Galatia was established as a provincial territory of Rome in 25 B.C. by Emperor Augustus.
In the Bible, Galatia is referenced by name six times (Acts 16:6, 18:23, 1Corinthians 16:1, Galatians 1:2, 2Timothy 4:10 and 1Peter 1:1). Biblically delineated regions inside of or partially within province include Phrygia (a region shared with Asia - Acts 2:10, 16:6, 18:23, 1Timothy 6:21), Pisidia (Acts 13:14, 14:24) and Lycaonia (Acts 14:6, 11).
New Testament cities within the Roman province of Galatia included Antioch (Acts 13:14, 21, 16:6, 18:23, 2Timothy 3:11), Iconium (Acts 13:51, 14:1, 21, 2Timothy 3:11), Lystra (Acts 14:6, 21, 16:1, 2Timothy 3:11), and Derbe (Acts 14:6, 20 - 21, 16:1). The city of Antioch, in Pisidia, was the governing and military center of southern Galatia.
Meaning of the term
The popular study reference "The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," in its eighth chapter, states the following regarding the history of the term 'Galatia.'
"For the 'Galatia' of the New Testament was really the 'Gaul' of the East. The 'Epistle to the Galatians' would more literally and more correctly be called the 'Epistle to the Gauls.' When Livy, in his account of the Roman campaigns in Galatia, speaks of its inhabitants, he always calls them 'Gauls.'
"When the Greek historians speak of the inhabitants of ancient France, the word they use is 'Galatians.' The two terms are merely the Greek and Latin forms of the same 'barbarian' appellation."
Keeping the feast
Jews from Phrygia, a region shared by Asia and Galatia, were among the many worshippers in Jerusalem on Pentecost in 30 A.D. when God poured out his spirit upon more than 3,000 people.
And they were all amazed, and marveled, saying to one another, "Behold, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that we hear each one in our own language in which we were born?
Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those who inhabit Mesopotamia, and Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, both Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya . . . (Acts 2:7 - 10, HBFV).
Only in the south
The Apostle Paul visited Galatia during each of his first three missionary journeys. Why did he seem, however, to focus his efforts within the province on its southern cities and not on those in the north? The Tyndale Bible Dictionary offers us an explanation in its article on the area.
"Geographically the northern towns (of Galatia), situated on a well-watered plateau and served by a major road from the Aegean shores to the west, became prosperous centers of commerce.
"But access from north to south was difficult and communication poor because of the mountainous terrain leading up to the plateau. The southern towns were situated on the route between Syria and Asia. Their strategic location explains why churches were established in those towns . . ."