7

26According to Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., (p. 250), “Lightfoot’s dismissal of the South Galatia view in favor of the traditional one was natural; when he wrote, the South Galatia view had not yet been placed on sufficiently sound basis.”  Ramsay was the individual who accomplished this some time later, perhaps by 1899.  Lightfoot’s commentary first appeared in 1865.

27Lightfoot, op. cit., 19.

28Gutherie, “Galatians” in The New Century Bible Commentary, 16.

29That is, Paul established churches there and is sending the letter to them.

30As opposed to evidence external to Acts like the previous argument concerning the reference to conventional use of Galatians in 1st century understanding.

31Lightfoot, op. cit., 19.

32Luke refers to Antioch as Antioch of ‘Pisidia’ and Lystra and Derbe as cities of ‘Lycaonia’ (cf. Acts 13:14 and 14:6 respectively).  Although these towns and cities were in south Galatia, Luke preferred the geographical term as opposed to the provincial one, i.e. Galatia.

33Moffatt, Introduction, 93, holding to the North Galatia theory, says, “The phrase is not an equivalent for Phrygia-Galatica, or for the borderland between eastern Phrygia and Western Galatia: it denotes not one district but two.”  Contra Lightfoot, (p. 22) who while also holding to the North Galatia theory, says, “the form of the Greek expression implies that Phrygia and Galatia here are not to be regarded as separate districts.  The country now evangelized might be called indifferently Phrygia or Galatia.  By this Lightfoot meant the region in the north; i.e. the Phrygian area before it was settled by the Gauls.  F. F. Bruce “Galatians” in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, 11 says this antiquarianism is uncharacteristic of Luke.

34cf. Polhill, Galatia Revisited, 440; Longenecker, Galatians, 66.

35Moffatt, Introduction, 95 argued that “διέρχεσθαι” in 16:6, taken with 18:23, implies preaching activity, not simply traveling.”

36cf. the similar section under arguments for the South Galatia theory for the development of the grammatical and contextual issues.

37Lightfoot, op. cit. 22.

38Polhill, Galatia Revisited, 441. cf. also Gutherie, “Galatians” in The New Century Bible Commentary, 18.

39Bell Gall.  4: 5; cited in Lightfoot, Galatians, 15. cf. also Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary, 8.

40This may refer to the time of their conversion or to Paul’s last visit.  The context suggests the time is to be taken from when they embraced the gospel (i.e. their salvation) as Lightfoot assumes; cf. his commentary, p. 75.

41F.F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., 250.  Bruce’s point of view, against Lightfoot, is typical of a number of scholars who reject the comparison as proof of anything essential to the question at hand.

42cf. Moffatt, Introduction, 99, “Many internal arguments on both sides to prove the character of the people addressed in the epistle are of little independent value.”

43Or perhaps the participle is more specifically causal with the idea that “since they were restricted from entrance into Asia, they went into Phrygia and Galatia. cf. Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, The Language of the New Testament, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965), 188, 89.  cf. also Acts 25:13 for an aorist participle of subsequent time, though according to Goetchius (p. 189) this use is rare.  This is taken up further in the following section where it will be seen that Goetchius may not be entirely accurate as far as Luke is concerned.

44There is textual variant here, wherein a Byzantine reading, διελθόντες  was taken to be original instead of διῆλθον by commentators such as Lightfoot and Ramsay (cf. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, 195; “But the strange form of construction by a succession of participles suits so perfectly the strange and unique character, the hurry, and the deep lying emotion of the passage that, as Lightfoot’s judgment, Bibl. Essays, p. 237, perceived, the inferior MSS. must here be followed.”  But as Bruce (North or South Galatians, 257) points out, this was not necessary for the prohibition could have been given in enough time for the missionaries to change their plans.  One might also add, that Ramsay et al. need to deal with external data more thoroughly than to just refer to the MSS. as inferior.  The indicative reading is supported by MSS. such as  p74  a A B C2 D  E.

45cf. Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 467.

46Again, it must be remembered that even if Paul went into the north in Acts 16:6 and 18;23, it does not necessarily follow that he must needs have written this letter to them.  If it could be ascertained with certainty that Acts 16:6 and 18:23 referred to the northern region, all this would imply is that at least we know that Paul did work in the north.

47 William M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before A.D. 170, (3rd. ed. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1894), 78.

48Polhill, Galatia Revisited, 440.  He cites Kirsopp Lake as one who maintained that the term ‘Phrygian’ was not an adjective form in the New Testament period, but only a substantive. Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1964), 257 states that “in both cases [Acts 16:6 and 18:23] Galatia is an adjectival form.”  cf. also Robert Hoerber, “Galatians 2:1-10 and the Acts of the Apostles” Concordia Theological Monthly  31 (1960): 486.  He cites Liddel- Scott-Jones as support for the adjectival use of the term ‘Galatia’ here.

49Ibid., 78, 79.

50Ibid., 80.

51cf. Gutherie, Introduction, 468.

52Edward Harrison Askwith, The Epistle to the Galatians, (London: MacMillan, 1899), 23. He says, “It is St. Luke’s habit when he’s narrating the Apostle’s travels over new ground to mention the name of the cities and to record what happened there” (p. 49).  This information was taken from the book which is available only on microfilm.

53Polhill, Galatia revisited, 440, 441., contra Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., 258.

54Some contend that it is Luke’s habit to review Paul’s travels, but each pericope must be examined on its own first.  With this in mind, the phrase ἐλθόντες δὲ κατὰ τὴν Μυσίαν  (v. 7) seems to imply continuous movement arising out of movement from the preceding section, namely, verses 5 and 6. 

55Moffatt, Introduction, 93.

56ibid, 443.

57Ibid, 96.

58Ibid, 97

59Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., 259.  The reference in 1 Cor. 16:1 to the churches of Galatia and the giving project for the saints at Jerusalem (i.e. most commentators take it as such), when combined with the fact that no north Galatian delegates are mentioned as being with Paul (Acts 20:4; only Timothy and Gaius of the South are mentioned in connection with project) may argue that the churches of 1 Cor. 16:1 are from the south, not the north.  Again, this argument rests upon silence.  Even Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 98, dismisses it as having “very little value.  Timothy at least might be with Paul as a traveling companion, and several other churches have no representatives.”  Moffatt, Introduction, 96, says, “besides, the Galatian contribution may have been sent independently.”  According to Bruce and other commentators, the reference to ‘Galatia’ in 2 Tim. 4:10 is difficult to identify with certainty.  Also, 1 Peter 1:1 seems to indicate the province in general.  This is dealt with as the argument about the “Jerusalem Delegation in Gutherie, Introduction,  471.

60Moffatt, Introduction, 94.

61Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire., 86.  Ramsay finds it incredible that anyone could think that Paul preached in the north as a result of his sickness.  He says that, “the truth is that no suggestion ever has been offered, and in view of the geography no suggestion can be offered, which will introduce rational coherence into the narrative in Acts on the supposition that on this journey St. Paul evangelized in Northern Galatia.”

62Moffatt, Introduction, 97.  It is interesting that Moffatt quotes the work of Ramsay on the geographical nature of north Galatia in support of his conclusion.

63It was in this line that many advocates of the North Galatia view attacked their opponents, claiming that there is no mention of Paul’s illness in Acts 13 and 14.  But, as Bruce says, “there is no hint of illness in the record of his passing through the Phrygian and Galactic region of Acts 16:6.” cf. Bruce, North or South Galatia, 260.

64Boice, op. cit., 414.  This argument will be more fully developed under the southern theory.  cf. also Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2: 49.

65Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, (p. 469) says Moffatt takes ‘Syria and Cilicia’ together indicating a Roman province.  Gutherie makes the distinction that Paul is referring to his own travels, not the location of churches.

66Lightfoot, op. cit., 19.

67Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., 263.

68Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 43.

69Ramsay, A Historical Commentary on Galatians, vol. 2, 320. He cites Tacitus  as an example of the use of the term to refer to those in the south.

70Moffatt, Introduction, 96.

71Askwith (The Epistle to the Galatians) cites Acts 25:13 (p. 39) claiming that the “predicative use for the participle is natural in Luke” (p. 43).  Outside the book of Acts he references Luke 4:15 and 18:14.  He says that in Luke 4:15 the emphasis is on the fact of Jesus’ preaching and not the reception he met with (p. 44).  As far as Luke 18:14 is concerned  he states, “the fact that the Publican went down to his house is of no importance whatever; but, that he was justified in comparison to the Pharisee is the whole point of the parable” (p. 44).  The point of these examples is to demonstrate the existence of the participle of subsequent action in Luke’s writing.  However, the participle is used on several occasions to refer to antecedent time as well: Acts 1:6, 8; 11:19; 13:4; 15:1; 17:1;19:1, 2; 21:11, etc.  For an interesting discussion of the grammar of participles of subsequent time, see: Peter Teo, The Legitimacy of the Aorist Participle of Subsequent Time and Its Significance to the South Galatian Theory in Acts 16:6. (Unpublished Paper for Advanced Greek Grammar, DTS, 1992).

72Gutherie, Introduction, 470

73Conversely the Southern position is strengthened by the fact that we are reasonably sure that the churches there knew Barnabas.  cf. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 97.  He discounts this argument as not helpful in any regard.  cf. also Bruce, Galatian Problems, 2., 252 agrees with his evaluation.

74cf. also Moffatt, Introduction, 96.  He argues that Paul’s references to “Barnabas do not necessarily imply that he was unknown to the readers.”

75Burton, op. cit., 63.  See Burton also for a reference to the minor arguments raised historically within the debate.  He discusses issues such as: 1) the fact that Paul would not go into the geographical district of Galatia where Greek was not spoken; 2) the argument that Paul would have kept only to the main roads with the inference that north Galatia was off ‘the beaten path;’ 3) that the ‘marks of the Lord Jesus’ (Gal. 6:17) refer to the beating Paul received in Lystra; 4) the illusion in Galatians 5:11 to the charge that Paul still preached circumcision seems an echo of the use made among the Galatians of his circumcision of Timothy, a person known primarily to those in the South and a fact used by the Judaizers against Paul; 5) the placement of the incident between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2:11-21 as an argument for the North Galatians hypothesis.  All these are based upon varying degrees of speculation and consequently add little to the rigor involved in establishing a destination. 

76The highly situational and intimate context of Galatians 2 makes it improbable that the ‘you’ is general, referring to the Gentiles, but rather is to be understood as specific, referring to the actual recipients of the letter.  cf. Gutherie, Introduction, 472.  Moffatt, Introduction, 97 that this “does not necessarily imply that the churches were in existence when the controversy at Jerusalem broke out.  Paul was merely fighting the battle on behalf of all Gentile Christians who should believe.”  However, this argument does not do justice to the personal nature of Paul’s recounting in Galatians 2:1-11.

77In the next major section, the paper will contend that Galatians 2 is actually the famine visit of Acts 11.  Acts 15 and the Council visit is assumed simply to provide the widest parameter; i.e. there is no way that Acts 16:6 ff. describes the founding of these churches.

78Talbert, Again: Pauls Visits to Jerusalem, 27-31. Concerning the Galatian errorists, Talbert says that the idea of Judaizers from Jerusalem was the standard interpretation at least until the 1930’s.  Since then however, some scholars have contended that the errorists were one of the following; 1) Judaizing Christians and ‘Spirituals’; 2) Gentile Judaizers or 3) Syncretists, Talbert’s own thesis.  He thinks that Syncretists better account for the data: 1) focus on circumcision; 2) astral worship and 3) ethical deviations.

79Gutherie, Introduction, 472.

80Bruce, North or South Galatians, 253.

81cf. Acts 9:26-30; 11:27-30, 12:25; 15:1-30; 18:22 and 21:15-23:35.

82Toussaint, op. cit., 334. 

83Gutherie, Introduction,  474.

84cf. also Lightfoot, op. cit., 123, who says, “In support of this view may be urged the positive argument from the striking coincidence of circumstances, and the negative argument from the difficulty of finding an equally probable solution.”  It appears that Lightfoot having given himself rather ardently to the North Galatia position would not allow the possibility of Galatians 2 referring to anything but Acts 15.  It is essential to his thesis concerning the location of the churches in the North. But, indeed, Acts 11 is “an equally probable solution” as history has  shown subsequent to Lightfoot’s work.  Whether Acts 11 is correct is another matter, but it is equally probable.

85Toussaint, op. cit. 335, 336.  It should be noted that those who hold to the North Galatia theory have no choice, generally speaking, but to identify Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15.  see, Gutherie, Introduction, 474.

86Lightfoot, op. cit., 123.

87Boice, op. cit., 418.  The following arguments are succinctly laid out by Boice, though He says that Acts 15 should be paired with Galatians 2 due to the striking coincidence of circumstances.  He is following Lightfoot for the most part.

88Ibid. 419.

89Toussaint, op. cit. 337.

90cf. Robert Stein, “The Relationship of Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-35: Two Neglected Arguments,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 17 (Fall 1974): 242.  He says that at the time of the famine visit Paul had not even gone on his missionary journeys nor had much success in Troas so far as we can tell.

91Longenecker, op. cit., 81.

92Ibid, 242.

93Lightfoot, op. cit. 48, 49.

94F. F. Bruce, Galatian Problems 4: 254.

95Toussaint, op. cit. 336.

96Longenecker, Galatians, 84.

97F.F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 255. Bruce thinks Paul grew in his understanding of the resurrection body.

98Burton, op. cit., 115.

99Stein, Two Neglected Arguments, 240. Stein also discusses the similarities such as geography, the issues (i.e. circumcision); the relation between Romans and Galatians, etc.

100Robert G. Hoerber, op. cit., 484.

101Longenecker, op. cit. 79.

102Boice, op. cit. 419.

103Longenecker, op. cit. 80.

104F. F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 252.

105This seems to be the force of the πάλιν in Galatians 2:1.

106Toussaint, op. cit. 336, 337.

107Ibid., 339

108Longenecker, op. cit., 83.

109Fourteen years back from 46 A.D. would be around 32 or 33.  If Christ were crucified in A.D. 30 then there is no real problem in the chronology.  Obviously this is not the place to debate the date of the crucifixion, but a date of A. D. 30 is apparently not uncommon among scholars.

110Walter Bauer, et al. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 722.  They say that “from a lexical point of view it is not possible to establish the thesis that Paul wished to differentiate between a later and earlier one [visit].”

111F. F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 252.

112F.F. Bruce, Galatian Problems, 4: 266.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines