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The Epistle to the Galatians

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The Epistle to the Galatians is a powerful Christian treatise designed to declare the truth of salvation by grace alone and the goal of such a salvation; namely, a life of joyous freedom from sin’s tyranny, on the one hand, and increasing 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, 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.”3 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.”4

Authorship

Apart from a few radical Dutch critics, the Pauline authorship of Galatians (as a whole or certain parts) has never been seriously questioned.5 Indeed, the letter has often been used as a benchmark from which to test the authenticity of the other Pauline letters. As Richard Longenecker points out:

The most uncontroverted matter in the study of Galatians is that the letter was written by Paul, the Christian apostle whose ministry is portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles. The letter begins by naming him as its author (1:1). Furthermore, the nature of its theological argument, its distinctive use of Scripture in support of that argument, the character of its impassioned appeals, and the style of writing all point to Paul as its author. If Galatians is not by Paul, no NT letter is by him, for none has any better claim.6

However, the date and destination of the letter, to which we now turn, has not fared so well.

Destination

With respect to the first of the problems, that is, the destination of the letter, the text of Galatians 1:2 clearly says “to the churches of Galatia” (tai'" ejkklhsivai" th'" Galativa"). 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 and churches in Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium) while others say it refers to Galatia as the Roman provincial title7 (i.e., the South theory and churches in Antioch [Pisidia], Iconium [Phrygia], Lystra, Derbe).8 F. F. Bruce summarizes 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?9

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

Let’s begin with a cursory look at the arguments for the destination of the letter. Those who argue for the North theory generally advance the following points: (1) the term “Galatia” was commonly used in the first century to refer to the ethnic region in the North. Thus it is most likely that Luke (Acts 16:6; 18:23) and Paul (Gal 1:2) used the term in this way. But this argument is seriously weakened when it is realized that the term was not used exclusively in this way; (2) Luke uses terms like Mysia, Phrygia and Pisidia as geographical place-names and so it is thought that “Galatia” in Acts 16:6 and 18:23 would be similarly used, supporting the ethnic or North theory; (3) In Acts 16:6 to what does the phrase “the region of Phrygia and Galatia” (thVn Frugivan kaiV GalatikhVn cwvran) refer? Those who hold to the north Galatia theory generally insist that ‘Phrygia’ and ‘Galatia’ refer to two distinct regions17 and since Phrygia is unquestionably a geographical title, then so it must be with ‘Galatia’; (4) the expression “the region of Galatia and Phrygia” (thVn GalatikhVn cwvran kaiV Frugivan) in Acts 18:23 is understood by proponents of the North theory to be virtually identical to the expression in 16:6; (5) J. B. Lightfoot thought that the generally ‘fickle’ character of the Gauls in the north (as gleaned from extra-biblical sources which highlight their relationship with the Romans)18 fit well with the fickle character described in the letter to the Galatians; (6) If the participle “having been prevented” (kwluqevnte") in Acts 16:6 be taken as a participle of antecedent time19 to the main verb “they went through” (dih’lqon),20 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.21 In summary fashion these are the arguments generally raised in favor of a North destination for the letter to the Galatians.

Now let’s take a brief look at arguments in favor of the South theory and raise objections to the North at the same time: (1) as was pointed out above, the term Galatia may have been commonly used around the first century to refer to the region in the North, but this was not uniformly the case. Thus we cannot necessarily appeal to that, except as corroborating evidence; (2) the book of Acts records no churches in the north, but it does record the spread of the Pauline gospel in the South; (3) As Boice22 points out, Paul 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). The apostle also speaks of Judea, Syria and Cilicia23 (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; (4) the term “Galatia” can refer to both those in the north and those in the south; it was not limited to those in the north; (5) any argument based on the use of the participle in Acts 16:6 can at best only be a corroborating argument since it can just as easily be read as indicating subsequent time (favoring the south Galatia view). Indeed, it appears that this argument is more crucial to the North Galatia view; (6) 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 personally24; (7) the letter to the Galatians is a polemic against certain Judaizers. With this in mind, it has been argued that these agitators would have followed Paul into south Galatia, but most likely not into the more difficult region of north Galatia.

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 principally turn. 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.

Relation to Acts

Many scholars have argued that the events described in Galatians 2:1-10 reflect Paul’s visit to Jerusalem outlined in Acts 15. This association is based in part on similarities in people (e.g., Paul, Barnabas, James and Peter) and issues (i.e., the gospel). But this view has some internal inconsistencies in it. First, Paul mentions a private meeting in Galatians, but the meeting in Acts 15 is definitely public. Second, Acts does not mention Titus, but Galatians does. And further, in Galatians Paul says he went in response to a revelation, but Acts does not indicate this. These latter two objections, however, are of no material consequence and can easily be accounted for.

There are, however, two serious objections to identifying Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15. First, it is very difficult to conceive Paul not mentioning the favorable decree of the council in his letter to the Galatian churches if he indeed knew it. 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 “again” (pavlin; 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 question—something his opponents would have made much of.

There is better evidence to suggest that Acts 11:27-30 is the visit related in Galatians 2:1-10. First, 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. Second, it is further difficult to imagine that the Judaizers could have accomplished so much damage, as the letter to the Galatians indicates, if Galatians 2:1-10 refers to the Council. Third, Paul appears to be listing his visits to Jerusalem, in succession25 since his conversion. This would mean that Galatians 2:1-10 would be equivalent to Acts 11. Fourth, 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.

An important 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. 46.26 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 three27 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.28

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 toV provteron carries the idea of “former” only. It may also mean “initially” or “originally.”29 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.30

Date

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 15:6.31 Thus, the date would be approximately, A.D. 49.

Theme, Structure and Tone

The theme of an exposition, defense and application of “the gospel of God’s grace” runs throughout the letter from beginning to end. The polemic is immediately set forth in 1:6-9: “….if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” In chapters 1-2 Paul defends his apostleship which his opponents had obviously attempted to undercut. The point is, if the agitators could undermine the credibility of the messenger (i.e., Paul), they could undermine the credibility of his message (i.e., a gospel without need for Jewish ceremonialism, etc.). In chapters 3 and 4 Paul lays out an experiential and theological argument for the purity and accuracy of his gospel. And then, in chapters 5-6, he sets forth the practical implications of his gospel, properly understood. His gospel does not lead to libertinism; this results only from unintentional misunderstanding (the Galatians) or intentional mischaracterization (his opponents). Thus the letter hangs together as a unified argument for the Pauline gospel and the freedom from sin to which it leads.

The Identity of Paul's Opponents and Their Teaching

That the letter to the Galatians is largely polemic is clear enough, but one might ask the question, “Who were the opponents Paul was resisting?” Some scholars have argued that the agitators (5:10) were Gentile Judaizers, but virtually every important clue in the letter suggests otherwise, namely, that they were Jewish. For example, it is not likely that Gentile Christians or Jewish proselytes would so vehemently stress circumcision (5:2) or that they would boast over those whom they had led to circumcision (6:12). Further, the discussion of “the Jerusalem above” in 4:25-26 seems to indicate that the troublemakers were Jews headquartered in Jerusalem.

Other scholars have suggested that Paul’s opponents were Jewish zealots who sought, not so much to oppose Paul, as they did to complete his gospel message with circumcision (and other Jewish cultic elements) and so bring the Galatian churches to maturity and into their full rights as “sons” and heirs of Abrahamic promise. There is much to commend this view, but from Paul’s description in 1:6-9 and 6:11-13, combined with his need to defend his apostleship, we get the distinct impression that his opponents were Jewish Christian legalists, who regarded Paul as inferior (and an opponent) and his message to be in error on certain crucial points. Therefore, they sought to correct his preaching, arguing that in order for the Gentiles to become “full” sons and daughters and heirs of the covenant, they needed faith in Christ plus adherence to the Mosaic code (including circumcision and observance of certain religious feasts).

Teaching Outline

    IA. Introduction (1:1-10)

      1B. Salutation (1:1-5)

        1C. The Senders (1:1-2)

        2C. The Recipients (1:3)

        3C. The Salutation Proper (1:4-5)

      2B. Denunciation: The Reason for the Letter (1:6-10)

        1C. The Perversion of the Gospel (1:6-9)

        2C. Paul’s Motivations (1:10)

    IIA. Historical: Defense of Paul and Gospel (1:11-2:21)

      1B. The Revelatory Source of Paul’s Gospel: Thesis Statement (1:11-12)

      2B. The Revelatory Source of Paul’s Gospel: A Defense (1:13-2:21)

        1C. Proof #1: My Former Life In Judaism (1:13-14)

          1D. I Persecuted the Church (1:13)

          2D. I Was Zealous for My Ancestral Traditions (1:14)

        2C. Proof #2: When Paul Was Called and Commissioned…(1:15-17)

          1D. He Was Called and Commissioned by God (1:15-16a)

            1E. God Set Him Apart From Birth (1:15a)

            2E. God Called Him by Grace (1:15b)

            3E. God Was Pleased To Reveal His Son in Paul: To Preach (1:16a)

          2D. He Did Not Consult with “Flesh and Blood” (1:16b)

          3D. He Did Not Go Up to Jerusalem To See Other Apostles (1:17a)

          4D. He Went Away: Arabia and Damascus (1:17b)

        3C. Proof #3: When He Did Go to Jerusalem…(1:18-20)

          1D. It Was Three Years Later (1:18a)

          2D. He Saw Peter for Fifteen Days (1:18b)

          3D. He Did Not See Any Other Apostles, Except James (1:19)

          4D. In Regards to His Testimony…He is Not Lying (1:20)

        4C. Proof #4: Paul Then Went to the Regions of Syria and Cilicia (1:21-24)

        5C. Proof #5: The Report of the Churches in Judea (1:22-24)

          1D. The Churches in Judea Did Not Know Paul Directly (1:22-23)

          2D. The Churches in Judea Praised God Because of Paul (1:24)

        6C. Proof #6: Paul’s Relationship with the Jerusalem Church (2:1-10)

          1D. Paul Went to Jerusalem Church Fourteen Years Later (2:1)

            1E. He Took Barnabas

            2E. He Took Titus

          2D. He Went in Response to a Revelation (2:2a)

          3D. He Had a Private Meeting with Leaders (2:2b-10)

            1E. The Problem of the “False Brothers” (2:2b-5)

            2E. The Blessing of the “Pillars” (2:6-10)

        1F. The “Pillars” Contributed Nothing to Paul (2:6)

        2F. They Gave Paul/Barnabas Right Hand of Fellowship (2:7-10)

        1G. They Recognized God’s Grace in Paul’s Ministry (2:7-9)

        2G. They Asked Paul To Remember the Poor (2:10)

        7C. Proof #7: Paul Had to Rebuke Peter Concerning the Gospel (2:10-21)

          1D. The Circumstances Leading to the Rebuke (2:10-14)

            1E. Paul Opposed Peter to His Face (2:11)

            2E. Peter Was Standing Aloof from Gentiles (2:12)

            3E. Others, Including Barnabas Were Led Astray (2:13)

            4E. Paul’s Indicting Question (2:14)

          2D. The Theological Reason for the Rebuke (2:15-21)

            1E. Jews and Gentiles Alike Are Justified by Faith (2:15-16)

            2E. Do Not Nullify Grace through the Law (2:17-21)

    IIIA. Theological: A Defense of Paul’s Gospel (3:1-4:31)

      1B. Through the Experience of the Galatians: Four Questions (3:1-5)

        1C. The Fact: The Galatians Knew Jesus Christ Was Crucified (3:1)

        2C. The Questions (3:2-5)

          1D. Receiving the Spirit: By Law or by Faith? (3:2)

          2D. Sanctification: By Law or by the Spirit? (3:3)

          3D. Suffering: In Vain or Not? (3:4)

          4D. The Gift of the Spirit and Miracles: By Law or by Faith? (3:5)

      2B. Through The Lesson from Abraham (3:6-9)

        1C. The Example: Abraham’s Justification Was by Faith (3:6)

        2C. The Application: Those of Faith Are Blessed with Abraham (3:7-9)

          1D. The Statement: Those of Faith Are Sons of Abraham (3:7)

          2D. The Scriptural Support: “All Nations Will Be Blessed in You” (3:8)

          3D. The Application Proper: Those of Faith Are Blessed with Abraham (3:9)

      3B. Through the Curse of the Law (3:10-14)

        1C. Curse Is Not Overcome by Works of the Law (3:10-12)

          1D. Cursed Is the Person Who Does Not Obey the Whole Law (3:10)

          2D. Habakkuk 2:4 Teaches Justification by Faith Not Law-works (3:11)

          3D. The Law and Faith Are Mutually Exclusive (3:12)

        2C. Christ Redeems from Curse of the Law (3:13-14)

          1D. The Statement: Christ Redeemed Us from Curse of the Law (3:13)

          2D. The Reason: That Gentiles Might Receive Abrahamic Blessing (3:14)

            1E. Through Christ Jesus

            2E. The Promise of the Spirit by Faith

      4B. Through the Abrahamic Covenant (3:15-18)

        1C. The Unchanging Nature of the Abrahamic Covenant (3:15)

        2C. The Object of the Abrahamic Covenant: Christ/Not Nation (3:16)

        3C. The Permanence of the Abrahamic Covenant (3:17-18)

          1D. The Statement: The Law Does Not Set Aside Covenant/Promise (3:17)

          2D. The Reason: Inheritance Is according to Grace Not Law (3:18)

      5B. Through the Nature and Purpose of the Law (3:19-22)

        1C. The Law Was Temporary (3:19a)

        2C. The Law Was Inferior to the Promise (3:19b-20)

        3C. The Law Could Not Impart Life (3:21)

        4C. The Law Reveals Sin (3:22)

      6B. Through the Temporary Nature of the Law (3:23-29)

        1C. The Law Was To Lead Us to Christ (3:23-24)

        2C. As Sons of God Now, We Are No Longer under the Law (3:25-27)

        3C. The Law Was Limited to Israel, But Salvation Is for All (3:28-29)

      7B. Through an Understanding of Becoming an Heir (4:1-7)

        1C. The “Slave” Condition of a Child (4:1-3)

        2C. The “Full Rights” Condition of a Son (4:4-7)

          1D. Through Christ’s Redemption (4:4-5)

          2D. Includes the Gift of the Spirit (4:6)

        3C. Conclusion (4:7)

      8B. Through an Appeal to the Galatians (4:8-31)

        1C. To Not Return to Weak and Miserable Principles (4:8-11)

          1D. Because You Know God Now (4:8-9a)

          2D. Because They Enslave (4:9b-10)

          3D. Transition: Paul’s Concern (4:11)

        2C. To Remember Their Relationship with Paul (4:12-20)

          1D. To Become Like Him (4:12)

          2D. To Remember Their Love for Him during His Illness (4:13-16)

          3D. To Be Aware of the Judaizers’ Motives (4:17-20)

            1E. The Judaizers Want To Alienate Paul from the Galatians (4:17-18)

            2E. Transition: Paul’s Concern (4:19-20)

        3C. To Recall the Story of Hagar and Sarah (4:21-31)

          1D. Introduction: Abraham’s Two Sons by Hagar and Sarah (4:21-23)

          2D. The Allegory: Two Women and Two Covenants (4:24-27)

            1E. General Statement (4:24a)

            2E. Hagar: Bondage and the Sinai Covenant (4:24b-25)

            3E. (Sarah): Freedom and Jerusalem That Is Above (4:26-27)

          3D. The Application: For the Galatians and the Judaizers (4:28-30)

            1E. The Natural Son Persecutes Son Born of Promise/Spirit (4:28-29)

            2E. The Natural Son Will Not Share in Inheritance (4:30)

          4 D. Conclusion: Christians Are of the Free Woman (4:31)

    IVA. Practical: The Application of the Gospel to Life (5:1-6:17)

      1B. By Standing Firm In Freedom and Resisting Legalism (5:1-15)

        1C. Maintain Your Freedom: The Command Proper (5:1)

        2C. Recognize Your Freedom: Do Not Give in to Legalism (5:2-6)

        3C. Protect Your Freedom: Be Careful of The Circumcision Group (5:7-12)

        4C. Use and Do Not Abuse Your Freedom: Serve Others in Love (5:13-15)

      2B. By Walking By the Spirit (5:16-26)

        1C. The Hortatory Context: The General Command (5:16)

        2C. The Experiential Context (5:17-18)

          1D. The Conflict of the Spirit and the Flesh (5:17)

          2D. If Led by the Spirit, Not under the Law (5:18)

        3C. The Ethical Context: Visible Evidence (5:19-23)

          1D. The Acts of the Flesh Are Evident (5:19-21)

            1E. The Various ‘Acts” (5:19-21a)

            2E. The Warning: Concerning the Kingdom of God (5:19b-22)

          2D. The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23)

            1E. The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23a)

            2E. The Place of the Law (5:23b)

        4C. The Theological Context (5:24-26)

          1E. Co-Crucifixion with Christ (5:24)

          2E. Life By the Spirit: A Command (5:25)

        5C. The Relational Context (5:26)

      3B. By Sowing To Please the Spirit (6:1-10)

        1C. Through Carrying Others’ Burdens (6:1-2)

        2C. Through Humility and Responsibility (6:3-5)

        3C. Through Sharing with Teachers (6:6)

        4C. The General Principle of Sowing and Reaping (6:7-10)

          1D. The Foundation of the Principle: God Will Not Be Mocked (6:7)

          2D. The Principle Proper: The Spirit and the Flesh (6:8)

            1E. Sowing to the Flesh: Destruction (6:8a)

            2E. Sowing to the Spirit: Eternal Life and Righteousness (6:8b)

          3D. The Application: Persistence in Doing Good to All People (6:9-10)

            1E. Do Not Become Weary: A Harvest Awaits (6:9)

            2E. Do Good to All, Especially Believers (6:10)

      4B. By Exposing the Legalists (6:11-17)

        1C. They Are Men-Pleasers Only 6:11)

        2C. They Are Fearful (6:12)

        3C. They Are Disobedient to Their Own Standards (6:13a)

        4C. They Are Arrogant (6:13b)

        5C. They Do Not Value the Cross of Christ (6:14)

      5B. By Affirming What Really Matters (6:15-16)

        1C. Not Circumcision, But The New Creation (6:15)

        2C. Where God Displays His Peace and Mercy (6:16)

      6B. By Recognizing Jesus’ Vindicated Servant (6:17)

    VA. Final Greeting (6:18)


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

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

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

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

5 Ernest 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.

6 Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians in Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard Glenn W. Barker, vol. 41 (Dallas: Word, 1990), in loc. electronic version.

7 Pliny, 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.

8 There 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).

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

10 Gutherie, 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.'“

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

12 This, 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.

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

14 Luke 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).

15 Apparently 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.

16 Stanley 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.

17 Moffatt, 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.

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

19 Or 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.

20 There is textual variant here, wherein a Byzantine reading, dielqovnte" was taken to be original instead of dih`lqon 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.

21 cf. Gutherie, New Testament Introduction, 467.

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

23 Gutherie, 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.

24 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, who agrees with his evaluation.

25 This seems to be the force of the pavlin in Galatians 2:1.

26 Ibid., 339

27 Longenecker, op. cit., 83.

28 Fourteen 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.

29 Walter 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].”

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

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

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines