Epistle of Paul to the Galatians

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters

The Epistle to the Galatians (actually Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia , shortly Galatians abbreviated Gal ) is a book of the New Testament of the Christian Bible .


Modern biblical studies, in accordance with tradition, take it as certain that the apostle Paul of Tarsus is the author of the letter to Galatians. The letter to the Galatians is an excellent autobiographical source, since Paul reports here about the most important stations on his path as a Christian.


Two different possibilities are discussed in research. On the one hand, it could refer to the Galatian tribe . The Galatians (ancient Greek Γαλάται, Galátai ) were a since 278 BC. A Celtic tribe resident near Ankyra (today Ankara ) in Asia Minor (today Turkey ) . They were also referred to as Gallo-Greeks by Roman authors.

On the other hand, “Galatians” could mean residents of the Roman province of Galatia . The Galatian landscape was a plateau around Ankara. The Roman province of Galatia extended beyond the Galatia landscape and included u. a. Parts of Phrygia and the regions of Pisidia and Lycaonia , in which the cities of Antioch in Pisidia , Iconium , Lystra and Derbe, visited on Paul's first missionary trip, were. The region of Pamphylia and thus the cities of Attalia and Perge may also belong to the province of Galatia, which Paul according to Acts 13.15  EU ; 14.25, but this cannot be clearly seen from the ancient sources.

It is not clear whether Paul addressed the letter to Celts who believed in Christ or to the inhabitants of the Galatian countryside. However, it is clear from the content that the addressees are Gentile Christians who were urged by Jewish Christians to accept circumcision . The fact that Jews can only be found in the Galatian landscape in the 5th century speaks in favor of the provincial hypothesis.


According to Acts 16: 6 and 18:23 Paul was twice in the region or province of Galatia, but according to Acts. 14.5–20 and 16.1–5 earlier in the cities of Lystra and Derbe, which belong to the Roman province of Galatia. In Gal 4:13, Paul points out at least two visits. There are three hypotheses about the dating of Galatians:

First, the Landscape or North Galatian Hypothesis: The letter was written from Ephesus between 54 and 55 (was majority opinion until the 1980s).

Second, the provincial or southern Galatian hypothesis: the letter was written in Macedonia in late autumn 55, presumably on the way to Corinth (the majority has been represented since the 1990s).

Third, the early dating: the letter was written shortly before the “ Apostle Council ”. This dating is particularly represented in the English-speaking world and was previously also represented in German-speaking countries. In addition to the arguments for the provincial hypothesis, arguments are listed that the visit to Jerusalem described in Gal. 2: 1–10 is difficult to reconcile with the description in Acts 15, but is well compatible with the notes in Acts 11–12, and that all the others events mentioned in Gal 1–2 took place before the “apostolic council”.

Style of the letter

The letter to the Galatians is the most sharply worded letter that we have received from Paul. There is neither the usual thanks at the beginning nor greetings at the end, but expressions like I am surprised that ... or in the future nobody will bother me!

Induction and Theology

The occasion of the letter was alarming news that Jewish Christian missionaries had appeared in the Galatian congregations who demanded that the Gentile Christians be circumcised and observe the Jewish ceremonial laws and thus sought a compromise between the free grace of God proclaimed by Paul and the Mosaic law. This procedure contradicted the agreement negotiated by Paul and the other apostles at the so-called apostolic council in Jerusalem, according to which the non-Jews who believe in Christ and baptized are only required to adhere to the dietary laws in their core provisions (no blood, no carrion, no pagan sacrificial meat) should. In his letter Paul describes how this agreement was reached and condemns the new demands on the Galatians as heresy.

The letter to Galatians is a great confession of the perfect redemption of the sinner through faith in Jesus Christ and a sharp argument with the assertion that the path to salvation can be based on something other than the work of Jesus on the cross of Golgotha . Here Paul formulates his doctrine of justification for the first time , which he was to systematically elaborate in Romans . For this reason, when he wrote the letter to the Romans in the first chapters, he based its structure on the Galatian model. As there, too, he emphasizes in Galatians that Christians are no longer under the power of sin , but are free to live in accordance with love through the possession of the Holy Spirit without the law as mediator between God and man.

He cites Abraham as an example against legalism . It was not the obedience of the law that justified Abraham before God, but his belief in the promise given by God (Gal. 3). The fact that Abraham's free wife Sarah and his slave Hagar both bore him a child, but only Sarah's son Isaac received the promise, serves Paul as scriptural evidence that only those children of the promise are free from the bondage of the law.


  • Preface (1,1–5)
  • Calling Paul as an apostle, proclaiming the gospel received from God (1: 6–2: 10)
  • Conflict between Paul and Peter in Antioch ( Antiochian incident ) (2: 11-21)
  • Salvation not from the law but from faith (3: 1–5, 12): Here the apostle polemicizes in Gal. 4 : 9–10  EU against the practice widespread among the Galatians, the days or months for certain actions according to astrological rules determine: this makes them slaves of astral powers, the " elementary powers ", in which they actually do not believe.
  • Admonitions and warnings with the call to live the freedom of the Spirit given in Jesus Christ (5.12-6.10)
  • Closing date (6.11-18)


The letter to the Galatians was commented on in detail early on, for example by Marius Victorinus (around 362), Ambrosiaster (between 366 and 384), Hieronymus (around 384) and Augustine of Hippo (394–395).

See also


  1. Jürgen Becker , Ulrich Luz : The letters to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians (= The New Testament German. Volume 8.1). P. 9.
  2. ↑ In terms of language, other Celts could also be considered, e.g. B. the inhabitants of Gaul , Hemer, pp. 277-78.
  3. The term "Galatians" was also used to describe e.g. B. to designate Hellenized persons with Greco-Roman or Phrygian names; Hemer, pp. 300-05.
  4. z. B. Frederick Fyvie Bruce , Hemer, Ben Witherington
  5. Ben Witherington: The Acts of the Apostles. A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids Michigan: Eerdmans 1998, ISBN 978-0802845016 .
  6. Kocku von Stuckrad : History of Astrology . CH Beck, Munich 2003, p. 142 ff



  • Hans Huebner : Letter to the Galatians . In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . No. 12, 1984, pp. 5-14. (introductory overview)
  • Felix John: The Epistle to the Galatians in the context of historical life in ancient Asia Minor . Research on the Religion and Literature of the Old and New Testaments, 264th 2016, ISBN 978-3-525-54050-3 .
  • Watson E. Mills: Galatians (= Bibliographies for biblical research, New Testament series. Volume 9). Mellen Biblical Press, Lewiston et al. a. 1999, ISBN 0-7734-2468-7 .
  • Udo Schnelle : Introduction to the New Testament. 8th continuously revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 3-8252-3737-0 .


  • Jürgen Becker , Ulrich Luz : The letters to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians (= The New Testament German. Volume 8.1). 18th edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-525-51340-2 . (generally understandable)
  • Hans Brandenburg : Paul's letter to the Galatians (= Wuppertal Study Bible. NT series, volume 10). Brockhaus, Wuppertal u. a. 1994. (generally understandable, application-oriented)
  • Hans Dieter Betz : The letter to the Galatians. A comment on the letter of the Apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia . A Hermeneia comment. Kaiser, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-459-01705-8 .
  • Frederick Fyvie Bruce : The Epistle to the Galatians. A Commentary on the Greek Text . The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, et al. a. 2002, ISBN 0-85364-299-0 .
  • James DG Dunn : A Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians . Black's New Testament Commentaries. A. & C. Black, London 1993, ISBN 0-7136-3425-1 .
  • Colin Hemer: The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History , JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1989, ISBN 3-16-145451-0 .
  • L. Ann Jervis: Galatians (= New International Biblical Commentary. Volume 9). New Testament Series. 2nd Edition. Hendrickson, Peabody 2002, ISBN 1-56563-506-X .
  • Heiko Krimmer : Letter to the Galatians (= Edition C, Bible Commentaries. Volume 13). 4th edition. Hänssler, Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-7751-0578-6 . (generally understandable, application-oriented)
  • Richard N. Longenecker: Galatians (= Word Biblical Commentary. Volume 41). Word Books, Waco et al. a. 1990, ISBN 0-8499-0240-1 .
  • Dieter Lührmann : The letter to the Galatians (= Zurich Bible Commentaries. Volume 7). Theological Publishing House, Zurich 1978, ISBN 3-290-14722-3 .
  • Frank J. Matera: Galatians (= Sacra pagina series. Volume 9). Liturgical Press, Collegeville (Minn.) 1992, ISBN 0-8146-5811-3 .
  • Franz Mußner : The Letter to the Galatians (= Herder's theological commentary on the New Testament. Volume 9). Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2002, ISBN 3-451-16765-4 .
  • Adolf Pohl : The letter of Paul to the Galatians (= Wuppertal study Bible. NT series, 10th supplementary volume). Brockhaus, Wuppertal u. a. 1995, ISBN 3-417-25023-4 . (generally understandable, application-related)
  • Joachim Rohde: Paul's letter to the Galatians (= theological manual commentary on the New Testament. Volume 9). 1st edition of the revision. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-374-00464-4 .
  • J. Louis Martyn: Galatians. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (= The Anchor Bible. Volume 33A). Doubleday, New York et al. a. 1997, ISBN 0-385-08838-8 .
  • Heinrich Schlier : The letter to the Galatians (= critical-exegetical commentary on the New Testament. Volume 7). 15th edition, 6th edition of the revision. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-51545-6 .
  • François Vouga : To the Galatians (= New Testament manual. Volume 10). Mohr, Tübingen 1998, ISBN 3-16-147002-8 .

Classic interpretations

  • Martin Luther : Explanation of St. Pauli's letter to the Galatians . Three different versions of the text from 1519, 1523 and 1535, excerpts published by Calwer Verlagsverein, Calw and Stuttgart in 1894. Voice of faith

Individual studies

  • Michael Bachmann : Anti-Judaism in Galatians? Exegetical studies on a polemical writing and on the theology of the Apostle Paul (= Novum testamentum et orbis antiquus. Volume 40). Universitäts-Verlag, Freiburg (CH) u. a. 1999, ISBN 3-7278-1256-7 .
  • James DG Dunn: The Theology of Paul's Letter to the Galatians . New Testament Theology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge u. a. 1993, ISBN 0-521-35127-8 .
  • Cilliers Breytenbach : Paul and Barnabas in the province of Galatia. Studies on Acts 13f .; 16.6; 18:23 and the addressees of the letter to the Galatians (= work on the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Volume 38). Brill, Leiden u. a. 1996, ISBN 90-04-10693-6 .
  • Hermann Detering : The letter to the Galatians in its original form. Revised version January 26, 2002 PDF; 364 kB; 102 pages on radikalkritik.de
  • Hans-Joachim Eckstein : Promise and Law. An exegetical investigation on Galatians 2:15–4,7 (= Scientific investigations on the New Testament. Volume 86). Mohr, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-16-146426-5 .
  • Christoph Heil : The rejection of the food commandments by Paul. On the question of the apostle's position on the law (= BBB. Volume 96). Beltz Athenaeum, Weinheim 1994, ISBN 3-89547-062-7 .
  • Markus Hintze: Biblical Interpretation in Postmodernism - Postmodern Biblical Interpretation? An interdisciplinary attempt on the interpretation of the Bible in the context of the postmodern discussion and an example exegesis of Gal 3: 6-18 . Tectum-Verlag, Marburg 1997, ISBN 3-89608-763-0 .
  • Hermann Kleinknecht : Community without conditions. Church and justification in Luther's great Galatian letter lecture from 1531 (= Calwer theological monographs. Series B, Volume 7). Calwer Verlag, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-7668-0679-3 .
  • Mark D. Nanos: The Irony of Galatians: Paul's Letter in First-Century Context . Fortress, Minneapolis 2002, ISBN 0-8006-3214-1 . ( Review by Tobias Nicklas in German (PDF; 157 kB) ( Memento from June 22, 2006 in the Internet Archive ))
  • Ruth Schäfer: Paul up to the apostles' council . A contribution to the introduction to the letter to the Galatians, to the history of the Jesus movement and to Paul’s chronology (= Scientific investigations into the New Testament. Series 2, Volume 179). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2004, ISBN 3-16-148309-X .
  • Thomas Witulski: The addressees of the letter to the Galatians. Studies on the community of Antioch ad Pisidiam (= research on religion and literature of the Old and New Testaments. Volume 193). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2000, ISBN 3-525-53877-4 .

Rhetorical exegesis

  • Verena Jegher-Bucher: The letter to the Galatians on the background of ancient epistolography and rhetoric. Another picture of Paul (= treatises on theology of the Old and New Testaments. Volume 78). Theological Publishing House, Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-290-10817-1 .
  • Philip H. Kern: Rhetoric and Galatians. Assessing an Approach to Paul's Epistle (= MSSNTS. Volume 101). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge u. a. 1998, ISBN 0-521-63117-3 .
  • Dieter Kremendahl: The message of form. On the relationship between ancient epistolography and rhetoric in Galatians (= Novum testamentum et orbis antiquus. Volume 46). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen u. a. 2000, ISBN 3-525-53946-0 .
  • Mark D. Nanos (Ed.): The Galatians Debate. Contemporary Issues in Rhetorical and Historical Interpretation . Hendrickson, Peabody (Mass.) 2002, ISBN 1-56563-468-3 .
  • Susanne Schewe: Win back the Galatians. Pauline strategies in Galatians 5 and 6 (= research on religion and literature of the Old and New Testaments. Volume 208). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-525-53072-2 .
  • D. Francois Tolmie: Persuading the Galatians. A Text-Centered Rhetorical Analysis of a Pauline Letter (= Scientific Studies on the New Testament. Series 2, Volume 190). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-16-148455-X .

Web links

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