Summary: First in series of sermons from Paul to the church at Galatia to return them to the truth.
GALATIANS # I
Galatia was not a city but a country or province.
There is no certain information as to the time when the gospel was first preached in Galatia, or the persons by whom it was done. There is mention, however, of Paul’s having preached there several times, and several circumstances lead us to suppose that those churches were established by him, or that he was the first to carry the gospel to them, or that he and Bamabas together preached the gospel there on the mission on which they were sent from Antioch, Acts 13:2. following In Acts 16:5 6, it is expressly said that they went "throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia." This journey was for the purpose of confirming the churches, and was undertaken at the suggestion of Paul Acts 15 36, with the design of visiting their brethren in every city where they had preached the word of the Lord.
The Galatian churches had come into being as a result of Paul’s missionary labors. Therefore the apostle was especially exercised in spirit when he learned that Jewish Christian agitators had circulated among these Gentile converts seeking to impose circumcision and the burden of the Mosaic law upon them as necessary for salvation (Gal 1:7; 4:17; 5: 10). Writing under great stress (as is suggested by the omission of the usual thanksgiving), he met the issue squarely, and thus, in the epistle to the Galatians, gave to the Church a mighty polemic against the Judaizing error.
Paul passes to a statement of what the Gospel is (chs. 3; 4). It is a message of grace that calls for faith. The law does pot produce faith, but rather works a curse, from which Christ had to redeem men.
It is easy to determine from the Epistle itself that the following circumstances existed in the churches of Galatia, and that it was written with reference to them.
(1) That they had been at first devotedly attached to the apostle Paul, and had received his commands and instructions with implicit confidence when he was among them; Gal 4:1415; compare Gal 1:6.
(2) That they had been perverted from the doctrine which he taught them soon after he had left them; Gal 1:6.
(3) That this had been done by persons who were of Jewish origin, and who insisted on the observance of the rites of the Jewish religion.
(4) That they claimed to have come directly from Jerusalem, and to have derived their views of religion and their authority from the apostles there.
(5) That they taught that the apostle Paul was inferior to the apostles there; that he had been called more recently into the apostolic office; that the apostles at Jerusalem must be regarded as the source of authority in the Christian church; and that, therefore, the teaching of Paul should yield to that which was derived directly from Jerusalem.
(6) That the laws of Moses were binding, and were necessary in order to justification. That the rite of circumcision especially was of binding obligation; and it is probable GALATIANS 6:12, that they had prevailed on many of the Galatians to be circumcised, and certain that they had induced them to observe the Jewish festivals; GALATIANS 4: 10.