As indicated in the first two verses, Paul the apostle wrote this epistle to the churches in Galatia. Galatia was a region in central Asia Minor (the modern country of Turkey). Paul's first missionary journey was into the southern portion of this region, where he established churches in Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Derbe and Lystra (Acts ch. 13,14). During his second missionary journey, Paul and Silas visited these churches. At Derbe, Timothy joined their company, as they traveled west through Galatia, and other provinces of Asia Minor, until the Holy Spirit called them to 'come over into Macedonia' (Acts ch. 16). While some scholars believe that Paul established numerous churches in the northern reaches of Galatia, on subsequent journeys, we have no confirming biblical record.
This letter is unusually stern, lacking personal greetings and without any commendations for church ministries. The apostle does not even ask his readers to pray for him and his ministry. Paul was completely focused on correcting a dangerous error which undermined the Gospel. As he wrote to the church in Rome, "The Gospel of Christ... is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16). But the churches in Galatia had come under the influence of Judaizers, who taught that 'faith in Christ alone' was not enough for salvation. You must also keep the Mosaic Law, including obedience to its moral instructions and to its religious ritual. Circumcision was regarded as the primary requirement, since it was the external sign of submission to God's Covenant with Israel.
Paul had become aware of this error, shortly after his return from his first missionary journey, to his sending church in Antioch of Syria (see Acts 14:26-28; 15:1,2). The church council, in Jerusalem, soon ruled definitively that salvation is "through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ..." and is effective for those who "hear the word of the Gospel and believe" (Acts ch.15:6-f, quoted excerpts are from v.7,11). Although the council had sent letters to the Gentile churches with this clarification, various forms of this error continue to trouble the church, even to the present day.
The time of writing is a matter of debate among scholars.
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