We have recently finished week one of our Bible study of Galatians. The Lord has challenged me this year to dig deep and really study His word and then teach it to Lacey. He has proved faithful, once again, to help me, guide me and teach me along the way. The following post is an introduction and our notes from chapters one to three. I pray it is a blessing to those who read His word.
Galatians- The book of Christian freedom. We don’t live under law- but grace.
Possibly the earliest writing of the NT. 1st verse tells that Paul is the author of this letter. He wrote this letter to the people of Galatia while he was in Antioch- north of Israel. This letter was wrote to many churches, it was meant to be passed around. (vs 2- churches) This letter is a short, passionate, emergency letter. It has many emotions and intensity- Paul does not hide his feelings of frustration.
Ch 1 & 2 The good news of God’s grace- declared, demonstrated and defended.
Ch 3 & 4 Grace and Law
Ch 5 & 6 Application to our Christian life
Introduction: Paul established churches in Galatia and preached the gospel to many people. After he left, false teachers came in and attacked Paul as a Christian and taught that they must be circumcised to be saved- like the old law. The letter dives right in with his disappointment that the people were so easily influenced by outsiders.
In this chapter, Paul discusses the problems and issues, speaks of his history, his early life and conversion and his first visit to Jerusalem. Paul established churches in Galatia. After he left, the people were easily persuaded and influenced by false teachers. They believed that they must be circumcised to be saved- like the old law.
Circumcision was commanded by God in the OT. It was a mark of holiness that set Jewish males apart as holy unto the Lord. It was a physical sign that man belonged to God- body, soul and spirit. Also, it was meant to remind him that he was not his own, he was bought with a price and that he must glorify God, even with his body.
This old law (law of Moses) was fulfilled and replaced by our faith and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Salvation/message of grace vs. the law/”religion”
Paul preaches justification by faith. He points out that his gospel came from Jesus- not from men, not even from the apostles. He was seeking to please God, not man. There was no room for compromise, Paul had a backbone and would not give in to the false teachings.
Paul wants the church to unite- but in the TRUTH of the gospel.
***Be very careful of false teachers that go against God’s word- the Bible. Satan will use many people or ways to lead you astray. Be alert! Stay faithful and true to the Lord.
There are 3 warnings written in the Bible commanding people not to add or take away from God’s words. Read Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:5,6 and Revelation 22:18,19.
God says what He means and means what He says.
Chapter 2 “Paul’s Declaration of Independence”
Paul, Barnabas and Titus (directed by God), went on a trip to Jerusalem and met with James, John and Peter- the top 3 apostles. This trip was about 3 years after Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. Most likely, this trip was the same one mentioned in Acts 11:27-30. Paul brought gifts from other cities to the Christians in Jerusalem that were in a famine.
The apostles accepted and approved Paul and his ministry. They agreed that the Gentiles were not required to come under the Mosaic law to find favor with God. It is mentioned that they reminded him to remember the poor.
Peter turned his back on the Gentiles and treated the uncircumcised as if they were not saved at all. He refused to eat with them and acted against what he knew was right, out of fear. He still believed the gospel but failed to practice it. We must be careful and not give in under social pressure and compromise our beliefs and values.
Paul confronts Peter over this issue and calls him out in public. At this time, Peter was one of the most important disciples of Jesus and Paul was a new Christian that was known for his evil former life. Paul boldly takes a stand because he knew what was at stake- the truth of the gospel.
Hypocrite- one who puts on a mask/ acting/ fake
No man is so secure that he may not fall, just like Peter. Barnabas also did the same as Peter and then the rest of the Jews at the church in Antioch followed him. Our actions can greatly influence others, good or bad. When we go astray, others will often follow. Satan knew that if he could make Peter take the wrong path, so would many others.
Paul- stayed true to the gospel
Peter- came to his senses and became more firm in the truth than before
Barnabas- believed Paul
Jews- the truth was spelled out clearly
Gentiles- faith was strengthened
All of these good results came only because Paul was willing to do something totally right, but uncomfortable. Are we willing to do this?
vs 20- “who loved me”- past tense, action
Creation, in the manger, on Earth, on the cross….there has never been a time that Jesus has not loved you!
vs 21- Jesus did not die in vain- his purpose was to offer grace, forgiveness and a way to heaven.
He loves ME! He gave himself for ME! We are not saved by what we do but what Jesus has done. This is called Grace.
Chapter 3 Living in Faith
Paul scolds the people of Galatia for being foolish and allowing someone to deceive them. They had the right knowledge and understanding of the gospel but they were not using it.
Bewitched- vs 1- like some kind of spell had been cast over them.
Just as we receive the Holy Spirit by faith (not works), the Galatians received the Holy Spirit through simple faith. They were mislead into thinking that spiritual growth or maturity could only be achieved by works instead of a continued simple faith in Jesus. If Satan can’t keep you from being saved, then he will attempt to hinder your blessings and growth as a Christian.
Paul examines the life of Abraham in vs 5-9. Paul quotes Genesis 15:6.
Abraham believed God by faith, not works. And not by circumcision- the law wasn’t even given yet.
Abraham and his descendant- Jesus Christ.
God never intended the law to be the way we find our approval before him. He knew we could never keep the law so God provided a sacrifice- Jesus. All who put their faith in Jesus are sons of Abraham and are blessed. We are heirs of God and this high place of privilege comes only by faith, not by the law or by works.
Salvation by grace- through faith alone- Quoted 4 times in NT:
In vs 28-29, Paul stressed that when we are in Jesus, we are all equal.
Jesus died on the cross for everyone- regardless of denominations, race, nationality, political party, rich or poor…..
THE LAW OF MOSES (OR THE MOSAIC LAW)
Refers to the first 5 books of the Bible, written by Moses
Consisted of many ceremonies, rituals, symbols, etc. to remind people frequently of their duties, responsibilities and high ethical and moral values. Also includes instructions about faith, repentance, baptism in water, remission of sins and the ten commandments.
The law was a beautiful thing when man regarded it correctly, as a standard of righteousness. (See Psalm 119:97) But it was often regarded incorrectly- keep the law to earn salvation.
God gave us His standard (the law) so we would not destroy ourselves before the Messiah came. Matthew 5:17 says that Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy it. The law was our master until Christ came.
The law protects us- it shows us God’s heart, shows us the best way to live and shows us what should be approved and disapproved in this world.
Once we are saved by faith, we no longer live under the law but we remember the behavior it has taught us. We learn from it and we remember our lessons from it.
The whole purpose of the law is to bring us to Jesus. We can’t keep the law- we aren’t perfect, we need to look outside of ourselves for something greater.
The OT tells us that a right standing before God comes by faith, not by the law. See Habakkuk 2:4
Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law.
It cost him everything- his life.
sources: blueletterBible, Bible.org, enduringword