Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bible Study on Galatians 2 - Leader's Guide

This Bible Study on Galatians 2 will help explain Paul's motives for visiting Jerusalem and his message to the Galatian Christians. It will also help us understand why we are no longer under the Law but set free by our unity with Christ.

Bible Study on Galatians 2

Read Galatians 2:1-5.

Why did Paul go to Jerusalem? Was he summoned by the leaders? (He went in response to a revelation from God. He was acting in obedience to God.)

Did Paul doubt his work among the the Gentiles, telling them that they didn't have to become Jewish to be Christians? (In verse 5, he says that he didn't give in to them for a moment.)

But he says that he wanted to make sure he wasn't running his race in vain. What does he mean? (He wanted to make sure that the Jewish Christians weren't turning back to legalism and destroying the unity of the new Christian church. He would be running his race in vain if the Jewish Christians continued to undermine his message among the Gentiles, undoing what he had done. He didn't want to start a separate movement from the Jewish Christians, but he knew he was right because he was listening to God.)

Read verse 4 again. How did some people want to make Paul and the churches he started slaves? (They wanted them to keep following the Law even though Jesus had set them free from the Law.)

What do we know about Barnabas and Titus? (Barnabas was Jewish, Titus a Gentile. Paul himself was half-Jewish. Paul demonstrated the unity of the new Christian message by bringing Titus and Barnabas with him. One Jew, one half-Jew, one Gentile came to Jerusalem on a mission of unity.)

Read verses 6-10.

Did the Jewish Christian leaders agree with Paul that Gentiles did not need to become Jewish to be Christians? (Yes. They didn't make Titus be circumcised and they gave them the right hand of fellowship, acknowledging that they were all partners. Paul even says that the leaders didn't add anything to his message. He already knew everything they did.)

Paul mentions Peter, John, and James. Who were these men? (Peter and John were apostles of Jesus. James was Jesus' brother, the writer of the book of James. The apostle James had already been executed.)

Why does Paul say that these three were held in high esteem and recognized as pillars in the church? (They knew Jesus. They started the Christian church after Jesus' resurrection.)

So if they were so important, why does Paul say that whatever they were made no difference to him? (God doesn't show favoritism. God cares about what we're doing now, not what we have done. Leaders can fall and God won't continue to honor them if they disobey Him or turn away from the truth. Paul was standing on the truth in obedience to God, so he wasn't intimidated or impressed by these other men.)

Have you ever been impressed with another Christian? Intimidated? Why? (All Christians are equal. Pastors and leaders might know more than we do about the Bible, but we know more than them when it comes to our profession or being a mother, etc. Knowledge does not make us better Christians. Obedience to God is what counts.)

If Paul and the Jewish leaders agreed on everything, why did they stay divided in their mission? They went to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles. (We all have different passions and areas we feel called to. Some have a passion for evangelism, others for discipleship. Some for prayer, others for action. Peter and the Jewish leaders felt passionate about evangelizing Jews. Paul felt passionate about bringing Gentiles into the family of God.)

Read verse 10 again. Why did the Jewish leaders and Paul both feel passionate about helping the poor? (God cares about our physical needs as well as spiritual. He has compassion on the poor and hungry. It was also a way to show unity between Gentiles and Jews for the Gentiles to donate to the hungry in Jerusalem. There was a famine in Judea and Paul collected offerings from the churches he established to send back to Jerusalem. Feeding the hungry isn't following the Law, it's an of love in Christ.)

Read verses 11-13.

Why did Peter (Cephas) stop eating with Gentiles when some other Jewish believers came to visit? (He was afraid of the circumcision group.)

Wasn't Peter the leader? Why was he afraid? (Maybe he didn't want to cause division, hoping that the issue between Jewish and Gentile Christians would blow over if he appeased them? Maybe he didn't want to lose his influence over them? Maybe he didn't want them to judge him?)

Are we ever afraid of other Christians' judgement? Why should we be? (If we've settled a matter between ourselves and God, we shouldn't be afraid of another Christian's opinion.)

Read verse 14.

How did Peter live like a Gentile? (He put his faith in Jesus instead of the Law. By not trusting in the Law like a good Jew, he was living like a Gentile.)

Read verses 15-17.

(Explain: Both Gentiles and Jewish Christians are sinners. The Gentiles are sinners because they don't follow the Law. Jewish Christians are sinners because they now forsake the Law. They've become like Gentiles who don't follow the Law because they're putting their trust in Jesus, not the Law.)

Does Jesus make Christians actual sinners by asking them to turn away from the Law? (No, because the Law only applies to people under the Law. You can only break the law if it has authority over you. A law in Syria, for example, doesn't apply to me because I live in America. By our faith in Jesus, God has removed the authority of the Law over our lives.)

Read verses 18-20.

Paul says that through the Law, he died to the Law. What does that mean? (First, he agreed that he couldn't keep the Law. He couldn't be perfect enough to be justified by the Law. He deserved death, according to the Law. So, he counted himself as dead. He gave up trying to justify himself and threw his lot in with Jesus, even going so far as to die to himself and his own efforts to be righteous. He's now united with Jesus, who isn't under the Law.)

Why isn't Jesus under the Law? (He's the Son of God. By becoming a Christian, Paul was freed of the Law's power over his life. He says he's not going to rebuild what he destroyed, meaning that he's not going to turn back to the Law after trusting in Jesus. He's not going to turn back to trying to become righteous on his own after he died to himself.)

Read verse 21.

Why did Jesus die? (Because no one could live perfectly enough to follow the Law. The Law was just supposed to show us that we couldn't save ourselves. Jesus had to die for us to give us the other option that we could do - believe in Him.)

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