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The Blue Letter Bible

Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Galatians

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v. 1 "Apostle" means "one who has been sent".

The apostleship of Paul had been challenged by false teachers They questioned his authority because he had not been ordained by men Paul was ordained directly by Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-22) The resurrection of Christ is central to the message of the gospel His victory over death is our reason to hope

v. 3 Grace is God's unmeritted favor. The peace Paul speaks of here is the peace of God. When we know the grace of God, then we can experience the peace of God. The title "Lord" describes our relationship to Jesus.

v. 4 Paul here describes the work of Jesus Christ for us

v. 6-9 The Galatians were Gauls. They had conquered and settled the area of Asia Minor long before the birth of Christ. Paul traveled in Asia Minor on his missionary journeys. The false teachers followed Paul going into Cities after he left to challenge his authority and criticize his teaching. "Gospel" means "good news".

Paul taught the Galatians that their basis for righteousness was the grace of God The false teachers said that a man's works made him righteous. They were putting the Galatians under the yoke of the law which was really not another gospel but a perversion of the good news that Christ had brought to man. Accursed in Greek's anathema which means cursed to the lowest hell.

v. 10-12 Paul was taught the Gospel by Jesus Christ

v. 13 "Wasted" means "devastated".

v. 15 God s hand was on Paul s life from the moment of his birth He arranged for Paul to be a well-educated Jew, a Roman citizen, and a man who was immersed in the Greek culture from boyhood God knew what Paul needed to prepare him for the ministry God creates us for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11) He has a specific purpose for each one of us, and we can only be fulfilled when we're serving Him according to His plan (Psalm 17:15; John 8:29)

v. 16 God wants us to reveal His Son to the world He continually works in us through the Holy Spirit to mold us into the image of Christ (I Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 2:6, 4:17). "Heathen" here refers to the Gentiles.

v. 17-18 Paul was prepared for the ministry by Jesus Christ for three years

v. 19-24 Paul wanted the Galatians to know that his teachings were direct revelations from Jesus Christ, not doctrine from the Church leaders


v. 1 Acts 15.

v. 2 Paul spoke privately to the apostles, who were highly esteemed among the brethren, so that there wouldn't be a general commotion over his ministry to the Gentiles.

v. 4-5 Paul had defended the gospel of grace and hadn't submitted himself to the teachers who tried to make Jews out of the Christians He hadn't gone to Jerusalem for guidance from the elders there, but to state his case. He felt very strongly that the Gentile Christians should maintain the liberty they had in Christ.

v. 6-9 Paul explained to the Galatians that there was no established spiritual hierarchy in Jerusalem constituting a spiritual authority over the whole Church He wanted them to see that the Christian Jews were no closer to God than the Christian Gentiles Cephas is another name for Peter.

v. 13 "Dissimulation" here refers to "hypocrisy".

v. 16 Justification before God comes by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 5:7-11; Romans 4:5)

v. 17 Romans 5:20-6:2, 8:22-23; 1 Corinthlans 15:54-57

v. 20 The basis for our relationship with God is His unmerited grace God wants us to trust Him for our salvation rather than rely on our own righteousness of faith Hebrews 11:6; Ephesians 2:8) Our salvation is the work of God: He drew us to Himself, gave us faith and Imputed the righteousness of Christ to us Christ established the basis for salvation with His death on the cross As we Identify ourselves with Him by making Him our Lord. We share in His death resurrection, and life. Now we walk in the Spirit rather than in our corruption.

v. 21 We do not frustrate the grace of God when we accept His numerous gifts we establish the grace of God in our lives. Our righteousness isn't based on our keeping the law but on the righteousness of Christ through faith. The faith that brings this righteous standing before God is the faith that manifests itself in the works of God (Romans 6:2: 1 John 3:9) We shouldn't misuse the grace of God as an excuse to continue in sin (1 Peter 2:16; Jude 4).


v. 1 The righteousness we have through Christ is complete; it cannot be improved upon

v. 2 We come to God on the basis of what He is, not on the basis of what we are. The door is always open to us when we approach Him on the basis of His grace, but rarely open when we approach Him on the basis of our righteousness If we can fellowship with God in a love relationship, why would we ever choose a legal relationship instead? The gift of the Holy Spirit isn't an earned blessing.

v. 3 Paul relates the spirit to our faith and the flesh to our works Our faith produces fruit, not fleshly works. Fruit is the natural result of relationship (1 Corinthians 11:28-31; Matthew 12:33; John 15:8). God doesn't require us to do works we hate to do He endows and equips us for a particular ministry in the Body of Christ When we fulfill our ministry, it's natural and comfortable for us (2 Corinthians 5:14) God doesn't acknowledge or reward the works of our flesh He wants to see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, which is the product of believing and abiding in Jesus (John 15 1-8) When we received Jesus, God justified us and imputed the righteousness of Christ to us Our works of the flesh do not add anything to our relationship with God He is pleased by our faith (Hebrews 11:6).

v. 5 The fruit is produced in our lives not because of our righteousness, but because of faith (Acts 3:1-16; Matthew 5:16; James 5:17, 18)

v. 6 Abraham is acknowledged as the father of those who believe. Righteousness was imputed to him because of his faith, not because of his actions. What Abraham believed was demonstrated by what he did. Our actions must also be in harmony with what we believe.

v. 7 Abraham is the father of a spiritual race of people, rather than a physical race.

v. 8-9 The covenant blessings God gave to Abraham are ours also through faith

v. 10-11 The law condemns the man who tries to be justified by it.

v. 12 The law is concerned with works, not with faith.

v. 13 The New Testament emphasizes what God has done for us The Church has made the mistake of emphasizing what we should do for God. We have moved from the life of faith, grace, and spirit to the life of law, works, and flesh. We've gone from blessing and victory to a life of rejection and defeat (1 Peter 1:3-5). The law was intended by God to show us our inadequacy and our need of Him; it was never intended to make men feel righteous (Romans 7:7. Galatians 3:24).

v. 14 We cannot receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law. We receive the Holy Spirit by our faith in Jesus Christ.

v. 15 God confirmed His covenant with Abraham. The law, which was added 430 years later, didn't void the original covenant (v. 17)

v. 16 The blessing of Abraham is Jesus Christ and the fellowship with God that He makes possible.

v. 17-18 God's covenant with Abraham concerned the Gentiles. The law was for Israel. Therefore, the covenant with Abraham wasn't affected by the law.

v. 19 The law is good and holy. Obedience to the law provides a life of blessing. The law is the standard that God is conforming us to. Our relationship with God is established on faith, not on our obedience to the law. Our faith is a constant while our experience (obedience) is a variable, The law was necessary before Christ came to give man a covering for his sins so he could relate to God.

v. 21 If the law could make us righteous, God wouldn't have sacrificed His Son (Luke 22:42).

v. 22 Romans 3:23

v. 23 The law kept people at a distance from God with the priest as mediator.

v. 24 The schoolmaster in the Greek culture was the household servant who escorted the child safely to the place of instruction. The law taught us where we failed to meet God's standards. It made us realize how our sins separated us from God and how impossible it was for us to be righteous on our own. The law showed us our need for Christ. When we're justified, God imputes righteousness to us just as if we had never sinned.

v. 25 After the law has driven us to Christ, it has finished its work in us (Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:48; John 16:7-11; Matthew 12:31-32; Isaiah 53:6). The power of the Spirit and our love for Christ combine to keep us on the path of righteousness now.

v. 26 "Children" here means "placed as a son." John 1:12.

v. 27 When we're baptized, we bury the old life of the flesh and begin a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-7; John 3:6-7).

v. 28 Jesus Christ removes the distinctions that divide people into superior and inferior groups.


v. 2 "Tutors" here refers to "guardians." "Governors" here refers to "stewards" The law was a guardian for the children of Israel. They were the heirs of many promises from God, but they had to wait until the time chosen by God for them to enter into the full inheritance.

v. 3 "Elements" here refers to "elementary things," the "basic fundamentals." Being under the law is being in bondage (Acts 15:1-31).

v. 4 God sent His Son from His presence in heaven to the earth to redeem fallen man (John 17:5).

v. 6 The Trinity works in harmony (Romans 8:16)

Jesus often used the intimate word "Abba" when speaking of His Father.

v. 7 We need the restraints of the law when we have a primary relationship with God. When we mature to a love relationship with Him, we no longer need the law. Where there is a strong love relationship, there is no need for laws. Love fulfills the law (Romans 13:10; Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:35; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Ephesians 1:18).

v. 8 Romans 6:20.

v. 9 We know God only because He has revealed Himself to us (Job 11:7; John 6:44). The law is weak because it can only diagnose our problems; it cannot cure them.

v. 10 The days the Jews observed were the Sabbath days, the months were the new moon feasts, the times they observed were the annual festivals, and the years they observed were the sabbatical years.

v. 12 Paul begged the Galatians to walk in grace as he did, rather than live under the law.

v. 13-14 Paul once described his physical problem as a "thorn [stake, literally] in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). "Temptation" here refers to the "testing."

v. 15 Paul's reference here to the Galatians giving him their eyes could indicate that he had eye problems; or, he could be describing the depth of their love for him.

v. 16 3 John 4.

v. 17 The false teachers were very affectionate toward the Galatians.

v. 19 This is the only time Paul used the endearing term "my little children" in his letters. The Holy Spirit works in us to conform us into the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

v. 20 Paul wished the Galatians to know that he was softening his tone at this point.

v. 23 Ishmael, the son of the servant Hagar, was the child produced by fleshly efforts to fulfill God's promise. Isaac, the son of Sarah, was the child of faith.

v. 27 Paul quotes this Scripture to demonstrate that there will be many more converts to God through His grace than through the law (Isaiah 54:1).

v. 28 Paul relates the Christian to Isaac, the child of promise.

v. 29 The false teachers were persecuting Paul just as Ishmael had mocked Isaac.


v. 1 Paul here urges the Galatians to hold to the sound doctrine he had taught them, rather than being confused and caught up in every new wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-14).

V. 2 Paul points out the futility of being circumcised or doing any other work to try to assure salvation or righteous standing with God. No religious ritual can ever save us.

v. 3-4 If a man is circumcised in order to be saved, then he is responsible for the whole law, because he has established a legal relationship with God (James 2:11).

v. 5 Philippians 3:4-9.

v. 7 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:14.

v. 8 The doctrine taught by the false teachers wasn't from God but from men. Many of the cults put people under bondage to their laws. Their leaders are often very convincing speakers. We need to evaluate the teachings we hear in light of what the Bible says (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

v. 9 If we move just slightly away from pure doctrine, we can go further away as we try to reconcile our beliefs.

v. 11 The Cross offends people, because when Christ sacrificed Himself for the sins of every person He became the only way to God. People are bothered by the narrowness of one way; they prefer to think that man can somehow effect his salvation through a wide choice of roads to God.

v. 13 We're no longer slaves to our flesh, sin, and Satan when we're born again (Romans 6; 2 Timothy 2:26). We're also free from the law. Now we must exercise our freedom so that we're not brought back into bondage (1 Corinthians 6:12).

v. 16 "Walk" here refers to our "manner of life." When our spirits are in union with God, we're alive. When our spirits are not in union with God, we're dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). One of the signs that a man isn't in fellowship with God is his conformity to the world (Romans 12:12; I John 2:15; 2 Corinthians 6:17). God communicates with us through our spirits (Romans 8:16-17; John 4:23-24). The spirit confirms that we belong to God (John 14:20) and opens our understanding of spiritual things (I Corinthians 2:14-15), teaching and instructing us. When we walk in the Spirit, we allow Him to rule our minds and control our thoughts (Romans 8:5). We feed on spiritual food to keep our spiritual man strong (Job 23:12). If we program our minds with spiritual things, then the Spirit overflows from our lives. When we walk in the Spirit we have fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). We have joy, peace, understanding, and patience We also have strength and power over the flesh with the ability to see the consequences of following the fleshly life (Romans 8:6).

v. 17 The conflict between the flesh and the Spirit is common in the life of the believer. God has given us instincts and desires that are part of our natural function. When our fleshly instincts try to rule us. then the struggle with the Spirit begins (Romans 7:19-25). Sometimes it seems that we're overwhelmed by our fleshly desires (Matthew 26:41), but God uses our weak areas to show us His strength (Romans 7:24-25). When we ask Him for help, He is right there with the power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot reform our flesh; it must be crucified (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6) We must continually reckon our flesh dead and buried as new temptations occur

God works on us from the inside out, not from the outside in. While we try to practice self-control, God is teaching us Spirit-control.

v. 18 Romans 8:14; Psalm 40:8; 2 Corinthians 3:3.

v. 19 These works of the flesh all deal with sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:15-20; Romans 1:21-27). "Uncleanness" is "immorality."

v. 20 Idolatry is worshipping God in ways that He doesn't sanction. Many people offer the works of their flesh to God as worship. God doesn't reward the works of the flesh. The meaning of the word translated "witchcraft" here encompasses the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Wrath is an ungovernable temper given to explosions. One who strives is self-seeking. An example is the politician who seeks office to gratify his ego rather than to serve the people.

v. 21 Our Christian life should be wholehearted and intense, not a borderline experience (1 Corinthians 9:24).

v. 22 The contrast here is between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Our fruit is nurtured and cultivated by God (John 15:1,4). The Spirit is the dynamic power of God working in our lives to bring forth fruit (Acts 1:8; Romans 8:14). The word "love" here is the Greek word agape, the unselfish spiritual love that comes from God. The rest of this verse describes agape (1 Corinthians 13). The fruit of the Spirit is agape (1 John 3:14). Joy is the consciousness of God's love. Peace is more than the absence of conflict. True peace is only possible when agape exists. Gentleness is sensitivity to the needs of others. Love is the strongest motivator for goodness. Agape causes others to have faith in our word; it makes us trustworthy. Meekness is humility. The people who are humble don't tell you they are. Temperance is moderation. The fruit of the Spirit should be flowing from our lives for the building up of the Body of Christ (James 1:22-24).

v. 25 Living in the Spirit begins when we are born again.

Walking in the Spirit means that we are conscious of God's presence with us at all times. An awareness of God's presence helps us to be obedient to Him and to avoid evil. If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (v. 16). Walking in the Spirit is walking in love.

v. 26 The glory and praise of men soon passes.

Making a show in the flesh provokes others and causes envy. We should con duct ourselves in a way that leads people to glorify God for our actions (John 3:29-30).


v. 1 We are to reach out to help and lift the brother or sister who falls. We should show compassion and understanding, remembering that we also are tempted.

v. 2 Paul tells the Galatians to lift the burdens from each other in Christian love

(John 13:34; Matthew 22:36-40). The false teachers were adding to the Galatians' burdens by putting them under the law.

v. 3 Romans 12:3; James 1:22; 1 John 1:8; 1 Corinthians 4:7.

v. 4 Paul suggests that we examine the motivation behind our works to deter mine whether we did our best. We shouldn't judge our works in comparison to the works of others, but in comparison to our ideal in Jesus Christ (Luke 18:10-14 John 16:8-11).

v. 5 Paul uses a different Greek word here for "burden" than the word he used in verse two. The "burden" in verse two is the same as used in Acts 15:28. The "burden" here in verse five is similar to a "back pack."

v. 6 The Lord blesses those who give cheerfully and willingly to Him (Malachi 3:8-12; Philippians 4:17). Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of Christians by begging for money, as if the work of God depended on men's donations.

v. 7-8 We mustn't make allowances for our flesh (Romans 13:14). Many people fool themselves into thinking that they can live to please their flesh and have a good relationship with God, too.

v. 9-10 We shouldn't be so concerned about our own pleasure or comfort that we overlook the people in need who are all around us.

v. 12-13 Acts 15:10.

v. 14 We shouldn't glory in ourselves when God chooses to use us in some way (1 Corinthians 1:29). We have to come to the cross in our own personal walk and experience. We must be dead to the world and to the desires the world stirs up in us.

v. 15 Outward rituals like circumcision don't alter our standing with God. He closely observes our inward lives for signs of consecration.

v. 17 Paul was tired of defending his teachings and ministry. His faithful and committed conduct. his willingness to suffer beatings and imprisonment for his testimony, and the abundant fruit from his ministry should have been enough to dispel any doubts that arose when the false teachers attacked Paul's teachings.

Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

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