Galatians: History, Setting, and Purpose

I’ve been thinking for a long time about tackling both Galatian and Ephesians, so today is the day 🙂 The first two or maybe three posts will give some background, before we actually get into the scripture.

Galatia was not just one city, but rather an area in what we now know as Turkey.

The cities to which Paul ministered in Galatia included Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. It is interesting to me that the people who lived in Galatia are the same people racially as the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, Wales, the Highlands of Scotland, France, and northern Spain.

Paul was writing from Rome, about A.D.68. He had labored there on two separate journeys (refer to the first map above) and had planned to go a third time, but the Holy Spirit led him elsewhere, and eventually to Europe. You can read about Paul in Galatia in Acts 13 and 14.

The letter to the Galatians was written to set them straight on the error taught by those who said they were from the church in Jerusalem, sent by James and the apostolic band there.  In order to understand why the Galatians were so quickly lured into Judaism, we need to remember that they had all been idolators before Paul brought them the true gospel. They were initially filled with joy to have been introduced to the light and liberty of the gospel that brought them out of the bondage of idolatry.  However, old habits die hard, and they fell hard for the judaizers who told them that unless they kept the law of Moses, observed the covenant of circumcision, and the different holy days of the Jewish economy and the appointed seasons, they could not be saved.

Satan is always working to undermine the faith of new believers.  He will immediately introduce ideas that seem to be from God’s Word, and will easily lead new believers into serious error.  In fact, there are many seasoned believers who have fallen for some “new” doctrine that is introduced by a charismatic personality who claims to have a newer, more enlightened understanding of God’s Word than anyone else has yet attained.

What is so interesting to me is that often, this “new” knowledge becomes far more important to Christians than their original understanding of the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ in its simplicity. In actuality, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan just recycles his deceptions  under different titles, knowing how gullible we are and how easily attracted we are to the same old stuff if it’s wrapped in shiny new paper.

Human nature doesn’t change much over the centuries, does it?

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