Reflecting on Galatians 5 1-15

Reflecting on Galatians 5 1-15

How has Christ set Christians free, according to Paul? What are Christians free from, and free “to” or “for,” and how has this freedom come about? Do we feel we understand this, or do we have questions about Paul’s account of Christian freedom? What questions are those? More importantly, perhaps, where do we find Paul’s account of Christian freedom in the text?

This is probably an important question to spend time on, in our study of Galatians 5:1-15 for Sunday, May 22. [Some notes on the text are here.] Our text focuses on the contrast between the way of “the law,” in particular the requirement of circumcision (for men, clearly), and the way of Christ; we’ll be seeing more of that contrast next week. But it will probably be a good idea to review our understanding of what that way of Christ is, and how Paul seems to see it contrasting with that way of “law.” We might also want to ask ourselves what some of the concrete implications of the contrast turn out to be.

Here are a couple more questions we might want to reflect on, and possibly discuss in class:

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Would Paul’s opponents say Paul has characterized their practical and theological position accurately and fairly, do we suppose? Why do we, or don’t we, think that?

Should we assume they had any good reasons for their position? What makes us think that? What do we suppose those reasons would have been?

[This might be a troubling question] Can we see why someone might have thought those were good reasons? Can we think of disagreements people have today where people would draw on reasoning similar to that of this group? What disagreements come to mind? What does any of that suggest to us?

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Do we usually think of the early Christians as having lots of different theological ideas, or as all having basically the same set of ideas? Why, or why not?

Does it make a difference to us how we answer this question? What difference? Does our answer here matter for our own theology, or for how we participate in our own communities? How, do we think?

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[more theoretical, but also practical] What are the implications of Paul’s discussion of freedom, and being slaves to one another, and the imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself” for things like weathering disagreements, and for making community decisions? Do we see all those things as being inter-related? If so, how?

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What do we understand Paul to mean by “faith working through love”? What are some examples of that, in everyday life?

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two women in antique dress reading

Image: “Reading,” Alexander Moravov, 1913, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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