Monday, December 6, 2021

Galatians | Session 25 | 6:3-18

We conclude our study today through the book of Galatians by taking a closer look at Paul's concluding remarks and admonitions to the church in Galatia regarding restoration of those who had fallen and their restoration.

Verse 3: For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Now Paul addresses the issue of deception. Specifically, the deception of self.

This fault seems to be prevalent in our society today for sure. We have become quite an arrogant people in my opinion and social media has not helped, but propagated it.

Verse 4: But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. This verse seems to be still spring boarding off the previous one. In other words, a good way to avoid deception is by examining ones on own works, i.e., instead of comparing themselves to others. It runs with what he was saying in 5:13 about loving and serving one another instead.

Verse 5: For every man shall bear his own burden. The word burden is where we get our word portion. Paul is continuing the same thought of self-examination that will result in one carrying their own burdens instead of worrying about someone else’s.

Verse 6: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. In this verse Paul is encouraging those who are taught to support those who teach them. The NASB translates it as And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches

What does he mean by communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things? or share in all good things with him who teaches? Barnes says that it means to share what is needful for their comfortable subsistence. It seems to be the same thing Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:11-13 and 1 Timothy 5:17. Lightfoot says that it means to provide for the temporal needs of your teachers in Christ.

Martin Luther also wrote, “These passages are all meant to benefit us ministers. I must say I do not find much pleasure in explaining these verses. I am made to appear as if I am speaking for my own benefit.” Luther also said, "I have often wondered why all the apostles reiterated this request with such embarrassing frequency . . . We have come to understand why it is so necessary to repeat the admonition of this verse. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force, he tries to accomplish his purpose by striking the ministers of the Gospel with poverty.”

Verse 7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Paul now reminds them of God's principle of sowing and reaping for those who share in all good things with him who teaches (NKJ). His point is that there is a return on the investment (ROI) involved as well.

To further the point, for those who choose not to do so is not only selfish and shortsighted, but also mocks God's generosity. Luther also said of this verse, "Be careful, you scoffers. God may postpone His punishment for a time, but He will find you out in time, and punish you for despising His servants. You cannot laugh at God.”

Verse 8: 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. In other words, if we want to reap spiritual things, we must sow or give ourselves to them and not the flesh. Of course, this principle extends beyond just giving and supporting those who sow into our lives. Simply put, we get out what we put in.

Paul essentially said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 9:11 when he asked, If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Also, he said in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;). 

Verses 9-10: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. As such, we should not grow tired of doing good for others, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Verse 11: Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. Paul says this because if was usually custom in the ancient world to dictate a letter through a scribe. This does not necessarily mean he wrote the entire letter himself, but he did write the conclusion. This was often done to authenticate the letter. He also did this in other places such as 1 Corinthians 16:21-24; Colossians 4:18; and 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Another thing when can gather from this verse in found in the words ye see how large a letters have I written. Many speculate this was because he had poor eyesight and could not read or write small print. However, this view certainly seems to go with what he said in Galatians 4:15 about them being willing to pluck out their own eyes and give them to him. It certainly lends itself to the conclusion that Paul had an eye problem that was not nice to look at and limited his vision.

However, there are others who just say that Paul used large letters just to make his point along the lines of John Hancock and his signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Verses 12-13: As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. Now Paul accuses the ones who pushed the law on them to be just making a fair shew in the flesh. How? - By constraining them to be circumcised.

His point to me is that while pretending to care for those who they were placing under the law, their motive was actually selfish in that they were trying to bring glory to themselves. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 23:25 when he said, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. They were merely viewing these Galatians as notches in their self-righteous belts.

Paul also says that their motivation was only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Morris says of this, "To advocate circumcision was to align the new movement with Judaism, a religion that had official Roman sanction, and therefore one that avoided persecution. The preachers Paul was opposing may have included the cross in their proclamation, but by adding the necessity of circumcision they avoided persecution.” I would add that they not only could avoid persecution at the hands of the Romans, but also their fellow Jews. That kind of makes me ask what sin or deception are we trapped in because we do not want to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ?

Also, reminds me of what the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:3-4 when he wrote, For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 

Personally, I do not think persecution, while not sought after, can be avoided if we are truly living for God. That is why Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Verses 14-15: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. On the other hand, Paul says that he glories only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the world is crucified to him and he to the world. Why? - Because it isn't about circumcision or uncircumcision, but about becoming a new creature through Christ.

Verse 16: And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. Paul now pronounces a blessing upon those who walk according to this rule. What rule? - Glorying in the cross and becoming a new creation.

Interesting that he began the letter with a curse in Galatians 1:8-9 and ends with a blessing on those who glory in the cross, not the keeping of the Law, but becoming new creatures in Christ. These are those who are the true Israel of God, or the spiritual descendants of Abraham according to faith. The same faith that Abraham exercised when the promises where made to him just as Paul argued in chapter 3.

Verse 17: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. What did he mean by let no man trouble me? It could be that he is saying that he doesn't want to hear any more of this nonsense about the Law or possibly that no one can accuse him of not having suffered for preaching the cross of Christ.

Interestingly, a teaching rose out of this statement for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus called the stigmata which says that Paul actually had the wounds of Jesus in his hands, feet, side, back, and head as a result of his devotion and identification with Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that this is very possible and five saints have actually received them; the most famous being Saint Francis of Assisi. They teach that the stigmata is a unique mystical sign that few people have experienced, and that would someone receive it, they literally share in the sufferings of Christ, by bearing the wounds of Christ crucified such as wounds in their hands, feet, or side (the wounds of the Crucifixion), on their head (the wounds of the Crown of Thorns), on their back (the wounds of the scourging), or some combination of these. In truth, what Paul is referring to is the marks, wounds, scars that he had received in his service for Christ. He mentioned these in detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Verse 18: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Paul concludes by emphasizing the grace our our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, his desire was that they not walk in legalism through the Law, but in the grace that comes through faith. Barclay says of this, "After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered.”

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