Salvation by Grace
Galatians is a powerful
polemic against the Judaizers who were trying to
draw the churches of Galatia away from salvation by
grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. This
letter was "the battle cry of the Reformation" under
Martin Luther. He claimed it as the best of all the
books of the Bible. This letter assaults the bondage
of legalism more directly than any other book in the
Bible. It has been called the "Magna Carta of
Paul the apostle is clearly stated as the author in
the very first verse of the letter (1:1; 5:2).
Word had reached Paul that the Galatian Christians
were falling away from the true Gospel of grace
which he had preached, and were turning to a
legalistic system of merit salvation (1:6-9). He
wrote to correct this error which was introduced by
Paul wrote to correct two errors: Do you have to
become a Jew before you can be saved? The second
error was, "If Christ has set us free, then we can
live as we please!" (cf. 5:1, 13). He demonstrates
clearly the only way sinful man can stand before a
holy God is by God’s grace made available through
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are
saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, and we
are also sanctified by grace through faith (3:3).
The Judaizers taught that works was necessary for
salvation and sanctification. It was a religion
based on legalism. Someone said, "Judaism was the
cradle of Christianity and very nearly its grave."
Galatians answers clearly
the question posed in Acts 16:31, "What must I do to
be saved?" Are we saved by believing or achieving?
Paul declared, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved." Because Christ has done it
all, there remains nothing for us to do except
believe in His finished work, and receive the free
gift of eternal life. He gives evidences to that
declaration in Galatians. We are free of the law.
Not only is the Christian saved by grace through
faith, but the saved sinner lives by grace through
faith. "Grace is the way to life and the way of
Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ
alone. Salvation by grace sets us free to live the
Christian life by daily yielding to the Holy Spirit.
Galatians is the Christians declaration of freedom.
5:1; cf. 5:13; Rom. 8:3-9; II Cor. 3:17; John 8:36
"law," (29 times), "gospel" (15 times), "Spirit" (10
DATE AND PLACE:
Two dates are generally suggested with both
depending upon the theory of location for the
recipients. An earlier date around A. D. 48-50, and
one a little later A. D. 56 or 57, or about the time
of the writing of Romans are proposed. The answer
depends upon what Paul meant by the term "Galatia."
Does it mean the Roman province as he usually does,
or does he mean the ethnographic use of the term and
thus the Celts of North Galatia? If he is referring
to North Galatia then he is referring to churches he
founded on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6)
and the epistle would have been written on his third
missionary journey (Acts 18:23), either from Ephesus
(A. D. 53) or from Macedonia in (A. D. 55).
However if he is
referring to South Galatia in the wider political
sense as the Roman Province of Galatia, we know the
churches Paul founded on the first missionary
journey at Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and
Derbe (Acts 13:13-14:23). If Southern Galatia then
the letter was written after the end of the first
journey probably from Syrian Antioch about A. D.
49-50. When Paul uses the phrase "churches of
Galatia" he can mean the whole of Galatia or either
South or North Galatia.
The letter was written
about sixteen years after Paul’s conversion, adding
three years of Gal. 1:18 and the fourteen of 2:1. We
do not know the precise year of his conversion. It
was somewhere between A. D. 31 and 36. The epistle
was written after the Jerusalem Conference dealing
with the Judaizers (Gal. 2:1-10; Acts 15), and after
the subsequent visit of Peter to Antioch (Gal.
2:11-14). A. T. Robertson writes, "The natural
interpretation of Acts 15:1-33 is to understand it
as the historical narrative of the public meetings
of which Paul gives an inside view in Gal. 2:1-10. .
. It was written then after that Conference which
took place about A. D. 49."
Robertson suggests that
it was written after Thessalonians (A. D. 50-51)
which was sent from Corinth. Moreover, time is
needed for Paul to travel and plant churches in this
The New Testament is
silent about Paul’s visit to North Galatia and would
therefore favor the southern territory. It mentions
only Paul’s visit to the cities of Antioch, Iconium,
Lystra and Derbe, important cites in the southern
territory (Acts 13:14-14:24). Paul’s reference to
Barnabas in 2:1, 9, 13 would suggest the readers
knew Barnabas. Barnabas visited with Paul only in
the southern territory on the first missionary
Your view of the
recipients determines your view of the date. Paul’s
visit in Acts 9:26-30 is probably identical with
Gal. 1:18. The visit in 2:1 is probably the visit in
Acts 15. Both the conferences in Gal. 2:1 and in
Acts 15 deal with the subject of Gentile
relationship to the law. They both report the result
was freedom for the Gentiles in relationship to the
law. Leaders decided the Gentiles did not need to
conform to Jewish customs to earn their relationship
to God. If we identify the conference of Acts 15
with that of Gal. 2, we can date the Galatian Letter
sometime around the completion of the conference or
even during the conference. Most Bible scholars date
the conference around A.D. 49-50. This would be the
earliest time for the writing of Galatians.
If the visit referred to
in Gal. 4:13 occurred on Paul’s first missionary
journey (Acts 13-14) then the writing could have
occurred sometime after completing the journey which
occurred from A.D. 47-49. Therefore, the date would
be at A.D. 49 or 50.
It seems that the
arguments for the South Galatian Theory have a
slight edge on those for the older theory,
therefore, a date between A. D. 48-50 would be very
are probably the churches in the Roman province of
Galatia (Southern theory) that Paul founded on his
first missionary journey, including Pisidian
Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. "Galatia"
probably refers to both a geographical area and a
Roman province (organized in 25 B. C.). This region
is known as modern day Turkey.
Paul is ablaze with indignation as he faces the men
who are undermining his work.
Title: Introduction to
Series: Introduction to