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.
There is an old saying that we need to put our self in
the place of another person before we can truly understand that
person’s situation. When I was a young man, I spent my summers
building homes and apartments with my brother. One morning on the
long ride to work, my brother’s car broke down and he decided that
we should just walk and see if someone would give us a ride. We
were not dressed very well, and we were carrying tools. It was not
an inviting picture for someone considering giving us a ride.
Normally when I was driving, I did not pick up those trying to get a
ride – that would be dangerous! But now, I was desperately hoping
that someone would show sympathy to us! To better understand the
letter to the Galatians, we are going to try to put ourselves in the
place of its author, Paul. (For those who do not know, “Saul” later
was called “Paul.” I’ll just call him “Paul” in this lesson.) Let’s
plunge into our Bible study and see what the Bible has to teach us
about his life. Let’s see what it would be like to be Paul!
Last week we learned that Paul depended upon his
sterling education and past legal authority to defend himself
against the law-breaking charges brought against him. This week we
will see that Paul is again defending himself – and making some very
astonishing claims. What does this kind of defense tell us? It tells
us that Paul believes that serious challenges have been raised to
his credibility. How do you feel when someone attacks your
credibility or your self worth? It is difficult, right? Why do you
think Paul is under such serious attack? Let’s plunge into our
study of Galatians and see whether these attacks are justified!
Last week we learned that Paul made some amazing
claims for the source of his message. He claimed that Jesus
personally taught him, and that no person was responsible for the
message that he was proclaiming. When we investigated this, we
learned that both Luke and Peter believed Paul’s claims and thought
that Paul was sharing a message that he learned directly from God.
This week we continue the discussion about whether Paul has a
message that differs from that of the rest of the leaders of the
early church. Is unity important? Is disagreement in the church
healthy? Should we have “Christians” and “Paulites?” Or, is the
gospel of righteousness by faith the unified message of God’s
church? Let’s dive into our study of Galatians and learn more!
Let’s review what we have learned so far in our study
of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul has a special gospel message
that he received directly from Jesus. The early church leaders
believed this, but there was a pitched battle in the Galatian
church, and among the early believers, over the message and
requirements of the gospel. This week Paul explains his gospel
message. As we study it, we need to ask if it is still in dispute
among Christians? Is it still in dispute in our own minds? Let’s
dive into our study and examine again the heart of the gospel
Have you ever wrestled with the question of why God
says “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6), yet it seems that the
God of the Old Testament is a lot different than the God of the New
Testament? The talk of an “Old Covenant” and a “New Covenant”
surely sounds like a change. God has changed the terms of our
relationship! Paul argues that God has not changed His basic
approach to humans – and that approach is righteousness by faith.
Let’s plunge into our study of Galatians 3 and find out more!
Have you ever been in a situation in which your belief
is challenged by someone who you think might be right? At first you
feel annoyed. Than you begin to feel bad that you have been wrong.
Then you look at the whole situation again to be sure that you have
the right view. Our Bible study this week reminds me of this. Paul
tells us boldly that Abraham was saved by grace, not works. But,
then Paul’s opponents raise a fierce argument: if the plan of
salvation was faith alone, why would God later give us the Ten
Commandments? How does that make any sense if the Ten Commandments
are not God’s current plan? Let’s jump right into our study of the
Bible and see if we can figure out who is right!
Last week we faced the legalists’ challenge: “If
righteousness by faith is the right approach, why did God introduce
the law at Sinai 430 years after His righteousness by faith contract
with Abraham?” As we tried to decipher what the legalists were
arguing, we decided that one possible argument is well-known to
American lawyers. When you have two conflicting laws, the newer law
controls over the older law. Sinai came after Abraham! However, to
win this argument, the legalists needed more than just timing, they
needed a conflict between Sinai and righteousness by faith. Let’s
dive into our Bibles to examine Paul’s continuing argument about
Last week, Paul explained that the law was just like
going to school. When we discussed our days in school, we
remembered that school not only taught us important lessons about
how to succeed in life, it also taught us that we were not the
smartest student in the class. (And the smartest student was taught
that lesson the next level up in school!) Now that we have learned
those lessons, Paul concludes that “we are no longer under the
supervision of the law.” (Galatians 3:25). What does it mean to be
unsupervised? How should we live? Let’s plunge again into our
continuing study of Galatians and find out what God says!
Have you ever had someone say that you should be more
like someone else? For example, did your parents say, “Why can’t
you be more like your brother [or sister]?” “Why can’t you be more
like the child next door?” “Why can’t you be more like me?” How did
you react to those suggestions? My guess is that you did not reply,
“Right, I’ll be more like [the other person] and less like me!” This
week our lesson starts out with Paul inviting the Galatians to be
more like him. Let’s dive into our Bibles and try to better
understand Paul’s invitation!
In the last several weeks we learned that God’s
promise to Abraham of righteousness by faith existed alongside
Abraham’s knowledge of God’s commandments. The reason the two
(grace and law) existed side by side, we found, was because they had
different purposes. This week Paul brings women and children into
the discussion. Will this give us a clearer insight into our choice
between relying on the law and relying on grace? Let’s jump into
our study of Galatians and find out!
Freedom is such a sweet thing! We all know that we
want to be free. We know when we are not free. But, what, exactly,
does freedom mean? I might have the freedom to punch my neighbor in
the nose. But, he would not think that he was free if he was
regularly getting punched by me! What does Paul mean when he tells
us to “stand firm” in our freedom? Let’s dive into our study of
Galatians and see what we can learn!
No mature Christian believes that faith is the end of
the answer to “how should we live?” Thinking and acting are
connected. No serious Christian claims that walking with God is
easy. Most Christians I know say essentially, “I’m saved by grace
alone. Because of my love for God, I make the decision to walk with
Him and do His will.” If I inquired further they would add, “And,
if a person does not walk with God, that shows that they do not have
faith.” Certainly, those “Christians” who use faith as an excuse
for evil living do not understand the gospel. But, lately, I’ve been
giving some further thought to this issue about how a Christian
saved by grace should approach daily life. Let’s dive into our
Bible and see what Paul teaches us about daily living!
How should the church deal with sin? How successful
have the efforts of your church been in the past? Mostly, I see two
things happening. First, critical people criticize the sins (or
supposed sins) of others. Second, sinners feel that their sin is
“their own business” and want church leaders to “mind their own
business” – meaning, “please pay no attention to me.” The victims of
critical people are outraged, and serious sinners retreat into their
sinful shell. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what it
has to teach us on this topic!
If we have just one Jesus, why do we have all of these
different churches? In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul complains about divisions
among believers. It seems today that each church has its own
important distinctive. For example, the Baptists have baptism by
immersion. Although I’m not a Baptist, I think that is a very
important doctrine. How should those of us with distinctive doctrines
approach the world? Should Baptists lead with baptism by immersion?
Should each denomination lead with its distinctive (and true) belief?
In Paul’s closing message to the Galatians, he gives counsel on this
point. Let’s plunge into our final study of Galatians and see what we