“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 had presumed to teach doctrines directly opposed to those held by Peter, James, and the other apostles. . . .
“Paul’s soul was stirred as he saw the evils that threatened speedily to destroy these churches. He immediately wrote to the Galatians, exposing their false theories, and with great severity rebuking those who had departed from the faith.”—Ellen G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 188, 189.
In class, read your explanations of what you understand the gospel to be. What can you learn from each other’s writings?
In Paul’s greeting to the Galatians, he declared that Jesus’ death occurred for a specific reason. What was that reason, and what meaning does that have for us today?
In Galatians 1:14 Paul says he was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers. By “traditions,” he probably means both the oral traditions of the Pharisees and the Old Testament itself. What place (if any) is there for traditions in our faith? What warning might Paul’s experience offer for us today in regard to the whole question of tradition?
Why was Paul so seemingly “intolerant” of those who believed differently than he did? Read again some of the things he wrote about those who had a different view of the gospel. How might someone holding such a strong, uncompromising stance be viewed in our church today?
The false teachers in Galatia were trying to undermine Paul’s ministry by claiming that his apostleship and gospel message were not God-given. Paul confronts both of these accusations in the opening verses of his letter to the Galatians. He boldly declares that there is only one way of salvation, and describes how the events surrounding his conversion demonstrate that his calling and gospel only could be from God.