Galatians was probably Paul's first epistle. It was written to the churches of Galatia (1:2) of which Paul seems to constitute as one church. It has a very definite thrust and message: to silence some who were saying that faith wasn't enough to please God. They taught that strict obedience to the Law brought salvation. Galatians' message is that salvation received by faith in Christ's finished work alone. This epistle led to Martin Luther's understanding of salvation by faith and John Wesley's conversion.
1. A DIFFERENT GOSPEL
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from His who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel . . ."
Paul was absolutely astounded that the Galatians had turned so easily from the true gospel.
1. By turning from the gospel, who had the Galatians actually turned from?
It wasn't as if some false teachers had gradually worn the Galatians down to accepting their perverted gospel, the fact is they had turned away 'so soon' after accepting the true gospel.
2. In it's simplest form, Paul presents his gospel in the introduction of verse 4, What was the essence of Paul's gospel found here?
The Judaizers were claiming with boldness that faith in Christ alone wasn't sufficient for salvation. They honestly believed that they had the true gospel. But in their attempts to present a glorious gospel they had actually pulled-off a glorious bungle. In verse six, Paul describes their teaching as 'another gospel', but immediately withdraws that definition saying that it's not even worthy to be labelled 'gospel'.
These Judaizers were maintaining that the Old Covenant, with all the laws of Moses, must be kept as well as accepting what Christ did. By doing this they were perverting the gospel. They had greatly underestimated and finished work of Christ. Even today there are groups who profess 'another gospel'. They do this by deliberately ignoring or changing the evidence of the Bible.
3. What is the Gospel? Answer these questions and given references:
a) Who is the 'good news' about ? (Mk 1:1)
b) How was He born? (Mtt.1:23)
c) Who is He? (Jn.1:1)
d) What did He do during His 3 years of ministry? (Acts 10:38)
e) How did His ministry end? (Acts 2:23)
f) Who did He die for? (Rom.8:32; 2Cor 5:15)
g) Why did He die? (2Cor 5:15)
h) What happened after His death? (Matt 28:6)
i) What happened after His resurrection? (Acts 1:9)
j) What happened after His ascension?
(Dan.7:13-14; Jn 17:1; 12:23; Rev.1:13-16)
k) How do we receive His finished work? (Eph.2:8; Rom.4:16)
l) Who did Christ send to help us? (Jn 16:7)
m) Where will those who have accepted Christ go when they die? (Mtt. 23:43)
n) Where will those who didn't accepted Christ go when they die? (Rev. 20:14-15)
o) What will we be doing in Heaven? (Rev.2:26)
The above statements constitute Paul's gospel. There is none other. Take away just one of these truths and the gospel becomes perverted. You may like to note some of this information down in the back of your Bible in case you encounter people who oppose this gospel, yet hold to the Bible as the Word of God.
4. What happens to people who preach another gospel? (1:9)
Paul further stated that what he received came directly from God. This gospel is God's idea not man's!
2. IT IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
5. What does Paul mean by 'I have been crucified with Christ'?
6. How does Christ now live in someone?
7. Note question 3 point 'h)' . If this hadn't happened could Christ 'live in me'? Why?
This verse is probably the central thought of the epistle. It sums up why Paul had abandoned any hope of the Ceremonial Law saving him. Because of this experience he had confidence in his God-given gospel even to the extent of publicly rebuking Peter (2:11) over his betrayal of the 'pure' gospel.
3. THE LAW WAS OUR SCHOOL- MASTER
"Therefore the law was out tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
The Law was our baby-sitter until the fullness of time came (4:4). In Greco-Roman culture, families lived in "households". The father was the head of the household. Within the household were servants as well as family members. The servants were responsible for the well-being of the family. The eldest son was actually raised by the head servant. This servant was the son's guardian. He was responsible to teach, discipline and nurture the son. When the son was trained, usually by his teens, the father would then "adopt" him. This is the picture that Paul is using to describe the progression of God's people being under Law, then being adopted into God's family because Jesus Christ had prepared His people.
8. How are we justified?
9. Was faith necessary under the Old Covenant?
10. Did all the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament actually save anyone?
The 'Law' as used by Paul was the Mosiac Law - the Law from Moses. It was made up of:
1) The Moral Law 2) The Ceremonial Law
3) The Civil Law 4) The Foods Law
11. Jesus did away with three of these Law categories in the New Covenant. Which one wasn't abolished?
The unbending weight of this Law left everyone guilty and under a burden of guilt and sin which required the ceremonial Laws to make continual atonement. The Civil Law was for correct conduct in a community and the Food Laws were for their own health. Now, under Christ's New Covenant we no longer have to observe rituals, ceremonies or sacrifices, but we can enter into a rest from these 'works'. Within the Moral Law of God was the Sabbath. This Sabbath rest was the seal of the Old Covenant and spoke of an ultimate rest from works which would come in the New Covenant. This is why you'll never read in the New Testament of the need for observing a literal Sabbath day. We worship God on the first day of week-Sunday-the start of something new.
4. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
12. What are the works of the flesh? (5:19-21)
You don't need a demon to make you do these things. They come from our 'carnal' (flesh) nature which we must crucify (vs.23). All too often, people excuse their actions by blaming demons, parents, environment, or circumstances, rather than admitting total responsibility for their actions. Despite the teaching of some well meaning deliverance ministries, you can't cast the flesh out of someone. The remedy for the flesh is the Cross. Don't be too quick to accuse a fellow Christian of demon possession when they battle with a particular sin. Neither should we be too quick to excuse someone battling with demonic bondage, because demonic influence is always invited with fleshly living.
13. What makes up the fruit of the spirit? (vs.22-23)
5. WHATEVER A MAN SOWS
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Sowing and reaping seems to be a continuous theme throughout the Bible. It appears that God has even decreed it. This is why He won't be mocked by people who think they can ignore this principle.
14. How do we reap answered prayer?
15. Can we out-give God?
Paul urges those who are spirit-led to restore any who have been overtaken by sin (6:1). He says we shouldn't condemn them, but gently bring them back. We should bear their burdens (6:2).
16. What is the Law of Christ mentioned in Galatians 6:2?
17. What's the difference between Galatians 6:2 and Galatians 6:5? Or what are the similarities?
In Galatians 6:6, Paul says that those who are taught the Word should financially support their teachers. In verse seven he states that such giving would actually be like 'boomerang' money. By giving to the work of the Lord, Paul says that it's sowing money that will be reaped back.
18. When we give up things for Jesus, how much will we reap back? (Mtt. 19:29)
19. In Malachi 3:8, apart from tithes, what did God want His people to do?
Obviously the principle of sowing and reaping goes beyond just things concerned with finance. Everything we do will in some way be reaped. Paul finishes off his letter the same way he starts- asserting the work of the cross and faith to bring salvation. As a final nail in the coffin of Judaizers he says that circumcision is now meaningless.
20. Who are now the 'Israel of God'? (6:16)
New Testament Survey
© 2001 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania