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Lesson 9: Paul's Pastoral Appeal *

Introduction: Have you ever had someone say that you should be more like someone else? For example, did your parents say, "Why can't you be more like your brother [or sister]?" "Why can't you be more like the child next door?" "Why can't you be more like me?" How did you react to those suggestions? My guess is that you did not reply, "Right, I'll be more like [the other person] and less like me!" This week our lesson starts out with Paul inviting the Galatians to be more like him. Let's dive into our Bibles and try to better understand Paul's invitation!

  1. Grow Up To Be Like Me?

    1. Read Galatians 4:12. Paul says "Become like me." We just agreed that was not an attractive invitation. Why not? (You might think that person thinks too highly of himself! You might think that you don't need to change.)

      1. Why does Paul say the Galatians need to become more like him? (Because he became like them.)

      2. Wait a minute. How does that make any sense? "Become more like me because I became like you." If Paul became like the Galatians, they would not need to become more like him!

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-22. In what way does Paul become like others in order to save them? (He tries to minimize the differences between himself and other cultural and other theological viewpoints.)

      1. What is Paul's motive for becoming "like" his audience? (To save them.)

    3. So, let's go back and answer the question: Why does Paul say the Galatians need to become more like him? (He showed how much he cared about them when he became "like" them. He showed how much he wanted them to understand the gospel.)

      1. If you were a Galatian, what, as a practical matter, would you do to become "like" Paul? (I would determine to take very seriously the importance of the gospel.)

  2. Grow Up To Be More Like Them?

    1. Read Galatians 4:17. What motivates the legalists in their efforts to make the Galatians more like them? (Paul says that they are up to no good, because they want to separate the Galatians from Paul.)

      1. What do you think about the logic of Paul's argument? Can't the legalists make the same argument about Paul? They could say: "Paul wants you to follow him because he wants you to leave us!" (Of course! Paul's logic, on its own, does not work. Paul needs an independent reason why the Galatians should follow him and not the legalists.)

  3. Appeal From the Heart

    1. Let's revisit a discussion we had last week. Read Galatians 4:13-14. Last week, I suggested Paul's point was that he did not have pride of ownership over the Galatians - he had stopped by their town only because he was sick. Assuming I have this at least partially right, what else can we read into Paul's argument here? (Paul says, "You adored me - when I was no prize." Paul, the logician, is making an emotional appeal! "You were kind. We were friends. We had joy together. What has happened? Come back to me!)

    2. Read Galatians 4:18-19. How important are the Galatians to Paul? (He says he is so anxious about them, that it feels like childbirth.)

      1. Is this a logical argument? (No. Again, Paul is making an emotional argument. We were friends. You are breaking my heart (actually, breaking me somewhere lower) by separating from me.)

      2. In these lessons I like to discuss the logic and reason found in the Bible. When I pointed out that Paul's logic this week was no better than the legalists' logic, I thought that was unfortunate. What lesson does this teach us about leading others to the gospel? (It is not all (or even mainly) logic. The emotional part of the argument and relationships should be carefully considered. The gospel is much more than sterile, bloodless logic!)

    3. Read Galatians 4:20. What kind of tone does Paul have? We decided that he is making an emotional appeal, is he also being harsh?

      1. Why would Paul's presence make any difference? (Have you ever noticed that it is harder to be harsh with someone when you are speaking with them face to face? You can write a letter (or worse) post a comment on the Internet that would be far harder to say in the presence of the person you are targeting.)

      2. Is it a sin for Paul to use the tone he is using with the Galatians? (Read Galatians 4:16. I think Paul is not being harsh, he is being honest. He realizes that his Galatian friends might not be taking his words that well, for he asks "have I now become your enemy?" Sometimes saying the things that need to be said is difficult.)

  4. A Worthwhile Life

    1. We discussed that Paul's main point in telling the Galatians they should be "more like him" was to encourage them to be zealous for the gospel. Let's drill down into this topic by reading Philippians 3:17. This time becoming more like Paul involves living "according to the pattern." Paul told us in Galatians 3:25 that we "are no longer under the supervision of the law." Are we now under the supervision of a "pattern?" Is Paul a closet legalist?

    2. Read Philippians 3:18-19. Are the people described here saved? (No! Their destiny is destruction.)

      1. What is wrong with their faith? Have they tossed aside the promise of salvation by faith made to Abraham?

      2. "Their god is their stomach" helps me to better understand Buddha and other guys I see walking around! (This is a joke.) What does this statement mean? (They are focused on themselves. Their appetites determine their course of action.)

      3. What does it mean that their "glory is in their shame?" (They take pride in evil thinking.)

        1. I've said this before: When I was a child, it seemed that the "bad" people just "enjoyed" being bad. They did not argue that they were good. Is this what Paul means by taking "glory" in shame?

        2. Today, there is a "morality" among people who are enemies of the gospel. Take for example, the American singer Madonna. Why would she choose that for a stage name? I've seen a video of her "praying" with her performance troupe before going on stage. While I've heard some very strange prayers in church and other religious gatherings, Madonna's prayer was not religious. Why would she do such a thing? Is this what Paul means by taking "glory" in shame?

    3. Read Philippians 3:20-21. How is the Christian different than the world? How is this difference consistent with righteousness by faith? (Faith is an attitude. Our mind is not set on earthly things or our stomachs. Our minds are set on Jesus' return, our heavenly citizenship, on becoming more like our God.)

    4. Friend, will you determine to become more like Paul? Will you take the gospel and the salvation of others seriously? Will you make heaven your goal? Will you turn the attention of your life away from yourself, and towards a relationship with God?

  5. Next week: The Two Covenants.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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