‘Come, Follow Me’ for Sept. 25-Oct. 1: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Galatians?

This week’s study guide includes the apostle Paul’s writings on dissension, adoption and the fruits of the Spirit

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Galatians, which includes the apostle Paul’s writings on dissension, adoption and the fruits of the Spirit.

Church News recently dug through archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

Galatians 1

“​​Paul reprimanded not only the Corinthians for their dissension, but also the Galatians, saying to them, ‘I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another’ (Galatians 1:6-7). …

“This secession continued even beyond the time of the Apostles. Historians tell us that during the first century of Christianity at least 30 different contending factions arose, splitting the original Church into a confusion of discordant sectarian groups. There was no longer any unity in Christianity. …

“We Latter-day Saints testify that the Lord’s divine Church has been restored to earth as the scriptures say, that it is of modern origin, that it provides new revelation and additional scripture, and that it stands today, as anciently, upon a foundation of living apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.

“All the signs of the divine church are here, not just a few. They are available to everyone for careful examination.”

— Elder Mark E. Petersen, April 1979 general conference, “Signs of the True Church”

“On many subjects we are often able to find definitions in the scriptures, but it is interesting to note that even though we think of the Bible as a religious treatise, the word ‘religion’ does not appear in the Old Testament, and in the writings of the New Testament it is used on three occasions only. … 

“The second use of the word ‘religion’ was also by Paul, in writing to the Galatians. He made this statement: ‘For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church’ (Galatians 1:13). We well know of the persecutions inflicted by Paul upon those who followed Christ and professed to be Christians and wonder why he did these things. What caused him to take such a ruthless course? Paul answers these questions by stating that he had practiced the religion of his fathers — a religion of iron rules, laws and traditions inherited from his Hebrew lineage. These iron rules of practice are what caused him to relentlessly persecute the followers of Christ. Thus, in writing to the Galatians he referred to religion in the same manner as he did before King Agrippa, as rules of practice rather than doctrine or a creed of belief.”

— Then-Elder Howard W. Hunter, October 1978 general conference, “True Religion”

“And then the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

“‘I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

“‘Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

“‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

“‘As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

“‘For… I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

“‘For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 1:6-12).

“Today those warnings are just as applicable as they were in that day in which they were given.

“There are some as wolves among us. By that, I mean some who profess membership in this church who are not sparing the flock. And among our own membership, men are arising speaking perverse things. Now ‘perverse’ means diverting from the right or correct, and being obstinate in the wrong, willfully, in order to draw the weak and unwary members of the Church away after them.

“And as the apostle Paul said, it is likewise a marvel to us today, as it was in that day, that some members are so soon removed from those who taught them the gospel and are removed from the true teachings of the gospel of Christ to be led astray into something that corrupts the true doctrines of the gospel of Christ into vicious and wicked practices and performances.”

— President Harold B. Lee, October 1972 general conference, “Admonitions for the Priesthood of God”

Galatians 3

The Kirby family gathers for a gospel study at home around their table.
The Kirby family gathers for a gospel study at home. “Come, Follow Me” for Sept. 25-Oct. 1 includes the apostle Paul’s writings on dissension, adoption and the fruits of the Spirit. | Deseret News archives

“The Bible tells us how God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him that through him all ‘families’ or ‘nations’ of the earth would be blessed (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18). What we call the Abrahamic covenant opens the door for God’s choicest blessings to all of His children everywhere. The Bible teaches that ‘if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29; see also Abraham 2:10). The Book of Mormon promises that all who receive and act upon the Lord’s invitation to ‘repent and believe in his Son’ become ‘the covenant people of the Lord’ (2 Nephi 30:2). This is a potent reminder that neither riches nor lineage nor any other privileges of birth should cause us to believe that we are “better one than another” (Alma 5:54; see also Jacob 3:9). Indeed, the Book of Mormon commands, “Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another” (Mosiah 23:7).

“The Bible teaches that some of Abraham’s descendants would be scattered ‘into all the kingdoms of the earth,’ ‘among all nations,’ and from ‘one end of the earth even unto the other’ (Deuteronomy 28:25, 37, 64). The Book of Mormon affirms this teaching, declaring that the descendants of Abraham would be “scattered upon all the face of the earth, and ... among all nations” (1 Nephi 22:3).

— Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks,All Men Everywhere,” Ensign May 2006

“We have just come from a great experience at an area conference in Munich, Germany. There we had 14,000 Saints gathered from more than eight European countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. Besides that, there was a large representation from the German Democratic Republic. They permitted a number of our people to come from behind what we call the ‘Iron Xurtain.’ …

“Think of the wars in the past, involving these very countries, political differences where some of these countries have been at war, and now we assemble them all under one roof. We quoted to them what the apostle Paul had said to the Galatians, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus … and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:28-29).

“Then we paraphrased saying, ‘Now you are neither English, nor German, nor French, nor Spanish, nor Italian, nor Austrian, nor Belgian, nor Dutch, but you are all one as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite the political differences that you have had with various countries, in you now, because you are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ, the war must end so far as you are concerned.’ …

“We are all of one great family. And that should apply not only in political matters, but it should apply in our dealings with each other. What we may do as politicians, or as those who are engaged in competitive temporal activities, we must say, ‘Because I am a holder of the priesthood of the living God, I am a representative of our Heavenly Father and hold the priesthood by which He can work through me; I can’t stoop to do some of the things that I might have done otherwise because of my fellowship with the priesthood of God.’”

— President Harold B. Lee, October 1973 general conference, “President Harold B. Lee’s General Priesthood Address”

Galatians 4

“In Paul’s short letter to the Galatians, he showed great concern over their apparent disbelief and their forsaking of his teachings regarding Christ. He wrote to them: ‘But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you’ (Galatians 4:18-19). In other words, Paul expressed himself as suffering pain and anxiety until Christ be ‘formed’ in them. This is another way of saying ‘in Christ,’ as that expression is used by Paul repeatedly in his writings.

“It is possible for Christ to be born in men’s lives, and when such an experience actually happens, a man is ‘in Christ’ — Christ is ‘formed’ in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make Him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or a fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, He is ‘formed’ in us; if we open the door, He will enter; if we seek His counsel, He will counsel us. For Christ to be ‘formed’ in us, we must have a belief in Him and in His Atonement. Such a belief in Christ and the keeping of His commandments are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind, which may make each of us a channel of that peace.”

— President Howard W. Hunter in the December 2015 Ensign article “The Real Christmas”

Galatians 5

A woman sits on a bed while studying the “Come, Follow Me” manual.
“Come, Follow Me” for Sept. 25-Oct. 1 includes the apostle Paul’s writings on dissension, adoption and the fruits of the Spirit. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Inner peace is a fruit of the Spirit. The apostle Paul said, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith’ (Galatians 5:22). … Peace is a gift. We don’t determine the conditions upon which this gift is given. Our Father in Heaven sets the terms. Sometimes we become so focused on our quest for peace that we forget it is one of the fruits of a righteous life. Our best course for finding peace is to live righteously — to keep our covenants. This is the only course that leads to that inner peace we all desire. The adversary would tempt us to put all our efforts into directions other than a righteous life in our search for peace, but if we do this we will be disappointed in the end. True peace comes only from the Lord as a result of our righteous lives.”

— Elder Paul V. Johnson in the April 2013 Ensign article “Where Can I Turn for Peace?”

“More regrettable than the Church being accused of not being Christian is when Church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way! May our conversations with others always be marked by the fruits of the Spirit — ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance’ (Galatians 5:22-23). To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is ‘manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.’ Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.”

— Elder Robert D. Hales, October 2008 general conference, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship”

“The doctrines of the gospel are indispensable. They are essential, but the packaging is optional. Let me share a simple example to show the difference between the doctrines of the Church and the cultural packaging. Here is a bottle of Utah peaches, prepared by a Utah homemaker to feed her family during a snowy season. Hawaiian homemakers don’t bottle fruit. They pick enough fruit for a few days and store it in baskets like this for their families. This basket contains a mango, bananas, a pineapple and a papaya. I bought these fruits in a supermarket in Salt Lake City, but they might have been picked by a Polynesian homemaker to feed her family in a climate where fruit ripens all year round.

“The basket and the bottle are different containers, but the content is the same: fruit for a family. Is the bottle right and the basket wrong? No, they are both right. They are containers appropriate to the culture and the needs of the people. And they are both appropriate for the content they carry, which is the fruit.

“Now, what is the fruit? Paul tells us: ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance’ (Galatians 5:22-23). In the sisterhood of Relief Society, in the brotherhood of priesthood quorums, in the reverent coming together to partake of the sacrament, the fruit of the Spirit unites us in love, joy and peace whether the Relief Society is in Taipei or Tonga, whether the priesthood quorum is in Montana or Mexico, and whether the sacrament meeting is in Fiji or the Philippines.”

— Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, April 1996 general conference, “Baskets and Bottles”

“The Lord drew boundary lines to define acceptable limits of tolerance. Danger rises when those divine limits are disobeyed. Just as parents teach little children not to run and play in the street, the Savior taught us that we need not tolerate evil. … Though He loved the sinner, the Lord said that He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:31). His apostle Paul specified some of those sins in a letter to the Galatians. The list included ‘adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

“‘Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, … wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

“‘Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like’ (Galatians 5:19-21).

“To Paul’s list, I might add the regrettable attitudes of bigotry, hypocrisy and prejudice. These were also decried in 1834 by early Church leaders who foresaw the eventual rise of this church ‘amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites’ (Joseph Smith — History 1:71, footnote). … Hatred stirs up strife and digs beneath the dignity of mature men and women in our enlightened era. …

“In latter days, devoted disciples of the Lord are just as firm. Real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation — not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.”

— Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1994 general conference, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love”

Galatians 6

“The apostle Paul said to the Galatians, ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Galatians 6:7).

“One of my thoughts that followed is that Paul really meant we reap in kind. It came to me again that if we sow thistles, we don’t really plan to get strawberries. If we sow hate, we don’t really expect to receive an abundance of love. We get back in kind that which we sow. …

“It’s one thing to reap in kind, but we reap, somehow, always in greater quantity. We sow a little thistle, and we get a lot of thistle — years and years of it, big bushes and branches of it. We never get rid of it unless we cut it out. If we sow a little bit of hate, before we know it we’ve reaped a lot of hate — smoldering and festering and belligerent and finally warring, malicious hate.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the September 2013 Ensign article “The Justice and Mercy of God”

“The apostle Paul exhorts us about the importance of sowing in the Spirit and being aware of not sowing in the flesh. He said:

“‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

“‘For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

“‘And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Galatians 6:7–9).

“To sow in the Spirit means that all our thoughts, words and actions must elevate us to the level of the divinity of our heavenly parents. However, the scriptures refer to the flesh as the physical or carnal nature of the natural man, which allows people to be influenced by passion, desires, appetites and drives of the flesh instead of looking for inspiration from the Holy Ghost. If we are not careful, those influences together with the pressure of the evil in the world may conduct us to adopt vulgar and reckless behavior which may become part of our character. In order to avoid those bad influences, we have to follow what the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith about continuously sowing in the Spirit: ‘Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great’ (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33).”

Elder Ulisses Soares, April 2012 general conference, “Abide in the Lord’s Territory!”

“In Galatians we read, ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Galatians 6:7). Sisters, translated into simple idiom, that means that if you pick up one end of a stick, you pick up the other. When you pick a path, you choose the place it leads to. …

“We are like children walking a path in the rain. We can walk in or around the mud of life as we desire, but with our choices come the consequences. And we are rapidly becoming what we are choosing to be for all eternity.

“Spiritual maturity is understanding that we cannot blame anybody else for our actions. Some factors may make it harder for us to perform according to God’s plan for us, but being accountable for how we use our agency means being answerable for our own behavior.”

— Sister Elaine Cannon, October 1983 general conference, “Agency and Accountability”

A family studies the ‘Come, Follow Me’ curriculum at home at their table.
“Come, Follow Me” for Sept. 25-Oct. 1 includes the apostle Paul’s writings on dissension, adoption and the fruits of the Spirit. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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