Acts 14:21-28; Galatians 1:1-3:23
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Today we begin Paul's letter to the church in Galatia! Paul’s letter was sent from either point #1 to point #2 or from #3 to #4 in the image below:
~ Galatians ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 48 or 49
Content: Paul had preached to the inhabitants of Galatia on his first missionary journey (Act 13:14-14:23). Shortly after his departure, a group of Jewish believers arrived to insist that the Gentile Christians submit to the laws of Moses in order to be saved. Paul writes to combat this error by showing that Abraham, who lived over four hundred years before the giving of the law, was saved by faith in the gospel – so how could it be argued that the law could either save a man or make a believer in Christ more perfect? Paul couples this with a vigorous defense of himself as an apostle and with a discussion of how a Christian ought to live.
Theme: Paul energetically defends the truth of the gospel, which is that man is saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ and nothing else. Any other teaching is a perversion of the truth of God (Galatians 1:7). We are made right in the sight of God by faith (Galatians 2:16) and become the people of God (sons of Abraham) in the same way, by faith (Galatians 3:7). Because we are free in Christ, we must never allow anyone to drag us back to the idea of working for our salvation, but must live out of the gospel. This involves submission to the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16) and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Galatians 5:14). (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 25-26) More great commentary on Galatians is at this link
Wow. I have to share with you that Paul's words in Galatians chapter 1 verse 1 stopped me in my tracks today when reading them: "This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group or by human authority. My call is from Jesus Christ himself and from God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead." The thing that struck me about this was Paul saying that he was not appointed by any group or by human authority to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. His call was from Jesus Himself! And this just made me think about our modern world today, where I am afraid that sometimes we will only maybe do bold things in our life for the Gospel - for the Kingdom of God - if we feel like we have been appointed by some group or by some human authority to do it. When, in fact the important thing is if we have been called by Jesus to do it! I hope humbly here I can share with you that there are probably a ton of reasons of why I "shouldn't" be leading an online Bible study like this one. I don't have a Seminary degree. I am not an ordained minister or pastor. Yes, I have been in a Bible study before, and I do a lot of studying each day for this ministry. But - no group or human authority has appointed me to do this. I have just done it because I do feel very called to it! And I share this with you not to pat myself on the back, but to encourage you. Maybe you've never been to Seminary. Maybe you're not an ordained minister or pastor. Maybe you've never done _____, ____, or ____. (fill in your blanks) But, maybe God is calling you to do something bold for his Kingdom, and the question becomes when will you do it? When will you stop relying on an old excuse of not being appointed by a group or human authority to do it? If God is calling you to something, please, please, do it! Our time is short. Your time is now. The water is fine. Please, dive in!
We have great readings today in Galatians chapter 2 as Paul confronts Peter! I think this is a powerful lesson for us to learn. It is okay - in fact good - to confront other Christians when they are out of line. We should do so in the spirit of love. Speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters who step out of line. But let us not be too meek in this area and let somebody we love slide by because we're too scared to say anything. Is there anybody in your life today that you are being led by God to speak the truth in love to? (there is someone in my life I'm being led to do this... and I confess that I have been dragging my feet...) Let us learn today from the example of Paul confronting Peter!
I have to tell you, for some reason the parenthetical point from Paul in verse 6 today really stood out to me - "(By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.)" This is really a profound thing for each of us to realize! No one is above you! No one is below you! God has no favorites! I really really love thinking about this. This means we should respect all, but fear none. God is the only one we should fear. You, your pastor, your president, the homeless person on the street corner are no more or no less favored by God comparatively. God has no favorites! And - if God has no favorites, what do you think this should mean to us. Should we have favorites? Should we give more respect to those who we think are in better social standing than others? Should we love the pastor more than the homeless person? Should we love the celebrity over the waiter? This really is something for us to think about... Paul said people's reputation as great leaders made NO difference to him. Should people's reputations in our world today make any difference to us?
Paul's message in Galatians chapter 3 verses 6 through 9 is very good news to the 1st century Gentiles and to you and me today too! "In the same way, "Abraham believed God, so God declared him righteous because of his faith." The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God. What's more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would accept the Gentiles, too, on the basis of their faith. God promised this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, "All nations will be blessed through you." And so it is: All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith." Do you believe that you can share in the same blessing Abraham received? How? Are you a spiritual descendent of Abraham? Why? What do Paul's words "faith in Christ" mean to you? Is this all very good news to you? Below is a painting from the year 1850 by Hungarian artist Jozsef Molnar of "Abraham's journey from Ur to Canaan":
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Galatians titled "The Cost of Changing Course" is at this link. Below is a great image - nice take off from the "Intel Inside" graphic! - from Galatians 2:20 in today's readings:
Today in Galatians chapter 3 verses 10 and 11 we read: “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith.”” What is Paul saying here? Why would those who rely on observing the law be under a curse? Do you rely on the law? And, no, I'm not asking about this type of law below... :)
Bible.org's fantastic commentary on today's readings in Galatians titled "What the Law Cannot Do" is at this link. Below is a powerful image for Galatians 3:13 from today's readings -
Worship God: Today's readings in Galatians reminded me of Chris Tomlin's great song "Made to Worship!"
Are you made to worship? Not sure? Click here and be made to worship!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that you have been crucified with Christ. Pray that Christ lives in you. Pray that you are living this life in your body by faith in Jesus, who loves you and gave Himself for you. Pray that your friends, family, and neighbors would come to fully know this Truth.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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