Galatians 6:14-18

In Galatians 6:14-18 Paul wraps up his letter to the church in Galatia. He makes it clear that he is not interested in any personal fame or glory. He only wants to focus on Jesus, not himself. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Spurgeon explained “What did he mean by the cross? Of course he cared nothing for the particular piece of wood to which those blessed hands and feet were nailed, for that was mere materialism, and has perished out of mind. He means the glorious doctrine of justification-free justification-through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

Without doubt, Paul knew Christians had a moral standard to live by. And he focuses on the issue the church was plagued by – circumcision. “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” What really mattered was not what we do in keeping the law, especially in its ceremonies, but what God has done in us. Paul wants to drive home the point yet again that salvation is not something we earn, but that God gives us freely through grace. Christianity is something God does in us, not something we do for God. This can simply define the difference between the systems of grace and law.

Paul reminds the church that there is a rule for the Christian life, revealed by God’s Word. We just don’t make it up as we go along. We are to measure ourselves according to this rule. “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” He was willing to give a blessing to those who walk by the rule as Christ Followers. Following the rule doesn’t save us from our sin, only the shed blood of Christ can do that. But obedience to the rule, walking with Jesus in the ways of the Word, brings us peace and mercy and helps us receive the blessing related to obedience.

Paul ends by writing as someone who had suffered for Jesus, and who bore those marks on his body. “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Paul refers to marks that identify – or even “brand” – Paul as a follower of Jesus. In the ancient world, slaves were branded with the name of their master. Barclay wrote “Often a master branded his slaves with a mark that showed them to be his. Most likely what Paul means is that the scars of the things he had suffered for Christ are the brands which show him to be Christ’s slave.” Paul belonged to Jesus! And with that closing word, he signs off. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”

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