Introduction to Galatians

In his epistle to the Galatians the Apostle Paul is not so much concerned with expounding his Gospel as with defending it. The mischief-makers were evidently certain Jews who professed conversion to Christianity, and yet were more zealous of the law than they were of Christ; men of the same stamp as those we have mentioned in Acts 15: 1 and 5.

We find allusions to their mischievous activities in some of the other epistles. They had gained a certain measure of success amongst the Corinthians, for instance. There are faint allusions to them in the first epistle, but in 2 Cor. 11, the Apostle denounces them in no uncertain terms. They were Jews right enough, as 2 Cor. 11: 22 shows, but he does not admit their being truly Christian, as we may see by reading verses 13 and 14. The Colossian Christians were warned against their beguilings in the epistle addressed to them, (Col. 2: 14-23), and even the faithful Philippians had a word thrown in about them in, "Beware of evil workers, beware of the concision" (Phil. 3: 2).

Evidently however their greatest success was with the Galatians, who were a people of fickle temperament. The "churches of Galatia" had very largely embraced the ideas they pressed, hardly realizing how they cut at the root of that Gospel which they had first heard from the lips of Paul himself. This the Apostle shows them in the epistle. Consequently he stresses just those features of the Gospel which exposed the falsity of these newer ideas. He shows them moreover what a fall from grace, as regards their own thoughts and spiritual state, it had involved them in. The seriousness of this fall accounts for the restraint and even severity of language which characterizes this epistle.