DATE: circa 49-55 AD
Key Message: Liberty in Christ
When this letter was written, the term “Galatia” was used in both a geographical and a political sense. Used geographically, it referred to north-central Asia Minor, north of the cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Used politically, Galatia referred to the Roman province (organized in 25 B.C.) that included southern districts and those cities just mentioned.
With the date uncertain, it’s difficult to know if the Galatian church was founded during Paul’s first missionary journey or his second. What we do know is that Paul wrote to clarify how sinful men can come to a Holy God. Judaizers were insisting that salvation could only be gained by keeping the law, which included circumcision and ritualistic practices. They were promoting that Gentiles must first become a Jew before they could be saved.
Paul wrote his letter to clear up any misunderstandings about salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. In his letter he emphasized liberty in Christ and reminded the church of the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life (Gal 5:16-18). As Christians, our flesh has been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20) and we have the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Therefore we can stand strong (Gal 5:1) because we are a new creation in Christ (Gal 6:15).
In addition to explaining, defending, and applying the doctrine of justification (salvation by grace alone through faith), Galations also includes information about Paul’s three years in Arabia (Gal 1:17), Paul’s correcting Peter (Gal 2:11), Paul’s reminder that the law serves as a tutor (Gal 3:24), and a list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
Key verses include: Gal 2:16, Gal 2:20, Gal 3:11, Gal 4:5-6, Gal 5:22-23, Gal 6:7
OUTLINE OF GALATIANS
I. Introduction: The Rightness of Paul’s Gospel Asserted, 1:1-10
II. Justification by Faith Defended: Paul’s Authority, 1:11-2:21
A. His Authority Acquired Through Revelation, Gal 1:11-24
B. His Authority Approved by the Church in Jerusalem, 2:1-10
C. His Authority Acknowledged in the Rebuke of Peter, 2:11-21
III. Justification by Faith Explained: Paul’s Gospel, 3:1-4:31
A. The Argument from Experience, 3:1-5
B. The Argument from Abraham, 3:6-9
C. The Argument from the Law, 3:10-4:11
D. The Argument from Personal Testimony, 4:12-20
E. The Argument from an Allegory, 4:21-31
IV. Justification by Faith Applied: Paul’s Ethics, 5:1-6:10
A. In Relation to Christian Liberty, 5:1-12
B. In Relation to License and Love, 5:13-15
C. In Relation to the Flesh and the Spirit, 5:16-26
D. In Relation to a Sinning Brother, 6:1-5
E. In Relation to Giving, 6:6-10
V. Conclusion: The Substance of Paul’s Instruction, 6:11-18
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