Why was circumcision such a focal point in the dispute between Paul and certain Jewish Christians? See Gen. 17:1–22; Gal. 2:3–5; 5:2, 6; Acts 15:1, 5. Why is it not that hard to understand how some could have believed that even the Gentiles needed to undergo it?
Circumcision was the sign of the covenant relationship that God established with Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. Although circumcision was only for Abraham’s male descendants, everyone was invited into the covenant relationship with God. The sign of circumcision [...]
Read 1 Corinthians 1:10–13. What does this passage tell us about how important Paul believed unity in the church was?
Having refuted the allegations that his gospel was not God-given, Paul directs his attention in Galatians 2:1, 2 to another charge being made against him. The false teachers in Galatia claimed that Paul’s gospel was not in harmony with what Peter and the other apostles taught. Paul, they were saying, was a renegade.
In response to this charge, Paul recounts a trip he made to [...]
Read for This Week’s Study:
Gal. 2:1–14, 1 Cor. 1:10–13, Gen. 17:1–21, John 8:31–36, Col. 3:11.
“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2, NKJV).
Protestant reformer John Calvin believed that disunity and division were the devil’s chief device against the church, and he warned that Christians should avoid schism like the plague.
But should unity be preserved at the cost of truth? Imagine if Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, [...]
“In almost every church there were some members who were Jews by birth. To these converts the Jewish teachers found ready access, and through them gained a foot-hold in the churches. It was impossible, by scriptural arguments, to overthrow the doctrines taught by Paul; hence they resorted to the most unscrupulous measures to counteract his influence and weaken his authority. They declared that he had not been a disciple of Jesus, and had received no commission from him; yet he [...]
Naissance (nay-SAHNS) lives in a tiny shanty home in Haiti. Like many in her homeland, she cannot read or write. She makes a meager living by selling boiled eggs and bananas on the street.
Five years ago her teenage son gave his life to God and joined the Adventist Church. He urged his mother to attend church with him and even gave her Bible studies, but she resisted his efforts and refused to surrender her life to God. So her son [...]
The Origin of Paul’s Gospel
The troublemakers in Galatia were claiming that Paul’s gospel was really driven by his desire to obtain the approval of others. What might Paul have done differently in his letter if he were merely seeking human approval? Consider Gal. 1:6–9, 11–24.
Why did Paul not require Gentile converts to be circumcised? Paul’s opponents claimed it was because Paul wanted conversions at any cost. Maybe they thought that because Paul knew Gentiles would have reservations about circumcision, he didn’t require it. [...]
What normally follows the opening greeting in Paul’s letters? How is Galatians different? Compare Gal. 1:6 with Rom. 1:8, 1 Cor. 1:4, Phil. 1:3, and 1 Thess. 1:2.
Although Paul addresses all kinds of local challenges and problems in his letters to the churches, he still made it a practice to follow his opening greeting with a word of prayer or thanksgiving to God for the faith of his readers. He even does this in his letters to the Corinthians, who were struggling with all kinds of questionable behavior (compare 1 [...]
In addition to defending his apostleship, what else does Paul emphasize in his opening greeting to the Galatians? Compare Gal. 1:3–5 with Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, and Col. 1:2.
One of the unique features of Paul’s letters is the way he links the words grace and peace in the greetings. The combination of these two words is a modification of the most characteristic greetings in the Greek and Jewish world. Where a Greek author would write “Greetings” (chairein), Paul writes “Grace,” a similar-sounding word in Greek (charis). To [...]
Though Paul’s epistles generally follow the basic format of ancient letters, Galatians contains a number of unique features not found in Paul’s other epistles. When recognized, these differences can help us better understand the situation Paul was addressing.
Compare Paul’s opening salutation in Galatians 1:1, 2 with what he writes in Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, and 2 Thessalonians 1:1. In what ways is Paul’s salutation in Galatians similar to and different from the others?
Paul’s opening salutation in Galatians is not only a bit longer than in his [...]
Read 2 Peter 3:15, 16. What do these verses tell us about how the early church viewed Paul’s writing? What does this teach us about how inspiration works?
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he was not trying to produce a literary masterpiece. Instead, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul was addressing specific situations that involved him and the believers in Galatia.
Letters like Galatians played an essential role in Paul’s apostolic ministry. As the missionary to the Gentile world, Paul [...]