What claim is at the heart of Paul’s message in his letter to the Galatians? (Video 3:37-4:16 or read Galatians 2:19-20)
Name three reasons why Paul does not command non-Jewish Christians to observe the Law. (Video 6:20-6:37)
How will non-Jewish Christians learn what matters to God without the Law? (Video 6:38-7:21)
Paul’s letter confronts the Galatians for relying on the laws of Torah (especially circumcision) to ensure they belonged as members of God’s family. He calls this a “different Gospel” because, since the beginning, the real good news has never been about earning an entrance into God’s family. To prove this, Paul points back to Abraham as a prime example, reminding readers that Abraham never earned his right relationship with God. Instead, he believed and trusted God’s promise that one day, all nations would find God’s blessing through him and his descendants. God’s plan has always been to have a family of people who relate to him on the basis of trust, not the Law. The Law, as good as it is, does not provide the power to change—what the Law cannot do, Jesus fully accomplishes.
Through Jesus, the promised offspring of Abraham, God’s blessing comes to all nations. His blessing releases his Spirit to all those who trust Jesus, and his Spirit invites and empowers all humanity to live a new life of love in his family. Followers of Jesus are called to cultivate this new life, but they are not required to be circumcised or keep Jewish customs. Paul says that what really matters is God’s new creation, the family of people who trust in Jesus and learn to love God and others through the power of the Spirit.
Read Genesis 15:1-6 and Galatians 3:6-10. Who does Abraham rely on God to be? What does Abraham rely on God to do? Why does God attribute righteousness to Abraham?
How is Abraham’s story an “announcement of the Gospel” (Galatians 3:8-9)?
Read Galatians 5:5-6 and 6:14-16. According to Paul in these verses, what truly matters, and what does not count for anything?
The new creation is a whole new way of life, full of trust and love. As you observe the context of the above passages, what is one example Paul uses to show how trust expresses itself through love (e.g. Galatians 5:13-14, 5:22-26, 6:1-10)? What is one way your community could practically live this out?
Paul challenges the Galatian Christians to look beyond the letter of the law.
The church in Galatia was divided over issues of Torah observance. Many leaders were requiring non-Jewish Christians to live by Jewish laws, missing the point of the Gospel message. Jesus fulfilled the law and reconciled all who believe in him. When people trust in Jesus as the Messiah, his life, death, and resurrection become theirs. They are new creations, free from the laws and the old covenant.
Justified through Faith
The book of Galatians reminds Jesus’ followers to embrace the Gospel message of the crucified Messiah, that justifies all people through faith and empowers them to live like Jesus did.