Good afernoon, everyone. This Thursday we will continue our class on Zoom at 6:30 Eastern. If you can’t join us live then, feel free to catch up on YouTube. The first lesson and the article to go along with it can be found below. If you would like a link to the Zoom call, please message me through the site or social media and I will get it to you.
A Brief Introduction to Galatians
The book of Galatians is in the first group of letters written by Paul: 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans. These letters were written sometime between AD 47 and AD 58 when Paul was on his various missionary journeys. All these epistles, except for Romans, were written by Paul and his companions to correct, encourage, and instruct the churches who he ministered among in his ministry. Romans, which has many close parallels to Galatians, is the only letter written by Paul during this time to a church he had never visited.
Scholars have written thousands of pages about when Galatians was specifically written, and after reading all these various pages, the best you could ever say is when you think it was composed. According to all the evidence we have about this letter, there is not a single person who can say they know when it was written. For that purpose, we will spend no more time on it than we have already.
Instead, it is much more profitable to discuss the historical setting for the book.
With the introduction of the Gentiles into the Christian community, a question on everyone’s mind concerned the relationship between the Gentile Christians the Law. Beginning with the pouring out of the Spirit in Acts 2, the Jewish Christians didn’t suddenly stop keeping the Law. Peter, for example, appeals to the traditions in which he was raised as his primary reason for being reluctant to eat the unclean meat on his sheet and visit Cornelius (Acts 10:10ff, 28). Furthermore, the Christians continued to meet in synagogues and attend the feast days.
The main contention some of the Pharisee believers had with Paul and his Gentile converts was circumcision. In Acts 15, the church in Jerusalem called a conference to determine what they should do about this situation. In the end, they decided to not bind circumcision, and the whole Law, on the Gentile converts.
Galatians was written to address this issue and to correct some of the Galatian Christians who were considering adopting circumcision and other tenants of the Law which the Judaizing teachers attempting to bind. Thus, I made the subtitle “The Unencumbered Gospel of Jesus” because the letter is in many ways relevant for us today since the very problems Paul addressed manifest themselves in various ways and through different means and methods throughout Christian history.
The goal of this class is to give you a better appreciation for the gospel of Christ. Some secondary goals are to address the Christian’s relationship to the Law, better understand the promise made to Abraham, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This will empower us to be effective ministers in the kingdom of God by giving us confidence in Christ, patience with one another, and love for all.
Finally, the basic outline we will follow is broken into three parts: apologetic (Galatians 1-2), polemic (Galatians 3-5:12), and encouragement (Galatians 5:13-6:18). An apologetic is a formal defense or justification of a religious doctrine. In this section, Paul will recount his own conversion to Christianity and the origin of his mission to the Gentiles. In the polemic section, Paul attacks the “other gospel” that was leading some of the Gentiles away. Finally, in the encouragement section, the apostle uses all the principles laid out in the earlier sections to build up the Christians now that they are better aware of the blessings available to them in Jesus.
 In James 2:2, he addresses a problem going on in their “assembly.” The word here is not the word for “church” (ekklēsia) but the word for synagogue (synagōgē). It is the only time I could find in the New Testament where it isn’t translated synagogue. James, of course, was written to Jewish Christians.
 Henry Alfrod, Alford’s Greek Testament and Exegetical and Critical Commentary (1976).