Friday, September 23, 2011

Galatians 6:12-18

12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.  Amen.

Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Galatians.  He establishes his credentials (verse 17), saying, “Hey – guess what?  I’ve been tortured for Christ’s sake – I’m hard-core, the real deal, so I know what I’m talking about!  Listen to me, already!”  He also hits the high points again, telling them:
·         Don’t listen to these false brethren – they are only trying to put you under the Law because they want to PG-ify the Gospel so that it’s no longer offensive to anyone by hurting their pride (verse 12).
·         No one is righteous – accept God’s grace for what it is, and accept that you can only become a righteous saint through His Spirit’s work in you! (verses 13, 15; also see 2 Corinthians 5:17).
·         Give the glory to God – He is the one who changed you!  Boast in His redeeming work to change you, not your own good works! (verse 14).

Also notice that in verse 16, Paul gives this emotional blessing to those who are obedient.  It’s like Luke 2:14, which people too often cut in half: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  Yes, sometimes God appears to bless the wicked and curse the righteous, rather than the other way around (we see this issue deeply explored in the book of Job), but the message here is that only the group that takes this teaching to heart will receive these specific blessings.  They will be granted mercy – because their hearts are willing to accept it.  They will be granted peace – because they can rest easy in the fact that Jesus Christ paid the price of their sin, so their eternal outcome is in no way dependent upon their (lack of) goodness.

Paul ends with his customary farewell – a wish that all will receive the grace of Christ, and, by implication, that all will accept His grace.  Amidst this sharp reproof, Paul evidences his love for the Galatians and his concern for their souls.

Discussion starters:
1-      What can we do and say to others in order to boast in Jesus Christ (verse 14)?
2-      What have you learned from the book of Galatians?  Did anything in particular stick out at you while we were reading it?  Do you have a favorite verse or passage from it?

On Monday's post, we’ll start the epistle of James.

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