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The Gospel in Galatians


Introduction
Contents
Helps
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Cover
INTRODUCTION

The Gospel in Galatians

Paul’s letter to the Galatians has been compared to spiritual “dynamite,” and rightly so. Except for Romans, no other book in the Bible has sparked as much spiritual revival and reformation. One could argue that out of the pages of Galatians (along with Romans) Protestantism itself was born. It was while reading Galatians that Martin Luther first was touched with the glorious good news of righteousness by faith. “The Epistle to the Galatians,” he said, “is my epistle. To it I am married.”

In turn, it was Luther’s gospel-centered writings that, on Aldersgate Street in London on May 24, 1738, transformed the life of John Wesley, who then spearheaded a spiritual revival that swept not only through the British Isles but across the entire English-speaking world.

Seventh-day Adventists also are indebted to Galatians. Through the study of Galatians, E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones helped the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 1880s and 90s rediscover the truth of righteousness by faith.

What is it about Galatians that has made it such a backbone of spiritual revival? Why has it been able to touch the hearts of so many? In a manner unlike any other book in the Bible, Galatians addresses a number of themes crucial to the Christian soul. It is in Galatians that Paul tackles issues such as freedom, the role of the law in salvation, our condition in Christ, and the nature of the Spirit-led life, as well as the age-old question, How can sinful humans be made right before a holy and just God?

Of course, other books, such as Romans, address some of these same questions, but Galatians is different. Not only is it more succinct, but its rich themes are written in a powerfully personal and impassioned pastoral tone that can’t help but touch hearts open to the Spirit of God, even today.

Although Paul’s letter speaks to us personally, our understanding can be strengthened if we are aware of the original historical situation that Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was addressing.

Many scholars believe that Galatians may be the earliest of Paul’s letters, perhaps written in A.D. 49, after the famous Jerusalem council (Acts 15). The book may be the oldest Christian document known. As Acts and Galatians make clear, the early church found itself in a fierce battle over the nature of salvation, especially in the case of Gentiles. According to a group of Jewish believers, known as Judaizers, belief in Jesus alone was not good enough for Gentiles. Gentiles must also be circumcised and follow the laws of Moses (Acts 15:1). It is no surprise, then, that when Paul founded a church of Gentiles in Galatia, some of these Judaizers traveled there to “straighten things out.”

When word of this problem reached Paul, he reacted fervently. Recognizing that this false gospel of salvation by faith and works threatened to undermine the work of Christ, Paul wrote the Galatians an impassioned defense of the gospel. In the strongest of words, he identified this false teaching for what it really was—legalism, pure and simple.

This quarter’s Bible study guide invites us to journey with the apostle Paul as he pleads with the Galatians to remain true to Jesus. At the same time, it also gives us a chance to reflect on our own understanding of the gospel. It’s my sincere hope that, over the course of this quarter, God’s Spirit will spark a spiritual revival in our hearts as we rediscover what God has done for us in Christ.

Carl Cosaert, PhD, is an associate professor of New Testament and early Christianity. He teaches at Walla Walla University, College Place, Washington.


Contents:

No. Study
Date
Topic

1

Oct 1

Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles (Mobile)

2

Oct 8

Paul’s Authority and Gospel (Mobile)

3

Oct 15

The Unity of the Gospel (Mobile)

4

Oct 22

Justification by Faith Alone (Mobile)

5

Oct 29

Old Testament Faith (Mobile)

6

Nov 5

The Priority of the Promise (Mobile)

7

Nov 12

The Road to Faith (Mobile)

8

Nov 19

From Slaves to Heirs (Mobile)

9

Nov 26

Paul’s Pastoral Appeal (Mobile)

10

Dec 3

The Two Covenants (Mobile)

11

Dec 10

Freedom in Christ (Mobile)

12

Dec 17

Living by the Spirit (Mobile)

13

Dec 24

The Gospel and the Church (Mobile)

14

Dec 31

Boasting in the Cross (Mobile)


Giardina Sabbath School Study Helps

Jerry Giardina of Pecos usually prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School lesson. He includes all related scripture and most EGW quotations. Jerry has chosen the "New King James Version" of the scriptures this quarter. It is used with permission.The study helps are linked from each lesson and links to the whole quarter's Helps are provided here.


Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.

Principal Contributors:
Carl P. Cosaert
Editor:
Clifford R. Goldstein
Associate Editor:
Soraya L. Homayouni
Publication Manager:
Lea Alexander Greve

Editorial Assistant:
Sharon Thomas-Crews
Pacific Press Coordinator:
Wendy Marcum
Art Director and Illustrator:
Lars Justinen
Concept Design:
Dever Design

Copyright 2011 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.


Last updated on December 25, 2011


For questions and concerns about the Study Guide,
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