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Galatians 4:8-20 Study Guide

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Galatians 4:8-20

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. 12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Main Idea: We are free in Christ; do not become enslaved to new idols.

Overview: The Galatians, having been set free from their former practices of idolatry, are in danger of falling into a new idolatry of law and structure. False teachers have come in who teach the Galatians to observe the Jewish law, contrary to what Paul taught. Paul’s heart is concerned for them like a father for his children, and he fears they have turned to a false gospel.

Observation and Interpretation:


  • In Galatians 4:7, Paul says we’re changed from slaves to sons and heirs as recipients of the gospel. The Galatians seem to be returning to slavery in Galatians 4:8-10. How are they returning to slavery, and why?
  • 2. Concerning the Jewish law and rituals, Paul wanted the Galatians to become as he is. What did he mean by that? How did Paul relate to the law differently than the Galatians?
  • In Galatians 4:16, why does Paul say he has become the enemy by telling the Galatians the truth?

Application: 


  • What gods do we turn to instead of the freedom of the gospel? In what areas do we live in slavery instead of sonship?
  • Some Galatians oppose Paul for preaching the truth of the gospel (Galatians 4:16). Why is the truth sometimes hard for us to hear? What truth is especially hard for you to understand?
  • In Galatians 4:17, Paul says, “They make much of you, but for no good purpose.” In other words, the false teachers are flatterers. What similar philosophies do we face in our own culture? How can we become aware of flattery in our own lives?
  • Paul says he is “in the anguish of childbirth again” (Galatians 4:19) for the Galatians. The emotion he expresses is intense. How can we follow Paul’s example in our own discipleship relationships?

Prayer Point: Spend some time thanking God that you have been set free from sin!