Week 51: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians

Prepare these questions for Sunday, March 30, 2014.

These books are all letters that Paul wrote to various churches in and around Asia Minor (modern Turkey-Philippi was across the Aegean Sea in Macedonia). They address similar concerns from letters we've studied previously-confusion over various teachings the churches have heard, conflict within and conflict from without their communities.

Galatians focuses on the question of whether or not Gentile believers in Christ (those not born Jewish) had to follow the same religious practices (like circumcision) that the Jews practiced in order to be saved.
1. Read Galatians 2:11-3:22. What is Paul's stance on observance of the law (especially circumcision) and what does this tell you about your own relationship with God?

2. Paul exhorts the Galatians to live by the Spirit. Chapter 5:13-26 explains how you can tell if you are living by the Spirit. What qualities does Paul call the "fruit of the Spirit?"

Ephesians may have been written specifically to the church at Ephesus, but it may also have been intended to be passed around and read in other churches Paul did not know as well as he knew the Ephesians. Therefore, this letter addresses topics that would be of concern to lots of new Gentile (non-Jewish) churches and, honestly, to us today.
3. Choose one of the following topics and find out what Paul's lesson was in the book of Ephesians. How can you apply this information to your life now or in the future? When you are finished, try to study the other topics throughout your week.

  • Christ's love and reconciliation for all people
  • body of Christ
  • Instructions for Christian living
  • Instructions for wives and husbands
  • the Armor of God
Philippians is a letter Paul wrote after the people in Philippi had raised money to help him while he was imprisoned, probably in Rome. It is a letter of encouragement in the face of adversity and strife.
4. Read Chapter 4:4-9. Do you find these verses encouraging for your own life? How do you think they were received by the Philippians?

The people of Colossae were another group of Gentiles who had come to believe in the message of Jesus Christ. They, too, were confused by some of the teachings they were hearing about observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, and circumcision. Paul's letter reminds them that if they have Christ, they do not need to do anything else for their salvation. 
5. Read Chapter 3:1-17. What does Paul tell the Colossians to do instead of worrying about specific man-made rules of behavior? Is this practical advice today?

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