Galatians is a book on the Christian New Testament. Although there is some debate over just what location Paul refers to in his epistles to the Galatian people, most believe it is referring to a region in central Asia Minor. The people of Gaul settled there around 3rd Century B.C. The epistle may also have been written to the cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. While they were usually considered part of Pisidia or Lycaonia, some scholars believe Paul and Luke considered them part of Galatia and Paul may have been addressing them specifically. He visited that region on his first journey and Galatia on his second and third.
The Galatian epistles were written by Paul. The earliest actual document known for these letters was created 150 years after the original and some fragments are missing, so the information has been filled in by scholars using known information.
The people in this region had been pulled away from gospel truths and were practicing and teaching false doctrine. Paul reminded them that no matter who teaches a false doctrine, it is still false and must not be followed. The purpose of the gospel is not to please man, but to please God and that what Paul was going to teach them was of Jesus Christ, not mankind.
In Galatians 2, Paul explains that he was assigned to minister to the uncircumcised—meaning the gentiles, while Peter’s assignment was to the Jews. Paul supported Peter’s teachings that the Mosaic law was fulfilled with the atonement of Jesus Christ, even though many were still living it. He taught that we are not justified by the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ because if we were, there would be no need for Christ. The law was meant to be a schoolmaster until Jesus Christ came, teaching obedience to God. However, now that the atonement had come, those laws were not necessary.
Those who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ become part of Abraham’s lineage and are held equal to the Jews in God’s eyes, receiving all the blessings promised Abraham’s people.
In Galatians 4, Paul explains that children, even those who are heirs, are like servants in bondage to the master. Those who follow only the law of Moses are like those children. They are under bondage to the elements of the world. Once they accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, however, they are adopted children of God, sons of God and therefore full heirs entitled to all the blessings of the gospel.
Paul used Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael and Isaac as an example. Both were Abraham’s natural sons through different mothers. Isaac, as the son of Sariah, his first wife, was the full heir of Abraham. Ishmael, however, was the son of Sariah’s handmaiden, a bondswoman. She and her son were cast out and Ishmael was not a full heir. Ishmael represents life under the Law of Moses and Isaac life under the atonement. Paul wondered why they, who had once accepted the atonement of Jesus Christ, would prefer to refer to bondage and trade the atonement for the Law.
In Galatians 5, Paul tells the Galatians that circumcision was unimportant in the gospel of Jesus Christ now that the atonement had occurred. Peter’s vision concerning the clean and unclean foods had meant, in part, that it was no longer necessary and they should stop worrying about the practice. It was more important to focus on avoiding true sin and becoming Christ-like in their behavior, which would happen as their faith grew.
In chapter 6, Paul teaches the importance of serving others. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). He taught that what we reap, we also sow and therefore we must not be weary in well-doing.