Galatians 1:1-12

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These small group studies of Galatians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Galatians 1:1-12 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

  1. Greeting (1-5)

  2. Do not be misled by a different gospel (6-9)

  3. The true gospel is from God (10-12)

  1. Greeting (1-5)

Discussion Questions

  • What can you learn from verse 1 about what an apostle is?
  • Why does Paul start almost every one of his letters identifying himself as an apostle?
  • Who was he writing to? What do you know about Galatia and the church there?
  • What did Jesus do for us? Why does Paul start almost every letter with a greeting and blessing?

Teaching Points

Intro: Galatians is one of Paul’s only epistles that wasn’t sent to a specific individual or church. Instead it was sent to all the churches within a region, the region of Galatia. Galatia was a region in Asia Minor, which is now modern day Turkey.

1. Paul an apostle – Paul generally starts each epistle with this statement. His goal is to establish his credentials so that the people will listen to and obey him. The motivation of this type of statement is very important. Some may point out their own authority in order to demand obedience and increase their own stature, importance, and power. We know Paul wasn’t doing this by looking at his whole life and service. He didn’t enrich himself from his position. But from time to time he brought attention to his position in order to encourage people to do what they were supposed to do.

Later in the book of Galatians Paul will spend even more time on this issue. He goes to great length to defend his apostleship and the authority that comes with it. The reason is that Judaizers were entering the Galatian churches and misleading people by preaching a false gospel. One of the prongs of their attack was attacking Paul’s credentials. If they could discredit Paul, then they could also convince people that they didn’t need to listen to Paul’s teachings and the gospel he had preached to them.

Application: We should do all things for the sake of the gospel. Our motivation should be the well-being of others, not the exaltation of ourselves.

2. Sent not from men or by men – Paul gives a reminder to the Galatians that as an apostle he was sent by Christ. His authority doesn’t come from men. His message doesn’t come from men. They should listen to him because he is Jesus’ representative. Rejecting Paul then is equivalent to rejecting Christ since Christ sent Paul.

3. Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age – Here we see one of Jesus’ motivations in dying on the cross for us. He did it to rescue us, specifically to rescue us from the evil of the world’s system and culture. He transforms us so we do not anymore give in to the temptations of the culture and our peers. What are some of the foremost temptations of this evil age?

  • Materialism
  • Pursuit of pleasure
  • Hedonism
  • Lust

Imagine that you were on the Titanic and it sank. You were just keeping afloat in the freezing cold water. There is no land in sight. You know you need help and fast. At that moment someone comes along with a boat and asks you to get in. You get in. He puts a warm blanket over you. But then you miss the water and tossing off the blanket you jump back in! That is what we are like if after being saved we go back and once again succumb to the temptations of the world. It makes no sense. And yet we do it time and time again. Let us allow Christ to rescue us from the evils of this present age. Let us get our joy, meaning, and purpose in Him and not from this world around us.

4. To whom be the glory forever and ever – This attitude should be reflected in all we do.

  1. Do not be misled by a different gospel (6-9)

Discussion Questions

  • What was Paul amazed by? Was this a “good” or “bad” amazed?
  • Were these believers then rejecting Christ and turning to a false god?
  • What did Paul mean by the fact that they were deserting Him? What were they turning to?
  • What is a false gospel? What specific false gospel may they have been turning to?
  • What warnings did Paul give them about this? What can we learn from those warnings?
  • What do we learn about Paul’s character? What do we learn about the truth? About God?
  • What is the gospel?
  • Split up into a few small groups and have each small group write down the essential and only the essential aspects of the gospel. Then compare and discuss.

Cross-References

1 Corinthians 15:2-4 – Essential passage on the gospel.

Teaching Points

1. Turning to a different gospel – After Paul’s greeting, he gets right to the point of the entire letter and to the issue which spurred him to write this letter, refuting the Judeaizers. This was one of the major challenges of the early church. Many Jews taught that the Law of Moses should still be imposed on believers. In essence they taught that one had to first become a Jew before he could become a Christian. The core problem of this teaching was that it was works oriented. We can see Paul’s vehement opposition to a works oriented gospel message by his strong words and the clear depth of his emotion. In verse 6 he is already emphasizing the grace of Christ. Galatians was one of Martin Luther’s favorite books. It was a key letter used in the Protestant Reformation because in Galatians Paul makes emphasizes justification by faith and the grace of God. Therefore Galatians is a very important letter because it reminds us of the true gospel, which centers on God’s grace and not man’s works.

2. Which is really no gospel at all – Gospel means good news. The gospel Paul preached was good news from God to man. It was good news that people did not need to rely on their works, but could be saved by grace through faith. But this different gospel wasn’t a gospel. It wasn’t good news. Nor was it from God. Nor was it a something new. This different gospel is already preached all around the world in many cultures and in many religions. In the good news bridge we call it “good works.” People around the world think that their own good works can bring them to God. Satan is the master deceiver. He always tries to twist the truth of God. God says we must believe in Him. Satan says do “good works,” which means believe in and rely on yourselves. He knows it is a failing proposition.

Paul is telling them there are not two gospels. There is only one true gospel. Everything else is a lie. Everything else is a perversion. We must not tolerate these lies or perversions. We must not allow them to infiltrate the church and lead people astray. Paul says that the gospel he preached is the gospel of Christ and it is. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life. What did Jesus say about this issue? John 6:29. John 3:36. John 5:24. Jesus taught that we are saved by faith, not by works.

3. Verse 8 – Paul is angry. He is so angry that he desires to call down a curse from God upon those who are teaching this deception. Why is he angry? Is he right to feel angry like this? Is he right to want them cursed?

Imagine a shepherd who is watching his sheep and finds out some teenage boys are intentionally poisoning his sheep. He will feel angry.

Imagine a father who finds a teacher abusing his child. He will feel angry.

If the father or shepherd don’t care about it, then we can say they are not a good father/shepherd. Even worse, they are evil and selfish.

Paul is angry because false teachers were misleading the sheep and turning many away from the truth of God. He refused to stand by and just watch it happen, though that might have been the easiest road to take. Paul takes a stand. He even hopes that God will punish the people doing this. I can certainly understand these feelings. If anyone were to do something to my children, I would want to see them punished as well. And more importantly I would want to see something done about it so that those people could not go on doing the same thing to others.

Paul understands there is one truth. He knew what he was preaching was truth. Therefore he could make bold statements like what we see in verse 8. Truth doesn’t change depending on who is speaking it. If an angel taught a different gospel, then that would be a fallen angel and should not be listened to. Any teachings that disagreed with what he was revealed by Jesus must be a lie since God doesn’t contradict Himself.

What are the implications for us?

  • We can boldly stand on the truth. Don’t compromise or give in when you stand on the clear Word of God. Do not embrace relative truth. (If something is not clear in Scripture, we cannot make such a dogmatic stand.)
  • We must take responsibility within our sphere not to allow any type of false teaching to creep in. Church leaders must turn off the microphone if someone starts giving false teaching (even better they should pre-screen the people who are given the microphone.) Keeping the unity is not a good excuse to allow false teaching. Parents must pay careful attention to the teaching their children are exposed to and make sure false and worldly teachings do not creep in.
  • We should be angry when we see God’s sheep being led astray. We must therefore do everything we can to prevent this from happening.
  • We should study the Bible so that we will know when we hear false teaching.
  • We must be very careful never to become a false teacher lest we incur the curse of God.
  • We must not allow a person’s fame, position, or eloquence cloud our judgment about the actual words he/she is speaking. We must compare what we hear to God’s Word.

Verse 9 – In case anyone misses it, Paul repeats himself again. He feels strongly about this issue and so should we.

  1. The true gospel is from God (10-12)

Discussion Questions

  • What is Paul’s point in verse ten? Whom should we strive to please? What other verses can you think of about this? How can you ensure that your motivations are in the right place?
  • Why is it important that the gospel is from God and not from man? How does this effect you as you share the gospel with others?

Teaching Points

1. Pleasing God, not man – Paul notes his motivation for what he does is pleasing God. This is why he defends his credentials. This is why he is angry about false teaching. He is not doing these things out of a desire to build up his own reputation or power for his own sake. If he was in it for himself, he says that he would not be a servant of Christ. After all, his work as a missionary did not pay very well. He suffered great pain and trials because of his service for God. He was not enriched materially. He likely did not even get married because of his call to spread the gospel. Finally he died as a martyr. He didn’t do these things for himself and he didn’t do them in order to get a better reputation. He did what he did to please God. That is a powerful testimony and the best testimony one can have of his life.

Can you say the same thing? Can you say that you are trying to please God or please people?

2. The gospel is not of human origin – It is an important point. If it was of human origin then it could (and would) be flawed. It would be necessary to change and improve and adjust with the times. If it was just man’s opinion he would not have basis to stand on it with such confidence. But he received this gospel through revelation from Christ. This is why he could place his unshakeable confidence in it.

Application: We should have the same unshakeable confidence in God’s Word. Just as Paul received the revelation from Christ, so have we. The Bible is also God’s revelation to us. It is the truth. Everything God said in it will come to pass. Every promise will be fulfilled. Do you have the same complete confidence in God’s Word that Paul did? If so, how will this confidence affect your life? Your decisions? Your words to others?

Cross-Referencees

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:4 – But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
  • John 12:43 – For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
  • Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
  • Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God
Study Galatians 1:13-24

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