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Galatians

How is it that a letter that is dominated by the question of circumcision be relevant to our present?

Are foreskins that important?

What is it about circumcision that tells us about something important in terms of the Christian life?

Who was it written to?

Gentile Christians

Under pressure to adopt Jewish practices.

How do you think this appeal would have happened?

1. Where they agreed.....

2. Adding to your faith and completing your salvation

Therefore, Galatians is not about salvation by faith in Christ alone versus salvation by works alone.
The opponents believed in Christ. But they believed in Christ plus their obedience to the Jewish
law.

Think it can't happen today.

Therefore, Galatians is asking these questions:

On what basis are we saved (in particular, Gentiles)?


Do Gentiles need to complete their salvation by grace by adopting Jewish customs?

The response

This is perhaps Paul's angriest letter.

9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than
what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (1:9)

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (3:1)

12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (5:12)

When the gospel is at stake, Paul goes berserk.

The Argument of Galatians

1:1-9 Begins with a curse:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ
and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are
throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 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! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you
a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

This is thoroughly unlike Paul. He normally opens with a thanksgiving and prayer. Even for the
misbehaving Corinthians he can manage that.

1:10 – 2:14 – Defense of Paul's apostleship


2:15-21 – The core point stated

Justification before God is not by observance of the law, but by faith in Jesus. That is to say, my
right-standing with God, and my belonging to his people, is no longer dependent on whether I am a
Jew and practice the Jewish boundary markers. It is all on the basis of Jesus that I belong to God,
fully and completely his in Christ.

Furthermore, my godly living is no longer empowered by the law (“For through the law I died to
the law so that I might live for God”), but by Christ and his Spirit.

Therefore, the essence of Galatians is that one becomes entirely right with God through Christ, and
one progresses onwards in the Christian life because of Christ. Galatians is not just about
justification, but also sanctification – because how you get in is how you go on.

3:1-4:7

Paul then enters into a complex argument about what it means to be a part of the people of God.

Who are the true children of Abraham?

 Those who are circumcised?

 Those who have faith?

So what was the purpose of the law?

 A temporary supervisor which leads us to Jesus (Gal 3:24)

The key concluding verses come in 3:26-28:

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into
Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male
nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s
seed, and heirs according to the promise.
There is nothing more beyond Christ. The dangers of the deeper life.

4:8-5:12

The dangers of reversing God's history of salvation

5:13 – 6:18

The end of the law as the means of our righteousness does not mean the end of our obedience.
Rather, the coming of the Spirit liberates us for obedience:

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love.

Indeed, Christians (both Jew and Gentile) obey God better -

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The law sets boundaries, whereas the Spirit enables fruit.


Ephesians

Covers an enormous amount of material, but focusses particular on the one new people of God that
has been created through the cross. Here is where passages like this come into their own:

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the
dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and
regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making
peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put
to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to
those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people

and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with
Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and
rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become
a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Some Test Cases in Ephesians: Filled with the Spirit and Spiritual
Warfare

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every
opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the
Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the
Spirit.

Get drunk on the Spirit?

Reading within context.

Text is defined by the issue of being the person you want to become. Look at verse 15:

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,


or look at verse 17:

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

What is the contrast – drunk on wine, or filled with the Spirit.

Does Ephesians talk about fullness or filling anywhere else = Eph 1:23; 3:19, and crucially 4:13.

we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining
to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (4:13)

Fullness in 4:13 = becoming like Jesus, adopting his character and values.

Ephesians 5:18 – to be filled = to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ – to become
more like Jesus.

Should “filled with the Spirit”, be translated “filled by the Spirit”.

Reading in Context means

 You have to ask – has this book talked about fullness before?

 And what is this whole section of Paul's letter about?

 Paul's whole goal in this section is that we would be:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (5:1)


Spiritual Warfare

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you
can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that
when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done
everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the
breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from
the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can
extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of
the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of
prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will

fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray
that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Just a tacked-on bit at the end?

Point number 1 that we should already know is – Christ has already defeated every evil spiritual
force.

Ephesians 1:18-22
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope
to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his
incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in
the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that
can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things
under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
Point number 2 - When you trusted in Christ, you also experienced Christ’s victory.

Ephesians 2:4-6
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even
when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up
with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…

Point number 3 - Satan’s failure is most clearly seen when we gather together as God’s people.

Ephesians 3:10-11
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known
to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he
accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The gathered church, where the nations meet and are reconciled, signals Satan's defeat.

So why does the warfare continue?

Understanding the Armour in Context

The Belt of Truth – Two aspects - Eph 1:13, 4:21


- Eph 4:15

The BreastPlate of Righteousness – Eph 5:8-21

The Gospel of Peace – Eph 2:14-17; Eph 4:3

Shield of Faith – Eph 2:8-10; 4:13

Helmet of Salvation – Eph 1:13; 2:5-10

Sword of the Spirit (Word of God) – Eph 1:13


Prayer in the Spirit – Eph 2:18

The armour is the Christian life.

The difference between winning and standing (v.11; 13, 14).

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