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Galatians Bible Study

Galatians Bible Study

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Published by Doug Floyd
Here are notes from a Bible study I led on the book of Galatians.
Here are notes from a Bible study I led on the book of Galatians.

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Published by: Doug Floyd on Jul 08, 2007
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Galatians

Defending the “Good News” that’s too good to be true
By Doug Floyd

Galatians is a letter Paul wrote to the churches he planted in Galatia. He sent the letter sometime between late 40s and late 50s AD. This letter appears at least five to ten years before any of the gospels. He writes with intense passion about the condition of the church and his concern that they are leaving the gospel he preached for another gospel, which is really no gospel at all. (I acknowledge my debt to NT Wright whose ideas inspired my thoughts on the gospel of Galatians.)

Who was Paul writing to?
It is not clear if Paul was writing to the northern Galatians or those living in Southern Galatia or both. Southern Galatia Southern Galatia was Roman and a conglomeration of multiple people groups. Much like other Roman colonies, there religious system would most likely be a series of temples honoring various deities. Each temple has its own members. These sects or clubs were just as much a social convention as a spiritual rite, but some people were truly devoted. Each had a system of secret rituals and initiations which offered members different levels of authority within the club. Northern Galatia

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The northern Galatians were Celts, a tribal people who were considered barbaric by Roman standards. Their religious system had mixed with Roman religion and eventually began duplicating the mythology, but their religion was more animistic. They had rituals for the tree god, the water god, the creek god, and so on. Each ritual was designed to appease the god’s anger and secure favor. The only problem was that their gods often changed names and requirements, meaning their spiritual world was highly unstable. They often lived in fear of not following the correct ritual to assure blessings and ward off evil.

What was Paul writing about?
This letter is a passionate rebuke to churches that Paul has planted. He is upset because someone else (another preacher) has come through preaching “another gospel” and suggesting that Paul did not preach the whole gospel and did not really have true authority to preach the whole gospel. This suggests three questions that will surface through the letter: What is Paul’s gospel? What is his authority to preach this gospel? What is the other gospel that Paul rejects?

Divisions of Book
I. II. III. IV. V. Paul addresses the problem: They are abandoning the gospel he preached in favor of another gospel. (1:1-9) Paul defends his gospel based on his experience and authority. (1:10-2:21) Paul defends his gospel through theological arguments. (3:1-4:31) Paul demonstrates how the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit impacts way we live. (5:1-6:10) Paul concludes and offers a benediction. (6:11-18)

Paul addresses the problem. (1:1-9)
Galatians 1:1-9 1:1 I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I'm God-commissioned. 3 So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! 4 We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue. 5 Glory to God forever! Oh, yes! 6 I can't believe your fickleness — how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! 7 It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head. 8 Let me be blunt: If one of us — even if an angel from heaven! — were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed. 9 I said it once; I'll say it again: If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed.

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(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

What does the word gospel mean?
The word gospel means “good news” or “good tidings.” It does not mean “good method,” “good advice” or “good principles for living.” It is an announcement of something that has already been done, not a command to act. A. Hebrews – For the Hebrews the “good tidings” refers God redeeming them from exile (See Isaiah 40-55) B. Greeks – For the Greeks “good tidings” refers to the announcement of the birth or accession of an emperor.

What does Paul mean by gospel?
Paul announces the “good tidings” that God has acted on behalf of humans and this whole world. Throughout his letters, Paul will describe the gospel in different ways but always meaning the same thing. In verse 4, he says, “…Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue.” Jesus encompasses the Hebrew and Greek meaning of the word “gospel.” He comes as Israel’s final king, Messiah, ending their exile, by purifying the temple, and defeating their enemies (Is 49). At the same time, Jesus is declared Lord of the entire world: He is bringing hope and light to all kingdoms and all peoples. He is inviting all people into the family of God and will rescue them from a life enslaved to sin and free them to a life animated by His Spirit. This gospel is an announcement of God’s action in human history. God enters human history in Jesus, defeats the powers of evil, and brings hope to all who trust in him. To those who trust him, he welcomes them into the family of God and says that your value is not based on race, gender, your skills, your intelligence, your family connections, your appearance, your income and so on. Your value is derived from His blessing. He has blessed and called you a vessel fit for honor. His loving and restoring action by the power of the Spirit is now becoming your identity. It is revealed in and through you in a particular way that is unique to you but at the same time it is welcoming you into a family, the family of God—that extends beyond all racial and cultural and gender boundaries. 1. Paul suggests the origin of his authority to preach the gospel. Jesus the Messiah and God the Father 2. Paul encapsulates the gospel. See verse 4. “We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue.”

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3. Paul expresses his frustration with the alternate gospel. While we don’t know specifically who is preaching this other gospel and all that it contains, we can deduce several things from Paul’s defense throughout the letter. A. These preachers are most probably Jewish Christians. B. They are suggesting that Paul is really a second tier apostle and didn’t have authority to preach the gospel. C. Thus the gospel Paul preached was incomplete. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah and His action will restore the Galatians but they must become Jews. The Messiah is a racial promise to the Jewish people. In order to fully partake of this gospel, Gentile must be circumcised and become Jews. D. It’s still good news but not quite as good as you first thought. To enjoy the full blessings you have to __________. 4. How can we understand this variant gospel today? It is adding any ritual or racial (group) requirements to the action of God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is good news about something that has happened: specifically something God has done that changes everything about our lives and our world. When we add anything that moves the focus beyond trusting what God has done such as overemphasis upon: Good things (such good disciplines, rituals, or religious observances) Experiences (suggesting those who have certain experiences have a higher rank in the church) Education (suggesting education or lack thereof makes one more fit for the gospel) Culture (suggesting a particular culture or way of life is the only way one can enjoy the fullness of the gospel) Performance (demanding a certain level of performance to qualify for God’s goodness) 5. This variant gospel moves the focus from God’s action to our actions. It results in A. Barriers between people groups, races, denominations, opinions, or political affiliations B. Judging different people or groups based on how well they meet our requirements or expectations. C. Trust in good things or good actions instead of God’s goodness.

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Galatians
Embracing the “Good News” that’s too good to be true
Galatians 1:10-2:21 The Good News and Paul’s New Identity in Christ When you meet someone new, the question is often asked, “What do you do?” This is really an identity question. Let me spin around the question, when you meet someone new, what do you want him or her to know about you? What are you proud of? What is worth relocating to pursue? What is worth taking less income to pursue? What is worth abandoning your identity (giving up family and home and income and friends) to pursue? Paul gives up everything for the “Good News” that’s too good to be true. What is the “Good News”? Here’s another attempt at restating the good news in fresh language: Actions have consequences. Here is a story that appears regularly in the news. A parent tells a child not to touch the gun in the bedroom. The children play with the gun, and one accidentally shoots the other one, killing them. The one child grows up under a cloud of shame and guilt they cannot escape. Under the stress, the parents divorce. In her pain the mother enters into depression and becomes an alcoholic. The other children grow up virtually parentless. The father goes through a string of marriages and after hurting multiple women, he finally lives alone in isolation. And the rippling consequences of one foolish action continues. This is the nature of sin. Actions as minor as angry words, evil thoughts, lying and so on, ripple through the fabric of creation. The consequences of sin bring death into every aspect of creation (Romans 6:23). Disharmony threatens the relationship between humans and God, humans and other humans, and humans and creation. Everything is in chaos (Romans 1:18-31). The “Good News” is that God responds by bearing the consequences of these actions (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-11). Jesus comes to earth fulfilling Israel’s long awaited king who will defeat their enemies and restore them. But in the process he bears the consequences of sin (Isaiah 49:6). All sin: every bit of pain, every bit of suffering, every bit of loneliness and depression caused by sin. He bears it all. As we trust in Jesus, he forgives our faults and restores us from the consequences of our own actions. Galatians 1:10 – Paul as Slave of Christ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

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Bondservant of Christ – From a Greek word Doulos, meaning slave. The Greek culture despised slaves. They gloried in their freedom. The idea of slavery has no position in their religious world view and the idea of kneeling as a form of subservience to the gods is not a part of Greek ritual. Some mystery religions include the idea of slavery to the gods but it is expressed in a service that includes bloody mutilation. The doulos has no power of personal choice over their lives. Paul uses the term to indicate his complete submission to the will of Jesus. He gives up his identity, his dreams, his goals, and embraces Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-18 – Paul as Zealot turned Gospel Preacher But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. NKJV Paul’s identity was his service to God and Israel as a true son, a Pharisee. With a zeal like Elijah, he studied and proclaimed the law and defended the law from those who would water down or change the Jewish faith through outside interference. Like Elijah fighting the prophets of Baal, Paul fights the early church because he sees it as a threat to God’s true Israel. Like Elijah who encounters God in the shuddering silence of the wilderness, Paul encounters God on the road to Damascus and learns that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This dramatic vision alters Paul’s complete grasp of reality. Everything he has believed is challenged and changed by this encounter. He now realizes that God has been preparing him for the Damascus road encounter from the time of his birth. Throughout his whole life God has been shaping and preparing for the now moment in Jesus Christ. The “Good News” is so good that he abandons everything in service of this gospel. He gives up his established identity, and feels a compulsion to take this Good News to others and proclaims the reality of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:18-2:10 Paul Befriended by Peter Paul Approved By the Leaders of Jerusalem Paul’s Ministry to Gentiles and Peter’s Ministry to Jews Affirmed In this series of events, Paul reveals that while he learned his “Good News” directly from Jesus Christ and not from the leaders of the Jerusalem church, yet nevertheless they affirm his ministry. He tells how at one point he takes an uncircumcised Gentile convert with him to Jerusalem and they affirm the ministry, and don’t require the Gentiles to become Jews through circumcision or by following the law. Jerusalem only asks that Paul

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continue to remember the poor, which is he is already zealous to do. Additionally, the leaders acknowledge the unique differences in Peter’s ministry to the Jews and Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. Both ministries look and function differently, yet both are affirmed as valid representations of the new church. Galatians 2:11-21 – Peter shares table fellowship at Antioch and then withdraws. Peter enjoys table fellowship with church at Antioch. This is a significant act for a Jew because they are mixing with a people the Jews normally avoid, who do not have the same sanitary laws and eat foods the Jews consider unclean. Table fellowship is a one of the predominant images of this early church. Rich and poor alike are welcomed at the table. Jew and Gentile alike feast at the table. It is a clear sign of the kingdom of God removing the status barriers of culture, race and even gender. All are welcome equally in the kingdom. Table fellowship points to the great end of time feast when all nations will gather for the great “wedding feast” between Jesus and his Bride (the people of God). Pressure from new arrival Jews causes Peter segregate from Gentiles and eat with Jews only. Peter’s action forms a domino effect and soon Barnabas and other Jews are joining him. Paul rebukes Peter directly and others indirectly by reminding them of the “Good News.” The “Good News” includes the announcement my racial identity is completely subsumed in Christ. I enjoy a relationship with Christ that is similar the relationship with the Father (See John 17 and John 15). This same level of intimacy extends from the love between the Father, Son and Spirit to each person with faith in Christ and between each person, shaping them into a unique family that trumps all racial, cultural and even denominational barriers. Galatians 2:20 is addressed to Peter and the Jews, but Paul is recounting it to Gentiles, and applying a message of faith over law (or faith in Christ as the basis for our identity before God and not racial origin as Jews). This verse is the pivotal verse in Galatians and becomes one of the pivotal verse in Christianity, reminding us of our uniquely intimate connection with Christ. With this in mind, let us return to the idea of the “Good News.” The ultimate result of the “Good News” is that the death and disharmony in this world are being overturned. His life is working itself out through all creation to restore all things (Romans 8:18-30; Colossians 1:19). He is creating and revealing a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Because God is personal He works out the gospel in personally in the lives of all who trust His action to restore them in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (John 1:12; John 3:16; Romans 10:9-13). Joy replaces sorrow. Peace replaces worry. Love replaces fear (Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22). Over time, the outworking of the gospel works in our lives in personal ways that reveal His glory in us. He brings his harmony or reconciliation to the world through us in personal ways. Paul grew up as a Pharisee, a teacher of the law. God’s grace shines into Paul’s life in way that his teaching gift is

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transformed and God works through it to restore harmony (reconcile the world to Himself) (2 Corinthian 5:18-19). Think about your identity. Those things you mentioned that you like other people to know about you, your strengths. God works through these to restore harmony (reconcile the world to Himself). He works through your interests and your passions to reveal His glory. So your uniqueness is an essential part of Him revealing His glory. He is not making you into Jesus. He is revealing Jesus through you (2 Corinthians 3:18). Now think about those things you’d rather people didn’t know about you. Think about the areas where you feel unsure of yourself or even embarrassed. Think about the areas where you feel weak. The thoughts or actions or habits that you don’t like to reveal or talk about. He is also revealing His glory there. In fact, the great mystery of the “Good News” is that the weak areas are even more significant in God’s purposes. You cannot always understand how, but in your weakness He is revealing His glory and bringing harmony to the world (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is exactly what He revealed Paul, so that Paul realizes that he can even glory in his weaknesses.

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Living the “Good News” that’s too good to be true
Galatians 5 - 6 Paul has spent the first four chapters of Galatians defining and defending the good news of God’s action in human history. He tells how God has acted in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to restore Israel and redeem mankind in the process, reversing the consequences of sin. This unbelievable hope is offered through faith in Christ and does not require Torah observance. Once we understand this good news as an announcement of God’s gracious action, then we can begin to contemplate the impact such news might have on the way we live. In chapters 5 and 6, Paul will conclude this letter of hope with a description of what a life looks like that is restored and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I. The good news offers freedom instead of slavery. Paul ends the last section by contrasting the slavery of reliance on flesh (in Torah observance) with the freedom of the Spirit (the promised good news of God’s action). Now continuing with this theme, he exhorts his listeners to live freely in the Spirit and not bound by the slavery of flesh in failed Torah observance (see verse 3 - remember incomplete obedience is a curse). Attempting Torah observance as some kind of add-on to following Christ really means to fall from grace. In verses 5 and 6, Paul mentions three of his favorite themes: faith, hope and love. These three are defining elements of life in the Spirit and actually set the stage for the rest of his discussion on life in the Spirit. So what does Paul mean by “faith, hope, and love?” Each of us have heard sermons, read passages and probably thought deeply about the meaning of these words. I would like to offer a few thoughts on Paul’s use of these words throughout his letters. II. Love fulfills the law. We are called to love. Torah observance may keep blood lines pure, and may keep a common memory alive, but it has no power to produce love for one another. Under Torah, we act on the basis of commands; in the Spirit, we act on the basis of relationship. III. Our life will bear the fruit of our faith. Throughout Galatians Paul has talked about Torah observance and in particular circumcision—a cutting of human flesh. Torah is the lifestyle of Jewish people and is part of their fleshly identity. In other words, their born in a culture of Torah. Now Paul spins this argument around and suggests that if your life is energized purely on the basis of your culture and the world you are born into—the fleshly identity—you’re life will manifest works of the flesh: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

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Notice how all these works are various manifestation of selfishness. Flesh cannot produce love. Even when it looks religious, it produces selfishness (this is also the argument of 1 Corinthians 13). But when we live a life characterized by the grace of the Holy Spirit. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-25 Throughout his letters, Paul uses language that indicates our condition (indicative) and language that commands us to act (imperative). In verse 25, Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit” (indicating a state of grace that we live in), “let us walk in the Spirit” (commanding to live out the reality of our condition). In one sense, the complete work of grace means that we have been grafted into the family of God and are being transformed into his nature. Because this is true and assured, we now seek to live out the reality of this life in all we say and do. IV. One for all and all for one. 1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For each one shall bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5 Remember the Three Musketeers? They’re a team. They look out for one another—they have each other’s back. This is the mystique that my wife used to see in the Mafia—a family. You don’t cross the family because they look out for one another. The most important trait in the “family’ is loyalty. Now in reality, the Mafia is poor imitation of true family. There is no grace; there is no forgiveness and betrayal means death. This is not the family of God. The family of God covers one another, protects one another, and looks out for one another. Unlike the Mafia, if someone falls into sin, we gently restore them. Unfortunately, sometimes we’ve behaved more like the Mafia—cutting off those who have fallen. The good news of God’s action in history means that we have been incorporated into a family that spans across space and time. Part of working out our faith is learning to live and act in such a way that we cover, protect and seek to restore our family.

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V. Sowing and reaping—scarcity versus abundance
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Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:6-10 Paul, every so gently, addresses the importance of providing for those who tend the flock. But at the same time, he offers a vision for how life works. The willingness to support their ministers is a also a sign of their willingness to give and live by the Spirit. He says we can live in such a way that we sow to the Spirit or we live purely for selfish gain— sowing to the flesh. But the ministry of grace is that we’ve already reaped a harvest before we sow. We’ve actually already reaped an abundance of the goodness of God. If we realize this, we might life out of this abundance, freely giving of ourselves on behalf of others—this impacts everything about the way we live from money to time to attitudes. But if we live out of a sense of scarcity, we will always be striving to get more for fear there won’t be enough. This inward-focused living can only result in a diminished life that is characterized by lack. In other words, our own attitude and actions and fear of scarcity will result in a life characterized by scarcity. VI. The Cruciform life—bearing the marks of grace 11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. 16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Galatians 6:11-18 Paul ends his discussion about living in the reality of the good news by focusing on the cross. While some may be embracing an outward symbol (circumcision), Paul says the true mark of the Christian is bearing the cross. For Paul, the cross of Christ is the entrance or breaking forth of the new heaven and new earth into the here and now.

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Thus the cross and suffering resulting from the cross should not be avoided but embraced. 2 Corinthians develops this theme more fully when Paul says that though I am outwardly wasting away, I am inwardly being renewed day by day. In the cross of Christ, the claims of the old world and the judgment of the old world were fulfilled. And now by faith in Christ, I enjoy the fruit of this good news and willingly embrace any suffering that might come as a result of my confession of faith. In the end Paul finishes his letter in the same place he started—grace. It is God’s grace from first to last. Christ alone is our hope and our sustainer in all things. Addendum – What is faith, hope and love? Paul consistently groups these three words together. 1 Corinthians 13:13 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. NKJV Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, NKJV Ephesians 1:15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, NKJV Ephesians 3:17-18 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith ; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, NKJV 1 Thessalonians 1:3-4 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith , labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. NKJV Hope (beholding the goodness of God) Faith (trusting in the faithfulness of God) Love (expressing the life of God)

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A. Hope the promise of God from afar. The children of Israel are delivered from Egypt and called (reminded) to worship the one true God at Mount Sinai. Their unique covenant with God comes with an assurance that God is their protector and deliverer. Thus the idea that God is just becomes a primary message of the Old Testament. Justice is not so much the idea that an angry God will crush all those who violate his commands, but rather that he is faithful to the people of God. Regardless of what the circumstances look like, God will ultimately act on behalf of his people—vindicating them in the midst of their oppressors. This understanding of God’s justice is eventually understood in light of the day of the Lord, or the Day of Judgment or the vengeance of God. This day of reckoning is not about God’s people being crushed but the wrongs against them being righted. It is an assurance that no matter how things look, the people of God will ultimately be declared righteous before all and will ultimately be repaid for every wrong. (Note: We have to understand how the theme would be understood by the Hebrews before we fully grasp how the prophets (and Jesus) will alter this theme as a warning to the Hebrews). In the New Testament, hope is still focused on this future revealing of God’s justice but now is rooted in the mercy and grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Hope is not opposed to faith but anticipates faith. Jesus Christ incorporates his followers into the family of God, and as partakers of this blood covenant, they now have the same claim and hope in the final unveiling of God’s justice or the second coming of Christ (same thing). When Christ is fully unveiled, all evil will be vanquished, all wrongs will be righted, and we will stand blameless and holy before God. Hope sees this future reality and draws power from it in the present. Hope gives me the capacity to live by faith. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 B. Faith enters into a trusting relationship with the Father through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Faith is a relational word. It is focused on the Lord and primarily on the revelation of the Lord in Jesus Christ. Jesus demonstrates what a life of faith looks like. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:19-23 Jesus suggests this same loving relationship with the Father is available to all those who trust in him. "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." John 14:15-21 This life of faith is not static but dynamic—it is a growing relationship with the Father. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:16-17 We grow from faith to faith. Remember Abraham? This every deepening relationship can also be understood as growing from glory to glory or strength to strength. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory , just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;

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The rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion. Psalms 84:5-7 C. This relationship with the Lord is manifested in the expression of His life characterized by love. Jesus came to welcome us into the life of God. The dynamic, joyful, loving, unending life (zoe) expressed between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 Love is the heart of Paul’s understanding of the gospel. God’s love for man. Man’s love for God, and man’s love for one another. 1. Man’s love for God only mentioned 6 overt references (Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 1:9; 8:3; 16:22; Eph 6:24; 2 Tim 3:4) 3 ambiguous references (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 5:14; 2 Thess 3:5) Love to God or love of God flowing through us. Paul calls us to trust in God’s love for us, believe on Him, and love others. 2. Loving others is the most important characteristic of the Christian life. Paul’s whole concept of holiness is rooted in loving others. Gal 5:5-6 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. NASU Gal 5:13-14 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." NASU Eph 3:14-21 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

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19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. NASU Eph 4:1-16 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." 9(Now this expression,” He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. NASU

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3. For Paul, love finds its greatest expression in loving others in the community. (Paul clearly loved the sinner, but he taught again and again on the value of loving within the context of community.) 4. Love revealed in 1 Corinthians. (Paul wrote seven letters to Corinth) Background on Corinth. Over 4,000 year old city in Paul’s time. Rome had conquered about a century before Paul and set up a colony there. Located in between the Aegean Sea to the East and the Adriatic Sea to the west. Plus along an important NorthSouth trade route to the peninsula. As a result, very cosmopolitan population, melting pot for many nationalities and classes. Many, many travelers. Diversity. Divisions/Factions – 1:10 – 4:21 (ways of understanding God/appreciations for different moves of God) Theological factions. Wisdom of God contrasted with wisdom of man – Gnostic/factions Other issues on morality, etc. Problems of communion – lack of unity. 12-13-14 – Many charismas/one body. Love hold the diversity in a complex unity. Love in the community brings a revelation of Christ which transforms us and clarifies our vision. Our gifts are not to promote ourselves but to build up one another in love. Diversity – Division – Charisms/Gifts – Love. Love is the force that holds opposing tensions together to form energy. Only diversity can produce harmonic unity. We cannot love like Him. Thus, Gal 2:20 20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (NAU) Practical love. Rom 12:1-13 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let

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him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. NIV John 13:31-35 31 When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. 33 "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. 34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." NIV John 15:1-17 9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. NIV Letter of First John 1 John 4:7-18 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

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13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. NIV

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