Introduction to Galatians
- Which verse in Galatians do you think best summarizes what the book is all about?
- Where do you see the various topics starting and stopping?
- For each key phrase, write briefly what you have learned about the phrase from Galatians. Example: Do “promise” and “faith” in class.
Dividing the Topics of Galatians
- Greetings - Galatians 1:1-5
- A defense of Paul and his teachings - Galatians 1-2
- The gospel doesn’t change - Galatians 1:6-10
- How Paul came by the Gospel - Galatians 1:11-24
- Those in Jerusalem agree that Paul had the Gospel - Galatians 2:1-10
- Paul’s authority demonstrated - Galatians 2:11-21
- A defense of the Gospel Galatians 3-4
- Where do miraculous gifts come from? - Galatians 3:1-5
- Where does salvation come from? - Galatians 3:6-29
- Abraham was saved by faith and not the old Law - Galatians 3:6-9
- The Law placed all under a curse - Galatians 3:10-14
- Salvation came by promise - Galatians 3:15-18
- The purpose of the Law - Galatians 3:19-25
- We are saved through Christ by faith in the new Law, thus receiving the promise - Galatians 3:25-29
- What it means to become a child of God - Galatians 4:1-11
- Their relationship with Paul - Galatians 4:12-20
- Allegorical illustration of the change in covenants - Galatians 4:21-31
- Application - Galatians 5-6
- Stand firm. You cannot mix the Old with the New - Galatians 5:1-6
- Obey the truth. Do be distracted by false teachers to worldliness - Galatians 5:7-12
- The call to freedom from the world: love each other - Galatians 5:13-15
- The difference between worldly living and spiritual living - Galatians 5:16-25
- Help each other out of the world and into the Spirit - Galatians 6:1-10
- The motivation of the false teachers versus Paul’s motives - Galatians 6:11-17
- Farewell - Galatians 6:18
Paul begins his letter by introducing himself. Considering that the brethren are well familiar with Paul (Galatians 4:11-16), it may seem strange that Paul starts out stating what they should clearly know about him. A good deal of the problems in the churches in Galatia was due to false teacher coming in. These men sought to undermine the authority of Paul and cast doubt on his teachings. Thus, Paul starts by asserting the authority that he held.
The word “apostle” refers to an ambassador or one sent to represent the interests of a king. Paul was an apostle, but he was not sent by any human agency. In particular, Paul did not receive his commission from the other apostles. His commission came directly from Jesus Christ and God, the Father (Acts 9:15-16; 26:15-18). The other eleven apostles were commissioned while Jesus was still on earth (not including Mathias), but Paul received his commission from the risen Savior and God, the Father. This is a small jab at the false teachers who were saying Paul was inferior to the other apostles.
The letter is from Paul and the brethren with him. We don’t know who they are since we don’t know for certain where and when Paul wrote the letter. The letter is addressed to the churches found in the region of Galatia. This makes it different from Paul’s other letters which deal with the church in a single city.
Paul starts his letters with statements wishing well the brethren who are receiving his letters. Every one of his letters starts with nearly the same salutation. It is important to start out on a positive note, especially when a letter contains severe rebukes. This lets us know that Paul does love the brethren despite his strong words.
Jesus is the one who gave his life to redeem our sins and to rescue us from this evil world (Colossians 1:13). He did this at the direction of the Father (John 6:38-39; 10:18).
- Why bring up the fact that Jesus died for our sins at the beginning of this letter? (Compare with Galatians 5:4).
- What is the significance of the word “gave” in Galatians 1:4?
- What is “this present evil age” in Galatians 1:4? (Compare with Matthew 13:22; John 17:14; Romans 12:2; I John 2:16).
- Who receives eternal glory? Why does he receive that glory?
- Think about the purpose of the Galatians letter. How does your answer to question 4 fit with that purpose?
- For the various keywords, note if there are synonyms and antonyms. Marked the antonyms in a similar way to the keywords. For example, if you have circumcision underlined, use the same color to box uncircumcision. But circumcision is being used as a way to refer to the Jews and uncircumcision is being used to refer to the Gentiles so mark them accordingly.
- What did you learn about the Galatians brethren?