Saturday, March 8, 2014


Though everyone agrees Paul wrote this letter, there are three views as to when and where he might have written it:  from Ephesus or Macedonia ca 55 AD or from Syrian Antioch ca. 48 AD or from Ephesus or Corinth between ca. 52 AD.  Probably it was to a group of churches in the southern part of Galatia, including Antioch, Derbe, Iconium, and Lystra (cf. Acts 13-14), all of which were founded by Paul on his first or second missionary journeys.   

Part of the letter is a response to a group called Judaizers, who were insisting on traditional Jewish practice.  They claimed Paul removed those requirements just to make the message more popular and this proved he wasn’t a true apostle.  Paul’s response is strong, to say the least (Gal 1:1-2, 11-17).  

In later times, the book of the Galatians played an important part of the reformation.  Though it was Romans that began Luther’s personal awakening, he based much of his theology on Galatians, to the point that one of the nicknames for Galatians is “Luther’s Book.”

From theologygrams, a fun site.
Paul’s authority:  read Gal 1:11-24.  Since he was previously in the position of persecuting Christians, Paul had undoubtedly heard some of there testimony.  
Side note:  Paul in 1:15 is paralleling his ministry with Jeremiah (Jer 1:5)

1) What does Paul mean that he heard the gospel by revelation and not from people?  Why does he make that point?

2) What is important about the information that Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem for 3 years, and then only met James and Peter?

3) Why does Paul remind these people about his past as a persecutor when he wants them to accept his authority?

The dissension:  read Gal 2:11-21.   After noting that his message was approved by the original apostles, Paul tells about this big conflict with them.  The big idea seems to be to add no work to the requirements of salvation.  
4) What works are you tempted to add to the requirements for salvation, or have you seen others require?

5) How was the conflict resolved?

The dressing down:  read Gal 3:1-5.  

6) Is Paul wrong to address people this harshly?  If not, what could make such harsh words okay?  (Imagine being addressed that way by a pastor.)

Unity of Old and New Testaments:  read Gal 3:6-9 and 3:26-4:7.  
7) What does this say about righteousness?  What does this say about us?

How to live:  read Gal 5:1 and 5:13-25.  Paul warns, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  (v21)  

8) Why does this not conflict with Paul’s message of righteousness by faith?

9) How do you view the fruit of the spirit?  Something to strive for, or something to wait for, or something else?

The big finish:  read Gal 6:1-10.  

10) Share what this means to you.

11) This is a favorite book of many people.  Is there something we left out that you would like to share?

I have to share the paraphrasing of the close of this book in the Message:  Gal 6:17-18

Quite frankly, I don't want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.  May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!


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