The Ancient Galatia was situated in the highlands of central Anatolia in the modern Turkey. It was named after the immigrant Gauls who had settled on it and established ruling castes. Ankara was its capital during those ancient times. Galatia is boarded by Pontus and Cappadocia to the East, Phrygia to the West, Cilicia and Lycia to the South and Bithynia and Paphlagonia to the North. In 25 BC, Galatia got incorporated by the Octavian Augustus and made a Roman Province . According to the book of Acts 21:39 (New King James Version-NKJV), Paul, the Apostle while serving as a captive in Jerusalem mentioned that “…
I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilia… ” Presently Cilia which is a province of Rome is in Anatolia with the Tarsus city situated on its Mediterranean Coast. During Apostle Paul’s days (40-60 CE), the Roads in Rome passed through Anatolia, thus made it possible for travelers to access the heartlands of Rome and not be restricted only to the coast. Paul was reported to have written letters to the provinces of Anatolia (Asia and Galatia). The letters to the Asian province are quite clear, showing that he did live and work in Ephesus in the Asia province.
But on the contrary, those to the Galatia churches do not specifically point out which part of Galatia the said churches were located . This essay paper presents the result of a research that tries to give the exact location of these churches to which Paul wrote to, it further goes ahead to give the significance or the importance of determining this location. The Location of Galatia and Its Importance In the book it is reveled that by the time Paul was addressing his letters to the Galatians, the province had already been in existence for well over seventy-five years.
Paul, together with Silas and Timothy were in there second missionary journey to the region of Galatia when Paul was taken down with a serious sickness that made him spend more time on the land and so he had enough time to preach to the Galatians (Gal. 4:13. NKJV). During most of these visits that Paul had made, he was met with enthusiasm and it became hard to restrain people from crowding around him. Some of the people took him for god, especially after he and Barnabas healed a crippled man. But all did not go well, he was later stoned and left for the dead by the very crowd that he preached to (Acts 14:18-19.
NKJV). There has been a heated debate on the location of the churches that St. Paul addressed his letters to. This has been sparked by the interpretation of Paul’s own phrases in the bible. First is the statement in Gal. 1:2 and Gal. 3:1 where he referred to the recipients (churches in Galatia) of his letter as Galatians and secondly, is in 1Corinthians 6:1… where Paul talks of a collections he ordered to be made within the churches of Galatia. Two theories have since been formed with two different schools of thought.
These are the North Galatian Theory (NGT) and the South Galatian Theory (SGT). The advocates of the NGT like Lightfoot, Lipsius, Chase, Daviodson, Findlay and many more argue that, the letters were addressed to the people of the “Galatia Proper” living at the center of Asia Minor to the North. On the opposing camp are the likes of Rendell, Ramsay, Gifford, Perrot, Page and Knowling among others. They hold the SGT. They say that the Galatia in question is the Southern part of the Roman province of Galatia that contains Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and Pisidian Antioch .
But between these two theories, The SGT has gained ground can be adopted in favor of the NGT and I wholly agree with the SGT version. The debate is based around two verses Acts: 16: 6 “… and they went through Phrygian and Galatian region… ”and Acts 18:23 “… he departed and went through the Galatian region and Phrygia… ” The NGT have it that the Galatia meant in this context is the Galatia Proper, Phrygia and other Northern provinces. They argue that the travelers went through Phrygia and Galatia long after they had passed through Southern Galatia [noting that gospel was forbidden in Asia by then].
The SGT advocates on their part say that it is the South Galatia that was referred to in both cases. Adding that after the travelers had passed a through a portion of Phrygia [which was then added to Southern part of the Galatian province and could be called Galatia as well], they passed into the South. Now on the collection, In Acts 20:4 a list of those who carried the collection is given with representatives from South Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia, no single name of the North appears. The indication is that St. Paul probably had never even been there .
Two more explanations supporting the Southern Galatia Theory emerge here. First is the manner in which St. Paul refers to Barnabas in his letters. He indicates that the letter was already known to those who it was primarily intended, and just as the bible reveals in (Acts 13: 14), that St. Barnabas had earlier visited South Galatia together with Paul, but he was a stranger to the South [he had never been there]. The second point is got when Paul further states that his purpose in Jerusalem was to ensure that the truth contained in the gospel would continue with the Galatians.
Interpreting this statement in this context would mean that the people to whom the message was to reach were already converted and just as this essay has revealed that Paul had visited the Southern Galatia and not the North… this leaves us with only one conclusion that the persons addressed in Paul’s letters were those in the Churches of Galatians of the South . The importance of knowing the location of the churches is to help the readers of the gospel understand well the message, by giving it the right interpretation based on the time, the location and the traditional practices of the people to which it was addressed.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Barraclough, Geoffrey. Atlas of World History. (Ed). Harper Collins. 2nd ed. Oxford: 1989. 76-77. Cousar B. Charles. Galatians: Interpretation Commentary. (Atlanta: John Knox. (1982). Lightfoot, J. B. Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Zondervan, 1896 : London McMillan. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Ramsay, William. A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Klock and Klock, 1979. The Christian Holy Bible: New King James Version (NKJV). Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.
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