Introduction to the Book of Galatians:
“Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:” Galatians‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭
Paul now sets his focus on writing to the churches of Galatia. This was a province officially recognized by Rome. It was approximately 200 miles long north to south and 75 to 150 miles wide. Some ancient maps show it extending all the way to the Black Sea on the north boarder.
The name “Galatia” can be traced back to the Gauls who invaded and settled this region about three centuries prior to the time of Christ. They were a fierce and ruthless foe and swept through the region with violent force. They brought with them barbaric morals and pagan religious practices that promoted fleshly indulgence of every kind. This region includes what is now southern Turkey. The Turk influence over this region is also self evident by the modern name.
This dark cloud of human depravity left a void for truth and decency. This yearning was first scratched by Jewish merchants who introduced them to the Law of Moses. This was followed by a wave of Jewish disciples sent by the Apostle Peter just to the East in Jerusalem which still embraced keeping the Law as a means of justification, though it is not known the extend of their influence. Consequently, these believers were confused with the early legalism that accompanied the gospel sent from Jerusalem.
Note that this Epistle was written to “the churches of Galatia” and not to one individual church. It was intended to be circulated throughout the entire region. It appears that Paul and Barnabas had some form of itinerant ministry in this region. (See Galatians 2:1)
As the book unfolds, Paul vigorously defends the gospel of justification by faith. He shares his personal testimony and even refers to what may have been the Jerusalem Council in Galatians chapter two. This is a very important historical document to fill in the life and story of the Apostle Paul. Undoubtedly, some Jewish believers had fled Jerusalem and settled in this region to escape the persecution of the feared “Saul of Tarsus.” He even weaves some of that story into the early part of the book of Galatians.
Please understand that the battle for the pure Gospel was being waged in this Epistle and the region of Galatia was the battle ground. How fitting, for the region of Galatia had a history of fierce battles from both the Turks and the Gauls; now it was the battle ground for Paul.
The book of Galatians shares many things in common with the book of Romans. Both defend the doctrine of justification by faith, both look at Old Testament history and both point to the walk in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh.
Prepare for an exciting study as we launch into a verse by verse commentary on the book of Galatians. As usual, I will try to keep this practical and applicable as we move forward.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global