The Biblical epistle to the Galatians is the ninth book of the New Testament and is comprised of a letter written by Paul the Apostle to a regional group of churches that were active in the mid-first century. That region was known as “Galatia” and it encompassed an area that is roughly synonymous with the modern-day country of Turkey.
This makes the Biblical book of Galatians unique in the fact that it is the only one of Paul’s New Testament epistles that was specifically addressed to more than one church. One commentary provides us with a quick historical summary of this region…
“Galatia is the name that was given originally to the territory in North Central Asia Minor, where the invading Gauls settled in the third century before Christ. Gradually the Gallic population was absorbed into other peoples living there, and after a number of political changes, the territory became the property of Rome in 25 B.C. The Romans incorporated this northern section into a larger division of the land which they made a province and called it Galatia.” (1)
Some of the churches that Paul worked to establish in Galatia included the churches of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, all of which are mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts (see Acts 14:1-7). But sometime after his departure from that area, Paul learned that all was not well with the congregations of Galatia.
You see, Paul was followed by group of others who sought to promote another type of “gospel.” Their teaching stated that anyone who wished to accept Christ as savior was first obligated to follow the Old Testament law. In order to make that case, these false teachers had to engage in a campaign to discredit Paul and his message that salvation was available by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.
This meant Paul had to address two issues in his letter to the Galatian churches. First, he had to establish his role as a legitimate apostle of Christ. Next, he had to counter the idea that salvation was attainable though faith in Christ along with something else. In this instance, that “something else” involved adherence to the Old Testament Law. Today, that teaching might be expressed through this or any number of other works that someone must allegedly perform in order to receive salvation.
Thus, the epistle to the Galatians holds value for every generation. We’ll take a closer look at those first-century false teachers and the heretical doctrine they sought to promote next.
(1) Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2369). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.