I Can Read the Bible

About Galatians

Matt Carter

Context of Galatians

Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians. Ethnographically, the Galatians were Celtic tribes who fought with the Romans and the Macedonians. Politically, Galatia became a Roman province in 25 BC. This newer political province included both ethnic Galatia to the north and a region to the south, including the cities of Iconium and Derbe, that was not ethnically Galatian.

There are two competing hypotheses about when and to whom this letter was written. One thinks this letter was primarily to ethnic Galatian churches to the north, which Paul visited during his second missionary journey. In this North Galatian Theory, Galatians was written sometime between 53-56 AD in either Ephesus or Macedonia. The other, probably more likely hypothesis, thinks this letter was primarily to provincial Galatian churches. Paul visited the southern cities of the Galatian Province during his first missionary journey. In this South Galatian Theory, Galatians was written just prior to the Jerusalem Council in 49 AD, which was recorded in Acts 15.

Central Theme in Galatians

The central theme of the epistle to the Galatians is freedom from the Law. The power of the Holy Spirit enables the Christian believer to enjoy freedom within the law of love.

Brief Overview of Galatians

Paul wrote Galatians as a response to learning that the Galatian churches were being influenced by Judaizers. These Judaizers taught that Christians should be placed under Mosaic Law. Paul counters this by asserting that Christ has freed the believer from legalism and sin and into freedom. Christ delivered the believer from bondage to sin to be transformed by the work of the Spirit from within.

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