Pastoral Training Notes Sample: Galatians

Preliminary Issues

  1. Return outlines of Pentateuch with comments.
  2. Get report on passages selected for preaching.
  3. Review on leading small groups:
    • Reading a commentary, to cover possible issues.
    • Studying and praying to determine major issue, and important secondary issues.
    • Giving the group opportunities to share their insights, with encouragement.
    • Allowing the study to take a different direction, if needed.

Galatians Overview

Introduction on date, authorship, occasion, and themes. Remarks on Hauptbriefe. Luther's commentary and Wesley's reading of Luther's commentary.

Chapters 1 Notes

  1. Introduction verses (Gal 1:1-5): apostleship and Paul's sense of calling.
  2. Theme of the book (Gal 1:6) and the main issue: their turning from the Gospel, to "no gospel."
    • The reason this was happening: the Judaizers.
    • Questions: Who were the Judaizers, and what had they done? Timing, dating (of letter). Judaizers' reasoning.
  3. Paul's assertion and the heart of his argument (Gal 1:8,9)
  4. The charge that the Judaizers were making and Paul's answer to it (Gal 1:10 and on).
    • Charge: that Paul was preaching as hi did because he was currying favor, presumably with his converts.
    • Paul's Answer: What he was preaching was not making life easier for him but more difficult.
    • Charge: Paul had been trying to preach the gospel he learned from the apostles in Jerusalem, but he had gotten it wrong; he just didn't understand correctly.
    • Paul's Answer: He had not been commissioned by the apostles in Jerusalem; he hardly knew them. However, they had been supportive of what he was trying to do and recognized his calling. (He had been called and given his Gospel by Christ himself.) The revelation to Paul consisted totally in his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, transforming what he already knew of the Old Testament, because of his new awareness that Jesus really was alive.
  5. Time sequences of Chapter 1 (and 2): to show that he could not have derived his message from the apostles in Jerusalem, that he was independent of them
    • Also: gives us information that helps us understand the sequence of events in Acts (trips to Jerusalem): (a) 3 years after his conversion, and (b) 14 years after his conversion. Note: neither of these could possibly coincide with the Jerusalem council visit in Acts 15. (Why not? Because that council dealt precisely with the issues discussed in Galatians, and it is not conceivable he would not have mentioned that council in this letter, if it already happened. It must have happened after this letter was written.)
  6. Note (secondary) issues: Paul chosen by God before birth (Gal 1:15). Compare to: Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5.

Chapter 2 Notes

  1. Answers to additional possible charges (Galatians 2:1 and on).
    • Charge: even Peter agreed with the Judaizers (and therefore Paul was wrong)
    • Paul's Answer: Peter was wrong; Paul had corrected him; and Peter had accepted the correction.
    • Charge: Paul had Timothy (who came from their area) circumcised, showing that he knew law-keeping was essential for salvation.
    • Paul's Answer: He had not had Titus circumcised, even though he had taken Titus to Jerusalem. Nobody had demanded it; Titus was a Gentile. (Note: The reason Timothy was circumcised by Paul was that: (a) Timothy was part Jewish, (b) nobody demanded it (and Paul was willing to do what was helpful although not demanded), and (c) it was helpful in that it made Timothy to be a Jew, rather than neither Jew nor Gentile.)
  2. Time sequence: Paul was converted in Damascus then spent 3 years in Arabia; back to Damascus; then to Jerusalem; then to Syria and Cilicia (meaning: Tarsus again) for a total of 14 years. Then, Barnabas travels to Tarsus to fetch him and bring him to Antioch; then to Jerusalem with Barnabas (in line with a prophecy or revelation, at the end of Acts 11). Compare Gal 2:1 with events at the end of Acts 11. Note the appearance of Judaizers in Antioch, although they had already been active in complaining about Peter in Acts 11.
  3. Gal 2:5: "We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the gospel might remain with you." Question: What was the importance of this? What would have been lost if he had not taken this stand?
  4. Gal 2:6: His denigration of those who "seemed to be important," apparently including Peter. Question: Why this stance? Note the division of labor: Peter to Jews, Paul to Gentiles. Note also the charge (in "higher criticism") that there was a long-term dispute, which the Book of Acts was written to paper over. Does this support that charge? If not, how not?
  5. Gal 2:9: James, Peter, and John: Which James was this (James the brother of John, or James the brother of Jesus)? Why? Compare to Acts 11 and 12. Note also: "the right hand of fellowship." Where else is this found? Note also: "remember the poor."
  6. The confrontation with Peter (Gal 2:11 and on) and the underlying issues:
    • We are saved not by keeping the law, and rather, Peter was living like Gentiles.
    • But under pressure, Peter was giving in, to the demands that Gentiles keep the law.
    • Key verses (Gal 2:16): "Justified not by keeping the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." And that they (the Jewish disciples) have put their faith in Christ to be justified.
  7. Another possible charge: that justification by faith leads to antinomianism (disregarding the demands of the law and giving total license)
    • Our sin cannot be blamed on the Gospel. If we sin, we are guilty.
    • But Christ does not promote sin.
    • Rather we have died to the law, so we can live for God. "Crucified with Christ," "Christ lives in me." Now, dedicated to Jesus, because of His sacrifice for me.
  8. But righteousness could never be obtained by the law. If it could be, Christ died in vain. Meaning, if there were any other way, the cross would not have happened. But the fact that Christ did die on the cross means that no other way will ever work to make us righteous.

Chapter 3 Notes

  1. They had believed this; the Gospel had been clearly presented to them. But now, they have been convinced to add something else: law-keeping.
    • They received the Spirit by faith; they should not try to improve things by law.
    • They began by the Spirit; they should not now try to improve things by human efforts.
    • They suffered for justification by faith; they should not now abandon that.
    • God showed his approval of their faith by miracles; they should not now abandon that.
  2. Abraham is an example of justification by faith (Genesis 15:6).
    • Therefore, those who have faith are his children, inheriting his blessing.
    • Even the promise to "all nations" proves that they would be blessed, as Abraham was, by faith.
    • Trying to keep the law only brings a curse, because nobody keeps it completely.
    • Even the Old Testament shows that the Just will live by faith (in Habakkuk, not very clearly, but here explained by Paul).
  3. We are freed from the curse of the law by Christ bearing that curse on our behalf. His purpose was that, being freed from this curse, we might receive the blessing promised to Abraham by faith. The promise: the Holy Spirit.
  4. The example of human covenants, not capable of having their terms altered by one party afterwards, to the disadvantage of one who relied on it. (Context: Gal 3:17)
  5. The promises were from the start intended to come to—and through—a "seed" of Abraham, meaning one person (this is somewhat foreign to us, but typical of Jewish reasoning at the time. Still works as illustration, although not proof).
  6. Then objection: "Why the Law?" Answer: As a pedagogue (a teacher/tutor) (Gal 3:19 and on).
    • But it cannot abrogate the promises given earlier.
    • Also, if it could have brought righteousness, nothing would have been needed. This proves law didn't work; faith supersedes law.
    • But its purpose is to teach us and prepare us for Christ and justification by faith.
  7. Now our status is sons of God—all of us, without distinction.

Chapter 4 Notes

  1. More explanations: minor children need a pedagogue (teacher/tutor). The gift of the Spirit, and our calling God "father" and being heir.
  2. Now, not to turn back to the weak and beggarly elements that earlier kept us in line.
  3. Personal note, referring to the time Paul was with them, apparently in recovery from sickness on his way up from the Mediterranean.
  4. Gal 4:17: The zeal of Judaizers is not for the good of the Galatian believers but to win followers for themselves. For that reason, they should be held in suspicion.
  5. The example of Hagar and Sarah:
    • Two sons of Abraham, one slave and the other free. One natural and the other as the result of the promise.
    • That we are descendants of either one or the other. We should choose to be sons of the free woman, by promise (meaning by faith).
    • Also the parallel between Jerusalem/Sinai and the Law.
    • The New Jerusalem and faith, foreshadowed by the wording of Isaiah 54, talking about a barren woman with children. Paul takes this to speak of Gentile children of God, who earlier were impossible to imagine.