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Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

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THE General Editor does not hold himself responsible, except in the most general sense, for the statements, opinions, and interpretations contained in the several volumes of this Series. He believes that the value of the Introduction and the Commentary in each case is largely dependent on the Editor being free as to his treatment of the questions which arise, provided that that treatment is in harmony with the character and scope of the Series. He has therefore contented himself with offering criticisms, urging the consideration of alternative interpretations, and the like; and as a rule he has left the adoption of these suggestions to the discretion of the Editor.

The Greek Text adopted in this Series is that of Dr Westcott and Dr Hort with the omission of the marginal readings. For permission to use this Text the thanks of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press and of the General Editor are due to Messrs Macmillan & Co.


January, 1910.


THE same methods have been adopted in the preparation of the following Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians as in that of the volume on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, viz. first, the independent use of concordance and grammar, and only afterwards the examination of commentaries and other aids.

The difficulties of the Epistle are not of the same kind as those of Colossians and Philemon. There (especially in Colossians) many strange words which in after years acquired highly technical meanings had to be considered; here rather historical circumstances and Jewish modes of thought.

The former of these unfortunately are still far from certain. Even the district intended by Galatia is doubtful, and the discussion of it is often conducted with more warmth than its importance warrants. Personally I greatly regret that I am unable to accept the very attractive theory presented with so much brilliancy of expression and originality of thought by Sir William Ramsay, viz. that the Churches of Galatia to whom St Paul here writes are those whose origin is described at length in Acts 13, 14. Its fundamental presupposition is that, as St Paul’s plan of campaign was to win the Roman Empire for Christ by seizing strategic points, he would not have visited so outlying a part as Northern Galatia. Hence if the Acts and our Epistle, backed up though they are by the consensus of Patristic evidence, appear to say that he did do so, this can be only in appearance not in fact. But I confess that the more I study the arguments adduced against the primâ facie meaning of the passages in question the less they impress me, and, in particular, all attempts to date the Epistle on what may be called the Southern theory appear to me to fail. I therefore find myself reluctantly compelled to adhere to the older opinion that the Epistle was written to the Churches of North Galatia, at a date between the writing of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Romans.

Of more permanent interest is the revelation in this Epistle of St Paul’s training in Jewish modes of thought and exegesis. These indeed may be traced in every book of the N.T. (though the words and phrases due to them are often grossly misunderstood by friend and foe), but here they obtrude themselves on the most careless of readers. No one but a Jew accustomed to Rabbinic subtlety would have thought of the argument of the curse (Galatians 3:13-14), or of the seed (Galatians 3:16), or even of Sarah and Hagar (Galatians 4:21-27). These and other examples in our Epistle of the working of Paul’s mind ought perhaps to have given more stimulus to the study of his mental equipment than has been the case.

Far more important however in our Epistle than either of these two rather academic subjects is its insistence upon the true character of the Gospel. St Paul opposed, with all the warmth of knowledge bought by experience, the supposition that Christ came only to reform Judaism, to open its door more widely to the Gentiles, or to attract them by the substitution of another Law of commands and ordinances for that to which they had been accustomed as heathen. It is the verdict of history that his efforts, though successful for the moment, have to a great extent been a failure. To try to keep rules and to observe commands and prohibitions is, comparatively speaking, so easy that the Christian Church has only too often preferred to set up a Law of this kind, in preference to accepting the Gospel in its simplicity, which is the good news of immediate pardon for the sinner, and of free grace continually bestowed in Christ. It is this Gospel, with all that it involves of freedom from legal bondage, whether Jewish or Christian, which is the central truth of our Epistle, this which the student must endeavour to grasp and make his own, with a knowledge bought, like St Paul’s, by experience, and a love deepening with the increased perception of the love of God in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

It will be observed that when an obelisk ([1]) is affixed to a word it means that all the passages are mentioned where that word occurs in the New Testament, and that when the double obelisk ([2]) is affixed it means that all the passages are mentioned where the word occurs in the Greek Bible.

A. L. W.


No changes have been made in this edition beyond the removal of some verbal errors, and the addition of a few clauses chiefly for greater perspicuity, and of a note on p. 84 calling attention to an important suggestion by Dr Driver. Deissinann’s Licht vom Osten was published in English in 1910 under the title of Light from the Ancient East.

A. L. W.

Jan. 1, 1914.




1. The Galatians. The relation of the words Celtae (Κελταί or Κελτοί), Galatae (Γαλάται), and Galli (Γαλλοί) is obscure, and the meaning of each is doubtful. Celtae may be derived either from the root cel (cf. celsus) and may mean “superior,” “noble,” or perhaps from a root seen in the old Teutonic hildja-, and may mean “warriors”; Galatae may be from the root gala- and mean “brave,” “warriors”; and Galli may be either from the same root gala, with the same meaning, or from ghas-lo-s and mean “strangers,” “foreigners[3].”

The term Galatians was given to those portions of the Celtic race which migrated from the East to Europe in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., and, on the one hand, settled finally in North Italy 390 B.C. and Gaul, and, on the other, after being repulsed in Greece 280 B.C. passed over into Asia Minor. These last were sometimes called Gallograecians. For some centuries the terms Galatians and Gauls were used to designate either branch of settlers (see below, pp. xiv. sq.)[4]. A few commentators have even supposed that our Epistle was written to Churches situated in what we now call France.

(i) Early history in Asia. On crossing into Asia Minor at the invitation of Nicomedes I of Bithynia, “who concluded a treaty with the seventeen Celtic chiefs, securing their aid against his brothers,” they settled in what was afterwards known as Galatia[5], harassing all Asia Minor as far as the Taurus, until they were confined to Galatia proper by the victories of the Kings of Pergamos, and in particular by Attalus I between 240 and 230 B.C.

They were composed of three tribes, the Trokmi in the East, whose centre was Tavium, the Tectosages in the centre round Ancyra, and the Tolistobogii on the west round Pessinus. They thus held the old Royal Road from the Euphrates to Ephesus, which passed either through or near to those towns, and also were within striking distance from the newer route through South Phrygia and Lycaonia.

Other waves of conquest had preceded them, notably that of the Phryges about the 10th century B.C., who had by the 3rd century coalesced with the earlier inhabitants, and had given their name to the whole people. Thus the Galatians became the ruling power among a large population of Phrygians, and naturally did not remain unaffected by them.

(ii) The intervention of the Romans. In 189 B.C. the consul Cn. Manlius Vulso led a successful expedition against them, and in consequence they seem to have submitted to the rulers of Cappadocia and of Pontus. But about 160 B.C. they conquered part of Lycaonia, the inhabitants of which are therefore called by the geographer Ptolemy (v. 4. 10 [8]) προσειλημμενῖται, “inhabitants of the added land.” In 88 B.C. they helped the Romans in their struggle with Mithridates King of Pontus. In 64 B.C. the Romans appointed three tetrarchs, of whom Deiotarus of the Tolistobogii made himself supreme, and was recognized by the Romans as King of Galatia. He died in 41 B.C. In 36 B.C. Amyntas, who had been made King of Pisidia by Antony in 39 B.C., received in addition “Galatia proper, with Isauria, part of Pamphylia, and W. Cilicia, as well as the Lycaonian plain intervening between his Pisidian and his Galatian dominions,” including, it will be noted, both Iconium and Lystra as well as Antioch.

2. The Roman Province of Galatia, 25 to 73 A.D.

(i) On the death of Amyntas in 25 B.C., his kingdom was formed into a Roman Province, Pamphylia being taken from it and made into a separate Province. Gradually certain additions were made, especially Paphlagonia in the North in 5 B.C., Komana Pontica (Pontus Galaticus) in 34, 35 A.D., Derbe and its neighbouring district in 41 A.D.

Thus when St Paul visited Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, all these cities were in the Roman Province of Galatia.

(ii) Ancyra was the official capital of the Province, but Antioch a kind of secondary and military capital, situated as it was at the meeting-place of many roads.

3. Its later history[6]. In 74 A.D. (probably), Vespasian placed Galatia in some degree under Cappadocia, though they were still regarded as two provinces, and detached from it Pisidia proper, but not, therefore, Antioch with its district. In 106 A.D. (probably), Trajan separated Galatia and Cappadocia again. About 137 A.D. some part of Lycaonia, including, as it seems, Derbe, but probably not Lystra, or Iconium and Antioch, was taken from Galatia. About 295 A.D. Diocletian divided the Province Galatia into two parts which answered roughly to the two halves of the Kingdom conferred on Amyntas. “One part was now called the Province Pisidia, and included Iconium, possibly also Lystra, parts of Asian Phrygia, all Pisidian Phrygia, and the northern parts of Pisidia proper. The other was called Galatia, and included the ‘Added Land’ and a strip of Bithynian territory with the city of Juliopolis: it was nearly coextensive with the Galatia of King Deiotaros[7].”



1. The terms “Galatia” and “Galatians.” The short history of the Galatians and the Province called by their name will have suggested to the reader the possibility of much ambiguity in the term “Galatia,” according to the meaning that it had at different times, and the connexion of thought with which it was employed at any time. It is therefore of primary importance to enquire into the sense in which St Paul was likely to have used it when writing to “the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2) and apostrophising his readers as “Galatians” (Galatians 3:1). It is a question of extreme difficulty, upon which nevertheless deep feeling has been aroused, and there is therefore the more need of caution, and freedom from prejudice, in stating and estimating the evidence.

(i) Literary usage

(a) It is convenient to mention here three passages in the Greek Bible

(α) 1 Maccabees 8:1-2. Judas Maccabaeus (c. 160 B.C.) “heard of the fame of the Romans, … and they told him of their wars and exploits which they do among the Gauls (or Galatians, ἐν τοῖς Γαλάταις), and how they conquered them, and brought them under tribute; and what things they did in the land of Spain.” It is possible that this refers to the expedition of Manlius against the Galatians in 189 B.C. (see p. xii.), but he did not put them under tribute, and the mention of the conquest of Spain (201 B.C.), even though exaggerated terms are used, points rather to the conquest of Cisalpine Gaul in 220 B.C.

(β) 2 Maccabees 8:20. Judas Maccabaeus recounts the help given by God to the Jews “in the land of Babylon, even the battle that was fought against the Gauls (or the Galatians, τὴν πρὸς τοὺς Γαλάτας παράταξιν γενομένην).” Nothing is known about this engagement, but probably some Galatian troops from Asia Minor were employed in Babylon on one side or the other in a battle waged by Antiochus the Great (281–261 B.C.), and a victory was won against them by Jews.

(γ) 2 Timothy 4:10. “Demas … went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia (εἰς Γαλατίαν); Titus to Dalmatia.” If Timothy was in Asia Minor, as is probable, he would naturally think of the district nearest him, i.e. of Galatia in Asia Minor, but the Churches of Vienne and Mayence both claimed Crescens as their founder, and many fathers (Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome (?), Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret) explained this passage as referring to Western Gaul. Lightfoot gives some weight to this tradition because it is not the primâ facie view (see his Galatians, p. 31).

(b) Non-Biblical writers

(α) Evidence of the employment of the terms in the wider and official sense

(aa) It is probable that long before the establishment of the first Roman Province, and as far back as the time when Galatia was first recognized as “a political fact, a definitely bounded country with its own form of government” (Ramsay, Gal. p. 81), i.e. after the victories of Attalus I between 240 and 230 B.C., its inhabitants were called Galatae whether they were strictly of Gallic birth or only Phrygians. Thus Manlius, 189 B.C. (see p. xii.), sold no less than 40,000 captives into slavery besides the many thousands whom he slew (Livy, XXXVIII. 23); Lucullus (74 B.C.) had 30,000 troops of Galatae on active service when marching into Pontus, and perhaps an equal number must have been left to guard the country (Plutarch, Lucullus, 14). Again “Galatae” appears to have been a very common designation for slaves (probably this is not unconnected with Manlius’ foray), if one may judge from the number of them enfranchised at Delphi[8]. It is probable that in all these cases Phrygians were included under the term Galatae if they came from the country known as Galatia.

(bb) After the Romans had formed Galatia into a Province many writers naturally used the term in the official sense.

So the elder Pliny (died 79 A.D.) speaks of Hydé (Ὕδη) a town of eastern Lycaonia as situated in confinio Galatiae atque Cappadociae (Hist. Nat. v. 95), reckons the Lycaonian towns Lystra and Thebasa as belonging to Galatia (v. 147), and makes Cabalia and Milyas which were in the Province of Pamphylia be on the border of Galatia (ibid.). They were very far distant from Galatia proper.

So Tacitus (died 119 A.D.) by “Galatia” clearly means the Province, and by “Galatians” the inhabitants of the Province, e.g. Galatiam ac Pamphyliam provincias Calpurnio Asprenati regendas Galba permiserat (Hist. II. 9), and Galatarum Cappadocumque auxilia (Ann. XV. 6).

Ptolemy the geographer (c. 140 A.D.) describes Asia Minor according to its Provinces, and among them Galatia, with which he includes parts of Lycaonia, Pisidia and Isauria, and among other towns the Pisidian Antioch and Lystra (Galatians 5:4).

(β) Yet other writers use the terms in a purely geographical, i.e. the narrower and popular, sense. Thus Strabo, a native of Pontus (about 54 B.C. to about 24 A.D.), during whose lifetime the Romans formed the Province, does not speak of Amyntas’ dominions as “Galatia,” but says Ἀσίαν τὴν ἐντὸς Ἅλυος καὶ τοῦ Ταύρου πλήν Γαλατῶν καὶ τῶν ὑπὸ Ἀμύντα̣ γενομένων ἐθνῶν (XVII. 3. 25). So too he writes οἱ Γαλάταιἔλαβον τὴν νῦν Γαλατίαν καὶ Γαλλογραικίαν λεγομένην (XII. 5. 1).

So too Memnon (floruit c. 140 A.D.), a native of Pontus, describing the coming of the Gauls to Asia Minor, writes ἀπετέμοντο τὴν νῦν Γαλατίαν καλουμένην, εἰς τρεῖς μοίρας ταύτην διανείμαντες, καὶ τοὺς μὲν Τρωγμοὺς ὀνομάσαντες, τοὺς δὲ Τολιστοβογίους, τοὺς δὲ Τεκτόσαγας[9].

Dio Cassius also (155–235 A.D.), born at Nicaea in Bithynia, but who lived long at Rome, becoming ultimately consul, writes about the formation of the Province ἡ Γαλατία μετὰ τῆς Λυκαονίας Ῥωμαῖον ἄρχοντα ἔσχε (LIII. 26. 3), thus recognizing the two chief divisions of Amyntas’ Kingdom, without adding any such explanation as would have been necessary if this narrower use of the term had not been well known to his readers.

So far then it has been seen that while some writers used the terms in the wider, and more particularly in the official, meaning, yet three others employed them in the narrower sense. It will have been noticed also that these three belonged by birth to Asia Minor, a coincidence which can hardly be accidental. It is possible that a fourth native of Asia Minor, Saul of Tarsus, would employ them in the same way.

(c) 1 Peter 1:1. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.”

It is generally, and perhaps rightly, assumed that all these names here mark Provinces, even though the one Province “Pontus-Bithynia” is divided into its constituent parts, and in Cappadocia both Province and district were practically conterminous. But in any case the position of Galatia between Pontus and Cappadocia suggests that only the northern, or rather the north eastern, part of it was meant by St Peter[10].

The mention of Christians in north eastern Galatia, of whose existence we know nothing in apostolic times, is not more strange than the mention of Christians in Bithynia. Even in the case of Cappadocia we have only the allusion of Acts 2:9, and in that of Pontus (besides Acts 2:9 again) only the statement that Aquila was a Jew from that country, Acts 18:2. Perhaps north and north east Galatia formed a stepping-stone whereby the Gospel spread into Pontus on the one side and Cappadocia on the other.

(ii) The evidence of the Inscriptions. This, unfortunately, is singularly meagre

A monument erected in Iconium during the reign either of Claudius or Nero to an ἐπίτροπος Καίσαρος designates his administrative district as Γαλατικῆς ἐπαρχείας[11], but this is only an example of quasi-official usage, proving indeed that Iconium was then in the Province of Galatia, but giving no information about the popular use of the term. It is the same with an inscription found at Antioch in Pisidia to Sospes a governor of Galatia[12], in which his rule is given as that of provinc. Gal. Pisid. Phryg. (the abbreviation is doubtless provinciae not provinciarum, Pisidia and Phrygia being in apposition); but this too is an official, or quasi-official, inscription. More important is an inscription on a tomb found at Apollonia in the extreme west of the Province, some 50 miles beyond Antioch, where a citizen speaks in 222 A.D. of his city as his “fatherland of the Galatians[13]” and mentions his son’s career of honourable office among the noble Trokmians. A plausible explanation is that he was so accustomed to think of his city as Galatian, owing to it being in the Province of that name, that he poetically assigned to himself descent from the Gallic nobles. Yet it may be doubted whether persons dwelling in South Galatia, who (according to the manifold evidence adduced by Ramsay) were rather prone to pride themselves on their Greek culture and Roman citizenship, or at least their subservience to Rome, would be likely to care to identify themselves with Galatians. It is much as though the Bavarians had been forcibly incorporated by an external power such as France into a Province named Prussia, and they eventually boasted of being descended from Junkers. It is more probable that there was some actual genealogical connexion between the inhabitants of Apollonia and the Galatians proper[14].

υἶά τʼ ἐμὸν κύδηνας ἐνὶ Τρόκμοις ζαθέοι[σι·

τοὔνεκεν οὐ μέγα δῶρον ἐγὼ τὸν βωμὸν ἔθ[ηκα.

Lebas-Waddington, 1192, see Ramsay, Studia Biblica, IV. 53, and especially Cities of St Paul, 1907, pp. 351 sq.

Judging therefore by the usage of literary writers, and the evidence of inscriptions, we conclude that no hard and fast rule existed with regard to the meaning attributed to “Galatia” and “Galatians,” during the first two centuries of our era, and that unless St Paul was for some special reason likely to use official terminology he would more probably use the terms in their more popular and narrow meaning, viz. of North Galatia, as we say, and its inhabitants.

(iii) It is said however that St Paul (unlike St Luke, who generally uses the popular names, see Zahn, Einleitung, I. 132, E. T. I. 186) always employed the official Roman terminology for districts and countries, and that therefore the terms “Galatia” and “Galatians” cannot refer only to North Galatia, but must refer to the Province of Galatia as such. But this statement is misleading. For in reality he mentions so few places (excluding towns), and his use of these is so uncertain, that we have not much material upon which to found a general rule.

The names arranged alphabetically are Achaia 7, Arabia 2, Asia 4, Cilicia 1, Dalmatia 1, Illyricum 1, Judaea 4, Macedonia 11 [14], Spain 2, Syria 1 and of course Galatia 3 [4].

Of these Asia has presumably the official sense of the kingdom bequeathed to Rome by Attalus III in 133 B.C. (i.e. including Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and great part of Phrygia, the Troad, and certain islands) for this appears to have been the ordinary nomenclature of the time. Yet St Luke uses it of a district excluding Phrygia, Mysia and the Troad (Acts 2:9; Acts 16:6-8), just as the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons is written (A.D. 177) τοῖς κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν καὶ Φρυγίανἀδελφοῖς (Eus. Ch. Hist. v. 1. 3), and as Tertullian writes (c. Prax. I.) Ecclesiis Asiae et Phrygiae (cf. Zahn, Einleitung, I. 132, E. T. I. 187).

Macedonia too may be deemed official, although the Churches there to which St Paul refers were all in old Macedonia, but he contrasts it with Achaia.

Achaia is more doubtful, for strictly speaking, in official, not only in popular, language, it did not include Athens[15]. Therefore while St Paul uses the term with official accuracy in 1 Corinthians 16:15 (for we may assume that Stephanas was baptized at Corinth), he can hardly have done so in 2 Corinthians 1:1 and other passages, unless he was excluding believers at Athens (Acts 17:34).

Judaea too is doubtful. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14, Romans 15:31 he speaks of the power and tyranny of the Jews there, certainly excluding therefore Samaria, and thinking of Jerusalem and its neighbourhood rather than Galilee. So also with Galatians 1:22 (see note). He therefore probably meant not the Roman prefecture hut the popular division roughly conterminous with the old kingdom of Judah.

The cases of Syria and Cilicia go together, and the decision is the more difficult in that there is a slight doubt both about the text of Galatians 1:21 (see notes), and the official relation of Cilicia to Syria when St Paul was writing. It seems that at the time of the visit mentioned by him the two were regarded as one Province. But the article before Κιλικίας (which is almost certainly genuine) separates the two, and suggests that St Paul was using the popular rather than the official terminology.

Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10[16]) was not used as an official name for a Province till 70 A.D. and there is no sufficient reason for doubting that St Paul used the term in a purely geographical sense.

Illyricum (τὸ Ἰλλυρικόν, Romans 15:19[17]). Ἰλλυρίς was the usual word, and the form employed by St Paul seems to be the transliteration of the Latin Illyricum, which is found elsewhere only in the writings of the Bithynian-Roman Dio Cassius (155–235 A.D.). It is therefore just possible that St Paul purposely employed the Roman official form in order to leave no doubt that he meant the Roman Province (of which the upper part was officially called Dalmatia from 70 A.D.), and not the country inhabited by Illyrians, which was wider than the Province. Josephus (B. J. II. 16. 4 [§ 369]) speaks of “Illyrians” and “Dalmatia” in a purely geographical sense; see also Appian, Illyrica, §§ 1, 11, and Strabo, VII. 7.4. Marquardt says that “the name Illyricum was used by the ancients as an ethnographical term for all cognate races which reach eastwards from the Alps to the exit of the Danube, and south from the Danube to the Adriatic and the Haemus range” (Römische Staatsverwaltung, 1873, I. p. 141, see also W. Weber, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Hadrianus, 1907, p. 55).

Arabia. See Appendix, Note A. It is probably a political term in Galatians 1:17, but in Galatians 4:25 is rather a geographical expression.

Spain is completely indecisive, for the popular and the official names coincide. St Paul could not be expected to mention one or other of the three Provinces into which it was divided from the time of Augustus onward.

Thus of ten names (excluding Galatia), only one for certain (Asia), two probably (Macedonia and Illyricum), and one doubtfully (Achaia), are used in the Provincial sense; while one for certain (Dalmatia), one probably (Judaea), and two doubtfully (Syria and Cilicia), are used in the geographical sense; one (Arabia) in both senses; and one (Spain) in either sense. In fact, St Paul seems to have had no fixed rule, and to have used that name which was most readily understood, and best expressed his immediate purpose. His general practice therefore throws no light upon the meaning of his terms “Galatia” and “Galatians.” This must be determined by other means. We may grant that if he did wish to address the inhabitants of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and even Derbe, he could employ “Galatians” as a common appellation, but, thus far, there is no reason to think that he would do so.

(iv) 1 Corinthians 16:1. It has been thought that 1 Corinthians 16:1 shows decisively that by “Galatia” St Paul meant South Galatia. For he there refers to the Collection, which, it is probable, was being carried by those who were accompanying him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4), among whom are mentioned Gaius of Derbe and Timothy. The inferences are drawn that these two represent the South Galatian Church and that delegates from North Galatia are not mentioned because no such Church existed.

But both inferences are unnecessary.

(a) There are grave difficulties in the opinion that Gains and Timothy were delegates from South Galatia. Timothy had already been some time with St Paul, and Gaius is classed with him, so that presumably Gaius also had been in Macedonia. But if so why should the contribution from South Galatia have been sent so far round[18]? It is possible therefore that Gaius and Timothy acted as delegates not for South Galatia but for some other Church, e.g. Corinth or Philippi, for the delegates of these are not named. In any case the uncertainty of the text (προ- or προς-ελθόντες), and the ambiguity of the αὗτοι, prevent any clear deduction from the passage.

(b) If we are right (see pp. xxxiv. sq.) in placing our Epistle between 2 Cor. and Rom., then 1 Cor. was written before St Paul knew of the trouble in North Galatia, and it cannot be thought improbable that afterwards, at a time when the ill-feeling towards him was so high, the Christians there should have failed to send their contribution through him, if indeed they made one at all. St Paul, it will be noticed, has occasion to hint at their niggardliness (Galatians 6:7).

2. Did St Paul ever visit North Galatia? This has been denied. It is therefore necessary to consider briefly two passages in the Acts.

(i) Acts 16:6. St Paul had proposed to Barnabas that they should revisit the brethren in every city where they had preached the word of the Lord (Acts 15:36), but had finally started on his second Missionary Journey alone with Silas as his attendant, and had passed through Syria and Cilicia confirming the Churches (Acts 15:40-41). He had then come as far as Derbe and Lystra, had taken Timothy, of whom he received a good account from brethren in Lystra and Iconium, and they went through the cities, and the Churches were established. The words evidently include Antioch in Pisidia as well as the other three cities (Acts 16:1-5). St Paul and Silas then intended to go to Asia, apparently as far as Ephesus, but, as they were prevented in this by the Holy Ghost[19], they passed through τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν, i.e. they turned off northwards, coming at last opposite Mysia, and intending to enter Bithynia. Now Φρυγία, as it seems, must be taken as a substantive (as certainly in Acts 18:23, see below), for it is never employed as an adjective, and on the other hand a substantive is not found joined with an adjective (Γαλατικήν), both defining a common term (χώραν). Hence we must translate “Now they passed through Phrygia and (some) Galatic district,” i.e. part of country belonging to Galatia[20], or perhaps, as Zahn thinks, St Luke deliberately chose the phrase in contrast to Γαλατία or ἡ Γαλατικὴ ἐπαρχία, and meant by it the country of the Galatae strictly so called (Einl. I. 133, E. T. I. 188). They would appear to have gone by Prymnessus to Nacoleia, or even to Pessinus (for to St Luke “Asia” was smaller than the Roman Province of that name, see p. xix.), or they may have gone to Amorium (either by Prymnessus or even round by Thymbrium Hadrianopolis) and so to Pessinus, and then to Dorylaeum, close to both Mysia and Bithynia. They thus passed through a portion of North Galatia.

It should be noted that Zahn (Einl. I. 133–136, E. T. I. 187–191) vigorously defends the fact of this visit to N. Galatia, even though he thinks the Epistle was written primarily to S. Galatia.

(ii) Acts 18:23 says of the beginning of the third Missionary Journey that St Paul “passed through in order τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν καὶ Φρυγίαν confirming all the disciples.” Here Φρυγίαν is clearly enough a substantive, and it describes a district westward of ἡ Γαλατικὴ χώρα, a phrase which is explained by Acts 16:6, i.e. the district of Galatia already visited. St Paul, that is to say, is revisiting the converts of North Galatia and Phrygia, and joins the road to Ephesus perhaps at Eumeneia, continuing his journey viâ Tralla and the Cayster valley, thus avoiding both the Churches in South Galatia and the town of Colossae (Colossians 2:1), and presumably Laodicea.

3. The cause of St Paul’s preaching to the Galatians. He says that it was “on account of infirmity of the flesh” (Galatians 4:13). Illness, that is to say, made him stay in Galatia, and his illness was a trial to the Galatians, which, notwithstanding, they wholly overcame (Galatians 4:14). It probably also affected his eyes (Galatians 4:15). Ramsay urges that it was malaria caught in the low-lying districts of Pamphylia, and that he went to the highlands of South Galatia to recover from it. He also connects it, somewhat gratuitously, with the “stake in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), saying that in malaria “apart from the weakness and ague, the most trying and painful accompaniment is severe headache,” and quotes a South African author who speaks of “the grinding, boring pain in one temple, like the dentist’s drill” (Gal. pp. 424 sq.). But it is questionable whether the effects of malaria would last as long as the greater part (at least) of St Paul’s first visit to South Galatia, at the same time leaving him free to preach with the energy described in Acts 13, 14, and in any case it is hard to imagine that St Mark would have deserted him in such a state. St Mark may have been homesick and cowardly, but he cannot have been brutal. It is easier to suppose that illness was the physical cause why St Paul turned northwards instead of going on towards Ephesus, and that the historian, seeing the blessing to which it ultimately led, stated the spiritual side of it in the words “being prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6). But perhaps the illness was only the cause of delay and so of preaching, rather than of the route taken, and this is strictly the statement of Galatians 4:13.

4. τὸ πρότερον, Galatians 4:13. This can hardly mean “long ago” (see notes), and doubtless implies that St Paul had visited his readers twice, but not more than twice. If therefore they belonged to South Galatia the epistle must be placed not later than in the very beginning of his third Missionary Journey. See further, pp. xxxi. sq.

5. Galatians 2:5, “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” “You” has been thought to prove decisively the South Galatian theory (Zahn, Einleitung, I. 126, 137 sq., E. T. I. 178, 193), for St Paul is referring to the Council in Acts 15 (see Appendix, Note B), and at that time he had not visited North Galatia. But the aim of his conflict for Christian liberty was that the truth of the Gospel might continue with any converts of any time, to whom he might be writing in the hope of warding off attacks made on their Christian freedom. Thus ὑμᾶς refers directly to the Galatian readers, even though they were not necessarily converted before the Council (see notes).

Thus far the weight of the evidence in these preliminary questions appears to be in favour of the North Galatian theory. We turn now to evidence of other kinds.



HAVING considered certain preliminary questions we may turn to the direct evidence adduced in favour of either theory.

1. Considerations urged in support of the theory that the Epistle was addressed to Churches in South Galatia, i.e. to those mentioned in Acts 13, 14.

(i) Generally

(a) It is improbable that Churches whose foundation is described at so much length should be entirely passed over in the epistles of St Paul, save when he reminds Timothy of the sufferings of those early days (2 Timothy 3:11), although he was their joint founder with Barnabas, and afterwards took a warm interest in them (Acts 16:1-5).

(α) He addressed no Epistle to them. This however is of little weight, for the reason of the preservation of his Epistles lies, it would seem, not in the importance of the Churches addressed (witness Colossians), but in the specific character of the contents. He might have written repeatedly to the Churches of South Galatia, and none of his letters would be extant, unless it contained teaching of importance not found elsewhere.

(β) He nowhere alludes to them. For 1 Corinthians 16:1 must go with the interpretation given to Galatians 1:2; Galatians 3:1. This is certainly not what we should have expected, but a priori arguments are proverbially dangerous.

(b) The Churches in South Galatia were more prominent in early Church history than those of North Galatia.

The Thekla legend of the 2nd century speaks with some accuracy of Antioch, Lystra, Iconium, and perhaps also Derbe, and the Churches of South Galatia were active in the 3rd century. But we do not hear of a Christian community in North Galatia before the time of Apolinarius of Hierapolis, not later than 192 A.D. (at Ancyra, Eusebius, Ch. Hist. v. 16. 4), and the next witness is the Synod of Ancyra, 314 A.D. It may be noted that Ramsay in the Expos. Times for Nov. 1909 (pp. 64 sqq.) calls attention to “a martyrdom on a large scale under Domitian or Trajan or Hadrian” at Ancyra in North Galatia. It seems improbable that none of the martyrs came from the neighbourhood of the official capital of the Province, even though the chief martyr Gaianus may perhaps have belonged to Barata in Lycaonia (Gaianoupolis), “which was included in the Province Galatia until the latter part of Hadrian’s reign.”

But this is another form of the preceding argument of the importance of the Churches of South Galatia. The Church of Colossae was less important than those of North Galatia, and yet St Paul wrote to it.

(ii) The contents of the Epistle correspond to what we are told elsewhere of the Churches in South Galatia

(a) Most of the converts were Gentiles (Galatians 2:5, Galatians 4:8, Galatians 5:2, Galatians 6:12, and the subject of the Epistle), but some were Jews (Galatians 3:27-29) and many must have been well acquainted with Jewish modes of exposition (Galatians 4:22-31). So in South Galatia most of the converts were Gentiles, but some were Jews (Acts 13:43; Acts 14:1), for in Antioch and Iconium there were synagogues. Non-biblical writings and inscriptions bear out the presence of Jews in South Galatia, and there is hardly any evidence for the presence of Jews in North Galatia. On the other hand converts who were accustomed to Jews, and Jewish thoughts, would not be so liable to be led astray by Judaizing Christians as were those to whom the claims of Judaism were new. The north of Galatia was more virgin soil for the propagation of Jewish error than the south.

(b) Barnabas. His prominence in the Epistle (Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:13) suits the fact that he was with St Paul in Acts 13, 14 But, on the other hand, in those chapters of Acts he is placed very nearly on an equality with St Paul in his evangelistic work, and in the Epistle St Paul implies that he himself, if not quite alone (Galatians 1:8-9), was yet so much alone as to deem his associates of little importance (Galatians 4:11-20). This would be very suitable if they were only Silas and Timothy (see Galatians 1:8 note).

If the Epistle was addressed to South Galatia Barnabas must have taken a much smaller part in the evangelization of that district than St Luke’s narrative implies, even though we read that at Lystra St Paul was “the chief speaker.” But probably St Paul mentions him both here and in 1 Corinthians 9:6, Colossians 4:10 for the sole reason that he was of high repute among Jewish as well as among Gentile converts.

(c) Galatians 4:14, “Ye received me as an angel of God.” It is suggested that this refers to the fact that the men of Lystra called St Paul Hermes—the messenger of the gods—because he was the chief speaker (Acts 14:12). But in our Epistle he is so received in spite of his illness, which is quite contrary to the impression given by the Acts. Probably the coincidence is accidental, though it may well represent a half unconscious contrast to Galatians 1:8.

The phrase in the Acts of Thekla, § 3, that St Paul’s appearance was sometimes that of an angel is doubtless due to a reminiscence of this passage, and not to an independent tradition of the Pisidian Antioch. See further in the notes.

(d) It is said that the insistence on freedom in the Epistle was peculiarly suitable to the spirit of the South Galatians; that they were in touch with the Graeco-Roman culture of the time and were feeling their way to independence of thought; that, on the other hand, little evidence of this in North Galatia has survived; that the inhabitants were in a lower stage of culture and would not appreciate so readily the Greek spirit underlying our Epistle.

But it may be replied that anyone could appreciate the idea of freedom in contrast to slavery. The freedom taught by St Paul was not peculiarly Greek. Slavery existed in North Galatia as well as in the South, and also, whatever the official religion of North Galatia may have been, it is unlikely that the various forms of mysteries which honeycombed Asia Minor, and taught liberty of spirit from sin and death, were absent there. Neither the Phrygians nor their influence had died out (compare p. xii.).

(e) More important are the references in the Epistle to legal customs. This is a very intricate subject, warmly debated, and is discussed summarily in the Appendix, Note C. Here it must be sufficient to say that the result seems to be indecisive. They could have been made in a letter to either North or South Galatians.

(f) Ramsay (Gal. pp. 399–401) is fully justified in his endeavour to strengthen his theory by appealing to the points in common between St Paul’s address in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:16-41) and our Epistle, on the ground that St Paul desires to recall instruction already given; for there are, doubtless, some striking coincidences between the two (see Galatians 4:4, note on ἐξαπέστειλεν).

But certain considerations may not be overlooked, (α) The greater part of the address, stating how “the history of the Jews becomes intelligible only as leading onward to a further development and to a fuller stage,” though it may be illustrated by our Epistle, is common to the Apostolic way of preaching the Gospel. It is that of St Peter (Acts 3:12-26) and St Stephen (Acts 7). No doubt St Paul also frequently employed it in controversy with Jews, or persons exposed to Jewish influence. (β) Typically Pauline phraseology occurs only in one verse (acts 7:39) and is not peculiar to our Epistle, (γ) The use of ξύλον (Acts 13:29 and Galatians 3:13) of the Cross would be more noticeable if it were not also employed by St Peter (Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24). We regard the coincidences as evidence that St Paul’s teaching never changed essentially, but as insufficient to outweigh the many probabilities that the Epistle was written to the inhabitants of North Galatia.

2. Evidence in support of the opinion that the Epistle was addressed to the Churches of North Galatia

i. Patristic. This is unanimous[21]. It is true that after 295 A.D. North Galatia alone was officially called Galatia (vide supra, p. xiii.), but Origen lived before then, and wrote lengthy commentaries on our Epistle, which Jerome took as his guide, making use also of other writers[22]. Thus probably both Jerome and others who place the readers in North Galatia derived their opinion from him. Again, as Origen’s works were used so freely it is most unlikely that if he had held the South Galatian theory all trace of his opinion should have been lost. Further, the greater the power of the South Galatian Churches (p. xxvi.) the less likely is it that the fact that our Epistle was addressed to them should have died out so completely.

ii. If the Epistle was written after the beginning of the third Missionary Journey (vide infra, p. xxxii.) it is most improbable that St Paul should have addressed the South Galatians alone as Galatians, for then there were other believers in North Galatia (vide supra, pp. xxii. sq.), but he could well address the North Galatians alone by that title, treating Galatia as a geographical, not a political, expression, especially if, as it seems, Schmiedel is right in saying that “only in North Galatia was to be found the people who had borne that name from of old, and in common speech, not only in official documents” (Encyc. Bib. c. 1614, and see above p. xvi.). It is, further, impossible that the Epistle can have been addressed to both districts (as Zahn once supposed), for its readers are clearly connected, both by their past history and by their present condition.

Observe that the Churches of North Galatia had at least as much in common as those of South Galatia. For there was a much greater mixture of races in the South than in the North[23].

Taking into consideration all the various parts of the evidence adduced we are of opinion that the patristic belief is, after all, right, and that St Paul’s readers lived in North Galatia.



IF the Epistle was addressed to North Galatia, as we have seen is probably the case, it must have been written after the beginning of the third Missionary Journey, but it is nevertheless convenient to state succinctly the various opinions of its date, and also it is necessary to try to define the time more accurately.

1. Upon any theory that is even approximately sound it must be between the Council at Jerusalem, A.D. 49 [51], and St Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea, A.D. 56 [58]. The later limit is not seriously contradicted[24]. It is determined by the absence of all reference to his imprisonment, as well as by the difference of the contents of the Epistle from the group of Philippians[25], Colossians and Ephesians with Philemon. The earlier limit has been denied (in England especially by Mr D. Round[26]), but on insufficient grounds. The evidence that it was written after the Council is briefly:

i. Galatians 2:1-10 almost certainly refers to the visit by St Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the Council. See Appendix, Note B.

ii. Galatians 4:13, τὸ πρότερον (see p. xxiv. and notes) refers to the former of two visits already paid, and before the Council he had visited no part of the Province of Galatia more than once. It has been argued indeed that St Paul’s visit to the Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe described in Acts 13:1 to Acts 14:20 was the first visit to which St Paul here refers, and his return journey (Acts 14:21-23) from Derbe to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch was his second. But in any case this excludes Derbe from a second visit, and allows a very short time, hardly more than six months at the most, between the two visits to even Antioch. This is, to say the least, a very unnatural use of τὸ πρότερον.

2. Dates affixed by those who uphold the South Galatian theory

i. The letter was written very soon after his second visit in 49 [51] A.D. ending with Acts 16:6 (on his second Missionary Journey), and perhaps from Corinth, in which case it may well be the earliest of all his Epistles that have come down to us (so Zahn, Einleitung, I. 141, E. T. I. 198). On the psychological improbability of this see below (p. xxxiii.).

ii. It was written from Antioch in Syria some three years after the Council of Jerusalem, just before the beginning of the third Missionary Journey, Acts 18:22, i.e. 52 [54] A.D. (so Ramsay, Paul the Traveller, p. 191). Against this is St Paul’s statement (Galatians 4:20) that he cannot come to them, if, as Ramsay holds, he visited them immediately afterwards.

iii. Observe that for those who hold the South Galatian theory it cannot have been written during or after the third Missionary Journey, for (a) if Acts 18:23 refers to South Galatia St Paul would have visited it a third time, contrary to τὸ πρότερον (vide supra), and (b) if to his second visit to North Galatia (as is probable, see p. xxiii.) he could not have written ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τ. Γαλατίας with reference to the Churches of South Galatia only[27]. While, further, the unity of the readers forbids the supposition that it was addressed to both North and South Galatia.

3. Dates upon the North Galatian theory

Upon the North Galatian theory the Epistle was written after St Paul’s second visit (Acts 18:23) and during his third Missionary Journey. But this lasted nearly three years. Is it possible to determine the date more closely?

i. It was written at the beginning of St Paul’s three years’ stay in Ephesus, A.D. 52 [54] (Schmiedel). This was said to be a traditional view by Victorinus c. 370 A.D. So also the Prologues of the best MSS. of the Vulgate, Amiatinus and Fuldensis (Zahn I. 141, E.T. I. 199). οὕτως ταχέως (Galatians 1:6) has been thought to require this, but the phrase rather refers to the rapidity with which the erroneous teaching was accepted, not to the brevity of the time since St Paul had seen the Galatians (see notes). Also this date places our Epistle at a greater distance from 1 and 2 Cor. and Rom. than the relation between the four Epistles warrants.

ii. For this relation is marked by much common matter and tone of both thought and language. This indeed is granted by all, but it has been urged that it proves little, for St Paul must have held his opinions about Justification and the Law immediately after his conversion, and especially about the time of the Council of Jerusalem. This is true, but it is more probable that St Paul used the same language and arguments in 1 and 2 Cor. and Rom. because his mind was full of them at the time, than that after some years he fell back upon old formulae used already in Gal. To place 1 and 2 Cor. and Rom. at a distance in time from Gal. is to belittle St Paul’s readiness of language and wealth of argument[28].

Prof. Milligan writes with almost too much restraint: “If such resemblances in language and thought are to be reckoned with, how are we to explain the fact that in the Thessalonian Epistle, written, according to most of the supporters of this view, very shortly after Galatians, there is an almost complete absence of any trace of the distinctive doctrinal positions of that Epistle? No doubt the differences in the circumstances under which the two Epistles were written, and the particular ends they had in view, may account for much of this dissimilarity. At the same time, while not psychologically impossible, it is surely most unlikely that the same writer—and he too a writer of St Paul’s keen emotional nature—should show no signs in this (according to this view) later Epistle of the conflict through which he had just been passing, and on which he had been led to take up so strong and decided a position” (The Epistles to the Thessalonians, pp. xxxvi. sq.).

iii. Further, we see that our Epistle most resembles 2 Cor. (especially cc. 10–13) and Rom. The evidence (stated at some length by Lightfoot, Gal. pp. 42–56, and by Salmon in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 2nd edition, I. pp. 1108 sqq.) is on the following lines[29].

(a) The intense personal feeling of “pain at ill-returned affection” (Salmon) due to a movement against his own position and authority introduced among his converts by outsiders: Passim in both Gal. and 2 Cor., but especially compare

Galatians 1:6


2 Corinthians 11:4.

Galatians 1:1


2 Corinthians 12:12.

Galatians 4:16


2 Corinthians 12:15.

(b) Statements dealing with the relation of Gentile converts to the Law.

(α) His opponents are Judaizers, Gal. (passim), 2 Corinthians 11:22.

(β) The arguments of Gal. are expanded in Rom.

The following examples may suffice:

[1] Justification not from the law but by faith.

Galatians 2:16. Romans 3:19-26.

[2] By means of the law death to the law and life in Christ.

Galatians 2:19. Romans 7:4-6.

[3] Crucified with Christ, the believer lives.

Galatians 2:20. Romans 6:6-11.

[4] Abraham the example of faith, and believers are sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:6-9. Romans 4:1-3; Romans 4:9-25.

[5] The old slavery and the new freedom.

Galatians 4:7-9. Romans 6:16-22.

[6] Isaac the true seed of Abraham.

Galatians 4:23; Galatians 4:28. Romans 9:7-9.

[7] Love the fulfilment of the law.

Galatians 5:14. Romans 13:8-10.

[8] The Spirit gives victory over sin.

Galatians 5:16-17. Romans 8:4-11.

(c) Words and phrases.

(α) Peculiar to the four Epistles, though not necessarily in each of these. Observe especially: ἀνάθεμα, ἐλευθερία and its cognates in reference to spiritual freedom.

(β) Peculiar in St Paul’s Epistles to Gal. and 2 Cor.: καινὴ κτίσις, οἱ ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι (cf. Galatians 2:2 sqq.), ζηλοῦν with accusative of the person, κατεσθίειν.

Compare also

Galatians 3:3


Compare also

Galatians 3:13


2 Corinthians 5:21.

(γ) Peculiar in St Paul’s Epistles to Gal. and Rom., or almost so: e.g. δικαιόω (Galatians 4, Romans 15, 1 Corinthians 2, Pastoral Epp. 2), Ἀββά ὁ πατήρ, κληρονόμος (Pastoral Epp. 1). A full list is given by Lightfoot, Gal. p. 48.2 Corinthians 8:6.

Probably therefore our Epistle was written soon after 2 Cor. either in the autumn of 55 [57] A.D. from Macedonia, or a little later, during the early part of St Paul’s three months’ stay in Corinth in the winter of 55, 56 (57, 58), near the end of which he wrote the epistle to the Romans[30].

Probably the first impression received from a perusal of that address is the strangeness of the fact that St Paul should say so much about himself. The subject of Acts 20:18-21 is that of his own efforts and trials at Ephesus, and he returns to it in Acts 20:26-27; Acts 20:31. Why does he lay so much stress on this? 2 Cor. and Gal. supply the answer. His authority and the sincerity of his work had recently been seriously called in question. It is impossible that the Ephesian church should not have heard of this attack, and not have been exposed to it. He therefore recalls to the elders how much the believers at Ephesus owe to him.

Again, St Paul insists on the danger of covetousness, and the duty of caring for others, not only the sick but also ministers of the word (Acts 20:33-35). It is worthy of notice that in Galatians 6:6-10 St Paul calls the attention of his readers to the same duty.



SOME three years had elapsed since St Paul had visited his converts in North Galatia. His first stay among them (Acts 16:6, A.D. 50 [52]) had been caused by illness (Galatians 4:13-14) of a kind to make his message repulsive to them, but, notwithstanding, they had eagerly accepted it, and had been ready to give themselves up in any way for his sake (Galatians 4:15). His second visit (Acts 18:23, A.D. 52 [54]) had also been satisfactory, but he had had occasion to warn them against certain Jewish Christians who preached elsewhere a false form of Christianity (Galatians 1:9, Galatians 4:16).

But now in 55–56 (57–58) A.D. he has recently heard of the effect of this Jewish-Christian teaching on a church as far distant as Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:4), and he can have had no hope that the false teachers would neglect any place where he had made converts, even though it were somewhat away from the greater lines of communication. But he is surprised to learn, perhaps from representatives of the Galatian Churches (cf. Zahn, Einleitung, I. 120, E. T. I. 169), that they have acquired much influence over his converts in Galatia (Galatians 1:6 sqq.), and that very quickly.

1. The danger. It is easy to account for the feelings of the Jewish party among these early Christians. They had been brought up as Jews and had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but they had not entered into the far-reaching results of His teaching or perceived the effect of His death. St Stephen indeed had pointed out the ultimate tendencies, but if some of them heard his speech they can hardly have approved of all of it. In any case they welcomed Gentile converts, but only on condition that these in accepting the Messiah accepted also the preparation for Messiah, and placed themselves under the enactments and practices of the Law of Moses, not only in such lesser points as the observance of seasons (Galatians 4:9 sq.), but also in so fundamental a matter as circumcision itself. This was to be not only a means of perfection (as in the later example of the false teachers at Colossae), but an indispensable means of acquiring salvation. Their argument was: if no Law, then no Christ, for only the Law guaranteed the obtaining of blessing through Christ, and therefore to omit the Law meant to be without the blessing.

It was true, they said, that Paul taught otherwise. But who was Paul? He had no knowledge of Christ at first hand. He was inferior to the Twelve, who had been with Him for three years, and themselves observed the Law. It was not likely that they would countenance the admission of Gentiles unless these observed it also. The Church at Jerusalem was the true model.

These false teachers, it will be noticed, ignored the Council of Jerusalem[31]. They also said that St Paul pleased men, in other words chose the easiest way for Gentiles in order to gain them (Galatians 1:10).

2. The manner in which St Paul deals with the danger

i. He sees the vital importance of this false teaching. It is in fact a different kind of gospel altogether; let anyone who preaches this be anathema (Galatians 1:8-9); and it is a return to old ways once left (Galatians 2:18, Galatians 3:2 sq., Galatians 4:8-11). It depends ultimately on the performance of good works; it misunderstands the very Law which it purposes to uphold, and the religion of Abraham whose followers these Jewish Christians claim to be.

These men are fascinating you, as with the evil eye, so that you are turning away your gaze from the lifelike portraiture of Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:1) on the cross, with all that the cross means as the single instrument of salvation. They want you to follow them that they may boast over you—over your very circumcision in the flesh (Galatians 6:12).

ii. The true Gospel, on the other hand, lies in the reception of salvation and life as a free gift from God. These are bound up with Christ and with Christ alone, apart from the Law and its requirements (Galatians 2:20). Abraham lived by faith (Galatians 3:8-9), and the promise to him is earlier than the Law, and is not overridden by it (Galatians 3:15-18).

The Law, so far from guaranteeing life in Christ, produces death (Galatians 3:10 sq.), and was given to convict of sin and lead men to enjoy the promise by faith on Christ alone (Galatians 3:19-22). The Law was only for a time, Christ redeemed us and gave us the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:1-7). The Law led us to Christ and leaves us with Him (Galatians 3:23-25), all, whatever their nationality or position, being sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for being Christ’s we get the promise made to Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29). The Law itself tells us that freedom is the characteristic of each true son of Abraham (Galatians 4:21 sqq.); therefore stand in your freedom and do not be entangled in bondage again (Galatians 5:1). Circumcision pledges you to do the whole Law—and if circumcised you fall from Christ. For really circumcision and uncircumcision are nothing; the one thing of importance is faith worked by love (Galatians 5:2-6).

iii. Again, he defends his own position. (a) I have no authority! True, not from man nor by any one man, but my authority comes direct from Christ and God the Father (Galatians 1:1). So too my Gospel is not after any human standard but was revealed to me by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). For He was revealed to me at my conversion near Damascus (Galatians 1:16). God chose me and called and sent me forth to preach Him, and He has blessed my work (Galatians 1:15-16). From the first I acted independently of the Twelve (Galatians 1:17) and the Churches of Judaea (Galatians 1:22). But the Twelve acknowledged me (Galatians 2:8 sqq.), and Cephas himself yielded at my public rebuke for not upholding the Gospel life and practice in its simplicity (Galatians 2:11-14).

(b) I am inconsistent, am I? Yes with what I was as a Jew. For I once persecuted the Church, but I am not inconsistent since my conversion. I do not try to please men now (Galatians 1:10). I never had a Gentile convert circumcised, no not even Titus (Galatians 2:1). If I preach circumcision still why should Jews persecute me (Galatians 5:11)?

(c) You loved me once (Galatians 4:12-15)—and you know that I loved you—yea whatever they say (Galatians 4:16) I do love you now (Galatians 4:19). It is not a matter of any self-glorying with me. Christ’s cross, with all it brings of suffering and shame, is my glory (Galatians 6:14). To be a new creature in Christ is the one and only matter of importance—therein lies membership in the true Israel (Galatians 6:15-16).



THE Epistle was not only of value for the time in which it was written and for the readers to whom it was first addressed. It also sets before Christians of all time and every place, in a more concise, even if in a more controversial, form than does the Epistle to the Romans, the essential teaching of the Gospel of Christ, namely that Life in Him is not of works but of faith.

That there is a tendency in human nature to forget this is shown by the history of the Church. For the development of Church doctrine too often has been not on the lines laid down by St Paul, but on others more agreeable to human nature in its present state. Christian writers and teachers have been prone to make much of the ability to perform good works which have in themselves the power of rendering us acceptable to God. It is true indeed that such writers avoided Jewish terms (for the Christian Fathers always had a horror of any return to Judaism and so far St Paul accomplished his immediate aim), but many taught doctrine that gave nearly as much weight to works as did that of the Jews themselves. They were of course careful, as even are thoughtful Jews to-day, to avoid attributing merit to works as such, apart from the spirit in which they are performed, but although they ascribed in theory the virtue of merit to good works only in so far as these were performed by the aid of the grace of God in Christ, yet in practice this came to mean all good works performed by professing Christians. Hence it often came about that while Churchmen were asserting in words that they were saved by their faith in Christ, they trusted in reality to their own good works.

It would be easy to show that this trust was no solitary example of mistaken interpretation of Gospel requirements, but rather was vitally connected with the introduction of non-Christian methods of thought into the Church. For it was only one of the many signs that heathenism was corrupting the simplicity of the Gospel[32], and that Christians were falling away into laxity of ethical life as well as into error of doctrine.

It is not therefore strange that revivals in ethical life on any large scale have always been due to a return to the first principles of St Paul’s teaching, with the consequent acceptance of Christ as the immediate source of spiritual life, apart from, and anterior to, good works. This was the secret of the greater part of Augustine’s power. This was that which gave Luther his personal courage and his energy in his missionary activity. Wesley accomplished but little till he learned it. This has also been the basis of the great Evangelical revival, which is represented to-day not only by the tenets of the Evangelical party, but also by the fundamental teaching of most of the leading Churchmen of our time.

But it is important to remember that when the truth of salvation by faith, apart from works, is taught and received only as a doctrine, it loses its power, and, by reason of necessary changes in the meaning of words that were never intended to appeal only to the intellect, even becomes an untruth. He who would understand the Epistle to the Galatians must be, and must remain, in vital connexion with Christ by faith. Then, but only then, will the Epistle be more than a parchment in an ancient Library, and the Apostle speak to him in a living tongue, a tongue of fire and of love.



THE Epistle to the Galatians has always had an assured place in the Canon of the New Testament, but in view of recent statements that it was composed in the 2nd century, in common with other Epistles of St Paul, it is necessary to recall early evidence of its use.

Marcion when at Rome (probably in 144 A.D.) seceded from the Christian Church there and became the head of a separate body. Yet both he and the Christian Church accepted Galatians and nine others of St Paul’s Epistles, and used them in public worship. It is impossible to suppose that Galatians was taken over by either side from the other, and it is therefore certain that Galatians was accepted by both parties before Marcion’s secession. This would also appear to indicate that it was not composed during Marcion’s lifetime, say after 110 A.D.[33] A similar argument may be deduced from the fact that the Valentinians are referred to by Irenaeus (I. 3. 5) as quoting Galatians 6:14. Further, the existence of small differences in the text of Marcion from that of the Church indicates that some years had elapsed before 110 A.D. since the Epistle was composed.

Further it must be remembered that the great Churches had had an unbroken existence from St Paul’s own time, and would know the Epistles that were addressed to them, and there is no evidence that any Church received as genuine a false letter nominally addressed to them. This argument does not apply indeed to a letter addressed to the believers of North Galatia, but it does to 1 and 2 Cor. and Rom., the genuineness of which is denied by those few persons who deny that of Galatians. Neither, it may be added, would these Churches be likely to permit those grave alterations in the text of the Epistles between A.D. 70 and 110 which certain subjective theories require.

Among Church writers Clement of Rome, “Barnabas” and Ignatius are thought to allude to the Epistle (the passages are given in Lightfoot), but Polycarp (117 A.D.) uses certain phrases which are found there only. These are IX. 2 εἰς κενὸν ἔδραμον (Galatians 2:2); III. 3 ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ πάντων ἡμῶν (Galatians 4:26); v. 1 θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται (Galatians 6:7).

Justin Martyr, Dial. w. Trypho, cc. 95, 96, uses the same argument from Deuteronomy 27:26; Deuteronomy 21:23 as in Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:13, and in his First Apology (c. 53) applies Isaiah 54:1 as St Paul applies it in Galatians 4:27.

Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. III. 7. 2) quotes the Epistle by name: Sed in ea quae est ad Galatas, sic ait, Quid ergo lex factorum? posita est usque quo veniat semen cui promissum est etc. Galatians 3:19. See also III. 6. 5, and 16. 3, V. 21. 1.

It is also contained in the Old Latin Version of the 2nd century, and in the Syriac Version, the date of which however is not so certain. It is also mentioned in the Muratorian Canon.

Its canonicity and genuineness have in fact never been denied until quite recent years.

Baur made it his chief test of the genuineness of Epistles bearing St Paul’s name, accepting fully both it and Romans with 1 Cor., and, with less certainty, 2 Cor.

Lately, a few critics have denied, on purely subjective grounds, the authorship of this and all other Epistles attributed to St Paul, arguing especially that “the doctrinal and religious-ethical contents betoken a development in Christian life and thought of such magnitude and depth as Paul could not possibly have reached within a few years after the crucifixion. So large an experience, so great a widening of the field of vision, so high a degree of spiritual power as would have been required for this it is impossible to attribute to him within so limited a time” (Van Manen, Encycl. Bib. c. 3627 sq.).

This argument may have some force, on Van Manen’s premisses that Christ was a mere man who died and never rose, but on them only. Pfleiderer, not a critic biassed in favour of orthodox Christianity, writes on the other hand: “A … theology like the Pauline, which overthrows the Jewish religion by the methods of proof drawn from the Jewish schools, is perfectly intelligible in the case of the historic Paul, who was converted from a pupil of the Pharisees to an apostle of Christ; it would be wholly unintelligible in a ‘Pauline Christian’ of the second century.” (Primitive Christianity, E. T. 1906, I. 209 sq.)



THE authorities for the text of our Epistle are so nearly the same as those for that of Colossians that it is sufficient to refer the student to the somewhat full statement given in the edition of Colossians and Philemon in this series.

The evidence for the various readings in Galatians is generally taken from Tischendorf’s Eighth Edition and Tregelles.



(A) 1:1–5. Salutation.

(B) 1:6–9. Subject of the Epistle stated, in St Paul’s surprise at the rapidity with which the Galatians were listening to a false gospel.

(C) 1:10–2:21. St Paul’s defence of himself.

Galatians 1:10-12. My one object is to please God, and to serve Christ, who revealed to me the Gospel.

Galatians 1:13-14. The Gospel was no product of my previous life.

Galatians 1:15-17. Nor of conference with other Christians after my conversion.

Galatians 1:18-24. I paid a very brief visit to Jerusalem, which was followed by a long absence.

Galatians 2:1-10. After fourteen years more I visited Jerusalem again and saw certain Apostles, towards whom I maintained full independence, which indeed they recognised.

Galatians 2:11-14. In particular I acted independently towards Cephas and Barnabas.

Galatians 2:15-21. (Transition to D.) My attitude and words to Peter were the same as those towards you now—observance of the Law is not necessary for Gentile Christians.

(D) 3–5:12. A clear doctrinal statement of salvation by faith, with renewed appeals.

Galatians 3:1-6. Your very reason, and your own experience, should tell you the all-importance of faith.

Galatians 3:7-9. Faith makes men sons of Abraham, and brings the blessing promised in him.

Galatians 3:10-14. Works regarded as a source of life bring a curse, faith the blessing and the Spirit.

Galatians 3:15-18. The relation of the promise to the Law; the latter cannot hinder the former.

Galatians 3:19-22. The true place and purpose of the Law. It was subordinate to the promise, and preparatory, by developing the sense of sin.

Galatians 3:23 to Galatians 4:7. The contrast between our former state of pupillage under the Law, and our present state of deliverance by Christ and of full sonship.

Galatians 4:8-11. Appeal; after so great a change how can you go back!

Galatians 4:12-20. A further appeal; based on his behaviour among them and their treatment of him.

Galatians 4:21 to Galatians 5:1. Another appeal; based on the principles of bondage and freedom underlying the history of Hagar and Sarah, and the birth of Isaac. Christ set us free; stand fast therefore in this freedom.

Galatians 5:2-12. Another, but sharper, appeal and warning. The observance of the Law is inconsistent with faith in Christ.

(E) 5:13–6:10. Practical. Liberty is not license, but service. Not the flesh but the spirit must be the aim of the believer.

Galatians 5:13-15. Yet true freedom implies service to others.

Galatians 5:16-24. The nature, outcome and means of liberty in daily life.

Galatians 5:25 to Galatians 6:6. Life by the Spirit brings unselfish care for others, e.g. for one’s teachers.

Galatians 6:7-10. Show such kindness, for the harvest will come.

(F) 6:11–16. Autographic summary of the Epistle (the autograph continuing to Galatians 5:18). The aims of the false teachers and his own contrasted. The cross as the means of the new creation in believers is all-important.

(G) 6:17. Nothing can trouble me; I belong to my master, Jesus.

(H) 6:18. Valediction.



THOSE marked with [34] are quite indispensable to a serious student. The few remarks may afford some guidance.

Jerome, 387 or 388 A.D. Probably he drew largely from Origen’s lost commentaries. He always endeavours to show the practical bearing of the Epistle on the theological difficulties of his time.

Chrysostom, Hom., c. 390 A.D. Disappointing after his Colossians. Ed. F. F(ield), 1852.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, c. 420 A.D. Philosophical. Ed. Swete, 1880.

Theodoret, c. 440 A.D. A model of a brief popular commentary. Unfortunately c. Galatians 2:6-14 is missing. Ed. Noesselt, Halle, 1771.

Luther, 1519 A.D. Valuable for the light thrown on Luther’s personal relation both to Pharisaism and to antinomianism. English Translation, 1644.

Perkins, W. Typically Puritan, bounded by the practical needs of his audience. Cambridge, 1604.

Wetstein, Nov. Test. 1752. Invaluable for its parallels from Classical writers, early and late.

Jowett, 1855. Clear and independent.

Alford, 4th ed., 1865. Great common sense.

Ellicott, 4th ed., 1867. Grammar and patristic references.

Beet, J. A., 2nd ed., 1885. Earlier and longer than his work on Colossians, but not so stimulating.

Findlay, G. G., in the Expositor’s Bible, 1888. Admirable for the preacher.

Sieffert in Meyer’s Kommentar, Göttingen, 1899.

Weiss, B., Die Paulinische Briefe, 2nd ed. 1902. Brief, but never to be neglected.

Rendall, F., in the Expositor’s Greek Testament, 1903. Invariably interesting and ingenious.

Bacon, B. W., 1909. Very suggestive. The writer of the Acts idealizes.

Among other books may be mentioned:

Askwith, E. H., The Epistles to the Galatians, an Essay on its destination and date, 1899.

Woodhouse, W. J. and Schmiedel, P. W. in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, 1901, coll. 1589–1626.

Steinmann, A., Die Abfassungszeit des Galaterbriefes. Münster, 1906.

Steinmann, A., Der Leserkreis des Galaterbriefes, Münster, 1908.


[40] The dates are based upon the general system framed by Mr C. H. Turner in his article on the Chronology of the New Testament in Hastings’ D. B. I. 415 sqq. Those assigned by Lightfoot (Biblical Essays, 1893, pp. 221 sq., with note in Galatians 2:1-2) are added in brackets.


35–36 (34 or 36)


Acts 9

Galatians 1:15-16

Visit to Arabia

Galatians 1:17

38 (37 or 38)

First visit to Jerusalem

Acts 9:26

Galatians 1:18

Visit to Cilicia

Acts 9:30

Galatians 1:21

45 [44]

Brought from Tarsus by Barnabas to Antioch, where he stays a year

Acts 11:25-26

Galatians 1:21

46 [45]

Second visit to Jerusalem with alms

Acts 11:29-30

47 [48]

First visit to S. Galatia (on first Missionary Journey)

Acts 13:14 to Acts 14:23

49 [51]

St Peter at Antioch

Galatians 2:11-14

Third visit to Jerusalem (Council)

Acts 15:4-29

Galatians 2:1-10

49 [51]

Second visit to S. Galatia (on second Missionary Journey, 49 [51]—51 [53])

Acts 16:1-5

First visit to N. Galatia

Acts 16:6

Galatians 4:13-15

50, 51 [52]

1 Thessalonians

50, 51 [53]

2 Thessalonians

52 [54]

Second visit to N. Galatia (on third Missionary Journey, 52 [54]—56 [58])

Acts 18:23

[Galatians 4:13]

55 [57]

1 Corinthians, in the Spring, from Ephesus

55 [57]

2 Corinthians, in the Autumn, from Macedonia

55–56 (57–58)

Galatians, in the late Autumn, from Macedonia, or in the Winter, from Corinth

56 [58]

Romans, in the Spring, from Corinth



Arabia in Galatians 1:17 and Galatians 4:25

THE terms Arabia and Arabians, as used during the first century A.D., referred not only to the peninsula proper including the Sinaitic peninsula (Galatians 4:25), but also especially to the kingdom of the Nabathaeans. So Josephus expressly in Antt. I. 12. 4 § 221. He also speaks of Arabia being on the east of Peraea (B.J. III. 3. 3 [§ 47]), of its being visible from the Temple towers (B. J. V. 4. 3 [§ 160]), and of its limit in the country of Gamalitis (Antt. XVIII. 5. 1§ 113). The Nabathaeans, who presumably came from a more southern part, were settled in Petra B.C. 312 (if not even earlier, in the first half of the 5th cent. B.C. see Malachi 1:3), and from that time came into frequent touch with the Seleucid, Egyptian, Jewish, and Roman rulers, holding their own with some ease, on account of the natural difficulties of their country. The limits of their kingdom changed, but in the first century A.D. extended as far north as the neighbourhood of Damascus. Damascus itself was under the suzerainty of Rome, but the cessation of Roman coinage there after 33–34 until 62 A.D. makes it probable that during those years it was in the hands of the Arabians, probably ceded to Aretas IV. by Caligula. Thus St Paul’s notice, 2 Corinthians 11:32, is so far confirmed. See further Schürer, English Translation, I. ii., pp. 345 sqq., C. H. Turner in Hastings, D.B. I. 416, and Nöldeke in Hastings-Selbie, D.B. s.v. Arabia.

It is then clear, if the language of Josephus is sufficient guide, that when St Paul speaks of spending two years in Arabia he may mean anywhere in the kingdom of the Nabathaeans, from near Damascus down to the Sinaitic peninsula. As he does not give any closer definition he probably wandered from place to place. He may even have gone as far south as Mt Sinai, but we know too little of the possibilities of travelling at that time in Petra and the districts bordering upon it to be able to say that he could do so. It may be doubted whether the sentimental reason of visiting the scene of the giving of the Law would have appealed to him just after his conversion. The case of Elijah was wholly different: to him the revelation to Moses was the highest conceivable; not so to St Paul.


Galatians 2:1-10 in relation to Acts 15:4-29

It has been asserted that it would be a suppression of the truth if St Paul omitted one of his visits to Jerusalem in Galatians 1:17 to Galatians 2:10 and that therefore the visit recorded in Galatians 2:1-10 must be his second visit, mentioned in Acts 11:29-30. But this is to misunderstand the object of St Paul’s enumeration. He does not seem to have had any interest in his visits to Jerusalem as such, but in his independence of the older Apostles, and if for some reason he did not see them on his second visit—either because of their absence, or because his visit was purely to the administrators of the funds—he would quite naturally omit this visit. That he did not see them on that second visit seems plainly indicated by the wording of Acts 11:30. There is therefore no a priori necessity for identifying the visit of Galatians 2:1-10 with that of Acts 11:29-30, and we are free to consider the theory that it is the same as that of Acts 15, the occasion of the conference in Jerusalem.

I. There are however many points of difference between the two reports.

1. St Paul says (Galatians 2:2) that he went up by revelation; St Luke (Acts 15:2) that he was sent by the Church at Antioch (ἔταξαν ἀναβαίνειν Παῦλον κ.τ.λ.). But the two statements are not incompatible, especially if the revelation was made to the Church.

2. St Paul says that he took Titus, and enlarges on the question of his circumcision. St Luke never mentions him either in Acts 15 or anywhere else. Observe however that St Paul uses a term (συμπαραλαβών) which implies that Titus was only a subordinate (see notes).

3. “False brethren” (Galatians 2:4) seems too harsh a title to apply to the Jewish Christians of Acts 15:1. But, whatever the motive of these may have been, the issue of their teaching was certainly contrary to the Gospel, and if St Paul saw this, and the whole of our Epistle proves him likely to do so, he might easily regard them as “false brethren.”

4. St Paul speaks of a private interview with “them of repute,” apparently the Three; St Luke rather of a public meeting. But it may be noticed that St Paul’s language (κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ) implies a public meeting of some kind, and that St Luke implies two public meetings (Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6). Judging from the analogy of most public conferences it is probable that they would be preceded, or accompanied, by private interviews.

5. St Paul (Galatians 2:10) speaks of insistence by the Three on his remembering the poor, which, he adds, he was zealous to do. St Luke makes no mention of this. His second visit indeed had the ministry to the poor of Jerusalem for its special object, but the language of Galatians 2:10 would be extraordinary if descriptive of that mission. It would also have been most ungracious of the Three to insist on this when he had just brought money for them to distribute.

6. St Paul makes no allusion to the decrees about food etc., made at the Council, and disseminated by its letter (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29). This would, we must confess, be strange if, with Zahn, we date the Epistle soon after the Council (see Introd., p. xxxii.), but not if some years had elapsed, as is more probable. During that time it had become increasingly evident to St Paul that it was impossible to make such decrees binding on Gentile converts, even if they had ever been more than advisory.

7. St Paul speaks of his dispute with St Peter immediately after describing this visit, and it is urged that if the passage Galatians 2:1-10 refers to Acts 15 it is passing strange that St Peter should so soon have fallen back, and that therefore St Paul in Galatians 2:1-10 really refers to his second visit (Acts 11:29-30). But if St Paul’s order is not chronological (see the Commentary) this argument falls to the ground.

II. Even if some doubt be felt about some of the answers to the difficulties now just stated, the points of similarity between the narratives of St Paul and St Luke are enough to make us decide in favour of the theory that Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:4-29 refer to the same events.

1. The chief persons are the same, Barnabas and Paul on the one hand, James and Peter on the other. The fact that St Paul also mentions St John, but not as taking any lead, is hardly an objection. At any rate none of the Three are mentioned in Acts 11:29-30.

2. The subject of the discussion is the same, the freedom of Gentile converts from the Law. If too, as is probable, St Paul’s dispute with St Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) chronologically precedes Galatians 2:1-10, the occasion of the discussion is mentioned in nearly similar words, the presence of “certain from James,” Galatians 2:12, and of some who had “come down from Judaea,” Acts 15:1, cf. Acts 15:24.

3. The general character also of the discussion was the same; a prolonged and hard fought contest.

4. The general result was the same; liberty of the Gentile converts and agreement of the Three with St Paul.

5. Lastly, the dates agree. The second visit (Acts 11:29-30) took place before the death of Herod Agrippa I in 44 A.D. and the mention of fourteen years in Galatians 2:1 makes it impossible to place the events of Galatians 2:1-10 so early as that. For if we understand the fourteen years of Galatians 2:1 to mean fourteen years from St Paul’s conversion, this would throw back his conversion to 31 or even 30 A.D., which is impossible; while if, as is probable, the fourteen years date from the end of the first visit to Jerusalem, i.e. some three years after his conversion, the difficulty is even greater.

6. In spite therefore of acknowledged difficulties—such, after all, as are to be expected when events are related from very different standpoints and with very different objects—it is in every way better to hold to the usual opinion that St Paul in Galatians 2:1-10 refers to the events recorded by St Luke in Acts 15:4-29, than to say that he refers to those recorded in Acts 11:29-30. It is hardly worth while discussing other theories, according to which the situation of Galatians 2:1-10 is that of Acts 18:22 or Acts 21:17.


Legal Customs mentioned in this Epistle

1. Adoption

Adoption was not a Hebrew practice and there is no word in Hebrew for it. But it was extremely common in the Graeco-Roman world. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 239) speaks of innumerable examples of the term υἱοθεσία in the pre-Christian Inscriptions of the islands of the Ægean Sea, in the formula A son of B, καθʼ υἱοθεσίαν δέ son of C. The figure of speech therefore would be readily understood by everyone in St Paul’s time[175].

There were however two distinct systems of adoption, one early Greek, the other typically Roman. According to the former, adoption was primarily, in failure of a son by the course of nature, to ensure the observance of religious rites by the adopted son. Thus heirship of property was a secondary consideration. A man was heir only if he was a son by nature or by adoption. Further, the adopter had no power to revoke the adoption.

The Roman system had originally been much the same, but long before Christian times it had become different. Property, as it seems, might be willed away apart from sons, sonship by nature or adoption was no necessary prelude to inheritance. Also the adopter had to buy the adopted from his natural father, though the purchase (repeated thrice) seems to have been in historic times only a legal fiction (see Galatians 4:5 note). Further, the adopter might at any time revoke the adoption.

In Galatians 3:7-9 it must be acknowledged that of the two systems the early Greek is indicated rather than the Roman. But it is extremely improbable that the South Galatians of St Paul’s time practised the early Greek system. For it seems to have become decadent. The papyri give examples of inheritance being willed without adoption (even Isaeus at Athens c. 370 B.C. speaks of this), and the Code of Gortyna, published about B.C. 450, even permits the adopter to revoke adoption by simply announcing this from the stone in the Agora before the assembled citizens. Schmiedel even says, “So far as we have been able to discover, it is not possible, in the Greek sphere, to point to any area, however limited, within which prevailed that irrevocability which Ramsay (Gal. p. 351) without qualification speaks of as ‘a characteristic feature of Greek law’ ” (Encycl. Bib. c. 1609).

The Greek and the Roman laws of adoption are stated by Wood-house in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (I. 107 sqq.). See also Schmiedel Enc. Bib. cc. 1608 sq., and especially Dr Dawson Walker’s masterly essay on The Legal Terminology in the Epistle to the Galatians in his Gift of Tongues, pp. 127–134.

2. The διαθήκη in Greek Law

Akin to the question of Adoption in St Paul’s time is that of the Disposition or Will (see Galatians 3:15 note), of which indeed Adoption was one form. Ancient Greek law is said to have differed from the later Roman law in requiring the public confirmation of “Wills,” and in their irrevocability, but even if this be true it is questionable how long the Greek law remained in force and especially whether it was in force in Asia Minor in St Paul’s time.

On the words: “When it has been confirmed,” Galatians 3:15, Ramsay writes, “Every Will had to be passed through the Record Office of the city. It was not regarded in the Greek law as a purely private document, which might be kept anywhere and produced when the testator died. It must be deposited, either in the original or in a properly certified copy, in the Record Office; and the officials there were bound to satisfy themselves that it was a properly valid document before they accepted it. If there was an earlier will the later must not be accepted, unless it was found not to interfere with the preceding one. That is a Greek, not a Roman custom. There was no such provision needed in Roman law, for the developed Roman will might be revoked and changed as often as the testator chose; and the latest Will cancelled all others” (Ramsay, Gal., pp. 354 sq.). Further, “as the Galatian Will is unlike the Roman and like the Greek, it is clear that Greek law must have been established among the people to whom Paul was writing” (p. 354).

Dawson Walker however makes it clear that (a) the public confirmation of wills was not customary at Athens, where wills were deposited with friends, and their contents remained unknown till the death of the testator; (b) at Athens in the 4th cent. B.C. διαθῆκαι so deposited could, as it seems, be demanded back to be destroyed, or declared no longer valid. Greek wills indeed found in the Fajum etc. often contain clauses that the testator is free to alter or invalidate, which would seem to imply that the opposite was customary, but this is evidence of a very negative character. It is more probable that the Syro-Roman Law Book of the fifth century A.D. represents the custom prevailing in Asia Minor in the first century: “If a man makes a will, and he who made it makes known in brief the determination that he has formed to make another will, then is the first that he made no longer valid” (Bruns and Sachau’s edition, p. 15, quoted by Dawson Walker, loc. cit., p. 142).

We cannot therefore press Galatians 3:15 to indicate that the recipients of the letter were persons who followed specifically Greek customs and belonged to South Galatia rather than to the North.

3. Guardians and Curators, and the Coming of Age

In Galatians 4:2 St Paul says that the heir is under personal guardians and curators of property (see notes) until the time appointed by the father. What relation do these statements hold to the Greek and the Roman law, and what light is thrown by this relation upon the locality of the recipients of the Epistle?

[1] Personal guardians (ἐπίτροποι) and curators of property (οἰκονόμοι). In Roman law the father might choose the guardians, but not the curators who were appointed by the State. In purely Greek law the father could appoint both, but there seems to have been no difference in the duties of ἐπίτροποι and οἰκονόμοι.

In the Syrian Law Book, dating from the fifth century but incorporating much material that is older, the distinction of ἐπίτροποι and curatores appears to be made, but the father appoints both. It has been argued that this book is Seleucid (therefore practically Greek) and that therefore St Paul is writing to people who were under Greek influence (Ramsay, Gal., pp. 391–393). But the evidence for the Seleucid origin of this Law Book is extremely hypothetical. The book is rather purely Roman, with a certain amount of alteration due to later influence. The fact therefore that St Paul presupposes in his readers an acquaintance with the practice that the father appoints both guardians and curators shows only that he is writing to people who did not observe the strictest and most classical form of Roman law. This is to be expected in North and South Galatia alike. But the distinction between the two offices (implied by St Paul’s use of the two words) points rather to North Galatia (if it be true that Roman influence prevailed there) than to the South.

[2] “The time appointed by the father.”

It has been already shown in the Notes that even in Roman law the father had some choice in this. St Paul’s words therefore do not favour the opinion that the Epistle was addressed to readers who were accustomed to Greek law rather than Roman.

On the whole question Dr Dawson Walker’s judicial remarks are worth quoting: “The conclusion to which we are strongly inclined is that St Paul’s legal allusions will be ultimately found to be generally grounded on the usages of Roman Civil Law.… How does this bear on the precise destination of the Epistle? To the present writer it seems to have no effective bearing on the question at all. We recall, on the one hand, Ramsay’s emphatic assertion that ‘as North Galatia grew in civilisation it was not Greek, but Roman manners and organisation that were introduced’ [Gal., p. 373]. We recall, on the other hand, his admission in connection with South Galatia, that in regard to the two Roman colonies, Antioch and Lystra, it might be maintained that their new foundation implied a Romanisation of society [Gal., p. 374]. To a certain extent it did so; actual Italian settlers would not abandon their Occidental ideas of family and inheritance. It seems very probable, therefore, that whether the Christian communities to which the Epistle was sent were situated in North or in South Galatia, there would be a sufficiently strong Roman environment to make such general allusions as St Paul makes to Roman Civil Law quite intelligible. We therefore conclude that the legal allusions in the Epistle are indecisive. There is nothing in them that bears so directly on the question of the locality of the Galatian Churches as to enable us to say decisively whether the Epistle was sent to North or to South Galatia” (The Gift of Tongues etc., pp. 174 sq.). See also Schmiedel, Encycl. Bib. cc. 1608 sqq.


Archbishop Temple on Galatians 3:20

“I prefer to take the argument in this sense. The law was ordained for a temporary purpose and showed its temporary character by being given through a Mediator. For God, being the eternal unity, can make no abiding covenant with any except those whom He so unites with Himself as to exclude the notion of a Mediator altogether. Or to put it in another way—a mediator implies separation, and a covenant made through a mediator implies perpetual separation while the covenant lasts. Such a covenant therefore cannot be eternal, for God the Eternal One cannot allow perpetual separation from Himself.” A letter in 1852 to the Rev. Robert Scott, afterwards Dean of Rochester (Life of Archbishop Temple, II. p. 494).


νόμος and ὁ νόμος

In this Epistle νόμος is found twenty times without, and nine times (excluding Galatians 6:2) with, the article. It is agreed that ὁ νόμος always (in this Epistle) means the Mosaic Law, but what of νόμος? Does this mean law in the abstract, law in general, of which indeed the Mosaic is the greatest example, or does it mean the Mosaic Law itself?

If St Paul had been a Greek or a Roman we should have unhesitatingly replied that the former of these alternatives was to be accepted. But St Paul was primarily, and above all things, a Jew, and we have to consider Jewish modes of thought and forms of expression rather than Greek or Roman. Now the Hebrew Tôrah, of which νόμος is the recognised and nearly invariable rendering in the LXX., is used frequently of the Mosaic Law, written or oral (even without the article)[176], but very seldom, if ever, of law in general. We cannot help therefore being very suspicious of the interpretation of νόμος by law in general favoured though it is by many scholars. St Paul as a Jew was little likely to turn to abstract modes of thought; he would prefer the more vivid, and have in mind a specific example rather than a general idea. Thus a heathen is to him ἄνομος (1 Corinthians 9:21), without the Torah, and the heathen τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα, even though when they perform unwittingly the things contained in the Law they are a law to themselves (Romans 2:14).

We conclude therefore that in all probability St Paul always had the Mosaic Law in mind when he employed νόμος, unless some other meaning is definitely expressed by the context. Thus in certain cases, especially after prepositions (Galatians 2:19; Galatians 2:21, Galatians 3:11; Galatians 3:18 (?), 23, Galatians 4:4 sq., Galatians 4:21, Galatians 5:18; cf. Romans 5:13, where ἄχρι νόμου corresponds to μέχρι ΄ωυσέως in v. 14) and after substantives without the article (Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5; Galatians 3:10; cf. Romans 2:25; James 2:11; James 4:11), we must translate νόμος by “the Law,” meaning thereby the Mosaic Law.

On the other hand we do not intend to deny all force to the absence of the article. The absence lays stress on the quality rather than the thing in itself. “It is not the Law as the Mosaic Law, but the Mosaic Law as a law” (Winer-Schmiedel, § 19. 13 h; cf. § 18. 4 g)[177].


πνεῦμα and τὸ πνεῦμα

St Paul’s use of πνεῦμα in the Epistle is perplexing, and is complicated, not explained, by the presence or absence of the article, the secret of his use perhaps being that he did not make in his own mind that sharp distinction which we make between the fully personal holy Being, whom we call the Holy Ghost, and that form of His activity which we term spirit. If only it were permissible to see in the presence of the article an indication that St Paul intended the former, and in its absence the latter, a decision in each case would be easy, but facts do not lend themselves to so mechanical a method. The absence of the article suggests quality and its presence definition, but the reference of the definition is to be determined by many things, notably the context.

St Paul indeed does not speak of spirit in contrast to mere matter. The nearest approach to this is Galatians 3:3 (πνεῦμα). But even there σάρξ is not the material flesh as such, but the sensuous, with its interests in this world, compared with that higher influence and mode of life which may be termed spirit. Such a contrast of “spirit” to “flesh” is found also in Galatians 4:29, Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25 and probably even in Galatians 5:5 (all πνεῦμα), and also, as it seems, in certain cases where the article is used, Galatians 5:17 bis and perhaps Galatians 6:8 bis.

In one passage St Paul plainly has in mind Him whom we call the Holy Ghost, Galatians 4:6 (τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ), and we may perhaps allow our less subtle minds to suppose that he intended this also in Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5; Galatians 3:14 (all τὸ πνεῦμα). In Galatians 5:22 (τὸ πνεῦμα), while there is a strong contrast to σάρξ, the personal activity of the Holy Ghost seems, on the whole, to be intended. In Galatians 6:18 τὸ πνεῦμα ὑμῶν signifies the higher part of each believer, or perhaps of each man; in Galatians 6 :1 πνεῦμα is used not so much metaphorically as properly, i.e. of the higher, spiritual, mode of life defined afterwards by the special grace under consideration (πνεῦμα πραΰτητος).

On the possibility of πνεῦμα without the article “expressing clearly and definitely the Holy Spirit in the full personal sense” see further Bp Chase’s additional note to his Confirmation in the Apostolic Age. But there seems to be no example of this use in our Epistle.

4. ὑπὲρ אcB 17 67** with Text. Rec.; περὶ א*AD.

τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος א*AB syrHarcl.; τ. ἐνεστ. αἰῶνος אc DG latt.

8. εὐαγγελίσηται אA evangelizaverit latt.; -ζηται BDgrG; adnuntiet Cypr.; -ζεται KP. The reverse error occurs in v. 9 where G reads εὐαγγελίζηται instead of εὐαγγελίζεται.

[ὑμῖν] אcADc; before εὐαγγ. B; omitted in א*G.

15. [ὁ θεὸς] Text. Rec. with אAD syrHarcl. mg; omitted by BG vulg. Syrpesh. Harcl. text.

17. ἀνῆλθον אAKL syrHarcl. text, perhaps from v. 18; ἀπῆλθον BDG syrpesh. Harcl. mg, perhaps from the latter part of this verse.

18. Κηφᾶν א*AB syrpesh. Harcl. marg; Πέτρον Text. Rec. with אcDG latt. SyrHarcl. text.

21. [τῆς] Κιλικίας. τῆς is omitted only by א* 17. 47. 120.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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