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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Galatians, soon after S. Paul had preached the gospel to them, were seduced by some false teachers, who had been Jews, and who were for obliging all Christians, even those who had been Gentiles, to observe circumcision, and the other ceremonies of the Mosaical law. In this epistle he refutes the pernicious doctrine of those teachers, and also their calumny against his mission and apostleship. The subject matter of this epistle is much the same as of that to the Romans. It was written at Ephesus, about twenty-three years after our Lord's ascension. Ch. — The Galatians were originally Gauls, who under their leader, Baennus, spread themselves over Greece, and at length passed over into Asia Minor, where they settled between Cappadocia and Phrygia, in the province afterwards called from them Galatia. It seems that S. Peter preached first in those parts; but it was only to the Jews, as may be gathered from the inscription of his first epistle, which he addresses to the Jews of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But S. Paul was the first that preached to the Gentile inhabitants of this province. When he first preached to them, he was received as an angel from heaven, or rather, as Christ himself: he visited them oftener than once, and the Church he there formed was very considerable. It was the Jewish converts of Galatia (who, as we have before mentioned, were the spiritual children of S. Peter) that caused those troubles which gave rise to this epistle. They strongly advocated the legal observances; and making a handle of the high pre-eminence of S. Peter, they decried S. Paul, even calling in question his apostleship. They taught the necessity of circumcision, and other Mosaic rites, which the apostles then in part retained. Thus divisions were raised in this infant Church. On these accounts the apostle warmly asserts his apostleship, as being called by Christ himself. He shews that his doctrine was that of the other apostles, who, in the council of Jerusalem, four years before, testified their exemption from the legal observances. He teaches, that it is not by the law, but by faith, that the blessings of salvation are imparted to them. After establishing these more important parts of the epistle, he gives them instruction on various heads. The Greek subscription to this epistle informs us, that it was written from Rome. S. Jerom says, he wrote it when in chains. Theodoret says, it was the first epistle that S. Paul wrote from Rome. This opinion has probably been adopted from a mistaken interpretation of the text: I bear the marks of the wounds of Christ in my body. By these marks they understand chains, whilst the text equally applies to the mortifications and self-denials of a Christian. The contrary opinion is, that this epistle was written from Ephesus in the year of Christ 55. This is the more probable opinion, and is maintained by S. Greg. the Great, Ludovicus, Capellanus, Estius, Usher, Pearson, and many others. The authority of the Greek copies, in assigning the places whence the letters were written, has been long rejected by the learned. We find not such information in the more ancient Greek manuscripts of S. Germanus and Clermont, &c. Calmet.