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 5:1-15 Inductive Bible Study
Verse 1: It was for freedom that Christ set us free – We are free of the power of sin and death. A free person doesn’t want to go back to be a slave, does he? A healthy person doesn’t want to go back to being sick. Going back to the law is to go completely back to the Old Testament and reject the New Testament. That would mean once again taking responsibility for our own sins and not relying on Christ’s death on the cross to take them away.
Verses 2-3 – These verses would seem to indicate that circumcision is wrong. However, based on the context of the whole book, we know that Paul is argueing against relying on the law. The Galatians relied on the OT law and their circumcision was the symbol for that. They were having circumcision with the idea that this work could somehow save them. Since they had this mentality, Paul told them they should not even get circumcised. This was the same logic he used when he refused to have Titus circumcised in the beginning of the book.
Verse 4 – Salvation is either works or grace, not both. Every other religion in the world teaches people to rely on good works. Is our faith the same as those or different? Grace is something we don’t deserve. If we try to earn it, we can’t have it. We can only having grace by accepting God’s offer of it to us as a free gift.
Verse 5 – Here is one of the “already but not yet” verses. We are already made positionally righteous before God the moment we believe. And we are already forgiven of our sin. We are already recipients of a new nature and the Holy Spirit. But we are not yet perfectly righteous practically. That is what we are waiting for in faith.
Verse 6 – Here Paul makes it clear circumcision does not save. Neither does refusing to be circumcised. The only thing that saves is faith. This is working in love because God loves us and we are responding to His love.
Verses 7-9 –
- Starting well does not guarantee finishing well.
- Obeying God yesterday doesn’t mean I will obey God today or tomorrow.
- There will always be those who want to hinder us. How will we respond when they come?
- God does not tempt us. Neither does He lead us astray. He doesn’t want to confuse us. He doesn’t contradict Himself. So anything that is contrary to God’s revealed Word is not from Him.
- A little leaven leavens the whole lump. On bad apple spoils the crate. This is why Paul was so strong against this false teaching. If allowed to remain it would fester and grow. We must in the same way refuse to tolerate any sin. We must also refuse to tolerate any false teaching, either in our homes, in our studies, our fellowships, or our churches. Bad counsel and teaching which is allowed to go unchecked can have serious consequences.
Verse 10 – Paul expresses confidence that the Galatians (once they have heard his full arguments) will make the right choice. In 1 Corinthians 13 we learn that love believes all things. We should have the attitude to believe and expect the best from those we counsel and disciple. But those who were feeding them false teaching would face God’s judgment.
Verse 11 – Here Paul makes an interesting argument. The logic goes like this:
I am being persecuted (by the Jews).
The Jews would not persecut someone who is preaching the circumcision (this argument is implied.)
Since they are persecuting me, I must not be preaching circumcision.
If I was preaching that, then I nullify the cross.
The conclusion: Don’t believe anyone who tells you I agree with this whole mandatory circumcision idea!
Verse 12 – Paul strongly condemns false teachers. He wishes they would mutilate themselves. If they did, it could perhaps show that even they were no longer trusting in circumcision.
This borderline “curse” shows us how extremely important pure teaching is. We must make sure that we accurately divide the Word of truth so we don’t even accidentally become false teachers.
Application: Discuss together as a group how you can apply what you learned today. Ask each person to write down a personal application.