Paul is one sick missionary. His sickness (of unspecified nature) forces him to change his itinerary and convalesce in Galatia, a Roman province on the Black Sea in modern day Turkey populated by Celtic Gauls whose ancestors three centuries ago raped, looted and pillaged their way from modern-day southern France (“Gaul”) to their current home. They have become loyal, respectable, civilized Romans, although they still speak their Celtic tongue. Anyway – what Satan or some microbe meant for evil, God meant for good. The convalescing missionary is received as an “angel of God” by the Galatians. They receive his message completely and enthusiastically, every jot and tittle. The trouble starts after Paul leaves Galatia and some judaizing Christians follow in his wake, as the Book of Acts notes they were wont to do (Ephesus, etc.). Suddenly these zealous but unschooled Galatians have been bewitched into “buying” the lie that religious works will get the believer into heaven.
Paul flips out. To him, this is not about defending “his” turf or validating his own point of view. There is nothing personal or subjective here. To Paul the crisis is obvious: the grace-abidin’ community he has established on the godless spiritual frontier is under attack! Torah-totin' barbarians are inside the stockade, raping, looting and pillaging! This is war!! Warrior Paul knows that ground seized from the enemy must be defended against determined counter-attack. So he straps on the armor of God and sets out to take captive or destroy every human and spiritual argument that would set itself up against God’s revealed truth, the gospel of freedom and liberty for the believer in the sacrificial death and resurrection of the One who sent him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If Paul has his way, no false teaching is getting away, to rob, kill or destroy another day.
As our brother Brian Chapaitis, missionary to Papua – New Guinea, said in his sermon at Jericho Congregational Church this morning, spiritual warfare is real. We Americans and other westerners are willfully blind to it. But Paul – he is not blind. Or apathetic. Or weak. And apparently by and for God's grace he prevailed - history tells that Galatia was a thoroughly Christian territory until the Seljuk Moslems finally overran it in the 11th century.
For the history of Galatia: http://www.unrv.com/provinces/galatia.php.