Most scholars think the Roman church Paul is writing to was a mix of Jewish and Greek Christians, and that there was some conflict between the two groups as to who was more “right” in their practice of faith. Much of Paul’s letter is to help “level the playing field” and bring unity in this early church.
When you read the opening to Paul’s letter here (verses 1:1-7) what jumps out at you that might be central to what Paul wants the people in Rome to hear and understand?
Why do you think Paul launches into God’s anger so early in the letter? How does that fit with his more primary message (in verses 1:8-9)?
If you were one of the Jewish members of the church, hearing what Paul writes about Greek culture in verses 1:18-32, how would you have been feeling? How about if you were one of the Greeks?
After yesterday’s reading, how would you have felt as one of the Jewish church members when Paul turns the tables in chapter 2? Which group actually gets the bigger critique? Why do you think that is?
What does Paul say is the true indicator of whether you are in good relationship with God?
When you look at your own life, where would you say you are on the spectrum of “knowing the right things” vs. “living out the right things”?
Have you ever heard anyone make excuses for their failures like the ones in verses 3:5-8? What kinds of justifications have you made in your own life?
If you were to pick a verse (or few verses) from this chapter that might be Paul’s main point so far in the letter, what would they be?
How easy is it for you to trust (have faith in) God making you right without it being based on your own effort? (see verse 3:27-28)
Why do you think Paul goes back to the example of Abraham here (the “father” of the Jewish people)? What point is he trying to make about some of the “outward” signs of Jewish practice (like circumcision)?
If you had been one of the Greeks, hearing what Paul says about your “in status” in verses 4:11-17, how would you have responded?
Does the example of Abraham’s faith encourage you? Inspire you? Challenge you?
How does the tone of this chapter compare to the somewhat harsh tone of the last few chapters? Why do you think Paul did this?
Seeing that Adam was “pre-Abraham” and “pre-God choosing a people,” what might be the reason Paul uses him as an illustration here?
What part of how Paul describes what Jesus has done and “God’s wonderful grace” in this chapter is the most inspiring for you today?
It appears that a big part of what Paul is addressing here in Galatia (and in many of his other letters) are Jewish Christians who are telling Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians that in order to “really be Christian” they need to follow Jewish “Law”, especially being circumcised (yeah, awkward… but very important for Jewish identity as God’s people).
What does Paul’s introduction here show about how he wants to frame this controversy?
If you had to say from these verses what Paul means by the true “gospel of Christ”, what would you say it is?
Are there any ways in your life right now that you might you be trying to please people more than God?
Why do you think it’s important for Paul that people know the gospel he taught them was directly from Jesus and not from another human?
What might Paul have in common (in his past) with the people teaching these Galatians they have to obey the law? Where do they differ?
Are there any parts of your faith that you do just because of “tradition” and not because it leads you into deeper relationship with God?
Why would it have been important that Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem to get validation of what they were teaching about the freedom of Gentile’s in Christ?
Why do you think it’s so hard for Peter and the other Jewish Christians to stand up against the “circumcision party”? What would you have done?
When you read verse 20, how does this compare to how you approach your faith and living for God? How might you live into this model?
Why does Paul bring Abraham (the “father of God’s chosen people”) into this discussion? What would it have meant to Gentile Christians to be called ”sons (and daughters) of Abraham”?
In your own life, would you say you rely on the good things you do for God or on the Spirit of God that comes through faith?
How does what Jesus did on the cross release us from the need to live by a set of religious rules?
How should the new relationship we have with God through what Jesus did transform how we relate to each other? (see verse 28)
What would you say is the difference here between being a “slave” as Paul describes it and being a child and “heir” of God? Which category would you say describes you more this week?
When you think of your relationship with God, would you say it’s more about trying to do things for Him or about being with and getting to know Him?