This is part six of a six part series showing how to create a study of a book of the Bible. This is the final step of a study of a book of the Bible, using Galatians as an example. The series begins here: How to study the Bible – using Galatians as an example. For each step along the way. we prayed before beginning, while reading, as well as while writing. We first read the book (preferably at least three times), then we wrote a short summary of the book (Summary of Galatians). Then we outlined the text,in what is called a hermeneutical or textual outline, describing what the author said to the original audience then and there (Galatians Outline – first pass). Then we revised the outline (in a theological outline), summarizing what was said while focusing on the broad theological and timeless ideas that would apply to both the original audience as well as your intended audience here and now (Galatians Outline – second pass). Then we revised the outline again (in a homiletical outline for a sermon or lesson or study) this time focusing on making it more specific to your intended audience here and now (Galatians Outline – third pass). Go back over the last few days’ posts to see examples of each. Finally, we are writing up a more detailed explanation of the book in this post. We will write about when the book was written (taking this information from commentaries or Bible handbooks), the purpose of the book (taking this information from our summary), the high level outline (taken from our third outline), followed by a more detailed outline of the text (again taken from our third outline). Yes, we can use commentaries for details of the history and culture of when and where the book was written. But be sure you have prepared the summary and outlines first. God is growing you through this study and preparation, preparing you, but He is also preparing the message He wants delivered to the audience He has for you. So do your own work (allowing God to work in and through you) before you examine the work of others to see if you might want to add something. Again, pray before beginning and remember to keep praying while reading and while writing.
Study of Galatians
The book of Galatians was probably written by the Apostle Paul before the occurrence of the council between Paul and the church leaders in Jerusalem that is recorded in Acts 15. To see this, we must notice that Luke wrote in Acts 9:26-30 of Paul’s first trip as a Christian to Jerusalem and in Acts 11:30 of what appears to be his second trip to Jerusalem which he took with Barnabas. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:18 of his first trip to Jerusalem as a Christian and in Galatians 2:1-10 of taking with Barnabas what was apparently his second trip to Jerusalem. Paul wrote that he undertook the second trip to privately discuss what he was teaching the Gentiles with James, Peter, and John. According to Paul, they agreed with Paul’s message and only gave him the instruction to remember the poor, which was what he wanted to do anyway. This in turn corresponds with what Luke wrote in Acts 11:30 to the effect that Paul had taken money from the church in Antioch to the elders in Jerusalem to provide relief there. It is not unreasonable to think that Paul used the opportunity of taking relief funds to Jerusalem to discuss his concerns privately with the elders in Jerusalem. The council Luke wrote of in Acts 15 was apparently a public one, and as such would not correspond with the fact that Paul himself said his discussion with James, Peter and John was private. Since the council recorded Acts 15 occurred in 49 AD, but after the events in Acts 11:30, the book of Galatians was written about 48-49 AD, shortly after the end of his first missionary journey, and about six years before the book of Romans. Given this, Galatians was probably the earliest of Paul’s letters.
The letter was written in response to Judaizers who had come in behind Paul and were throwing newly converted Gentile believers into confusion. In it, Paul defended his authority to preach as well as the Gospel he taught. The Judaizers were attempting to convince the Galatians that they needed to be circumcised externally and follow the Law before they could become Christians. Not only were they questioning Paul’s authority, but they questioned whether he practiced what he taught the Galatians. To refute the false teaching of Judaizers, Paul wrote the letter of Galatians, in which he set forth his credentials of authority, refuted false teaching, presented the true Gospel and the responsibility inherent in spiritual freedom, and warned that outward signs mean nothing in regards to salvation.
The letter can be outlined as follows: Paul began the letter with a short abstract of the letter in chapter one, verses 1-5, where the readers are reminded of who sent him and why. Paul used the next part of his letter, verses 1:6-2:10, to warn of false teaching and present evidence that he taught the truth. The main part of the text, Galatians 2:11-5:12, was dedicated to presenting the truth of how salvation comes from faith in Christ, and what that means. The next part of the letter, Galatians 5:13-6:10, was used to show that freedom in Christ comes with responsibilities. The final part of the text, Galatians 6:11-18, warns that outward appearances have nothing to do with salvation.
The flow of the letter can be more easily seen in the details: Galatians 1:1,2 were not just an introduction of the author to the reader, but these verses reminded the reader Paul was an apostle chosen by both God the Father and Christ Jesus, the Son. Verses 3-5 pray a blessing of grace and peace upon the reader, but more than that, these verses show the importance of Christ – the fact that Christ rescued believers from the present evil age.
In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul warned of a perverted Gospel. Paul chastised those to whom he had preached the gospel for being deceived by a perversion of the Gospel and warned that some among the Galatians wanted to distort the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, he went on to write that no one who taught a Gospel that is different than the one he had first preached to them should be listened to, but would in fact be condemned – even if that person were himself.
In Galatians 1:10-2:10, Paul gives evidence that the Gospel he taught was the True Gospel of Christ. If Paul had wanted to please men, he would definitely have NOT preached the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel he preached did not come from man, but was a direct revelation from Christ Himself. As proof that he got the teaching from Christ, he reminded the readers that he had been a zealous Jew, the chief persecutor of the Christian church. But that was before God revealed His Son to him so he could preach among the Gentiles. Further, he did not go to Jerusalem to get support or confirmation, but went instead to Arabia and then later returned to Damascus. Indeed, it was at least three years before he went to Jerusalem, and then he only saw Peter and James for a short time. Where Paul used to persecute the church, he now preached the Gospel, and the people who heard this glorified God because of it. Fourteen years later, Paul privately returned to Jerusalem to confer with the leaders of the church in response to false brothers. Not only did the leaders not add anything to his message, but they saw Paul had been entrusted with the Gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. John, Peter, and James gave Barnabas and Paul the right hand of fellowship so the latter two might go to the Gentiles while the former gentlemen went to the Jews. The only thing they asked was that Paul and Barnabas remember the poor, which was something they wanted to do anyway.
Though the Apostle Peter knew the truth, in Galatians 2:11-2:14, Paul had to publicly correct Peter. Peter had been living free among the Gentile believers until followers of James showed up. At that point, Peter acted hypocritically in that he began to appear to live by the Law and influenced the other Jews to do the same. Refusing to eat with a Gentile was, according to Acs 10-11, a violation of the Gospel. Paul publicly chastised Peter for it, and Peter accepted this rebuke.
In Galatians 2:15-3:1, Paul wrote that people are justified by faith in Christ, not by doing the things of the Law. Paul pointed out that even if one sins, Christ does not promote sin. In fact, Paul said he died through the Law to the Law so he might live in by faith in the Son of God. He said that believers should live through faith in Christ, who now lived in them. Indeed, if righteousness could come through man’s efforts, then Christ died needlessly.
In Galatians 3:2-14, Paul showed that the promises of God came not from works of the Law, but through faith. He reminds them that they received the Spirit of God because the believed what they had heard and the work begun in them by the Holy Spirit can not be finished by their own efforts. Even Abraham’s belief was credited to him as righteousness. Our faith in Christ redeemed us from relying upon the Law so we could receive the promise of the Spirit.
In Galatians 3:15-25, we see that the promise made to Abraham was not nullified when the Law was presented 430 years later. The Law was given because of transgressions until the Seed, Christ Jesus, came. The Law, unable to impart life, worked to show that everyone was a sinner. This was needed so that what was promised might be given to those with faith in Christ. Rather than being opposed to the God’s promises, the Law was a tutor to lead us to Christ so we could be justified and freed from the Law’s tutelage.
In Galatians 3:26-4:11, Paul showed that everyone who has faith in Christ is a son of God and an heir to the promise made to Abraham – regardless of race, status, or gender. While children, we were slaves to the world, but Christ was sent by God the Father to redeem those under the Law to change our status from that of slaves to that of sons and heirs. Having been freed from slavery to sin, one should not return to the things that had kept him a slave.
In Galatians 4:12-20, Paul reminds them that he had been ill when he first preached to them, but though it was difficult to care for him, they received him as an angel of God. They had lost the zeal which they once had for the Gospel. He tells them that the false teachers were zealous to prevent them from being zealous for the Gospel.
In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul showed that under Law itself teaches that the son of the free woman was born as a result of a promise, as opposed to the son of the slave woman. The slave woman, Hagar, represents the Old Covenant and bore children who were slaves. But like Isaac, believers are children of promise – the children of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Being free, Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1-12, believers should not attempt to become slaves again. Christ set those who believed free from slavery to sin. Attempting to be justified by the works of the Law caused them to fall from grace and be severed from Christ. It is through the Spirit, in faith, that they awaited the hope of righteousness. Paul did not preach justification through the works of the Law. If he did, he would not have been persecuted as he was.
In Galatians 5:13-6:10, Paul lets the believers know that having been made free in Christ, they have a responsibility brought on by that spiritual freedom. Their responsibility is to not turn to fleshly pleasures, but to serve one another in love. They must take care to not fight amongst themselves. Their responsibility is to walk by the Spirit to avoid carrying out the will of the flesh. The Spirit battles the flesh to prevent one from doing what one wills. There are some things that if one practices them will prevent them from inheriting the kingdom of God. Those who live by the Spirit show fruit of that in their lives. If a brother is caught in sin, the spiritual brothers should gently restore that brother and share each others’ burdens. Each of us has to carry his own load and take pride in his own actions without comparing himself to others. Those who live to please the sinful nature will die by it, but those who continue to live to please the Spirit will live eternally.
In Galatians 6:11-18, Paul warns his readers to pay special attention. The false teachers want believers to have an outward appearance of following the Law so they will avoid persecution for the cross. Outward appearances do not matter, only being born again matters. He closed with a blessing of peace and mercy upon the believers and Israel, warning that no one should bother him further because HE carries the signs of being Christ’s on his body as proof that he believes what he preaches. Finally, he wishes Christ’s grace upon the Galatian brothers.
So, we have seen the steps of how to prepare a Bible study, a lesson or a sermon. These include: write a summary of a book of the Bible, outline it using descriptions of what was written, revise the outline (summarizing what was written with a general timeless theological focus), revise it again (using a more view more focused on the lesson or sermon you are to present), and finally write an explanation of the book (or a lesson or sermon, depending on your need) – each step beginning with pray, with prayer being an important component for each step. . Realize that each step will be different for each person, or even for the same person after an amount of time. God will emphasize different things in you while you are studying, than what He will emphasize for someone else doing the same study. This is not saying the message has changed, simply that we will each bring away different things from the study based upon where we are in our lives and how God is dealing with us, as well as who our intended audience is and what THEY need to hear or read.