“Has been called the “Gallia” of the East, Roman writers calling” its inhabitants Galli. They were an intermixture of Gauls and “Greeks, and hence were called Gallo-Graeci, and the country” Gallo-Graecia. The Galatians were in their origin a part of that great Celtic migration which invaded Macedonia about B.C. 280. They were invited by the king of Bithynia to cross over into Asia Minor to assist him in his wars. There they ultimately “settled, and being strengthened by fresh accessions of the same” “clan from Europe, they overran Bithynia, and supported” themselves by plundering neighbouring countries. They were great “warriors, and hired themselves out as mercenary soldiers,” sometimes fighting on both sides in the great battles of the times. They were at length brought under the power of Rome in “B.C. 189, and Galatia became a Roman province B.C. 25.” “This province of Galatia, within the limits of which these “Celtic tribes were confined, was the central region of Asia” Minor. “During his second missionary journey Paul, accompanied by Silas “and Timothy (Acts 16:6), visited the “region of Galatia,” where” “he was detained by sickness (Gal. 4:13), and had thus the longer” opportunity of preaching to them the gospel. On his third “journey he went over “all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in” “order” (Acts 18:23). Crescens was sent thither by Paul toward” the close of his life (2 Tim. 4:10).
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; Gal. 1:8; 4:13, 19). They seem to have been” “composed mainly of converts from heathenism (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 (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 Gal. 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, 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 (Gal. 1:1-10) the apostle discusses the subjects which had occasioned the epistle. (1) He defends his apostolic authority (1:11-19; 2:1-14); (2) shows the evil influence of the Judaizers in destroying the very essence of the gospel (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 (5-6:1-10); (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 (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 Thess. 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 (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may” “reflect the energy and determination of his soul.” (See” JUSTIFICATION.)