Cue the Confetti! It’s time to begin!!! I am so excited to begin our study of Galatians with you!
Overview of Galatians
Paul wrote to the church in Galatia because they were deserting the grace of God and returning to Moses’ law. They were also questioning Paul’s apostleship and so he spent the first two chapters defending his authority as an apostle of Christ.
Next, Paul defends the gospel and reminds them that they are saved by faith alone, in Christ alone and that no works of the law would earn them favor with God. He wanted them to experience freedom from legalism, sin and the law and to live their life of faith, led by the Holy Spirit.
He closes with a list of the works of the flesh and then a contrasting list of the fruit of the Spirit. He reminds them of the principle of reaping and sowing, and how if they sow to the flesh, they will reap corruption but if they sow to the Spirit, they will reap eternal life. Paul opens the book with grace and closes the book with grace and emphasizes grace – all the way through. We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and because of Christ’s work on the cross, we have been set free.
The Purpose: The purpose of this Galatian letter is that salvation only comes through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Galatians were replacing the grace of God with Moses’ Law and so Paul wrote to correct their errors and affirm them in their faith,
The Author: The Apostle Paul
Time Period: Between A.D. 49 and 55
During Paul’s first and second missionary journeys he visited South Galatia (Acts 13 &15), so this letter was written to the churches he visited there. This is most likely the first New Testament book written.
Key Verse: Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Introduction (1:1-5)
- The Problem (1:6-9)
- Paul’s Defense of His Apostleship (1:10-2:14)
- Paul’s Defense of the Gospel and Grace by Faith (3:1-4:31)
- Freedom Found in Christ (5:1-6:10)
- Conclusion and Final Rebuke (6:11-18)
For an even more in-depth Introduction to this week’s reading, watch this video. It is a great explanation of Galatians!
NOW LET’S GET STARTED!
This Week’s Bible Reading Plan:
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This week’s Reflection & Discussion Questions
(Leaders: Copy and paste these into your groups. If you do not have a group, use these for a personal time of reflection.)
The book of Galatians opens with grace and closes with grace. First, Paul reminds the Galatians that he is an apostle, which means “one who is sent”. He declares that he was not sent by man but by God. Then, he uses a familiar phrase used in all of his letters, wishing them both grace and peace. Paul uses the word grace more than any other New Testament writer. He used it over 100 times in his writing and he explains that the grace comes from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins.
Take note of the word order that Paul always puts in his greetings. He puts grace first and peace second. We must first experience God’s grace before we experience his peace. The Greek word for grace is caris, which is unmerited favor, or an unearned gift freely given. Because of God’s grace we have reconciliation and peace with God. Is Christ your Savior? How have you experienced the grace and peace of God in your life? When we do not have peace, often times it is because we are not walking in God’s grace. In what area of your life do you need more grace and peace today?
Paul was surprised to find that the Galatians were so quickly abandoning their faith for a false gospel. Twice he repeats that those who preach another gospel are under God’s condemnation or curse. The phrase “let him be accursed” means “drop straight into hell.” This might sound unloving, but Paul was protecting them from being led astray and he reminds them that if he was trying to please man, he could not be a servant of Christ.
Paul lived for an audience of one: God. He refused to change his message so that those listening would like him. So, they didn’t just attack his message, but they attacked Paul as well. It can be tempting to water down the gospel so others will be more accepting of us. But we cannot live to please both God and man. If our goal is to please man, then we aren’t a servant of Christ. In what areas are you tempted to be a people pleaser when it comes to your faith? Pray and ask the Lord to help you to stand firm.
Paul says he was set apart before he was born, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Yet, he was a man of high status in Judaism, who violently persecuted the church. God did not call Paul because of something he had done to please God. Instead, God extended his grace to Paul so that God would get all the glory. Jesus was revealed both to him and in him.
Paul has a powerful testimony. While he was religious, successful and in a powerful position, he was full of sin. He was trying to destroy the church – then he encountered God! Oh, what a beautiful testimony he has going from darkness to light. He says in verse 24, “they glorified God because of me.” Because of his testimony, they glorified God. Some of us have amazing testimonies like Paul and others of us have ones that are simpler. Perhaps like me, you were saved at a young age, but we all have had our trials and – and that is a part of our testimony now too. God’s glory is seen in all of our testimonies! What is your testimony? Write it below and pray for an opportunity to share it with someone.
After 14 years, Paul went to Jerusalem to meet privately with the leaders. He wanted to be sure that they were preaching the same gospel because some false brothers had slipped into the church and were adding in legalistic rules for salvation. After it was clear that they all were in agreement, they asked that Paul remember the poor.
Right after clarifying the gospel, Paul talks about caring for the poor. He could have talked about anything else – tithing, loving one another, or perhaps styles of worship but the very next focus was the poor. Some believe if we preach too much grace then believers won’t do anything for the Lord – but it’s the opposite. God’s grace should motivate us to help others. Because we have been rescued, we need to rescue others who are oppressed and in need. Paul was a very busy man –traveling, speaking, writing and in prison — yet he was not too busy to help the poor. Instead, he was eager to help the poor. Are you eager to help the poor or are you too busy? How does remembering God’s grace motivate you and in what ways can you do more to help the poor?
The church in Antioch was the first church to bring Jewish and Gentile Christians together. But there was an influential group that Peter (Cephas) and Barnabas feared, and it was causing them to separate from the Gentiles. Paul boldly confronted them for not staying in step with the gospel. Then he clarified that a person is not justified by their works but through faith in Jesus alone.
The word justified is a legal term. God, as our judge, has declared us justified and righteous simply based on our faith in Christ alone. But there are still people in the church who try to make us feel like we need to be doing something more to be considered a true Christian. Like this group in Galatians 2, they may be influential and cause us to separate from other believers out of fear that things other Christians do or don’t do make them unbelievers. Are you more like Peter and Barnabas or Paul? Do you tend to try to please certain groups of Christians and their rules or do you find yourself trying to focus on the heart and faith of other believers? The Christian church has hundreds of denominations and has separated over many different side issues. How can you bring more unity into the body of Christ through focusing on the main thing – the gospel?
To print the 20 Reflection and Discussion Questions for Galatians –> Click Here.
This Week’s Verses of the Day:
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Here’s the Printable Bible Bookmark for Galatians.
Here’s another explanation of the SOAK Bible Study Method and Bible Coloring Chart if you need more guidance:
Here is the SOAK method I refer to in the video:
And the Bible Coloring Bookmark:
Click HERE to Print the full page Coloring Chart
or Click HERE for the Bookmark Coloring Chart
Here are the highlighters, pens and pencils I refer to in the video:
Highlighters – Acid Free – Bible Hi-Glider
Fine Line Non-bleeding Pens – Micron Archival Ink and Multi-Colored Gel Pens
Colored Pencils – Crayola Twistables and Crayola Colored Pencils
I use the ESV Inductive Study Bible as my personal study Bible.
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