Galatians

Overview

FAMILY, executing their carefully planned escape at midnight, dashing for the border . . . a man standing outside prison walls, gulping fresh air, awash in the new sun . . . a young woman with every trace of the ravaging drug gone from her system . . . they are FREE! With fresh anticipation, they can begin life anew. Whether fleeing oppression, stepping out of prison, or breaking a strangling habit, freedom means life. There is nothing so exhilarating as knowing that the past is forgotten and that new options await. People yearn to be free.
 
The book of Galatians is the charter of Christian freedom. In this profound letter, Paul proclaims the reality of our liberty in Christ—freedom from the law and the power of sin, and freedom to serve our living Lord.

Most of the first converts and early leaders in the church were Jewish Christians who proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah. As Jewish Christians, they struggled with a dual identity: Their Jewishness constrained them to be strict followers of the law; their newfound faith in Christ invited them to celebrate a holy liberty. They wondered how Gentiles (non-Jews) could be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. This controversy tore the early church. Judaizers—an extremist Jewish faction within the church—taught that Gentile Christians had to submit to Jewish laws and traditions in addition to believing in Christ. As a missionary to the Gentiles, Paul had to confront this issue many times. Galatians was written, therefore, to refute the Judaizers and to call believers back to the pure gospel.

The Good News is for all people—Jews and Gentiles alike. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus and nothing else. Faith in Christ means true freedom. After a brief introduction (1:1-5), Paul addresses those who were accepting the Judaizers’ perverted gospel (1:6-9). He summarizes the controversy, including his personal confrontation with Peter and other church leaders (1:10–2:16). He then demonstrates that salvation is by faith alone by alluding to his conversion (2:17-21), appealing to his readers’ own experience of the gospel (3:1-5), and showing how the Old Testament teaches about grace (3:6-20). Next, he explains the purpose of God’s laws and the relationship between law, God’s promises, and Christ (3:21–4:31). Having laid the foundation, Paul builds his case for Christian liberty. We are saved by faith, not by keeping the law (5:1-12); our freedom means that we are free to love and serve one another, not to do wrong (5:13-26); and Christians should carry each other’s burdens and be kind to each other (6:1-10).

In 6:11-18, Paul takes the pen into his own hand and shares his final thoughts. As you read Galatians, try to understand this first-century conflict between grace and law, or faith and deeds, but also be aware of modern parallels. Like Paul, defend the truth of the gospel and reject all those who would add to or twist this truth. You are free in Christ—step into the light and celebrate!

 

Purpose
To refute the Judaizers who taught that Gentile believers must obey the Jewish Law in order to be saved and to call Christians faith and freedom in Christ.

Date Written: Approximately A.D 49 from Antioch Prior to the Jerusalem council (A.D 50)

  
Key Verse
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery Galatians 5:1

Galatians Bible Study Download