Who was the author? The Apostle Paul is the Divinely-inspired author of the book we call Galatians.
What is the book? The book is an apostolic epistle, or "letter", to the churches (pastors and people) of Galatia. By one theory, Galatians was addressed to churches in the southern part of the Roman province of Asia Minor known as Galatia, which Paul had visited on his first missionary journey, including such cities as Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 13:14)-all in what is modern-day Turkey.
Where was it written? One theory is that Paul was still in Pisidian Antioch (also known as Antioch on the Orontes) near the end of his so-called first missionary journey when he wrote the letter. Or, he may have been out of Galatia already and back in Syrian Antioch.
When was it written? If authored from Pisidian Antioch, the letter may be dated A.D. 48; if from Syrian Antioch, the letter may be dated slightly later. The letter was likely authored around the time of the Apostolic Council of Acts 15, which is usually dated A.D. 49.
Why? Paul apparently wrote the letter to defend his authority, the Gospel, and salvation by grace through faith-all of which had been attacked by the Judaizers, Jewish converts to Christianity who, often at the expense of the Gospel, called for keeping more of the Old Testament law than was necessary (they were also known as the "circumcision group").
How? Paul's letter answers each aspect of the Judaizers' three-pronged attack: defending Paul's apostolic authority as coming from God, recognized by the other apostles, and even rebuking Peter; defending the Gospel of free grace without works of the law by discussing three witnesses, three aspects of the relationship between the law and the Gospel, and three aspects of sonship that confirm the Gospel's truth; and defending the Gospel of freedom in its practical application.
For further reading on the book of Galatians:
- Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (This commentary was first published in 1937 and so, like Lenski's other commentaries, is out of date as far as scholarship goes, but his interpretations are nevertheless generally reliable and quite accessible to most readers. The volume has some 324 pages on Galatians.)
- Luther, Martin. Lectures on Galatians 5-6 (1535) and on Galatians 1-6 (1519), Luther's Works volume 27, editors Jaroslav Pelikan and Walter A. Hansen. St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 1964. (Galatians played a prominent role in Luther's theological development, and this volume brings together two sets of lectures Luther gave on the book, one set earlier in his career and one set later.)