Digging Deeper: Reading the Bible in Context

Sarah TravisHey friends, it’s Sarah back with you today, and I can’t wait to dive into God’s Word with y’all!

Last week we talked about the motives behind our words in Chapter 5: “Motives and Manners: It’s Not Just What You Say; It’s Why and How You Say It.” The intention behind words is a great thought to keep in mind as we dig deeper into our Bibles using this week’s Bible Study Skills … Reading a Verse in Context.

If you’re like me, then there have been many times you have been misquoted or something you said was misinterpreted. I have walked in at the end of a conversation, only to catch the last sentence. I assumed I knew exactly what the entire conversation must have been about, but when I spoke up, the person talking said, “But that’s not what I meant!”

I wonder how many times God thinks that when we read our Bibles?

Did you know there over 800,000 words contained in the 66 books of the Bible? God is the Divine Author, but He used humans to do the actual writing … around 40 of them! Forty people each with their own personality, writing style and way with words.

It blows my mind to consider that the Bible was written over the time span of around 1,600 years!! The message stayed the same, but the culture and events of the day certainly changed during that time! People, temptations, trials and influences changed and the authors had to bear this in mind as they wrote the Words of Truth from God to His people.

Reading the Bible in context is like zooming out and seeing the bigger picture … the surrounding facts.

In Chapter 8 of Keep It Shut, Karen Ehman quotes Galatians 1:10.

Gal 1-10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Let’s dig deeper! These are some questions I like to ask when I am studying any verse …

  • WHO was the author of the book of the Bible it is in?
  • WHO were they writing to?
  • WHEN did they write it?
  • WHY were they writing?
  • WHAT were they trying to say?

Let me show you a few ways to find this information …

Bible Study Skills | Reading in Context from Sarah Travis on Vimeo.

If you can’t view the video above, please click this link: https://vimeo.com/119575506

You can find out lots of information online. Here are just two places to look … click on the images below to head to Bible Hub or Bible Gateway.

Bible Gateway Context Bible Hub Context

{For Bible Gateway click on “STUDY THIS,” then “ENCYCLOPEDIAS,” then “Encyclopedia Of The Bible,” then “Epistle to Galatians.”}

So are you ready to dig deeper?

Let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture!

Click the Download Now button for a free .PDF you can print to help keep note of all you find out!

[easy_media_download url=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/p31obs/KIS/Context+PDF.pdf” text=”http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/01/DownloadNow.OBS_.1.jpg”]


Let’s Chat:

  • Share your answer to one of the “W” questions mentioned above.
  • How did answering the context questions help you better understand Galatians 1:10?

I can’t wait to discuss what God reveals to us!

Sarah 🙂

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  1. Lene Spencer says:

    Hi Sarah. 😀
    Paul wrote the book of Galatians for the people of Galatia. He wrote Galatians 1:10 because (this was copied and pasted from Bible Hub) Not from men or through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father: Paul’s calling as an apostle was not from man, nor was it through man. It didn’t originate with man, and it didn’t come through man. It originated with God, and came directly from God. His standing as an apostle was not based on opinion polls or any human council. It is based on a Divine call, made through both the Father and the Son.”
    His intention was to bring glory to God by being an instrument through which souls were saved.

  2. Paul was writing to the church in Galatia. He was addressing legalism, and how Christ brought freedom from, not bondage to, Jewish laws.

    • sarahtravis says:

      So much of his letter applies to us today for that very same reason doesn’t it? We are not bound by legalism or Jewish law…we are FREE in Christ!

  3. I found the ‘history’ interestin … didn’t even know Celtics were round that long back … This could actually be an intriguing way to add dimension to Bible study … (sorry you can keep them maps) 😀 😀 The Celtic People. They were descended from the Gauls who sacked Rome in the fourth century B. C. and in the third century B. C. invaded Asia Minor and northern Greece. A part of them remained in Galatia. predominating in the mixed population formed out of the Greek, Roman and Jewish people. They were quick-tempered, impulsive, hospitable and fickle people. They were quick to receive impressions and equally quick to give them up. They received Paul with enthusiastic joy, and were then suddenly turned from him (Gal. 4:13-16).

    • sarahtravis says:

      The sad thing is Kay that I can see how I have been like the Galatians. We are surrounded by so much that turns our minds from the Lord. We have to #BeIntentional about our faith and constantly meditate on God’s Word and pray … stay true to Him and not turn from His ways. I want that enthusiastic joy to remain always! 🙂

  4. The bottom line Paul.is saying we should seek God’s approval above anyone else.

    • Barbara Prince P31OBS volunteer says:

      Donna, you are so right. We are to seek God’s approval in all we say and do. However too often we are easily led away from that main goal.
      Blessings my sister-in-Christ

  5. Answer Paul writting to the church at Galatia

  6. Kayla Orndorff says:

    Paul wrote the letter to the church in Galatia. It was interesting to read Galatins 4:15 in context. Paul was pleading with them to stay the same as they were in the beginning, joyful. I need to remember this daily!

  7. Paul writing to the people in Galatia,what an intereresting story, I can related to de scripture verse, being pleased of people is to follow God’s instruction not an approval, because if I do so,I could show insecure, doubt of actions,this verse taught me to be myself trusting God’s word…follow him being just me.
    God bless

    • Sheila Watson, P31 Ministries Small Group Leader says:

      How great! You are so right. Just be you. The person God made you to be us a special person. He picked each of your traits just for you. I’m a people pleaser too. I had to really dig into God’s Word to see that I wasn’t honoring Him by being a slave to others.

  8. Wow! I love the history behind this book and verse. What I find so interesting and convicting is that Paul’s words tell us that what we say or do should only please God and not to be concerned with approval of others. To be a servant of good and not self serving. I need to do this with my words. I want the approval of God and I want to be a servant. Maybe I have it all wrong but by reading that the people of that time were quick tempered and impulsive makes me understand more of how God want us to please him and not be like the Galatians. I pray that I can please God today with my words and actions.

  9. Karen Arteaga says:

    It is not possible to be a people pleaser and also be a servant of Christ.

    • Sheila Watson, P31 Ministries Small Group Leader says:

      You’re so right. We can not serve people to the point of disregard of WHO God chose us to be.

  10. Celtic people who were quick-tempered, impulsive, hospitable and fickle people. They were quick to receive impressions and equally quick to give them up. They received Paul with enthusiastic joy, and were then suddenly turned from him.

    • sarahtravis says:

      Such a great message for us not to fall into the same pattern of behavior as the Galatians … I don’t want to lose that joy and give up when faced with worldly temptations and teaching!

  11. I was able to answer the who and why: Paul wrote the book of Galatians and it talks about salvation through grace. I really like the discussion of freedom from sin and that man learns what a sin is.

  12. Paul was writing to the Christians in Galatia. His letter is straight forward and may step on some toes. But he assures them that he is writing and acting to please God, not men.

    • Melissa Sherlin says:

      Absolutely Jennifer! It’s great when the scriptures step on our toes and we heed the Holy Spirit”s invitation to be transformed! I love your observation!

  13. Am i here to please God or people? If I’m here to please people then im not a Christ follower.

  14. Reading in context made the reason for Paul’s statement so clear – people were preaching what others wanted to hear, not God’s words. I will be reading God’s word in context from now on. Thank you for this insight.

    • sarahtravis says:

      I think that’s why we are often so easily swayed … we like what we hear and sometimes the truth is harder to hear! It’s the TRUTH that we need though 🙂

  15. I have been reading in context for a while, without even knowing it. 😛 I purchased a book a couple years ago called “What the Bible is All About”, and its been a great handbook for me. It covers each book of the Bible, by starting with listing the author, the date written, the purpose, and summary, and details on each chapter. Its been wonderful learning it all. I use a Women’s Devotional Bible for my daily study, and it also includes lots of information at the beginning of each chapter.
    The author of Galatians was Paul, he was writing to the followers of Jesus; the churches in Galatia. It was written about AD 50, and was an impassioned message on freedom in Christ; that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. Paul was trying to say that the believer is no longer under the law but is saved by Faith in Christ alone.

  16. Paul is writing to the Galtians to remind them that they have been saved through faith, not by anything they can do, and that if anyone preaches differently, “let him be accursed.” The Galatians were being pressured by the Jews to observe the law, but Paul reminds them that “a man is not justified by works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” We need not worry about pleasing other people, but only Our Lord Jesus Christ!!

    • sarahtravis says:

      Amen Carrie! Great observations 🙂 A lesson I need for sure as I can so easily fall into the trap of people pleasing.

  17. Mary Jo Cyr - Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS Team says:

    Thank you Sarah. I love learning new ways to learn how to dig deeper into our Bible’s. (psssttt…..I also love listening to you talk. 🙂 ) Isn’t it comforting to know (and it brings real peace) that pleasing God is all that truly matters. We don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else. Thanks for the great info. this morning.

  18. Lynn Fincher says:

    Please God not man and we are free in Christ…

  19. From what I learned…Paul who was inspired by Jesus was writing to the Galation’s about turning from Jesus to listen to False teachings and wanted them to know that what they first learned was true and everything else was false and the other people who were teaching them wrong would be cursed so they should turn back to what they were first taught and live by it and be joyful.

    • Great lessons Carol and I just love how relevant Paul’s letter is to us today. There is so much false teaching and worldly distraction around us ~ we need to keep the Joy of the Lord as our strength!

  20. Janet Bilyeu says:

    I love finding these bible study tools online. I never knew they were available and free to use. WOW. Thanks Sara

    The W question was why. Paul wants us to follow and strive to please Christ alone. To focus on how Christ looks at our actions and words and strive to please him alone. i much to often am a people pleaser. I want approval from everyone. God has dealt with me a lot on that one. I ask Him to help me to strive to please him not those around me. He is helping me change that about myself.

    • Isn’t it incredible how many resources we have at our fingertips! People pleasing is a lesson the Lord has been bringing closer to my heart recently ~ I want to live for that audience of One! Praise the Lord that He is changing us Janet 🙂

  21. Paul was writing because teachers were trying to force the works of the law on Christians and discredit Paul’s authority.

    I learned Paul was trying to please God and show them practical application of their faith.

  22. Paul wrote this to remind us that we need to walk with God and that by pleasing God we earn salvation. This is a great lesson in the context of “Keep it Shut” and very applicable to my everyday life. Sometimes I do worry more about what other people think than whether or not something is what God would want me to do. Stopping to think before speaking or acting is something I can improve. I love this verse! Sarah, thank you for sharing this great study tool with us!!! I think I need a new Bible, but for now I will use the online tools to support my learning. ;o)

  23. Sarah,
    I am 58 yrs. old. I’ve never, ever, in all my life of studying the Bible, had someone like you explain how to study, dig deeper, in such a way that is so simple and easy to understand. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with us. I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to your teachings. I will be blessed for years to come by the ‘tips’ you’ve given us on how to study the Bible in a more effective way.
    Thank you again,

    • Marilyn, I am beyond thankful that we can provide a way to help you! Your words are truly a blessing and encouragement to hear and I pray that you will be blessed as you continue to dig deeper into God’s Word 🙂

  24. Sarah, I LOVE that you are teaching this today. I was “reading” my Bible for years before anyone encouraged me to take these steps. My real growth in loving and understanding God’s Word did not come until I began to pray for God to reveal to and teach me the “full counsel” of His Word…until I dug deeper and went beyond just the words in the passage I was reading. I began reading the words preceding my passage and following my passage; I would read the introduction notes; I would read the end notes; I would open a commentary; I courageously bought a Greek/Hebrew dictionary and a concordance. Oh, I didn’t do this all at once. But over time, I took these steps. I know I still have much to learn. But I love studying His Word now more than ever. It’s like a wonderful puzzle that keeps getting clearer and clearer with each day spent delving into its pages. You have done a wonderful job teaching us. Thank you!!
    Blessings, Wendy

  25. Wednesdays have quickly become my favorite day in this series!

  26. Paul was writing to the Galatians to remind them that they are saved by grace not works or deeds. I love love love that Paul actually, physically wrote part of this himself to really get his point across and to show the Galatians that he was very serious and excited to share this news with them.

  27. This is so awesome to get all the background information, because it really does help us to understand it better. I just recently heard of a chronological bible, which has all the books put together in the order they took place, for me that will be very helpful, since I do sometimes struggle to understand the timing of events. Thank you for your great teaching Sarah!

  28. Sarah, I am so blessed that you followed God’s will and are teaching us how to study the Bible! Because of you I was able to compare this verse in other versions of the Bible! And now to learn about the context just takes my understanding to a new level.

  29. Paul wrote to the Galatian Church. I have always found Paul an interesting character. Although I would not have wanted to live in that time; I would like to talk to Paul about some things. Interesting thought.
    As for the verse Galatians 1:10 I have never thought I was seeking favor in men as I have never be one to seek popularity. However, as much as I enjoy being by myself doing my own thing I do not want to live totally alone. I want others around but not necessarily involved with what I am doing. This sounds very selfish and vain and it is not meant to be. Hmmm I need to think about this some more.

  30. This passage means so much more when you read it in context and have background information. And for just a small verse, it pacts a lot! Paul wants people to follow Christ only and not to be swayed or convinced any other way. He’s also speaking very directly (my study bible actually says harshly in the notes) with the false teachers. And today more than ever it is easy (if you aren’t studying) to get confused by what some teachers and preachers teach and whether it really lines up with Christ. I love to delve into the study bibles, commentaries, Lexicons etc. It is so much fun.

    One thing I couldn’t find though was the links you talked about in the Biblegateway. I do use Bible.or and Biblehub.com and enjoy their links and helps.

    • It is so true Jennifer ~ I think this message possibly applies even more in today’s culture with so many confusing messages. I once heard someone say that if you study and know the TRUTH then the false will be more obvious and that is my desire.
      Sorry you couldn’t find the BibleGateway link ~ try clicking on this link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=galatians+1&version=NASB then next to where it says “Galatians 1” you should see a blue box that says: “STUDY THIS” ~ click on that, then “ENCYCLOPEDIAS,” then “Encyclopedia Of The Bible,” then “Epistle to Galatians.” 🙂
      Hope that helps!

  31. Diane M Barney says:

    Love it. Paul refused to compromise the instructions and teachings of the Holy Spirit. He was speaking to the people to be obedient to God alone and not men. Paul was instructed in Christ through the Holy Spirit and the teachers were questioning his authority because he was not educated the way they were. Paul knew the teachers were speaking on their own authority and wisdom but not on that which came from God. Paul knew that his teachings would not be accepted and he would come against opposition but chose to set the example and follow Christ and not the teachings of the Pharisees. Since the Jewish people did not believe in Jesus Christ and did not believe he had been the King spoken of in the Old Testament the times Paul were preaching in were extremely hostile to his message. He was receiving opposition, rejection from his community, and walking most of his walk alone without fellowship.

    When I think about how faithful Paul remained despite the pain he was in I wonder why we don’t realize our walk will look the same. We will be tossed out of our communities, be rejected by men, and sometimes by those who oppose the truth of scripture. Following Jesus Christ faithfully can be a lonely place but Jesus always walks with us. He is faithful. He never leaves our side despite what others say about us. The Holy Spirit is the only teacher and instructor we need. We must be willing to listen and obey. What men say and do will not bring us into heaven only Jesus and our obedience to follow wherever he leads is the only way.

  32. Marilyn Marie says:

    Galatians is about how salvation is achieved by grace and freedom from sin. Paul was trying to keep the people rom becoming another failing salvationless group. Paul believed, so he preached it, that there was one universal Gospel of Grace for all men.
    I have used and will continue to use this tool so that my understanding of the bible increases… Be Blessed Ladies..,,

  33. I love the life application study Bible. The introduction to the books, the verse/s explanation underneath, cross references, etc. A great study tool.
    Gods approval is all i need was my take-away.

    Thank you for sharing and God bless you.

  34. Why were the writing? Paul was writing to encourage the Galatians not to turn away from God because the “Good News” they were being told was not the Good News he was preaching. He wanted to remind them that it isn’t all about the Law, it’s about faith in God.

    Answering these questions helped me better understand what was going on in Galatia at the time this letter was written. Knowing the background story showed me why Paul speaks the way he does.

  35. This scripture, read in context, is so interesting. Besides what you are teaching me, what I am learning…God directly spoke to me this morning through this verse. I have a non-believing friend who is always challenging my faith. Over the years I have run the gamut of trying to convince him to “switch sides” haha…I have been trying to “please” my friend. I was reminded that I am a servant of Christ…not my friend.
    I love how God uses His Word in ways other than what we expect. Someone with P31 OBS chose this verse to illustrate the subject of “context”. God used it to reveal something very personal to me. How awesome is that?

  36. By the way, forgot to put this in my last post, but I LOVE this “Digging Deeper” segment. Most of the time I just read the book and follow along with the videos, sometimes I might break out my Bible for something but for the most part I just do the bare minimum, even if Bible reading is encouraged throughout the week. I’ve been a Christian since I was 5 years old but growing up was never really encouraged to dig deeper into the Bible. I was always told, “Read the Bible.” Never was given much direction so as an adult I’ve struggled some with disciplining myself to read regularly and to really dig deeper. I always start out strong and with good intentions but always slack off in the end. Having this “Digging Deeper” segment really helps guide me and motivate me. Thanks! (You should keep this segment in all OBS’s.)

  37. I love how Paul doesn’t care what others think. He is willing to speak up for the truth no matter what the cost. His boldness to make sure other other Christ followers weren’t led in the wrong direction is inspiring. I want to be like Paul!

  38. Katie Brisco says:

    I’m going to answer the ‘WHY’. I read the NIV Study Bible and before the chapter begins it gives me a lot of background info. The purpose of writing this was “to refute the Judaizers(who taught that Gentile believers must obey the Jewish law in order to be saved), and to call Christians to faith and freedom in Christ. Connecting the purpose or the WHY to verse 1:10, Paul was trying to show the Christians in Galatia that they only need to seek God’s approval, not others. He challenged them to really seek their hearts intensions for who they’re really trying to please.

  39. Author: Paul
    Writing to: Believers in the churches in South Galatia
    Written: Approx. A.D. 49
    Why: to warn Christians/Believers to be careful about turning from the true gospel message, they were in danger of being misled by Judaizers (Jewish Christian teachers who were trying to make Gentile Christians follow the old Jewish laws).
    What: Paul was telling them that they needed to be more concerned about pleasing God & following Him, than pleasing these men & following their rules.

    It is very important to read every scripture in the context in which it was written. The Church has suffered because man has taken scripture out of context and made it fit his own agenda…

  40. Paul was writing to all the churches because they had many new Gentile believers.

  41. I’ve been a researcher for decades & love digging deeper in God’s Word & at times holding Bible study in my home. It is so much fun reading your comments & to add a wee bit more to the mix. Ancient Galatia today is Turkey & I found it interesting that it became a melting pot of many nations people worldwide. The Ottoman empire rose up out of Galatia, which is Ankara today.God has equipped us with tools like never before. Shalom

  42. Digging deeper is always quite interesting and I realize I should do it more often in order to gain a better understanding of God’s word. In this case, I found, which I knew, that Paul was the author of Galatians and the reason he wrote it was that he had previously brought forth the word there and he and the gospel were later being undermined which was unsettling and needed correction.

  43. ~Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit)
    ~To the church of Galatia
    ~Around AD 57
    ~To root out errors of doctrine (Judaizing teachers had greatly corrupted the simplicity of their faith)
    ~To establish divine origin of the Gospel

    “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

    So through this little bible study, God is teaching me that He is trying to uproot any lies I have believed or that has corrupted my faith in Him and the simplicity yet power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And He is convicting me and reminding me to not try to please people, yet to seek to please Him and obey Him.

    Prayer: Lord, uproot any lies that we believe and help us to be humble servants of You~ may we make choices that will honor You and that You will be pleased with and may we not seek to please people.

    Thanks for this wisdom you shared with us today, Sarah, and Proverbs31. You’re a blessing!

  44. The author, Paul, was writing to the Galatians, somewhere during the time AD 53-57. The gist is that we must approach God through grace, not through the Law. We must apply God’s grace in every area of our lives. We should walk in the sprit, not in the flesh.

  45. I got the same answers as others have stated, but let me tell you…this rocked my world

  46. Reading the verse in context gave me such a greater understanding of what Paul meant when he wrote it. Reading the verse alone, I’m left to make my own assumptions and interpretations. I must be honest in that I struggled initially with digging into the details to learn the background info (I get lost in trying to sift through the details to find the main points), but once I found the info that answered the WHY question, I became energized and excited to learn more! I ended up with several pages of notes 🙂 GREAT lesson that I will definitely be utilizing more often!

  47. Good job, Sarah. I have always been a “student” and not just a reader so knowing the who, what, when, where, and why of things enables me to have a much better understanding. Background is important, as well as reading a verse in context (reading above and below the verse) makes a huge difference in the interpretation of that verse. I thank God for young ladies, like yourself, who spend many hours in Bible study and wish to help others be able to learn better study skills and giving them the tools with which to do so. For me, since I’m older, it helps to know the study tools available on the internet. God bless!

  48. Dona Rodriguez says:

    I find when I am reading the Word, it takes me off in to other scripture that backs up the one scripture I am studying. This helps me keep it all in context

  49. – Written by Paul to the Galatians
    – Written around the time of 49-50 AD
    – Not sure where he wrote it: could’ve been on his travels to the Jerusalem Council or during or after.
    -Why he wrote it: The first real controversy that plagued the Church regarding the relationship between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. Paul wanted unity between these two groups and the Judaizers sought to make a living under the Moziac Law a requirement of the Christian faith and had gained influence in the salvation. Paul was under question in his authority and he wanted to present justification comes to the Christian by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by works. The Judaizers argued that to live by grace and freedom meant to live a lawless and degenerate life. Paul refuted and made clear that justification – an act of grace by God – through belief and faith in Christ, need not result in a sinful life but rather that Christians had been freed from bondage to the sinful nature and now the path of holiness. (caveat: I sometimes get legalism/works and grace mixed up in my priorities in my Christian walk). I like the simplicity that Susan states in her post: We must walk in God’s grace in every aspect of our lives through the Spirit by faith and not in the flesh.

  50. Debbie Hodge says:

    The question that moved me most was finding out WHY Paul wrote to the Galatians:
    He wrote to save them from the present evil age of the time. Others were trying to lure them away from Christ with a new gospel. But Paul wrote to make them understand the ONLY way to be saved is through FAITH. Faith in Jesus Christ being sent by God to suffer and die for our sins!
    Reading in Context is such a new and refreshing way for me to understand the scriptures and what God is telling me through His Word.

  51. Why he wrote it? People who wanted to become Christians were being “scared” away from the Church because one part of the early Christians felt the new Christians needed to follow all the laws of Moses before becoming Christians. Paul wanted emphasize that following the law does not save a person – only God’s grace does that and that if we were to try to save ourselves through following laws we would always fail.

    I guess what I saw most here was the parallel between what the early churches were going through and what all churches go through still today. There are things that churches and christians do and say that unintentionally scare others away from the faith. These arguments are not done with bad intentions, just as those in the early church most likely did not have bad intentions. All of us want the same things – those who do not know God to have a personal relationship with Him – to know how much He truly loves every person and how much better a life with Him is than a life without Him. Paul wanted to make sure the focus was on God and the grace He gifts us despite our failings.

  52. Paul was writing to the people of Galatia…God was speaking to Us…I posted yesterday, That I am a people pleaser and an encourager…my dear, sweet friend pointed out that I am an encourager, Period…in encouraging and pleasing people, I honor God. (As a Pediatric home nurse, I try to give patients and their families a sense of ownership of their lives…a voice in their care and continuity in their home life.)

  53. Quote from BibleHub: “The churches were running well when Paul left them, but Judaizing teachers had now come in and, acting upon their fickle and unstable nature, had greatly corrupted the simplicity of their faith.”

    Those words “the simplicity of their faith” struck me. We … I try to complicate things but it is the truth of Jesus that saves us, not out works or the laws we abide by. By faith I believe.

    • I also loved this quote from Bible Hub! My older children have struggled a bit with their faith lately, and it occurred to me that they have had the “simplicity of their faith” corrupted a bit by circumstances, other people, etc., and they are now at this point in their lives where they have to decide for themselves what they believe about God and His Word. It is so strange to see the transition from simple child-like faith to this questioning phase. I feel like they are bombarded every day with people and ideas that are trying to pull them away from the simplicity of what God’s Word says. I love knowing that Paul was able to teach the church in Galatia Who to believe, and to not base their beliefs on the approval of man. 🙂

    • Amen Crystal! I just love that insight ~ I also try to complicate things and need to continually come back to “the simplicity of” my faith. Thank you for that reminder 🙂

  54. I am so glad to be a part of this Bible study! I am learning so much! Reading a verse in context makes it so much easier to understand. And it helps to see how I can apply it to my life if I find myself in a similar situation. I have a study Bible, but I have never really read the intro pages to a chapter. I found out today that there’s some really interesting stuff in there! I will read it more often now. Thanks for this study skill and tools!

  55. Sarah, you are making reading and studying the Bible so much easier. I understand the “W” questions now, and how to apply to each chapter I read. It is like the history of that particular chapter. Helps to understand why it is written. I think the best “W” question is, “Why they are writing it”? This gets in the “meaning” of the chapter, but also lets you know what to expect. I think all the “W”s are needed though for the whole picture. The background is “fleshed out” so to speak for the chapter and does not appear as just being told this certain information. Much easier to understand when you see the whole picture! Thank for the lesson!

  56. I learned a lot from studying the full context of this verse, however, what stuck out most to me is the fact that Paul had studied God’s Word on his own, independent of any man. He had the help of the Holy Spirit, of course, but he studied by himself first for 3 years. He did not allow the “approval of human beings” to sway him or contaminate his interpretation. I love this, because I have a tendency to second guess what God is impressing on my heart through His Word, and I have a habit of seeking out others’ opinions about what the Bible says. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it can be if I am using God’s Word in order to please myself or other people, instead of truly seeking the approval of God alone.

  57. Hi SARAH! Another GREAT teaching which certainly helps to enhance the depth of my understanding of God’s word. I have a Study Bible but never bothered to read the wealth of information available that put it all in context!!!! These Bible Skill Wednesdays have taught me so much. Thank you ever so much Sarah & OBS Team!

    1. WHO was the author? Paul
    2. WHO was he writing to? The churches of Galatia
    3. WHEN did he write it? between AD 53 & 57 from Ephesus & Macedonia
    4. WHY was he writing it? To root out errors of doctrine introduced by Jewish Christians who said Gentiles who converted to Christianity would be required to abide by certain Old Testament Laws especially circumcision. And they questioned Paul’s authority.
    5. WHAT was he trying to say? Paul was establishing his apostolic authority and the divine origin of the true gospel. He wanted to explain it was justification by faith alone that one is saved and not by the old testament laws and legalism.

  58. WHY were they writing? The Galatians were turning away from Christ and turning to others who were preaching another gospel.

    Answering the context questions for me magnified Paul’s purpose in writing to the Galatians. By his own testimony, his divine appointment with the Lord on the road to Damascus, he knew first hand what the gospel of Christ is and his urgency for the Galatians to return to that seems more imperative.

  59. Joy Chiasson says:

    As when you are writing a story you must keep the details in order. If we don’t read in context we will not understand where the story is coming from or where it is leading. We have to be careful as Christians to not use a verse to support an opinion of ours. Like the false teachers that infiltrated the church at Galatia, we could add new rules or laws that have no bearing on what the Scriptures tell us. We should always then, look to the Word of God from whatever you have heart at church or anything to make sure that the meaning is the same what was quoted. Then, you will be able to discern if the instructions given to you by the authority that preached or teached it understood the context of the verse.

    HuggieZ and blessings,


  60. Terri Lanigan says:

    I found more info on Bible Hub.:-) Paul wrote to the Celtics in Galatia. They were fickle – accepted new ideas easily. They needed to analyze what they were hearing and stand firm on the belief in Jesus Christ which is from God, not men.

  61. Oh my goodness Sarah, you are such a great teacher! I will answer the WHAT question….Paul was trying to say salvation occurs by faith alone, rather than by the works of man….in which case his opponents thought his religion was “too easy” (since it did not require the approval and legalism of people in charge of enforcing Old Testament laws.) Just think, to be saved by faith alone? You mean we don’t have to DO all the required tasks to be saved?
    This has a much deeper meaning than if I just interpreted that I don’t need to please people. If taken out of context, I could use that as an excuse everyday in my life for doing things that I could justify are OK by God but not necessarily the best choices for my work, for my family, etc. Or I could interpret this in a different way and feel guilty because I may try to “please people” (in being gracious) and this indirectly tells me that I should not, again, if taken out of context. The context really provides the meat of the interpretation. Again, thank you, and the next time someone “slings” a verse at me I will ask them what the context of the verse is, and if they don’t know, I have a place to reference and we will both learn something!

  62. Sarah, I loved today’s bible study skill. I have a study bible that has the introduction and information but never really read over it much. I have never used it for context purposes for sure. So this was eye opening for me. I loved the online sites you shared. I went to those and played around and really enjoyed all of the options. I chose WHO was the author question. The reason is I found on Gateway that there are some scholars that don’t believe that Paul wrote Galatians. I read the arguments why most scholars believe he did and then I went to my study bible and it showed Paul as the author. It has shed new light that there is the possibility that Paul didn’t write this Epistle. I will be reading some of his other books and compare writing styles to see what I think. (which I can tell you is Paul. lol) I also learned that this would be the first Epistle that Paul would have written. Paul learned that certain Jewish teachers were unsettling his new converts in Galatia by imposing on them some requirements for salvation. That is why Paul said he was not pleasing man, but God only and doing what God required of him. Very good today! Loved it Sarah~~~~

    • Marsha I went for the longest time without even glancing at those introduction sections. It’s like a light switches on when we actually look there isn’t it! I personally believe that Paul did write Galatians as he identifies himself in verse 1 and then the whole letter is written in first person. Incredible how digging deeper opens up our minds and leads us to study even further 🙂
      Thank you for being in this study and sharing your findings!

  63. Lucinda Humphrey says:

    Wow! I loved the info in today’s study. I’ve never took the time to read all of that before but I now can see it is important to know the w’s. I used biblegateway and I chose who wrote the epistle of Galatians which was Paul. I also chose who he was what he was trying to say which was we are not to worry about pleasing people but it is only pleasing Christ that matters. I sometimes have found myself in the past being more worried about what people thought of my answer instead of what I know God thinks but No more for it could mean someone’s salvation experience is at stake.

  64. Thank you Sarah for another inspired lesson on studying God’s word.
    You know what I learned from this bible study skills lesson today? Paul and the gospel message he taught were victims of GOSSIP and HEARSAY!! False teachers had swooped in on the believers in Galatia and started spreading the lies!! I can just imagine it…”Haven’t you heard? Paul’s in this for his own glory, he made up this gospel message!! ” “What you really need to do is get circumcised…” Paul declares in Gal 1:10..”I’m not in this for my own glory!” Here’s the proof… If I were trying to please man, then I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ!”
    God’s word is so alive and so full of lessons and correction and encouragement. Where would I be without You and Your Word Father? To you be all the glory!

  65. Mary Ann M says:

    Without looking at others’s W’s, I came up with:

    Who wrote it – The Apostle Paul
    Who were they writing to? – The churches of Galatia
    When did he write it? between A.D. 48 and A.D. 52
    Why was he writing? Counteract the activities of the “Judaizers” (those who thought Gentiles should live like Jews.)
    What was he trying to say? Unlike the Judaizers who believed in “old” Christian ways and God’s “old” laws, Paul was trying to say that Christians only needed grace and and faith to live free—their salvation didn’t depend on the old laws, it was granted by Grace of and Faith in Christ.

    Unrelated to Galatians, I learned how to dig deeper using Biblegateway! I did not know about the “study this” link. Thank you so much!! I LOVE IT!

  66. Patricia Q. says:

    From the foot note in my bible “The purpose of the book of Galatians is to cause its receivers to know that the gospel preached by apostle Paul was not from man’s teaching but from God’s revelation. Galatians reveals Christ is versus religion and its law.”
    I enjoyed from bible hub where Galatians were located and some of what their culture was. Seeing the historical background of the people was interesting.

    I learned we should stand for the truth given by God.

  67. This “homework” was great, Sarah! What I learned was St. Paul had struggles! Sometimes I forget it wasn’t all rainbows & unicorns for the early Christians. ( and it’s not now, either) Writing info really helps it sink in. Thank you for your help!

    • I think that’s why God had all these men write His Words … to show us that real struggles existed even then and that His Word is applicable in every day and culture. The problems and struggles might change but they remain … and so does the TRUTH in God’s Word 🙂

  68. I think I found one of my life verses in Gal. 1:10 I seriously struggle with people pleasing. I want everyone to like me. I learned from the call with Candace Cameron Bure about how she deals with all the negative comments. She said that she lives to please God and it’s all about her relationship with Him. I didn’t understand that until I read that verse in our book. Good stuff. My life lesson for the day. Maybe this can help “thicken” my skin so I don’t let people’s words break me so easily…

  69. Samantha Jolicoeur says:

    The why question – Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia in chapter one about not giving into those preaching a false gospel. They were not to receive anyone preaching another gospel. They were to please Christ and not man.

    This helps me to understand Galatians 1:10 that to please Christ is to be His servant and that entails accepting and embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and no one’s false rendition of it. That means not pleasing people by accepting a lie.

  70. Pleasing Christ has to be our goal as a Christian. This will not make us popular with man. It never has…look at the history of those thrown in prison and those that have been killed- jus because they believe. I am thankful I live in a country where I can worship Christ and proclaim Him freely, but that being said- others are as free as me and some of them choose to not believe. Others that choose not to believe sometimes belittle me or try an get me to argue “topics”…some times they just out right say they cant believe I would “fall” for the “Bible ting”…Times like that are, to me, the closest I can come to trying to understand the feelings Paul may have felt at various times in his life. But Paul is clear in what he says…people pleasers are not servants of Christ. We need to be careful that in getting along with society and living in a world that is not Christ centered, that WE do not forget that WE have to be Christ centered. It is hard, but not impossible. WE can not please people to any point that belittles Christ.

  71. Why? To correct what the Judaizers were telling the Galations, namely that the church must follow the man-made rule and be justified by works. The verse makes sense in light of fact that Paul was telling them to worry about what God wants, not man

  72. What Paul was trying to say was that he received his call from God and not man, and the old ways were temporary. He wanted the church to stay focused on the gospel of Jesus and not revert to the Jewish traditions.

  73. Paul was writing to the church of Galatia. We did these excercises in Bible college and it really helps people not take Scripture out of context.

  74. Sarah, I’ve been contemplating what new Bible to get & now that I’ve seen what great info is in the ESV I’m really considering that one. Thank you so much for your Bible study lessons!

    • I love my Crossway ESV Study Bible! There are lots of great study Bibles out there but it’s my personal favorite. I agree with the doctrine in the notes and I find it my go-to translation that I prefer. Of course I then go to an online parallel Bible to compare all the translations!! Glad you’re enjoying the Bible studies 🙂

  75. Sarah, so enjoy your teachings. I chose What were they trying to say as my question: Paul was trying to root out the errors of doctrine by the Judaizers and to do this he had to: establish his apostolic authority, divine origin of his gospel and show the value of Christian Freedoms. As a result Paul gave us an inspired classic upon the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith and forever settled the disturbing question of the relation of Christians to the Jewish law.

    I could never have put this together without the bible study helps you have taught me. In gratitude I thank you Sarah.

  76. Alexandra-Leigh says:

    In response to the question of why Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, I earnestly had no idea–before reading Bible Gateway’s encyclopedia entry on the matter–that most scholars agree that the letter was written almost exclusively to combat the teachings of the “Judaizers,” which had, apparently, descended upon the area, in Paul’s absence and after his initial missionary visit (or two) to the people in the region.

    Honestly, I didn’t even read the entire entry (It was very, very long and thorough!), but I’m so pleased to know about this resource now! The next Scripture into which I feel compelled to dig much, much deeper, I’ll certainly be consulting this!

    Reading even a portion of the encyclopedic entry on the epistle has certainly helped place it in context for me. I think I was initially tempted to modernize my reading of the verse, but, situated where it is in the book, directly after Paul mentioning the “other” gospels being presented, it adds to… the poignancy of the writing. Paul’s words seem to have so much more fervor to me now. I can’t imagine the conviction with which he wrote.

  77. Sarah, I absolutely LOVE Bible Study days where we dig deeper into God’s word! I got so caught up in Ephesians, that I ended up reading the entire book and saw it in a completely different way! To think that Paul was writing this while he was imprisoned just blows my mind! I am going to use what I have learned today to teach my children the same thing and have them dig deeper into God’s word also. Thank you so much for helping us understand God’s word better!!

  78. Thank you Sarah for showing us the bible hub I have used it so much in looking up messages & having them broken down for me, I really like being able to use it to read the verses in different context. Reading about Paul taking the stand for Our God is just so strong, listening to him explain the way God wanted us to be for him & to be joyful with him & that we don’t have to prove anything to him is wonderful, so good to be ourselves. Thanks again, for all the sharing we can do I’m learning to dig deeper into God’s message. Blessings

  79. I will be praying for everyone involved!

  80. LOVE the bible study skills we are learning!!! It is so helpful to learn how to use the tools I have had in front of me all along, just didn’t know what they were! I will definitely be digging deeper more and more!!

  81. Wow! I guess I have so much to learn of the Bible! These W questions were overwhelming considering my lack of Bible knowledge. I so have to get my hands on a study Bible asap! I just thought the Old Testament was BC and New was AD and knew of the 4 Books and that each book was Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s version of the same time with God just in their version. To be asked the W questions was like hitting a brick wall on how little I know. I am so glad I signed up for this OBS! Just an quick little FYI, I was just having a conversation yesterday with an aunt who was curious to know somethings that I had learned since I left the Catholic Church and joined Beltway Park Baptist Church. They way I was blown away with the W questions is who she was when she asked a few things that I had learned. So for me the Who the Author, Paul’s greeting to the Galatians! And I thought I was hungry to learn so much of the Bible and didn’t realize their was so much more! Ha! Thank you P31OBS!!!! Love, love, love you ladies!

  82. Paul wrote the book for the people of Galatia. It was written in A.D. 57. Paul was exhorting the people to listen and know that Christ is the answer not the law or works necessary under the Jewish belief. That there is liberty because of Christ, not license but Liberty. I love this resource.

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  1. […] Read ~ Read the verses in their context.  Having an understanding of what the verse actually means helps tremendously with our ability to retain and remember. (Trying to understand Scripture in context? Check out this earlier post from Sarah Travis, here.) […]

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