GALATIANS - Introduction.
EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL, THE APOSTLE,
TO THE GALATIANS.
The Galatians, soon after St. Paul had preached the gospel to them, were
seduced by some false teachers, who had been Jews, and who were for obliging all Christians, even those who had been Gentiles,
to observe circumcision, and the other ceremonies of the Mosaical law. In this epistle he refutes the pernicious doctrine
of those teachers, and also their calumny against his mission and apostleship. The subject matter of this epistle is much
the same as of that to the Romans. It was written at Ephesus, about twenty-three years after our Lord's ascension. (Challoner)
--- The Galatians were originally Gauls, who under their leader, Baennus, spread themselves over Greece, and at length passed
over into Asia Minor, where they settled between Cappadocia and Phrygia, in the province afterwards called from them Galatia.
It seems that St. Peter preached first in those parts; but it was only to the Jews, as may be gathered from the inscription
of his first epistle, which he addresses to the Jews of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But St. Paul was
the first that preached to the Gentile inhabitants of this province. When he first preached to them, he was received as an
angel from heaven, or rather, as Christ himself: he visited them oftener than once, and the Church he there formed was very
considerable. It was the Jewish converts of Galatia (who, as we have before mentioned, were the spiritual children of St.
Peter) that caused those troubles which gave rise to this epistle. They strongly advocated the legal observances; and making
a handle of the high pre-eminence of St. Peter, they decried St. Paul, even calling in question his apostleship. They taught
the necessity of circumcision, and other Mosaic rites, which the apostles then in part retained. Thus divisions were raised
in this infant Church. On these accounts the apostle warmly asserts his apostleship, as being called by Christ himself. He
shews that his doctrine was that of the other apostles, who, in the council of Jerusalem, four years before, testified their
exemption from the legal observances. He teaches, that it is not by the law, but by faith, that the blessings of salvation
are imparted to them. After establishing these more important parts of the epistle, he gives them instruction on various heads.
The Greek subscription to this epistle informs us, that it was written from Rome. St. Jerome says, he wrote it when in chains.
Theodoret says, it was the first epistle that St. Paul wrote from Rome. This opinion has probably been adopted from a mistaken
interpretation of the text: I bear the marks of the wounds of Christ in my body. By these marks they understand chains,
whilst the text equally applies to the mortifications and self-denials of a Christian. The contrary opinion is, that this
epistle was written from Ephesus in the year of Christ 55. This is the more probable opinion, and is maintained by St. Gregory
the Great, Ludovicus, Capellanus, Estius, Usher, Pearson, and many others. The authority of the Greek copies, in assigning
the places whence the letters were written, has been long rejected by the learned. We find not such information in the more
ancient Greek manuscripts of St. Germanus and Clermont, &c. (Calmet)