Galatians Graphics

Vital statistics

 Purpose: To refute the judaizers (who taught that Gentile believers must obey the Jewish law in order to be saved), and to call Christians to faith and freedom in Christ.  
 Author:  Paul
 Original audience:  The churches in southern Galatia, founded on Paul's first missionary journey (including Iconium, Lystra, Derbe)
 Date written:  Approximately A.D. 49 from Antioch, prior to the Jerusalem council (A.D 50).
 Setting: The most pressing controversy in the early church was the relationship of new believers, particularly Gentiles, to the Jewish laws. 
 This was especially a problem for the converts and for the young churches that Paul had founded on his first missionary journey. 
 Paul wrote to correct this problem. Later, at the council in Jerusalem, the conflict was officially resolved by the church leaders.
 Key verse: "So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law" (5:1).
 Key people: Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Titus, Abraham, false teachers 
 Key places: Galatia, Jerusalem
 Special features: This letter is not addressed to any specific body of believers and was probably circulated to several churches in Galatia.  

Freedoms for Living

Original Commandment
New Freedoms
“You shall have no other gods before Me. ”
God is our Helper. If we hold on to Him, we can find freedom from anxiety about our future, our relationships, our well-being, and our happiness.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image. ”
God is our Teacher. If we hold on to Him, we will learn what is true and avoid being talked into that which is false.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. ”
God is our Friend. If we hold on to Him, our prayers will not be futile; we need not try to force Him to help us. Nor should we invoke His name in pursuit of our own self-interest.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. ”
God is our Master. If we hold on to Him, we will find fulfillment. We need not work ourselves to death.
“Honor your father and your mother. ”
God is our Father in heaven. If we hold on to Him, we will experience His love. We need not be bound by the disappointments of our human relationships.
“You shall not murder. ”
God is our Protector. If we hold on to Him, we can find freedom from competitiveness with our neighbor and instead act with love.
“You shall not commit adultery. ”
God is the Author of true happiness. If we hold on to Him, we can find freedom to pursue true love rather than the caricatures of love promoted by our culture.
“You shall not steal. ”
God is our Provider. If we hold on to Him, we can learn to give instead of take. We can find freedom from worry about our material well-being and instead work honestly with the abilities He has given us.
“You shall not bear false witness. ”
God is the Truth. If we hold on to Him, we can learn to speak truth and engender trust.
“You shall not covet. ”
God is the Giver of all good gifts. If we hold on to Him, we can find freedom from greed and instead live with generosity, compassion, and self-respect.
Word in life study Bible . 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.) (Gn 1.1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Freedom to Live

“sinful nature” (death)
“Spirit” (new life)
* not responsive to God
* responsive to God
* in conflict with the Spirit
* in conflict with the sinful nature
* ruled by its cravings
* ruled by God
idolatry and witchcraft
fits of rage
selfish ambition
Relationship to the law
The Law is “against such things” (5:23) and was added “because of transgressions”
“Against such there is no law” (5:22).
Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary. Includes index. (911). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Law and Grace

The Function
The Effect
Of Law
Of Grace
Of Law
Of Grace
Based on works 3:10)
Based on faith (3:11, 12)
Works put us under a curse (3:10)
Justifies us by faith
(3:3, 24)
Our guardian
(3:23; 4:2)
Centered in Christ (3:24)
Keeps us for faith (3:23)
Christ lives in us
Our tutor (3:24)
Our certificate of freedom (4:30, 31)
Brings us to Christ (3:24)
Adopts us as
sons and heirs (4:7)
The law functions to (1) declare our guilt, (2) drive us to Christ, and (3)direct us in a life of obedience. However, the law is a powerless to save.
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Gl 2.11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The marks of the true gospel and of the false gospels


 Marks of a false gospelMarks of the true gospel 
  1. 2:21. Treats Christ's death as meaningless
  2. 3:12. Says people must obey the law in order to be saved
  3. 4:10. Tries to find favor with God by observing certain rituals
  4. 5:4. Counts on keeping laws to be right with God 
  1. 1:11, 12. Teaches that the source of the gospel is God 
  2. 2:20. Knows that life is obtained through death; we trust in the Son of God who loved us and died for us so that we might die to sin and live for him
  3. 3:14. Explains that all believers have the Holy spirit through faith
  4. 3:21, 22. Declares that we cannot be saved by keeping laws; the only way of salvation is through faith in Christ is available to all
  5. Says that all believers are one in Christ, so there is no basis for discrimination of any kind
  6. 5:24, 25. Proclaims that we are free from the grip of sin and that the Holy Spirit's power fills and guide us

Three Distortions of Christianity

    Almost from the beginning there were forces at work within Christianity that would have destroyed or sidetracked the movement. Of these, three created many problems then and have continued to reappear in other forms even today. The three aberrations are contrasted to true Christianity.  

 GroupTheir definition of a Christian Their genuine
 Christians are Jews who have recognized Jesus as the promised Savior. Having a high regard for the Scriptures and God's choice of Jews as his people, they did not want to see God;s commands overlooked or broken.  Tends to add human traditions and standards to God's law. Also sub-tracts from the Scriptures God's clear concern for all nations.  Do you appreciate God's choice of a unique people through whom he offered forgiveness and eternal life to all peoples?  
  Christians are those who live by a long list of "don'ts." God's favor is earned by good behavior Recognized that real change brought about by God should lead to changes in behavior.    Tends to make God's love something to earn rather than to accept freely. Would reduce Christianity to a set of impossible rules and transform the Good News into bad news.  As important as change in action is, can you see that God may be desiring different changes in you than in others?  
 Christians live above the law. They need no guidelines. God's Word is not as important as our personal sense of God's guidance.    Recognized that forgiveness from God cannot be based on our ability to live up to his perfect standards. It must be received by faith as a gift made possible by Christ's death on the cross.  Forgets that Christians are still human and fail consistently when trying to live only by what they "feel" God wants.   Do you recognize the ongoing need for God's expressed commands as you live out your gratitude for his great salvation? 
 Christians are those who believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus's death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life as a gift. They have accepted that gift through faith and are seeking to live a life of obedient gratitude for what God has done for them.     Christianity is both private and public, with heart belief and mouth confession. Our relationship to God and the power he provides result in obedience. Having received forgiveness and eternal life, we are now daily challenged to live that life with his help.   Avoid the above dangers.  How would those closest to you describe your Christianity? Do they think you live so that God will accept you, or do they know that you live because God has accepted you in Christ?    

Vices and Virtues

    The Bible mention many specific actions and attitudes that are either right or wrong. Look at the list included here. Are there a number of characteristics from the wrong column that are influencing you?

(Neglecting God and others) 
(The by-products of living for God)
  1.  Sexual immorality (Galatians 5:19)
  2. Impurity (Galatians 5:19)
  3. Lust (Colossians 3:19)
  4. Hostility (Galatians 5:20)
  5. Quarreling (Galatians 5:20)
  6. Jealousy (Galatians 5:20)
  7. Anger (Galatians 5:20)
  8. Selfish ambition (Galatians 5:20)
  9. Dissension (Galatians 5:20)
  10. Arrogance (2 Corinthians 12:20)
  11. Envy (Galatians 5:21)
  12. Murder (Revelation 22:12-16)
  13. Idolatry (Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 5:5)
  14. Sorcery (Galatians 5:20)
  15. Drunkenness (Galatians 5:21)
  16. Wild parties (Luke 15:13; Galatians 5:21)
  17. Cheating (1 Corinthians 6:8)
  18. Adultery (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)
  19. Homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)
  20. Greed (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 5:5)
  21. Stealing (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)
  22. Lying (Revelation 22:12-16)
  1.  Love (Galatians 5:22)
  2. Joy (Galatians 5:22)
  3. Peace (Galatians 5:22)
  4. Patience (Galatians 5:22)
  5. Kindness (Galatians 5:22)
  6. Goodness (Galatians 5:22)
  7. Faithfulness (Galatians 5:22)
  8. Gentleness (Galatians 5:23)
  9. Self-control (Galatians 5:23)

The Blueprint

  1. Authenticity of the gospel (1:1-2:21) 
  2. Superiority of the gospel (3:1-4:31)
  3. Freedom of the gospel (5:1-6:18)
 In response to attacks from false teachers, Paul wrote to defend his apostleship and the authority of the gospel. The Galatians were beginning to turn from faith to legalism. The struggle between the gospel and legalism is still a relevant. Many today would have us return to trying to earn God's favor through following rituals or obeying a set of rules. As Christians, we are not boxed in but set free. To preserve our freedom, we must stay close to Christ and resist any who promote subtle ways for us to earn our salvation.     

Do we still have to obey the Old Testament Laws?

When Paul says that non-Jews (Gentiles) are no longer bound by these laws, he is not saying that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us today. He is saying certain types of laws may no apply to us. In the Old Testament there were three categories of laws:
Ceremonial law

 This kind of law relates specifically to Israel's worship (Leviticus 1:1-13). Its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ. Therefore, these laws were no longer necessary after Jesus' death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them - to worship and love a holy God - still apply. The Jewish Christians often accused the Gentile Christians of violating the ceremonial law.
Civil law

 This type of law dictated Israel's daily living (Deuteronomy 24:10, 11). Because modern society and culture are so radically different, some of these guidance cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands should guide our conduct. At times, Paul asked Gentile Christians to follow some of these laws, not because they had to, but in order to promote unity.

 Moral law

 This sort of law is the direct command of God - for example, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). It requires strict obedience. It reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies to us today. We are to obey this moral law, not to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.

Galatians Overview