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 3:10-29 Inductive Bible Study
- Christ replaced our curse with a blessing (10-14)
- The Law and the covenant (15-20)
- The Law is our tutor (21-30)
I. Christ replaced our curse with a blessing (10-14)
- Who is under a curse? Why? What kind of curse is this?
- What does verse 12 mean that the law is not of faith? How about “He who practices them shall live by them?”
- So where does Christ fit into this picture?
- Why does Paul use so many quotations from Scripture here? How does this strengthen his argument? What can we learn from this about the importance of Scripture?
Habakkuk 2:4 – The righteous shall live by faith.
1.Under a curse – See cross-reference. They are under a curse because they cannot follow the whole law and they are therefore doomed. Notice not everyone is doomed to this cursed fate, only those who rely on the law.
2. No one who relies on the law is justified before God – Our works cannot save us. If they could Jesus would not have come. Here Paul again shows that true righteousness comes by faith.
3. The law is not based on faith – The law is basically a set of written rules. In Israel’s history a lot of people followed many of these rules externally even though they didn’t have a true faith in God. Why? It was a habit, a tradition. Still many people in the US and some other Western countries go to church (on Easter or Christmas Eve) pray before meals even though they don’t have a sincere faith in God. Some do out of tradition and habit. People may obey the rules of the law from many different motivations, but that doesn’t tell us what their heart is like. Obeying the law is external. Real faith in God is internal.
Application: Why do you go to church on Sunday? Why do you come to fellowship here? Why do you read the Bible? Pray before meals? Give to the needy? These are good things which we should do. But we should ask what is our motivation? If we just do these things externally for insincere motivations then we too are trying to live by works rather than by faith. To God it is not only important what we do, but also why we do it.
4. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – What does this mean? Those who rely on the law are cursed. That means that they will be judged and punished for their sins. They are separated from God and their fate is sealed. Jesus figuratively became a curse so that we wouldn’t have to face that curse. Jesus became a curse in two ways. Firstly, He was hung on a tree, which is a shameful, cursed thing. Secondly, he took our sin onto Himself even becoming sin for us. Think of that from Jesus’ perspective for a minute. He is the Holy Lamb of God. He had never sinned in any way. He had never experienced the horrible feeling of guilt. He had never so much as tasted sin. But for our sake he became that horrible, despicable thing. He did the unimaginable. When I experience guilt, it doesn’t feel good. Neither does sin. I don’t want to say that we are used to sin and guilt, but in some ways we are because we sin often. Jesus, being perfectly holy, had never felt this. But he felt it for us. Then what must we do?
5. He redeemed us – He did it so that we could receive that blessing that God promised to Abraham more than a millenium before.
The Law and the covenenant (15-20)
- What does Paul mean in verse 15?
- What covenant is he referencing?
- How did this covenant change (or not change) over time? What point is Paul making from this?
- What promise was made? About who?
- So what is Paul is saying (verse 17)? How does this relate to his theme of the law and justification by faith?
- What comparison is Paul making in verse 18? (law and promise – God made a promise to Abraham not based on the law)
- Why the Law then?
- How was the law ordained through angels?
- Who are the two parties the mediator is mediating for? Who then would the mediator be?
1. Brothers and sisters – Paul reminds them of the familial relationship they share. He is not speaking to them as an outsider. He is not rebuking them as a stranger. He is appealing to them as his family members. We need to have the same attitude when it becomes necessary to correct brothers or sisters around us.
2. Verses 15-18 – The covenant Paul refers to is the one between Abraham and God. In that covenant God promised that all the nations of the other would be blessed through Abraham’s seed. When a contract is written out and signed neither party can go back and change the deal. It has been confirmed and nothing should be added or deleted. Paul is making the point that salvation to the Gentiles cannot be deleted from the covenant. The promise that God made would not be changed even by subsequent events.
Why does Paul mention this? Well, some proponents of the law would argue that the Mosaic law was given by God to the Jews AFTER the Abrahamic covenant. They might argue that the Mosaic law therefore REPLACED the Abrahamic covenant. In verse 17 Paul declares that is not the case. The Mosaic covenant does not replace or change or supercede the Abrahamic covenant (which is based on faith).
Paul argues that the promise to Abraham was not nullified by the Mosaic covenant.
Application: God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God’s Word will stand. His promises are sure. Between the promise to Abraham, and the fulfilment at the time of Christ around 2000 years passed. But God did not forget His promise. Now it has been almost 2000 years since Christ ascended into heaven, but all of His promises are just as sure today as they were when He first made them. His second coming is just as sure now as it was then. Time and future events do not alter God’s plans. We can therefore be confident in Him. We must believe Him and never forget the promises He makes to us. Neither should we become complacent and ill-prepared for His second coming like the 5 virgins who were not ready. We must keep praying and remain vigilant.
3. Why was the law given? – Answers? It prepared people for the Seed of Abraham, that is the Messiah. It showed more clearly people’s sins. It showed them that they were lost and helpless and needed a Savior.
The law was so important that God gave it through angels (somehow they were involved in the passing of the law on Mt. Sinai) and He entrusted it to a mediator. In this case, it seems that God Himself was the mediator. In most cases a mediator would intercede between two parties, but in this case God could perform the roll of mediator Himself. He is certainly well qualified.
III. The Law is our tutor (21-30)
- Is the law contrary to God’s promises?
- Could it impart life?
- Then why did God establish it?
- How has the Scripture shut us up to sin?
- What is the faith that was later to be revealed?
- What can we see is the key purpose of the law in verse 24? How does the law tutor us? What can we learn from it? How can the law lead people to Christ?
- We often recite Galatians 3:28. What additional insights can we get into this verse based on the context of what we have just studied?
- What applications can we make from this verse?
1. Is the law opposed to God’s promises? – Nope. In a perfect world a perfect law would inspire perfection. But this world is not perfect and neither are we. Righteousness could not come from the law because nobody could obey the law all the time.
Application: No matter how good you are, know that you are a sinner. You can not achieve righteousness through will power or self-determination. You (and I) are wretched sinners. You (and I) can’t (and don’t) follow all of God’s commands in the Bible. How does this make you feel? What does this make you want to do?
2. Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin (verses 22-23) – The Old Testament law showed very clearly that people were slaves of sin, that there was no way out. It showed people were helpless to solve this problem. It showed people were lost so that they would recognize they needed to be found. It showed that people could not be saved by believing in themselves and therefore they must believe in Christ as their only hope.
3. The law was our guardian (or tutor) – The law kept people closer to the right path. It reminded people of God’s expecations. It also ensured that people was intended to guide people’s hearts to prepare them for the coming of Christ. Discuss the concept of the law as our tutor.
4. Verses 27-28 – Discuss what additional insights we can get into these verses from the context. What applications are there for us? Some say that these verses mean for example that women could be leaders in the church (after all there should be no distinction.) What would you answer those people?
5. The true children of Abraham are those who have faith like Abraham.
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