Many regard Paul’s interpretation of the history of Israel in Galatians 4:21–31 as the most difficult passage in his letter. That’s because it is a highly complex argument that requires a broad knowledge of Old Testament persons and events. The first step in making sense of this passage is to have a basic understanding of an Old Testament concept central to Paul’s argument: the concept of the covenant. 1
The Hebrew word translated “covenant” is berit. It occurs nearly three hundred times in the [...]
Read for This Week’s Study:
Gal. 4:21–31; Gen. 1:28; 2:2, 3; 3:15; 15:1–6; Exod. 6:2–8; 19:3–6.
“But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26)
Christians who reject the authority of the Old Testament often see the giving of the law on Sinai as inconsistent with the gospel. They conclude that the covenant given on Sinai represents an era, a dispensation, from a time in human history when salvation was based on obedience to the law. But because the people failed to live [...]
“In the Galatian churches, open, unmasked error was supplanting the gospel message. Christ, the true foundation of the faith, was virtually renounced for the obsolete ceremonies of Judaism. The apostle saw that if the believers in Galatia were saved from the dangerous influences which threatened them, the most decisive measures must be taken, the sharpest warnings given.
“An important lesson for every minister of Christ to learn is that of adapting his labors to the condition of those whom he seeks [...]
I was a religious and political leader in my village in western India. The people in the village looked up to me. I had a good-paying job selling alcohol, and I tasted plenty of alcohol myself. But in spite of my standing in the village, I felt spiritually unfulfilled.
Then one day an Adventist pastor visited the village. I’d never heard of Adventists before, but this pastor went from home to home sharing God’s love with us. I listened with [...]
Read Galatians 4:16. What powerful point is Paul making there? In what ways might you yourself have experienced something similar? (See also John 3:19; Matt. 26:64, 65; Jer. 36:17–23.)
The expression “speaking the truth” often has negative connotations, especially in our day and age, when it can be viewed as a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, spare-no-enemies tactic of telling someone the facts, no matter how unpleasant or unwanted they may be. If it were not for Paul’s comments in Galatians 4:12–20 and [...]
Paul’s relationship with the Galatian believers was not always as difficult and frigid as it has now become. In fact, as Paul reflects on the time when he first preached the gospel in Galatia, he speaks in glowing terms of how well they treated him. What happened? 1
What event seems to have led to Paul’s decision to preach the gospel in Galatia? Gal. 4:13.
Apparently it had not been Paul’s original intention to preach the gospel in Galatia. Some sort [...]
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19–23. What does Paul say in these verses that can help us understand better his point in the latter part of Galatians 4:12? (See also Acts 17:16–34, 1 Cor. 8:8–13, Gal. 2:11–14.)
Galatians 4:12 can seem a little confusing. Why should the Galatians become like Paul, if he had already become like them? 1
As we saw in yesterday’s lesson, Paul wanted them to become like him in his complete faith and confidence in the all-sufficiency of Christ [...]
Read 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–9; and Acts 26:28, 29. What is Paul saying there that is reflected in Galatians 4:12? How are we to understand his point?1
Several times throughout Paul’s letters, he encourages Christians to imitate his behavior. In each situation, Paul presents himself as an authoritative example that believers should follow. In 2 Thessalonians 3:7–9, Paul offers himself as an example of how the believers in Thessalonica should work to earn their own living and [...]
Read Galatians 4:12–20. What is the thrust of Paul’s message in these verses?
The initial indication of the concern that weighs heavily on Paul’s heart is his personal appeal in verse 12. The appeal follows immediately after Paul’s insistence that the Galatians “become as I am.” The significance of the word entreat or beseech is, unfortunately, not fully conveyed in some translations. The word in Greek is deomai. Although it can be translated “to urge” (NKJV) or “to entreat” (ESV), [...]
Read for This Week’s Study:
Gal. 4:12–20, 1 Cor. 11:1, Phil. 3:17, 1 Cor. 9:19–23, 2 Cor. 4:7–12.
“ Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are” (Galatians 4:12-20)
As we’ve seen so far, Paul did not mince words with the Galatians. His strong language, however, simply reflected the inspired passion he felt concerning the spiritual welfare of the church that he had founded. Besides the crucial theological issue Paul was dealing with, the [...]