Epistle Of Paul To The Galatians
From Bible Encyclopedia
The Epistle to Galatians is a book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia. It is principally concerned with the controversy surrounding Gentile Christians and the Mosaic Law within Early Christianity. Along with the Epistle to the Romans, it is the most theologically significant of the Pauline epistles, and has been particularly influential in Protestant thought.
Paul's letter is addressed "to the churches in Galatia" (Galatians 1:2), but location of these churches is a matter of debate. A minority of scholars have argued that the "Galatia" is an ethnic reference to a Celtic people living in northern Asia Minor, but perhaps the majority opinion is that it is a geographical reference to the Roman province in central Asia Minor, which had been settled by immigrant Celts in the 270s BC and retained Gaulish features of culture and language in Paul's day. Acts of the Apostles records Paul travelling to the "region of Galatia and Phrygia", which lay immediately west of Galatia.
The churches of Galatia were founded by Paul himself (Acts 16:6; Galatians 1:8; Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:19). They seem to have been composed mainly of converts from paganism (Galatians 4:8). After Paul's departure the churches were visited by individuals whom Paul regarded as troublemakers preaching a "different gospel" from that preached by Paul (Galations 1:6-9). The Galatians appear to have been receptive to the teaching of these newcomers, and the epistle is Paul's angry response to what he sees as their willingness to turn from his teaching.
The identity of these "opponents" is disputed. We do not have a record of their activity, but are left to reconstruct it from Paul's response. However, the majority of modern scholars view them as Jewish Christians (i.e. Judaizers), who taught that in order for pagans to belong to the people of God, they must be subject to some or all of the Jewish Law. The letter indicates controversy concerning circumcision, Sabbath observance, and the Mosaic Law. It would appear, from Paul's response, that they cited the example of Abraham, who was circumcised as a mark of receiving the covenant blessings (Genesis 17). They certainly appear to have questioned Paul's authority as an apostle, perhaps appealing to the greater authority of the Jerusalem church governed by James The Just.
It appears the teachers made some headway among Paul's converts. Sociological research has suggested that converts from dominant paganism may have suffered a "loss of identity", and found the clarity offered by a Jewish identity and a law-observant lifestyle attractive.
Paul responds angrily. He reminds the Galatians of the "law-free" gospel (see also Antinomianism), he has preached to them. He rehearses his conversion and apostolic credentials, records his relationship with the Jerusalem Church, and engages in a halakic argument over the interpretation of the Abraham story. It is important to keep in mind that the Halakah of Rabbinic Judaism was still under development at this time, for example: the Jewish Encyclopedia article on Jesus notes: "Jesus, however, does not appear to have taken into account the fact that the Halakah was at this period just becoming crystallized, and that much variation existed as to its definite form; the disputes of the Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai were occurring about the time of his maturity."
Virtually all scholars agree that Galatians is one of the most certain examples of Paul's writing.
The main arguments in favor of the authenticity of Galatians included its style and themes, which are common to the core letters of the Pauline corpus, and the historical connection to Acts of the Apostles. Moreover, Paul's description of the Council Of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-10) gives a different point of view than the description in Acts 15:2-29, whereas a forger writing in later decades would most likely have stuck close to the account in Acts to convince his audience that this was an authentic writing by Paul.
The central dispute in the letter concerns the question of how Gentiles could convert to Christianity, which shows that this letter was written at a very early stage in church history, when the vast majority of Christians were Jewish. This puts it during the lifetime of Paul himself.
There is no hint in the letter of a developed organization within the Christian community at large.
The genuineness of this epistle is not called in question. Its Pauline origin is universally acknowledged.
Occasion of. The churches of Galatia were founded by Paul himself (Acts 16:6; Galatians 1:8; Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:19). They seem to have been composed mainly of converts from heathenism (Galatians 4:8), but partly also of Jewish converts, who probably, under the influence of Judaizing teachers, sought to incorporate the rites of Judaism with Christianity, and by their active zeal had succeeded in inducing the majority of the churches to adopt their views (Galatians 1:6; Galatians 3:1). This epistle was written for the purpose of counteracting this Judaizing tendency, and of recalling the Galatians to the simplicity of the gospel, and at the same time also of vindicating Paul's claim to be a divinely-commissioned apostle.
Time and place of writing. The epistle was probably written very soon after Paul's second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). The references of the epistle appear to agree with this conclusion. The visit to Jerusalem, mentioned in Galatians 2:1-10, was identical with that of Acts 15, and it is spoken of as a thing of the past, and consequently the epistle was written subsequently to the council of Jerusalem. The similarity between this epistle and that to the Romans has led to the conclusion that they were both written at the same time, namely, in the winter of A.D. 57-8, during Paul's stay in Corinth (Acts 20:2, Acts 20:3). This to the Galatians is written on the urgency of the occasion, tidings having reached him of the state of matters; and that to the Romans in a more deliberate and systematic way, in exposition of the same great doctrines of the gospel.
Contents of. The great question discussed is, Was the Jewish law binding on Christians? The epistle is designed to prove against the Jews that men are justified by faith without the works of the law of Moses. After an introductory address (Galatians 1:1-10) the apostle discusses the subjects which had occasioned the epistle.
(1) He defends his apostolic authority (Galatians 1:11-19; Galatians 2:1-14);
(2) shows the evil influence of the Judaizers in destroying the very essence of the gospel (Galatians 3 and 4);
(3) exhorts the Galatian believers to stand fast in the faith as it is in Jesus, and to abound in the fruits of the Spirit, and in a right use of their Christian freedom (Galatians 5:1 - Galatians 6:10);
(4) and then concludes with a summary of the topics discussed, and with the benediction.
The Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans taken together “form a complete proof that justification is not to be obtained meritoriously either by works of morality or by rites and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those who receive it by faith in Jesus our Lord.”
In the conclusion of the epistle (Galatians 6:11) Paul says, “Ye see how large a letter I have written with mine own hand.” It is implied that this was different from his ordinary usage, which was simply to write the concluding salutation with his own hand, indicating that the rest of the epistle was written by another hand. Regarding this conclusion, Lightfoot, in his Commentary on the epistle, says: “At this point the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul.”
Date and audience
There are two main theories about when Galatians was written and to whom. The North Galatian view holds that the epistle was written very soon after Paul's second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). The visit to Jerusalem, mentioned in Galatians 2:1-10, seems identical with that of Acts 15, and it is spoken of as a thing of the past. Consequently, the epistle seems to have been written subsequently to the Council of Jerusalem. The similarity between this epistle and that to the Romans has led to the conclusion that they were both written at the same time, namely, in the winter of AD 57-58, during Paul's stay in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3). This to the Galatians is written on the urgency of the occasion, tidings having reached him of the state of matters; and that to the Romans in a more deliberate and systematic way, in exposition of the same fundamental doctrines of the gospel.
The South Galatian view holds that Paul wrote Galatians before or shortly after the First Jerusalem Council, probably on his way to it, and that it was written to churches he had presumably planted during either his time in Tarsus (he would have traveled a short distance, since Tarsus is in Cilicia) after his first visit to Jerusalem as a Christian (Acts 9:30), or during his first missionary journey, when he travelled throughout southern Galatia.
This epistle addresses the question, was the Mosaic Law binding on Christians? The epistle is designed to counter the position that men cannot be justified by faith without the works of the law, see also the Epistle of James and the Expounding Of The Law. After an introductory address (Galatians 1-10), the apostle discusses the subjects which had occasioned the epistle.
In Chapter 1 he defends his apostolic authority (Galatians 1:11-19; Galatians 2:1-14). Chapters 2, 3, and 4 show the influence of the Judaizers in destroying the very essence of the Gospel. Chapter 3 exhorts the Galatian believers to stand fast in the faith as it is in Jesus, and to abound in the fruit of the Spirit. Chapter 4 then concludes with a summary of the topics discussed and with the benediction, followed by Galatians 5,6:1-10 teaching about the right use of their Christian freedom. For example, it is clear that some took "freedom in Christ" as justification of Antinomianism.
The Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans taken together "form a complete proof that Justification is not to be obtained meritoriously either by works of morality or by rites and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those who receive it by faith in Jesus our Lord" (Easton).
In the conclusion of the epistle (Galatians 6:11), Paul writes, "Ye see how large a letter I have written with mine own hand." It is implied that this was different from his ordinary usage, which was simply to write the concluding salutation with his own hand, indicating that the rest of the epistle was written by another hand. Regarding this conclusion, Joseph Barber Lightfoot, in his Commentary on the epistle, says: "At this point the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
Galatians also contains a catalogue of vices and virtues, a popular formulation of Christian ethics.
When and to whom, precisely, this letter was written, it is difficult to say; its authorship and purpose are unmistakable. One might conceive it addressed by the apostle Paul, in its main tenor, to almost any church of his Gentile mission attracted to Judaism, at any point within the years circa 45-60 ad. Some plausibly argue that it was the earliest, others place it among the later, of the Pauline Epistles. This consideration dictates the order of our inquiry, which proceeds from the plainer to the more involved and disputable parts of the subject.
I. The Authorship
1. Position of the Dutch School
The Tübingen criticism of the last century recognized the four major epistles of Paul as fully authentic, and made them the corner-stone of its construction of New Testament history. Only Bruno Bauer (Kritik. d. paulin. Briefe, 1850-52) attacked them in this sense, while several other critics accused them of serious interpolations; but these attempts made little impression. Subsequently, a group of Dutch scholars, beginning with Loman in his Quaestiones Paulinae (1882) and represented by Van Manen in the Encyclopedia Biblica (art. “Paul”), have denied all the canonical epistles to the genuine Paul. They postulate a gradual development in New Testament ideas covering the first century and a half after Christ, and treat the existing letters as “catholic adaptations” of fragmentary pieces from the apostle's hand, produced by a school of “Paulinists” who carried their master's principles far beyond his own intentions. On this theory, Galatians, with its advanced polemic against the law, approaching the position of Marcion (140 AD), was work of the early 2nd century. Edwin Johnson in England (Antiqua Mater, 1887), and Steck in Germany (Galaterbrief, 1888), are the only considerable scholars outside of Holland who have adopted this hypothesis; it is rejected by critics so radical as Scholten and Schmiedel (see the article of the latter on “Galatians” in EB). Knowling has searchingly examined the position of the Dutch school in his Witness of the Epistles (1892) - it is altogether too arbitrary and uncontrolled by historical fact to be entertained; see Jülicher's or Zahn's Introduction to New Testament (English translation), to the same effect. Attempts to dismember this writing, and to appropriate it for other hands and later times than those of the apostle Paul, are idle in view of its vital coherence and the passionate force with which the author's personality has stamped itself upon his work; the Paulinum pectus speaks in every line. The two contentions on which the letter turns - concerning Paul's apostleship, and the circumcision of Gentile Christians - belonged to the apostle's lifetime: in the fifth and sixth decades these were burning questions; by the 2nd century the church had left them far behind.
2. Early Testimony
Early Christianity gives clear and ample testimony to this document. Marcion placed it at the head of his Apostolikon (140 AD); Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Melito, quoted it about the same time. It is echoed by Ignatius (Philad., i) and Polycarp (Philip., iii and v) a generation earlier, and seems to have been used by contemporary Gnostic teachers. It stands in line with the other epistles of Paul in the oldest Latin, Syriac and Egyptian translations, and in the Muratorian (Roman) Canon of the 2nd century. It comes full into view as an integral part of the new Scripture in Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian at the close of this period. No breath of suspicion as to the authorship, integrity or apostolic authority of the Ep. to the Gal has reached us from ancient times.
II. Matter of the Epistle
A) Summary of Contents
A double note of war sounds in the address and greeting (Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:4). Astonishment replaces the customary thanksgiving (Galatians 1:6-10): The Galatians are listening to preachers of “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:7) and traducers of the apostle (Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:10), whom he declares “anathema.” Paul has therefore two objects in writing - to vindicate himself, and to clear and reinforce his doctrine. The first he pursues from Galatians 1:11 to Galatians 2:21; the second from Galatians 3:1 to Galatians 5:12. Appropriate: moral exhortations follow in 5:13 through 6:10. The closing paragraph (Galatians 6:11-17) resumes incisively the purport of the letter. Personal, argumentative, and hortatory matter interchange with the freedom natural in a letter to old friends.
2. Personal History (Galatians 1:11 Through Galatians 2:21 (Galatians 4:12-20; Galatians 6:17))
Paul's Independent Apostleship
Paul asserts himself for his gospel's sake, by showing that his commission was God-given and complete (Galatians 1:11, Galatians 1:12). On four decisive moments in his course he dwells for this purpose - as regards the second manifestly (Galatians 1:20), as to others probably, in correction of misstatements:
(1) A thorough-paced Judaist and persecutor (Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:14), Paul was supernaturally converted to Christ (Galatians 1:15), and received at conversion his charge for the Gentiles, about which he consulted no one (Galatians 1:16, Galatians 1:17).
(2) three years later he “made acquaintance with Cephas” in Jerusalem and saw James besides, but no “other of the apostles” (Galatians 1:18, Galatians 1:19). For long he was known only by report to “the churches of Judea” (Galatians 1:21-24).
(3) At the end of “fourteen years” he “went up to Jerusalem,” with Barnabas, to confer about the “liberty” of Gentile believers, which was endangered by “false brethren” (Galatians 2:1-5). Instead of supporting the demand for the circumcision of the “Greek” Titus (Galatians 2:3), the “pillars” there recognized the sufficiency and completeness of Paul's “gospel of the uncircumcision” and the validity of his apostleship (Galatians 2:6-8). They gave “right hands of fellowship” to himself and Barnabas on this understanding (Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:10). The freedom of Gentile Christianity was secured, and Paul had not “run in vain.”
(4) At Antioch, however, Paul and Cephas differed (Galatians 2:11). Cephas was induced to withdraw from the common church-table, and carried “the rest of the Jews,” including Barnabas, with him (Galatians 2:12, Galatians 2:13). “The truth of the gospel,” with Cephas' own sincerity, was compromised by this “separation,” which in effect “compelled the Gentiles to Judaize” (Galatians 2:13, Galatians 2:14). Paul therefore reproved Cephas publicly in the speech reproduced by Galatians 2:14-21, the report of which clearly states the evangelical position and the ruinous consequences (Galatians 2:18, Galatians 2:21) of reestablishing “the law.”
3. Doctrinal Polemic (Galatians 3:1 Through 5:12)
The doctrinal polemic was rehearsed in the autobiography (Galatians 2:3-5, Galatians 2:11-12). In Galatians 2:16 is laid down thesis of the epistle: “A man is not justified by the works of law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” This proposition is
(a) demonstrated from experience and history in Galatians 3:1-4:7; then
(b) enforced by Galatians 4:8-5:12.
(2) Main Argument
(a1) From his own experience (Galatians 2:19-21) Paul passes to that of the readers, who are “bewitched” to forget “Christ crucified” (Galatians 3:1)! Had their life in “the Spirit” come through “works of the law” or the “hearing of faith”? Will the flesh consummate what the Spirit began (Galatians 3:2-5)?
(a2) Abraham, they are told, is the father of God's people; but 'the men of faith' are Abraham's true heirs (Galatians 3:6-9). “The law” curses every transgressor; Scripture promised righteousness through faith for the very reason that justification by legal “doing” is impossible (Galatians 3:10-12). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” in dying the death it declared “accursed” (Galatians 3:13). Thus He conveyed to the nations “the promise of the Spirit,” pledged to them through believing Abraham (Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:14).
(a3) The “testament” God gave to “Abraham and his seed” (a single “seed,” observe) is unalterable. The Mosaic law, enacted 430 years later, could not nullify this instrument (Galatians 3:15-17 the King James Version). Nullified it wound have been, had its fulfillment turned on legal performance instead of Divine “grace” (Galatians 3:18).
(a4) “Why then the law?” Sin required it, pending the accomplishment of “the promise.” Its promulgation through intermediaries marks its inferiority (Galatians 3:19, Galatians 3:20). With no power 'to give life,' it served the part of a jailer guarding us till “faith came,” of “the paedagogus” training us 'for Christ' (Galatians 3:21-25).
(a5) But now “in Christ,” Jew and Greek alike, “ye are all sons of God through faith”; being such, “you are Abraham's seed” and 'heirs in terms of the promise' (Galatians 3:26-29). The 'infant' heirs, in tutelage, were 'subject to the elements of the world,' until “God sent forth his Son,” placed in the like condition, to “redeem” them (Galatians 4:1-5). Today the “cry” of “the Spirit of his Son” in your “hearts” proves this redemption accomplished (Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7).
The demonstration is complete; Galatians 3:1-4:7 forms the core of the epistle. The growth of the Christian consciousness has been traced from its germ in Abraham to its flower in the church of all nations. The Mosaic law formed a disciplinary interlude in the process, which has been all along a life of faith. Paul concludes where he began (Galatians 3:2), by claiming the Spirit as witness to the full salvation of the Gentiles; compare Romans 8:1-27; 2 Corinthians 3:4-18; Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 1:14. From Galatians 4:8 onward to Galatians 5:12, the argument is pressed home by appeal, illustration and warning.
(3) Appeal and Warning
(b1) After “knowing God,” would the Galatians return to the bondage in which ignorantly they served as gods “the elements” of Nature? (Galatians 4:8, Galatians 4:9). Their adoption of Jewish “seasons” points to this backsliding (Galatians 4:10, Galatians 4:11).
(b2) Paul's anxiety prompts the entreaty of Galatians 4:12-20, in which he recalls his fervent reception by his readers, deplores their present alienation, and confesses his perplexity.
(b3) Observe that Abraham had two sons - “after the flesh” and “through promise” (Galatians 4:21-23); those who want to be under law are choosing the part of Ishmael: “Hagar” stands for 'the present Jerusalem' in her bondage; 'the Jerusalem above is free - she is our mother!' (Galatians 4:24-28, Galatians 4:31). The fate of Hagar and Ishmael pictures the issue of legal subjection (Galatians 4:29, Galatians 4:30): “Stand fast therefore” (Galatians 5:1).
(b4) The crucial moment comes at Galatians 5:2 : the Galatians are half-persuaded (Galatians 5:7, Galatians 5:8); they will fatally commit themselves, if they consent to 'be circumcised.' This will sever them from Christ, and bind them to complete observance of Moses' law: law or grace - by one or the other they must stand (Galatians 5:3-5). “Circumcision, uncircumcision” - these “count for nothing in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 5:6). Paul will not believe in the defection of those who 'ran' so “well”; “judgment” will fall on their 'disturber' (Galatians 5:7-10, Galatians 5:12). Persecution marks himself as no circumcisionist (Galatians 5:11)!
4. The Ethical Application (Galatians 5:13-6:10)
Law of the Spirit of Life
The ethical application is contained in the phrase of Romans 8:2, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
(1) Love guards Christian liberty from license; it 'fulfills the whole law in a single word' (Galatians 5:13-15).
(2) The Spirit, who imparts freedom, guides the free man's “walk.” Flesh and spirit are, opposing principles: deliverance from “the flesh” and its “works” is found in possession by “the Spirit,” who bears in those He rules His proper “fruit.” 'Crucified with Christ' and 'living in the Spirit,' the Christian man keeps God's law without bondage under it (Galatians 5:16-26).
(3) In cases of unwary fall, 'men of the Spirit' will know how to “restore” the lapsed, 'fulfilling Christ's law' and mindful of their own weakness (Galatians 6:1-5).
(4) Teachers have a peculiar claim on the taught; to ignore this is to 'mock God.' Men will “reap corruption” or “eternal life,” as in such matters they 'sow to the flesh' or 'to the Spirit.' Be patient till the harvest! (Galatians 6:6-10).
5. The Epilogue (Galatians 6:11-18)
The autograph conclusion (Galatians 6:11) exposes the sinister motive of the circumcisionists, who are ashamed of the cross, the Christian's only boast (Galatians 6:12-15). Such men are none of “the Israel of God!” (Galatians 6:16). “The brand of Jesus” is now on Paul's body; at their peril “henceforth” will men trouble him! (Galatians 6:17). The benediction follows (Galatians 6:18).
B) Salient Points
1. The Principles at Stake
The postscript reveals the inwardness of the legalists' agitation. They advocated circumcision from policy more than from conviction, hoping to conciliate Judaism and atone for accepting the Nazarene - to hide the shame of the cross - by capturing for the Law the Gentile churches. They attack Paul because he stands in the way of this attempt. Their policy is treason; it surrenders to the world that cross of Christ, to which the world for its salvation must unconditionally submit. The grace of God the one source of salvation Gal (Romans 1:3; Romans 2:21; Romans 5:4), the cross of Christ its sole ground (Romans 1:4; [[Romans 2:19-21; Romans 3:13; Romans 6:14), faith in the Good News its all-sufficient means (Romans 2:16, Romans 2:20; Romans 3:2, Romans 3:5-9, Romans 3:23-26; Romans 5:5), the Spirit its effectuating power (Romans 3:2-5; Romans 4:6, Romans 4:7; Romans 5:5, Romans 5:16-25; Romans 6:8) - hence, emancipation from the Jewish law, and the full status of sons of God open to the Gentiles (Romans 2:4, Romans 2:5, Romans 2:15-19; Romans 3:10-14; 3:28-4:9, 26-31; Romans 5:18; Romans 6:15): these connected principles are at stake in the contention; they make up the doctrine of the epistle.
2. Present Stage of the Controversy
Circumcision is now proposed by the Judaists as a supplement to faith in Christ, as the qualification for sonship to Abraham and communion with the apostolic church (Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:29). After the Council at Jerusalem, they no longer say outright, “Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). Paul's Galatian converts, they admit, “have begun in the Spirit”; they bid them “be perfected” and attain the full Christian status by conforming to Moses - “Christ will profit” them much more, if they add to their faith circumcision (Galatians 3:3; Galatians 5:2; compare Romans 3:1). This insidious proposal might seem to be in keeping with the findings of the Council; Peter's action at Antioch lent color to it. Such a grading of the Circumcision and Uncircumcision within the church offered a tempting solution of the legalist controversy; for it appeared to reconcile the universal destination of the gospel with the inalienable prerogatives of the sons of Abraham. Paul's reply is, that believing Gentiles are already Abraham's “seed” - nay, sons and heirs of God; instead of adding anything, circumcision would rob them of everything they have won in Christ; instead of going on to perfection by its aid, they would draw back unto perdition.
3. Paul's Depreciation of the Law
Paul carries the war into the enemies' camp, when he argues,
(a) that the law of Moses brought condemnation, not blessing, on its subjects (Galatians 3:10-24); and
(b) that instead of completing the work of faith, its part in the Divine economy was subordinate (Galatians 3:19-25).
It was a temporary provision, due to man's sinful unripeness for the original covenant (Galatians 3:19, Galatians 3:24; Galatians 4:4). The Spirit of sonship, now manifested in the Gentiles, is the infallible sign that the promise made to mankind in Abraham has been fulfilled. The whole position of the legalists is undermined by the use the apostle makes of the Abrahamic covenant.
4. The Personal Question
The religious and the personal questions of the epistle are bound up together; this Galatians 5:2 clearly indicates. The latter naturally emerges first (Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:11). Paul's authority must be overthrown, if his disciples are to be Judaized. Hence, the campaign of detraction against him (compare 2 Corinthians 10 through 12). The line of defense indicates the nature of the attack. Paul was said to be a second-hand, second-rate apostle, whose knowledge of Christ and title to preach Him came from Cephas and the mother church. In proof of this, an account was given of his career, which he corrects in Galatians 1:13 through Galatians 2:21. “Cephas” was held up (compare 1 Corinthians 1:12) as the chief of the apostles, whose primacy Paul had repeatedly acknowledged; and “the pillars” at Jerusalem were quoted as maintainers of Mosaic rule and authorities for the additions to be made to Paul's imperfect gospel. Paul himself, it was insinuated, “preaches circumcision” where it suits him; he is a plausible time-server (Galatians 1:10; Galatians 5:11; compare Acts 16:3; 1 Corinthians 9:19-21). The apostle's object in his self-defense is not to sketch his own life, nor in particular to recount his visits to Jerusalem, but to prove his independent apostleship and his consistent maintenance of Gentile rights. He states, therefore, what really happened on the critical occasions of his contact with Peter and the Jerusalem church. To begin with, he received his gospel and apostolic office from Jesus Christ directly, and apart from Peter (Galatians 1:13-20); he was subsequently recognized by “the pillars” as apostle, on equality with Peter (Galatians 2:6-9); he had finally vindicated his doctrine when it was assailed, in spite of Peter (Galatians 2:11-12). The adjustment of Paul's recollections with Luke's narrative is a matter of dispute, in regard both to the conference of Galatians 2:1-10 and the encounter of Galatians 2:11-21; to these points we shall return, iv.3 (4), (5).
1. Idiosyncrasy of the Epistle
This is a letter of expostulation. Passion and argument are blended in it. Hot indignation and righteous scorn (Galatians 1:7-9; Galatians 4:17; Galatians 5:10, Galatians 5:12; Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:13), tender, wounded affection (Galatians 4:11-20), deep sincerity and manly integrity united with the loftiest consciousness of spiritual authority (Galatians 1:10-12, Galatians 1:20; Galatians 2:4-6, Galatians 2:14; Galatians 5:2; Galatians 6:17), above all a consuming devotion to the person and cross of the Redeemer, fill these few pages with an incomparable wealth and glow of Christian emotion. The power of mind the epistle exhibits matches its largeness of heart. Roman indeed carries out the argument with greater breadth and theoretic completeness; but Gal excels in pungency, incisiveness, and debating force. The style is that of Paul at the summit of his powers. Its spiritual elevation, its vigor and resource, its subtlety and irony, poignancy and pathos, the vis vivida that animates the whole, have made this letter a classic of religious controversy. The blemishes of Paul's composition, which contribute to his mastery of effect, are conspicuous here - his abrupt turns and apostrophes, and sometimes difficult ellipses (Galatians 2:4-10, Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:16-20; Galatians 5:13), awkward parentheses and entangled periods (Galatians 2:1-10, Galatians 2:18; Galatians 3:16, Galatians 3:20; Galatians 4:25), and outburst of excessive vehemence (Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9; Galatians 5:12).
2. Jewish Coloring
The anti-legalist polemic gives a special Old Testament coloring to the epistle; the apostle meets his adversaries on their own ground. In Galatians 3:16, Galatians 3:19-20; Galatians 4:21-31, we have examples of the rabbinical exegesis Paul had learned from his Jewish masters. These texts should be read in part as argumenta ad hominem; however peculiar in form such Pauline passages may be, they always contain sound reasoning.
III. Relations to Other Epistles
(1) The connection of Galatians with Romans is patent; it is not sufficiently understood how pervasive that connection is and into what manifold detail it extends. The similarity of doctrine and doctrinal vocabulary manifest in Galatians 2:13-6:16 and Rom 1:16-8:39 is accounted for by the Judaistic controversy on which Paul was engaged for so long, and by the fact that this discussion touched the heart of his gospel and raised questions in regard to which his mind was made up from the beginning (Romans 1:15, Romans 1:16), on which he would therefore always express himself in much the same way. Broadly speaking, the difference is that Romans is didactic and abstract, where Galatians is personal and polemical; that the former presents, a measured and rounded development of conceptions projected rapidly in the latter under the stress of controversy. The emphasis lies in Romans on justification by faith; in Galatians on the freedom of the Christian man. The contrast of tone is symptomatic of a calmer mood in the writer - the lull which follows the storm; it suits the different address of the two epistles.
1. Galatians and Romans
Besides the correspondence of purport, there is a verbal resemblance to Romans pervading the tissue of Galatians, and traceable in its mannerisms and incidental expressions. Outside of the identical quotations, we find more than 40 Greek locutions, some of them rare in the language, common to these two and occurring in these only of Paul's epistles - including the words rendered “bear” (Romans 11:18 and Galatians 5:10, etc.); “blessing” or “gratulation” (makarismós), “divisions” (Romans 16:17; Galatians 5:20); “fail” or “fall from” (ekpíptō); “labor on” or “upon” (of persons), “passions” (pathḗmata, in this sense); “set free” or “deliver” (eleutheróō); “shut up” or “conclude,” and “shut out” or “exclude”; “travail (together),” and such phrases as “die to” (with dative), “hearing of faith,” “if possible,” “put on (the Lord Jesus) Christ,” “those who do such things,” “what saith the Scripture?” “where then?” (rhetorical), “why any longer?” The list would be greatly extended by adding expressions distinctive of this pair of letters that occur sporadically elsewhere in Paul. The kinship of Galatians-Romans in vocabulary and vein of expression resembles that existing between Colossians-Ephesians or 1 and 2 Thessalonians; it is twice as strong proportionately as that of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Not only the same current of thought, but with it, much the same stream of language was running through Paul's mind in writing these two epistles.
The association of Galatians with the two Corinthian letters, though less intimate than that of Galatians-Romans, is unmistakable.
2. Links with 1 and 2 Corinthians
We count 23 distinct locations shared by 2 Corinthians alone (in its 13 chapters) with Galatians, and 20 such shared with 1 Corinthians (16 chapters) - a larger proportion for the former. Among the Galatians-1 Corinthians peculiarities are the sayings, “A little leaven,” etc., “circumcision is nothing,” etc., and the phrases, “be not deceived,” “it is manifest” (dḗlon as predicate to a sentence), “known by God,” “profit nothing” and “to be something,” “scandal of the cross,” “the spiritual” (of persons), “they that are Christ's (of Christ Jesus).” Peculiar to Gal through 2 Cor are “another gospel” and “false brethren,” “brings into bondage,” “devour” and “zealously seek” or “am jealous over” (of persons); “a new creation,” “confirm” or “ratify” (kuróō); “I am perplexed,” the antithesis of “sowing” and “reaping” (figuratively); the phrase “on the contrary” or “contrariwise” (t'ounantíon), etc. The conception of the “two covenants” (or “testaments”) is conspicuous in both epistles (Galatians 3:17-21; Galatians 4:21-31; 2 Corinthians 3:8-18), and does not recur in Paul; in each case the ideas of “law” (or “letter”), “bondage,” “death,” are associated with the one, diathḗkē, of “spirit,” “freedom,” “life,” with the other. Galatians 3:13 (“Christ ... made a curse for us”) is matched by 2 Corinthians 5:21 (“made sin for us”); in Galatians 2:19 and Galatians 6:14 we find Paul “crucified to the world” in the cross of his Master and “Christ” alone “living in” him; in 2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15 this experience becomes a universal law for Christians; and where in Galatians 6:17 the apostle appears as 'from hence-forth ... bearing in' his 'body the brand of Jesus,' in 2 Corinthians 4:10 he is “always bearing about in” his “body the dying of Jesus.”
These identical or closely congruous trains of thought and turns of phrase, varied and dominant as they are, speak for some near connection between the two writings. By its list of vices in Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:20 Galatians curiously, and somewhat intricately, links itself at once with 2 Corinthians and Roman (see 2 Corinthians 12:20; Romans 13:13; Romans 16:17). Galatians is allied by argument and doctrine with Romans, and by temper and sentiment with 2 Corinthians. The storm of feeling agitating our epistle blows from the same quarter, reaches the same height, and engages the same emotions with those which animate 2 Corinthians 10 through 13.
3. With the Corinthians-Romans Group
If we add to the 43 locutions confined in the Pauline Epistles to Galatians-Romans the 23 such of Galatians-2 Corinthians, the 20 of Galatians-1 Corinthians, the 14 that range over Galatians-Romans-2 Corinthians, the 15 of Galatians-Romans-1 Corinthians, the 7 of Galatians-1-2 Corinthians, and the 11 running through all four, we get a total of 133 words or phrases (apart from Old Testament quotations) specific to Galatians in common with one or more of the Corinthians-Romans group - an average, that is, of close upon 3 for each chapter of those other epistles.
With the other groups of Pauline letters Galatians is associated by ties less numerous and strong, yet marked enough to suggest, in conjunction with the general style, a common authorship.
4. With Other Groups of Epistles
The proportion of locutions peculiar to Gal and the 3rd group (Colossians-Philemon-Ephesians-Philippians) is 1 to each of their 15 chapters. The more noticeable of these are in Galatians-Colossians: “elements of the world,” and the maxim, “There is no Jew nor Greek,” etc., associated with the “putting on of Christ” (“the new man”); “fullness of the time” (or “seasons”) and “householders of faith (of God),” also “Christ loved me (the church) and gave up himself for me (her),” in Galatians-Ephesians; “he that supplieth (your supplying of, epichōrēgía) the Spirit,” and “vain-glory” (kenodoxía), in Galatians-Philippians; “redeem” (exagorázō) and “inheritance” are peculiar to Gal with Colossians-Ephesians together; the association of the believer's “inheritance” with “the Spirit” in Galatians-Ephesians is a significant point of doctrinal identity.
The Thessalonians and Timothy-Titus (1st and 4th) groups are outliers in relation to Galatians, judged by vocabulary. There is little to associate our epistle with either of these combinations, apart from pervasive Corinthians-Romans phrases and the Pauline complexion. There are 5 such expressions registered for the 8 chapters of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 7 for the 13 of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus - just over one to two chapters for each group. While the verbal coincidences in these two cases are, proportionately, but one-half so many as those connecting Galatians with the 3rd group of epistles and one-fifth or one-sixth of those linking it to the 2nd group, they are also less characteristic; the most striking is the contrast of “well-doing” (kalopoiéō) with “fainting” or “wearying” (egkakéō) in Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13.
5. General Comparison
No other writing of Paul reflects the whole man so fully as this - his spiritual, emotional, intellectual, practical, and even physical, idiosyncrasy. We see less of the apostle's tenderness, but more of his strength than in Philippians; less of his inner, mystic experiences, more of the critical turns of his career; less of his “fears,” more of his “fightings,” than in 2 Corinthians. While the 2nd letter to Timothy lifts the curtain from the closing stage of the apostle's ministry, Gal throws a powerful light upon its beginning. The Pauline theology opens to us its heart in this document. The apostle's message of deliverance from sin through faith in the crucified Redeemer, and of the new life in the Spirit growing from this root, lives and speaks; we see it in Galatians as a working and fighting theology, while in Romans it peacefully expands into an ordered system. The immediately saving truth of Christianity, the gospel of the Gospel, finds its most trenchant utterance in this epistle; here we learn “the word of the cross” as Paul received it from the living Saviour, and defended it at the crisis of his work.
IV. The Destination and Date
1. Place and Time Interdependent
The question of the people to whom, is bound up with that of the time at which, the Epistle to the Galatians was written. Each goes to determine the other. The expression “the first time” (tó próteron) of Galatians 4:13 presumes Paul to have been twice with the readers previously - for the first occasion, see Galatians 4:13-15; for the second, Galatians 1:9; Galatians 5:3. The explanation of Round (Date of the Epistle to Galatians, 1906), that the apostle intended to distinguish his first arrival at the several (South) Galatian cities from his return in the course of the same journey (Acts 14:21-23), cannot be accepted: Derbe, the limit of the expedition, received Paul and Barnabas but once on that round, and in retracing their steps the missionaries were completing an interrupted work, whereas Galatians 4:13 implies a second, distinct visitation of the churches concerned as a whole; in Acts 15:36 Paul looks back to the journey of Acts 13:14-14:26 as one event.
Now the apostle revisited the South Galatian churches in starting on the 2nd missionary tour (Acts 16:1-5). Consequently, if his “Galatians” were Christians of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (the South Galatian hypothesis), the letter was written in the further course of the 2nd tour - from Macedonia or Corinth about the time of 1 and 2 Thess (so Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, I, English translation), or from Antioch in the interval between the 2nd and 3rd journeys (so Ramsay); for on this latter journey (Acts 18:23) Paul (ex hyp.) traversed 'the (South) Galatian country' a third time. On the other hand, if they were people of Galatia proper, i.e. of North (Old) Galatia, the epistle cannot be earlier than the occasion of Acts 18:23, when Paul touched a second time “the Galatian country,” which, on this supposition, he had evangelized in traveling from South Galatia to Troas during the previous tour (Acts 16:6-8). On the North Galatian hypothesis, the letter was dispatched from Ephesus during Paul's long residence there (Acts 19; so most interpreters, ancient and modern), in which case it heads the 2nd group of the epistles; or later, from Macedonia or Corinth, and shortly before the writing of the Epistle to the Romans (thus Lightfoot, Salmon, A. L. Williams and others).
Per contra, the earlier date, if proved independently, carries with it the South Galatian, the later date the North Galatian theory. The subscription of the Textus Receptus of the New Testament “written from Rome,” rests on inferior manuscript authority and late Patristic tradition. Clemen, with no suggestion as to place of origin, assigns to the writing a date subsequent to the termination of the 3rd missionary tour (55 or 57 AD), inasmuch as the epistle reflects the controversy about the Law, which in Romans is comparatively mild, at an acute, and, therefore (he supposes), an advanced stage.
2. Internal Evidence
Lightfoot (chapter iii of Introduction to Commentary) placed Galatians in the 2nd group of the epistles between 2 Corinthians and Romans, upon considerations drawn from “the style and character” of the epistle. His argument might be strengthened by a detailed linguistic analysis (see III, 1-3, above). The more minutely one compares Galatians with Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians, the more these four are seen to form a continuous web, the product of the same experience in the writer's mind and the same situation in the church. This presumption, based on internal evidence, must be tested by examination of the topographical and chronological data.
3. External Data
(1) Galatia and the Galatians
The double sense of these terms obtaining in current use has been shown in the article on Galatia; Steinmann sets out the evidence at large in his essay on Der Leserkreis des Galaterbriefes, 61-76 (1908); see also A. L. Williams' Introduction to Galatians in Cambr. Greek Test. (1910). Roman authors of the period in using these expressions commonly thought of provincial Galatia (NOTE: Schürer seems to be right, however, in maintaining that “Galatia” was only the abbreviated designation for the province, named a parte potiori, and that in more formal description it was styled “Galatia, Pisidia, Phrygia,” etc.) which then embraced in addition to Galatia proper a large tract of Southern Phrygia and Lycaonia, reaching from Pisidian Antioch in the west to Derbe in the east; but writers of Asia Minor leaned to the older local and national usage, according to which “Galatia” signified the north-central highlands of the peninsula, on both sides of the river Halys, in which the invading Galatae had settled long before this time. (On their history see the previous article) It is asserted that Paul strictly followed the official, as against the popular, usus loquendi in these matters - a questionable dictum (see A. L. Williams, op. cit., xix, xx, or Steinmann's Leserkreis, 78-104), in view of Galatians 1:21, Galatians 1:22 (note the Greek double article), to go no farther. There was nothing in Paul's Roman citizenship to make him a precisian in a point like this. Ramsay has proved that all four cities of Acts 13:14-14:23 were by this time included in provincial Galatia. Their inhabitants might therefore, officially, be styled “Galatians” (Galatae); it does not follow that this was a fit or likely compilation for Paul to use. Jülicher says this would have been a piece of “bad taste” on his part. The attachment of the southern districts (Phrygian, Pisidian, Lycaonian) to Galatia was recent - Derbe had been annexed so late as the year 41 - and artificial. Supposing that their Roman “colonial” rank made the designation “Galatians” agreeable to citizens of Antioch or Lystra, there was little in it to appeal to Iconians or Derbeans (compare Schmiedel, in EB, col. 1604).
(2) Prima Facie Sense of Acts 16:6
The “Galatian country” (Galatikḗ chṓra) is mentioned by Luke, with careful repetition, in Acts 16:6 and Acts 18:23. Luke at any rate was not tied to imperial usage; he distinguishes “Phrygia” from “Asia” in Acts 2:9, Acts 2:10, although Phrygia was administratively parceled out between Asia and Galatia. When therefore “Asia” is opposed in Acts 16:6 to “the Phrygian and Galatian country” (or “Phrygia and Galatian country,” Zahn), we presume that the three terms of locality bear alike a non-official sense, so that the “Galatian country” means Old Galatia (or some part of it) lying to the Northeast, as “Asia” means the narrower Asia west of “Phrygia.” On this presumption we understand that Paul and Silas, after completing their visitation of “the cities” of the former tour (Acts 16:4, Acts 16:5; compare Acts 15:36, in conjunction with 13:14 through 14:23), since they were forbidden to proceed westward and “speak the word in Asia,” turned their faces to the region - first Phrygian, then Galatian - that stretched northward into new territory, through which they traveled toward “Mysia” and “Bithynia” (Acts 16:7). Thus Acts 16:6 fills in the space between the South Galatia covered by Acts 16:4 and Acts 16:5, and the Mysian-Bithynian border where we find the travelers in Acts 16:7. Upon this, the ordinary construction of Luke's somewhat involved sentence, North Galatia was entered by Paul on his 2nd tour; he retraversed, more completely, “the Galatian region” at the commencement of the 3rd tour, when he found “disciples” there (Acts 18:23) whom he had gathered on the previous visit.
(3) The Grammar of Acts 16:6
In the interpretation of the Lukan passages proposed by Ramsay, Acts 16:16, detached from 16b, is read as the completion of Acts 16:1-5 ('And they went through the Phrygian ... region. They were forbidden by the Holy Ghost ... in Asia, and came over against Mysia,' etc.); and “the Phrygian and Galatian region” means the southwestern division of Provincia Galatia, a district at once Phrygian (ethnically) and Galatian (politically). The combination of two local adjectives., under a common article, to denote the same country in different respects, if exceptional in Greek idiom (Acts 15:41 and Acts 27:5 illustrate the usual force of this collocation), is clearly possible - the one strictly parallel geographical expression, “the Iturean and Trachonite country” in Luke 3:1, unfortunately, is also ambiguous. But the other difficulty of grammar involved in the new rendering of Acts 16:6 is insuperable: the severance of the participle, “having been forbidden” (kōluthéntes), from the introductory verb, “they went through” (diḗlthon), wrenches the sentence to dislocation; the aorist participle in such connection “must contain, if not something antecedent to 'they went,' at least something synchronous with it, in no case a thing subsequent to it, if all the rules of grammar and all sure understanding of language are not to be given up” (Schmiedel, EB, col. 1599; endorsed in Moulton's Prolegomena to the Grammar of New Testament Greek, 134; see also Chase in The Expositor, IV, viii, 404-11, and ix, 339-42). Acts 10:29 (“I came ... when I was sent for”) affords a grammatical parallel to Acts 16:6 ('They went through ... since they were hindered').
Zahn's position is peculiar (Intro to New Testament, I, 164-202). Rejecting Ramsay's explanation of Acts 16:6, and of Acts 18:23 (where Ramsay sees Paul a third time crossing South Galatia), and maintaining that Luke credits the apostle with successful work in North Galatia, he holds, notwithstanding, the South Galatian view of the epistle. This involves the paradox that Paul in writing to “the churches of Galatia” ignored those of North Galatia to whom the title properly belonged - an incongruence which Ramsay escapes by denying that Paul had set foot in Old Galatia. In the 1st edition of the Einleitung Zahn had supposed North and South Galatia together included in the address; this supposition is contrary to the fact that the readers form a homogeneous body, the fruit of a single mission (Galatians 4:13), and are affected simultaneously by the same disturbance (Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:7-9). Associating the letter in 2nd edition with South Galatians alone, Zahn suggests that while Paul had labored in North Galatia and found “disciples” there on his return, these were too few and scattered to form “churches” - an estimate scarcely in keeping with Luke's phrase Acts 5:7-9 “all the disciples” (Acts 18:23), and raising a distinction between “disciples” and “churches” foreign to the historian's usage (see Acts 6:2; Acts 9:19; Acts 14:20). We must choose between North and South Galatia; and if churches existed among the people of the north at the time of writing, then the northerners claim this title by right of use and wont - and the epistle with it. The reversal of “Galatian and Phrygia(n)” in Acts 18:23, as compared with Acts 16:6, implies that the apostle on the 3rd tour struck “the Galatian country” first, traveling this time directly North from Syrian Antioch, and turned westward toward Phrygia when he had reached Old Galatia; whereas his previous route had brought him westward along the highroad traversing South Galatia, until he turned northward at a point not far distant from Pisidian Antioch, to reach North Galatia through Phrygia from the southwest. See the Map of Asia Minor.
(4) Notes of Time in the Epistle
(a) The synchronism of the conversion with the murder of Stephen and the free action of the high priest against the Nazarenes (Acts 9:2, etc.), and of Saul's visit to Jerusalem in the 3rd year thereafter with Aretas' rule in Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32, 2 Corinthians 11:33), forbid our placing these two events further back than 36 and 38 - at furthest, 35 and 37 AD (see Turner on “Chronology of the NT” in HDB, as against the earlier dating).
(b) This calculation brings us to 48-49 as the year of the conference of Galatians 2:1-10 - a date precluding the association of that meeting with the errand to Jerusalem related in Acts 11:30 and Acts 12:25, while it suits the identification of the former with the council of Acts 15. Other indications converge on this as the critical epoch of Paul's apostleship. The expedition to Cyprus and South Galatia (Acts 13; 14) had revealed in Paul 'signs of the apostle' which the chiefs of the Judean church now recognized (Galatians 2:7-9; compare Acts 15:12), and gave him the ascendancy which he exercised at this crisis; up to the time of Acts 13:1 “Saul” was known but as an old persecutor turned preacher (Galatians 1:23), one of the band of “prophets and teachers” gathered round Barnabas at Antioch. The previous visit of Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem (Acts 11; 12) had no ostensible object beyond that of famine-relief. From Acts 12 we learn that the mother church just then was suffering deadly persecution; Peter certainly was out of the way. There was no opportunity for the negotiation described in [[Galatians 2:1-10, and it would have been premature for Paul to raise the question of his apostleship at this stage. In all likelihood, he saw few Judean Christians then beyond “the elders,” who received the Antiochene charity (Acts 11:30). Nothing transpired in connection with this remittance, important as it was from Luke's standpoint, to affect the question of Gal 1; 2; it would have been idle for Paul to refer to it. On the other hand, no real contradiction exists between Acts 15 and Gal 2 “The two accounts admirably complete each other” (Pfleiderer; compare Cambr. Greek Test., 145, 146; Steinmann, Die Abfassungszeit d. Gal.-Briefes, section 7); in matters of complicated dispute involving personal considerations, attempts at a private understanding naturally precede the public settlement. It would be strange indeed if the same question of the circumcision of Gentile believers had twice within a few years been raised at Antioch, to be twice carried to Jerusalem and twice over decided there by the same parties - Barnabas and Paul, Peter and James - and with no reference made in the second discussion (that of Acts, ex hyp.) to the previous compact (Gal 2). Granting the epistle written after the council, as both Ramsay and Zahn suppose, we infer that Paul has given his more intimate account of the crisis, about which the readers were already informed in the sense of Acts 15, with a view to bring out its essential bearing on the situation.
(c) The encounter of Paul and Cephas at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-21) is undated. The time of its occurrence bears on the date of the epistle. As hitherto, the order of narration presumably follows the order of events, the “but” of Galatians 2:11 appears to contrast Cephas' present attitude with his action in Jerusalem just described. Two possible opportunities present themselves for a meeting of Paul and Cephas in Antioch subsequently to the council - the time of Paul's and Barnabas' sojourn there on their return from Jerusalem (Acts 15:35, Acts 15:36), or the occasion of Paul's later visit, occupying “some time,” between the 2nd and 3rd tours (Acts 18:22, Acts 18:23), when for aught we know Barnabas and Peter may both have been in the Syrian capital.
The former dating assumes that Peter yielded to the Judaizers on the morrow of the council, that “Barnabas too was carried away” while still in colleagueship with Paul and when the cause of Gentile freedom, which he had championed, was in the flush of victory. It assumes that the legalists had no sooner been defeated than they opened a new attack on the same ground, and presented themselves as “from James” when James only the other day had repudiated their agitation (Acts 15:19, Acts 15:24). All this is very unlikely. We must allow the legalists time to recover from their discomfiture and to lay new plans (see II 2, (2), (3), (4). Moreover, Luke's detailed narrative in [[Acts 15:30-36, which makes much of the visit of Judas and Silas, gives no hint of any coming of Peter to Antioch at that time, and leaves little room for this; he gives an impression of settled peace and satisfaction following on the Jerusalem concordat, with which the strife of Galatians 2:11 would ill accord. Through the course of the 2nd missionary tour, so far as the Thessalonian epistles indicate, Paul's mind remained undisturbed by legalistic troubles. “The apostle had quitted Jerusalem (after his understanding with the pillars) and proceeded to his 2nd missionary journey full of satisfaction at the victory he had gained and free from anxiety for the future ... The decisive moment of the crisis necessarily falls between the Thessalonian and Galatian epistles ... A new situation suddenly presents itself to him on his return” to Antioch (A. Sabatier, The Apostle Paul, English translation, 10, 11, also 124-36).
(5) Paul's Renewed Struggle with Legalism
The new situation arose through the vacillation of Peter; and the “certain from James” who made mischief at Antioch, were the forerunners of “troublers” who agitated the churches far and wide, appearing simultaneously in Corinth and North Galatia. The attempt to set up a separate church-table for the circumcised at Antioch was the first movement in a crafty and persistent campaign against Gentile liberties engineered from Jerusalem. The Epistle to the Romans signalized Paul's conclusive victory in this struggle, which covered the period of the 3rd missionary tour. On his revisitation of the Galatians (Galatians 1:9; Galatians 5:3 parallel Acts 18:23), fresh from the contention with Cephas and aware of the wide conspiracy on foot, Paul gave warning of the coming of “another gospel”; it had arrived, fulfilling his worst fears. Upon this view of the course of affairs (see Neander, Planting and Training of the Christian Church, III, vii; Godet's Introduction to the New Testament, Epistles of Paul, 200-201; Sabatier, as above), the mistake of Peter at Antioch was the proximate antecedent of the trouble in Galatia; hence, Galatians 2:11 -24 leads up to Galatians 3:1 and the main argument. Now, if the Antiochene collision befell so late as this, then the epistle is subsequent to the date of Acts 18:22, Acts 18:23; from which it follows, once more, that Gal belongs to the 3rd missionary tour and the Corinthians-Romans group of letters.
(6) Ephesus or Corinth?
Chiefly because of the words, “you are removing so quickly,” in Galatians 1:6, the epistle is by many referred to the earlier part of the above period, the time of Paul's protracted sojourn in Ephesus (Acts 19:8, Acts 19:10 : 54-56 AD); “so quickly,” however, signifies not “so soon after my leaving you,” but “so suddenly” and “with such slight persuasion” (Galatians 5:7, Galatians 5:8). From Ephesus, had the apostle been there when the trouble arose, he might as easily have visited Galatia as he did Corinth under like circumstances (so much is implied in 2 Corinthians 13:1): he is longing to go to Galatia, but cannot (Galatians 4:19, Galatians 4:20). A more distant situation, such as Macedonia or Corinth (Acts 20:1-3), where Paul found himself in the last months of this tour (56-57 AD), and where, in churches of some standing, he was surrounded by a body of sympathetic “brethren” (Galatians 1:1) whose support gave weight to his remonstrance with the Galatians, suits the epistle better on every account.
(7) Paul's First Coming to Galatia
In Galatians 4:13-15 the apostle recalls, in words surcharged with emotion, his introduction to the readers. His “preaching the good news” to them was due to “weakness of the flesh” - to some sickness, it seems, which arrested his steps and led him to minister in a locality that otherwise he would have “passed over,” as he did Mysia a little later (Acts 16:8). So we understand the obscure language of Galatians 4:13. The South Galatian theorists, in default of any reference to illness as affecting the apostle's movements in Acts 13:13, Acts 13:14, favor Ramsay's conjecture that Paul fell a victim to malaria on the Pamphylian coast, and that he and Barnabas made for Pisidian Antioch by way of seeking the cooler uplands. The former explanation lies nearer to the apostle's language: he says “I preached to you,” not “I came to you, because of illness.” The journey of a hundred miles from Perga to Antioch was one of the least likely to be undertaken by a fever-stricken patient (see the description in Conybeare and Howson's Life of St. Paul, or in Ramsay's St. Paul the Traveler). Besides, if this motive had brought Paul to Antioch, quite different reasons are stated by Luke for his proceeding to the other South Galatian towns (see Acts 13:50, Acts 13:51; Acts 14:6, Acts 14:19, Acts 14:20). Reading Galatians 4:13-15, one imagines the missionary hastening forward to some further goal (perhaps the important cities of Bithynia, Acts 16:7), when he is prostrated by a malady the physical effects of which were such as to excite extreme aversion. As strength returns, he begins to offer his gospel in the neighborhood where the unwilling halt has been made. There was much to prejudice the hearers against a preacher addressing them under these conditions; but the Galatians welcomed him as a heaven-sent messenger. Their faith was prompt and eager, their gratitude boundless.
The deification of Barnabas and Paul by the Lycaonians (Acts 14:11-18) is the one incident of Luke's narrative of which the apostle's description reminds us. To this the latter is thought to be alluding when he writes, “You received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus!” But could he speak thus of his reception - hateful at the time - in the character of a heathen god, and of a reception that ended in his stoning? The “welcome” of the messenger implies faith in his message (compare Galatians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Matthew 10:40, Matthew 10:41, where the same Greek verb is used).
Paul's mishandling at Lystra (Acts 14:19, Acts 14:20) has suggested a correspondence in the opposite sense between the epistle and the story of the South Galatian mission. The Lystran stones left their print on Paul's body; in these disfiguring scars one might see “the marks of Jesus” to which he points in Galatians 6:17, were it not for the note of time, “from henceforth,” which distinguishes these stigmata as a fresh infliction, identifying the servant now more than ever with his Master. The true parallel to Galatians 6:17 is 2 Corinthians 4:10 (see the context in 4:7 through 5:4, also 18), which we quoted above (III, 2). When he wrote 2 Cor, the apostle was emerging from an experience of crucial anguish, which gave him an aspect imaging the dying Saviour whom he preached; to this new consecration the appeal of our epistle seems to refer.
(8) Barnabas and the Galatians
The references to Barnabas in Galatians 2:1, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:13, at first sight suggest the South Galatian destination of the letter. For Barnabas and Paul were companions on the first only of the three tours, and Barnabas is named thrice here and but twice in the rest of the epistles. Yet these very references awaken misgiving. Barnabas was Paul's full partner in the South Galatian mission; he was senior in service, and had introduced Saul to the apostles at Jerusalem; he was the leader at the outset of this journey (Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22-26; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 15:25) - Barnabas was taken for “Zeus” by the heathen of Lystra, while the eloquent Paul was identified with “Hermes” (Acts 14:12). The churches of South Galatia had two founders, and owed allegiance to Barnabas along with Paul. Yet Paul deals with the readers as though he alone were their father in Christ. Referring to Barnabas conspicuously in the letter and as differing from himself on a point affecting the question at issue (Galatians 2:13), Paul was the more bound to give his old comrade his due and to justify his assumption of sole authority, if he were in truth addressing communities which owed their Christianity to the two men in conjunction. On the South Galatian hypothesis, the apostle appears ungenerously to have elbowed his colleague out of the partnership. The apostle Paul, it is to be noted, was particularly sensitive on matters of this kind (see 1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 10:13-16). The name of Barnabas was known through the whole church (see 1 Corinthians 9:6; Colossians 4:10); there is no more difficulty in supposing the North Galatians to be familiar with it than with the names of James and John (Galatians 2:9). Possibly Paul, as his responsibilities extended, had left the care of South Galatia to Barnabas, who could readily superintend this district from Antioch in Syria; Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 9:6, long after the separation of Acts 15:39, as a fellow-worker. This would account for his making direct for North Galatia on the 3rd tour; see IV, 3 (3).
(9) The Two Antiochs
In Galatians 2:11 Paul refers to “Antioch,”. the famous city on the Orontes. To South Galatians “Antioch” meant, as in 2 Timothy 3:11, the Pisidian city of that name. Had Paul been addressing South Galatians, and Antiochenes imprimis, he could not without singular inadvertence have failed to make the distinction. The gaucherie would have been as marked as if, in writing to a circle of West-of-England towns including Bradford-on-Avon, one should mention “Bradford” without qualification, meaning the Yorkshire Bradford.
The arguments drawn from local difference in legal usage - in the matters of adoption, testament, etc. - in favor of the South Galatian destination (see Schmiedel's examination of Ramsay's views in EB, coll. 1608-9), and from the temperament of Paul's “Galatians” in favor of North Galatia (Lightfoot), are too precarious to build upon.
(10) Wider Bearings of the Problem
On a broad view of the scope of Paul's missionary work and of the relation of his letters to Acts, there is much to commend the South Galatian theory. It simplifies the situation by connecting this cardinal writing of Paul with churches of cardinal importance in Luke's narrative. The South Galatian cities lay along the main route of the apostle's travels, and in the mid-stream of the church's life. The epistle, when associated with the Christian communities of this region, gains a definite setting and a firm point of attachment in New Testament history; whereas the founding of North Galatian Christianity is indicated by Luke, if at all, in the most cursory fashion, and it held an obscure place in the early church. How, it is asked, could Paul's intimate friend have been (on the North Galatian theory) so uninterested in churches by which Paul himself set such store? And how can Paul have ignored, apart from the allusion of 2 Timothy 3:11, the South Galatians who formed the first-fruits of his wider labors and supplied a vital link in his chain of churches? In reply, we must point out:
(1) that for anything we know Paul wrote many letters to South Galatia; we possess but a selection from his correspondence; the choice of the canonical epistles was not governed by the importance of the parties addressed in them - witness Colossians and Philemon; nor were Paul's concern for his churches, and the empressement with which he wrote, determined by their magnitude and position, but by their needs and their hold on his affections (see Galatians 1:6, etc.; Galatians 4:12-20).
(2) The North Galatian mission lay off the central line of Paul's journeyings and of the advance of Gentile Christianity; this is probably the reason why Luke, who was compelled to a strict economy of space, just ignores this field, though he shows himself aware of its existence. The apostle's confession that he preached to the readers, in the first instance, not from choice but necessity (Galatians 4:13), accords with the neglect of North Galatia in Acts; the evangelizing of the North Galatians was an aside in Paul's work - an incident beyond the scope of his plans, from which at this period he was compelled again and again to deviate (Acts 16:6-10).
After all, though less important during the 1st century than South Galatia North Galatia was not an unimportant or inaccessible region. It was traversed by the ancient “Royal Road” from the East to the Hellespont, which the apostle probably followed as far as Phrygia in the journey of Acts 18:22, Acts 18:23. Planted by Paul in Old Galatia, the gospel would spread to Bithynia and Pontus farther north, as it certainly had done by the time Peter wrote to the churches of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1). It is observable that “Galatia” stands between “Pontus and Cappadocia” in Peter's enumeration of the provinces - an order indicating that Christians of North Galatia were particularly in the writer's mind. Had Paul never set foot in North Galatia, had he not worked along the Royal Road and put his message in the Way of reaching the northern provinces of Asia Minor, the claim of Romans 15:19 is difficult to sustain, that “from Jerusalem, and in a circle as far as Illyricum, he had fulfilled the gospel of Christ.” On the whole, we find the external evidence in accord with the testimony given by the internal character and affinities of the epistle: we judge that this epistle was written circa the autumn or winter of 56-57 AD, from Macedonia or Corinth, toward the end of Paul's third missionary tour; that it was addressed to a circle of churches situated in Galatia proper or North Galatia, probably in the western part of this country contiguous to (or overlapping) Phrygia (Acts 16:6); and that its place lies between the two Corinthian and the Roman letters among the epistles of the second group.
The South Galatian destination was proposed by the Danish Mynster (Einltg. in d. Brief an d. Gal, 1825; M. however included North Galatia), and adopted by the French Perrot (De Galatia Provincia Romana, 1867) and Renan (S. Paul); by the German Clemen (Chronologie d. paulin. Briefe, 1893; Die Adressaten d. Gal.-Briefes; Paulus: sein Leben u. Wirken, 1904), Hausrath (NT Zeitgeschichte, 1873, English Translation), Pfleiderer (Paulinismus, 1873, English translation; Paulinismus2, much altered; Urchristenthum, 1902), Steck (as above), Weizsäcker (Das apost. Zeitalter3, 1902, English Translation); after Ramsay (see under Galatia), by Belser (Beiträge z. Erklärung d. AG, etc.), O. Holtzmann (Zeitschrift f. KG, 1894), von Soden (Hist of Early Christian Lit., ET; he includes South with North Galatia), Weber (Die Adressaten d. Gal.-Briefes), J. Weiss (RE3, article “Kleinasien”), in Germany; by Askwith (Ep. to Gal: An Essay on Its Destination and Date), Bacon (Expos, V, vii, 123-36; x, 351-67), Bartlet (Expos, V, x, 263-80), Gifford (Expos, IV, x, 1-20), Maclean (1-vol HDB), Rendall (Expos, IV, ix, 254-64; EGT, Introduction to “Galatians”), Round (as above), Sanday (with hesitation, The Expositor, IV, vii, 491-95), Woodhouse (EB, article “Galatia”). The N. Galatian destination, held by earlier scholars up to Lightfoot and Salmon (DB2, an illuminating discussion), is reasserted, in view of Ramsay's findings, by Chase (Expos, IV, viii, 401-19; ix, 331-42), Cheetham (Class. Review, 1894), Dods (HDB, article “Galatians”), Williams (Cambr. Greek Testament., 1910), in this country; by Sabatier (L'Apôtre Paul2, English translation, 1891); by Gheorghiu (Adressatii epistle c. Galateni, Cernauti, 1904, praised by Steinmann); and by the German critics Blass (Acta Apost.), von Dobschütz (Die urchr. Gemeinden, 1902, and Probleme d. apost. Zeitalters), Harnack (Apostelgeschichte, 1908, 87-90), H. Holtzmann (Handcomm. z. New Testament, “AG”), Jülicher (NT Intro, English Translation), Lipsius (Handcomm. z. New Testament, “Galater”) Lietzmann (doubtfully, Handbuch z. NT, III, i, “Galaterbrief”), Mommsen (ZNTW, 1901, 81-96), Schmiedel (Encyclopedia Biblica), Schürer (Jahrbuch f. prot. Theologie, XVIII, 460- 74), Sieffert (Meyer's Kommentar), Steinmann (as above), Zöckler (a full and masterly discussion: Studien u. Kritiken, 1895, 51-102). Mommsen's verdict is thus expressed: “To apprehend 'the Galatians' of Paul otherwise than in the strict and narrower sense of the term, is unallowable. The Provinces associated with Galatia under the rule of a single legate, as e.g. Lycaonia certainly was as early as the time of Claudius, were in no way incorporated in that region; the official inscriptions simply set Galatia at the head of the combined regions. Still less could the inhabitants of Iconium and Lystra be named 'Galatians' in common speech.”
Apart from the aforesaid controversy, besides the standard Commentary on Paul's Epistles, Luther's Ad Galatas is of unique historical interest; the interpretations of Usteri (1833), Hilgenfeld (1852), Winer (18594), Holsten (Das Evangel. d. Paulus, 1880), Philippi (1884), in German; Baljon (1889), in Dutch; and of B. Jowett, Ellicott, Beet, are specially serviceable, from different points of view; see also CGT and EB.