May 31, 2019

Welcome to this Bible study blog on Paul’s epistle to the Galatians.  This is my first attempt at an “online” Bible study, with a select group of friends and colleagues whose faith I admire and whose take on Scripture I respect.  My intent is to develop a deeper dive into Scripture, but on a pace (approximately one entry every other week) and via a forum that allows you to participate as you are able.  I invite you to make this truly a collaborative effort, which is to say I invite your input along the way.  Please add your thoughts and insights and as if this were a Bible study where we’re all sitting together around a table or in a living room.  

Having said that, as would be the case if we were meeting face-to-face, no one is required to chime in.  Your engagement in this study can be whatever you want it to be.  This is gospel, not law!

To guide our study, my blog will consist of my thoughts on the reading.  I may add a few discussion questions, but this is really more about hearing your thoughts.  

Introduction to Galatians

This was one of Martin Luther’s most written about epistles.  He had this to say:

“He [Paul] boasts that his doctrine and office are from God alone, in order that he might silence the boast of the false apostles…He says it is not true, even if an angel were to preach differently, or he himself…and concludes that everyone must be justified without merit, without works, without law, through Christ alone.  He shows that the law brings sin and a curse rather than righteousness.  Righteousness is promised by God, fulfilled by Christ without the law, given to us – out of grace alone…he teaches the works of love that ought to follow faith.”

Galatians 1:1-5

At first read, there doesn’t seem to be a lot here for the purpose of meditation.  But there is.  We know the backstory on how Paul became an apostle.  Here he feels the need to remind his readers (who were a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles) that his credentials come from Christ and the Father.  It’s like he’s preparing in advance for what may be some pushback on what he’s about to say, and he wants to make it clear that his words come with the authority of God Himself.

Paul had visited the areas of Galatia on two previous occasions, so he knew these people and they knew him.  It’s believed that the reason for this letter was that the churches had sent messengers to Paul to make him aware of troubles among the believers, and to seek his help in addressing them.

Grace and peace…why these two words?  Grace – we know what that is – the unmerited goodness of God to us sinners.  Peace – is the consequence of grace.  They go together like cause and effect. Grace is a Greek greeting, and peace a Hebrew greeting.  So Paul is not so subtly addressing both groups within these Galatian churches.

Peace is one of those words that has layers of meaning, and most people probably never contemplate the depth of peace that Paul is using in his greeting here.  It’s peace that comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We often hear those words as an introduction from the pastor before he begins his sermon, and they may just fly past us.

As we’ll see in the upcoming chapters, the Galatians were under attack from people known as Judaizers, Jews who insisted on an adherance to Old Testament ceremonial laws and rituals – alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The result of that equation is anything but peace.

to rescue us from this present age…The consequence of Christ’s atoning sacrifice is certainly eternal life with Him, but Paul adds here that there is a present benefit as well – a rescue from our current conditions here in this world. 

How often have you thought, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to face this [whatever tragedy comes along] apart from a relationship with Jesus.”  That’s what Paul is talking about here.  The knowledge that there is something better to come makes living in the evils of this present age bearable.  Check out 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Ephesians 6:12 for more on this.

As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to represent him in this present age of evil.  That means we are to embody grace and peace – not an easy task.  There’s no way we can do this on our own.  As men of God, we need to go constantly to God for the strength and courage to truly imitate Christ and reflect His image.  And then, when we fail (because we WILL fail) we go to him for his forgiveness and ask to be sent out again tomorrow, where new opportunities will exist.  See Ephesians 2:10.