Our next excursion will be into Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul wrote nine different books to the churches and this is one of them. There are actually several churches in the area of Galatia, not just one Church as Ephesians or Colossians are. The churches included in the region of Galatia are Lystra, Iconium, Derby and Pisidia Antioch. Paul visited these churches on his first two missionary journeys, which tells us that he had a close relationship with them.
There’s a lot of dispute over when the letter was actually written. Some feel it was written around 49 A.D., before the Jerusalem Council took place (50 A.D.). They believe Paul wrote it shortly after his second visit to the churches. Others believe it was written between 50 and 60 A.D. There is no argument that Paul wrote the book, as the style and theme of writing is very similar to his other writings
The account of Paul’s first visit to Galatia can found beginning in Acts 13:14 and running through Acts 14:24 Barnabas was with Paul on this visit. They started in Antioch Pisidia, where Paul was asked to speak in the synagogue and was well received. He then spoke to a group of Gentiles. The following Sabbath a large crowd of Gentiles gathered to hear them and the Jews turned against Paul and Barnabas. They ran them out of town, much to the dismay of the Gentiles.
They next came to Iconium (Acts 13:52). They spoke to the crowds, both Jew and Gentile, for many weeks. The unbelievers in the region eventually turned against them and plotted to stone them, so Paul and Barnabas left for Lystra and Derby.
While preaching in Lystra, Paul prayed for a paralytic man, and when the man was healed, the people started calling Paul and Barnabas gods and worshipped them. Paul put a quick stop to that. But Jews from Pisidia Antioch and Iconium came and persuaded the people against Paul. He was stoned until they thought he was dead and thrown out of the city. But he was not dead. He came back, picked up Barnabas and made one last tour through the 4 cities before departing Galatia. The people had heard the Gospel and many had believed. The church had begun in the region.
In chapter 16 we see Paul returning to Galatia and picking up Timothy along the way. This is when Paul saw the problems that had crept up from false teaching in the churches there, and prompted him to write this letter. Paul’s third missionary trip went by these cities, but there is no mention in scripture that he visited the churches on this trip.
This is not one of the prison Epistles as it was written while he was on the road. Most people think he wrote this in Antioch or even in Jerusalem. This is also a letter that Paul says he wrote himself (Gal 6:11). Most of his writings were taken down by scribes that were working with him, so this was a rarity.
The central theme of the letter is justification by faith alone. The main reason it was written was because the Galatians were starting to listen to false doctrine being spread by the Judaizers which we will talk about later. There are many very powerful concepts in this wonderful letter that we will be exploring.
This study will carry a lot of my own personal reflections on the verses that we share each day (hopefully I can do them daily). There will also be scripture references as we go along where I feel it needs a little more background. When we get to the portion on the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) we will be covering each fruit on a separate post. I am unsure at this time how many verses I will take a day – it will depend on the content. Some days I may just talk about one verse other days it maybe 10 to 15. Each day the title of the post will go along with the theme of the selected verses for the day, as our James study did. I know that this study will be a blessing to me, and I hope it is also a blessing to you. I am thrilled that you are coming along on this journey with me and I look forward to your comments and thoughts as we go along.