When Paul was hopping mad – Monday, 27th Week in ordinary time – Galatians 1:6-12
For the next nine weekdays, the liturgy of the Church will take for its first reading, texts from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The epistle spans six chapters. This is an important epistle that requires our attention not only for what it says but for what others claimed that it said. Its use or misuse during the Protestant reformation led to many of the divisions within Christianity.
Martin Luther cherry picked this book as his ‘great charter.’ He failed to properly reconstruct the conversation based on its original context and instead read Galatians and Romans through the lens of his own personal experience and the controversies of his era. He saw in this book the doctrine of salvation through the grace of Christ alone and assumed that what Paul was denouncing was role of good works. What Martin Luther did was a classic case of eisegesis. Biblical exegesis can be best understood as ‘drawing out’ what the text is saying while eisegesis means to draw in; in the sense of “importing” or “drawing in” one’s own subjective interpretations into the text, unsupported by the text itself .
Paul is writing to the Galatians, perhaps about 55 AD. Among other things, Galatians gives many autobiographical details of the apostle’s earlier life and evangelistic activity. At the time of Paul, Galatia was a province of the Roman Empire. Galatia is situated in what is today, modern day Turkey. The earliest inhabitants of that area were of Celtic origin. They migrated from central Europe across Italy and Macedonia to Asia Minor where they were hired by the local king as mercenaries around the year 280 B.C.
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he did not write to a single church in a single city. For example, 1 Thessalonians is addressed to the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1). This epistle was addressed to the churches of Galatia, because Galatia was a region, not a city and there were several churches among the cities of Galatia.
Even though I mentioned that this book was written in 55 AD, there are several time periods and several locations given for the location of the audience and the date of this epistle. We know that Paul was in southern Galatia on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13-14:23). However some scholars have also suggested that he went through northern Galatia on his second and third missionary journeys. They back this with texts such as (Acts 16:6).