Passage: Galatians 1:6-10
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
The Apostle Paul comes out swinging right at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. What so provoked Paul, that he forwent even his customary greetings and launched into a blazing invective against the Galatians? What was he so passionate to protect? In a nutshell, Paul was jealous to protect the grace that is at the very center of the gospel—the revolutionary truth that God has given us Jesus as an “unconditioned” gift, irrespective of our worth, status, or background. This doctrine is the burning center of our faith, and the whole Christian community arises out of it—indeed it is the “change agent” of all of life.
First, Paul describes a challenge to this gospel of grace. The Galatians had likely come under the influence of Jewish missionaries, who were teaching that one essentially had to become Jewish—to take on Jewish identity and cultural markers—to be included in the Messiah’s people. To believe this way, for Paul, was to “desert” Jesus himself and to “turn to a different gospel” (1:6). Though Paul himself sometimes took on such cultural markers in his missionary tasks, to insist on these things as necessary for salvation and acceptance in the community is to undermine the very foundations on which all of Christianity rests, because it is to deny the all-sufficient nature of the free gift of Jesus. We would do well to ask ourselves today: are we this passionate about the gospel? Are we adding anything to it ourselves?
The center of the gospel, Paul reminds the Galatians, is grace—“being called in the grace of Christ” (1:6). In the ancient world, “grace” was not a religious word, but a commonly used word for “gift”. In Jesus’ day, gifts were always given with a great deal of selectivity, because to give someone a gift was to tie yourself into a relationship with the recipient. The scandalous aspect, once again, of the gift (grace) of Jesus was that it was given indiscriminately. It was this dynamic that produced communities that the world had never witnessed before—communities that united people across racial, gender, socioeconomic, and cultural boundaries, dignifying and unleashing everyone.
Finally, Paul warns about the consequence of leaving the gospel. To leave the gospel is to come under a curse (1:8-9). Though this may sound stark, it is simply true—there is no life apart from the gift of Jesus. If we insist on going our own way, attempting to justify ourselves, the rotten fruits of this cursed way of life will show up everywhere in our life, and culminate in our being “severed from Christ” (5:4).
So then, we should thank God for his incredible gift of Christ, we should fear ever adding anything to him, and we should be zealous to guard this truth with everything we have, because our life together depends on it.
- The Challenge to the Gospel (1:6-8)
- The Center of the Gospel (1:6)
- The Consequence of Leaving the Gospel (1:8-10)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide:
Re-read the passage(s): Galatians 1:6-10
The Challenge to the Gospel (1:6-8)
1) Re-read Galatians 1:6-8 and meditate on these verses together. Consider:
• How would you describe Paul’s tone? Why does he come across this way?
• What had the Galatians done to “desert Christ” (vs. 6). Is this an overstatement?
• What was the “other gospel” the Galatians had turned to? What was this “other
gospel’s” view of salvation? How was it a “distortion” of the true gospel? (vs. 7)
• What was at stake for the Galatians in whether they embraced the true gospel, vs. the
“distortion”? (vs. 7-9)
2) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby mentioned the slogan “love unites, but doctrine divides”, and
explained how Paul repudiated this. How might the Apostle Paul respond to the claim that
“taking a clear stand on doctrine divides communities? What would he agree with and what
would he disagree with?
3) Pastor Bobby explained how the Jewish Christians in Galatia were persuading the church that
they needed to add something to the gift of Jesus (taking on Jewish customs and identity
markers) in order to be accepted into the Messiah’s people. As you think of the church today,
what are some ways we commonly—even if unintentionally—communicate the message that
people need some else in addition to Jesus to be right with God and part of God’s people? Give
some practical examples.
4) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby asked: “Are you this passionate about the gospel?” Would you
ever risk offending people you admire in order to clarify its truth? Do you find yourself getting as
unglued for its protection as you do your own reputation, or your position at work, or your own
children’s future…would you ever forego social norms…or risk misrepresentation…or part ways
with friends over its protection?” How would you answer these questions? Have you ever done
this before, or know someone who has?
The Center of the Gospel (1:6)
5) Re-read Galatians 1:6, where Paul equates deserting the gospel with “deserting him who
called you in the grace of Christ”. What does this teach us about the nature of the gospel, and
6) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby emphasized how the word Paul uses for “grace” simply meant
“gift” in the ancient world, and that the gospel is about God giving us the gift of Jesus, without
any regard to our status, background, or merit. Spend some time meditating on this together,
and as you do, consider:
• What kind of communities do you think would emerge from a shared experience of
having received an undeserved gift? How would this show up in the life of a church?
• In what ways does the shape and tone of our church community today testify to this
shared experience of grace? In what ways does it contradict or obscure it?
• In what ways could a community built on a shared experience of receiving an
undeserved gift serve as a witness to the wisdom and truth of Jesus in today’s age?
The Consequence of Leaving the Gospel (1:8-10)
7) Re-read Galatians 1:8-9. Why does preaching another gospel makes someone “accursed?”
8) Re-read Galatians 1:10. Why do you think Paul mentions not seeking the approval of people
here? is the connection between “seeking the approval of man” or “trying to please
man”, and being under a curse? In what ways was the Galatians’ departing from the gospel
motivated by their “seeking the approval of people?”
9) Is there an area of your life where you frequently find yourself “seeking the approval of
people”? What does it feel like? What does this say about your belief in the gospel at this
point? What would it look like to experience the freedom the gospel in this area?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.