Galatians 3:1-9

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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 3:1-9 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

  1. Did you receive the Spirit by works or by faith (1-5)
  2. The example of Abraham (6-9)
  1. Did you receive the Spirit by works or by faith (verses 1-5)

Discussion Questions

  • How did Paul describe the Galatians?
  • Why does he use such strong language?
  • Why did he describe them as foolish?
  • How does this passage fit into the theme of Galatians?
  • Does Paul add any new argument for justification by faith here?
  • What would the answer be to Paul’s question in verse 2?
  • What point is Paul making in verse 3?
  • What does verse 4 mean?

Cross-References

  • Proverbs 12:15 – Although the Galatians were being foolish, if they would humble themselves and listen to Paul, they could become wise.
  • Proverbs 26:11 – The plight of fools.
  • Hebrews 7:25 – Christ’s death is once for all.
  • Romans 10:17 – Faith comes through hearing.
  • Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 John 3:24 – Receive the Spirit as salvation.

Teaching Points

1. Foolish Galatians – Paul uses very strong language here. It shows the depth of his emotion on this issue. Although it was strong langauge it was true. Should we speak like this? Generally we should not use such strong language. Gentleness is an important Christian character quality. 2 Timothy 2:25. However, it might be necessary to use strong language occasionally to shock people awake from the spiritual lethargy or disobedience. For example, recently I encountered one brother who insists in false teachings. Mutliple meetings and letters have not changed his mind. The last letter I sent to him had several strong statements inside. I wouldn’t have used those words or phrases at the beginning, but gentleness didn’t change his mind so I hoped stronger words would.

The Galatians were foolish. Their foolishness was not a lack of intelligence or IQ. Rather it was a willful turning away from what they knew to be the truth.

2. Who has bewitched you? – Their turning away from the true gospel was such a shock that it seemed to Paul as if they had been bewitched. That means it seemed as if someone had used magic lead them astray. He is basically acting if they made this decision because someone hypnotized them. The obvious protection against this is to keep our eyes wide open and alert.

3. Before your very eyes Jesus was protrayed as crucified – This doesn’t mean that they literally saw Jesus crucified. Instead Paul and other preachers painted a visible picture for them of Jesus’ crucifixion when they shared the gospel with the Galatians. They did not have the excuse of ignorance since they clearly saw and heard the truth.

4. Are you so foolish? – Paul re-emphasizes his claim that only a foolish person would take the path they were on.

5. After beginning by the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? – Paul comes back to his main theme in this book again. The Gentiles were saved by the Spirit through faith. The gospel message that Paul peached to them was very clear. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Nothing more. Nothing less. The “formula” is not believe in Christ to get saved and then keep doing good works on your own to stay saved. See John 10:27-30. We can’t get in by our works. And we can’t stay in by our works. How is this principle helpful for our life today? What application can we make from this

6. Verse 4 – Have you experienced (or suffered) so much in vain? – It seems to mean that if salvation by faith is not enough then all of their salvation experience would be considered worthless.

7. Verse 5 – Paul re-emphasizes his point. God’s work on our behalf is a gift. It is not something we can earn or deserve. Knowing this, how should we react? What should we do knowing we cannot earn salvation either before or after believing?

  1. Verses 6-9

Discussion Questions

  • Why does Paul bring up the example of Abraham?
  • What does it have to do with Paul’s “thesis” in Galatians?
  • What does it mean that those who are of the faith are “sons of Abraham?”
  • What do we learn from verse 8 about God’s plan?
  • When and how did God decide to take the gospel to the Gentiles? Why is this important to Paul’s argument?

Cross-References

  • James 2:20-24 – Faith, Works, and Abraham.
  • Romans 4:1-18 – Abraham justified by faith.

Teaching Points

1. Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness.

From Romans 4:1-12:

1. Abraham’s place in Israel’s history. Abraham was the ancestor of all the Jews. He was the original Patriarch. He was revered as THE example of righteous living.

2. Abraham was not justified by works, and none of us are, so that he could have nothing to boast about.

3. God imputed righteousness to Abraham because of his belief.

4. Discuss true belief. Belief is not just a set of facts. It is entrusting yourself to someone or something, which Abraham illustrated continually when he put himself and the lives of his family into God’s hands and in obedience followed where God sent him. Tell Niagara falls example.

5. Paul is teaching from one end of the spectrum. Of course Abraham’s faith was demonstrated by action. Teach together with verse 12. Some of the steps of faith Abraham took include: leaving his home and country with all his family and possession to embark on a long journey into the unknown, unknown place, unknown culture, unknown future, allowing Lot to choose the best of the land knowing that the Lord would bless him wherever he went, trusting in God’s righteous character enough to bargain for Sodom, believing God’s promise that he would have a son, and giving up his son Isaac to be sacrificed. How can we follow in the steps of faith that Abraham had? List out some of the “leaps of faith” Abraham took.

Are you willing to make the same leaps of faith and entrust yourself to God? Do you believe the promises God makes to us? What is an objective test to see if we really believe God’s promises? What are some of the most common reasons people don’t take these leaps of faith and entrust themselves to God and His promises? Can you think of one area in your life right now you need to take this leap of faith?

6. God justifies the ungodly. If there were any godly people they wouldn’t need to be justified. The first step of repentance is to recognize that we are ungodly.

7. David’s place in Israel’s history, his sin with Bathsheba, and God’s forgiveness for him. From David we also learn that forgiveness isn’t the absence of consequences. What consequences did David face for his sin? How is it fair for other people to suffer for his sin?

8. Timetable of Abraham’s creditation with forgiveness and his circumcision. Also, a clear definition of the purpose of circumcision here is “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had”.

9. Abraham is the spiritual father of all who have the same belief that he had. True believers in God are more closely related to Abraham than those who claim his a physical ancestor, but make up their own works based salvation approach.

Key Words-

Abraham- He is the OT example of God’s enduring plan of justification by faith. He first demonstrated his faith by his actions. God credited him with righteousness. And then he received the sign of circumcision.

Justification- Justification is a free gift of God and one hundred percent as a result of faith in God, not works. After we are truly justified we will do works as a result of our changed heart?

Credited- God’s account is unlimited. He gives us fully out of it. Ephesians 1:6-8

Blessedness- We have great reason to be thankful for the blessings He gave to us. His love is unlimited and so are his blessings to us. Give an example of a way God has blessed you in the past week.

Key Questions-

How were people saved in the OT? So does God’s plan for human’s justification ever change?

What is the significance that Abraham was credited with righteousness BEFORE he received circumcision? Which comes first, faith or works?

Do we have any reason to boast?

What type of people does God choose to justify? (verse 5)

What should our response be to God’s love and justification?”

Basically we have a choice. We can be like Abraham. Or we can be like the Pharisees. Abraham genuinely believed in God. It was that faith that saved him. God imputed His righteousness to Abraham because of his faith. The Pharisees attempted to earn God’s favor through works, but they became external rituals devoid of sincerity or love. They tried to please God with their own righteousness, but failed since they weren’t righteous. Because they didn’t humble themselves before the Lord, He didn’t impute His righteousness to them. Which one do you want to be? Notice that Abraham had strong faith. AND this faith moved him to action. So Paul is not teaching an empty faith. We must take this passage and the passage in James on work/faith hand in hand.

Study Galatians 3:10-29

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