Romans and Galatians

 Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry


Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways


Part One


The Book of Romans


1. None are Righteous  (Rom 1:1 – 3:20)

A. What is righteousness?

1. Being 'right' with God.  This means that nothing hinders our relationship with Him.  He accepts us.


2. Living in the 'right' way.  This means that we live in a way that God approves.  We do what pleases Him.  We think in a way that pleases Him.  We speak in a way that pleases Him, etc.


B. All are guilty (Rom 1:18 – 3:20)

Read 3:10-18.  This passage makes it very clear that every person in the world is full of sin.


2. Justification  (Rom 3:21 – 5:11)


A. "Justified freely by his grace..."  --  Rom 3:24

1. Justification means to be declared righteous.  God simply pronounces that a person is righteous (right with Him, accepted), and it is so.  This is usually what we mean when we say a person 'gets saved.'  He is pronounced righteous.  He is justified.


2. This justification comes only by God's grace.  There is nothing a person can do to earn it.  God's grace means He gives something that we do not deserve and cannot attain on our own.


B. Justification by faith – read Rom 3:28

1. The way for a person to be pronounced righteous by God is to believe, or to trust God to do it.


2. When a person asks God to be justified, and believes that he is, it happens.


3. Sanctification

A. What is sanctification?

1. Sanctification is living in a righteous way – living in a way that pleases God.


2. Sanctification is becoming like Jesus in what we do, how we talk, what we think, etc.


B. Justification and sanctification

Justification happens in a moment, when God declares a person to be righteous.  Sanctification occurs throughout life, as a person seeks to live in a more and more godly way.


C. Sanctification and Grace

1. Paul taught that sanctification (like justification) comes by grace and not the law.  A person does not become more holy in his behavior by being commanded to do certain things and to avoid certain other things.  Instead, he is to trust to grace.  He believes that God forgives him when he does sin, and that He offers grace to help him not to sin.


2. Many people did not like this teaching.  They were afraid it would make people sin more.  They thought that people would think that because of grace, they could live any way they pleased.  However, the Bible teaches that a person who is truly born again will no longer want to live a sinful lifestyle.  He will still struggle with sin, but he will be moving away from it, and will not want it.

D. Being sanctified

1. Sanctification is a process.  It cannot happen in a moment.  It should continue throughout the life of every believer.


2. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit.  As a person works with and submits to the Spirit, he becomes sanctified.  Nobody can sanctify themselves.  We cannot stop sinning on our own (see Rom 7:19), but must submit to the work of the Spirit in us.


3. Understand who you are as a new creature in Christ

a. Before being saved, you were a slave to sin.  You could not do anything else.  Sin was your master.


b. Once you were saved, you were given a new identity.  You died with Christ, and have been set free from your former master.  Read Rom 6:1-7.


c. Because you are now a new person, and no longer a slave to sin, you do not have to obey it!  The Bible commands, "do not let sin reign in your mortal body" (Rom 6:12). 


d. Read Rom 6:14.  The reason that sin shall not rule over you is because you are not under the law, but under grace.  It is not by your own effort that you seek to overcome sin, but by God's grace.  How do you overcome sin (and be sanctified)?  By focusing on God's grace.  Think of ways to make God's grace more real in your life.


4. Glorification – Rom 8:18-39

A. What is glorification?

1. Glorification is righteousness gained.  It refers to coming to heaven at the end of our life here on earth.


2. Glorification can be called 'final salvation,' while justification can be called 'initial salvation.'  Justification is the beginning of our salvation, and glorification is the finishing of it.


3. In justification, we are declared righteous.  In sanctification, we are growing in righteousness, and in glorification, we have become righteous.  We are fully righteous, and free from sin.


B. Glorification, suffering, and God's love

1. We can endure any amount of suffering now, because we know we have a wonderful eternal reward (Rom 8:18). 


2. No matter what happens in our lives, we cannot be separated from God's love – and one day we are going to enter into the fullness of what He has for us.


5. Israel – Rom 9:1 – 11:36

A. Israel has rejected God (Rom 9:30-31).


B. They rejected the Messiah because they tried to earn their own righteousness rather than trusting in Jesus.


C. God has not forgotten Israel, or forsaken them (ch 11)

1. There is always a remnant of faithful ones


2. Israel's rejection has given the Gentiles a chance at salvation also.


3. In the end Israel will also be saved


6. Christian Living – Rom 12:1 – 16:27

A. Living as Living Sacrifices -- Rom 12:1-2

Paul is not exhorting believers to a casual relationship with the Lord, but instead, to give our entire body and soul to God.  Through such deep commitment, and only through such a commitment will God be satisfied.  Paul encourages believers to renew their minds and not to conform to the ways and pattern of the world.  Throughout the New Testament, Christians are encouraged to live apart from the world and its desires.


B. See yourself as God sees you – Rom 12:3

Do not think too highly of yourself.  God is the giver of every good thing, and our lives should bring Him glory.


C. The body of Christ – Rom 12:4-8

We are called to participation within the Body of Christ, and to exercise the gifts God has given to us for the sake of others.  No Christian can live the Christian life alone. 


D. Living as a Demonstration of Love – Rom 12:9-21

Read this passage and learn what kind of love God wants to see manifest in our lives.  All this occurs as we live as living sacrifices for God.


E. Living in Harmony with a Weaker Brother (14:1-15:13)

Paul gives practical advice on how to live in agreement with one another, especially when it comes to matters in which there exists a difference of opinion in the church, such as eating meat, drinking wine, and observance of holy days.  In these verses, Paul presents five principles for addressing such matters.  They are: 


1. accept a brother without passing judgment (14:1)


2. do not place a stumbling block in a brother's way (14:13)


3. do what leads to peace and mutual edification (14:19)


4. bear with the weaker brother's failures and do not seek to please oneself (15:1)


5. accept one another as Christ accepted us, so that God may be praised (15:7)


The Book of Galatians


The book of Galatians is also mostly about salvation by faith, and how to live out the Christian life.  In this introduction, we will look in detail at two sections of the book.  First, we will study chapter 3, which tells about legalism.  Then we will look at chapter 5, and a description of how we are to live freely in the Spirit.  For your home assignment, you will study the entire book in more detail.


1. The Failure of Legalism (3:1-4:31)

We receive God's promises by faith, not by doing good  (Gal 3:1-14).


A. "Who has bewitched you?"

How could they be so deceived by false teaching?


B. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

We all receive the Spirit by God's grace.  There is no other way.


C. "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"

While v. 2 relates to their justification, v. 3 addresses their growth in spiritual maturity (sanctification).  They were saved by faith, but now seem to be trying to grow in Christ through their own efforts and by following the law.  Do believers fall into the same trap today?


D. "Do miracles come through following the law or by faith?"

Salvation, growing in Christ, and even miracles all come only through faith in God. 


E. Abraham

Abraham was counted righteous because of his faith, even before he was circumcised, and before the law came.


F. The law brings a curse

If we try to achieve salvation by keeping the law, we will be cursed.  It is impossible to keep the law, so we would have to bear the curses mentioned in it.  Jesus has redeemed us from the curse.  Our only response must be that of faith.  Putting our trust in Jesus and what He has already done for us is the only way to salvation.


2. The Key: Live by the Spirit, not the Flesh (5:13-26)

Read together Gal 5:13-18.


A. Live in the freedom to which you were called

Some may abuse such freedom, and others may teach that justification by grace through faith is a license to sin.  The Judaizers were telling the Galatians that Paul preached a message which encouraged sin.  However, here Paul presents the true way to overcome sin -- not by adherence to legalism, but in submission to God's Spirit. 


B. Love fulfills the law

Paul sums up the law, quoting Lev 19:18 (see also Rom 13:8-10). 


C. Live by the Spirit

Verse 16 says that if we live by the Spirit, we will not fall into sinful desires.  Many believers think it is the other way – that if we do not sin we will be able to live in the Spirit. 


What does it mean to live by the Spirit?  It means to follow Him.  To live in constant obedience to Him.  To submit to Him in every area of life.  To seek Him throughout the day, speaking with Him and calling out to Him.  When we do this, He will produce the right kind of behavior and thinking and speaking in us.


D. The sinful nature

We all know what the sinful nature does.  But these outward acts (5:19-21) are the result of what we are inside.  We do these things because we are not living by the Spirit.


E. The fruit of the Spirit

1. Read 5:22-23. This fruit cannot be produced by human effort, but result from abiding in the Lord and walking in obedience to Him (Jn 15:18). 


2. These are fruit.  They come out of our life when we are in the Spirit.  When we are not living full of the Spirit, we cannot produce these fruits, no matter how much we try.


F. Crucify the flesh

In v. 24, Paul uses words very similar to those found in Rom 6:6.  Christians have crucified the sinful nature at the time of their conversion.  This does not mean that the sinful nature no longer exists, for the flesh is always there to wage war against the renewed mind (see Rom 7).  By "keeping in step with the Spirit," a Christian can live the life God has intended for them to live. 

Part Two


The Book of Romans


Chapter One:  Introduction


1. Audience

Paul wrote this letter to the Christians living in Rome (1:7).  Rome was the central city in the vast Roman Empire, and was mainly Gentile in population.  The majority of Paul's readers, therefore, would have been Gentiles, although there is evidence that the churches of Rome did consist of some Jewish believers.


2. Date

A. Paul probably wrote Romans during his third missionary journey, which would date the letter around A.D. 57 to 58.


B. Paul's third missionary journey took him through Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece.  In Acts 20:2-3, Luke recorded that Paul had stayed in Greece for three months.  It was most likely here in Greece that he wrote his letter to the Romans.


3. Background

A. Paul's missionary travels took him to many cities in Asia Minor and Greece.  Yet, after having completed his third missionary journey, Paul longed to visit Rome and from Rome, to head westward to Spain.  Paul knew the significance of the city of Rome, it being the heart of the world's greatest empire at that time.  He also knew that if the Church could grow in Rome, it would serve to send missionaries to distant points where the Gospel had not yet been carried.


B. The churches in Rome at this time were probably small and scattered, and met in homes of some of the Christians there, such as Priscilla and Aquila (see 16:3-5).  Paul wanted to establish a base in Rome, and thus wrote this letter before coming himself in person.


4. Theme

Justification by faith and the Gospel of God's grace


5. Introduction

Paul introduces himself first as a slave, and then as an apostle.  First he belongs to Christ, and lives to please him.  That is his identity.  He is also a "sent one."  He knows that God has a purpose for His life, which is to go and proclaim the love of Christ to the world.  He speaks of Jesus as being both human and God.  It is Jesus who has given grace to us all to be saved and to be used in God's Kingdom.  This is something all believers are called to -- that by God's grace we can have life and pass the message of this life on to others.


Paul continues by telling how much he wants to come to Rome -- both to be a  blessing to the brethren there and to be blessed by them.  Although he has never been to Rome, he continually remembers the believers there in prayer.



Chapter Two

Theme: The Righteousness of God (1:16 and 17)


What is 'righteousness?'

·          Being 'right' with God.  This means nothing hinders our relationship with Him.  He accepts us.

·          Living the 'right' way.  This means we live in a way that God approves.  We are the kind of people He wants us to be.  We do what He wants, speak what He wants, think what He wants, etc.


1. The Problem

A. The Old Covenant demanded righteousness by perfectly keeping the Law


B. No one could ever hope to fulfill this requirement

This hopelessness can be found throughout the Old Testament.  The people were continually falling short.   In Ecc 7:20, God's Word tells us, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." In Job 9:2, Job asked, "But how can a mortal be righteous before God?"  This is a real problem for every person alive.  If no one can keep the Law, and if you must keep the law in order to be saved, how then can a man be made righteous before God?


2. The Solution

A. Faith

The truth of the Gospel can be summed up in a single verse from the prophet Habakkuk:  "The righteous will live by faith" (Hab 2:4).  The only way to be righteous is by faith.  The righteous person trusts that God has declared him righteous.  He also trusts that God's way is the best way.  This trust helps him to actually live a life that is righteous.

B. God's Righteousness

The answer is found not by looking to man, but by looking to God.  The "righteousness" spoken of in v. 17 cannot be attained by man.  As we shall see later, the Law was given to uncover sin and point the sinner to the Savior.  The righteousness which God requires for a soul to enter Heaven is God's Own Righteousness!  The fact that man can never attain such a high standard is Paul's point in this epistle.


If God had not reached down to man, there would be no hope.  The message of the cross is that Christ died for us, having become a sin offering to God, in order that we might receive His righteousness.  This is the "Great Exchange" spoken of by theologians, and found in 2 Cor 5:21: "God made Him [Jesus] Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God".  See also Gal 2:21



Chapter Three

All are Guilty (1:18-3:20)


1. The Pagan Stands Condemned (1:18-32)

A. God has revealed enough of Himself in the world that people should seek Him

1. There is no excuse to do evil


2. People became foolish -- did not glorify God


B. "...changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man." (23)

Man is often not comfortable with God as He truly is, so we re-create Him in our own image.  For some, this leads to unlimited sinfulness.  For others, it leads to legalism, or some other false image.  Whatever we think God should be, we make Him that in our own minds.  But God is not what we think He is, or what we want Him to be, but He is who the Bible reveals Him to be.


C. God "gave them up to uncleanness..." (24 -- and also 28 )

When man becomes determined to sin, God removes His hand that restrains them from evil.  Their consciences no longer convict them, and they live as they please.


2. The Moral ("Good") Person Stands Condemned (2:1-16)

A. Hypocrites trust in their good works

There are many who may be morally good, yet still fall far short of God's perfect standard of righteousness, because they are trusting in their own "good works" for salvation.  Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, there are those who do not live wicked lives of moral corruption and sexual sin, yet they are still sinners.


B. Judging others

In judging others, we end up ignoring the very qualities God mercifully shows us:  His kindness, tolerance and long-suffering.  Christians should not judge others, but encourage them and lead them to Christ.  Paul also reminds those who judge that, if not for God's kindness, they themselves could not be led to repentance, and forgiveness of their sins.


C. God's judgment

1. However, those who refuse to repent are to one day face God's wrath.  On Judgment Day, God's righteousness will be fully displayed, as He will judge in perfect fairness.  Both the wicked who reject God openly, and the morally good who believe they are righteous by themselves, will one day stand before God.


2. To those who accept Christ and do good, there awaits the reward of eternal life.  Our behavior shows what is in our hearts.  If our hearts have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we will "keep on doing evil;"  however, the person whose heart is full of Christ will live as a child of God (see 2 Cor 5:17).  This does not refer to a life of sinless perfection, but to a process of being made more Christ-like.


3. Gentiles (those "who sin apart from the Law") who are not converted will perish apart from the Law.  That is, they will not be judged based on the Mosaic Law, which had been given only to Israel.  The Jews, who were given the Law, will be judged for breaking the Law.


3. The Religious Person Stands Condemned (2:17-29)

A. Hypocrisy of the Jews

Jews looked down on Gentiles, since it was the Jews who were God's own people.  But, Paul shows that they are hypocrites, because they do the very things for which they condemn the Gentiles.


B. Living as believers

If we, as people who are called 'saved,' live like the world, God is dishonored and His Name is blasphemed.  Too often non-believers reject God simply because of the behavior of believers.


C. Jews who do bad and Gentiles who do good

Jews are only true Jews when they live like they are supposed to.  Gentiles can be accepted just like Jews when they live in a righteous way.


D. True circumcision vs false circumcision

1. Circumcision of the flesh is outward and is represented by external righteousness, much as the Pharisees of Jesus' day displayed.  On the other hand, a heart which is touched by God's Spirit causes a man to look inward.


2. True circumcision is genuine, results in repentance, and bears fruit.  By contrast, mere ritual does not last, unsuccessfully tries to keep the law, and leads to a judgmental spirit.


3. True circumcision of the heart cannot be gained by man alone, but comes through the Spirit's regenerating work.  Fleshly circumcision is the result of man's attempts at maintaining a legalistic righteousness.


Making it Personal:

Take time to think about the following questions.  Write down what God shows you.  How does this apply to your life?

- What is an external sign of salvation today, like circumcision was in Paul's time?

- What are some outward signs of holiness today?  Can a person be saved and yet not have these?  Can a person have these and yet not be saved?


4. Conclusion: There is None Righteous (3:1-20)

A. Doing evil that good may come

There are some who said that, since no one does good, why should we try?  If our failures just show us how righteous God is, then why not keep failing, so that God's righteousness will be seen even more?  Paul condemns this.


B. There are none who are righteous

Paul quotes several scriptures to prove that nobody ever totally avoids sin.


Chapter Four

Declared Righteous: Justification (3:21-5:21)


1. Justification Comes by Faith in Christ (3:21-31)

A. "But now..."

Now Paul takes us from the hopeless state of mankind (i.e., "there is no one righteous") to the promises of God revealed "now" through the Person of His Son Jesus Christ.  The righteousness of which Paul speaks can only be had through faith in Christ, and is acquired "apart from law."  This righteousness is "from God", and not man.  It has been made known during New Testament times, but in fact, was spoken of by the Old Testament writers who looked forward to the coming of the  Messiah.


B. Righteousness through faith

1. This righteousness is available to "all who believe."  It is the only way people can become righteous, because "all have sinned."


2. v. 24 presents, in summary, the very heart of the Gospel.  See also Eph 2:8.  The wonder of God's grace is that, while salvation is of no cost to us, it was of infinite cost to God, as He provided His Only Son as a "sacrifice of atonement," or "propitiation" for our sins.  The meaning which Paul wishes to convey is that the Sacrifice of Calvary appeased the wrath of God, and completely paid the debt for mankind's sin.  


C. No boasting (see also Phil 3:4-8 and Gal 6:14)

Paul once thought he had reason to boast in his own goodness, but now realizes that all he thought was so good before is really worthless.  Because justification is a free gift offered to all, no one could point to himself or herself and say, "Look what I have done; I am a righteous person."   Throughout eternity, it is God alone Who will receive the glory for His wonderful grace.


D. Justified 

"Man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."  The words "is justified" can also be translated "declared righteous."  Man cannot earn a right standing before God, and so must be declared by God to be righteous.  God does this for anyone who has faith in Him.


E. What about the law?

"Do we then nullify the law by this faith?  Not at all."  The purpose of the Mosaic Law was to point sinners to Christ.  The fact that the Law does just this, and leads one to saving faith, serves to uphold the very purpose of the Law.


2. The Example of Abraham (4:1-25)

A. Abraham was called righteous because of his faith, not by following the law.

1. In chapter three, Paul claims that man is justified not by observance of Law, but by faith in Christ.  To illustrate that his position is true, he turns to Israel's patriarch, Abraham.  He quotes Gen 15:6, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."  Because of his faith, Abraham received righteousness imputed ("credited") to him.  Abraham exercised faith in God, and God "credited" to him righteousness.


2. Abraham was declared righteous (justified) before the law was even given, and before he was circumcised.


B. David

Paul turns to King David and quotes from Psalm 32:1-2.  It must be noted that David wrote these words after having been confronted by the prophet Nathan.  His own sin having found him out, David turned to God in repentance.  He had sinned knowingly -- clearly falling way short of keeping the law.  He knew that he could do nothing on his own to restore his standing before his God, yet David sought and received reconciliation with the Lord. 


God showed favor to David and "covered his sins."  In Ps 32:10, David wrote, "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him."


C. Abraham received the promises by faith

1. God made His promises to Abraham four centuries before the Law was given to Moses (see Gal 3:15-18).  Abraham's true descendants, or heirs, are those who live by faith.  Since the purpose of the Law was to convict men of sin and point them to Christ, all the Law would do is to make men guilty.  Those who break God's Law are the objects of His wrath.  Those who seek to justify themselves by being good are not living by faith, and render faith of no value.  In their vain attempts to reach God, they only serve to distance themselves further from God.


2. The promise given Abraham and his descendants comes by faith, which works with God's grace.  Grace is God's unmerited favor given to those deserving of His wrath.


3. Abraham was confident that God could provide even in spite of the overwhelming facts standing against him.  He believed that God had the power to fulfill His promises, and so he did not waver through unbelief.  Because of his great faith, God credited to him righteousness (v. 22), and this same righteousness is free to all who trust in Jesus Christ. 


3. Results of Justification by Faith (5:1-11)

A. Justification

Justification refers to an act in which a believer is able to stand in the presence of a Holy God as if he had never sinned ("just as if I'd never sinned").  Justification is a one time legal ruling given by God, and is awarded the moment a sinner puts his faith in Christ.  The believer's position before God is completely dependent upon the finished cross-work of Christ.  No righteous act or moral living by the believer carries any redeeming value in the high court of God.  Only faith in Christ can cause a sinner deserving of God's wrath to be graciously and mercifully found "not guilty" of all transgressions against God's holy standards.


B. Blessings of being justified

1. Peace with God

The peace spoken of here refers to the fact that, as believers brought into fellowship with God, we are no longer enemies of God.  This peace with God leads to the other blessings.


2. Access into "this grace in which we stand"

Because we have been justified, we can benefit from God's grace which helps us to stand.  Without this, we would never be able to continue with Christ against the temptations and evil in the world.


3. Hope of the glory of God

Hope is a wonderful gift to us from God.  No matter what is going on, we who have peace with God can have hope.  We will experience the glory of God in this life, but even more fully in the life to come.


4. Joy in the midst of suffering

Because we have fellowship with God, suffering will work in us endurance, character, and hope.


5. Pouring out of God's love into our hearts

Those who have been justified know the love of God by experience.  Many people say that they know God loves us, but we daily experience that love.  Because of this experience, we are able to love others.  In fact, God Himself loves them through us, even when we are unable to do so on our own.


C. The depth of God's love

Jesus left behind the glories of Heaven and gave up His Divine privileges in order to die for a human race which is "without strength" and "ungodly."  Christ died for His enemies (v. 10).  He did not come to die for "good" people, nor did He come to rescue friends, but instead, in a demonstration of the height and breadth of God's love for us, Christ died for the evil and wicked, the fallen and rebellious.  We were useless creatures when He gave His live for us.


D. Being saved through Jesus' life

Having been declared righteous, believers shall be saved from God's wrath, which will be poured out at the Great White Throne Judgment.


If when we were God's enemies we were reconciled through Jesus' Death, we will most certainly be "saved" through Jesus' Life.  Salvation is seen in three phases: past (i.e., justification), present (i.e. sanctification), and future (i.e., glorification).  When Paul says we shall "be saved through His life," he is referring to our future glorification (1 Cor 15:51-54). 



Chapter Five

Living Righteous: Sanctification (5:12-8:17)


1. Sanctification Comes Through a Change in Family (5:12-21)

A. Adam and Christ (see also 1 Cor 15:45-59).

1. When Adam sinned, death entered the world.

All became dominated by death, because all sinned. 


2. Before Moses, although there was no law, people were still guilty of sin.


3. The free gift through Christ

By the one man's sin, death became the ruler of all.  This is because the one man's sin led all of us into sin.  But, by the righteousness of the one man, Christ, life will rule through grace.  Adam's sin brought condemnation to all, but Christ's sacrifice brought justification to all. 


B. The purpose of the law (v 20)

1. The law was "added" (i.e., given to the Israelites) so that the "trespass" might increase.  God gave the law so that man would become aware of his sins.  As man would become more and more aware of his sinfulness, this would allow him to see his complete need for God.  The law was intended to lead man to salvation through Christ.


2. "But where sin increased, grace increased all the more."  Some would look at this and say, "If our sin results in more of God's grace, let us sin all the more."  This clearly is not the intent of the Scripture.  Instead, the text is given as a means of encouragement to both the lost and to believers that, in spite of all our failures and unbelief, the Sacrifice of Calvary is sufficient to pay for all the sins of mankind.  1 John 1:7-2:2 assures us that the Blood of Jesus is able to cleanse us from any and every sin.  The verse does not mean that we should keep on sinning!


2. The Secret of Sanctification -- Live in Light of Who You Are (6:1-14)

A. God's grace and sin

1. There were those in the world who were saying that the gospel message of justification by faith is nothing more than a license to sin.  False teachers taught that as long as grace would cover sin, there would be no reason to stop sinning.  Of course, this is not the message of the New Testament.  The fact of the matter is that the regenerate person will no longer continually desire a lifestyle of sin.  The Christian will continue to struggle with sin as long as he remains on earth, but his overall lifestyle will reflect a movement away from sin. 


2. Some believers will continue with habitual sins for long periods of time, and many believers lose the peace of fellowship with God.  Still, as long as the heart desires fellowship with God, and as long as the heart recognizes sin as it is, the believer still has access to restored fellowship with God.  The true Christian will recognize his new identity (2 Cor 5:17) and will seek God in spite of his many failures.  The grace of God should never cause us to stop taking sin seriously.  


B. Process of sanctification

This is the process by which Christians are made to conform to the image of Christ.  Sanctification is a process.  Whereas justification occurs at the time a person gets saved, sanctification is never completed while on earth.


C. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit -- see also Phil 1:6; 2:13; Rom 8:29; Col 1:22

One of the most important things for Christians to realize is that the process of sanctification is carried out by the Holy Spirit working together with the believer.  The extent to which one is transformed  into the image of Christ depends on the person's submission to the Holy Spirit.  Many believers may feel weak because of continual failure in their walk with the Lord.  Such people need to understand that they must not only trust the Lord for justification, but they must also place all their hope for living the Christian life in the Lord.


D. Living in light of who you are

1. Before coming to Christ, you were a slave to sin.  However, now you have a new identity.  You have died with Christ, and are free from your former master.  Because of this, the Bible commands, "Do not let sin reign" (v 12).  Sin will still try to rule you, but you must not allow it.


2. Understanding your new position will help you to overcome sin.  You now have the power, with God's help, to say 'no' to sin.  See Titus 2:11-12.


3. The reason that "sin shall not rule over you" is because you are not under law, but under grace (v 14).  Under the law, you are responsible to be good enough to be approved by God.  But, you are under grace.  This means that it is God who gives you the victory over sin.  So how do you overcome sin?  By opening yourself to God's grace.  See Heb 4:15-16 and 1 Cor 10:13.


Making it PersonalWhat are some practical things believers can do to help to open themselves to God's grace?  Think about this, and write down what God shows you.


4. You are now a 'slave of righteousness' (v 18) and a 'slave of God' (v 22).  Just as you used to live to obey your former master of sin, now you live to obey your new master of righteousness.


E. Shall those under grace continue to sin?

If we have chosen to follow Christ and be a 'slave of righteousness,' we will follow our Master.  Knowing that choosing sin leads to death, we will strive to overcome sin and enjoy the benefits of righteousness.


3. Sanctification and the Law (7:1-25)

A. Believers are not bound to the requirements of the law      (1-6)-- see Col 2:14.


B. The law reveals what sin is (7-13)

Without the Law to say something is sin, we would not have known what sin was.  When the Law reveals sin, the sinful nature within us then springs to life, and seeks to do that which the Law prohibits.  This leads to death.  However, it was not the Law which became death to us, but it was sin which produced death through breaking the Law.  This allows us to recognize sin for what it is.


C. The believer's struggle with sin

Paul reveals that, even as a believer, he continues to struggle with sin.  The sin nature is always with us in this life, urging us to sin.  This passage clearly shows that in our own strength we can never defeat the enemy of sin.  The solution to the problem is given in v 25.


4. Sanctification and the Holy Spirit (8:1-17)

A. Victory over sin and death

1. In chapter 8, Paul solves the problem he faced in chapter 7.  Victory over sin is dependent upon the believer's submission to the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis.  Therefore, there is hope for the believer who finds himself stuck in a Romans 7 situation.  Paul wants to present the solution to the problem of the defeated Christian life.


2. Paul begins by providing much needed encouragement for his readers:  "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Through Christ, believers are freed from the penalty of sin.  Condemnation only leads to more sin.  God does not want us to always feel guilty.  Knowing that we are not condemned brings us freedom.


B. Walking in the Spirit -- see also Gal 5:16-23

1. The Holy Spirit gives new birth to every Christian (see Jn 3:5-8Tit 3:5). Living by the Spirit produces life and peace.  Living by the sinful nature results in death.  To live according to the sinful nature is to have one's mind set on the things which the flesh desires.  To live by the Spirit means to have one's mind set on those things which please God. 


2. If a person has the Holy Spirit, that person will be controlled by the Spirit.  Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ.


3. Christians must work together with the Holy Spirit to become conformed to the image of Christ.  We must rely upon Him and continually be filled with Him (Eph 5:18).  This is how sin is overcome, and we are sanctified.


C. Children of God

Because of the new birth, Christians can approach God and call Him "Abba," which is the Aramaic word meaning "father" or "daddy."  Having been adopted into God's family by the Spirit of God, believers are now heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.


Chapter Six             

Righteousness Gained: Glorification (8:18-39)


1. Glorification and Suffering

A. We can endure any amount of suffering now, because we know we have a great and eternal reward (18).  See also 2 Cor 4:16-18 and Heb 12:1-2


B. God subjected all of creation to the possibility of suffering because of the hope of final glory.


C. God causes all things to work together for good -- whether they were intended for good or not


2. God's Eternal Love and our Glorification

A. Who can be against us?

1. If God is for us, there is no enemy who can defeat us.  If God displayed His love and kindness to the extent that He offered Jesus to die for us while we were yet His enemies, how will He now keep from us any other blessing?  If God justifies us, who then can bring any accusation against God's children?  If the only one qualified to condemn declares that we are "not guilty", who then can make a charge against us that will stand? 


2. The accuser of the brethren may try, but to every believer in Christ, God sees the righteousness He credited at the time of salvation.  The believer stands in God's grace, free from sin.


B. What can separate us from the love of God?

Paul reassures his readers that Christ is interceding for His own at the right hand of the Father.  He asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"  No one!  He looked at every possible threat to our position of security in Christ.   Nothing can deter God's plan for the believer (except for the believer himself).



Choose two of the following passages, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

Rom 4:13-25;   Rom 6:1-14;   Rom 7:13-25;   Rom 8:31-39


First Scripture


Main Point:






Second Scripture


Main Point:







Chapter Seven

God's Dealings with Israel (9:1-11:36)


1. Israel's Rejection (9:1-29)

A. Paul's strong desire to see Israel saved

1. Paul had just concluded a most touching and encouraging presentation of the love of God and the security of the believer.  Now he turns to words which reveal his "great sorrow and unceasing anguish."  The words which he is about to write are so serious that he first confirms his conscience by the witness of the Holy Spirit.


"For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel." -- Rom 9:3



2. One has to look at these words and read them again, and ask the question, "Is Paul saying he would be willing to give up his salvation so that Israel might be saved?"  Paul's words are shocking and show the depth of his pain and sorrow over the many of his brethren who were perishing. 


B. "They are not all Israel who are Israel." (6)

The failure of the Jewish nation to receive her Messiah did not mean that God's word had failed.  God had made His promises to Abraham, and He would keep them in spite of the rejection by Israel at her time of visitation (see Mat 23:37-39).  Although a person may be of the lineage of Abraham, that in and of itself does not make him a spiritual child of Abraham.  Ishmael, born of the slave woman Hagar, was the physical son of Abraham, but was not recognized by God as Abraham's spiritual son.  Only those born of the promise given to Abraham through the birth of Isaac, those who would come to believe in Jesus the Messiah, are God's children. 


C. God's sovereign election


"Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens" -- Rom 9:18


1. Three examples

Paul shows in the Old Testament how God chooses to have mercy on some, but not on others.  This choice is made according to His purposes.


a. Ishmael and Isaac (see also Gal 4:21-31).

It was Isaac who was chosen by God.  There is a difference between 'descendants' and 'true' children.


b. Jacob and Esau

Here, God's choice was made prior to the birth of the twins.  From this, Paul shows that God's selection was not based on merit, but on His Own choosing.  God is sovereign, and because He is, He may choose to bless those whom He wishes to bless and not bless those whom He wishes not to bless.


c. Moses and Pharaoh

Pharaoh was given a very powerful position in the ancient world in order that God's power might be displayed in His deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt.  God had given many warnings to Pharaoh, but he resisted God and hardened his own heart.  Seeing that Pharaoh would remain obstinate, God completed the hardening of his heart.  The hardening of Pharaoh's heart brought about the good of God's Name being glorified through His deliverance of Israel.  The Jews were to be a special people through whom God would reveal Himself, and bring salvation to, the rest of the world.


2. Freedom of the will

a. The big picture

In this passage, Paul is speaking about the condition of the Israelites.  First, they as a people were chosen through the promise made to Abraham and Sarah.  Then, again God chose them through Jacob, rather than Esau and his descendants (the Edomites).  Finally, through Pharaoh's hardness God revealed to the world His choosing of Israel.  Therefore, this passage is speaking more about the election of Israel than individual freedom of the will.  Israel is seen to be the chosen of God, though they eventually rejected Him.  Paul's point is that, in spite of how things appear, God did choose Israel.  However, not all of the descendants of Israel are truly heirs of the promise, but only those who have accepted the Messiah.


b. "Why does He still find fault?  For who has resisted His will?" (19)

Paul answers this question with another question:  "O man, who are you to reply against God?  Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?'"  In other words, God is beyond us, and we cannot understand all His ways.  Sometimes we need to simply trust in His goodness, and know that all He does is just and right.  We may not understand everything about the issue of election and freedom of choice, but we can trust that what God does is the best thing.


2. The Cause of the Rejection (9:30-10:21)

A. Israel rejected the Messiah because they tried to earn their own salvation rather than trusting Jesus. 

Israel failed to attain righteousness because she sought it through works of the Law.  To obtain righteousness this way, one would have to keep the entire Law perfectly.  But man cannot do this.  The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness during Old Testament times, have obtained it during the time of grace because they accepted God's righteousness based on faith. 


B. The "Rock of offense"

The Jews stumbled over the "stone laid in Zion."  Paul combines two prophecies given to Isaiah, and states that the stone laid in Zion will cause men to stumble, yet the one who trusts in this "stone" will never be shamed.  The reference is, of course, to the Rock, Jesus Himself.  To those who remained in unbelief and rejection of Jesus, He stood as a Rock which caused them to fall.  He was a stumbling stone because He reveals that salvation is by grace rather than law.  To those who accepted Christ, He became a spiritual Rock for them to build upon (see Luke 2:34).


C. Salvation

In vv. 9 and 10, Paul summarizes the content of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith.  These two verses teach what is necessary for salvation.  By making the confession that "Jesus is Lord," one is saying that he agrees with God and with the witness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is God's Son in human flesh, the Messiah, the Savior.  Along with this confession is the heart belief that God raised Christ from the dead.  To believe in Jesus without believing in the truth of the Resurrection is to believe in a Jesus that cannot save mankind.   "It is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" is an outward confirmation of the inner change brought about at the point of saving faith.


3. The Rejection in True Perspective (11:1-36)             

A. Since Israel has rejected the Messiah, has God forgotten them?  "By no means!"

1. Paul presents the fact that he is a Jew himself, and God chose to save him.  God will keep the promises He made to Israel's patriarchs. 


2. Paul mentions the story of how the prophet Elijah, after conquering the 450 false prophets of Baal, despaired for his own life, thinking that he was the only faithful Israelite left.  God assured His prophet that He had preserved a remnant of 7,000 who had not served false gods (1 Kings 19).  Paul concludes that at the present time, God has also preserved a remnant to be saved from among His chosen people.  In v. 6, Paul reaffirms that this remnant is selected not based on works of the Law, but solely on the grace and mercy of a sovereign God.


B. The illustration of engrafted branches

1. Israel's fall (i.e., it's rejection of the Messiah) would not result in a permanent sealing off from God's grace.   Two positive developments arose from the fact that Israel rejected her Messiah. 

a. By handing the Messiah over to be killed, reconciliation was gained for all men.  Jesus' mission was to come to earth to die for the sins of man (Jn 12:23-33).  Rejecting Jesus and giving Him over to die allowed for God's redemptive plan to be carried through.  The men who made the decision to put Jesus to death may have been carrying out the evil deeds of their hearts, but in the overall picture they were being used by God to fulfill His plan of salvation. 


b. Another benefit of Israel's rejection is that many Gentiles would be saved which would make Israel envious.  Paul desired to save all men, but realized the difficulty he was having in evangelizing Jews.  It was his hope that by taking the message to the Gentiles he might arouse some jealousy within his countrymen, with the possible fruits being that more Jews would come to saving knowledge of the Messiah.  If the rejection by the Jews resulted in salvation for many Gentiles, how much more will the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah result in many conversions?


2. God has made Gentiles spiritual children of Abraham.  With that, he also exhorts his Gentile readers to remain engrafted, and not to be arrogant in their position with God.  If the Gentiles ("you") do not continue in His kindness, they too would be "cut off." 


3. Paul goes on to say that if the Israelites do not persist in their unbelief, that they will be grafted into the olive tree again.  With Christ's return, God will fulfill His promises to Israel and Israel will be saved.  The "fall" of Israel is temporary.  Israel is experiencing a "hardening" until the full number of Gentiles are brought into God's Kingdom.


Chapter Eight             

Righteousness Practiced (12:1-15:13)


1. Living as Living Sacrifices (12:1-8)

Paul begins with the word "Therefore", and thus connects the following instructions on proper Christian living with the preceding 11 chapters, which illustrate man's sinfulness and God's mercy and grace.  In light of that from which we are saved (i.e., the wrath of God) and in light of what God has given us (i.e., peace with God; security in our salvation; the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit), we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God.


A. Living sacrifices

Paul is not exhorting believers to a casual relationship with the Lord, but instead, to give our entire body and soul to God.  Through such deep commitment, and only through such a commitment will God be satisfied.  Paul encourages believers to renew their minds and not to conform to the ways and pattern of the world.  Throughout the New Testament, Christians are encouraged to live apart from the world and its desires.


B. The battlefield of the mind

The mind is the battleground where spiritual warfare takes place.  Temptations begin in the thought process, and if surrendered to will lead to sin and broken fellowship with the Lord.  By setting one's mind on God, we can best be prepared to combat the temptations that attack us each day.  By meditating on God's Word, and by keeping our lives pure and undefiled by the world, we can become keenly aware of God's will in our lives.


C. See yourself as God sees you

We are to evaluate ourselves in a sober manner, that is, without puffed up images of our talents and gifts.  God is the giver of every good thing, and our lives should ultimately bring Him glory.


D. The body of Christ

1. We are called to participation within the Body of Christ, and to exercise the gifts God has given to us.  No Christian can live the Christian life alone. 


2. In vv. 6-8, Paul lists seven gifts from the Holy Spirit:  prophecyservingteachingencouraginggivingleadership and mercy.  This is clearly not a complete list.


Making it Personal:

Think about these questions, and write down what the Lord shows you.

- How can we present our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord?

- How can renewing our minds help us to better worship God?

- How can we worship God through our daily living as well as during worship services?


2. Living as a Demonstration of Love (12:9-21)

True love is unconditional love and is God's love for us.  Just as the Lord instructed us in the Sermon on the Mount, we are called to be peacemakers and to be humble.  We are to bless those who persecute us and to refrain from cursing, for such is the way of the worldly person, not the Christian.  We are called to do that which is right in front of everyone.  This is especially important to heed because many people look for opportunities to point fingers of blame at believers.


3. Living in Submission to Authority (13:1-7)

We are called to live in submission to civil authorities.  As a part of society, Christians must live in obedience to the rules of governing bodies, and display social responsibility.   During the days of the Apostle Paul, Rome was in control of civil government.  During some periods in the first century there was the enjoyment of peace within the Roman Empire; at other times, evil men ruled from Rome and inflicted severe persecution upon Christians.  Even in spite of poor government, Christians are called to civil obedience.


4. Living in the Light of Christ's Return (13:8-14)

A. Love fulfills the law

Paul encourages the believers in Rome to be responsible in paying off debt, and thus to act responsibly in civil matters.  Paul lists the 7th, 6th, 8th, and 10th commandments, and then quotes from Lev 19:18.  Love fulfills the Law.


B. Beware of the times

Paul exhorts us to wake up from our slumber.  (Eph 5:14).  Christians need to be ready for the Lord's return at any time.  When Paul said, "our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed", he was referring to the Return of the Lord, at which time Christ will complete the believers' salvation.  (Heb 9:28).  Each day that passes brings us one day closer to Christ's return.  Living in the end times, we are to be prepared to live as light in the darkness.  Paul charges his readers to live decently and to refrain from sexual sins, drunkenness, and jealousy.  Instead of living as such, he exhorts the believers to "clothe themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ."  In so doing, they will not spend time thinking about how to satisfy the sinful nature, which as he earlier described, works in opposition to the Spirit of God (8:5-8).


5. Living in Harmony with a Weaker Brother (14:1-15:13)

Paul gives practical advice on how to live in agreement with one another, especially when it comes to matters in which there exists a difference of opinion in the church, such as eating meat, drinking wine, and observance of holy days.  In these verses, Paul presents five principles for addressing such matters.  They are: 


A. accept a brother without passing judgment (14:1)


B. stop passing judgment and don't place a stumbling block in a brother's way (14:13)


C. do what leads to peace and mutual edification (14:19)


D. bear with the weaker brother's failures and don't seek to please oneself (15:1)


E. accept one another as Christ accepted us, so that God may be praised (15:7)


Chapter Nine

Conclusion (15:14 -- 16:27)


1. Paul's ministry

In this letter, Paul presented the Gospel in its entirety, but he had confidence that these believers were able to disciple one another.  It pleased Paul to serve God in such a way as to win numerous Gentiles to Christ.  Through the words given him by the Holy Spirit and through the manifestations of the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord accomplished much through Paul's ministry. 


Paul had planned to visit Rome, but had been unable to do so.  He would eventually travel to Rome, but not as he had desired.  When he did make his trip to Rome it was as a prisoner of the Roman government.  It is uncertain whether Paul ever made it to points west of Italy, as he also had his heart set on mission trips to Spain.  Before heading to Rome however, Paul was to deliver a love offering to the saints in Jerusalem, which he had received from Gentile believers in Achaia and Macedonia.  Paul reasoned that if the Gentiles were reaping spiritual benefits as a result of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah, they ought to assist the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem with some of their material possessions. 


2. Commendation and Greetings

Paul sends his greetings to many of the saints in Rome, and mentions by name 33 fellow servants in Christ.  Although their contribution to the Lord's work did not go unnoticed by Paul, many of the saints mentioned here are not mentioned again anywhere else in the New Testament.  Nonetheless, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul takes the time to honor them in this great work.



Choose two of the following passages, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

Rom 11:11-25;    Rom 12:1-21;    Rom 14:1-13


First Scripture


Main Point:






Second Scripture


Main Point:







Book of Galatians


Chapter One:   Background


1. Audience

Galatians was written to the Christian churches in the Roman Province of Galatia.  Paul wrote this letter to those churches in the southern region of Galatia, most likely following his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14).  Given the issues which were raised at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), which followed Paul's initial missionary journey, it is most likely that Paul wrote this letter at about the time of that Council.

2. Background

Paul had completed his first missionary journey which included stops in the southern region of Galatia in Asia Minor.  Among the cities he  visited with the Gospel were AntiochIconiumLystra, and Derbe (Acts 13-14).  While the Lord wonderfully used Paul to plant churches in Gentile areas, he did have struggles.  Following in his footsteps were false teachers known as Judaizers.  These were men who were raised as Jews and came to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.  However, they held to the false notion that faith in Christ is not enough to be saved.  They taught that Gentiles must keep Old Covenant rituals such as circumcision in order to be saved.  They had entered the churches in Galatia and were filling recent converts with their false teachings, thus leading them into confusion.  


The false teachers who posed such dangers to the men and women whom he genuinely loved caused Paul to write forceful and cutting words.  Under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul launched a counterattack to the teachings of the Judaizers.  In this, the first of his thirteen New Testament letters, Paul set the groundwork for his writings on the topic of justification by faith alone.


3. Theme

Paul's epistle to the Galatians is recognized for its defense of the Gospel of grace.  Man is not justified by his observance of law and ritual, but solely by faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.  Galatians also rings loudly the message that individual sanctification comes not by self determination, but by submission to the indwelling Spirit of God. 


4. Application

Throughout Church history there has been the battle between truth and error.  False teachers, such as the Judaizers whom Paul faced during his ministry, rose up early in the first century.  Writing to Timothy years after he wrote Galatians, Paul warned that a time was to come when men will not listen to sound doctrine.  (2 Tim 4:3-4). 


The Church has always faced the challenges of false prophets and heretics.  Just as Paul defended the Truth of the Gospel of Christ during his lifetime, we as members of the Body of Christ must do the same today.  The dangers of false teachings are obvious.  False doctrine leads to deception and spiritual blindness.  If people are led astray by false teachers, they may continue to move further away from the Light and the voice of the Holy Spirit. 


In this letter Paul clearly states that man is saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This faith is a heartfelt turning away from the world system toward the Cross.  Likewise, after beginning with the Spirit of God at the time of conversion, Christians must learn to continually rely on the Holy Spirit in order to live the Christian life.  The epistle to the Galatians is a book about grace and freedom in Christ.  By accepting that freedom and by living in God's grace, one can enjoy the Christian life.


Chapter Two

Origin of the Gospel (1:1 -- 2:21)


"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (1:8)


1. Paul the apostle

Paul immediately states that his calling as an apostle came not from human appointment, but by direct revelation from the risen Christ and God.  Paul's apostleship was unique in that he was not among the original twelve chosen by the Lord during His earthly ministry (Mark 3:13-19), nor was he appointed by the original apostles under Divine guidance as was Matthias (Acts 1:21-26). Instead, he was commissioned by Christ Himself after His Resurrection (Acts 26:15-18)


2. Only one Gospel

A. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon..."

Having earlier evangelized these Gentile converts, Paul was given news that the Judaizers were influencing them to turn away from the truth of the Gospel, and to turn to a mixture of grace and legalism.  Any deviation from the simple truth of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone was a perversion of the Truth, and in reality, "no gospel at all." 


B. Danger of preaching another Gospel

The danger of preaching another gospel was so great that Paul declares, "if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"  Souls are at stake, so strong language is used.  In addition, any gospel which adds works to the Sacrifice of Christ is an insult to the Lord. 


3. Paul's Gospel was Received by Special Revelation (1:11, 12)


"I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up" (1:11).


A. It was not something that man made up


B. Paul did not receive it from any man; nor was he taught it


C. Paul received the Gospel "through the revelation of Jesus Christ."


4. Paul's Gospel was Approved by the Other Apostles (1:13-2:21)


". . . So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified" (2:16b)


A. Paul's history

1. He tells of his persecution of the Church ( Acts 8:13; 9:13; 22:4, 5; 26:9-11), and of his advancement within the Jewish religious sect. 


2. After his encounter with the Risen Lord, Paul did not immediately go to seek approval from the original apostles.  The point Paul makes here is that the Gospel he preached was not formed from teachings handed down to him, but from personal revelation from God.  It was not until three years after his conversion that Paul visited the apostles in Jerusalem, at which time he spent fifteen days with Peter and met James, the leader of the Jerusalem church.  As he addresses later in chapter 2, the other apostles recognized his Divine calling.


3. Paul was well along into his ministry (2:1) when he visited Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus.   He met privately with the leaders in Jerusalem to ensure that his ministry to the Gentiles and their ministry to the Jews were not conflicting, as Paul was concerned with maintaining both unity in the Church as well as doctrinal consistency. 


B. The apostles accepted his message

Paul states that the apostles in Jerusalem, "those who seemed to be important," did not alter the message he brought with him.  This is important to note because it indicates that the leaders among the Jewish believers accepted the Gospel he was preaching as being divinely inspired.  These apostles (named in v.9), the "pillars" of the Church, acknowledged Paul's appointment among the Gentiles just as they had acknowledged Peter's apostleship among the Jews. 


C. Conflict with Peter

1. As a final point on his duty to preserve doctrinal purity and as still further claim for his equality with other Church leaders, Paul recounts the time he publicly rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy in dealing with Gentile converts.  Peter had openly enjoyed fellowship with Gentile believers in the past (Acts 10 and 11), but when men from Jerusalem approached Peter in Antioch, he backed away from the Gentile Christians.  Being the leader that he was among the apostles, others soon followed Peter's actions.  Because of his highly visible role in the early Church and the division his actions might have caused, Paul felt it necessary to speak immediately with Peter.


2. The Judaizers taught that the doctrine of justification by faith alone would promote sinful conduct.  They believed that if one did not need to observe the Law, an open license to sin would result.  Paul  answers by showing that such a belief would presume that Christ promotes sin (2:17)


3. "If I rebuild what I destroyed" refers to the process of returning to the Law.  Since the Law was given to demonstrate the sinfulness of man and to make him aware of his need for a Savior, to go back to a legal system to earn one's salvation would negate the grace of God.


D. Crucified with Christ

1. The key to successful Christian living is presented in v. 20.  Successful Christian living is not based on personal performance, but on quiet and total submission to the Spirit of God and a daily "crucifying of oneself" (Lk 9:23Jn 3:30Rom 8:5, 13-1412:1).   


2. Adding works to the Gospel would "set aside the grace of God."   If grace could be earned it would not be grace, but a wage (Rom 4:4).


Chapter Three

The Failure of Legalism (3:1-4:31)


1. The Promise Comes by Faith, Not Law (3:1-14)

A. "Who has bewitched you?"

Paul wonders how it would be possible for these believers to turn to legalism after the true Gospel was presented to them so clearly.


B. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

The answer is so much more clear by the fact that most of his readers were Gentiles  men and women who had never known the Law.


C. "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"

While v. 2 relates to their justification, v. 3 addresses their growth in spiritual maturity.  To begin with the Spirit  and receive a righteousness which could never be attained through the Law, and then to try to live the Christian life by human effort and observance of the Law was foolishness on their part.


D. "Have you suffered so many things in vain?"

These believers experienced persecution and hardship as a result of turning to Christ.  Did they endure all these things for no reason, now only to turn back because of a foolish teaching?


E. "Do miracles come through following the law or by faith?"

What possible benefit does legalism bring?  Not salvation, nor sanctification, nor miracles.  All good things come to us from God by His grace.


F. Abraham

Abraham was counted righteous because of his faith, even before he was circumcised.  True sons of Abraham are only those who have the same faith as he did.


G. The law brings a curse

If we try to achieve salvation by keeping the law, we will be cursed.  It is impossible to keep the law, so we would have to bear the curses mentioned in it.  Jesus has redeemed us from the curse.  Our only response must be that of faith.  Putting our trust in Jesus and what He has already done for us is the only way to salvation.


2. The Law was Given to Lead us to Christ (3:15-25)


"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith" (3:24)

A. The law cannot cancel the covenant made with Abraham

The covenant with Abraham was one of grace.


B. "What purpose then does the law serve?"

1. Paul states that the Law "was added because of transgressions until the Seed to Whom the promises referred had come"  See also Rom 3:19 and 5:20.  By pointing out our sins, and making us aware of how short we are of God's perfect standard, the Law causes us to realize our need for a Savior, and points us to Christ.  The Law was given to Moses to give to the people in order to restrain sin and to reveal God's holy character to His chosen.  With the coming of Christ, the law is no longer needed, and the Old Covenant is replaced.


2. Israel being "locked up" refers to God's protection of her during Old Testament times, as He sovereignty elected Israel to be His people of covenant.  God had shielded His chosen people from the evil pagan world, and a wall of separation was built between Israel and the Gentile world.  This wall would be destroyed during this present age of grace (see Eph 2:11-22). 


3. The illustration of the role of the guardian was to prepare the child for maturity.  However, once the child came of age, there was no longer any need for the guardian.  The Law, like the guardian, was to serve a temporary purpose of keeping Israel protected from the evils of the world.  Yet, the Law would only point to the coming of the Messiah.  When the Seed of promise arrived, there would no longer be any need for the Law. 


3. Now You are Sons, not Slaves (3:26-4:7)


"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…" (3:26)


A. The right to be God's child is something that only can be attained by the grace of God; it could never be earned by human merit. 


B. The unity of believers in Christ

All believers who are baptized into Christ are baptized into One Body (Eph 2:11-22).   The Law given to the Jews resulted in separation between Jew and Gentile, and in dominance of the male gender. 


C. By belonging to Christ, we become heirs to the promise.


D. Redeem those who were under the law

The word "redeem" in 4:5 refers not to redemption from the curse of the Law, but from slavery to the rigorous Mosaic system.  Paul had just completed telling the Galatians what the purpose of the Law was, and he then was about to convey his concerns that they would be facing slavery themselves if they gave in to the Judaizers. 


4. To go Back to Legalism is to Become a Slave Again (4:8-20)


"But now that you know God  or rather are known by God  how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" (4:9)


A. Now you know God

Paul takes a look back at the state the Galatians were in prior to receiving the Gospel (they did not know God).  He then reminds them of their current state -- how through the Gospel given them, they now know God.  This knowledge of God is based on saving faith in God's Son.  Knowing God in this deep personal way is what Jesus was referring to in Jn 17:3.  When he refers to "weak and miserable principles," he is not referring to their going back into paganism, but instead the following of religious observances which provide no spiritual benefit.  Paul feared that his efforts in evangelizing the churches in Galatia would be wasted if they would revert to the practices of Judaism, and not rely on the work of Christ for their salvation. 

B. Paul's concern for the Church

1. Paul recounts how he was graciously received by the Galatians when he passed through their cities during his first missionary journey.  Although he was sick at the time and was a burden to them, they nonetheless treated him with love.  He had witnessed their salvation experience and their new joy.   


2. However, the love they once showed for Paul was growing cold.  Paul states that they would have given their very eyes for him if they could do so.  There are two ways to interpret this statement.  Some Bible scholars contend that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor 12:7) was a physical infirmity which affected his eyesight.  They point to the closing of Galatians in which Paul said, "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand."  Others believe that Paul is simply showing the very depths of the love the Galatians once had for him, and the extent to which they would have given him anything he needed.  No matter how this verse is interpreted, the point to be gathered is that relations between the Galatian Christians and Paul were not what they once were, and this was because of the Judaizers.


3. In v. 16, Paul asks a question which he had hoped would pierce their hearts.  He had brought them the Truth in his role as an evangelist, and they welcomed him in love.  Now, facing the influence of false teachers who discredited Paul's apostleship and message, these same converts were looking at Paul as an enemy.  They should have discerned the error in the message of the Judaizers and sided with Paul, but just the opposite was taking place.


4. "I am again in the pains of childbirth" shows Paul's longing to see the Galatians come to spiritual maturity. 


5. An Old Testament Illustration (4:21-31)


"Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise" (4:28)


A. Sarah and Hagar

Paul refers to the story of Abraham and his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.  Hagar the slave woman represents the Law and the city of Jerusalem on earth; Sarah the free woman and wife of Abraham represents the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem which is in Heaven.


B. "You who want to be under the law."

Paul wanted them to realize that the Judaizers did not make them aware of the tremendous consequences of being under Law, and not under grace.


C. Isaac and Ishmael

1. God promised Abraham descendants of number such as the stars in the heavens (Gen 15:5), and this promise would be realized one day through the birth of his son Isaac.  The child of promise would be born to Abraham and his wife Sarah very late in life, when she, by all natural means, would have been far too old to conceive.  However, Abraham and Sarah grew impatient in waiting for Isaac to eventually be born, and Abraham took his wife's slave woman, Hagar, and had relations with her, thus giving birth to Ishmael "in the ordinary way."


2. The covenant God had made with Abraham concerned only the child of promise.  The child born to Sarah represents the promise made by God to Abraham which was fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  The child born to Hagar represents the Law and its slavery.  The city of Jerusalem during Paul's epistle was under slavery in two ways.  First, due to the Roman presence, the Jews were under political bondage.  Second, having rejected the Messiah, Jerusalem was under the slavery of the Law, which provided no hope for salvation.  On the other hand, Sarah represents the New Jerusalem, the future home of believers following Christ's return.  This is the Heavenly City which will never fade.


3. Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, so too were the Judaizers opposing the Christians.  Paul himself suffered more at the hands of the Jews than from the Gentiles.  In v. 31, Paul reminds them of their inheritance, and tells them that they are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman, and that they should therefore live in the freedom to which they had been called.


Chapter Four

Freedom in Christ (5:1-6:18)


1. An Exhortation to Freedom (5:1-12)


"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (5:1)


A. Christ has set us free

Upon coming to saving faith in Christ, one is no longer a slave to sin (Rom 6:6-18).  These Galatians had been set free from the bondage of the law (and of sin and the consequences of sin).  Paul was encouraging them to "stand firm," and to not become enslaved again.  They had come to know Christ and His free gift of grace; now they were considering abandoning grace.


B. Circumcision

1. If the Galatians were to let themselves be circumcised, they would be adding to grace.  To do so would take away the meaning of the Cross.  To add works to grace would show that one did not have complete faith that Christ's death is enough.   Paul was not condemning circumcision, for he had Timothy circumcised for the benefit of his ministry (Acts 16:13).  He is however, condemning any practice which one looks to as a means of contributing to one's salvation.


2. If any man had in fact gone ahead and been circumcised, Paul makes it clear that he would then have to obey the entire Law.  Anyone obligated to obey the entire Law could never do so, and so would be guilty of the entire Law (James 2:10). 


C. Fallen from grace

Those who put trust in the law cancel the power of grace.  When we try to do good on our own to make God accept us, we are actually being driven farther from Him.


D. The offense of the cross

1. The Cross was a stumbling block (Greek: skandalon) to the Jews who had rejected the Messiah and who preferred to keep the Law ( 1 Cor 1:231 Pet 2:7, 8).  To many people, the Cross is offensive because the Gospel proclaims the total sinfulness of man and his need to depend on a Savior.  Man, in his own foolish pride, tends to reject the simplicity of the Cross.


2. Paul issues a sharp statement toward the Judaizers who were seeking to convert the Galatians.  He wishes that those who preach circumcision would castrate themselves.  With the end of the Law, there was no longer any need for circumcision.  God only desires circumcision of the heart.


2. The Key: Live by the Spirit, not the Flesh (5:13-26)


"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want" (5:17)


A. Live in the freedom to which you were called

Some may abuse such freedom, and others may teach that justification by grace through faith is a license to sin.  The Judaizers were telling the Galatians that Paul preached a message which encouraged sin.  However, here Paul presents the true way to overcome sin -- not by adherence to legalism, but in submission to God's Spirit. 


B. Love fulfills the law

Paul sums up the law, quoting Lev 19:18.  It was not important for them to follow the Law anymore than to love one another.  In so doing, they would live the lives that God desires them to live.   


C. Live by the Spirit

This means to live life in daily submission to the Holy Spirit.  By surrendering to the Holy Spirit, a believer would not be living to fulfill his carnal desires.  On the other hand, if one is living according to the flesh, he cannot please God.  The real solution to sin is not to fight against the flesh by means of self-will, but rather to surrender our wills completely to God.  Good advice for the Christian would be to stop focusing on fighting sin, and to focus on seeking God.


D. The sinful nature

1. In vv. 19-21, Paul identifies the sins of the sinful nature.  The first three sins mentioned are sexual in nature.  Sexual immorality (Gr., porneia) refers to any kind of sexual relations outside of marriage, and is often translated "fornication."  Impurity (Gr., akatharsia) refers to moral filthiness in thoughts, speech and actions.  Debauchery (Gr., aselgeia) speaks of a shameless and wicked appetite.


2. The next two sins, idolatry and witchcraft, are religious sins.  Idolatry is the worship of pagan gods and bowing down to images.  This can also extend to include anything or anyone that we look to in order to fulfill the desires of our hearts, and in so doing place an object or person ahead of God in our lives.  Witchcraft comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, which deals with the use of drugs to produce mind altering states.  It also involves the desire to control people and circumstances.


3. Eight sins against society are listed next (20-21).


E. The fruit of the Spirit

1. In v. 22, Paul turns his attention to the life marked by obedience to the Holy Spirit, and he presents nine character traits of the Spirit-filled life.  This fruit cannot be produced by human effort, but result from abiding in the Lord and walking in obedience to Him (Jn 15:18).  As a believer matures in the Lord by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, he or she should see greater and greater manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit.


2. While the Law was given in order to hold in check the sins of the flesh, Paul makes the obvious statement that there is no law to restrain the fruit of the Spirit.  Given the wonderful benefits of the Spirit-lead life, who in their right mind would seek to place limitations on the grace God desires to bestow upon His children?  Yet, this is precisely what the legalists were accomplishing in their desire to place the yoke of slavery (i.e., to the Law) around the necks of their converts.


F. Crucify the flesh

In v. 24, Paul uses words very similar to those found in Rom 6:6.  Christians have crucified the sinful nature at the time of their conversion.  This does not mean that the sinful nature no longer exists, for as Paul would later write in Romans chapter 7, the flesh is always there to wage war against the renewed mind.  By "keeping in step with the Spirit," a Christian can live the life God has intended for them to live. 


3. A Call for Mutual Help (6:1-10)


"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (6:2)


A. Restoring fallen brothers

Paul exhorts the believers to help one another out in their Christian walk.  If another believer is caught in a sin, someone who is mature or "spiritual" should restore him gently.  The way a Christian is expected to respond to a fellow believer who is caught in sin is much different from the way a legalist would handle the matter.  In restoring a fallen brother, the person who is coming to his aide should be careful not to fall prey to the same sin which trapped his brother. 


B. Do not compare

Believers are not to worry about how they compare with one another, or whose ministry may or may not be prospering.  If they are expending energies worried about such matters, then that is an indication that their hearts are not right with God.  Christian service should first and foremost bring glory to God, and secondly edify fellow believers or bring the Gospel to non-believers. 

C. Sowing and Reaping

1. Paul gives a solemn warning here that God cannot be mocked.  Anyone who thinks he or she can violate God's principles and not have to suffer the consequences of such actions is deceived.  The enemy approaches believers and places lies in their hearts that they can sin and get away with it.  However, a person will bear the consequences of his actions.  Those who continue to live in sin will in due time reap the judgment awaiting them.  Those who seek to obey the Spirit of God and desire to please Him will reap the reward of eternal life in Heaven and abundant life on earth.  Sowing to the Spirit here is specifically referring to doing good to others (see v 6, 9-10).


2. Paul encourages the believers to continue on in doing good and to not grow tired in the ministries God has called them to, for in due time they will reap a harvest if they continue to persevere.  Often times it may seem that the fruits of our ministry may never be realized, but God is faithful and if we operate in the Spirit, the harvest will come and the fruits of our labors will be seen.


4. Conclusion


"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (6:14).


A. "With my own hand"

Paul had a scribe write his letters, but often wrote the greeting in his own hand.  In v. 12, he refers to the Judaizers as "those who want to make a good impression outwardly."  Their motives to win converts were largely selfish as they sought to puff themselves up by boasting in the number of converts they could win over.    


B. "...that they may boast in your flesh."

Paul makes an interesting statement in v. 13.  Here, these men sought to impose numerous legal requirements on the Gentile believers, and they themselves did not obey the Law.  If the Jews who had been given the Law when it held value did not obey the Law, then why should they expect Gentiles, who were themselves included in a far better covenant, to follow it?  The legalists sought to boast in the number of Galatians they could win over to their belief system and were more interested in their own agenda than in God's. 


C. Boasting in the cross

Paul exclaims that the only thing that he would wish to boast in is the cross of his Lord.   All that mattered was the cross and sacrifice Jesus made (Phil 3).  Paul carried around on his body the "marks of Christ." 



Choose two of the following passages, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

Gal 2:11-21;     Gal 3:1-9;     Gal 5:1-15


First Scripture


Main Point:






Second Scripture


Main Point:









Part Three


1. Revision:


Discussion Groups:

Revise the material in this course together.  Ask one another the following questions (and more if you want to come up with your own).  Try to answer as many as possible without looking in your notes.


1. What is righteousness?


2. What is justification?


3. What is sanctification?


4. What is glorification?


5. What does the first three chapters of Romans reveal about man?


6. What is the theme (main topic) of Romans and Galatians?


7. What is true circumcision?  What is false circumcision?


8. What are some keys to becoming sanctified (from the books of Romans and Galatians)?


9. Describe God's dealings with the Israelites.  Why is it good for believers to be aware of this?


10. In Romans 12, how does Paul tell us to live?


11. What does Paul teach about "disputable matters" in Romans 14-15?


12. Who were the judaizers?


13. How did Paul learn the Gospel?


14. What is the symbolism of Hagar and Sarah;  Isaac and Ishmael?


15. What does freedom in Christ mean?


16. What command fulfills the whole law?


17. What happens if you agree to be circumcised (or try to be justified by any outward act)?


18. How is a person justified?  How does a person grow in Christ?



2. Questions:

Ask questions that you wrote down during the month as you studied the material, or any other question you may have.



Cell Groups

Look at the Making it Personal boxes from the home assignment.  What are some things God showed you about yourself through this study?  How are you putting these truths into your life?


What does it mean to be a living sacrifice?


Describe what you have learned about how to grow in Christ and how to bear the fruit of the Spirit.  How has this affected your life?