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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Galatia

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a province of the Lesser Asia, bounded on the west by Phrygia, on the east by the river Haylys, on the north by Paphlagonia, and on the south by Lycaonia. The Galatians are said to have been descended from those Gauls, who, finding their own country too strait for them, left it, after the death of Alexander the Great, in quest of new settlements. Quitting their own country, they migrated eastward along the Danube till they came where the Saave joins that river; then dividing themselves into three bodies, under the conduct of different leaders, one of these bodies entered Pannonia; another marched into Thrace; a third into Illyricum and Macedonia. The party which proceeded into Thrace crossed the Bosphorus into the Lesser Asia, and hiring themselves to Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, assisted him to subdue his brother Zipetes, with whom he was then at war; and as a reward of their services they received from him a country in the middle of Asia Minor, which from them was afterward called

Gallo- Graecia, and, by contraction, Galatia. As their inland situation in a great measure cut them off from all intercourse with more civilized nations, the Galatians long remained a rude and illiterate people. And as a proof of this, it is mentioned by Jerom, that when the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel among them, and for many ages afterward, they continued to speak the language of the country from whence they came out.

2. Paul and Barnabas carried the light of the Gospel into the regions of Galatia at a very early period; and it appears from the epistle which the former subsequently wrote to the churches in that country, that they had at first received it with great joy, Galatians 4:15 . But some Judaizing teachers getting access among them soon after the Apostle's departure, their minds became corrupted from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus; and, though mostly Gentiles, they were beginning to mingle circumcision, and other Jewish observances, with their faith in Christ, in order to render it more available to their salvation. This occasioned Paul's writing his epistle to those churches; and his object throughout nearly the whole of it is to counteract the pernicious influence of the doctrine of those false teachers, particularly as it respected the article of justification, or a sinner's acceptance with God. And in no part of the Apostle's writings is that important doctrine handled in a more full and explicit manner; nor does he any where display such a firm, determined, and inflexible opposition to all who would corrupt the truth from its simplicity. He begins by expressing his astonishment that they were so soon turned aside "unto another gospel," but instantly checking himself, he recals the word and declares, "it is not another gospel," but a perversion of the Gospel of Christ. "And though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." There are in his epistle several other things equally pointed and severe, particularly his expostulation on the folly and absurdity of their conduct in subjecting themselves to the Jewish yoke of bondage, Galatians 3:1 . "The erroneous doctrines of the Judaizing teachers." says Dr. Macknight, "and the calumnies their spread for the purpose of discrediting St. Paul's apostleship, no doubt occasioned great uneasiness of mind to him and to the faithful in that age, and did much hurt, at least for a while, among the Galatians. But in the issue these evils have proved of no small service to the church in general; for by obliging the Apostle to produce the evidences of his apostleship, and to relate the history of his life, especially after his conversion, we have obtained the fullest assurance of his being a real Apostle, called to the office by Jesus Christ himself; consequently we are assured that our faith in the doctrines of the Gospel, as taught by him, (and it is he who hath taught the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel most fully,) is not built on the credit of a man, but on the authority of the Spirit of God, by whom St. Paul was inspired in the whole of the doctrine which he has delivered to the world."

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Galatia'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/g/galatia.html. 1831-2.

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