Galatians essay plan

introduction

  • It was during Paul's first missionary journey when he set up his church in Galatia. Following this, Paul wrote letters to the church to provide the new christians with support and encouragment.
  • Many scholars believe this to be one of the earliest letters that Paul wrote, placing it around AD48 or 49.
  • Stott explains that since Paul's visit to Galatia the churches that he founded had been troubled by false teachers who had launched an attack both on Paul's authority and on his gospel. They argued against Paul's message that people could be saved through faith in christ alone, arguing that circumcision and obedience to the law of moses were also necessary.
  • Paul immediately saw the threat that their message would have to the churches he had established and on the spread of the gospel, so he wrote his letter to the Galatians.
  • Russel explains that the purpose of the letter was to persuade the Galatians to reject the judiasers' non-gospel and to continue in the true gospel Paul had preached to them.
  • The purpose of the letter can be split into three main themes: to defend Pauls autority, to defend Paul's message of justificaion by faith and to explain the meaning of christian freedom.
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chapters 1-2

  • In the first two chapters of Galatians Paul defends his autority against the judiasers.
  • Not long after Paul left Galatia a group of jewish christians known as 'judiasers', arrived in Galatia and began to teach that for these Gentiles to be truely saved they needed to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. Fiztmyer says that " they were of an even stricter backgroud than Peter, Paul or James."
  • The main thrust of the judiasers' message was a critique of Paul, Drane explains "the first thing the judiasers had said was that Paul was not a proper apostle...he had no right to give directions to new christians, nor ought they to pay any attention to what he said."
  • Paul defends both his apostleship and his message. firstly, he reminds them that his gospel was revealed to him by Christ himself. Drane stresses that Paul "had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus."
  • He tells them he met the original apostles three years after his conversion and fourteen years later they endorsed his message. Fitzmyer comments that when Paul writes "to see those who were apostles before I was." he is deliberately assuming the title apostle " to emphasis his equality with them, for his authoritive commission comes from the risen lord."
  • Finally, he states that he is not inferior to the other apostles, stating that he even had to rebuke Peter.
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chapters 3-4

  • In chapters 3 and 4 Paul teaches on law, grace and justification by faith. In these chapters Paul seeks to prove that his message of salvation by faith alone is still the only true gospel message. He uses two main methods in presenting his arguements: firstly he appeals to the Galtains' own experince and secondly he appeals to old testament scripture.
  • He reminds the Galatians of the experience they had when he first preached the gospel  and they became christians. This in itself should have been enough to prove he was right. The holy spirit was a sign that they had been accepted by God.
  • For further proof, Paul uses the old testamentand appeals to the exapmle of Abraham. In jewish history Abraham was a very important man of God, he was the first person who became righteous through faithfulnes towards God. The Jews have descended from Abraham and through him God had promised that the same blessing that he had given Abraham would be given to all people.
  • Freed explains " Paul never gave up his belief that the Jews were God's special people. He simply broadened the concept to include all persons who through their faithfulness toward God are children of God in Christ Jesus."
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chapters 5-6

  • Having now explained what is meant by 'justification by faith', Paul now draws out some practical lessons for the Galatians to learn. He explains how they are to hold tight to the freedom Jesus has given to them. With that freedom they are to live a life that pleases God and not let their newly found freedom be and excuse for wrong or reckless living.
  • He explains with the theme of freedom explaining that the reasonJesus died on the cross was that we might be free from the 'curse of the law' and from having to keep the law to win God's approval. such freedom was a privilege and one that the Galatians should not give up by being circumcised.

conclusion

  • summarise the main themes throughout the book and give a brief explanation as to why he felt the need to write the book.
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