LAYOUT OF THE CHAPTER
Galatians is a polemic against legalism. The Mosaic Law, though referred to, is neither discredited, despised or disregarded. However, the very nature of the law makes it utterly impossible for any man to come to God via the Law. Paul points out that another way, which completely bypasses the Mosaic Law; this new route is by FAITH. Justification by Faith is the theme of this epistle, with the emphasis upon faith.
Three epistle in the NT quote Habakkuk 2:4—“The just shall live by his faith.” Romans 1:7 quotes the passage and emphasizes the just. Hebrews 10:38 quotes the passage and em-phasizes shall live. Galatians 3:11 quotes the passage and emphasizes by faith. In Romans, Paul emphasizes the fact that man apart from the Mosaic Law is justified by faith. In Galatians Paul is defending the gospel from those who would add law to justification by faith. Faith plus Law was the thrust of Judaism. FAITH PLUS NOTHING was Paul’s answer to this.
THE CAUSE OF HIS WRITING IS THEIR SPEEDY FALLING AWAY FROM THE GOSPEL HE TAUGHT. DEFENSE OF HIS TEACHING: HIS APOSTOLIC CALL INDEPENDENT OF MAN.
Judaizing teachers had persuaded the Galatians that Paul had taught them the new religion imperfectly, and at second hand; that the founder of their church himself possessed only a deputed commission, the seal of truth and authority being in the apostles at Jerusalem: moreover, that whatever he might profess among them, he had himself at other times, and in other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. To refute this, he appeals to the history of his conversion, and to the manner of his conferring with the apostles when he met them at Jerusalem; that so far was his doctrine from being derived from them, or they from exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to what he had already preached among the Gentiles, which preaching was communicated, not by them to him, but by himself to them [PALEY]. Such an apologetic Epistle could not be a later forgery, the objections which it meets only coming out incidentally, not being obtruded as they would be by a forger; and also being such as could only arise in the earliest age of the Church, when Jerusalem and Judaism still held a prominent place.
Paul is writing to believers in Galatia who have turned to a “another gospel” that is completely opposite to the gospel that he had preached to them. He is writing to explain to them the error of their turning to this “other gospel,” and he is attempting to encourage them to look back to the true gospel.
Galatia was a region, or province, with a strong Hellenist/Romanized population. From the context of the letter, it seems obvious that the Galatian churches had been founded by Paul himself, but after he had left there outside influences had come in, particular those we will call, Judaizers. This is the main purpose for Chapter One.
Galatia could also be known as Gaul-atia, for the area had originally been settled by Celtic people from the area of Gaul who had migrated there in the Third Century BC. They settled around the area of what is now Ankara, Turkey. Augustus Caesar created the province of Galatia in 25BC. The area known as Galatia stretched to the cities of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, cities that are mentioned in the Book of Acts, stating that Paul and Barnabas had done missionary work there.
Chapter one breaks down this way:
I. OPENING GREETING (vv. 1-5)
A. Paul identifies himself as the author.
B. Paul identifies himself as an apostle.
C. Paul greets his readers.
D. Paul gives them an early confession of the Christian faith.
E. Paul gives a doxology.
II. REASON FOR WRITING (vv. 6-10)
A. Paul gives no thanksgiving.
B. By doing it this way, Paul is displaying that he is upset with the Galatians.
C. Paul gives no compliments to the Galatian Christians.
D. Paul goes straight into the problem in the church.
E. Paul tells them they are listening to false teachers.
F. Paul confronts those Galatians who think that circumcision was necessary.
III. PAUL’S THESIS (vv. 11-12)
IV. PAUL’S EARLY LIFE, CONVERSION AND COMMISSIONING (vv. 13-17)
A. Paul’s life as a Jew.
B. The Cross justified early violence upon believers.
V. FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM (vv. 18-24)