Hi! Welcome to the first post on our Galatians Bible study. This is a place to catch up on a study if you missed one. You can also skip around to different teachers. A full schedule is below.
Who is Paul? (See Acts 7-9)
Paul is the assumed author of Galatians, and a number of other “epistles” or letters to fledgling churches in the mid-first century CE Roman Empire. Paul was a Jew who had originally persecuted Christians, but after a dramatic conversion experience had become a Christian himself. He had never met Jesus pre-crucifixion, but Jesus appeared to him and sent him on a mission to the “gentiles,” that is, the non-Jewish pagans of the land. Paul’s missionary journeys were very successful and led to the birth of many churches throughout the Mediterranean.
Who are the Galatians?
The “Churches in Galatia” probably refers to a group of churches in a wide region encompassing modern-day Turkey. The churches were most likely gentile converts.
Why write the letter?
The letter addresses the issue of whether or not these gentile Christians needed to first convert to Judaism (and thus to submit to the Law), or if they were free in Christ to be Christians without this step. These converts had been influenced by a group (either internal or external), who had convinced them that they did need to submit to the Law, and specifically the ritual of circumcision as a sign of inclusion in the covenant with God. Paul writes against this and argues for freedom from the Law and freedom in the faith of Christ.
Compare the benefits and pitfalls of adhering to Jewish laws and traditions or setting those aside and claiming Christ as all-sufficient. Which would you choose?
After a brief greeting citing his credentials as an apostle, Paul launches into a critique of “the churches of Galatia,” citing their desertion of the grace of Christ and the adoption of Jewish law. We don’t know if the confusion comes from an outside faction promoting conversion to Judaism as a precursor to becoming full Christians, or whether the confusion has grown up from the group itself, but Paul is adamant that the believers abandon this error and return to the original gospel that Paul proclaimed.
The chapter ends with Paul’s autobiography, including his time persecuting Christians; his conversion; and his first missionary journeys. He mentions Cephas, which is Aramaic for “Peter,” one of the original twelve disciples, who was head of the church in Jerusalem. The debate between the (primarily Jewish) Jerusalem Church and Paul’s (primarily gentile) churches is a major theme in this letter.
Compare the opening 6 verses of Galatians to the first three verses of Philippians. What is the same? What is different? You can take a look at Paul’s opening verses of each of his letters, to get an idea of how important his introductions were to the tone/content of each letter.
Prayer after Study
Holy God, by your grace we were saved. In Christ we are called to be your faithful servants. Help us to always be grateful for the freedom that you gave us through your Son. Help us to be empowered by the power of your Spirit, that we might be free from sin and free to live for our neighbors and for you. Amen.
Wednesday, 7-9:30pm Rev. Chatelaine Samsen
June 1 Galatians 1
June 8 Galatians 2 (Rev. Murray subs)
June 15 Galatians 3
June 22 Galatians 4
June 29 Galatians 5
July 6 Galatians 6
Wednesday, 3-4:30pm, Rev. Murray
June 8 Galatians 1
June 15 Galatians 2
June 22 Galatians 3
June 29 Galatians 4
July 6 Galatians 5
July 13 Galatians 6 (possibly rescheduled for earlier)
Sunday, 11:15-12:30, Rev. Vaagenes
June 5 Galatians 1
June 12 Galatians 2
June 19 Galatians 3
June 26 Galatians 4
July 3 Galatians 5
July 10 Galatians 6