Want to learn more about Galatians? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 14-part series.
We begin a new study of one of the most important books
of the New Testament! While the books of the Bible are all important,
Galatians is critical to a correct understanding of our salvation.
However, before we dig into the actual text of the book of Galatians,
let’s first look at the background of the man who wrote it.
Understanding this context, helps us to better understand Galatians!
When you want to persuade someone to your point of
view, how do you go about it? Do you tell them that you are from the
government? Do you tell them that you have a lot of education? Do you
tell them that you are smart? Do you tell them that you have special
insight into the problem? Do you tell them about your experience?
Paul faces this very issue. The Christians in the Galatian church are
getting off track in their understanding of the gospel. Paul needs to
persuade them to get back on track. Let’s plunge into our study of
the Bible and see how Paul does it! While we are at it, let’s pay
close attention to what Paul has to say about salvation.
What kind of unity does Paul represent? So far, he
seems most interested in saying that his gospel comes straight from
God, and not from church leaders. That seems an odd approach to
unity! Perhaps we are not as sly as Paul. Perhaps Paul knew that he
should continue on his own path teaching the Gentiles as God
instructed him. Only when he had established his work would he come
to church leadership for its approval. Let’s read what Paul writes
and see if that is his approach!
This week we begin our discussion of the heart of the
gospel – how a Christian is saved from his or her sins. It is very
important to get this right. Do you recall that in Galatians 1:8 Paul
says that those who teach a false gospel should be “eternally
condemned.” I’ll try to get this right! More important than what I
write, consider carefully what Paul writes so that you will correctly
understand God’s will. Let’s plunge into this critically important
When I was young, there was a program on television
called “Bewitched.” In our study this week, Paul tells the Galatians
that they have been “bewitched.” We know the Galatians could not have
been watching too much television! Is Paul talking about demon
possession? I looked up Strong’s definition for the underlying Greek
word and it means “to fascinate (by false representations).” We
don’t want to be mislead about the gospel, so let’s plunge into our
study of the letter to the Galatians to find the truth!
In Genesis 15:6 it says that “Abram believed the Lord,
and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Paul tells us that this
is the model God has in mind for us. We need to believe and trust
God. If we do, that is sufficient for us to be in a right
relationship with Him. That is our ticket to heaven. But, is this
correct? What about the fact that God gave the Ten Commandments to
His people through Moses? What about the fact that Jesus made
obedience even more difficult by saying that looking “lustfully” was
“heart” adultery and just getting angry subjected you to judgment
just like murder subjects you to judgment(Matthew 5)? Talk about
making the standards more rigorous! Paul discusses the impact of the
law in our study this week. Let’s dive into the Bible and learn more!
Let’s review for just a minute. Last week we learned
that the original contract between God and Abraham was that Abraham
would believe God (trust God) and God would credit righteousness to
Abraham. These were the promises between Abraham and God. This
contract was operative even though Abraham was a sinful man. We also
learned that we inherited Abraham’s side of this contractual
agreement between God and Abraham. After the original contract, God
gave humans the Ten Commandments (and other laws), and after that,
Jesus came to make good on the contract between Abraham and God. So,
where does this leave the law? Is it a relic of the past? If so, why
was it given after the original contract? If it is not a relic, what
role does it play in our day to day lives? Let’s wade into our study
of the Bible and learn more!
Do you recall a time when you were on vacation and you
saw some beautiful mountain or scenic canyon? Did you travel around
it so that you could see it from different angles? That is how our
lessons feel recently. We have been asking this question: “If we were
saved by trusting in God from the very beginning, why did God give us
the Ten Commandments later?” We have looked at this question several
times now, and we look at it again in this lesson. Paul apparently
wants us to consider the question from all angles, so let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and view a different angle!
Have you had friends who suddenly no longer are your
friend? In the days of Facebook, that happens to all of us! Perhaps
the most painful friend experience for me arose because of
theological reasons. My wife tells me that it was my fault. She might
be right, but I’m not sure because I did not want to end the
relationship with my friend. Paul’s discussion this week is about the
Galatians “unfriending” him due to theological differences. He wants
them to remain friends, but he wants them to do it on his (God’s)
terms. Does that sound familiar? Let’s dive into our study of the
Bible and learn more!
What started our Galatians discussion about the extent
to which Gentiles should have to adopt Jewish theology in order to
become Christians? Wasn’t it circumcision? See Acts 15:1. This causes
many Christians to say that the “law” to which Paul constantly refers
in Galatians is the “ceremonial law,” and not the Ten Commandments.
Of course, a logical problem with that argument is that circumcision
was not given as part of the ceremonial law. It was a command given
long before to Abraham. Genesis 17:9-10. Our study this week is the
clearest statement that when Paul refers to the “law” he includes the
Ten Commandments (as well as the ceremonial law and circumcision).
Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about this
One of my greatest blessings is to have lived all my
life in a place where we have both political and economic freedom.
During my lifetime, a greater proportion of the world has become
free, both economically and politically. That slashed the rate
poverty and hunger worldwide. I recently read an article reporting
that absolute poverty dropped by more than 80% from 1970 to 2006 and
it continues to drop. There is no doubt in my mind that political and
economic freedom are linked to the abolition of poverty. What other
freedoms are linked to enjoying a better life? Surely there is a link
with religious freedom. In our study today, Paul asks us to consider
carefully theological freedom. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible
and learn more!
Many years ago, I was speaking to someone who had
recently come to understand grace. We were talking about the law of
God and he told me that it had no application. We agreed to disagree
on that subject. It was a year or two later that I ran into him
again. Remembering our conversation, I asked him about his views now.
He had significantly changed his mind. He still believed in grace,
but he also realized the importance of obedience. Our study this week
is about obedience. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. We died (in
Jesus) for our sins when we were baptized. But, being released from
the death penalty does not mean that we disregard obedience. Just how
does this work? Where and how are the lines drawn? Let’s dive into
our study of the Bible and learn more!
Most of our study of Galatians has focused on how we
live by the Spirit and by grace. Paul now turns his attention to how
we should relate with other members of the church. What should we do
about sin in the church? Does the nature of the sin matter? Does
the prominence of the member matter? On a recent church weekend
retreat, one member wanted to discuss this issue with me. We agreed
that everyone in the church is a sinner. We all need grace. A
distinction arises, however, when a member becomes a proponent of
sin. They not only sin, but they argue that sin should be accepted.
Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!
We come to the end of our 2017 study of Paul’s letter
to the Galatians. If you have been with us through the entire series,
I hope that you have a better understanding of Paul’s message of
righteousness by faith, and his concern that through the power and
leading of the Holy Spirit faith changes our attitude. That change
causes us to want to live a life that brings glory to God and makes
our journey here easier. Paul has a few important truths to share in
his closing, so let’s plunge into our final study of Galatians and
see what we can learn!