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A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Sources
The primary sources that were used to create this Bible Study are:

The Concordia Self-Study Commentary (NT notes by Martin Franzmann) and


The Concordia Self-Study Bible (NIV) (edited by Robert Hoerber).
The Word of the Lord Grows by Martin Franzmann.

Background to the Letter


Galatians is one of the first books written in the NT. It is actually a letter written by
the apostle Paul to the churches that he started in the territory called Galatia. He
established these churches on his first missionary journey (46-47 AD). As he
established these churches, a group of Jewish Christians (Judaizers), who believed
that more than faith in Christ was required for salvation, followed him and spread
false teachings. They believed that to be saved a person must have faith in Christ
and must do the works of the Law, which included circumcision. Their teaching of
faith and works was another gospel, a false gospel to Paul. Paul would only accept
the pure Gospel, which is salvation by grace through faith in Christ. So in response
to this situation Paul then wrote this passionate letter to the Galatians churches
imploring them to not to listen to the false gospel, but to stick with the true Gospel
of Jesus Christ.

Outline of Galatians
This outline comes from the use of Concordia Self-Study Commentary and The Word
of the Lord Grows.

1:1-9 Introduction
Lesson 1: 1:1-5 Salutation
Lesson 2: 1:6-9 Denunciation

1:10 2:21 Pauls defense of his apostleship


Lesson 3: 1:10-12 Pauls Gospel was received by special revelation
1:13 2:21 Pauls Gospel was independent of the Jerusalem apostles and the
Judean churches

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


Lesson
Lesson
Jerusalem
Lesson
Jerusalem
Lesson

4: 1:13-17 As evidenced by Pauls early activities as a Christian


5: 1:18-24 As evidenced by Pauls first post-Christian visit to
6: 2:1-10 As evidenced by Pauls second post-Christian visit to
7: 2:11-21 As evidenced by Pauls rebuke of Peter at Antioch

3:1 4:31 The Defense of the Gospel of free grace without the
works of the Law . . . . . . . . . Justification of the doctrine of liberty and faith

3:1-14 Three witnesses to the true nature of the Law and Gospel
Lesson 8: 3:1-5 The Galatians experience of the Gospel
Lesson 9: 3:6-9 The experience of Abraham
Lesson 10: 3:10-14 The curse of the Law

3:15-29 The relationship


Lesson 11: 3:15-18
Lesson 12: 3:19-25
Lesson 13: 3:26-29

4:1-31 Three Aspects of sonship confirming the Gospel of grace


Lesson 14: 4:1-11 Sons and heirs; not slaves
Lesson 15: 4:12-20 Gods children of joy and compassion
Lesson 16: 4:21-31 Sons of Abraham: Ishmael or Isaac

between Law and Promise


The priority of the Promise
The purpose of the Law
Sons of God through faith

5:1 6:10 Pauls defense of the Gospels life of freedom

5:1-24 Life in the freedom of the Gospel: general description


Lesson 17: 5:1-12 Freedom from the Law
Lesson 18: 5:13-15 Freedom from and freedom to
Lesson 19: 5:16-24 Freedom and the Spirit

6:25 6:10 Life in freedom: Concrete Examples


Lesson 20: 5:25 6:6 Not self-centered, but gentile and generous
Lesson 21: 6:7-10 Doing good to others

6:11-18 Conclusion to the letter


Lesson 22: 6:11-18 Pauls concluding thoughts

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Introduction to the Letter of Galatians (1:1-9)


Lesson 1 The Salutation (1:1-5)

The writer of the letter (Paul) is immediately identified at the beginning of


scroll (1:1a). This was customary and helpful for the reader of the letter.

The letter is also from all the brothers with me (1:2a). By including them,
Paul implies that the Christian brothers with him agree with him and plead
along with him, that the Galatian churches might return to the true Gospel.

The letter has three main themes and the salutation touches upon all three.

First, Paul will defend his apostleship (Gal. 1-2). In 1:1 Paul begins the letter
identifying himself as an apostle sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father and
not from men.

Second, Paul will defend the Gospel that he preaches, how it is by grace
through faith, and how it brings freedom from the Law (Gal. 3-4). In 1:3-4a
Paul speaks of grace and peace (1:3a), which come through the Gospel of him
who gave himself for our sins (1:4a).

Third, Paul will show that in the life of liberty that the Gospel brings we seek
to do Gods will as expressed in the Law (Gal. 5-6). The purpose of Jesus
saving actions was to rescue us from the present evil age (1:4b) and,
having been rescued, we live a life in which we are now free from selfishness
and free to live by the Spirit and to do good for others.

Lesson 2 The Denunciation (1:6-9)

In most of Pauls letters after the initial salutation, he usually takes time for
thanksgiving and prayer and then gets to the main part of the letter. But here
in this letter the problem with the Galatian churches is so big that Paul moves
immediately to the main problem and his passion about it is clearly seen.

The problem is that the Galatian churches are abandoning the one true
Gospel of grace in Christ for another gospel (1:6b). And to abandon the
Gospel is to desert the one who called you by the grace of Christ (1:6).

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

The other gospel, which really is no gospel at all (1:7a), is the gospel of
Christ plus the works of the Law. This was being taught by the Judaizers. They
were Jewish Christians who sincerely believed in Jesus but also believed that
a person had to be circumcised and keep parts of the OT Law in order to be
saved.

The OT Law came from God through angels to Moses. Apparently the
Judaizers were claiming that their gospel also was delivered by angels from
God (1:8). Pauls response was that no matter where it came from, even if it
came from angels, the persons responsible for this false gospel should be
eternally condemned to hell. And just to be clear and to make a strong
emphasis, Paul repeats the threat (1:9).

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Pauls Defense of His Apostleship (Gal. 1:10 2:21)


Lesson 3: Pauls Gospel was received by special revelation (1:10-12)

Pauls opponents accuse him of preaching a Gospel that pleases men


(1:10). What they mean is this. To them the true gospel involves faith in Jesus
and doing the works of the Law. Which would be easier and more pleasing to
men, having faith without the requirements of doing the works of the Law or
having faith and being required to keep the Law? They accuse Paul, who
preaches salvation by grace through faith alone, of taking the easy way out
and not telling the full Gospel. Because of this they followed Paul to each new
church that he started and told them that they were not fully Christian unless
they also kept the Law.

Paul used to be a slave to the Law and its constant unforgiving demands like
his opponents. But now Paul has been set free from the Law and its demands.
Instead he is now a willing servant of Christ (1:10) because Jesus has done
everything for his and our salvation. And he is pleasing God by the spreading
of the Good News (1:11); he has Gods approval.

Paul then makes it very clear that the Gospel he preaches was not made up,
received from some other person, or taught to him (1:11-12). If that is the
case, where did it come from? It was revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ. The
Lord Jesus came to Paul personally (1:12b) on the road to Damascus and
revealed the Good News to him. God chose to make himself and his Gospel
known to Paul in this special way. From nature and the world around us we
know some things about God. But everything we know about Gods plan and
his acts of salvation are only known through special revelation. God has
revealed these things to certain men who recorded them in what we now call
the Holy Bible. And Paul was one of these men.

Pauls Defense of His Apostleship: The Gospel was not received


from men as evidenced by
Lesson 4: Pauls early experiences as a Christian (1:13-17)
Pauls Defense of His Apostleship
The Gospel was not received from men as evidenced by: Pauls early experiences as
a Christian

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Before he was a Christian, Paul was a leader in Judaism (1:14). Judaism


advocated salvation by works. Paul hated Christianity because it taught
salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Therefore he persecuted the church
and tried to destroy it (1:13). Therefore Paul didnt contribute to the Gospel in
any way. Instead he continuously and violently opposed it at every turn.

But unbeknownst to Paul up until he travelled on the road to Damascus, God


had planned, set him apart at birth, and called him to be a servant of the
Word (1:15). By grace the Father revealed his Son to Paul (1:16a) in order that
Paul might be an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul was called to preach Christ and
Christ alone to the Gentiles (1:16b).

Paul did not receive his Gospel by consulting with anyone (1:16c). He didnt
go to Jerusalem and learn it from the other apostles (1:17a). After Jesus
appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul immediately went to Arabia
(1:17b). There were no apostles in Arabia. And as we will soon see, Paul
would stay in Arabia and Damascus for 3 years (1:18a).

What Paul did for 3 years is pure speculation. But it would make sense that
Paul would have read the scriptures in a whole new way. He probably studied
the scriptures now knowing that Jesus was the key to understanding them.
Because of the special revelation given to him, he could now see that Gods
whole plan of salvation revolved around Jesus and therefore he would now
see the scriptures in this new light. There were many Jews in Arabia as well as
non-Jews. Perhaps he also learned how to evangelize both the Jews and nonJews.

Lesson 5: Pauls First Post-Christian Visit to Jerusalem (1:18-24)


Pauls Defense of His Apostleship
The Gospel was not received from men as evidenced by: Pauls First Post-Christian
Visit to Jerusalem

Paul did not meet with Cephas (Peter) until 3 years after his conversion. And
when he did, it was only a short stay of 15 days (1:18b). That would hardly be
enough time to learn an entirely new theological system.

While in Jerusalem, Paul did not see any of the other apostles besides Peter
(1:19a). The only other important church leader that he saw was James, the
brother of Jesus (1:19b). So he could not have gotten the Gospel from any of
the apostles.

Paul did go to the Roman provinces of Syria and Celicia to his hometown and
to the church at Antioch. Paul had been brought to Antioch by Barnabas.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


While there, Paul and Barnabas taught great numbers of people the Christian
faith (Acts 11:25-26). In order to teach the faith, Paul already had to know the
Gospel.

Paul never appeared in person to any of the churches in Judea (1:22). They
knew of him. They had heard that this person who once persecuted the
church had done a 180 degree turn and now preached the faith (1:23). They
had heard that the one who had once tried to destroy the church was now
building the church and helping it grow. But in any case, he did not receive
the Gospel from the churches in Judea.

When the churches in Judea heard that Paul now preached the faith that he
once persecuted, they praised and glorified God (1:23-24). In doing so, they
gave all credit to God for Pauls conversion and call to be an apostle. They
recognized the fact that the Lord Jesus had appeared to Paul and specially
revealed himself and his Gospel to Paul.

Lesson 6: Pauls Second Post-Christian Visit to Jerusalem (2:1-10)


Pauls Defense of His Apostleship
The Gospel was not received from men as evidenced by: Pauls Second PostChristian Visit to Jerusalem

After 14 years Paul made a second trip to Jerusalem (2:1). This trip was made
because Paul received special revelation to go (2:2a). By this time Paul had
already made his first missionary journey. This was a private meeting (2:2b)
between Paul, Barnabas, and Titus (2:1) (all from Antioch) and Peter, James
(Jesus brother), and John (the apostle) (2:9) (all from Jerusalem). At this
private meeting, Paul laid out for these pillars (2:9) of the church the
Gospel that he preached to the Gentiles (2:2c). To Pauls Gospel they added
nothing (2:6); they made no changes and gave Paul and his companions the
right hand of fellowship (2:9). By doing so they showed that they were in full
agreement with all that Paul preached and taught. In doing so they
recognized the legitimacy of Pauls apostleship and his mission to the
Gentiles (2:9c).

In his Gospel Paul taught freedom from the Law. The accompaniment of Titus
with Paul (2:1b) to this private meeting became an object lesson in this
freedom. Titus was a Gentile Christian. If the pillars of the church felt strongly
that Christians need to follow the OT rite of circumcision, they would have
compelled Titus to be circumcised. But they didnt (2:3), thereby giving a nod
to Pauls Gospel of grace and freedom.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Peter, James, and John, the pillars of the early church, recognized the grace
given by God to Paul (2:9). They recognized that Jesus had appeared to Paul,
that Paul had received the Gospel from Jesus, and that when Paul preached
this Gospel to the Gentiles they believed it and became a part of the church.
In fact they agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles and they
should go to the Jews (2:9). There would be two missions to spread the truth
of the Gospel, the Gospel of grace and freedom.

Lesson 7: Pauls Rebuke of Peter at Antioch (2:11-21)


Pauls Defense of His Apostleship
The Gospel was not received from men as evidenced by: Pauls Rebuke of Peter at
Antioch

Pauls apostleship is obviously independent of Peter as is shown by an


incident that happened in Antioch (2:11-14). Peter had come to Antioch and
through his behavior attested to the truth and freedom of the Gospel that
Paul had taught them. Peter ate with the Gentile believers (2:12a). Jews never
ate with Gentiles. So by eating with them Peter showed the freedom of the
Gospel. This eating included common meals and probably included the Lords
Supper, as many times the two meals were eaten together. But when some
Judaizers came from Jerusalem Peter withdrew from having table fellowship
with the Gentiles (2:12b). When he did so he acted hypocritically and his
actions influenced other Christian Jews in the Antioch church, and even
Barnabas Pauls fellow missionary, to do the same (2:13). When Paul heard
that this was happening he confronted Peter because Peter was clearly in the
wrong (2:11).

Paul had taught the truth of the gospel (2:14a), which was that we are
saved by grace through faith without any works on our part. He showed Peter
his hypocrisy by saying in effect: You have been living in the freedom of the
Gospel without requiring works. But now by your actions you are requiring the
Gentiles to not only have faith but also to keep certain OT laws and rites. Your
actions imply that once they keep these laws then you can have fellowship
with them again. How can you force them to do that when you werent doing
it, when you were living like they were (2:14b)?

Paul then spells out what the Gospel he received from Jesus Christ is. The
Gospel is that we are justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the
law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (2:16b). This is the
truth of the gospel (2:14) that Paul preaches. This then, besides attesting to
Pauls apostleship, also is a transition into the next major section of Galatians
(3-4) where he defends the Gospel of free grace.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Christ took the sins of the world upon himself. When he did the Law
demanded and carried out his death, for the Law demands justice whenever
any of its laws are broken. Christs perfect life and his death meet the
righteous demands of the Law and thereby free us from the Law and its
demands. In terms of justification, it is as if we are separated from the Law by
death. We died with Christ (2:20a) and we now live with him by faith apart
from the Law (2:20b).

It is Paul that had to confront and remind Peter of this and not the other way
around. Pauls apostleship is independent of Peter and even opposes Peter
when necessary.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace (3:1 4:31)


Three Witnesses to the Gospel of Free Grace (3:1-14)
Lesson 8: The Galatians Experience of the Gospel (3:1-5)
Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by the Witness of: The Galatians Experience
of the Gospel

What is it that the Galatian churches have experienced? Their experience has
been that Paul clearly preached to them Christ crucified (3:3:1b). Paul has
clearly presented them with the Gospel. The Gospel is offensive to both Jew
and Gentile. Yet, what was the result of his proclamation? They received the
promised Holy Spirit (3:2). They received the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus
death without any works (3:2, 5).

This has been the experience of the Galatians but now the Galatians are
acting foolishly (3:1a). Instead of believing what you have heard (3:2, 5),
they have added to faith the observing of the law (3:2, 5). Instead of
receiving by faith the salvation that God offers them, they are now trying to
attain their goal by human effort. To Paul this is utter nonsense. In effect hes
asking them: You mean you would rather depend upon yourself and your
observance of the Law to be saved rather than depending upon God and
what he has done for you in Christ? Do you trust yourself more than you trust
God? You already have available salvation by faith. Why do you want to add
the impossible demands of the Law to it? It doesnt make sense.

Because of this, Paul asks the Galatians, Who has bewitched you? (3:1a).
Who has cast a spell over you and put you under their power? The obvious
answer is the Judaizers. They are the ones pushing circumcision and the
observance of the Law. To believe that it is a progression to go from the Spirit
to the flesh (circumcision) (3:3), from the Gospel to the Law is crazy. Its not
an advancement but rather a regression.

Lesson 9: The Experience of Abraham (3:6-9)


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by the Witness of: The Experience of
Abraham

Paul now meets the Judaizers on their own ground. Their appeal is to
circumcision. And it was to Abraham that circumcision was given as a sign of
the covenant. In 3:6 Paul quotes from Gen. 15:6. In Gen. 15 God promises

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


Abraham that he would have a son and that he would have descendants as
numerous as the stars in the sky. Abrahams response to this promise of good
news was he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness
(3:6). To show that this promise was irrevocable, God cut a covenant with
Abraham (Gen. 15:7-21).

Gods promise to Abraham was that he would have many offspring. The
question is, who are these offspring? To the Jews, the offspring of Abraham
were the physical descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people. To the
Judaizers, one had to be circumcised and keep the Law to be Abrahams
offspring. But to Paul, those who believe are children of Abraham (3:7b). In
a physical sense, offspring are those who have the same blood and genes.
They have those things in common. But in this case, these are not physical
offspring. Rather they are spiritual offspring. And what Abrahams spiritual
offspring have in common with Abraham is faith (3:7a, 8a, 9). Like Abraham
his true offspring believe Gods promises.

In Gen. 12 and 15 the scriptures announced the gospel in advance to


Abraham (3:8b). The Gospel is that all nations will be blessed through
Abraham (3:8b). Those who have faith like Abraham receive the blessings
promised to Abraham (3:9). Early on in Genesis when he made these
promises to Abraham, God was announcing that he would justify the
Gentiles by faith (Gen. 15:8a). This is the same Gospel that Paul preached.
He preached that these promises were fulfilled in Christ. The Gentiles are
being justified by their faith in Christ(3:8a).

Lesson 10: The Curse of the Law (3:10-14)


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by the Witness of: The Curse of the Law

Next Paul says something that would seem outrageous and scandalous to the
Judaizers. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse (3:10a). They
would say, how could this be? Gods Law is holy and good. Anticipating their
question, Paul immediately answers it. The answer is found in Deuteronomy,
in the Law that they treasure so highly. It says, Cursed is everyone who does
not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law (Gal. 3:10b
quoting Deut. 27:26). The Law requires perfection with no exceptions. But no
one is perfect; no one meets the Laws criteria. This leads to an inescapable
conclusion: Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God
(3:11a). Therefore the very Law which the Judaizers say is necessary to keep
for salvation is a witness against them. The Law cannot save. The Law cannot
justify. (And it was never intended to.)

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

If the Law cannot justify how then will anyone live? The answer Paul finds in
Hab. 2:4: the righteous will live by faith (3:11b). The Law and faith are
different from each other (3:12a). The Law requires that a man do everything
in the Law (3:12b). Then he will live. But since this is not possible, we must
look to faith for life. Faith puts its trust in Jesus. Only in Jesus can life be
found.

How is it that faith in Christ gives life? When Jesus took the sins of the world
upon himself, he became cursed for us (3:13). We were under the curse of
the Law and he took our curse upon himself. That curse placed him on the
tree of the cross (3:13). There he paid the price for our sins, redeeming us
unto eternal life (3:13).

He redeemed us for a specific purpose. And that purpose was so that we


might have the blessing given to Abraham (3:14a). That blessing comes only
through Jesus Christ (3:14a). That blessing can only be received by faith in
Jesus (3:14b). The promises to Abraham are fulfilled in Jesus. Through faith in
him we receive the promised Holy Spirit (3:14b). Note then that this is the
answer to the question Paul asked the Galatians in 3:2: Did you receive the
Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

The Relationship between the Promise and the Law (3:15-29)


Lesson 11: The Priority of the Promise (3:15-18)
Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Defining the Relationship between the
Promise and the Law: The Priority of the Promise

Paul gives a human example to make clear the prominence of the Promise
over the Law. It is clear to all that the last will and testament of a person
cannot be annulled or changed after that person has died (3:15). God made
his promises to Abraham and then God ratified his promises by making a
covenant with Abraham (3:17b). Once he cut the covenant it became official
and his promises could not be changed or annulled.

And who did God make his promises to? He made them to Abraham and his
seed (singular) (3:16). And Paul tells them who the seed is Jesus Christ
(3:16). Therefore the blessings promised come by faith. Abraham received
those blessings by faith in Gods promises. Jesus received those blessing by
accomplishing the salvation of mankind. Jesus then shares those blessings
with all those who put their faith and trust in him.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

But what about the Law? The Law was not given until 430 years after the
Promise (3:17a). The Promise stood for a long period of time without the Law.
And when the Law did come it did not do away with the Promise. Gods first
word was his Promise, not the Law. The Promise was his primary word to man
and its fulfillment came in Christ.

The blessing promised to Abraham was given out as an inheritance. (3:18a).


An inheritance is received as a free gift. It is not like the Law which gives
rewards or punishments depending upon if the deeds meet its demands. No,
an inheritance is freely given to those whom the testator chooses. Whomever
he decides to give them to will received them even if they dont deserve
them (thats called grace). And so Gods promised blessings are freely given
to those whom he chooses and they are given by grace.

Lesson 12: The Purpose of the Law (3:19-25)


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Defining the Relationship between the
Promise and the Law: The Purpose of the Law

If the Promise is Gods first and primary word, what is the purpose of the
Law? The scripture in the form of the Law has locked up everything under
the control of sin (3:22a). The Law was added to the Promise because of
transgressions (3:19a). Sin exists in the world. The purpose of the Law is to
point out sin and make it clear to the whole world that all people are sinners.
The Law then says to people, You are a sinner. Your only hope is in the
Promise God gave to Abraham and his Seed. It is only through the Seed that
you will receive blessings and live.

Pauls opponents thought highly of the fact that the Law was given through
angels, messengers sent directly from God (3:19b). But in actuality this is
another way in which the Law is inferior to the Promise. God did not need or
use angelic mediators or even a human mediator (like Moses) to give his
Promise. Instead he alone spoke directly to Abraham (3:20).

Is the Law therefore opposed to the promises of God? (2:21a). Pauls


answer is an emphatic, Absolutely not! The Law serves the purposes of the
Promise. The Law was not given to impart life. That was the job of the
Promise. Rather, the Law was given to show sin and point people back to the
Promise. Ultimately the fulfillment of the Promise is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Those who have faith in Jesus are given the blessings promised to Abraham
and his Seed by simply believing in Jesus (3:22b).

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Until faith in Christ came, the Law had a negative and provisional effect. It
locked people up like prisoners (3:23). And the only hope of getting out of this
jail was the promised Seed. The purpose of the Law is to lead us to the
promised Seed. Through the Gospel promises the Holy Spirit creates faith in
us and by that faith we are justified (pronounced righteous) before God
(3:24). It is the promised Seed that gets us out of the jail of the Law and sin.

The words held in custody (3:23) and guardian (3:24, 25) refer to a
personal slave-attendant who watches over a child keeping him out of trouble
and imposing discipline on him. Now that Christ has come (3:25a) and people
are receiving the promised blessing through faith in Christ, the Law (the
guardian) is no longer needed. Now in Christ people of faith live, are released
from the curse, receive the Holy Spirit, and are children of God by faith.

Lesson 13: Sons of God through Faith (3:26-29)


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Defining the Relationship between the
Promise and the Law: Sons of God through Faith

In the previous lesson we saw that the purpose of the Law was to show us our
sins and to lead us to Christ. Then, having faith in Christ, we are justified
before God and freed from the Law. But having faith in Christ has further
effects. Through faith we become children of God (3:26). God adopts us into
his family. This adoption occurs when we are baptized (3:27a). The image
Paul uses for baptism is the putting on of clothes (3:27b). The clothes that we
wear are expressive of who and what we are. Before putting on Christ our
clothes were the dirty, stained, smelly, and torn clothes of sin. But in baptism
we put on clothes that are new, clean, and fresh. We put on Christ in all his
pureness and holiness.

In the present evil age (1:4) the Law shows that each of us are sinners. In
its effort to supervise us and keep us under control until Christ comes, the
Law has separated and segregated us trying to keep us from descending into
chaos. As a result different groups form (Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female
(3:28a)). But now in Christ God puts things back together as he first intended.
When Christ fulfilled the Promise, he united all those who have faith in him.
We are all one in Christ Jesus (3:28b). Our differences no longer divide us.

Because Christians belong to Christ and have faith in Christ, they are
Abrahams seed, his spiritual offspring (3:29a). Abraham believed Gods
promises. Christians, like Abraham, believe Gods word of promise. They
believe that Jesus fulfilled Gods promises to Abraham. They believe that the
blessings God promised come through and are made possible by Christ. If we

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


are Abrahams true spiritual children by faith then we are true heirs of the
promised blessings (3:29b). They are ours by faith.

Three Aspects of sonship confirming the Gospel of grace (4:131)


Lesson 14: Sons and Heirs; Not Slaves (4:1-11)
Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Using the Concept of Sonship: Sons and
Heirs; Not Slaves.

In Pauls day, some parents bought a slave who was responsible for watching
over their child until he grew up. The slave would serve as a guardian for the
child. He would be responsible for the physical well-being of the child and for
protecting the child from making foolish mistakes. The guardian would
exercise discipline and control over the child. So the child was not free but
was under the complete control of the guardian. In that sense the child was
no better off than a slave. He had no freedom. Paul uses this image when
talking about Israel under the Law (4:1-2). That was the purpose of the Law,
to protect Israel and keep her out of trouble until she grew into adulthood
(when the Seed would come to fulfill Gods promises). So in that sense Israel
was in slavery to the Law.

This view of the Law would have shocked the Judaizers. They held the Law in
high regard. In their view God gave the Law in order to help them overcome
sin and to be saved from sin.

But when a child grew up and became an adult, he was now free from his
guardian and was a full heir. And so it was with Israel. When Christ came, it
was time for Israel to no longer be subject to the guardianship of the Law.
Christ redeemed them (bought back and then freed them) from slavery to the
Law in order that they might have the full rights of adult children (4:4-5). In
Christ they have come of age; they have become full heirs of the blessings
promised by the Father (4:7).

If the Israelites were slaves to the guardianship of the Law, the Gentiles were
no better off. They were slaves to their worship of false gods (4:3, 8). That is
the natural disposition of man. But the Galatians, who were mostly Gentiles,
through the preaching of Paul have come to know God and are known by God
(4:9a). They have become adult children, heirs of God promises by faith. They
are no longer slaves.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

But the Judaizers are pushing the Galatians to observe the Law (4:10). If they
listen to them and turn back to the Law, they would be going from the
freedom of the Gospel to the slavery of being under the Law (4:9b). They
would regress from adulthood back to childhood. The way of the Judaizers is
to go backwards. Paul now worries that if the Galatians listen to the Judaizers
and try and keep the Law, all his work may be for nothing (4:11).

Lesson 15: Gods Children of Joy and Compassion (4:12-20)


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Using the Concept of Sonship: Gods
Children of Joy and Compassion.

As the founder of the Galatian churches Paul has already given birth to
them. They are very dear to him. He is very concerned about them. For after
all, they are his brothers and sisters (4:12a) and my dear children
(4:19a).

Because of his care for them, he wants them to become like him (4:12), that
is, free from the Law. That is why he preached the Gospel to them when he
first met them (4:13b). And when he did, they received it with great passion
(4:15). And their response to the Gospel was not to treat Paul with contempt
or scorn because of his illness (4:14). Instead they welcomed him as if he
were an angel of God or Christ Jesus himself (4:14b). They were willing to
do anything for him. This is what the Gospel is all about: joy, freedom, and
expressions of willing love.

But something has happened to Pauls children. They have gone from
receiving his message with joy and doing anything they can for him to
treating him like an enemy (4:16). The reason that they have turned against
Paul is the zealousness of the Judaizers (4:17). They are zealous for the Law
and they are zealous in alienating the Galatians from Paul (4:17). The
problem with their zealousness is that it leads the Galatians away from Christ.
It causes them to look to themselves instead of Christ for salvation.

Since their eternal welfare is at stake Paul is very concerned for them. It is as
if the Galatians must be reformed in the womb in Christ and be born a second
time (4:19). This is causing Paul great pain (4:19) as he now re-preaches the
Gospel to them through this letter in order that they once again may be
children of God by grace through faith. Paul is completely perplexed as to
why they would turn from the Gospel (4:20).

Lesson 16: Sons of Abraham: Ishmael or Isaac (4:21-31)

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


Paul Defends the Gospel of Free Grace by Using the Concept of Sonship: Sons of
Abraham: Ishmael or Isaac.

The Judaizers promised the Galatians that they will make them sons of
Abraham by incorporating them into Israel through circumcision and the Law.
Pauls reply is: Abraham had two sons; which son will you be, Ishmael or
Isaac? Ishmael was born by devising of Abraham and Sarah to Sarahs slave
Hagar (4:23a). Isaac was born miraculously by Gods Promise and the power
of the Holy Spirit to a free woman (4:23b), who was a barren woman, and to a
very old couple who were well past child bearing age (see Gen. 16, 21).

Paul uses the historical story taken from the Law (the Pentateuch, the books
of Moses) of two women and their children to represent two different
covenants (4:22). Paul uses the slave woman and her son as an example of
the covenant at Mt. Sinai, which is commonly called the Law (4:24). Paul has
already made the point that those who stand under the Law are slaves to the
Law (4:1-20). As Hagar gave birth to a slave, so the Law gives birth to slaves
(4:24). And the slaves of this covenant are represented by the earthly city of
Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, the religion of the Law (4:25). They live
under its constant commands and threats and therefore are still its slaves.

On the other hand, there is Sarah, the free woman who gave birth to Isaac,
the son of the Promise. Although barren and well past child-bearing age, she
gave birth by the powerful, creative, and gracious word of God (4:27). She
and her son then represent the covenant of Promise given to Abraham.
Children born of this covenant are like Isaac. They are born by the creative,
gracious, and powerful word of God which creates faith in them. All those who
have faith are free like Isaac (born of the Spirit), the child of promise (4:28),
and become a part of the heavenly Jerusalem (4:26), which is the holy city
inhabited by the saints who have been made holy by grace through faith in
Christ.

Also in a similar way, as Ishmael the slave persecuted Isaac the free born, so
even now Judaism, the slaves of the Law, persecute Christians, those who
have been freed from the Law by grace through faith (4:29).

What was the outcome of the Hagar/Sarah story? Sarah sent the slave
woman and her son away so that the slave womans son might never share in
the inheritance with her free son (4:30). And so it is the same with those
under the two covenants. Those who held to the Law of the Sinai Covenant
are slaves who will never share in the inheritance promised to Abraham. Only
those who are of faith under the Abrahamic Covenant will share in the
inheritance of eternal life. As Abraham received the promised blessing by
faith so the same is true for the Galatians and for us. All Christians are born

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


from the free woman (4:31), that is, the Gospel of free grace which is the
power of God for salvation.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom (Gal. 5-6)


Practicing the Life of Liberty and Faith (5:1-24)
Lesson 17: Freedom and the Law (5:1-12)
Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom
Practicing the Life of Liberty and Faith: Freedom and the Law.

Paul has spoken of the Law and the slavery that it imposes. And he has just
spoken of those who look to be justified by the Law as slaves born of a slave
woman. But now in chapter 5 Paul begins by talking about the opposite of
slavery: freedom (5:1a). Faith in Christ sets us free from sin and from the Law.
Paul warns them not to look to the Law for justification even in the smallest
way. If they do they will become burdened and ensnared once again by the
yoke of slavery (5:1b).

Paul now makes it clear that the way of Christ and faith is mutually exclusive
from the way of the Law (5:2-6). Paul warns them that if they return to the
Law in any way at all, such as being circumcised (5:3a), then he is obligated
to obey the whole law (5:3b). This is an all or nothing proposition. Its either
all Law and no Christ or its all Christ and no Law (5:4). The way of Christ is
the way of grace and faith. The way of Christ eagerly awaits the final verdict
of righteous (5:5). In the way of Christ circumcision or uncircumcision
means nothing. All that matters is faith expressing itself through love (5:6).

The Judaizers have cut the race short for the Galatian churches by persuading
them to follow the false hope of being justified by the Law (5:7). They were
not called by God to be slaves of the Law (5:8). Rather God the Holy Spirit
has called them by the Gospel to a life of faith. The introduction of the Law
into the dough of the Gospel, even in very small amounts, spreads
throughout the whole loaf (5:9). The entire loaf must remain unleavened.
Mixing Law with the Gospel only serves to throw the Galatians into confusion
(5:10). And those who mix the two will pay for it (5:10b).

Apparently one way in which the Galatians are being confused by the
Judaizers is that they accuse Paul of sometimes compromising on
circumcision (5:11a). For instance, they may point to the time when he had
Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:13). But if Paul was requiring circumcision, the
Jews and the Judaizers would not be persecuting him. But in fact they are
persecuting him because Paul does not preach circumcision and he does

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


preach the cross alone (5:11). A Savior who dies on a cross is offensive to the
Jews as it also is to the Gentiles.
Lesson 18: Freedom From and Freedom To (5:13-15)
Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom
Practicing the Life of Liberty and Faith: Freedom From and Freedom To

The Holy Spirit has called them by the Gospel to faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus
leads to a new life. Before faith man is in slavery to sin. Before faith man is
concerned about serving and satisfying one person and one person only
himself (5:13a). But the new life of faith frees him from himself and his sinful
passions and frees him to serve others in love (5:13b). Gods will, as
expressed in the 10 commandments, is for people to love each other. But sin
turns us in on ourselves, causing us to love ourselves rather than our
neighbors.

Love is the summary of the Law (5:14). And the Gospel sets us free to love.
So the Law has a place in the life of a Christian. Its place is not to justify the
sinner and win Gods favor. Its place is to guide us and show us what Gods
will is. Then the Gospel takes over and motivates and gives us the power to
carry out Gods will, to love others as we love ourselves (5:14b).

The Judaizers stress the Law in place of the Gospel. And the Law teaches
love. Yet without the Gospel it is impossible to love in the way that God wants
us to. How ironic then that they preach the Law which teaches love, yet they
have caused division and factions, which if they continue in will destroy them
(5:15). So the way of the Law leads not to love but to the opposite of love.
Observance of the Law for justification leads to self-righteousness and a
critical spirit.

Lesson 19: Freedom and the Spirit (5:16-24)


Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom
Practicing the Life of Liberty and Faith: Freedom and the Spirit

Paul mentions the flesh or the sinful nature several times in this section
(5:13, 16, 17, 19, 24). What does this mean? All people come into this world
as sinners. From the very beginning of our existence we oppose God and are
his fierce enemies. We seek not to love, satisfy, and please God. Rather we
seek to love ourselves and satisfy our sinful and evil desires. And we are
powerless to change or do anything about it.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

By nature we seek to gratify and indulge our sinful desires. Paul urges the
Galatians/us not to gratify their/our sinful desires. How is this possible since
we are powerless? Pauls answer is to live by the Spirit (5:16). Through the
preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit has not only created faith in us, but
he has also taken up residence in us. The Holy Spirit opposes our sinful
nature. The Holy Spirit is in constant conflict with our sinful nature (5:17). So
by the power of the Holy Spirit we join the battle and instead of willingly
going along with our sinful nature, we struggle against it.

Fighting our sinful desires while being led by the Holy Spirit (5:18) is much
different than doing so on our own under the Law. The difference is
motivation. Under the Law we are obligated to fight because our very lives
depend upon it. Unfortunately we will never win the battle on our own. The
Holy Spirit changes our will so that we want to keep from performing the
sinful acts of the flesh (5:19-21a). And as we battle, we depend not on our
own power but that of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit not only helps us not perform the sinful acts of the flesh but he also
builds within us Christian character and virtues (5:22-23a). He changes us
from desiring and doing sinful acts to desiring and doing good works. He
helps us crucify (on a daily basis-the Baptismal life) our evil desires (5:24)
and instead live for Christ.

Life in Freedom: Concrete Examples (5:25 6:10)


Lesson 20: Not Self-Centered, but Gentle and Generous (5:25 6:6)
Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom
Life in Freedom: Concrete Examples: Not Self-Centered, but Gentle and Generous

Since the Holy Spirit has given us life by giving us faith in Christ, we should
live that life by keeping in step with the Spirit (5:25). Keeping in step
implies an orderly, disciplined walk with him. Since he has graciously given us
life, we wish to live that life in a manner acceptable to the Spirit.

What does life in step with the Holy Spirit look like?
. . . It is a life of humility instead of self-centered conceit, provocation, and
envy (5:26).
. . . It is a life of meek and gentle ministry to those who err being careful not
to be tempted oneself (6:1).
. . . It is a life of carrying each others burdens, lightening the load for
others, a life lived for others instead of self (6:2).

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


. . . It is a life of humility, not thinking too highly of oneself (6:3).
. . . It is a life of testing the motivation for ones actions, for one day we
must give an account of our actions to God (6:4-5).
. . . It is a life of generosity. Those who share the Good News of Jesus Christ
with us (our pastors) should make their living by the Gospel (6:6). Paul did not
accept payment for sharing the Gospel in order that he would not be a
burden. But here he shows that he agrees with Jesus command (Mt. 10:10;
Lk. 10:7-8).
Lesson 21: Doing Good to Others (6:7-10)
Pauls Defense of the Gospels Life of Freedom
Life in Freedom: Concrete Examples: Doing Good to Others

Each person will be held accountable for his actions by God. And God knows
the inner motivations of the heart (6:7a). He knows if we seek only to satisfy
our sinful nature. If that is the case, we sow in sin (see 5:19-21) and will
therefore reap the harvest that sin brings eternal destruction (6:8a). If on
the other hand, God see that out of faith we seek to please the Spirit (see
5:22-23), then we will reap eternal life (6:8b). So the freedom we have by
grace through faith does not absolve us of responsibility. Rather it heightens
it. We should seek to do only those things that please the Spirit.

Life lived in freedom by the Spirit is a life of doing good (6:9a). We live in a
sin corrupted world. And life in this world is a long, hard struggle. Yet we must
never tire of doing good. We must always keep in mind that there will be a
final harvest. And at that time, if we do not give up, the full good crop that we
have sown will be ripe and ready for harvest (6:9b). This harvest will be
evidence that we have sown in faith. Then we will receive eternal life, the gift
given to those who have faith in Jesus. In eternal life we will live in the eternal
kingdom, in Gods eternal presence.

Since we know the final outcome if we persevere in faith, we should seek to


do good at every opportunity to everyone (6:10a). And we especially want to
do good to those who belong to our family of faith (6:10b). God has created
families to help and support each other. The same is true for our faith family,
our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians

Conclusion to the Letter to the Galatians


Lesson 22: Pauls Concluding Thoughts (6:11-18)

Paul makes note that he himself wrote the concluding section of the letter.
The rest of the letter prior to this Paul dictated to a scribe. Paul points out
that he himself wrote with large letters (6:11). He may have done this as a
matter of emphasis or, as some speculate, possibly because the illness that
he suffered from and spoke of earlier was poor eyesight.

One last time Paul takes a jab at his opponents who are trying to compel the
Galatians to be circumcised (6:12a). They do it in order to avoid the
persecution of the Jews. The cross causes offense (6:12b). They seek to
soften the offense by requiring circumcision. And yet those who push
obedience of the Law as a way of salvation do not keep the Law themselves
(6:13a). Since no one can keep the Law perfectly there is no value in
circumcision.

Rather than boasting in the foreskins cut off in circumcision (6:13b), Paul
boasts in the cross of Christ (6:14a). The world wants nothing to do with the
cross of Christ. To the world the cross is an object of contempt, defeat, and
disgrace. But to Paul and all Christians, the cross is the means by which
Christ brings life and salvation. So the Christian and the world are at odds
with each other and have nothing to do with each other. They are dead
(crucified) to each other (6:14b).

In the beginning God spoke his Word and the world was created. Now in these
last days God speaks his last and best Word the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As in
the beginning when Gods Word created creation, so even now Gods Word
creates a new creation. Each person who hears and believes his Gospel Word
is created anew (6:15b). Thats all that matters to Paul. Whether one is
circumcised or not means nothing (6:15a). It is those who hear the Gospel
Word, have faith in that Gospel Word, and are re-created by that Gospel Word
that are the true Israel of God (6:16b). The true descendants of Abraham are
those who have faith in Jesus. Paul confers upon them Gods peace and
mercy (6:16a).

Those who have faith in Christ will be persecuted, for the cross of Christ, as
we have said several times, causes great offense. Paul knows this better than
anyone. He has scars on his body that show that he was beaten for his
proclamation of the Gospel (6:17b). In describing these marks Paul uses the
word that refers to the brand placed upon slaves by their owners showing

A Devotional Bible Study of Galatians


their ownership. Pauls stoning and beatings left marks on his body that show
that his owner is Jesus Christ his Lord and Master.

Paul has said all that he is going to say on the matter (6:17a). The core of the
Christian faith and Christian life is grace. And so Paul ends the letter by
conferring the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:18a) to those who have
been made brothers and sisters (6:18b) in Christ purely by the grace of God
through faith.