Galatians: Justification

GALATIANS 2:16a

 

Scripture verse: “knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…”

Objectives:

  1. Students should memorize the verse and understand its context.
  2. Students should be able, with God’s help, to combine this Scripture with the Scripture in James that says “Faith without works is dead” for a true picture of Orthodox salvation.
  3. Students should know an Orthodox response to the question, “Are you saved?”

 

Background on the book:

            St. Paul wrote this letter to believers in the region of Galatia from his home church in Antioch, just before the first ecumenical council in Jerusalem. (What did that council decide? The obligations of Gentile believers to the Jewish law) Paul had started the churches in Galatia during his first missionary journey around 48 AD. Even though the book comes after the letters to the Romans and the Corinthians, it was written before those epistles, probably just as he was starting his 3rd  missionary journey.

 

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.

 

2.   Scripture lesson: Galatians 2:16, 20-21, Romans 3:20, Romans 6:1-6, Romans

5:1-2, James 2:17-24

 

3.   Review the background of the book. Paul is about to go to Jerusalem to defend  his theological position that Gentile believers do not have to obey all the Jewish law, when he hears of the problems in Galatia.  How does he respond?

 

  1. Review your Church history.  What was the Protestant Reformation? When did it occur? (around 1500 AD) Who were its leaders? To what excesses in the Roman Catholic Church in the West was Martin Luther responding? (e.g. the sale of indulgences to buy a place in heaven) How did the slogan “sola fides” (only faith) begin?

 

  1. Legal acquittal or covenant relationship?

What is the concept of “justification by faith”? Is this a legal acquittal or a covenant relationship? Who initiates justification – God in His mercy or us by our faith? Do Orthodox Christians believe we are justified by faith? By faith alone? Are we as Christians forced to obey the law and do good works in order to get into heaven? Or are we empowered by the Holy Spirit as part of our salvation to do good works? What does James say proves that we have faith?

Is salvation a decision, once in life, or a way of life? What is the meaning of “to be saved” to an Orthodox Christian? (The Orthodox Study Bible sees in this question 3 aspects: “I have been saved, being joined to Christ in baptism, I am being saved, growing in Christ through the sacramental life of the Church, and I will be saved, by the mercy of God at the Last Judgment.”) How would you answer your Evangelical Protestant friends who ask, “Are you saved?”

           

6. Close with prayer.