The occasion and purpose of Paul writing to the Galatians was to combat a false doctrine that had infiltrated the church at Galatia.  Paul preached the Gospel, people accepted it, and Paul moved on to another journey.  While he was gone “The church had been infiltrated by false teachers who Paul those ‘who are trouble to you.’ These teachers convinced the Galatians of a false Gospel that requires them to be circumcised.”  [1]  Lea and Black state that “those who desired to receive Christian salvation must also submit to Jewish law.”  [2]  Those that were against Paul in Galatia were given the term Judaizers.  Basically they were Jews  “who seemed more interested in opposing the preaching of Christ rather than to subverting what Paul taught.”  [3]  These Jewish legalizers are more interested in pleasing the Jewish authorities “by showing how effective they are at converting gentiles to a form of Judaism.  They think they have the best of both worlds because they have created a sect in which they are leaders, and they escape any Jewish persecution.”  [4]

One of the things the opponents of Paul touted was that he was “inferior to the earlier apostles”, though he was clearly not [5].  He stated that he was as much an apostle as any other and he literally had the scars to prove it.  Second the legalists were adding to the doctrine of salvation by faith which had been revealed to Paul thru Christ.  “They were teaching that to be in covenant relationship to God means to submit to the requirements of the law.”  [6]  If this view had prevailed then there would have been zero unity in the church, and the faith itself would have been compromised.  Paul combated all of this by reiterating his apostolic authority, defending his understanding of the gospel, and that God gave the law as a means of preparing for the arrival of Christ [7].

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Works Cited

[1]  ESV Study Bible, Crossway publications, 2008, 2241.

[2]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 364.

[3]  Ibid, 364.

[4]  ESV Study Bible, Crossway publications, 2008, 2241.

[5]  Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo.  An Introduction to the New Testament.  2d ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005, 466.

[6]  Ibid, 466.

[7]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 366.

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