Galatians 1:1-5: Listening in on the conversation

Often when I walk in the door of our house I can hear Mark in his home office on the phone with someone.  I am inevitably curious about who’s on the other end of the line.  So I play a little game.  I listen for clues.  Does his voice sound distant, impersonal? Must be a “first contact.”  Is he engaged in rapid fire banter?  Maybe it’s Toby.  Deep theological musings?  Probably Jeff Locke.  Warmly personal?  Tom or Dan.  Then when he gets off I ask, “How was your chat with ______?”

One…Two…Three. As we start into the book of Galatians, it’s good to remember that we are listening in on a conversation that has been going on for a while.  We may be starting at the beginning of the letter, but we aren’t starting at the beginning of their relationship.  So much of what we are doing is listening for clues about their history.  That way we can understand what Paul (or any other author) is talking about, which is our first job in studying any passage.

Next, we are going to pay attention to what the Divine Author is telling us.  We are joining another conversation that has been going on for even longer.  God has been telling us about himself since Genesis chapter 1.  He has also been telling us about his plan to send a Rescuer since Genesis chapter 3.  Galatians is part of this ongoing conversation.  By now we know our Rescuer by name and maybe even know him personally.  How does Galatians help us to see him better?

Finally, we are going to bring our own story into the conversation.  The good news of the gospel is that eternity intersected time, God came to earth, his story interrupted mine so that “all the plot lines of my story could find their resolution in his.” Keller

This week. This is one of the few times that our study of the passage will actually follow the preaching instead of preceding it.  If you heard yesterday’s sermon, you are already prepared to do some digging on your own.  If you missed it or you would like to listen again,  you can access it here.


1. How does Paul identify himself to the Galatians? Compare this to the beginnings of his other letters. Why are there differences (Sometimes people have several different resumes that they use according to the type of job they are applying for. How does Paul’s greeting line up with his purpose in this letter?)

2. What is an apostle according to this passage? See also Luke 6:12-16, 9:1-10; Acts 1:21-26, 1 Corinthians 15:7, 9; Galatians 1:15-17. What qualified Paul to be added to the short list of Apostles?

3. Who else is this letter from? How does the addition of “brothers” (or “brothers and sisters”) make this letter stronger? Contrast it to America, where we tend to speak and act as individuals, instead of members of a community, especially a family. What does this add to our understanding of how Paul functioned in his calling as an Apostle?

4. Who are the Galatians? What is the history of Paul’s relationship with them? See Acts 16:6, 18:23, 1 Corinthians 16:1, Glatians 4:12-15.


5. How is our Rescuer, Jesus identified in this passage?  Who is he?

6. What has he done for Paul, according to these few verses? See also Acts 9:4-6, 26:15-18. What has he done for all of us?


7. What did Jesus come to free me from, according to these verses?  What sins are binding me right now?  How is the world caging me right now?

8. What did Jesus come to free me for?  How can I live out my calling more freely this week?

I’ll leave it to you to divide these questions up into your week.  Have fun and stay in touch…

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