Paulís letter to the Galatians is one of his most forceful, and one might even say, one of his most hostile. In this letter, which like 1-2 Corinthians and Romans, is not seriously disputed by NT scholars, Paul directs scathing criticism at those who are undermining his efforts at Galatia.
In the mid to late 40ís of the first century, Paul passed through Galatia and evangelized there. The Churches he planted were doing well until a certain faction arrived from Jerusalem. These Christians insisted that before one could really become a Christian, one first had to become a Jew. Thus, to be a Christian, one must be circumcised (if a male, of course). The Christians preached this message to the Galatian churches which Paul had established, and it made Paul unspeakably angry when he found out about it. This is the historical situation which gave rise to the writing of Galatians. This epistle was written to combat these "false brothers" as Paul called them.
Paul wrote Galatians in the mid 50ís of the first century, nearly a decade after the churches there had been established (n.b.- Galatia is a region in Asia Minor and not a city). This letter is crammed full of hostile language regarding the people in Galatia who have fallen for the false teachers as well as the false teachers themselves. At one point Paul says "if they think circumcision avails anything, let them go all the way and castrate themselves!" Paulís outrage stems from the fact that these false brothers were telling the Galatians that they must add circumcision to grace in order to be saved. Paul taught that grace was added to nothing for salvation. As far as he was concerned, the false brethren were heretics and liars!
An outline of the text will show Paulís purpose:
1- Opening Salvo (1:1-5)
2- Anathema! (1:6-10)
3- What I (Paul) Taught you (Galatians) (1:11-2:14)
4- My Opponentís Lies (2:15-21)
5- Why My Gospel is True and My Opponents is False (3:1-4:31)
6- Ethical Exhortation (5:1-6:10)
7- Conclusion (6:11-18)
As the reader can tell from the outline, this letter is unlike any of Paulís other writings. His whole tone is combative and the structure of the text demonstrates this combativeness.
ASSIGNMENT: Read Ephesians, and Brownís Introduction, chapters 25 and 28.
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