Galatians - Background Booklet
Location of the Galatian Churches
During the days of Paul there were two areas known as
The oldest was
the geographical territory of
a Celtic people (Gauls) that had
migrated from southern
Gauls of Southern Europe
had migrated to
state became known as
independent ruler of
Northern Galatia included Pessinus,
Southern Galatia was called
Religion in Southern Galatians cities was more oriental than Greek and involved degraded sensuous worship.
Greek philosophy and Roman morality demanded higher expectations from human’s duty and government than the Eastern religions provided.
Jewish synagogues had spread into these areas and gave an alternative option that included truth and holiness.
The Gentiles could received the standard of truth and holiness from Judaism, but did not embrace the temple and
Paul’s message included faith in Christ, deliverance from the corrupt world system and Jewish ethics.
Paul’s message brought salvation to the Gentiles, but at the same time unraveled the core of Judaism (the law, temple and sacrifices.)
The people who heard Paul’s message in
this case where the citizens of southern
Paul’s Use of Roman Roads
Paul sailed to Perga
He then took the highway to Pisidian Antioch.
intention appears to be to take the road into
If he had
planned to go through
But, instead of
going on into
The Roman road system was quite
remarkable in its extent - from throughout
Some of the most famous Roman
Roads right in Italy were the 160 mile (260 kilometers) Via Appia,
or Appian Way, which ran southeast from Rome down
through Tarentum, then straight to the Adriatic coast; the Via Aurelia, running
northwest up to Genoa; the Via Flaminia, that ran
northeast to the Adriatic; the Via Aemilia, that
crossed the Rubicon; the Via Valeria, eastward from Rome; the Via Latina, that
ran southeast. With
The Roman Roads were also noted for the high quality of their construction. Most were straight, solid-surfaced, and cambered for drainage just as modern highways are today. Along with natural stone, they often used a form of concrete made from volcanic ash and lime.
The Roman Roads also served Christianity. Although the early Christians often suffered tremendous persecution from the Romans, the Roman Roads permitted the apostles and many of God's people (particularly those who held Roman citizenship) to travel much more easily, while protected by patrolling Roman troops from detachments who were stationed along the way.
The field engineer, assisted by a stake man aligned the road with a groma and ran levels with chorobates. A plow was used to loosen the soil and mark the trench (fossa) margins. Workmen dug trenches for a roadbed with a depth of 6 to 9 feet, carrying away the dirt in baskets.
The earthen bed was tamped firm. The foundation of lime mortar or sand was laid to form a level base (pavimentum). Next came stones of about 4 to 5 in. in diameter, cemented together with mortar or clay (statument). This layer could be anywhere from 10 inches to 2 feet deep.
The next course (rudus) was 9 to 12 inches of concrete filled with shards of pottery or stone. Atop this layer was the nucleus, a concrete made of gravel or sand and lime, poured in layers with each layer compacted with a roller. This layer was one foot at the sides and 18 inc. at the crown of the road. The curvature was to allow good drainage to the finished road.
The top course was the summum dorsum, polygonal blocks of stone that were 6 inches or more thick and carefully fitted atop the still moist concrete. When a road bed became overly worn, this top course was removed, the stones turned over and replaced. A road was 9 to 12 feet wide which allowed 2 chariots to pass in each direction . Sometimes the road was edged with a high stone walkway. Milemarkers indicated the distance. A cart, fitted with a hodometer was used to measure distances. Later maps detailed routes, miles towns, inns, mountains and rivers. The first roads were quite straight going over hills rather than around them.
30 AD Cross
33 Stephen Martyred
35 Paul Saved
44 James Martyred
47 Paul’s First Missionary Journey
50 Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
52 Paul writes Galatians
2) Prayer by synagogue leader
3) Reading of the Law and prophets
4) Sermon member of the congregation
5) Closing Blessing
Paul’s Three Missionary Sermons in Acts
In Lystra 114:15-17
13:17-20 Four points concerning the Jewish faith:
1) God is God of Israel
2) God choose
3) Egyptian Redemption
4) God gave them an Inheritance
13:27-31 Four points of the Christian faith:
1) Jesus was crucified
2) Jesus was laid in a tomb
3) God raised Jesus from the dead
4) Witnesses saw him alive
Paul Three OT Verses to Justify the Faith
Psalm 2:7 To teach the resurrection. “Become” is the Greek word “Gennao” and is also used in John 1:13 and John 3:5. It speaks of a new relationship.
Isaiah 55:3 It had been promised to David that his “son” would be resurrected in the next verse Paul uses, Psalm 16:10. The connection is the word “holy”. First, “I will give you the HOLY and sure blessings. . .” and “You will not let your HOLY ONE see decay.” The exploitation of a common term to unravel its meaning was a common practice among rabbis. Paul had been trained by the rabbis.
Habakkuk 1:5 The prophets warned that when these verses were fulfilled there would be Jews who would reject it.
“Scoffers” in the Greek means “one who despises; one who thinks down on another.” In this case it is the word of God and the Holy Spirit being “scoffed at.”
“Wonder” means to be amazed.
“Perish” means to be destroyed so as to vanish and disappear.
“Told you” means
First Stop in
During Paul’s first missionary
trip from the great
The first week in the synagogue Paul preached about Christ by using Old Testament scriptures. (Acts 13:16-41)
One week later the whole city of
Reason For Jewish Resistance
Jealousy—Paul had gathered a huge crowd in the Jewish synagogue from the Gentile city.
Gentile Crowds—Paul was not telling the Gentiles to become Jewish proselytes. Paul was not converting people to a religious system
Gospel Message—They were against what Paul was saying (13:45)
Even today people resist the work of God because:
1– they are jealous
2– the converts are being led to God, and not led to people
3– people resist the gospel message
Acts 13:45 The Jews responded by “talking abusively”. This is two Greek words. The first means “to speak against, to contradict”. The second means to “blaspheme, to slander, to defame”. Those that oppose God’s message first begin with verbal abuse:
1) Contradict what God’s witnesses say
2) Blaspheme God himself
Acts 13:46 Paul and Barnabus answered “Boldly”. This word suggests that their response was filled with abnormal eloquence and emotion.
Paul and Barnabus
said, “We had to speak. . .” which means it was “urgently necessary,
compelling, and a pressing need.” It was
necessary to speak to the Jews first since it is a God ordained purpose for
“do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life” is an interesting phrase in 13:46. The phrase eternal life would have been understood by the Jews as a reference to the very thing they had been waiting for over the centuries. It is a reference to the Hebrew phrase “The Life of the Age to Come.” It is the resurrection life.
Notice, the gospel was offered to them but they decided to reject it. The gospel forces the individual to decide. The Bible shows many examples of where the individual is responsible for their decision towards the gospel and towards God. Several points to consider:
God’s judgment on man demands that man is responsible for his decisions.
Ezekiel 18:4 “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” The people of Ezekiel’s day had developed several theological arguments to release them from their own spiritual responsibility. Ezekiel had to teach them They were saying things like, “The way of the Lord is not just” (Ez.18:25) because God’s judgment was random, pointless and had nothing to do with the peoples own hearts.
Luke 8:15— “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Notice it was the same seed that fell on the road, the rocks, the weeds and the different kinds of soil. God sent the Word, but the individual decided.
Hebrews 6:7-10— “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. IN the end it will be burned. . . God is not unjust.” Notice you can say the rain (or, God) produced the thorns and thistles, but that same rain (God) also produced a crop. The variable in this example was the seed that was in the soil. The rain (God) simply made it produce what was already there.
Hebrews 4:12 says the word of God is a “double-edged sword.” The same sword can defend you or it can kill you.
There is much to consider here but our point is there is no room for hiding behind a false wall of spiritual irresponsibility. We are all responsible to how we respond to God’s word. How we respond simply shows our hearts and our attitudes. The Word of God “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Paul and Barnabus said to the Jews in Pisidain Antioch “Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
13:14—Paul and Barnabus now take a passage of scripture intended for the Jews and personalize it for themselves: “I have made you (singular in the Greek and not plural) a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
We to should personalize the appropriate scriptures for ourselves. Today you are the light for the Gentiles. Today you are bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. Today it is up to you to either do the work or the Lord or not.
13:48 Gentiles were “glad”. They began to rejoice Gentiles honored the “word of the Lord”. “Honored” comes from a word that comes from “doxozw” (glory or glorify) and means to glorify and to praise. The Jews had blasphemed the word of the Lord.
“All who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
is the word “tetagmenoi”.
It is the perfect passive participle of “tassw” which means “to put in place, to appoint, to arrange, to
assign.” It may have the sense of having been
“enrolled” or “inscribed” in a book
ahead of time. The perfect tense of
the verb indicates a past event that is now completed or accomplished has a
continuing effect or consequence in the present. The passive voice expresses that the
subject receives the action of the verb.
The subject (here, the
believers) do not cause the action of the verb.
Generally speaking, the Jews in
Book of Life
“Another book was opened, which is the book of life. . .If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12,15
Exodus 32:33- “ ‘Please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.’ The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.’ ”
Psalm 69:28 “May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.”
Isaiah 4:2, 3 “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the
fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in
Daniel 12:1- “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.”
Luke 10:20— “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Philippians 4:3— “I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names re in the book of life.”
Revelation 3:5 - “He who overcomes will like them be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”
Revelation 13:8— “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”
Revelation 17:8— “The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, . . .”
Revelation 21:27— “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Review of Book of Life:
Ex.32— blot out a name among names already there
Ps 69—blotting out a mane already written; names left are righteous
Isaiah 4—book records those who are left to live in
Dan.12:1—People in book will be delivered in the end
Luke 10—disciples’ names are in the book
Phil 4— Paul’s fellow workers re in the book
Rev. 3:5— Overcomers are never blotted out
Rev. 13:8—Names not in the book worship the beast
Rev. 17:8—Names not written in the book from creation of world
Rev.21:27— Names in the book enter the city. Names of shameful and deceitful are not in the book.
The Book of Life may be a book of all the living, or those born into the world. Those who do not trust in Christ are blotted out.
Even in the book names are eliminated based on what they did in life.
Parts of the Book of Galatians
Chapters 1 and 2 Paul’s personal story used to defend his apostleship and so defend his message
Chapters 3 and 4 Doctrinal attack on Judie's and their false message
Chapters 5 and 6 Emphasizing the ministry (work) or the Holy Spirit in contrast to work of the flesh.
Reason for Writing the Book
The Galatians do not appear to have written a letter to Paul (for he does not answer it in his letter.)
Paul does not appear to hear rumors or personal reports (for he does not question the truthfulness.)
Paul has not recently been in
Most likely Paul was approached in
Taking the Good and the Bad (Acts 13:49-52)
13:49 “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.”
13:50 “The Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas. . .”
Just like in physics there is always an equal and opposite reaction. It always seems that about the time someone believes and accepts the gospel there is someone who is blaspheming and rejecting the gospel.
The conflict is not between Paul and the people. The issue is between the people and the God’s message. Some receive it and spread it. Others reject it and try to stop it. It is always this way.
The angel told Daniel: “None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” (Daniel 12:10)
“God fearing women of high standing” would have been the gentile women who had been involved in the synagogues. They were of high standing and most likely married to the leading men of the city. These women where used by the unbelieving Jews to take a bad (and a false) report back to their husbands concerning Paul and Barnabus. The husbands, or leading men of the city, would not have been directly involved with the synagogues themselves but where able to make judicial rulings concerning Paul and Barnabus’ right to preach a “new” religion.
Once the Jews rejected Paul and Barnabus the Christian message lost its legal status as an accepted religion (religiio lacita). Paul and Barnabus and their Christian message where quickly made illegal by the authorities.
This persecution was not physical but legal. It had began with verbal persecution. The word of God and those who embrace it will go through a similar sequence of persecution.
First . . . . . . . . . Verbal Persecution
Second. . . . . . . Legal Persecution
Third. . . . . . . . . Physical Persecution
Through out the 1900’s Christianity became increasingly criticized by groups within our culture. Beginning in the 1960’s we saw Christianity attacked in the courts. Anti-Christian opinions have now become law and are being enforced in our country. As Christian “rights” decrease and laws opposing the faith increase we will soon find ourselves persecuted in the physical realm. Already, Christian symbols are illegal in public places. Do you think it will get better in our culture? Can we turn the tide of our culture? Will things continue to deteriorate? Is our mission like Paul’s to convince as people to accept the gospel?
Paul and Barnabus’s reaction
13:51 1) Shook the dust from their feet in protest.
A) A Jewish gesture of scorn and disassociation.
B) Jesus told them to do this in Luke 9:5; 10:11:
“If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”
C) It was customary for Jews to do this to a pagan town when they left. It was a symbol of separating themselves from the sin of those who do not worship God. For a Jew to do this to another Jew as Paul did here was the same thing as regarding them as pagan Gentiles. Paul was saying to these Jews in Antioch Pisidia that they were now left behind with out God and where now just like the unbelieveing Gentiles of the Old Testament.
13:52 2) The disciple s were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit
A) It was clear the message had been communicated because of the reaction.
B) Many Gentiles and Jews had become believers
C) These same believers had already taken the message and began to spread it to the whole region.
Paul Goes to Iconium (Acts 14:1-7)
The city was connected by a roadway to Pisidian Antioch some eighty miles to the northwest and had good lines of trade and communication. It was a Greek minded community with a significant but not dominant Jewish community. As a more democratic and Greek metropolis, resistance against Paul and Barnabas was not swift and decisive as in places with dominant leadership structures. In this city some of this community stirred up mobs against Paul’s message, but Paul was evidently able to manage the unrest for a period. The team remained in place, and saw considerable success in their preaching. After a spell of success, another mob began to stir. Unlike Pisidian Antioch, where the aristocrats expelled Paul and his companion, the mob of the Hellenes was stirred and eventually threatened to stone them. Barnabas and Paul fled the city south to Lystra and Derbe.
14:1—They went to the Jewish synagogue.
14:2—A great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.
Notice: Paul did not quit. He realized the mark of success. People had heard the gospel and made a choice. So they continued. Many would consider their time in Antioch Pisidia to have been a failure.
14:2— “Jews refused to believe. . .” or literally, “The disobeying Jews. . .” Here we see the opposite of believing the gospel is to disobey it. Unbelief is disobedience to the truth.
A) Romans 1:18, “. . .men who suppress the truth by their wickedness . . .For although they knew god, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him. . . Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. . .”
B) Psalm 53:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
“stirred up the Gentiles” “stirred up” also means to excite. The Jews where making accusations that would draw the Gentiles in on the debate and side them against the apostles.
“Poisoned their minds against their brothers” (This staged the believing Gentiles against the unbelieving Gentiles) “Poisoned” means “to make evil, to injure, to irritate.”
The Jews who where disobedient to the gospel would certainly lie about and fabricate stories about Paul and Barnabus and their message and their purpose. The unbelieving (disobeying Gentiles) had no trouble believing or accepting the lies as the truth.
What was Paul’s response to the problem of having the messge under attack?
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord. . .”
As the false accusation and poison increased Paul and Barnabas spent more time there and boldly spoke the truth. In the Greek, “for the Lord” is “epi to kuriw” or “upon the Lord” indicating “upon the basis of the Lord” or “in reliance upon the Lord.” They not only were speaking the word of the Lord but where doing it because:
1) of who the Lord was,
2) what the Lord had assigned them to do,
3) and relying on him to support his message.
There is power in the truth of the word of God. The power is not in the messenger. God sends for his word.
the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without
watering the earth and making it bud and flourish.
. .so is my
word that goes out form my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11
What was the Lord’s response?
“. . .the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.”
First, notice that the message the Lord confirmed with signs and wonders was “the message of his grace.”
“Wonder” The purpose of a wonder is to produce astonishment in the person who sees it. The word “wonder” is never used by itself in the scripture. A wonder without a purpose would simply amaze people as if it were a form of entertainment. A “wonder” occurs to get attention and point you to something bigger. If there is nothing more than an amazing event that causes people to “wonder” then the scriptural purpose is not met. The word “wonder” occurs only in connection with words like “sign.”
“Sign” which serves as an indication of the presence and working of God. The main purpose of a sign is that they are a pledge of something beyond themselves. They say that the doer or the message that the sign accompanies is in direct connection with a higher world. A sign confirms the message.Example: The angels message to the shepherds was given with a sign to confirm what they were saying was true. The shepherds would find a baby in a manger, or when the shepherds found a new born baby laying in the feeding trough in a barn then they knew the words were true and that they had the right baby.
“The things (credentials) that mark an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance.” Paul writing to the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 12:12
Points concerning signs and wonders:
1) There is no reason why God can not and will not use signs and wonders today in the appropriate situations. Signs and wonders are found from the beginning of time to the end of time and from Genesis to Revelation. To say that they do not happen today is the result of theological arrogance of secular man.
2) There is no guarantee that God has to or will use a sign or wonder at any time. That is part of what makes it a “sign” and a “wonder.” The sun coming up in the morning is a demonstration of the power of God, but it is not considered a sign or a wonder. To believe that God is obligated to perform signs and wonders is presumption and sloppy theology.
3) There are times where God will not use signs and wonders because the people already have ample reason to believe. A sign or a wonder would be worthless in helping advance the purpose of God. Example:
“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ ‘He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” Luke 16:30-31
4) The power is always in the word of God and never in the sign or wonder. The purpose of the sign and wonder is always the word of God. Once you have accepted or rejected the word of God the need for a sign no longer exists.
14:4 “The people of the city were divided: some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.” Jesus had said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Mat. 10:34
14:5 The verbal persecution had become legal persecution and now it reaches an attempt at physical persecution.
Paul and Barnabus move onto Lystra and Derbe
14:8—Paul saw an man had “faith”. This means the man was receptive to the gospel message. His “faith” was not in the message of healing, but in the message of salvation. Jesus nor the apostles “preached healing.” They preached salvation through Jesus Christ. Salvation can be manifest in the physical body by the power of the Spirit. Hebrews 6:5 calls it “the powers of the coming age.” In the coming age all will be healed.
14:11—The local people shouted in their local language and Paul did not understand until they saw the local worshippers from the local temple to Zeus coming to sacrifice to them.
14:15—Paul’s message was not a
scriptural message for the Jews, but an apologetic message for the heathen. This is similar to his message in
14:19—Paul is apparently killed and refers to this in 2 Corinthians12.
Events Between The First Visit (47 AD) & The Letter (52 AD)
Peter is Misled Gal. 2:11
Paul Goes Through
Paul Meets Timothy in Lystra Acts 16:1-3
Paul Moves Through
Paul Goes to
Paul Goes to Thessalonica Acts 17:1
Paul Goes to
-Paul Starts a church
-Paul Writes 1 & 2 Thesalonians
Paul Leaves for
Paul Stops in
-Here he receives a report concerning the Galatians and writes back a letter.
Paul goes onto
Paul returns to the Antioch Church Acts 18:22
Blood sacrifice is not salvation.
Abel was saved by faith. (Gen. 4)
Cain replaced it with his own merit and good works.
History is filled with people of:
1) Faith . . . . Saved by faith in Christ (Messiah)
2) Rituals without Reality. . .Symbolic teaching methods that have lost their meaning. Could be Jewish sacrifices, communion, etc)
3) Human Merit . . .Trusting in personal works to achieve God’s standard of holiness (which is perfection)
The Israelites used sacrifices as:
1) An expression of their faith
2) Some simply went through a ritual with no faith to receive the grace of salvation. They believed they were saved by the institution of ritual.
3) Many developed a system of rules for the Law to produce salvation by works.
The Galatians were inspired by Judiazers to earn their salvation. The Letter to the Hebrews was an attack on those who were attempting
to achieve salvation by observation of the ritual of the
Ritual without reality is false doctrine aimed at the Jew
Human merit is false doctrine aimed at the Gentile.
Judaizers in Philippians 3:2-6:
“Dogs” - is a Greek word of reproach among Jews / Gentiles
“Evil Doers” - they did evil by coming against the gospel
“Mutilators of Flesh” - is the same word used in the LXX Septuagint) to refer to pagan religions inflicting cuts, etc. in their bodies.
Believers are said to worship in the Spirit.
Judaizers worship in the Flesh.
Judaizers depend on these elements for divine acceptance:
1) Circumcision - This was a marking that showed a person was a member of the Chosen People of Israel. This rite never had anything to do with personal salvation. Judaizers made it a prerequisite for salvation. Acts 15:1
2) Of the stock of
3) Ecclesiastical position in the religious system Example: Paul was a Pharisee
4) Observance of the Law They believed they were made righteous by obeying the Law. Romans 9:30-33; 3:21; 10:5; Philippians 3:9
Paul says in Philippians 3:4-7 that he has every one of these advantages if he would teach Judaism. But, Paul willing through away all these religious advantages (which really mean nothing before God) and replaced them with faith in the Christ.
Salvation is not by works Romans 4:1-8
Salvation is not by ordinances (circum) Romans 4:9-12
Salvation is not by the Law Romans 4:13-25
Two Groups of Jews:
1) The Judaizers
preached Jesus of
2) Other Jews persecuted the church.
* Neither of these where
members of the true
Paul was opposed by the Judiazers because:
Paul was not one of the original 12 disciples/apostles
Paul had not heard Jesus’ voice during earthly ministry
Paul had not seen Jesus during his earthly ministry
Paul had not attended Christ’s ministry
Paul had not been “sent out” by Christ like the others
Paul had not received his gospel by revelation
Reason for writing the Book of Galatians
The Galatians do not appear to have written a letter to Paul for he does not answer it in his letter.
Paul does not appear to hear rumors or personal reports for he does not question the truthfulness.
Paul has not recently been in
Most likely Paul was approached in