Galatians is a letter written by the apostle Paul (1:1) to “the churches in Galatia” (1:2).

The Galatian people were Gauls (also known as Celts) who had emigrated from Western Europe to Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) in the 3rd century BC. Galatia is mentioned twice in Acts as “Galatia and Phyrgia” (Acts 16:6; 18:23).

It is clear from the letter that these were churches that Paul had established: Paul speaks of “the gospel…we preached to you” (1:8), and in 4:12-16 Paul describes the circumstances in which he came to preach the gospel to them.

Paul has evidently heard some disturbing reports that the Galatian churches were being misled by false teaching (1:6; 3:1; 5:7). This false teaching threatened the gospel, because it suggested that salvation was not through faith in Christ alone, but required keeping the Jewish law (4:9-10, 21; 5:4, 10b-12; 6:12-13). Criticism of Paul and his status as an apostle is also implied, as Paul mounts a defence of his apostleship (1:11-2:21), central to which was his call from God to be an apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul responds by clearly outlining the gospel: that salvation is by faith in Christ alone (2:15-16). In addition, Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that righteousness with God through faith was Abraham’s experience before the law was given (3:6-8).

Instead of righteousness under the law, Paul articulates righteousness by faith: a life of freedom (5:1-15), lived through the power of the Spirit (5:16-26), a work of God that is not dependent upon human activity but instead is about the power of God through Christ to bring about a new creation (6:14-15).