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Romans written A.D. 58 (early).
Probable date of Galatians.
Direct historical notices.
Jerusalem and Antioch.
he remained three months. While at Corinth he wrote the
Council was held. The epistle moreover alludes to an interview with St Peter at Antioch, in language which seems to imply that it took place after, and probably soon after, their conference at Jerusalem'. If so, it must have occurred during St Paul's stay at Antioch, recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts”. On the most probable system of chronology these events took place in the year 51, before which date therefore the epistle cannot have been written. (ii) The epistle apparently contains an allusion to two Galatia. separate visits of St Paul to Galatia. ‘Ye know, says the Apostle, ‘that through infirmity of the flesh, I preached to you before, and...ye received me as an angel of God...What then... have I become your enemy by telling you the truth"?' He is here contrasting his reception on the two occasions, on the second of which he fears he may have incurred their enmity by his plain-speaking. If this interpretation be correct, the two Galatian visits thus alluded to must be the same two which are recorded in the Acts“. The epistle therefore must be later than the second of these, which took place in 54 A.D. Thus we have established the earliest possible date of the epistle, as a starting point. On the other hand an incidental expression has been rigorously pressed to show that it cannot have been written much after this date. ‘I marvel,' says St So soon . Paul, “that ye are so soon, or so fast, changing from Him that changing, called you to another Gospel". It is necessary to estimate the exact value of this expression. The generally received view, which fixes the writing of the epistle at Ephesus, is founded on two assumptions with regard to this expression, both of which seem to me erroneous. First, wrongly It is supposed that in speaking of the rapidity of the change” St Paul dates from his last visit to Galatia, ‘so soon after I left you.’ This however seems at variance with the context. The Apostle is reproaching his converts with their fickleness.
* Gal. ii. 11. * Acts xvi. 6, xviii. 23.
“They have so soon deserted their Christian profession, so soon taken up with another Gospel.” Here the point of time from which he reckons is obviously the time of their conversion, not the time of his second visit. His surprise is not that they have so lightly forgotten his latest instructions, but that they have so easily tired of their newly obtained liberty in Christ. ‘I marvel,' he says, “that ye are so soon changing from Him that called you.’ Whatever interval therefore is implied by ‘so soon,’ it must reckon from their first knowledge of the Gospel, i.e. from A.D. 51. Secondly, It is insisted that the period cannot be extended beyond a few months, or at the outside two or three years. But quickness and slowness are relative terms. The rapidity of a change is measured by the importance of the interests at stake. A period of five or ten years would be a brief term of existence for a constitution or a dynasty. A people which threw off its allegiance to either within so short a time might well be called fickle. And if so, I cannot think it strange that the Apostle, speaking of truths destined to outlive the life of kingdoms and of nations, should complain that his converts had so soon deserted from the faith, even though a whole decade of years might have passed since they were first brought to the knowledge of Christ. So long a period however is not required on any probable hypothesis as to the date of the epistle; and therefore this expression, which has been so strongly insisted upon, seems to contribute little or nothing towards the solution of the problem'.
This epi- 2. On the other hand the argument from the style and
.*". character of the epistle is one of great importance. It may
Its real bearing.
* now be regarded as a generally recognised fact that St Paul's group. epistles fall chronologically into four groups, separated from
* The problem of the date of the to find the resultant. I think that the
Galatian Epistle, as it is generally con-
former consideration may be eliminated, as will be seen from the text, while at the same time some further conditions which have been overlooked must be taken into account.
one another by an interval of five years roughly speaking, and distinguished also by their internal character. The second of these groups comprises (exclusively of the Galatians) the Epistles to the Corinthians and Romans, written at the close of the third missionary journey, in the years 57 and 58. Now it appears that while the Epistle to the Galatians possesses no special features in common with the epistles of the preceding or succeeding groups, either in style, matter, or general tone and treatment, it is most closely allied in all these respects to the epistles of the third missionary journey. It was a season of severe conflict with St Paul, both mental and bodily, and the traces of this conflict are stamped indelibly on the epistles written during this period. They exhibit an unwonted tension . of feeling, a fiery energy of expression, which we do not find in of thi, anything like the same degree in either the earlier or the later * epistles. They are marked by a vast profusion of quotations from the Old Testament, by a frequent use of interrogation, by great variety and abruptness of expression, by words and images not found elsewhere, or found very rarely, in St Paul. They have also their own doctrinal features distinguishing them from the other groups—due for the most part to the phase which the antagonism to the Gospel assumed at this time. Justification by faith, the contrast of law and grace, the relation of Jew and Gentile, the liberty of the Gospel—these and kindred topics are dwelt upon at greater length and with intense earnestness. All these characteristic features the letter to the Galatians shares in an eminent degree, so much so indeed, that it may be considered the typical epistle of the group; and by those who have made St Paul's style their study the conviction arising from this resemblance will probably be felt so strongly, that nothing but the most direct and positive evidence could overcome it. 3. It seems to follow then that some place must be found It closely for the Galatian Epistle in the group which comprises the . Epistles to the Corinthians and Romans. We have next to ..."
Romans. enquire whether there is sufficient evidence for determining its
exact position in this group. I think this question can be answered with some degree of probability. Pursuing the examination further we find that the resemblance is closest to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Romans. In the case of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the similarity consists not so much in words and arguments as in tone and feeling. “In both there is the same sensitiveness in the Apostle to the behaviour of his converts to himself, the same earnestness about the points of difference, the same remembrance of his “infirmity’ while he was yet with them, the same consciousness of the precarious basis on which his own authority rested in the existing state of the two Churches. In both there is a greater display of his own feelings than in any other portion of his writings, a deeper contrast of inward exaltation and outward suffering, more of personal entreaty, a greater readiness to impart himself’.” If it were necessary to add anything to this just and appreciative criticism, the Apostle's tone in dealing with his antagonists would supply an instructive field for comparison. Both epistles exhibit the same combination of protest and concession in combating the exclusive rights claimed for the elder Apostles, the same vehement condemnation of the false teachers guarded by the same careful suppression of names, the same strong assertion of his Apostolic office tempered with the same depreciation of his own personal merits. Besides this general resemblance, which must be felt in order to be appreciated, a few special affinities may be pointed out. For instance the expression ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”,' has a close parallel in the allied epistle, “He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we, etc.” The image, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap", is reproduced in almost the same words,
Resemblance in general tone.
* Jowett, 1. p. 196, 1st ed. It is Mopsuestia, Spicil. Solesm. 1. p. 50. interesting to find that the resemblance * Gal. iii. 13. between the two epistles was observed * 2 Cor. v. 21. by a writer as early as Theodore of * Gal. vi. 7.