In-Your-Face GRACE! – Paul’s Letter to the GALATIANS
September 13, 2015
1. Read Galatians 2:1-10. How long after Paul’s conversion (described in 1:11-24) did this second visit to Jerusalem occur? BEFORE this second visit, how much time had Paul spent in Jerusalem? [See 1:15-24.] How are these facts significant to Paul’s assertion that both his apostleship and his gospel were not from men, but from Jesus Christ (1:1, 11)?
2. According to Galatians 2:2, what prompted Paul to go once again to Jerusalem after so many years? Was it the leaders in the Jerusalem church who requested Paul’s visit? What was Paul’s PURPOSE in going to visit the leaders of the mostly-Jewish church in Jerusalem? Was Paul going to Jerusalem to find out if the gospel he had been preaching to the Gentiles was legitimate? [See chapter 1, verse 1 and verses 11-12 again.]
Why did Paul and Barnabus take Titus with them to this important meeting with the leaders of the Jerusalem church?
3. Four times in this passage (once in verse 2, twice in verse 6, and once in verse 9), Paul speaks of those men who were “of reputation” in the church in Jerusalem. Which leaders (men of reputation) in the Jerusalem church does Paul explicitly mention in 2:9? [Note that “Cephas” was another name for the apostle, Peter.] Why do you think Paul made a point to speak to those men “in private”?
How did those leaders from the first church community in Jerusalem respond to Paul, Barnabus and Titus? [See verse 3 and verse 9.]
What if those leaders had NOT responded in this way? What if they had demanded that Titus be circumcised and that Paul begin requiring all male Gentile believers in Jesus Christ to be circumcised? And what if they had demanded that Paul require all Gentile believers, both male and female, to observe the Jewish holy days and festivals (see 4:10)? How do you think Paul would have responded to such demands, based on all that he said in chapter 1 leading up to this passage?
While we should certainly be very slow to go against the understanding of godly teachers and preachers in our own era, is it possible that an error could arise in the Christian churches that we should strongly oppose – even though most of those considered to be of “high reputation” in the church were teaching it? How would we know if such an error had arisen? What sufficient basis could we possibly have for standing against a belief that was widely held by beloved and well-known teachers, preachers and authors? What basis did PAUL have for doing that very thing? [See Psalm 119:97-100.]
4. Would you say that Paul tended to avoid confrontations for the sake of preserving unity? Do we? Is it possible that confrontation may be necessary at times, in order to preserve unity in the church?
Should we allow “diversity” in the church in matters that are central to the Christian faith? Read Philippians 1:27-2:2. According to what Paul says in Philippians 1:27, for what must we “strive together” with “one mind”? Now go back and read Galatians 2:4-5 again. According to Galatians 2:5, what was at stake if Paul had yielded to the Judaizers? [The Judaizers were Jews who professed to be Christians and who were demanding that Gentile converts to Christ be circumcised and observe other aspects of the Old Testament Law of Moses.]
5. Is the task of preserving the purity of the Biblical gospel only the responsibility of those in positions of leadership in the church?
Are there any “different” gospels (see Galatians 1:6-7) being propagated today? If so, what marks them out as “different” than the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore marks them out as FALSE? In other words, how do we recognize a FALSE GOSPEL? What are we to do when we encounter one?
Copyright © 2015 by Tom Wright. This is the edited Study Guide of the series, “In-Your-Face GRACE! – Paul’s Letter to the GALATIANS,” prepared by Tom Wright for September 13, 2015. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with attribution to the source.