Adult Sunday School

“It is No Longer I That Lives, But Christ Lives in Me”

Part 8 of our Galatians lesson series ...

Galatians 2:19-21

(19) For I, through the Law, died to the Law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. (20) It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself over for me. (21) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
In a previous lesson, I suggested that “the things that I destroyed” from verse 18 refers to not to the works of the Law, as is virtually unanimously understood, but to the works of the flesh, i.e., to sin. In this post I want to quickly examine how this understanding of Galatians 2:17-18 affects our reading of the final three verses in the chapter. (more…)

By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

A Gospel of Reconciliation, Not Merely Justification

Part 7 of our Galatians lesson series, or really an augmentation of that part of the series ...

Galatians 2:17-18

(17) But if we who seek to be justified in Christ are ourselves also found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Absolutely not! (18) For those things that I destroyed, if I build them up again I prove myself to be a transgressor.
In the last paragraph of Galatians 2, Paul again seems to be responding (at least in part) to the Judaizer’s attacks against him. Based on passages both in Romans as well as Galatians, it seems that the Judaizers had a two part attack against Paul and his gospel. First, they said, “Paul is not preaching to you the whole gospel, but only its easy and attractive first part. He is doing this because he wants to be highly esteemed among men.” Second they said, “Paul is telling you that all you have to do to be righteous is believe, meaning that you can continue to act however you want afterwards. In fact, Paul says that God is glorified by your sin.” But this is a willful misunderstanding and distortion of what Paul actually says. In this post, we are just going to focus on verses 17-18, because they are pivotal, extremely difficult to understand, and subjects of intense debate among scholars. (more…)

By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

“By the Works of the Law No Flesh Will Be Justified”

Part 6 of our Galatians series ...

Galatians 2:11-16

(11) When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was condemning himself. (12) For before some from James had come, he had been eating with the Gentiles. When they came, however, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcision. (13) And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (14) But when I saw that they were not walking correctly in view of the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, “If you, being a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (15) We who are Jews by nature and not Gentile “sinners” (16) know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faithfulness of Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no flesh will be justified.

Paul Confronts Peter

In the first half of Galatians 2, Paul tells us that the gospel message that he had come to by the guidance of the Holy Spirit was essentially no different from that proclaimed by Jesus’ original disciples. In fact, not only did the pillars of the Jerusalem Church not have anything to add to Paul, but Paul himself had even one time been in a position where he had had to correct one of those pillars, Peter, when Peter had begun compromising in precisely the way that Paul had refused to with the “pseudo-brethren” in Jerusalem. Not only does this vignette put the final nail in the coffin of the false accusation that Paul is only interested in pleasing people with his man-made and too-easy gospel, but it also leads into the substance of Paul’s counter-argument against the Judaizers, and thus the real substance of Galatians. (more…)

By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

When Compromise Compromises the Gospel

Part five of our Galatians series ...

Galatians 2:3-5

(3) But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised (4) because of false brothers smuggled in (who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus in order to enslave us), (5) to whom we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Paul Refuses to Compromise on Circumcision

In the first two chapters of Galatians, Paul has so far been concerned to show that his gospel message and his apostolic commission are directly from God rather than mediated through humans and thus subject to the almost inevitable corruption of human interest. He also has made a point of showing that in his time serving Jesus he has actually avoided easy and obvious opportunities to ingratiate himself with Church leadership in Jerusalem. It would have made sense for him to spend more than two weeks in Jerusalem and to more intentionally rub shoulders with Church leaders, but he didn’t. If he had wanted to move up in the organization’s ranks, he probably should have spent more than just two weeks in Jerusalem during the first 15 or so years of his Christian life. (more…)

By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

“False Brothers Smuggled In”

Part 4 of our Galatians series ...

Galatians 2:3-10

(3) But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised (4) because of false brothers smuggled in (who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus in order to enslave us), (5) to whom we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (6) And from those who seemed to be something (what they were at that point matters nothing to me; God does not show partiality)—those who seemed to be important added nothing to me. (7) Rather, seeing that I have been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised (8) (for one working in Peter in his apostolic mission to the circumcised worked also through me to the Gentiles), (9) and perceiving the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, those who seemed to be pillars, gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (10) They asked only that we remember the poor, which I myself was eager to do.

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By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

Why Paul Went To Jerusalem

Part 3 of our Galatians series ...

Galatians 2:1-2

(1) Then after fourteen years again I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking along also Titus. (2) I went up according to revelation; and presented to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles (I did this privately with those who appeared to be important), lest somehow I was running or had run in vain.
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By Kerry Lee, ago
Adult Sunday School

The Divine Origin of Paul’s Gospel

Part 2 of our Galatians lesson series.

Galatians 1:11-24

(11) I am letting you know, brothers, that the gospel proclaimed by me is not of human origin. (12) Nor did I receive it from man, but through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (13) For you heard about my conduct when I was in Judaism, that I persecuted the church of God to an extreme degree and I was trying to destroy it, (14) how I advanced in Judaism beyond all my contemporaries, being extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. (15) When the one separating me from my mother’s womb and calling me by his grace was pleased (16) to reveal his son in me so that I might proclaim his good news among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, (17) nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and then again returned to Damascus. (18) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit with Peter, and I remained with him 15 days. (19) I did not see any other of the apostles, except James the brother of the Lord. (20) These things I write to you, behold before God I am not lying. (21) Then I came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (22) I was unknown by face to the churches of the Jews who were in Christ, (23) they were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us now proclaims the gospel he once tried to destroy,” (24) and they glorified God on account of me.
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By Kerry Lee, ago