The Epistle to the Galatians is one of the books of the New Testament. It was written by Saint Paul in answer to opponents who were trying to convince the Galatian Christians that circumcision was necessary for salvation. The letter, written about AD 54 - 55, is the fourth epistle in the collection of Pauline letters in the Bible.
The Galatians lived in north central Anatolia. Their faith evidently had been disturbed by the insistence of some Jewish Christians on close ties to Judaism even for gentile converts to Christianity. Paul replied by developing the theme of the efficacy of salvation in Jesus Christ. In the first two chapters, he defends his apostleship and authority. He then presents arguments from Scripture for the primacy of faith in Jesus as alone essential for salvation (chapters 3 - 4) and continues with an exhortation to true Christian life and freedom (chapters 5 - 6). This epistle and the Epistle to the Romans served as prime sources for the Reformation teaching on justification by faith.
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J Bligh, Galatians (1969); J D Dunn, Jesus, Paul, and the Law (1990).
The genuineness of this epistle is not called in question. Its Pauline origin is universally acknowledged. Occasion of. The churches of Galatia were founded by Paul himself (Acts 16:6; Gal. 1:8; 4:13, 19). They seem to have been composed mainly of converts from heathenism (4:8), but partly also of Jewish converts, who probably, under the influence of Judaizing teachers, sought to incorporate the rites of Judaism with Christianity, and by their active zeal had succeeded in inducing the majority of the churches to adopt their views (1:6; 3:1). This epistle was written for the purpose of counteracting this Judaizing tendency, and of recalling the Galatians to the simplicity of the gospel, and at the same time also of vindicating Paul's claim to be a divinely-commissioned apostle.
Time and place of writing. The epistle was probably written very soon after Paul's second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). The references of the epistle appear to agree with this conclusion. The visit to Jerusalem, mentioned in Gal. 2:1-10, was identical with that of Acts 15, and it is spoken of as a thing of the past, and consequently the epistle was written subsequently to the council of Jerusalem. The similarity between this epistle and that to the Romans has led to the conclusion that they were both written at the same time, namely, in the winter of A.D. 57-8, during Paul's stay in Corinth (Acts 20:2, 3).
This to the Galatians is written on the urgency of the occasion, tidings having reached him of the state of matters; and that to the Romans in a more deliberate and systematic way, in exposition of the same great doctrines of the gospel. Contents of. The great question discussed is, Was the Jewish law binding on Christians? The epistle is designed to prove against the Jews that men are justified by faith without the works of the law of Moses. After an introductory address (Gal. 1:1-10) the apostle discusses the subjects which had occasioned the epistle. (1) He defends his apostolic authority (1:11-19; 2:1-14); (2) shows the evil influence of the Judaizers in destroying the very essence of the gospel (3 and 4); (3) exhorts the Galatian believers to stand fast in the faith as it is in Jesus, and to abound in the fruits of the Spirit, and in a right use of their Christian freedom (5-6:1-10); (4) and then concludes with a summary of the topics discussed, and with the benediction.
The Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans taken together "form a complete proof that justification is not to be obtained meritoriously either by works of morality or by rites and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those who receive it by faith in Jesus our Lord." In the conclusion of the epistle (6:11) Paul says, "Ye see how large a letter I have written with mine own hand." It is implied that this was different from his ordinary usage, which was simply to write the concluding salutation with his own hand, indicating that the rest of the epistle was written by another hand.
Regarding this conclusion, Lightfoot, in his Commentary on the epistle, says: "At this point the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries......In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul." (See Justification.)
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
In the course of centuries, gallic tribes, related to those that invaded Italy and sacked Rome, wandered east through Illyricum and Pannonia. At length they penetrated through Macedonia (279 B.C.), and assembled in great numbers under a prince entitled Brennus, for the purpose of invading Greece and plundering the rich temple of Delphi. The leaders disagreed and the host soon divided, one portion, under Brennus, marching south on Delphi: the other division, under Leonorius and Luterius, turned eastward and overran Thrace, the country round Byzantium. Shortly afterwards they were joined by the small remnants of the army of Brennus, who was repulsed by the Greeks, and killed himself in despair. In 278 B.C., 20,000 Gauls, under Leonorius, Luterius, and fifteen other chieftains, crossed over to Asia Minor, in two divisions. On reuniting they assisted Nicomedes I, King of Bithynia, to defeat his younger brother; and as a reward for their services he gave them a large tract of country, in the heart of Asia Minor, henceforward to be known as Galatia.
The Galatians consisted of three tribes:
the Tolistboboii, on the west, with Pessinus as their chief town;
the Tectosages, in the centre, with their capital Ancyra; and
the Trocmi, on the east, round their chief town Tavium.
Each tribal territory was divided into four cantons or tetrarchies. Each of the twelve tetrarchs had under him a judge and a general. A council of the nation consisting of the tetararchs and three hundred senators was periodically held at a place called Drynemeton, twenty miles southwest of Ancyra.
That these people were Gauls (and not Germans as has sometimes been suggested) is proved by the testimony of Greek and Latin writers, by their retention of the Gallic language till the fifth century, and by their personal and place names. A tribe in the west of Gaul in the time of Caesar (Bell. Gall., VI, xxiv) was called Tectosages. In Tolistoboii we have the root of the word Toulouse, and in Boii the well known Gallic tribe. Brennus probably meant prince; and Strabo says he was called Prausus, which in Celtic means terrible. Luterius is the same as the Celtic Lucterius, and there was a British saint called Leonorius. Other names of chieftains are of undoubted Gallic origin, e.g. Belgius, Achichorius, Gaezatio-Diastus. Brogoris (same root as Brogitarus, Allobroges), Bitovitus, Eposognatus (compare Caesar's Boduognatus, etc.), Combolomarus (Caesar has Virdomarus, Indutionmarus), Adiorix, Albiorix, Ateporix (like Caresar's Dumnorix, ambbiorix, Vercingetorix), Brogitarus, Deiotarus, etc. Place names are of a similar character, e.g. Drynemeton, the "temple of the oaks" or The Temple, from nemed, "temple" (compare Augustonemetum in Auvergene, and Vernemeton, "the great temple", near Bordeaux), Eccobriga, Rosologiacum, Teutobodiacum, etc. (For a detailed discussion of the question see Lightfoot's "Galatians", dissertation i, 4th ed., London, 1874, 235.)
As soon as these Gauls, or Galatians, had gained a firm footing in the country assigned to them, they began to send out marauding expeditions in all directions. They became the terror of their neighbours, and levied contributions on the whole of Asia Minor west of the Taurus. They fought with varying success against Antiochus, King of Syria, who was called Soter from his having saved his country from them. At length Attlaus I, King of Pergamun, a friend of the Romans, drove them back and confined them to Galatia about 235-232 B.C. After this many of them became mercenary soldiers; and in the great battle of Magnesia, 180 B.C., a body of such Galatian troops fought against the Romans, on the side of Antiochus the Great, King of Syria. He was utterly defeated by the Romans, under Scipio Asiaticus, and lost 50,000 of his men. Next year the Consul Manlius entered Galatia, and defeated the Galatians in two battles graphically described by Livy, XXXVIII, xvi. These events are referred to in I Mach., viii. On account of ill-treatment received at the hands of Mithradates I King of Pontus, the Galatians took the side of Pompey in the Mitradatic wars (64 B.C.). As a reward for their services, Deiotarus, their chief tetrarch, received the title of king, and his dominions were greatly extended. Henceword the Galatians were under the protection of the Romans, and were involved in all the troubles of the civil wars that followed. They supported Pompey against Julius Caesar at the battle of Pharsalia (48 B.C.). Amyntas, their last king was set up by Mark Antony, 39 B.C. His kingdom finally included not only Galatia Proper but also the great plains to the south, together with parts of Lyesonia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Phrygia, i.e. the country containing the towns Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Amyntas went to Actium, 31 B.C., to support Mark Antony; but like many others he went over, at the critical moment, to the side of Octavianus, afterwards called Augustus. Augustus confirmed him in his kingdom, which he retained until he was slain in ambush, 25 B.C. After the death of Amyntas, Augustus made this kingdom into the Roman province of Galatia, so that this province had ben in existence more than 75 years when St. Paul wrote to the Galatians.
THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH GALATIAN THEORIES
St. Paul addresses his letter to the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:2) and calls them Galatians (Galatians 3:1); and in I Cor., vi, 1, he speaks of the collections which he ordered to be made in the churches of Galatia. But there are two theories as to the meaning of these terms. It is the opinion of Lipsius, Lightfoot, Davidson, Chase, Findlay, etc., that the Epistle was addressed to the people of Galatia Proper, situated in the centre of Asia Minor, towards the north (North Galatian Theory).
Others, such as Renan, Perrot, Weizsacker, Hausrath, Zahn, Pfleiderer, Gifford, Rendell, Holtzmann, Clemen, Ramsay, Cornely, Page, Knowling, etc., hold that it was addressed to the southern portion of the Roman province of Galatia, containing Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, which were visited by Saints Paul and Barnabas, during their first missionary journey (South Galatian Theory).
Lightfoot was the chief upholder of the North-Galatian theory; but a great deal has become known about the geography of Asia Minor since he wrote in the eighteenth century, and the South-Galatian Theory has proportionately gained ground. A German Catholic professor, Stinmann (Der Liserkreis des Galaterbriefes), has, however, recently (1908) given Lightfoot his strong support, though it must be admitted that he has done little more than emphasize and expand the arguments of Chase. The great coryphaeus of the South-Galatian theory is Prof. Sire W.M. Ramsay. The following is a brief summary of the principal arguments on both sides.
(1) The fact that the Galatians were being changed so soon to another gospel is taken by Lightfoot as evidence of the characteristic fickleness of the Gauls. Ramsay replies that tenacity in matters of religion has ever been characteristic of the Celts. Besides, it is precarious to argue from the political mobility of the Gauls, in the time of Caesar, to the religious inconsistency of Galatians, whose ancestors left the West four hundred years before. The Galatians received St. Paul as an angel from heaven (Galatians 4:14). Lightfoot sees in this enthusiastic reception proof of Celtic fickleness of character. In the same way it may be proved that the 5000 converted by St. Peter at Jerusalem, and, in fact, that, nearly all the converts of St. Paul were Celts. Acts (xiii-xiv) gives sufficient indications of fickleness in South Galatia. To take but one instance: at Lystra the multitude could scarcely be restrained from sacrificing to St. Paul; shortly afterwards they stoned him and left him for dead.
(2) St. Paul warns the Galatians not to abuse their liberty from the obligations of the Law of Moses, by following the works of the flesh. He then gives a long catalogue of vices. From this Lightfoot selects two (methai, komoi) as evidently pointing to Celtic failings. Against this it may be urged that St. Paul, writing to the Romans (xiii, 13), exhorts them to avoid these two very vices. St. Paul, in giving such an enumeratio here and elsewhere, evidently does not intend to paint the peculiar failings of any race, but simply to reprobate the works of the flesh, of the carnal or lower man; "they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21).
(3) Witchcraft is also mentioned in this list. The extravagant devotion of Deiotarus, says Lightfoot, "fully bears out the character ascribed to the parent race." But the Emperor Tiberius and many officials in the empire were ardent devotees of augury. Sorcery is coupled by St. Paul with idolatry, and it was its habitual ally not only amongst the Gauls but throughout the pagan world.
(4) Lightfoot says that the Galatians were drawn to Jewish observances; and he takes this as evidence of the innate Celtic propensity to external ceremonial, "appealing rather to the senses and passions than the heart and mind." This so-called racial characteristic may be questioned, and it is a well-known fact that the whole of the aboriginal inhabitants of Asia Minor were given over heart and soul to gross pagan cermonial. We do not gather from the Epistle that the Galatians were naturally attracted to Jewish ceremonies. They were only puzzled or rather dazed (iii, 1) by the specious arguments of the Judaizers, who endeavoured to persuade them that they were not as perfect Christians as if they adopted circumcision and the Law of Moses.
(5) On the South-Galatian theory it is supposed that the Epistle was written soon after St. Paul's second visit to Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, etc. (Acts 16). Lightfoot makes use of a strong argument against this early date. He shows, by a detailed examination, that the Epistle bears a close resemblance, both in argument and language, to parts of the Epistle to the Romans. This he thinks can be accounted for only on the supposition that both were written about the same time, and, therefore, several years later than the date required for the South-Galatian view. To this date required for the South-Galatian view. To this Rendell (Expositor's Greek Test., London, 1903.p. 144) replies that the coincidence is not due to any similarity in the circumstances of the two communities. "Still less can the identity of language be fairly urged to prove an approximation of the two epistles. For these fundamental truths formed without doubt the staple of the Apostle's teaching throughout the years of continuous transition from Jewish to Christian doctrine, and his language in regard to them could not fail to become in some measure stereotyped."
(6) The controversy has raged most fiercely round the two verses in Acts, xvi, 6 and xviii, 23, the only places where there is any reference to Galatia in Acts:
"And they went through the Phrygian and Galatian region" (ten phrygian kai Galatiken choran);
"he departed and went through the Galatian region and Phrygia" (or "Phrygian") (ten Galatiken choran kai phyrgian).
Lightfoot held that Galatia Proper was meant in the second. Other supporters of the North-Galatian theory think that the countries of North Galatia and Phrygia are meant in both cases. Their opponents, relying on the expression of contemporary writers, maintain that South Galatia was intended in both places. The former also interpret the second part of xvi, 6 (Greek text) as meaning that the travellers went through Phrygia and Galatia after they had passed through South Galatia, because they were forbidden to preach in Asia. Ramsey, on the other hand, maintains that after they had passed through the portion of Phrygia which had been added to the southern part of the province of Galatia (and which could be called indifferently Galatian or Phrygian) they passed to the north because they were forbidden to preach in Asia. He holds that the order of the verbs in the passage is in the order of time, and he gives examples of similar use of the aorist participle (St. Paul The Traveller, London, 1900, pp. ix, 211, 212).
The arguments on both sides are too technical to be given in a short article. The reader may be referred to the following: North-Galatian: Chase, "Expositor", Dec. 1893. p.401, May, 1894, p.331; Steinmann, "Der Leserkreis des Galaterbriefes" (Münster, 1908), p. 191. On the South-Galatian side: Ramsey, "Expositor", Jan., 1894, p. 42, Feb., p. 137, Apr., p. 288, "St. Paul The Traveller", etc; Knowling, "Acts of the Apostles", Additional note to ch. xviii (Expositor's Greek Test., London, 1900, p. 399); Gifford, "Expositor", July, 1894, p. I.
(7) The Galatian churches were evidently important ones. On the North-Galatian theory, St. Luke dismissed their conversion in a single sentence: "They went through the Phrygian and Galatian region" (Acts 16:6). This is strange, as his plan throughout is to give an account of the establishment of Christianity by St. Paul in each new region. Lightfoot fully admits the force of this, but tries to evade it by asking the question: "Can it be that the historian gladly drew a veil over the infancy of a church which swerved so soon and so widely from the purity of the Gospel?" But the subsequent failings of the Corinthians did not prevent St. Luke from giving an account of their conversion. Besides, the Galatians had not swerved so widely from the purity of the Gospel. The arguments of the judaizers made some of them waver, but they had not accepted circumcision; and this Epistle confirmed them in the Faith, so that a few years later St. Paul writes of them to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:1): "Now concerning the collections that are made for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye also." It was long after the time that St. Paul could thus confidently command the Galatians that Acts was written.
(8) St. Paul makes no mention of this collection in our Epistle. According to the North-Galatian theory, the Epistle was written several years before the collection was made. In Acts 20:4, etc., a list is given of those who carried the collections to Jerusalem. There are representatives from South Galatia, Achaia, Macedonia, and Asia; but there is no deputy from North Galatia -- from the towns of Jerusalem on occasion, the majority probably meeting at Corinth, St. Paul, St. Luke, and Sopater of Berea (probably representing Philippi and Achaia; see 2 Corinthians 8:18-22); Aristarchus and Secundus of Macedonia; Gaius of Derbe, and Timothyof Lystra (S. Galatia); and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. There is not a word about anybody from North Galatia, the most probable reason being that St. Paul had never been there (see Rendall, Expositor, 1893, vol. II, p.321).
(9) St. Paul, the Roman citizen, invariably employs the names of the roman provincces, such as Achaia, Macedonia, Asia; and it is not probable that he departed from this practice in his use of "Galatia". The people of South Galatia could with propriety be styled Galatians. Two of the towns, Antioch and Lystra, were Roman colonies; and the other two boasted of the Roman names, Claudio-Iconium, and Claudio-Derbe. "Galatians" was an honourable title when applied to them; but they would be insulted if they were called Phrygians or Lycaonians. All admit that St. Peter named the Roman provinces when he wrote "to the elect strangers dispersed throught Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1).
(10) The manner in which St. Paul mentions St. Barnabas in the Epistle indicates that the latter was known to those for whom the Epistle was primarily intended. St. Barnabas had visited South Galatia with St. Paul (Acts 13:14), but he was unknown in North Galatia.
(11) St. Paul states (ii, 5) that the reason for his course of action at Jerusalem was that the truth of the gospel might continue with the Galatians. This seems to imply that they were already converted. He had visited the southern part of the Galatian province before the council, but not northern. The view favoured above receives confirmation from a consideration, as appended, of the persons addressed.
THE KIND OF PEOPLE ADDRESSED
The country of South Galatia answers the conditions of the Epistle admirably; but this cannot be said of North Galatia. From the Epistle we gather that the majority were Gentile converts, that many were probably Jewish proselytes from their acquaintance with the Old Testament, that Jews who persecuted them from the first were living amongst them; that St. Paul had visited them twice, and that the few Judaziers appeared amongst them only after his last visit. We know from Acts, iii, xiv (and early history), that Jews were settled in South Galatia. During the first missionary journey unbelieving Jews made their presence felt everywhere. As soon as Paul and Barnabas returned to Syrian Antioch, some Jewish converts came from Judea and taught that the circumcision was necessary for them, and went up to the council, where it was decreed that circumcision and the Law of Moses were not necessary for the Gentiles; but nothing was determined as to the attitude of Jewish converts regarding them, following the example of St. James, though it was implied in the decree that they were matters of indifference. This was shown, soon after, by St. Peter's eating with the Gentiles. On his withdrawing from them, and when many others followed his example, St. Paul publicly vindicated the equality of the Gentile Christians. The majority agreed; but there must have been "false brethren" amongst them (Galatians 2:4) who were Christians only in name, and who hated St. Paul. Some of these, in all probability, followed him to South Galatia, soon after his second visit. But they could no longer teach the necessity of circumcision, as the Apostolic decrees had been already delivered there by St. Paul (Acts 16:4). These decrees are not mentioned in the Epistle by the Judaizers, the advisability of the Galatians accepting circumcision and the Law of Moses, for their greater perfection. On the other hand, there is no evidence that there were any Jews settled at this time in North Galatia (see Ramsay, "St. Paul The Traveller"). It was not the kind of country to attract them. The Gauls were a dominant class, living in castles, and leading a half pastoral, half nomadic life, and speaking their own Gallic language. The country was very sparsley populated by the subjugated agricultural inhabitants. During the long winter the ground was covered with snow; in summer the heat was intense and the ground parched; and one might travel many miles without meeting a human being. There was some fertile tracts; but the greater part was either poor pasture land, or barren undulating hilly ground. The bulk of the inhabitants in the few towns were not Gauls. Trade was small, and that mainly in wool. A decree of Augustus in favour of Jews was supposed to be framed for those at Ancyra, in Galatia. It is now known that it was addressed to quite a different region.
The Epistle was written to conteract the influence of a few Judaizers who had come amongst the Galatians, and were endeavouring to persuade them that in order to be perfect Christians it was necessary to be circumcised and observe the Law of Moses. Their arguments were sufficiently specious to puzzle the Galatians, and their object was likely to gain the approval of unbelieving Jews. They said what St. Paul taught was good as far as it went; but that he had not taught the full perfection of Christianity. And this was not surprising, as he was not one of the great Apostles who had been taught by Christ Himself, and received their commission from Him. Whatever St. Paul knew he learned from others, and he had received his commission to preach not from Christ, but from men at Antioch (Acts 13). Circumcision and the Law, it is true, were not necessary to salvation; but they were essential to the full perfection of Christianity. This was proved by the example of St. James, of the other Apostles, and of the first disciples, at Jerusalem. On this very point this Paul, the Apostle, placed himself in direct opposition to Cephas, the Prince of the Apostles, at Antioch. His own action in circumcising Timothy showed what he expected of a personal companion, and he was now probably teaching the good of circumcision in other places. These statements puzzles the Galatians, and made them waver. They felt aggrieved that he had left them, as they thought, in an inferior position; they began to observe Jewish festivals, but they had not yet accepted circumcision. The Apostle refutes these arguments so effectively that the question never again arose. Henceforth his enemies confined themselves to personal attacks (see II Corinthians).
CONTENTS OF THE EPISTLE
The six chapters naturally fall into three divisions, consisting of two chapters each.
In the first two chapters, after the general introduction, he shows that he is an Apostle not from men, nor through the teaching of any man, but from Christ; and the gospel he taught is in harmony with the teaching of the great Apostles, who gave him the right hand of fellowship.
He next (iii, iv) shows the inefficacy of circumcision and the Law, and that we owe our redemption to Christ alone. He appeals to the experience of the Galatian converts, and brings forward proofs from Scripture.
He exhorts them (v, vi) not to abuse their freedom from the Law to indulge in crimes, "for they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God." It is not for love of them he admonishes, that the Judaizers wish the Galatians to be circumcised. If there is virtue in the mere cutting of the flesh, the inference from the argument is that the Judaizers could become still more perfect by making themselves eunuchs -- mutilating themselves like the priests of Cybele. He writes the epilogue in large letters with his own hand.
IMPORTANCE OF THE EPISTLE
As it is admitted on all hands that St. Paul wrote the Epistle, and as its authenticity has never been seriously called in question, it is important not only for its biographical data and direct teaching, but also for the teaching implies in it as being known at the time. He claims, at least indirectly, to have worked miracles amongst the Galatians, and that they received the Holy Ghost (iii, 5), almost in the words of St. Luke as to the events at Iconium (Acts 14:3). It is the Catholic doctrine that faith is a gratuitous gift of God; but is is the teaching of the Church, as it is of St. Paul, that the faith that is of any avail is "faith that worketh by charity" (Galatians 5:6); and he states most emphatically that a good life is necessary for salvation; for, after enumeration the works of the flesh, he writes (v, 21), "Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall obtain the kingdom of God." In vi, 8, he writes: "For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh, also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting." The same teaching is found in others of his Epistles, and is in perfect agreement with St. James: "For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:2). The Epistle implies that the Galatians were well acquainted with the doctrines of the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, Incarnation, Redemption, Baptism, Grace, etc. As he had never to defend his teaching to these points against Judaizers, and as the Epistle is so early, it is clear that his teaching was identical with that of the Twelve, and did not, even in appearance, lend itself to attack.
DATE OF THE EPISTLE
(1)Marcion asserted that it was the first of St. Paul's Epistles. Prof. Sir W. Ramsay (Expositor, Aug., 1895, etc.) and a Catholic professor, Dr. Valentin Weber (see below), maintain that it was written from Antioch, before the council (A.D. 49-50). Weber's arguments are very plausible, but not quite convincing. There is a good summary of them in a review by Gayford, "Journal of Theological Studies", July, 1902. The two visits to Galatia are the double journey to Derbe and back. This solution is offered to obviate apparent discrepancies between Gal., ii, and Acts, xv.
(2) Cornel and the majority of the upholders of the South-Galatian theory suppose, with much greater probability, that it was written about A.D. 53, 54.
(3) Those who defend the North-Galatian theory place it as late as A.D. 57 or 58.
DIFFICULTIES OF GALATIANS II AND I
(a) "I went up . . . and communicated to them the gospel . . . lest perhaps I should run, or had run in vain." This does not imply any doubt about the truth of his teaching, but he wanted to neutralize the oppostion of the Judaizers by proving he was at one one with the others.
(b) The following have the appearance of being ironical: "I communicated . . . to them who seemed to be some thing" (ii, 2); But of them who seemed to be something . . . for to me they that seemed to be something added to nothing" (ii, 6): "But contrawise . . . James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars." Here we have three expressions tois dokousin in verse 2; ton dokounton einai ti, and oi dokountes in verse 6; and oi dokountes styloi einai in verse 9. Non-Catholic scholars agree with St. John Chrystostom that there is nothing ironical in the original context. As the verbs are in the present tense, the translations should be: "those who are in repute"; "who are (rightly) regarded as pillars". It is better to understand, with Rendall, that two classes of persons are meant: first, the leading men at Jerusalem; secondly, the three apostles. St. Paul's argument was to show that his teaching had the approval of the great men. St. James is mentioned first because the Judaizers made the greatest use of his name and example. "But of them who are in repute (what they were some time, it is nothing to me. God accepteth not the person of man)", verse 6. St. Augustine is almost alone in his interpretation that it made no matter to St. Paul that the Apostles were once poor ignorant men. Others hold that St. Paul was referring to the privilege of being personal disciples of our Lord. He said that did not alter the fact of his Apostolate, as God does not regard the person of men. Most probably this verse does not refer to the Apostles at all; and Cornerly supposes that St. Paul is speaking of the elevated position held by the presbyters at the council, and insists that it did not derogate from his Apostolate.
(c) "I withstood Cephas." -- "But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was blamed [kategnosmenos, perf. part. -- not, "to be blamed", as in the Vulgate]. For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were done, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of circumcision. And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: if thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (ii, 11-14).
Here St. Peter was found fault with probably by the Greek converts. He did not withdraw on account of bodily fear, says St. John Chrystostom; but as his special mission was at this time to the Jews, he was afraid of shocking them who were still weak in the Faith. His ususal manner of acting, to which he was led by his vision many years previously, shows that his exceptional withdrawal was not due to any error of doctrine. He had motives like those which induced St. Paul to circumcise Timothy, etc.; and there is no proof that in acting upon them he committed the slightest sin. Those who came from James probably came for no evil purpose; nor does it follow they were sent by him. The Apostles in their letter (Acts 15:24) say: "Forasmuch as we have heard, that some going out from us have troubled you . . . to whom we gave no commandment." We need not suppose that St. Peter foresaw the effect of his example. The whole thing must have taken some time. St. Paul did not at first object. It was only when he saw the result that he spoke. The silence of St. Peter shows that he must have agreed with St. Paul; and, indeed, the argument to the Galatians required that this was the case. St. Peter's exalted position is indicated by the manner in which St. Paul says (i, 18) that he went to behold Peter, as people go to view some remarkable sight; and by the fact that in spite of the preaching of St. Paul and Barnabas for a long time at Antioch, his mere withdrawal was sufficient to draw all after him, and in a manner compel the Gentiles to be circumcised. In the expression "when I saw that they walked not uprightly", they does not necessarily include St. Peter. The incident is not mentioned in the Acts, as it was only transitory. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., I, xii) says that St. Clement of Alexandria, in the fifth book of the Hypotyposeis (Outlines), asserts that this Cephas was not the Apostle, but one of the seventy disciples. Clement here has few followers.
A very spirited controversy was carried on between St. Jerome and St. Augustine about the interpretation of this passage. In his "Commentary on the Galatians", St. Jerome, following earlier writers such as Origen and St. Chrysostom, supposed that the matter was arranged beforehand between St. Peter and St. Paul. They agreed that St. Peter should withdraw and that St. Paul should publicly reprehend him, for the instruction of all. Hence St. Paul says that he withstood him in appearance (kata prosopon). Otherwise, says St. Jerome, with what face could St. Paul, who became all things to all men, who became a Jew that he might gain the Jews, who circumcised Timothy, who shaved his head, and was ready to offer sacrifice at Jerusalem, blame St. Peter for acting in a similar manner? St. Augustine, laying stress on the words "when I saw that they walked not uprightly", etc., maintained that such an interpretation would be subversive of the truth of Holy Scripture. But against this it may be said that it is not so very clear that St. Peter was included in this sentence. The whole controversy can be read in the first volume of the Venetian edition of St. Jerome's works, Epp., lvi, lxvii, civ, cv, cxii, cxv, cxvi.
(d) Apparent Discrepancies between the Epistle and Acts. -- (1) St. Paul says that three years after his conversion (after having visited Arabia and returned to Damascus) he went up to Jerusalem (i, 17, 18) Acts states that after his baptism "he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days" (ix, 19). "He immediately began to preach in the synagogues" (ix, 20). "He increased more in strength, and confounded the Jews" (ix, 22). "And when many days were passed, the Jews consulted together to kill him" (ix, 23); he then escaped and went to Jerusalem. These accounts here are not contradictory, as has been sometimes objected; but were written from different points of view and for different purposes. The time for the visit to Arabia may be placed between Acts, ix, 22 and 23; or between "some days" and "many days". St. Luke's "many days" (hemerai ikanai) may mean as much as three years. (See 1 Kings 2:38; so Paley, Lightfoot, Knowling, Lewin.) The adjective ikanos is a favourite one with St. Luke, and is used by him with great elasticity, but generally in the sense of largeness, e.g. "a widow: and a great multitude of the city" (Luke 7:12); "there met him a certain man who had a devil now a very long time" (Luke 8:27); "a herd of many swine feeding" (Luke 8:32); "and he was abroad for a long time" (Luke 20:9); "for a long time, he had bewitched them" (Acts 8:11). See also Acts 14:3, 21 (Greek text); 18:18, 19:19, 26; 20:37.
(2) We read in Acts 9:27, that St. Barnabas took St. Paul "to the apostles". St. Paul states (Galatians 1:19) that on this occasion, besides St. Peter, "other of the apostles I saw one, saving James the brother of the Lord". Those who find a contradiction here are hard to satisfy. St. Luke employs the word Apostles sometimes in a broader, sometimes in a narrower sense. Here it meant the Apostles who happened to be at Jerusalem (Peter and James), or the assembly over which they presided. The objection can be pressed with any force only against those who deny that St. James was an Apostle in any of the senses used by St. Luke (see BRETHREN OF THE LORD).
Publication information Written by Cornelius Aherne. Transcribed by Beth Ste-Marie. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
One of the best critical commentaries on Galatians is CORNELY, commentarius in S. Pauli Epistolam ad Galatas in the Cursus Scriptura Sacrae (Paris, 1892). Other useful Catholic commentaries are the well-known works of A LAPIDE, ESTIUS, BISPING, PALMIERI, MACEVILLY.
PATRISTIC LITERATURE; There are commentaries on the Epistle by AMBROSIASTER, ST. AUGUSTINE, ST. CHRYSOSTOM, ST. JEROME, (ECUMENIUS, PELAGIUS, PRIMASIUS, THEODORET, THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA (a fragment), and THEOPHYLACT (all in Migne), and by ST. THOMA AQUINAS (many editions of St. Paul's Epistles).
CRITICAL EDITIONS IN ENGLISH: LIGHTFOOT, Galatians (4th ed., London, 1874); RAMSAY, Historical Commentary on Galatians (London, 1900): RENDALL, Galatians in Expositor's Greek Test., III (London, 1903).
FOR NORTH-GALATIAN THEORY: LIGHTFOOT (supra); CHASE in Expositor, Dec., 1893, May, 1894; FINDLAY in Expository Times, VII; CHEETHAM in Classical Review, vol. III (London, 1894): SCHMIEDEL, Galatia in Encyc. Bibl.; BELSER, Die Selbstvertheidigung des heiligen Paulus (Freiburg, 1896); STEINMANN, Der Leserkreis des Galaterbriefes (Munster, 1908) contains a very full biblography.
FOR SOUTH-GALATIAN THEORY: RAMSAY in Expositor, Jan., Feb., Apr., Aug., 1894, July 1895; IDEM in Expository Times, VII; IDEM, The Church in the Roman Empire (London, 1900); IDEM, St. Paul the Traveller ( London, 1900); IDEM in HAST., Dict. of the Bible; KNOWLING, Acts of the Apostles (additional note to ch. xviii) in Expositor's Greek Test. (London, 1900); RENDALL, op. cit. above; IDEM in Expositor, Nov., 1893, Apr., 1894; GIFFORD in Expositor, July, 1894; BACON in Expositor, 1898, 1899; WOODHOUSE, Galatia in Encyc. Bibl,; WEBER, Die Abfassung des Galaterbriefes von dem Apostelkonzil (Ratisbon, 1900); IDEM, Die Adressaten des Galaterbriefes (Ratisbon, 1900); IDEM, Das Datum des Galaterbriefes (Passau, 1900); IDEM in Katholik (1898-99), Die theol.-praki. Monatsschrift, and Die Zeitschrift fur kath. Theolgie.
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