In-Your-Face GRACE! – Paul’s Letter to the GALATIANS
September 27, 2015
1. Read Galatians 2:11-21, then re-read verses 15-21. Verses 15-21 continue Paul’s rebuke of Peter that started in verse 14. Paul exposed Peter’s hypocrisy in very practical terms in verse 14. Peter had contradicted his own beliefs and message with his actions – and that had the effect of CHANGING his message to the eyes and ears of the people who were paying attention to what he was doing. The rest of Paul’s words to Peter in verses 15-21 lay out Paul’s theological rebuke on which his practical rebuke is based.
Note that the subject in verse 14 is “you,” in verses 15-17, it’s “we,” and in verses 18-21, it’s “I.” What is the central point of verses 15-17? What is the central point of verses 18-20? How do these two points connect with each other, and how do both of these points connect with Peter’s actions in verses 11-14 that had put the Gospel at risk?
2. “Justified” means declared righteous in the eyes of God. “Sanctified” (a term common to Paul’s letters that’s not directly used here, but is clearly implied) means made righteous in our actual behavior – in our daily lives. Which of those two is in focus in verses 15-17? Which is in focus in verses 18-20? Which of those is verse 21 talking about, or is it talking about both?
3. Paul’s statement in verse 16 is one of the most concise statements of the doctrine of justification in the Bible. In that one verse, Paul tells us: (1) how “a man” is NOT justified; (2) how “a man” IS justified; (3) how WE WERE justified; (4) how WE were NOT justified; (5) how “NO FLESH” will be justified. [If you have time, read Romans 3:9-30, where Paul amplifies this same point very vividly.]
Paul is taking a “cover all bases” approach here. Does Paul allow here for any means of justification other than the one he’s talking about? Does he allow for one means for certain people and another means for other people? Consider that same question in light of the event and the controversy Paul was directly addressing in this passage.
After reading this verse, what questions remain in your mind about how sinners come to be seen as righteous in the eyes of God? What is the ONE THING that Paul says we do “that we may be justified”?
4. In verse 19, Paul says that he “died to the Law” and that he did so “through the Law.” What does that mean – to “die to the Law THROUGH the Law”? How does doing that enable us to “live to God,” and why are those two mutually exclusive? Why can’t we do BOTH?
5. According to verse 21, what two things get nullified, canceled out (really just one, but expressed two different ways), “if righteousness comes through the Law”?
6. Peter already knew and believed these things before this incident occurred [See Acts 10:9-15, 28; 11:1-3, 17-18.] How would he have acted differently in this episode if he had kept these marvelous truths firmly in his mind and heart?
How will WE act differently if WE are keeping these things firmly in our minds and hearts?
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 27, 2015. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with attribution to the source.