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Julian Pe- seek to please men ? for if I yet pleased men, I should Thessaloriod, 4762. not be the servant of Christ.
nica. Vulgar Æra,“ 51.
sion, denied his apostleship; and, in support of their denial,
We may therefore believe, that immediately after the council,
This argument, however, does not prove that the epistle was
Macknight's second reason is taken from the inscription of the
$ 3. GAL. i. 11. to the end. i. 1-10. in Thessaloriod, 4762. Velodra. St. Paul, in Answer to the False Teachers, asserts he re. "
dact, by making no reply. All these things the brethren ofAntioch
Dr. Macknight, however, bas omitted to observe that the cir-
Dr. Macknight's third argument for the early date is derived from tho omission by St. Paul of his usual command, that the persons to whom he wrote should remember the poor. This is evidently an unsafe mode of reasoning
When the apostle wrote his Epistle to the Galatians, he had heard of the defection of some of them from the true doctrine of the Gospel. This defection he represents as having happened soon after they were converted, Gal. i. 6. “I wonder that ye are 50 soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ.” But if the Epistle to the Galatians was written either from Rome, during the apostle's first confinement there; or from Corinth, during his eighteen months abode in that city; or from Ephesus, wbere he abode three years; or from Troas, in his way to Jerusalem with the collections, the defection of the Galatians must have happened a considerable time after their conversion, on the supposition that they were first called when Paul and Barnabas went into their country from Lycaonia. Wherefore if the apostle's expression, “ I wonder that ye are so soon removed,” is proper; the Epistle to the Galatians could not be written later than the interval between the council of Jerusalem and the apostle's second journey into the Gentile countries with Silas, when they delivered to the Churches the decrees of the council.
These arguments seem to prove, that the Epistle to the Galatians was written soon after the council of Jerusalem: the exact time seems, however, to be more satisfactorily ascertained by Michaelis, who has assigned it to some part of this second apostolical journey, before St. Paul came to Berea, where the bretbren appear to have left him. St. Paul's first visit to the Galatians was not long after the council which had been held in Jerusalem, as appears from Acts xvi. 4, 5, 6, “And as they (oamely, Paul and Bilas), went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, which were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem : and so were the Churches established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily. Now when they had gone through Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word' in Asia," &c. &c. From this passage we see that St. Paul preached the Gospel in Galatia ; for the probibi. tion was confined to the Roman proconsular province of Asia, to which Galatia is here opposed. This is further confirmed by Acts xviji. 23. where St. Luke relates, that St. Paul again visited Galatia, strengthening his disciples, so that converts must have have been made on his first visit (kk). Now let us follow St. Paul on his first journey from Galatia to Berea, in
Julian Pe ceived his Apostleship from God, and relates his Conver- Thessalojod, 4762. sion, Commission, and General History. Vulgar Æra, 51.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Macedonia, where he seems to have arrived in the same year,
When he left the Galatians he was accompanied by several
When he was no longer in safety here, he lest Galatia, he left Silas behind, and went to Athens, so that when he arrived in that city, none of the brethren were with him, in whose company he had travelled from Galatia.
Now St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians is written not only in his own name, but in the name of all the brethren who were with him. Who, then, were these brethren? Were they known or unknown to the Galatians ? St. Paul would hardly have written to them in the name of all the brethren who were with him, without determining who those brethren were, unless they had been the same who attended when he left Galatia, and who therefore were known to the Galatians without any farther description.
Consequently this Epistle must have been written before St. Paul separated from these brethren, that is, before he left Thessalonica. Whether it was written in this city, or before he arriy. ed there, I will not, says Michaelis, attempt to determine ; but it certainly was written during the interval which elapsed between St. Paul's departure from Galatia, and his departure from Thessalonica.
Again, St. Paul in the two first chapters, gives the Galatians a general review of his life and conduct from his conversion to apostolic council in Jerusalem, and at the farthest at his return to Antioch. Here he breaks off his narrative. It is probable, therefore, that from that time to the time of his writing to the Galatians, nothing remarkable had happened except their conversion. Lastly, the supposition that St. Paul wrote to the Galatians at the period which I have assigned, accounts more easily than any other for St. Paul's mentioning to the Galatians, that he had not obliged Titus to undergo the rite of circumcision, namely, because he had obliged Timothy to submit to it immediately before his first visit to the Galatians; and St. Paul's adversaries had appealed, perbaps, to this in support of their doctrine, that the Levitical law should be retained.
The particular year of the Christian era (continucs Mi. chaelis), in which the Epistle to the Galatians was written, it is difficult to determine with precision, though we are cspecially interested in the date of this Epistle, because it appears from chap. iv. 10. that the Galatians were on the point of celebrating the Jewish Sabbatical year, and in that of their seduction by the Jewish zealots, of leaving their lands uncultivated for a whole
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I Thessalo
nica. taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. year, though the law of Moses on this article could not possibly extend to Galatia
What Michaelis conjectured (says Dr. Hales), but was not able to establish, from the discordant systems of chronology in his time, may be now proved. The first year of our Lord's public ministry, A.D. 28, was a sabbatical year, and also a jubilee. Therefore A.D. 49, which was 3 + 7 = 27 years after, was also a sabbatical year. It is more probable, however, that the Epistle was not written during the sabbatical year itself, in which Paul attended the council at Jerusalem, (Gal. xi. 1.) but rather the year after, A.D. 50, during the apostle's circuit through the Churches of Syria and Cilicia, to confirm them in the faith, and to communicate to them the apostolical decree, (Acts xvi. 36–41. xvi. 4.) and to this year I have assigned it.
To understand the desigo of this Epistle, we must take into consideration certain opinions which were prevalent in the apostolic age.
The Jews believed that God demanded implicit obedience to the law of Moses-that this obedience would justify them, or place them, with respect to God, in the same situation in which they would bave been, if they had not transgressed ; and it had the power of obtaining for them also eternal life. They thought that man was not so fallen, but that he was of himself able to obcy the law, and thus fulfil the conditions on which eternal life was promised. These opinions were so blended in the minds of the Jews, with undoubted trutbs, that it would have been diffi. cult to have answered them satisfactorily, unless by divine inspiration. The apostle, however, proves by irrefragable argumeots, both here, in his Epistle to the Galatians, and in his Epistle to the Romans--that the justification of man could not be accomplished by his own obedience. It was ulterly impossible that man could fully and satisfactorily obey the demands of a law, which was designed rather to convince men of sin, and enforce upon them the conviction that sometbing more was necessary to obtain the favour of God, and that the ceremonies of their Levitical law were only typical of some better and more perfect salvation : the law was as a servant, leading them as children from the painfulness and bondage of school, to the glo. rious liberty of the sons of God and beirs of heaven.
In opposition to this Judaizing heresy, St. Paul addresses the Galatians, and endeavours to convince them, by a masterly strain of argument, that the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is the doctrine of Scripture. After having established his apos. tolic commission against the attacks of the false teachers, he asserts, that as the law has no power to give life, it is useless to compel the Gentiles, or the Christian converts, to conform to the full observance of the ceremonial law. He assures them no flesh shall be justified by the law, but by the faith of Christ Jesus, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ shall be dead in vain ; and he proves the superiority of the new covenant, by referring to those gifts they had received from the Holy Spirit since their admission into the Christian dispensation.
He further assures them, that the Christian covenant was founded on the promise given to Abraham and to his seed, which was made and confirmed by God in Christ, four hundred and thirty years before the law; therefore it was not possible that the law should disannul or make the promise, of a redeeming Saviour of Isaac's line of pone effect. ' If, then, the Gospel was
Julian Pe- 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past Thessaloriod, 4762.
nica. Vulgar Æra, preached before unto Abraham, and we through bim (and not 51.
through the law are to be blessed), we must inquire into tbat.
Mackoight remarks on this subject, referring to the Epistle
It will excite surprise among those who are interested in theological studies, that I have made little or no use of the labours of two writers, who of late years havo paid great attention to these Epistles-Mr. Belsham, and Dr. Semler of Halle. My reasons shall be briefly given.