Summary: Good news for the Galatians
a. Today we start a new book, and it is always an exciting thing at Calvary to start a new book. We’ve spent the last year and almost two months more studying the Book of Acts.
b. Before we dive right into the verses, though, whenever we start a new book to study, I like to give you some background to the book, and a brief overview of the book as a whole, just to give us some more perspective on it.
a. To start off, I wanted to take us through an overview or an introduction to the book of Galatians before we get into our study. As we open Galatians, I wanted to try to answer a few questions first – Who wrote the book? To whom was it written? When was it written? Where was it written, and what was the purpose for writing the book.
b. The Book of Galatians wasn’t a book at first, but a letter. It is a letter written by an author that we are very familiar with, having just finished up the Book of Acts. In the classic Greek style, he identifies himself at the opening – Chapter 1, verse 1 – Paul, an apostle. The apostle to the gentiles. There’s really not a lot of controversy about who wrote the book in scholarly circles, as is the case with other books, like Hebrews. The evidence for Paul’s authorship is not just here in the Bible either; it is in the writings of the early church, around 100 to 200 A.D.
c. Paul wrote this letter to the churches of Galatia, as we see in verse 2. Now, Galatia was a region and not a city. Colossians was written to the church at Colosse. Philippians was written to the church at Philippi. But Galatia was a region in Asia Minor that now lies within modern day Turkey. Galatia became a Roman province in 25 A.D. There are two theories as to which churches in Galatia Paul wrote to.
d. The first is called the northern Galatian theory. A group of people had migrated to this area from an area now in modern France called Gaul. It was several Celtic tribes that came to the area around 275 B.C., and after beating up on the Macedonians, three tribes settled in this area in Asia Minor.
e. They were called Gauls, because Gaul was the Greek word for Celt, hence the name Galatia. They settled the cities of Bithynia, Ankara, Myra, and all in that northern area there. These people were ethnic Gauls, or ethnic Galatians.
f. This theory isn’t without its problems though. First off, Paul had never established any churches in Northern Galatia. Remember back in Acts chapter 16, he tries to go to Bithynia, and Mysia, but God would only let him go to Troas, and it was there in Troas that Paul got the vision of the man of Macedonia, and sailed across to Philippi. If you hold to this theory, the date of its writing is in the sixties, possibly when he was under house arrest. So, there’s one theory answering to whom, where, and when.
g. Most scholars though, and I personally hold to the southern Galatian theory, the other theory. In this theory, Paul would be writing to churches that he had established in southern Galatia, after his ministry there. These people weren’t ethnic Gauls, but were Greeks that lived in the political region of Galatia.
h. On Paul’s second missionary journey, he went around this area, and planted churches in Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Pisidian Antioch. It was here that he met up with Timothy.
i. Timothy was a Galatian, being from Lystra. If you hold to this theory, then Paul probably wrote this letter in as early as 48 A.D., while he was in Antioch or Corinth. That would make it the one of the earliest written books of the New Testament.
j. That brings us to our final question. Why did Paul write the letter? Well, first off, he was led by the Holy Spirit. Whenever people wrote things that are in the Bible, God was the driving force behind it.
k. But, in addition to that, Paul usually wrote the letters to the churches to correct some kind of problem or to address some kind of issue that was brewing in the church.
l. The letter to the churches of Galatia was no exception. These churches had problems. You know why most churches have problems? It’s because people are in them. I always say, the main reason people don’t go to church anymore is because they went to church.
m. But, all kidding aside, we are all sinners. We are all hypocrites at one level or another. We are all just people, and God loves people. That’s all we have tried to do here at Calvary - teach God’s Word, love people.