Who Were the Galatians?
Paul’s epistle was addressed to “the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2), or to the members living in several different branches of the Church in that area. Galatia was located in what is now central Turkey.
Why Did Paul Write This Letter?
The Galatian Saints were struggling with a common problem in those early years. Many Jewish converts to Christianity still practiced certain parts of the law of Moses and insisted that gentile converts live them also in order to be members of the Church. In reality, the law of Moses had not always been part of the gospel. God had given the gospel to Adam in the beginning. God then gave it to Abraham because of his faith and desire to do what was right. The law of Moses was later added to the gospel on a temporary basis because the people were disobedient. The lesser law was intended to train the people and prepare them to accept the full gospel that Abraham had. Paul wrote to the Galatians to encourage them to fully live the gospel and not be tied to the law of Moses and Jewish traditions.
What to Look For
In this epistle Paul taught several principles to those early Saints that are important for Latter-day Saints to learn:
Obedience to the law cannot save us because no one can live the law perfectly (see Galatians 2:16). Are there people in the Church today who make a similar mistake, thinking they can earn their way to heaven by keeping all of the commandments?
Righteousness comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. He helps us to conquer sin; we cannot be righteous on our own (see Galatians 2:16–21).
As we become the sons and daughters of God, we also become heirs of God through Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3).
Living close to the Spirit can help us better resist the sins of the flesh (see Galatians 5).