The Book of Galatians

The book of Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul, a converted Jew, to Gentile Christians living in the large Roman Province of Galatia, which extended throughout much of present day north-central Turkey. It is not only the first book Paul wrote, it is also, along with the book of James, one of the earliest books (ca. AD 47) of the entire New Testament-maybe even ahead of the gospels!

Church historians know from passages in Acts 13 and 14 that Paul founded churches in the ancient cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystera and Derbe during his first missionary trip-all part of southern Galatia.

This was his great freedom declaration-freedom in Christ from the Jewish ceremonial law and, more importantly, freedom from a life of sin. However, not long after Paul's initial visit, other Jews began arriving in Galatia with a modified gospel-plus message for these new Christians. Paul, having taught the early Galatian Christians that all that was needed for salvation was God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, soon found that the Gentiles in Galatia were being confused and misguided with the requirements that Gentile Christian converts also must adhere to traditional Jewish customs in order to gain true salvation. This was wrong and intolerable for the great apostle.

The general purpose of the book is to reinforce salvation by God's grace alone, through faith in the work of Christ on the cross. This singular gospel (or "good news") was preached to Gentiles and Jews alike by Paul from day-one of his own conversion through the end of his ministry. To refute the nonsense of works-based faith, Paul presents strong arguments to the Galatian churches. His central point is: There is no need to add any requirements to the grace of God in Christ! His arguments refute the erroneous position that Gentiles are required to take on additional Jewish requirements for keeping the Christian faith, such as the rite of circumcision (Chapter 5:2), the observance of Jewish festivals (Chapter 4:10), and quite possibly Jewish food laws.

Paul's style of writing in this Galatian epistle has a strong sense of urgency as he reacts quite forcefully under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. His goal in writing was quite simply to get early Galatian Christians back on track spiritually. Paul supports the truth of salvation by grace through faith with lessons from history (Chapters 1-2), tutorials from theology (Chapters 3-4), and with illustrations from experience (Chapters 5-6).

Paul's first century message is echoed by Pastor Art in the 21st century. Jesus really does make a difference in the life of a Christian. No amount of additional religious rule-keeping serves to elevate the Christian closer to God. In surveying Paul's teachings, Pastor Art uncovers the basic truths that allow modern day Christians to live in Christian freedom and holiness. Pastor Art's biblical lessons begin with an exploration of Paul's personal testimony, move next to Paul's doctrinal teachings, and finish with practical applications of the Scripture to modern day life.