The Apostle Paul wrote at least 13 books of the New Testament (many theologians believe he also wrote the book of Hebrews). Some of his epistles (letters) were written to individuals (Timothy and Titus), and the rest to churches.
The epistle of Galatians was written to the churches scattered throughout Galatia (a portion of modern Turkey). It is one of the most important writings of Paul in establishing the importance of Grace compared to the Law.
The main purpose of the Book of Galatians is to vindicate Paul’s call by God and the Gospel of Grace. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
Paul and salvation by grace alone were under attack by those in the churches of Galatia. Galatian churches were a mix of Jews and Gentiles. Some of the Jewish believers still held to the Jewish Law and traditions, called Judaizers. The term Judaizer, comes from the Greek word meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” Their teaching states that God’s grace and human effort were required for salvation. Paul considered this theology heresy and those that teach it as false teachers, even though they professed to be followers of Christ. The problem hinged on two points: 1) If they were going to continue to keep the Law as part of their salvation, then they adhered to a belief that a person was partly saved by faith and partly by works. 2) To continue following the traditions and practices of Jewish custom, they taught that the spiritual growth of the person was partly by faith and partly by their own effort. For the Judaizers, a belief in Christ also meant following the main ritual of religion, specifically around circumcision, while adding works, such as, observing all the ceremonies, traditions and rituals of Judaism. This was a heavy burden for the Gentile converts.
Their teaching was in contradiction to the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Paul writes that salvation is by Christ and Christ alone. Paul taught that the message of God’s grace, of pure grace is salvation by Christ alone. A person cannot win, earn or deserve salvation, it is a gift of God and not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore, the Judaizers charged that the Gospel that Paul was teaching was deceitful and that his apostleship was a false claim of his own making. They reasoned that he could not be a true minister or Apostle of the Lord as he claimed, by his own statement of his beliefs. They reasoned that by cutting out or minimizing the Law that he could not be a true, God called, minister of the Law.
Paul’s defense of the Gospel and his calling is the main focus of the epistle to the churches in Galatia.