Week 5: May 9 - 15


Galatians 5

Paul buries the hyper-Jews under all different kinds of arguments.  He starts in chapter 1 by pointing out that his message came from Jesus himself and ends in chapter 4 by telling us not to act like slaves.  We who are living two thousand years later and are not at all tempted to turn our backs on Jesus and empty the cross of its saving power by becoming Jews want to say, “All right Paul!  Enough!  We get it.  We never wanted to be Jews in the first place.”  But Paul fires off another salvo anyway.  And as we shall see, this salvo simply repeats his earlier arguments in other words.  But since he is an apostle of Jesus and speaks with Jesus’ authority, and since every word he writes is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Galatians must really have needed more convincing.  As we read this week, we’ll hear his argument crescendo into a final blast, and then hear him begin to answer the million-dollar questions, “So what?  What difference does being free in Christ make in our daily lives?”


Day 1 


  1. Read Galatians 5 and focus on vv. 1-12.

  2. The chapter divisions in our New Testament were not put in by the original authors.  The ones in our English Bible come from Archbishop of Canterbury Steven Langton around 1220.  Evidently the good bishop’s pen slipped when he separated 5:1 from the end of chapter 4.  In what ways does it fit better with chapter 4 than chapter 5?

  3. In v. 2 and 4 Paul repeats the argument he makes in 2:21.  What is the main idea?

  4. In v. 3 Paul repeats the argument he makes in 3:10-11.  What is the main idea?

  5. In v. 5 Paul repeats the argument he makes in 3:5.  What is the main idea?

  6. In v. 6 Paul repeats the argument he makes in 3:28.  What is the main idea?

  7. In v. 7 Paul repeats the argument he makes in 3:2-5.  What is the main idea?

  8. In v. 8 he repeats the argument he makes in 1:6-9.  What is the main idea?

  9. In v. 9 he uses a proverb to prove his point that changing this seeming little idea will destroy the whole gospel.  What is the yeast and what is the dough?

  10. In v. 10 he repeats the argument he makes in 1:9.  What is the main idea?

  11. In v. 11 he repeats the argument he makes in 1:10.  What is the main idea?

  12. In v. 12 Paul introduces a completely new idea.  Do you think he is just being crude, or do you think the seriousness of the issue justifies his shocking statement?


Day 2


  1. Read Galatians 5 on focus on vv. 13-15.

  2. Finally Paul is done trying to convince the Galatians not to abandon Christ and return to the Jewish law.  Martin Luther said that people are like a drunken peasant who in trying to keep from falling off his donkey on the right, leans too far to the left and falls off that side.  Since the Galatians are finally convinced not to fall of the donkey on the side of keeping the Jewish law, how might they fall of the donkey on the other side?

  3. When we hear Paul say not to “indulge the flesh” we probably think of some bodily excess like eating too much.  However when Paul uses the word “flesh” in other places he does not mean our physical bodies, but our sinful natures, the part of us that wants to sit in the driver’s seat of our lives.  What might be one way someone could “indulge the flesh” without doing anything that involves eating, drinking, or sex?

  4. What alternative does Paul offer to “indulg[ing] the flesh”?

  5. How could neglecting to serve a fellow Christian allow you to “indulge your flesh”?

  6. What other sin against a fellow believer does Paul warn against?

  7. Which are you more tempted to do, a sin of omission by neglecting to serve, or a sin of commission that takes a bite out of another believer?


Day 3


  1.  Read Galatians 5 and focus on vv. 16-18.

  2. What happens when we live by the Spirit?

  3. Galatians 5:16 says that if we live by the Spirit we will not do anything wrong.  What does Romans 8:4 tell us will happen if we live by the Spirit?

  4. So Galatians 5:16 tells us negatively that we will not commit any sin when we live by the Spirit, and Romans 8:4 say positively that we will do everything right if we live by the Spirit.  What great promises are those!  Do you want to live by the Spirit?

  5. So many Christians think of themselves as “miserable sinners saved by grace.”  They may have a bumpersticker on their car that says, “Christians aren’t perfect--just forgiven.”  Do you think that this attitude fits in with the two promises that God gives us in Galatians 5:16 and Romans 8:4?

  6. Do you think forgiveness is the most that God can do about sin?  Yes, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world as John the Baptist says in John 1:29, but as JB also said Jesus is the one who can baptize with the Holy Spirit in John 1:33.  Should sin play a major part in the life of the one who is baptized by the Holy Spirit and lives by the Spirit?


Day 4

  1. Read Galatians 5 and focus on vv. 16-21.

  2. Paul seems to think that the Galatians will know what it means to live in the Spirit.  Negatively it means not to live by the law (v. 18), but what does it mean positively?  Paul begins to answer this question in the next few verses, but his fullest answer waits until he writes to the Romans.  Read Romans 8:9-17 to see what it means to live by the Spirit.

  3. In v. 16 Paul speaks of the “desires of the sinful nature” and in v. 17 he speaks of “do[ing] what you want.”  Do you think these two phrases have opposite meanings, that v. 16 speaks of bad desires, and that v. 17 speaks of good wants, or do you think they both refer to the same bad cravings?

  4. Since in Galatians 3:22 Paul speaks of being a prisoner of sin, and in Galatians 3:23 he talks about being held prisoners by the law, do you think that being under the law means being a prisoner to sin?

  5. Because Paul finishes off this section with v. 18, do you think it is fair to paraphrase this verse by saying, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer a slave to sin”?

  6. Has Satan tricked you into believing that you can never really escape his power, that sin is unavoidable in your life?  What difference would it make in your life if you knew you never had to sin again?


Day 5

  1. Read Galatians 5 and focus on vv. 19-21.

  2. We know from Paul’s letter to the Romans that some people misunderstood Paul’s good news about freedom in Christ.  They said they could do anything they felt like, and sadly some of them felt like doing some pretty awful things.  What sins does Paul have to warn the Galatians against in these verses?

  3. Which of these sins do you see glorified in the shows many people watch today?  Which are rejected in today’s society?  Which are celebrated?

  4. Which of these sins are behavioral choices and which are inward attitudes?

  5. Are there any of them which you need the Spirit to banish from your life?  Who will you ask to pray with you about them?


Day 6

  1. Read Galatians 5 and focus on vv. 22-26.

  2. Which of these fruit is most obvious in your life?  Which needs to ripen some more?

  3. In v. 24 how does Paul sum up what living by the Spirit does to the sinful nature?  Does this word picture imply any nostalgia, mercy, or tolerance for our old passions and desires?

  4. What do you think it means to “keep in step with the Spirit”?  How closely do you think we have to follow him?  

  5. Here comes Martin Luther’s donkey.  How could someone fall off by concentrating on the fruit of the Spirit?