Galatians Bible Study Week 1 {1-2}

I’m back at work and running a brief bible study on Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  There are only six chapters in this letter, but there is a lot of meat to them!  Here is the outline from Tuesday’s session …

 

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Paul’s Letter to the Galatians
Week 1 {chapters 1-2}
7/1/2014

Overview

  • This letter was written by Paul to Gentile Christians in responsive to Jewish Christians trying to coerce them to follow Jewish laws and customs.
  • It is important to remember that religions of the old world were all very ritual-based.  Paul tries to use this letter to remind the Gentiles that God’s presence doesn’t come to individuals through rituals, but through belief in God and faith in the Gospel.  Paul can see that the law is becoming a burden and blocking the power of the Gospel – he argues that if you hang onto the law then you are denying God.

Galatians 1:1-9

Outlines the issue / purpose of the letter

Paul’s authority

  • 1:1 – “from Paul, an apostle who is not sent from human authority or commissioned through human agency, but sent through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.”
  • Paul is making his apostolic authority clear – that God is the one calling him to preach the Gospel.

Paul seems mad

  • 1:6 – “I’m amazed that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ to follow another gospel.”
  • He seems upset both at the Jewish Christians for enforcing the law AND to the Gentiles for being persuaded.

The troublemakers

  • 1:7 – “It’s not really another gospel, but certain people are confusing you and they want to change the gospel of Christ.”
  • Paul is pointing fingers at the Jewish Christians for coming in and causing trouble

Questions to ponder …

  • Would you have believed?  Would you have followed Paul?  The Jewish Christians were giving people something tangible to believe in.

Galatians 1:10-24

Stop trying to please people

  • 1:10 – “Am I trying to win over human beings or God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave.”
  • Not much has changed – this is a great lesson in our lives today and in our ministries.
  • Not only should we stop trying to please others over God, but we should stop trying to please our human/material desires over God.

Paul’s story & journey

  • 1:13-24
  • Pieces of this story CAN be read as NOT humble or tactful.  Paul says that he advanced in Judaism beyond his peers and that God set him apart from birth.  Is he trying to show that he is better than others?  That he is a prophet?
  • But perhaps he was trying to prove his authority/call by using this extreme language.  He was trying to set himself apart so that people would listen.
  • It probably drove Paul crazy to see people rely on other structures when he was trying to empower them to listen to God and live out their own faith.  He needed to be extreme to snap them out of their comfort zone.

Paul’s travels

  • 1:17-18
  • When Paul talks about his travels, he was trying to set himself apart from Jerusalem – showing the Galatians that faith lies beyond Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:1-10

Paul’s evolution of leadership

  • 2:1-5
  • Timeline; this gives shape and validity to who Paul was and what he said.

God’s favoritism (or lack thereof)

  • 2:6 – “God doesn’t show favoritism.”
  • This is not easy to wrestle with – even if you do not believe that God show’s favoritism, you are still left to wonder why bad things happen to certain people and why some people feel more called into ministry than others.

Questions to ponder …

  • How do we explain healing and miracles?  What is the purpose/power of prayer?

Galatians 2:11-21

Jews vs. Gentiles – living by faith

Can’t have both

  • Paul is essentially saying here that it is not possible to have BOTH the law and the Gospel – which is interesting, because in other letters that we have studied, Paul preaches unity and says that it is possible to have both.
  • This is where it is important to remember that context that Paul was writing to – he was trying to empower a community that was being broken down by Jewish-Christians telling the Gentile-Christians they needed to conform to a certain set of rituals.

Servant of sin

  • 2:17 – “But if it is discovered that we ourselves are sinners while we are trying to be made righteous in Christ, then is Christ a servant of sin?  Absolutely not!”
  • The argument that the Jewish-Christians were making was that if the Gentile-Christians abandoned the law and turned to Christ and were still sinners, the Christ was a servant of sin.  Paul refutes this, saying that humans are sinful by nature – the law actually sets us up to sin because we will never follow it exactly.  Living with Christ within us allows us to let our imperfections show, while still being redeemed.

The power of Christ’s resurrection

  • 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • We have been crucified with Christ – we can live Christ-like and still be individuals, though.

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