whytheology

For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

April 3 Reflection, Galatians 6:15-18

Galatians 6:15-18 KJV (NIV Link below)

15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

17From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Link to NIV text

Christ Marks it

So we’ve come to Paul’s final remarks and made it all the way through Galatians. Congratulations if you’ve kept up with the readings so far. Here Paul restates his key point: it doesn’t matter if one is or isn’t circumcised. That is beside the point of the Gospel. The point, instead, is the newly created thing you have become in Christ. Here Paul calls for unity. If anyone follows this rule, the one that focuses on the new creation Christ performs in us, then Paul wishes them peace and mercy. Being circumcised doesn’t make you part of the “Israel of God,” being a new creature does.

Here, in a rare instance, Paul seems to distinguish between ethnic Israel, marked by circumcision, and spiritual Israel, the Israel of God marked by becoming a new creature. If someone is still hung up on markers, Paul notes, then let them look to the marks of Christ. In a way then, it is the mark that Jesus puts on you, both spiritually and, in Paul’s case at least, physically. Paul was physically abused for his commitment and this is far more important than some self-imposed physical marker. This is the discipleship, not merely marks that say something about who you are to the world, but marks that proclaim whose the world is in spite of itself. Christ owns it and is reshaping it, even when it violently works against it. Above all, though Grace and peace come from Jesus Christ, our Lord.

What do you think? What do you think the “marks of Jesus” were for Paul? Do you have any “marks of Jesus”? In what ways in Christ reshaping the world despite itself today? Are you being an active part of this? [Come back tomorrow as we look back on the entire letter and be sure to offer your thoughts on how this study may have helped you].

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