As he is directed by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul covers many vital topics in his brief letter to the Galatian Christians. Some of the salient points are:
— He expresses his surprise that the Galatians are so quickly turning away from the way of Christ which they had heard and embraced.
— Paul reminds them that the message he preached to them—the truth of the Gospel which he was ready to defend—came directly from none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Paul rehearses his conflict and confrontation with Peter, which demonstrates not only his personal courage and commitment in the face of opposition but serves as a model for what he proposes they should be willing to do: Stand against those who would lead you astray!
— By means of probative questions, Paul challenges this community of believers to remember where they’ve come from. They did not receive God’s Spirit in response to their perfect performance in observing the Law; instead, they received the Spirit by believing what they heard!
— The crux of this message, which is built on the ageless principle of justification by faith, is summed up in Galatians 3:26-28, “26So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
After addressing these important topics, Paul focuses his attention on their conduct, especially as it relates to their new-found freedom in Christ. He urges them to realize that…
…their freedom cannot be preserved by maintaining the status quo. They must stand firm in it; refuse to allow anyone to re-enslave them; and remain strong and fit by expressing their faith through love.
…their freedom from sin, which is theirs in Christ, is not freedom to indulge the sinful nature. Instead their lives are to be characterized by refusal to feed the passions of their sinful nature and a daily walk in step with the Spirit.
…their freedom from sin is not a release from personal responsibilities with respect to those who stumble or are overloaded with life’s burndens. Nor, does it releas them from doing good as they have opportunity.
At the end of this letter, Galatians 6:11-18 according to our division, the Apostle Paul takes the stylus from his amanuenses’ hand and writes with “large letters” the concluding section of this letter. He wanted there to be no doubt in the mind of those who would read these words that they were, in fact, the inspired thoughts of their beloved father in the faith. In this section he once again identifies his two primary objections to the attitudes and actions of the truth-twisters who were seeking to win them over.
As he wraps up this letter, Paul restates his two primary concerns with respect to those who are troubling the Galatian Christians
First, they must be driven by personal agendas, because they don’t want to be made uncomfortable by the cross. Thus, we read the following in Galatians 6:12, “Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death.”(The Message)
Second, they must be motivated by selfish ambition, because they want to boast about their personal prowess and conquests. This seems to be the force of Galatians 6:13, “All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!” (The Message)
Beyond this fresh indictment, Paul answers these message-manglers with the two poignant insights into his heart. First, he articulates the driving force in his own life; and, second, he emphatically states the one thing that really matters in every person’s life:
(1) The driving force in Paul’s life as stated in Galatians 6:14, “For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate.” (The Message)
(2) What is the one thing that really matters? According to Galatians 6:15, “Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! (The Message)
Thus we see a distinct contrast between those who are seeking to influence these believers. Those who are troubling the Galatians Christians appear to be driven by personal agendas and selfish ambition. Paul, on the other hand, is driven by the compelling force of the cross of Jesus Christ on his life. Beyond this, Paul states that human accomplishments and conquests are NOT the central issue in life. The thing that counts, the one thing that really matters is the new creation. Only God can do this! Hence the only thing that really matters is what God is doing. Everything else is, well, old and worn, tattered and torn, worthless and ready to be rejected. What God has done, indeed, what God is doing, is creating a fresh, new way to freely serve God! What an incredible thought!
Paul’s final words sound more like wishful thinking that this problem would fall by the way, coupled with a final blessing for these dearly loved brothers and sisters. He stated:
17Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus. 18May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes! (Galatians 6:17-18, The Message)
© Bill Williams
July 9, 2006