Called by the Grace of Christ:
Paul’s Letter to the GALATIANS
August 16, 2015
1. Read Galatians 1:6-10.
Look carefully at Paul’s wording in verse 6. What or whom are the Galatians “deserting” (or in some translations, “turning away from”)? And with what are they replacing it?
Notice that what they’re deserting and that with which they’re replacing it are two very different kinds of things. If you don’t understand what’s being pointed out here, look harder at the verse until you see it. Paul does NOT say that they’ve simply deserted the true gospel and replaced it with a false gospel (although that is certainly the case). Why is this category change between what they’ve abandoned and what they’ve embraced significant? This goes to the very heart of why Paul is “amazed” or “astonished” that they would have done such a thing! What makes it astonishing that someone would turn away from the true gospel to a crummy imitation?
2. Based on verse 6, what actually distinguishes the TRUE gospel from the false ones?
3. In verses 7-9, Paul tells the Galatian believers in no uncertain terms how they must approach teachers of ANY gospel message that’s different than the one he and his coworkers have preached to them. The word “accursed” that Paul uses here is the New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament word that means “irrevocably devoted to destruction.” In other words, it’s talking about someone or something that is as cursed as cursed gets – in a word, hell-bound! Are we actually taking that approach toward those who are preaching false gospels?
What do you think Paul means when he says that the “different gospel” that the Galatians have been accepting is “really not another,” but is actually a distortion of “the gospel of Christ”? [See 1:7.] What’s the difference between “another” gospel and a “distorted” gospel? Does the biggest threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ come from non-religious people or from religious people? Does the biggest threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ come from those who claim to be “Christians” or from those who don’t?
Can you think of any “gospels” being proclaimed today that claim to be about Jesus Christ, but that somehow distort the gospel that Paul is talking about? Once again, when you look at the contrast Paul presents in verse 6, what is it about any “different” gospel that fundamentally marks it as a FALSE gospel?
4. Is there any passage or verse you can think of in the Bible in which a prophet, apostle or Jesus Himself ever says anything even remotely like: “You have the right to your own opinion about what I’m telling you.” Is such a statement even TRUE? Does God EVER speak of such a “right”? Have you ever used words like those when you’re talking to people about the gospel of Jesus Christ? If so, are you acting as a faithful agent and ambassador of Jesus when you say such words? Was there power and authority in Paul’s proclamation of the gospel? Is there power and authority in YOUR proclamation of the gospel – or is your approach more focused on being polite, well-received and not giving offense?
5. Read Galatians 1:10. Now read Galatians 2:11-14. According to the passage in chapter 2, what fear had enticed Peter and Barnabus to take the approach they had taken toward Gentile converts?
What happens to our proclamation of the Truth as soon as we allow ourselves to become concerned about gaining or keeping the approval of men? If you’re “striving to please men,” why can’t you ALSO “be a bond-servant of Christ” AT THE SAME TIME? What makes those two pursuits mutually exclusive?
Copyright © 2015 by Tom Wright. This is the edited Study Guide of the series, “Called by the Grace of Christ: Paul’s Letter to the GALATIANS,” prepared by Tom Wright for August 16, 2015. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with attribution to the source.