Although the date and place are not certain, it is believed that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians while he was at Corinth in A. D. 57. That would have been about six years after he and Silas had established the churches in Galatia. The purpose of this letter was to correct the errors that the Jews were teaching them.
Galatia was a region in Asia Minor, which was also under the rule of Rome. Paul wrote this letter to the churches in that region. He did not address an individual congregation as in his other letters to churches.
Paul abruptly began the defense of his apostleship in the salutation of the Galatian letter. He stated emphatically that his apostleship came through Jesus Christ and God the Father and not from himself or some other man or men. This Jesus Christ who had given Himself for the sins of the world was Paul’s authority for sending this letter.
The Galatians were a changeable group of people. They had been eager to accept Paul’s preaching but he was amazed at how soon they had turned away from it. He stated that the gospel they had turned to was not another gospel but a perversion of the gospel that he had preached to them.
A perverted gospel is dangerous because it contains enough truth to confuse those who hear it. The error surrounded by truth then becomes accepted as truth and those who follow it are misled into destruction.
An excellent example of this error is the acceptance of the Ten Commandments. Even though they contain great moral principles that we should obey, they are a part of the Law of Moses, the old covenant and are not found in the gospel of Christ.
Since the gospel that Paul had preached was complete, he stated that neither he, any other apostle, man nor angel had the authority to preach anything different. To further emphasize the importance of his statement, he repeated it.
Some of Paul’s enemies had accused him of trying to please men in order to build a large following. This could not have been farther from the truth. If he had wanted to please men, he would have continued persecuting Christians instead of turning to Christ.
Paul explained in detail how he had received his revelation from Christ soon after his conversion. He reminded the Galatians how he had been a persecutor of the church and had tried to destroy it, but God had called him and revealed His Son to him that he might preach to the Gentiles.
After his baptism by Ananias, Saul (as he was known then) did not receive further teaching from other Christians or even the apostles. Instead, he went into Arabia for probably a brief period of time. It was there that he probably received most of the divine revelation that prepared him to take his place as an apostle equal with the other twelve.
After Paul’s stay in Arabia had concluded, he returned to Damascus for another three years. Portions of two years and one full year could have accounted for three years. The time could have been slightly more than twelve months or even thirty-six months.
Saul, the persecutor became Saul the persecuted. His persecution became so intense that he had to escape from Damascus. He went to Jerusalem to meet Peter but the persecution there caused him to leave after only fifteen days and return to the area near his home of Tarsus.
These events of his past life were reported by Paul to show how improbable it would have been for someone to make the kind of changes he had made without having divine intervention. He stated that the people had glorified God in him after hearing that, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”