Galatians 5:2-15 Study Guide
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Main Idea: Faith-filled freedom drives loving service.
Overview: In this section, Paul passionately describes the danger of legalism by exposing the bondage and separation it brings. In contrast, believers who walk in faith experience true freedom in Christ, which leads to loving service.
Observation and Interpretation:
- Accepting circumcision doesn’t count for anything. So why is Paul so strongly against those that required it? What was the danger of putting this requirement on an equal level with the gospel? (Galatians 5:9)
- Paul stated that the Galatians started “running well” but were hindered from “obeying the truth” by putting confidence in their circumcision. How can you determine the difference between legalistic living and “running well” and “obeying the truth?”
- Freedom in Christ can motivate love that fulfills the law—something legalism can’t do. Read Galatians 5:13–15, John 8:36, and Romans 6:20–23.
- What is true freedom? Can serving be considered freedom? How does freedom motivate believers to serve one another?
- How can freedom be abused? What are the consequences?
- Paul’s harsh language toward the false teachers shows us the seriousness of misleading other believers. How should this attitude affect the way you lead or disciple others?
- What would our church look like if everyone was using their freedom to serve and love one another? What would happen if everyone used their freedom as an opportunity for the flesh?
- Paul starts this section by confronting legalism and finishes it by talking about abusing Christian freedom. How can both distortions of the gospel be a hindrance to our witness to unbelievers?
Prayer Point: Thank God for the freedom and hope that he has given us in the gospel! Ask him to reveal anything that is keeping you from walking in faith-filled freedom.