Easton's Bible Dictionary
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 ; 4:13
). 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 ; 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
20:2 , 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
(2) shows the evil influence of the Judaizers in destroying the very essence of
the gospel ( Galatians
(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 - 6:1
(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 ; 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 (Greek. pelikois grammasin),
that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul." (See
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
was written by the apostle St. Paul not long after his journey through Galatia
and Phrygia, (Acts 18:23) and probably in the early portion of his two-and-a-half-years
stay at Ephesus, which terminated with the Pentecost of A.D. 57 or 58. The epistle
appears to have been called forth by the machinations of Judaizing teachers, who,
shortly before the date of its composition, had endeavored to seduce the churches
of this province into a recognition of circumcision, (Galatians 5:2 , 11 , 12
; 6:12) seq., and had openly sought to depreciate the apostolic claims of St.
Paul. Comp. (Galatians 1:1 , 11) "Since the days of Luther the Epistle to the
Galatians has always been held in high esteem as the gospel's banner of freedom.
To it and the Epistle to the Romans we owe most directly the springing up and
development of the ideas and energies of the Reformation."--Meyer.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 Gentilemission
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 Tubingen 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 Julicher'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 GentileChristians--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 Ga has reached us from ancient times.
II. THE MATTER OF THE EPISTLE
|A) Summary of Contents
A double note of war sounds in the address and greeting (Galatians 1:1,4). Astonishment
replaces the customary thanksgiving (Galatians 1:6-10): The Galatians are listening
to preachers of "another gospel" (1:6,7) and traducers of the apostle (1:8,10),
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 1:11
to 2:21; the second from 3:1 to 5:12. Appropriate: moral exhortations follow in
5:13-6:10. The closing paragraph (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 1:11-2:21;4:12-20;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 1:11,12). 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 1:13,14),
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
(2) Three years later he "made acquaintance with Cephas" in Jerusalem and saw
James besides, but no "other of the apostles" (Galatians 1:18,19). 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 Gentilebelievers, 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 2:9,10). The freedom of GentileChristianity
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 2:12,13). "The truth of the gospel,"
with Cephas' own sincerity, was compromised by this "separation," which in effect
"compelled the Gentiles to Judaize" (Galatians 2:13,14). 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 (2:18,21)
of reestablishing "the law."
3. The Doctrinal Polemic (Galatians 3:1-5:12)
The doctrinal polemic was rehearsed in the autobiography (Galatians 2:3-5,11-12).
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 3:1-4:7; then (b) enforced by 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 3:7,14).
(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"
(a4) "Why then the law?" Sin required it, pending the accomplishment of "the promise."
Its promulgation through intermediaries marks its inferiority (Galatians 3:19,20).
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 4:6,7).
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 (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 1:13,14.
From Galatians 4:8 onward to 5:12, the argument is pressed home by appeal, illustration
(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?
(4:8,9). Their adoption of Jewish "seasons" points to this backsliding (4:10,11).
(b2) Paul's anxiety prompts the entreaty of 4:12-20, in which he recalls his fervent
reception by his readers, deplores their present alienation, and confesses his
(b3) Observe that Abraham had two sons--"after the flesh" and "through promise"
(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!' (4:24-28,31). The fate of Hagar and Ishmael pictures the issue
of legal subjection (4:29,30): "Stand fast therefore" (5:1). (b4) The crucial
moment comes at 5:2: the Galatians are half-persuaded (5:7,8); 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 (5:3-5). "Circumcision, uncircumcision"--these "count
for nothing in Christ Jesus" (5:6). Paul will not believe in the defection of
those who 'ran' so "well"; "judgment" will fall on their 'disturber' (5:7-10,12).
Persecution marks himself as no circumcisionist (5:11)!
4. The Ethical Application (Galatians 5:12-6:10)
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
(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 Gentilechurches. 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 Ga (1:3; 2:21; 5:4), the cross of Christ
its sole ground (1:4; 2:19-21; 3:13; 6:14), faith in the Good News its all-sufficient
means (2:16,20; 3:2,5-9,23-26; 5:5), the Spirit its effectuating power (3:2-5;
4:6,7; 5:5,16-25; 6:8)--hence, emancipation from the Jewish law, and the full
status of sons of God open to the Gentiles (2:4,5,15-19; 3:10-14; 3:28-4:9,26-31;
5:18; 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 3:7,29). 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; 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 3:19,24; 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 (1:1,11).
Paul's authority must be overthrown, if his disciples are to be Judaized. Hence,
the campaign of detraction against him (compare 2 Corinthians 10-12). 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 1:13-2:21. "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; 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 Gentilerights. 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 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; 4:17; 5:10,12; 6:12,13), tender,
wounded affection (Galatians 4:11-20), deep sincerity and manly integrity united
with the loftiest consciousness of spiritual authority (Galatians 1:10-12,20;
2:4-6,14; 5:2; 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 Ga 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
2:4-10,20; 4:16-20;5:13), awkward parentheses and entangled periods (Galatians
2:1-10,18; 3:16,20; 4:25), and outburst of excessive vehemence (Galatians 1:8,9;
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 3:16,19-20;
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
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 Romans 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 (1:15,16), 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" (makarismos), "divisions" (Romans
16:17; Galatians 5:20); "fail" or "fall from" (ekpipto); "labor on" or "upon"
(of persons), "passions" (pathemata, in this sense); "set free" or "deliver" (eleutheroo);
"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" (delon 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 Ga through 2Co 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" (kuroo); "I am perplexed," the antithesis of "sowing" and
"reaping" (figuratively); the phrase "on the contrary" or "contrariwise" (t'ounantion),
etc. The conception of the "two covenants" (or "testaments") is conspicuous in
both epistles (Galatians 3:17-21; 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, diatheke, 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 6:14 we find Paul "crucified to
the world" in the cross of his Master and "Christ" alone "living in" him; in 2
Corinthians 5:14,15 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 5:19,20 Galatians curiously, and somewhat intricately,
links itself at once with 2 Corinthians and Roman (see 2 Corinthians 12:20; Romans
13:13; 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 10-13.
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 Ga 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, epichoregia) the Spirit," and "vain-glory"
(kenodoxia), in Galatians-Philippians; "redeem" (exagorazo) and "inheritance"
are peculiar to Ga 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" (kalopoieo) with "fainting" or "wearying" (egkakeo) 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,
Ga 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" (to proteron) of Galatians 4:13 presumes Paul to have
been twice with the readers previously--for the first occasion, see 4:13-15; for
the second, 1:9; 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 2Th (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
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: Schurer 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 1:21,22 (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. Julicher 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" (Galatike chora) is mentioned by Luke, with careful repetition,
in Acts 16:6 and 18:23. Luke at any rate was not tied to imperial usage; he distinguishes
"Phrygia" from "Asia" in Acts 2:9,10, although Phrygia was administratively parceled
out between Asia and Galatia. When therefore "Asia" is opposed in 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 16:4,5; compare Acts 15:36, in conjunction with Acts 13:14-14:23),
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 16:4 and 5, and the Mysian-Bithynian border where we find the travelers in
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 a,
detached from 16b, is read as the completion of 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 (15:41 and 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" (koluthentes), from the
introductory verb, "they went through" (diel-thon), 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 16:6 ('They went through .... since they were
Zahn's position is peculiar (Intro to New Testament, I, 164-202). Rejecting Ramsay's
explanation of Acts 16:6, and of 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 (4:13), and are affected
simultaneously by the same disturbance (1:6; 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" (18:23), and raising a distinction between
"disciples" and "churches" foreign to the historian's usage (see Acts 6:2; 9:19;
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 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
The "3 years" of Galatians 1:18 and the "14 years" of 2:1 are both seemingly counted
from Paul's conversion.
|(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 11:32,33), 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 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 Galatians 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 Galatians 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 Gentilebelievers 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 (Galatians 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 15:35,36), or the
occasion of Paul's later visit, occupying "some time," between the 2nd and 3rd
tours (Acts 18:22,23), 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 Gentilefreedom, 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
15:19,24). 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 Gentileliberties
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 (1:9; 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, Ga 2:11-24 leads
up to 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 18:22,23; from which
it follows, once more, that Ga 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 19:8,10 54-56 AD); "so quickly,"
however, signifies not "so soon after my leaving you," but "so suddenly" and "with
such slight persuasion" (Galatians 5:7,8). 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 4:19,20). 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
(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 13:13,14, 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 Paul,
or in Ramsay's 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 13:50,51; 14:6,19,20). 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 10:40,41, where
the same Greek verb is used).
Paul's mishandling at Lystra (Acts 14:19,20) 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
4:7-5:4, 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 2:1,9,13, 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; 11:22-26; 13:1-3; 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.;
(2) The North Galatian mission lay off the central line of Paul's journeyings
and of the advance of GentileChristianity; 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
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 18:22,23. 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), Weizsacker (Das apost.
Zeitalter3, 1902, English Translation); after Ramsay (see under GALATIA), by Belser
(Beitrage z. Erklarung 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'Apotre
Paul2, English translation, 1891); by Gheorghiu (Adressatii epistle c. Galateni,
Cernauti, 1904, praised by Steinmann); and by the German critics Blass (Acta Apost.),
yon Dobschutz (Die urchr. Gemeinden, 1902, and Probleme d. apost. Zeitalters),
Harnack (Apostelgeschichte, 1908, 87-90), H. Holtzmann (Handcomm. z. New Testament,
"AG"), Julicher (NT Intro, English Translation), Lipsius (Handcomm. z. New Testament,
"Galater") Lietzmann (doubtfully, Handbuch z. N T, III, i, "Galaterbrief"), Mommsen
(ZNTW, 1901, 81-96), Schmiedel (Encyclopedia Biblica), Schurer (Jahrbuch f. prot.
Theologie, XVIII, 460- 74), Sieffert (Meyer's Kommentar), Steinmann (as above),
Zockler (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
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.
George G. Findlay
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