Devotional: The Book of Galatians
When we open our Bibles to read, we’re never alone. The Holy Spirit is here to helps us, to make the Word of God alive, stir our hearts, transform us and redirect our lives, all for the glory of Christ (John 16:14).
Here are some guidelines to help reading the Bible:
Read the text until you can say what it says in your own words
Ask questions to help you see more in the text:
- Start with the background to get into the world of the original readers
- Who wrote this?
- When and why did they write this?
- What is the main aim/theme of the book (letter, story)
- What is the genre (is it a story, poetry, wisdom, apocalyptic) and how does it influence the reading of the text?
- What are the main arguments, themes or images used? (hint look at the verbs in the passage)
- How does it relate to the next book or letter? (bigger context)
Ask the question:
- What does this passage mean in my life today?
- How do I respond?
- How do I apply Scripture in my life now?
Meditate on the Scripture you read, pray and reflect. Worship the Lord and ask Him to reveal His truth to you.
Before starting the devotional on the letters written to the Galatians and Philippians church, take some time to do a study on the historical context of both letters, the themes, and characteristics, the aim and purpose of these writings. Journal it down and then begin by reading the prologue and starting the devotional.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 1:1-5
- Who appointed Paul as an apostle?
- What does it mean to be delivered from this present evil age?
- Read John 17:15 and 2 Corinthians 4:4
The experience of deliverance from the present evil age enables us to bear witness with our lives that we belong to another King and another kingdom and another age. And it begins with a changed heart and a changed mind.
The message today is one of those wonderful biblical paradoxes. Verse 1: I, Paul, am an apostle, not with mere human authority, but with the very authority of Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead: Subject yourselves to this Word, submit to this authority. Verse 4: Christ gave himself to deliver you from the present evil age: Loose yourselves from the world, don’t feel or think like this age thinks and feels, be free! Verse 1: Be subject! Verse 4: Be free! Is that a contradiction? No. Because the freest people of all are those who submit most fully to the authority of Christ in Scripture.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 1:6-10
- What is the underlying truth in this passage?
- What is this Scripture saying to you?
- What does Paul mean when he asks whether he seeks approval from man or approval from God?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 1:11-24
- What is the similarity between verse 1 and verse 12?
- Why would Paul share about his former life? (vs. 13 – 24)
- What does Paul reveal to us about self-appointment and being appointed by God?
- How do we apply this Scripture to our daily lives?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 2:1-10
- What false belief did Paul expose in the second part of the letter?
- Why was it no longer necessary to be circumcised in the New Covenant?
- Take a few moments to write down what you understand about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank the Lord for freedom, that we are no longer slaves but children of God. Ask Him for a revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 2:11-14
Yesterday we saw in Galatians 2:4–5 that there were certain professing Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who tried to compel Titus, a Christian Greek, to be circumcised. The apostle Paul refused to submit to this pressure. The reason being, “that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”
- Read Acts 10, how did the Lord come to show Peter that He came to bring salvation to the Gentiles?
- Read Acts 11:2-18
Now according to verse Galatians 2:14 Paul says that Peter and Barnabas and the others are not being “straightforward with the truth of the gospel.” They were not walking right with the truth of the gospel.
- What would the straightforward truth of the gospel be?
Believe the great gospel of Christ and do not fear what men can do to you.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 2:15-21
When Peter and Barnabas and the rest of the Jews cut off table fellowship from the Gentile Christians in Antioch because they weren’t keeping Jewish dietary laws, Paul rebuked Peter, and said that this behaviour amounted to compelling Gentiles to keep the Jewish laws as a means of full acceptance with God and the church.
- Why can’t we be justified by works and obeying the law?
- What was the purpose of the Cross?
- What does Paul mean by justification by faith?
Article for further reading:
Scripture of the day Galatians 3:1-5
We have learned at least four things from chapters 1 and 2 that we need to keep in mind as we begin the main body of the letter. 1) There are false teachers in the Galatian churches preaching what Paul calls a different gospel (1:6), which is no gospel at all. 2) The opponents of Paul are discrediting his message by denying Paul’s authority as an apostle. They say he has his gospel and apostleship second-hand and that the real authorities are the Jerusalem apostles. 3) Paul establishes by historical reports that his gospel and authority are not from any mere man, but came by revelation of Jesus Christ, and not only that, there is a deep unity of theology and faith between Paul and the Jerusalem apostles in spite of their independence. 4) The way Paul has defended his authority and his gospel show the kind of false teaching that is threatening the churches of Galatia. It appears that a Jewish group of professing Christians who claim to have James on their side (2:12) are teaching that it is not enough to trust Christ for righteousness. If you rely on faith alone, you become a “Gentile sinner” and make Christ the agent of sin (2:17)—they said.
- Why would Paul say to the Galatians that their actions are foolish?
- What is the relationship between becoming a Christian and receiving the Spirit?
- What is the evidence that the Spirit is present in your life?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 3:6-9
- Read Genesis 15:6, Genesis 12:3, Genesis 17:4
- Why does Paul quote the Old Testament in this letter?
- What does it mean to be a son of Abraham?
- See Romans 4:16 and 17 to confirm that Genesis 17:4 lies behind Paul’s thinking about Gentile sonship.
The child of Abraham can say without insincerity, “I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We are children of Abraham if we live by faith in the promises of God summed up in Christ.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 3:10-14
- What is the relation between Galatians 1:7,8 and Galatians 3:10? What does this say to you?
- Why does Galatians have such a life-changing message for believers?
- How has Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law?
- Does freedom from the law mean freedom to sin?
The “works of law” in 3:10 does not refer to obedience which comes from faith, but to self-reliant efforts at obedience which are the very opposite of faith. (John Piper: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/christ-redeemed-us-from-the-curse-of-the-law)
- Are we able to obey and follow God in our own strength?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 3:15-18
“The law is holy and just and good; it does not teach us to engage in the Galatian heresy, legalism; it teaches the obedience which comes from faith and applies the Abrahamic covenant to a new stage of redemptive history.”
- What is the new stage of the redemptive history?
- How do we understand God’s covenant to Abraham?
Ask the Lord for a revelation of true liberty we have in Jesus Christ.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 3:19-22
- Gives two answers to why the law was given to Israel and became part of our Holy Scripture
- Read Romans 5:20
- What is the true biblical definition of grace?
Thank the Lord for His grace that enables us to live in freedom from sin, not in our own strength but in dependance of His amazing grace.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 3:23-29
- What does he mean: “Faith has come”?
- Read Ezekiel 36:26,27 / Jeremiah 24:7 / Deuteronomy 30:6
Scripture of the day: Galatians 4:1-11
- How has Jesus Christ redeemed us from the law?
- What does it mean to receive adoption as sons?
The danger the Galatians were facing now as new Christians is that they might turn back and become enslaved again after having tasted the joy and freedom of Christ.
- How do we remain free from bondage and walk in our freedom in Christ?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 4: 12-20
- What does Paul mean when he travails for his children?
“Travailing prayer is a manifestation of the grief of the heart of God.”
- Have you been praying for those around you?
- Bring those who don’t know the Lord yet, or have back-slidden before God is prayer today. Petition and pray for their hearts (pray up, not down) that they may come back to the heart of the Father.
“… my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”
Scripture of the day: Galatians 4:21-31
The allegory of Hagar and Sarah is written to persuade us (along with the Galatians) not to follow the Judaizers into slavery with Hagar and Ishmael, but to follow Sarah and Isaac into freedom.
- What is full freedom in Christ to you?
- What is the contrast between the slave woman and the free woman?
- Read more https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/hagar-and-slavery-vs-sarah-and-freedom
Scripture of the day: Galatians 5:1-5
The key to freedom is whether we have to do the work ourselves to escape punishment, or whether our Father comes down to be with us and help us.
Verses 2, 3, and 4 each portray a way to stay under a yoke of slavery. So these verses function as warnings against slavery. Then verse 5 gives a positive description of how to stand in freedom.
- What would you say is the yoke of slavery we should not return to?
- What stands out for you in verses 2,3 and 4?
- What does it mean when we fall away from God’s grace?
- How can we walk in full freedom?
Rejoice in the freedom Christ has given us! There is nothing we can give in return, but whom He sets free is free indeed. That’s a great truth to embrace today.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 5:6-12
Verse 5, you recall, said that a day is coming when every person’s final verdict will be announced and those who are in Christ will be made perfect in righteousness (implying that we are not yet perfect). The way we wait for that day is not through our own power by works of law but through the Spirit by faith.
- Highlight and meditate on verse 6, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth
- What are the warnings we can take from this passage?
Works like circumcision avail nothing with God, but faith working through love avails everything.
- Why was the cross a stumbling block to those preaching the false gospel about circumcision?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 5:13-15
Yesterday we saw in Galatians 5:6 that the heart which is acceptable to God is not one which depends on its works—whether right wing circumcision or left wing uncircumcision—but rather one which trusts so fully in God’s grace that the result is a life of love.
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:3, John 15:13
Verse 13: “Through love be servants of one another.”
- What would be the negative use of our freedom? What is a positive use of the freedom given to us?
God has called us to the freedom of fullness which overflows in love, not to the slavery of emptiness which bites and devours and is never satisfied.
Scripture of the day: Galatians 5:16-18
- What is “walking by the Spirit”?
- Why is it crucial to walk by the Spirit?
- How, very practically, can we walk by the Spirit?
If we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. There will be victory over temptation and we will know the guidance of the Lord, keeping our hearts delighted in God by resting in his promises. (John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-war-within-flesh-vs-spirit)
Scripture of the day: Galatians 5:19-26
Works of Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit
Paul calls the vices in 5:19–21, “works of the flesh,” and the virtues in 5:22, 23, “fruit of the Spirit.”
Why? Keep in mind that “flesh” does not mean “body,” as though our bodies were the root cause of our sins. There are some sins listed here that don’t come from our bodies (e.g., strife, enmity, jealousy, anger, envy, etc.).
Flesh is the old ego that is self-reliant and does not delight to yield to any authority or depend on any mercy.
- Why does Paul call the products of our flesh “works” and the products of God’s Spirit through us “fruit”?
- What in this passage challenges you?
- How can we grow to bear godly fruit?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 6:1-5
The main point of Galatians 6:1–5 is given in a general way in verse 2 and a specific way in verse 1. Verse 2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” If a Christian brother or sister is weighed down or menaced by some burden or threat, be alert to that and quickly do something to help. Paul says we are to restore such a person. The word restore here means to make things right. It’s used for repairing nets that are torn (Matthew 4:21).
Don’t let them be crushed. Don’t let them be destroyed. Don’t be like the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said, “They bind heavy burdens hard to bear and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger” (Matthew 23:4). Don’t increase burdens. Make them lighter for people.
- How are we to respond to a brother/sister who is struggling with sin?
- What is the danger of having pride in our hearts?
- How do we esteem others higher than ourselves?
- What happens when we have comparison and selfish ambition in the church?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 6:6-10
- Why is the teaching of the word so important in the church?
- “God is not mocked.” What does that mean?
Scripture of the day: Galatians 6:11-18
- What is this “new creation” that counts for everything?
- What is the difference between boasting in the flesh and boasting in the cross?
- Further reading:
None of us will be saved because we are perfect or because anything we do earns God’s approval. The peace of God and the mercy of God are free gifts purchased on Calvary for all who walk by this rule—the rule of Christ-exaltation, not self-exaltation. Right standing with God is not merited by works. It is given freely to those who glory in the work of Christ on the cross. Therefore, I urge you to come to the cross. And if you are there, I urge you to glory in the cross. Christ crucified is the basis of all our prayers, the assurance of all God’s love, the certainty of full forgiveness, the ground of all our hope, and the fountain of midnight peace and morning mercies for ever and ever. Amen.
The Letter to the Philippians
Purpose of writing:
The Epistle to the Philippians, one of Paul’s prison epistles, was written in Rome. It was at Philippi, which the apostle visited on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12), that Lydia and the Philippian jailer and his family were converted to Christ. Now, some few years later, the church was well established, as may be inferred from its address which includes “bishops (elders) and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).
The occasion of the epistle was to acknowledge a gift of money from the church at Philippi, brought to the apostle by Epaphroditus, one of its members (Philippians 4:10-18). This is a tender letter to a group of Christians who were especially close to the heart of Paul (2 Corinthians 8:1-6), and comparatively little is said about doctrinal error.
Philippians can be called “Resources Through Suffering.” The book is about Christ in our life, Christ in our mind, Christ as our goal, Christ as our strength, and joy through suffering. It was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about thirty years after Christ’s ascension and about ten years after Paul first preached at Philippi.
Paul was Nero’s prisoner, yet the epistle fairly shouts with triumph, the words “joy” and “rejoice” appearing frequently (Philippians 1:4, 18, 25, 26; 2:2, 28; Philippians 3:1, 4:1, 4, 10). Right Christian experience is the outworking, whatever our circumstances may be, of the life, nature, and mind of Christ living in us (Philippians 1:6, 11; 2:5, 13).
Scripture of the day: Philippians 1:12-30
- What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel?
- How does our response to rejoice during trials and tribulations evangelise to the world?
- What happened when we rejoice in the midst of suffering?
- Further reading: James 1:2-4
Scripture of the day: Philippians 2
- What is the definition of selfish ambition? What is the definition of true humility?
- What does it means to count others more significant than ourselves? (Luke 22:27)
- What example does the life of Jesus give us in the passage?
Scripture of the day: Philippians 3:1-14
- Who are the “dogs” Paul instructs the Philippians church to look out for?
- Why does Paul count his titles, religious background, achievements as nothing in his Christian life?
- Do we want to know Jesus? Do we want to be more personal with him and deep with him and real with him and intimate with him—so much so that we count everything as loss to gain this greatest of all treasures?
Scripture of the day: Philippians 3:17-21
- What did Paul mean when he asked the Philippians to imitate him?
- What are the signs of those who are enemies of the cross of Christ?
- What is the exhortation for us as believers in this passage?
Scripture of the day: Philippians 4:1-9
- What is the overall theme in this passage?
- Why is joy vital such a vital factor in believer’s lives?
- What happens when we respond to trials or challenges with thankful prayer?
Scripture of the day: Philippians 4:10-23
- What does it mean to be content in every situation?
- What is the result of joy and gratitude in our lives?
Reflecting on your study the past few weeks, through the letter to the Galatians and the Philippians, write down key principles and scriptures that stood out for you.
Spend time reflecting, meditating and bringing into remembrance what God revealed to you.