(redirected from Galatians, Epistle to the)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(gəlā`shənz), letter of the New Testament. It is ascribed to St. PaulPaul, Saint,
d. A.D. 64? or 67?, the apostle to the Gentiles, b. Tarsus, Asia Minor. He was a Jew. His father was a Roman citizen, probably of some means, and Paul was a tentmaker by trade. His Jewish name was Saul.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and addressed to ethnic Gauls living in central Asia Minor, or to inhabitants of the Roman province of Galatia in S Asia Minor. It may have been the earliest epistle (written c.A.D. 48); or, as many scholars hold, it may date after A.D. 52. Paul wrote the letter because the Galatians had been influenced by Judaizing Christians who asserted that circumcision was essential and that believers were bound to keep the law of Moses. They argued that Paul's emphasis on faith at the expense of law was his own invention. In the letter, Paul proceeds to anathematize anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one he preached to them. He defends his apostleship, claiming that he received his gospel from the risen Christ himself. His position is that God establishes people in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus, not through the doing of works prescribed by the law. This is confirmed by the Galatians' own experience and by their understanding of the standing of Abraham before God. Relying on works of the law means being obligated to perform all its commands, or face the dire consequences. Paul demonstrates that the law was a temporary, though necessary, phenomenon in the religious experience of the people of God, until the coming of Christ. Paul espoused the belief that salvation could be achieved by faith alone, without having to comply with the demands of the Jewish law.


See studies by H. D. Betz (1979), R. Y. K. Fung (1988), and R. N. Longenecker (1990).



Celtic tribes that invaded Asia Minor in 278-277 B.C. and ravaged its western region for 46 years. Pressed back by the forces of Attalus I, king of Pergamum, they were forced to settle in the territory later named after them, Galatia, in approximately 232 B.C. The Galatians, who adopted Greek culture, are sometimes referred to as Gallo-Graeci. Cattle raising was the chief occupation of the Galatians. Their assimilation came about slowly. (They preserved their own language until the fifth century A.D.)


Stähelin, F. Geschichte der Kleinasiatischen Galater, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1907.
Lequenne, F. Les Galates. Paris, 1959.