GalATIANS rEADING PLAN

Week 3: April 25 - May 1

 

Galatians 3

The Christians in Galatia are under attack from hyper-Jewish “Christians” who are telling them that after trusting Jesus for salvation, Gentiles must become culturally Jewish by keeping God’s Old Testament law.  Paul recognizes this human addition as a different gospel which will not lead people to super-sainthood, but will instead damn them to hell.  In chapter 1 Paul attacks this dangerous lie by showing that the true gospel he teaches comes directly from God himself. In chapter 2 he shows that when Peter backslid from this gospel, Paul had to rebuke him publicly.  Also in chapter 2 Paul shows the effect of the gospel in his own life.  Paul then points out that even the Old Testament shows that nobody can be saved by keeping the law.  (Galatians 2:16 alludes to Psalm 143:2 to make this point.).  Since the law can never save anyone, even the Jews who try to keep it, those who want to be saved will have to abandon their own human efforts to fulfill the law, and accept Christ’s salvation by faith.  

In chapter 3 Paul moves from his personal experience of abandoning his own efforts to save himself by obeying the law, and turns to the spiritual experiences of the Galatians.  He reminds them that God has kept all his promises to them when they claimed them in faith, not when they tried to keep the law.  Next he tells them about Abraham.  Paul’s point is that the world’s first Jew was saved by faith, not by trying to keep the law.  Finally Paul answers the question, “If the law can’t save us, why did God give it?”

Day 1

  1. Read chapter 3 and focus on vv. 1-3.

  2. What does Paul call the Galatians in v. 1?  What emotions do you think he is feeling?  How do you think the Galatians feel when they read this line?  What do you think Paul wants them to feel?

  3. Why do you think Paul attributes the change in the Galatians to “witchcraft”?  Can he think of any reasonable intellectual or spiritual motivation for their change?  What does his question imply about the ultimate source of that change?

  4. Paul argues that since he clearly portrayed Jesus Christ as crucified, the Galatians should know that the time of the law is over.  Since Jesus died on the cross, the law has no hold on him:  no laws apply to dead men!  How does what Paul says in Galatians 2:19-20 go with this verse to show that the law doesn’t apply to Christians?

  5. In v. 2 Paul changes his tack.  What is his question?  What does this question presume about every Christian and the Holy Spirit?

  6. From second question in v. 3, is the experience of the Holy Spirit some mystery reserved for really mature Christians?

  7. What does Paul’s question in v. 4 imply about the price the Galatians paid to follow Christ?  From Acts 14:5 and 19, who was the first one to suffer for Jesus in Galatia?  From Acts 19:22, was he the only one to suffer?

  8. From Acts 14:8-10, and 19-20 what were the first miracles worked in Galatia?  From v. 5 do you think they were the last?

Day 2

  1. Read chapter 3 and focus on vv. 1-3.

  2. Paul is arguing that the Galatian Christians do not need to add an attempt to keep the Jewish law to their Christian lives.  What four experiences does he presume all of them already had when they were living by faith before they added keeping the law?

  3. Paul knows that the Galatian Christians, who just recently gave their lives to Jesus, have received the Holy Spirit, have begun to grow through the Holy Spirit, have suffered for Jesus, and have experienced miracles.  Do you think these events were only for the Galatians or does God want every Christian to know them?  Which of these four experiences is true in your life?  Is there anything you could do to open yourself to receive these “gifts” from the Lord?

Day 3

  1. Read chapter 3 and focus on vv. 6-14.

  2. In showing that the Gentile Christians are rejecting Jesus if they try to be saved by being Jewish, Paul has used his own example and the experience of the Galatians themselves.  Now he uses the example of Abraham, who was Jew #1.  If anyone could be saved by being Jewish, it would be Abraham.  But what does the Bible say?  What does Paul say when he quotes Genesis 15:6?  What saved Abraham?

  3. The hyper-Jews were super proud that they were physically descended from the first Jews, Sarah and Abraham.  What does v. 7 say about who the real children of Sarah and Abraham are?

  4. What words does the Scripture use in Genesis 12:3, 18:18, and 22:18 to announce the gospel to Abraham in advance?  What words does it use in Habakkuk 2:4 to explain how the righteous will live?

  5. Paul points out that in the Bible faith and blessing are linked.  What does the Bible link with the law?

  6. According to v. 13, what did Jesus do for us on the cross?

  7. Are there any songs that help you feel how amazing it is that Jesus redeemed us from the curse by being a curse for us?  Please think of one to share with a sister or brother Christian today.  Here is what Charles Wesley sang 170 years ago:

O Love divine, what has thou done! 
The immortal God hath died for me! 
The Father's coeternal Son 
bore all my sins upon the tree. 
Th' immortal God for me hath died: 
My Lord, my Love, is crucified! 

Is crucified for me and you, 
to bring us rebels back to God. 
Believe, believe the record true, 
ye all are bought with Jesus' blood. 
Pardon for all flows from his side: 
My Lord, my Love, is crucified! 

Behold him, all ye that pass by, 
the bleeding Prince of life and peace! 
Come, sinners, see your Savior die, 
and say, "Was ever grief like his?" 
Come, feel with me his blood applied: 
My Lord, my Love, is crucified! 

 

Day 4

 

  1. Read chapter 3 and focus on vv. 15-29.

  2. Apparently Paul really wants the Galatians to be convinced that they do not need to become Jewish to please God.  So he uses his own example, the Galatians’ experience, the example of Abraham, and now the timing of the law and promise to make his point.  He begins by noting who received God’s covenant.  To whom was God’s covenant given?

  3. From Galatians 2:20, why does it affect us that God gave the covenant to Christ?

  4. What point does Paul make in v. 17 by pointing out that God’s covenanted promise came 430 years before the law of Moses?

  5. In v. 18 Paul speaks of salvation as an inheritance that we get because we are children of Sarah and Abraham.  Did Abraham get the salvation he passes on to us because he kept the law or because he accepted God’s promise?  Since Abraham was saved because he accepted God’s promise, do the Galatians need to keep the law to inherit the promise?

 

Day 5

 

  1. If the law can’t save us, what is its purpose?  Here Paul says, “It (the law) was added because of transgressions.”  Paul does not tell us exactly what he means here, but later in Romans 3:20 he makes it clear.  From that verse, what does the law not do, and what does the law do?

  2. What mistaken idea does Paul shoot down in v. 21?  In vv. 22-24 Paul pictures the law as a jail-keeper.  Who does it keep in jail?  Why does it do so?  When does it do so?  From v. 25, why is the law now out of a job?

  3. Can you remember a time before you heard the gospel?  Did you know you were a sinner?  Or can you relate to the words of Amazing Grace, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear”?  Why is important for us to know the bad news before we understand the good news?

  4. Do you know anyone who is blithely tripping down the road to hell?  Do you pray that God will open their eyes?  Is there anything you can do or say to help them recognize the trouble they are in?

 

Day 6

 

  1. Read chapter 3 and focus on vv. 26-29.

  2. There are seven English verbs in these verses.  What are they?  Which one is your favorite?  Why?

  3. Paul uses the metaphor of being clothed with Christ in v. 27.  Evidently this idea grew on him because in Ephesians 4-5 he talks about “taking off” (or “putting off”) and “putting on” various attitudes and behaviors.  How many instances of this metaphor can you find?

  4. As far as we know Paul’s words in v. 28 are the first time in human writing that anyone said women and men are equal.  Of course Jesus treated women with more dignity than anyone had before, but Paul puts Jesus’s actions into words.  If you are a woman, or if you ever had a woman as a mother, sister, wife, or daughter, thank God for the honor he gives this half of the human race!