Paul (1:1 & 5:2), early to mid 50’s. This is Paul’s first letter – we experience some unpolished edges on this fiery young minister.
Galatians – probably those in the southern portion (accessibility, they are familiar with Barnabas, etc…), predominantly Gentile. Traveling Jews have infiltrated them to discredit Paul and his gospel by faith alone.
Jews are pushing circumcision as requisite to being accepted by God, the Galatians are buying it. Gentile acceptance is still fresh – it was big to allow the gospel to go to Gentiles… the next step that must be fought for is accepting Gentiles by faith, not by Judaism. The gospel is at stake.
To explaing that salvation is by faith alone; that it is impossible for deeds and the law to save you from sin. To reestablish his credibility.
How to Read it
Look for the simplicity of the gospel and the role of works next to faith. Contrast this with James for a challenge! Compare it to Romans for greater depth on the basic topics.
I. Authenticity of the Gospel (1-2) – read 1.6,8-10,13-14, attacks on gospel and Paul, 2.9,11,1416, 20-21 grace & faith,
II. Superiority of the Gospel (3-4) – 3.1-4,10-11 rational plea, 3.23-25 law’s role, 4.12-16 personal plea, 4.22,24 historical plea
III. Freedom of the Gospel (5-6) – read 5.1-4 freedom, 5.12 flagrant plea, 6.14-15 closing
The second half of Galatians 2 as the key chapter on salvation by faith alone.