Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:1-5 ESV).
What’s it all about?
Paul’s introduction anticipates the primary themes (the gospel of God, justification by faith, law and grace, and Christian freedom) and objections (Paul’s credentials, motives, and interpretation of the OT) that he will address throughout this letter. As the letter unfolds, Paul voices his concern that the churches in Galatia had fallen prey to false teachers (who were attempting to add works to the grace of God), and, as a result, were no longer enjoying the benefits of the gospel: grace and peace.
The gospel is not merely a human invention but is of divine origins and is the only way we can be delivered from our sinful nature and this present evil age. Therefore, we must place our complete trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and not in our own perceived merit or good works for salvation.
Questions from the Text:
1. Who was Paul (1:1)?
2. What is going on in the churches of Galatia?
3. What are the effects of Christ’s death on the life of the believer (1:4)?
4. What should true theology lead to (1:5)?
We must never forget that theology is for doxology: the truest expression of trust in a great God will always be worship, and it will always be proper worship to praise God for being far greater than we can know” (J. I. Packer).
Now what? The death of Jesus has rescued us from the punishment of sin, provides us with the grace to live in this present age, and gives us the promise of eternal life. Therefore, if you have never placed your trust and confidence in the sacrificial and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, do so now by repenting of sin (turning from sin) and placing your faith in Him. By faith, I mean (1) intellectual belief in the historical and theological truths about Christ (He was God in the flesh, died for our sins, was raised from the dead, etc.); (2) emotional assent of the heart to these facts about Christ; and (3) volitional (willful) trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. If you have repented of sin and have trusted Christ for salvation, praise God for His grace that has brought you joy and peace.
Small Group Questions
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 15:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; 2:1-10 (full scriptural citations below)
1. What is the gospel?
2. What does it mean to repent of sin?
3. What does it mean to put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation?
4. What are the immediate effects of the gospel on the life of a believer?
5. In what ways can we offer God praise (worship) for the blessings of salvation?
1 Corinthians 15:1-11: Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Ephesians 1;15-23: For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 2:1-10: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.