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Asbury Bible Commentary – II. Readers
II. Readers

II. Readers

The name Galatia was used in two different ways in the ancient world. It originally referred to the geographic region in northcentral Asia Minor occupied by the Gauls since 279 b.c. Later the political region was extended southward by Rome to Lycia, Pamphilia, and Antioch. For this reason biblical scholars have disagreed on the region to which the letter was originally sent (Cole, 16ff.; see also Ramsey, 1-234).

Some scholars including Calvin, Lightfoot, and Kümmel argue for the northern, or Celtic, designation of Galatia. F. F. Bruce, Ramsey, Ridderbos, and Burton argue for the southern, or provincial, designation of Galatia (Lightfoot, 1-21; Burton, 1-21; BBC, 9:22; WBC 5:322).

The South Galatian theory seems to be more acceptable for several reasons.

1. There is evidence in the NT that Paul founded the churches in South Galatia (Ac 13). There is only a passing comment suggesting that he might have traversed North Galatia (Ac 16).

2. There is a better probability of interrelating Gal 2 and Ac 15, which seem to be concerned with a similar issue. Burton writes strongly that the similarity of the narrative in these two passages “makes it necessary to suppose that these . . . refer to the same event” (115-17; also Ridderbos, 78-79; Bruce, 43ff.).

3. There is more likelihood that Judaizers would have been in the southern area. Tenney suggests that the southern cities “lay on the direct routes of travel between Palestine and the Aegean ports, and a Jewish population is specifically mentioned in . . . Acts 13:14, 14:1” (p. 54).