I was introduced to Galatians in Bible class many years ago. “Pauline Epsitles” was the name of the teaching unit. The lecturer was a theological academic and the students were a bunch of third and fourth-year undergraduate science students studying for London BSc Part 2 examinations. It was an interesting time. Anybody who has studied for finals for an English University knows the time and concentration it takes. So the fact that we had to take a Bible subject was an irritation to most of us. It transpired that it was one of the most memorable Bible classes that I took. I enjoyed it, and the four weeks that we spent studying Galatians sandwiched in between molecular orbital theory, thermodynamics, aromatic chemistry and the like has been etched deep in the little gray cells.
Our Bible lecturer told us to read the whole book through – preferably in one sitting. I did that on a Sabbath afternoon, and it was probably the best thing that I did that year. (OK, I was not going to give up my secular study time for Bible study. Those who need to forgive me for this transgression can do so now.) I read it though like I would read a letter from home. We were used to reading letters in those days. Galatians, the letter, made sense – a lot of sense. And it set the scene for the discussions that we had in the coming weeks.
I would urge all Sabbath School Net readers to do the same preparation. We are going to do the analytical thing and find out what each bit of Galatians means. But before we do that, do yourself a favour: Read the whole letter right though in the same way that you read a letter (or email) from a good friend whose friendship and advice you value. Get the big picture, and the detail will make sense.