Upon arriving back in Antioch from his first missionary journey after eighteen months on the road, Paul received a report that the churches he had started in Galatia had fallen into hard times—specifically, they had fallen into error. A group of Judaizers—those who sought to make living under the Mosaic Law a requirement of the Christian faith—had gained an influence in the Galatian churches.
Paul wrote the book a few months before his attendance at the Jerusalem Council in AD 49, a meeting where the apostles would take up this very topic Acts — For him, this was no minor issue, as he went so far as to call the Galatians deserters of Christ, people turning from the truth toward a gospel contrary to the one they had received from Paul Galatians —9.
Therefore, Paul began the letter to the Galatians by spending two chapters defending that very issue. Only in chapter 3 did he begin to get to the heart of their error; namely, that these Galatians sought to be justified by the Mosaic Law.
In contrast, Paul presented his argument that justification comes to people by faith in Jesus Christ, not by their works under the Law. Part of the problem that confronted the Galatians came in one of the arguments made by the Judaizers.
These false teachers suggested that to live by grace and in freedom meant to live a lawless and therefore degenerate life. And so in the final chapters of the letter, Paul made clear that justification—an act of grace through faith—need not result in a sinful lifestyle. Because Christians have been freed from bondage to the sinful nature, we now have the path of holiness open to us.
Unfortunately, the false teaching brought to the Galatian churches by the Judaizers has been extremely difficult to root out even today. We must walk a fine line—on one hand, we do not want to fall into the legalism that the Galatians struggled with, but on the other, we cannot just live as if anything goes.
He then moves quickly to his motivation in writing this letter. He marveled at the way in which the Galatians had traded the liberty found in the person and work of Christ for bondage according to the Jewish law.
The message of the true gospel was not that we attempt to be good enough to be saved, but rather that we view ourselves as bad enough realizing that we need to be saved. The works of the law declare us guilty in ourselves and the gospel of grace declares us righteous in Christ.
Paul could not find it in his heart to offer thanksgiving for the Galatians because they had abandoned the truth, defaming the gospel and dishonoring the Lord. Defense of Apostleship Gal.
No other gospel, nor any other God is able to change a murderer of His followers into a preacher of His grace. Paul went on further to display the authenticity of his leadership as he tells of the Council at Jerusalem and how he wasn't intimidated by any of the high ranking authorities, claiming his commission by Christ himself.
His apostleship was recognized as they stretched out to he and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and extending him blessing in taking the gospel to the gentiles. Paul doesn't quit there! In order to give further weight to his apostleship, he tells them of his bold confrontation and reprimand of Peter, a strong apostle to the Jews and a hero of the Christian faith, for his misapplication of the gospel.
He wasn't attempting to discount the authority of Peter, but rather to emphasize that there was no apostle greater than he and to correct his view of the unity of the church. He inserts here a theme common among the writings of Paul - that is, that both Jews and Gentiles alike are saved by faith and not by the works of the law. Paul concludes this section with His example of faith in the sufficiency of the gospel. He explains that he has died to himself and to the law and now being crucified with Christ it is no longer Paul that lives, but Christ that lives in and through him.
This stands both as a model for the Galatians to follow and as a proof of his authority in Christ.
Defense of the Gospel Gal. Paul is defending the gospel of Christ and in doing so he opens chapter 3 with his rebuke of the Galatian Christians.
Neither is the Spirit given according to the law, but by faith in the gospel. Paul commends to them the example of Abraham in the Old Testament.