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a preacher of the Gospel. He points out that if the Galatians were converted by the apostle during his first missionary journey, about 48 A.D.-when he preached in South Galatia - there is no discrepancy between the epistle and the Book of Acts, each telling of two visits to Jerusalem, and two only, before that period. This theory would seem to require a very early date for the apostle's conversion ("after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem," ii. 1), but it would leave the date of the epistle to be further determined. If we follow the traditional view and identify the second visit referred to in the epistle with the third one recorded in the Book of Acts (chap. xv.—about 50 A.D.) in connection with the Council of Jerusalem, and suppose the difference with Peter at Antioch (ii. 11-21) to have taken place soon afterwards, the epistle may still have been written as early as 51 a.d. This or the following year is the date which some would assign to it.1 But in all prob
1 The Rev. F. Rendall, in an able argument in The Expositor, vol. ix. p. 254 (1894), maintains that the epistle was written from Corinth in 52 A.D., when Paul was contending single-handed against his Jewish adversaries; and in vi. 17 he finds an allusion to the stripes recently inflicted on the apostle at Philippi, as well as to the persecutions he had suffered at Lystra. He lays stress on the absence of any direct reference in the epistle to the great scheme of Christian liberality on behalf of "the saints" at Jerusalem in which the apostle was so deeply interested in 56-58 A.D., and holds such silence to be unaccountable in an epistle written during that period. But according to Bishop Lightfoot we have a reference to this matter in vi. 9, 10-the warning with which it is accompanied in verses 7, 8 being due to the unsatisfactory response that had hitherto been made by the Galatians. More probably their contributions had already been secured (1 Cor. xvi. 1), and, if so, there may have been no occasion for further mention of the subject, any more than in writing to the Romans, as the apostle did shortly afterwards, or to the Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians at a later date. More unaccountable than the apostle's silence on this matter would be the entire absence from the Epistles to the Thessalonians (written the year after the date Mr. Rendall assigns to this epistle) of any reference to the great controversy as to the relation of Law and Gospel in the Christian Church which was then, according to this theory, occupying the mind of the apostle. This
ability a considerable interval must have elapsed between the meeting of the Council at Jerusalem (whose peaceable decrees were taken to Antioch by the hands of Barsabbas and Silas, accompanying Paul and. Barnabas) and the arrival at Antioch of Peter, and, subsequently, of certain men who "came from James" and induced Peter to withdraw from the fellowship of the Gentile Christians, for which he was severely taken to task by Paul. This incident, which seems to have provoked the violent resentment of the Judaisers, probably occurred during Paul's visit to Antioch about 54 A.D., mentioned in a later chapter (Acts xviii. 22, 23), and if so, the epistle may have been written in the course of the apostle's third missionary journey, on which he entered soon afterwards. The general opinion has been that it was thus sent from Ephesus during the apostle's long residence in that city. But there seems to be good reason to assign it to a still later date, somewhere between 2 Corinthians and Romans, as we are now doing. For when we compare it with the epistles just mentioned, we find a strong resemblance to both of these-to the former in the writer's tone of feeling regarding his apostleship and the attacks made upon him; to the latter, in language, reasoning, and general cast of doctrine.1 It was manifestly written previous to Romans, being to it as "the rough model to the finished
objection is only met in part by those who, like Professor Ramsay, would assign the epistle to 55 A.D., a year or two before 1 Corinthians was written, which seems to be the earliest of the series-Corinthians (Galatians), Romans-dealing with this great problem in the apostle's ministry.
1 See Lightfoot on Galatians, pp. 45-49. Professor Jacobus, in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review, January 1895, points out that in Gal. ii. 6 we have a very near approach to the composite Greek word translated "respect of persons" which Paul employs for the first time in Rom. ii. 11-a much nearer approach than we find in 2 Corinthians, although in the latter epistle there is a passage (x. 7) where it might have been fitly used if it had already formed part of the apostle's Vocabulary even in the form in which it appears in Gal. ii. 6.
statue"; and it appears also to have been written when the tension of the apostle's feelings was less severe than when he wrote 2 Corinthians. With great probability, therefore, we may place its composition in the period of transition between these two epistles, towards the close of the year 57 a.d. It may have been written in the apostle's journey from Macedonia to Greece (Acts xx. 2), for the expression "all the brethren which are with me" (i. 2), in the opening salutation, would be more likely to be used by the apostle while he was the centre of a travelling party, than if he had been residing at the seat of a congregation.
4. Character and Contents. From first to last the epistle is marked by a conspicuous unity of purposeits main object being to counteract the Judaising process that had been going on for some time in the Galatian Church. An important factor in that process had been the denial of Paul's apostolic authority on the ground that he had never seen the Lord, and that he owed his knowledge of the Gospel to the apostles who had their headquarters at Jerusalem. On the question of circumcision and the observance of the law it was alleged that he was particularly to be distrusted, as a renegade from the religion of his fathers.
Without a word of his usual praise and thanksgiving, the apostle begins with a bold assertion of his apostolic office as directly conferred upon him by the Lord. This is followed by an account of his intercourse and relations with the other apostles after his conversion, showing that he owed his conception of the Gospel not to them, but to influence exerted on him from above (e.g. in the solitudes of Arabia, i. 17). His ministry had been acknowledged by the reputed pillars of the Church (James and Cephas and John) as having the same Divine sanction for the Gentiles, as their preaching had for the Jews.
Since that time he had consistently maintained the freedom of his converts from the bondage of the Law, having even gone so far on one occasion as to rebuke Peter for his dissimulation, when he would have withdrawn from fellowship with the Gentile Christians at Antioch (i. 18-ii.).
Having thus disposed of the personal aspect of the question, he passes to its more doctrinal aspect by appealing to the spiritual blessing which the Galatians had experienced under his ministry when he preached the Gospel to them without any mixture of Jewish ritual. He proves that the Law has been superseded by the Gospel, the latter being the full assertion of that principle of faith that had always lain at the foundation of men's acceptance with God, even in the time of Abraham. He shows that the Law given by Moses could only create a sense of sin without providing a remedy. It was but a temporary means of training God's people for the enjoyment of their privileges as His children-standing in the same relation to the Gospel, as the children of Hagar the bond woman did to Isaac the child of promise (iii.-iv.). In v.-vi. the apostle warns them against the abuse of their spiritual freedom, setting before them the true principles of Christian morality, and exhorting them to several duties of which they had need to be reminded. He concludes with a postscript in his own handwriting (vi. 11-18), in which he sums up the argument with an emphasis and decision that contrast strongly with the hesitation apparent in some of the earlier passages, where he is trying to vindicate his conduct without casting any unnecessary reflections on the other apostles. He exposes the unworthy motives of his opponents, reaffirms the supreme importance of the Cross of Christ1 and of regeneration in Him as essential to the true Israel of
1 The name of Christ occurs forty-three times in this short epistle.
God, and appeals to the marks which he bears of recent persecution, as the seal of his apostleship and the token of his renewed devotion to the Saviour. "From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." Finally he invokes the Divine blessing on his converts in terms specially fitted to lift them above the thought of carnal ordinances—“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren."
The whole epistle is marked by a force and vehemence that strain the apostle's power of expression to the utmost. It has done more than any other book of the New Testament for the emancipation of Christians, not only from the yoke of Judaism, but from every other form of externalism that has ever threatened the freedom and spirituality of the Gospel. It was Luther's favourite epistle, to which he was "wedded," as he said; and from it he largely drew his inspiration in his conflict with the Church of Rome.
1 With this we may connect the fact that in the very next epistle which he writes Paul styles himself "a bondservant of Jesus Christ" (Rom. i. 1, R.V. margin), being the first time, so far as is known, that he ever so designated himself.
2 The words "free," "freedom," "make free," occur eleven times in the epistle.