1 Background

The following sections will provide context that will be relevant and foundational to the argument that the apostle Paul wrote within the passage in consideration.

1.1 Intended Audience

The epistle of Paul to the Galatians was intended to be read by members of churches located in the central region of Asia Minor, which is known today as modern Turkey (MacArthur 2007). The date of this epistle is estimated to be A.D. 57 (McGee 1995). It was written for the purposes of counteracting the message taught by a group of Christians who believed that Jewish traditions and customs were necessary to lived the Christian life; they were known as Judaizers (MacArthur 2007; McGee 1995). Galatians is a term used to refer to this community in an ethnographic and political sense (MacArthur 2007; McGee 1995). The foundations of Christianity that Paul had taught them were being shaken, as Judaizers taught a message of legalism, which promotes the idea that certain works must be performed, and certain human laws must be kept, in order that salvation and peace with God is obtained. This is contrary and hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which states that He came to die and rise again for sinners such that sinners are forgiven, justified, and welcomed into God’s family. Finally, many scholars agree that this letter was in fact written by Paul (see Longenecker et al. (n.d.)); many believing scholars recognize this letter as the basis for Paul’s way of thinking, and for every aspect of Christian theology (Longenecker et al., n.d.). Nobody disputed this until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but these are considered to be atypical (Longenecker et al., n.d.).

1.2 Author’s Background

The apostle Paul was born and educated in the Jewish traditions. He grew up to be a reputable, well-known, intelligent practitioner of the Jewish faith. Furthermore, he was considered a “star” within the Jewish community (MacArthur 2007). This played a role in his testimony. In fact, his original name was Saul, who became known as Paul after his conversion.

The gospels attest to the fact that certain Jewish communities were quite hostile to our Lord’s message and to Him as well. Paul’s former character Saul was no exception; he persecuted Christians to the point of forcing them out of their homes and going through great lengths to disturb their peace. However, He experienced a supernatural conversion and regeneration, in order that many people are given the gospel. Why mention these facts? It is important to keep them in mind because Paul knew what the Jewish community and the Judaizers believed, giving more weight to the presentation of the Gospel, and to the argument posed in Galatians chapter five. In other words, if anyone knew the issues being discussed, such as the contrast between the system of the law and the gift of grace through Jesus Christ, it was Paul the apostle.

1.3 Backround for the Argument

There is evidence that Paul writings were influenced by ancient Greek ideals and culture. This means that ideas from Plato and Aristotle were influential to Paul’s style of argumentation. One such form of argumentation is a systematic approach in which philosophers and writers would often develop a list of vices and virtues, in order to compare and contrast between them, for ethical and moral purposes (Longenecker et al., n.d.). This writing structure is modeled by Galatians 5:19-26, where Paul’s set of vices and his set of virtues, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, intersect at Galatians 24-45. Thus, this should provide context for the structure of our passage in consideration, Galatians 5:22-26, which speak of the “virtues” portion of Paul’s argument.