Paul establishes his authority as a way to confront false teachers in Galatia who sought to undermine his work of upholding the true gospel.
Bibles, pencils/pens, paper
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Has anyone ever sought to undermine your authority as a leader? Perhaps he or she began with the words, “Who do you think you are?” Describe your experience.
- As you listen to others share, ask yourself, “What are the similarities in our experiences? What are the differences in our stories?” Think about what others say and how their experiences can teach you about undermining authority.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- In the middle of a piece of paper, draw a circle about six inches in diameter. Around this circle write all the areas in your life where you have some authority: parental, workplace, an area of expertise, etc. In the middle of the circle, finish this sentence: “The basis of my authority is ___________.”
- Thought Questions
Paul’s work in Galatia was being undermined by teachers who questioned his authority. Read 2 Peter 3:15, 16. What does this passage tell you about Paul’s authority in the church?
- Paul was given wisdom by God.
- Paul shares truth through writing letters to the churches.
- Some of what Paul writes is hard to understand, but it is still important.
- Some people twisted Paul’s words.
- Paul’s writings were considered Scripture, just like the words of the Old Testament.
Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Galatians is different from the other introductions he wrote. Read some of the opening sentences in these letters to other churches. What do you learn about Paul’s focus in his letter to Galatia?
After Paul’s opening lines, what does he typically say in most of his letters? Read the following verses in the order they are given, and then read the remarks in Galatians. What does this tell you about Paul’s purpose in writing to the church in Galatia?
Paul is deeply concerned about the believers in Galatia turning away from the gospel. Read Galatians 1. How does he establish himself as an authority on the preaching of the gospel?
- Not even an angel from heaven can pervert the pure gospel they first heard.
- Paul shows that he is trying to please God alone, not others.
- He received the gospel from Jesus Christ, not from other people.
- After his conversion, Paul did not go to Jerusalem to get “rubber-stamped” by the brethren.
- His about-face experience of persecuting the church and then building up the church shows his credentials.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: “We just don’t get the respect we used to get,” a pastor says to you one day over lunch. “It used to be we automatically had authority, but it’s not that way anymore! I wonder why that is? What do you think?” Take a moment to share your thoughts.
- Option 2: You are a member of a church committee that discusses the problem of people who come into your church and lead people away from the basic gospel and into legalism (salvation by works). You are asked to come up with some helpful steps to deal with this problem. Creatively make a short list of at least four things that could be done.
- Option 3: There is appropriate authority and inappropriate authority. At the top of a sheet of paper, write the word AUTHORITY. Then draw a line down the middle of the page. In the left column, write words that describe good authority; in the right column, write words that describe bad authority.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Do you value authority in your life? Are there areas where you resist appropriate authority? Do you need to submit any spirit of resistance in your heart to God’s authority in your life? Take some time to reflect on this.
- As a group, pray that God will lead you to value the authority of the Bible in every area of your life.