Friday, June 5, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of Galatians

Galatians, The Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle St. Paul not long after his journey through Galatia and Phrygia (Acts xviii. 23), and probably in the early portion of his two years and a half stay at Ephesus, which terminated with the Pentecost of a.d. 57 or 58. The Epistle appears to have been called forth by the machinations of Judaizing teachers, who, shortly before the date of its composition, had endeavored to seduce the churches of this province into a recognition of circumcision (v. 2, 11, 12, vi. 12, sq.), and had openly sought to depreciate the apostolic claims of St. Paul (comp. i. 1, 11). The scope and contents of the Epistle are thus — (1) apologetic (i., ii.) and polemical (iii., iv.) ; and (2) hortatory and practical (v., vi.): the positions and demonstrations of the former portion being used with great power and persuasiveness in the exhortations of the latter. With regard to the genuineness and authenticity of this Epistle, no writer of any credit or respectability has expressed any doubts. The testimony of the early church is most decided and unanimous. Besides express references to the Epistle we have one or two direct citations found as early as the time of the Apostolic Fathers, and several apparent allusions. Two historical questions require a brief notice: — 1. The number of visits made by St. Paul to the churches of Galatia previous to his writing the Epistle. These seem certainly to have been two. The Apostle founded the churches of Galatia in the visit recorded Acts xvi. 6, during his second missionary journey, about a.d. 51, and revisited them at the period and on the occasion mentioned Acts xviii. 23, when he went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia. On this occasion it would seem probable that he found the leaven of Judaism beginning to work in the churches of Galatia. 2. Closely allied with the preceding question is that of the date, and the place from which the Epistle was written. Conybeare and Howson, and more recently Lightfoot, urge the probability of its having been written at about the same time as the Epistle to the Romans. They would therefore assign Corinth as the place where the Epistle was written, and the three mouths that the Apostle stayed there (Acts xx. 2, 3), apparently the winter of a.d. 57 or 58, as the exact period. But it seems almost impossible to assign a later period than the commencement of the prolonged stay in Ephesus (a.d. 54).

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 277

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