Galatians 5:1 is a punchy summary of the letter. In these verses we see again the code red gospel-denying disaster of requiring Gentile Christians to keep the Jewish law to be fully part of God’s family. But we also begin to see how and why in Christ we do experience a new power for righteous living — not by Law but through the Spirit (which will be developed more fully in the rest of Galatians 5&6).
(1) What does Paul say in v1a is the purpose of Christ’s setting us free? How does this compare to our natural view of the Christian life? What do our friends/neighbours/children think the Christian life is like?
(2) Why on earth would you need to tell people to ‘stand firm’ and stay free in v1b? What does this teach us about the Christian life?
(3) Why does Paul get so cross about Gentile Christians getting circumcised in v2-12?
(4) In Jewish culture circumcision was privileged, in Greek culture uncircumcision was considered superior. How is Christian culture to be distinctive? (v6) Why is this a better, more inclusive, vision of freedom? What do we think ‘faith expressing itself’ through love looks like for us?
(5) Why do you think a right view of Christian freedom highlights the offence of the cross and brings persecution in v11? To what expect do we expect suffering for sticking to the gospel message of freedom?
(6) How practically will we put these things into practice? How will we help one another ‘stand firm’ and live lives of ‘faith expressing itself through love’?