The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
- We have come to
the end of our series in the epistle to the Galatians.
- The apostle
Paul writes in verse 11, "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with
mine own hand."
- Instead of
dictating this letter to an assistant, as he often did (cf. Romans 16:22), Paul
wrote it himself.
- There are
various theories why Paul wrote the epistle himself. Perhaps there was no secretary available
at the time and Paul was eager to write the letter right
- There was a
great urgency (cf. 1:6-9).
- The "large
letters" suggest Paul may have had an eye problem (cf.
- You may recall
that in Acts 23, Paul could not recognize the high priest Ananias. That may have been because of poor
eyesight (cf. Acts 23:1-5).
- Some have
speculated that poor eyesight was the "thorn in the flesh" that Paul refers to
in II Corinthians 12:7.
- Paul concludes
this epistle by saying that he did not glory in his circumcision (6:15).
- He did not glory in observing the law
- The only thing Paul gloried in was the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ (6:14).
- In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever,
till my raptured soul shall find
rest beyond the
river. -- Fanny
THE OFFENSE OF THE
- To most people today, the cross is nothing but a
religious symbol or a pretty piece of jewelry, but in Bible times it was a
shameful, horrible way to die.
- Paul said in I Corinthians 1:18, "For the
preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are
saved it is the power of God."
- We are told
that a Roman citizen would not even mention the cross in polite conversation
because the cross represented rejection and shame.
- The hymnwriter
said the old rugged cross was "the emblem of suffering and shame," and
"reproach," and "despised by the world."
- The Judaizers
minimized the offense of the cross, and tried to replace it with ritualism,
particularly circumcision (Gal. 5:11, 12; 6:12).
- Like the
Judaizers of Paul's day, there are multitudes of people today who love to go
along with religious rituals and ceremonies, as long as they do not have to
repent of their sin and get right with God.
- That is why
Roman Catholicism and dead Protestantism are so popular. "Churchianity" is popular, but
fundamental Christianity is despised.
- It is easier to
go along with sacraments and giving up certain things for Lent, and praying with
rosary beads than becoming a genuine Christian because there is an offense of
- Spurgeon said,
"Strange, yet strangely true it is, that the Cross of
Christ has always been an offense and that it has provoked the fiercest battles
and the sternest strifes which men have ever had with their fellow
- Many nominal Christians avoid the cross because they do
not want to "suffer persecution for the cross of Christ"
- Think of all the politicians who profess to be
"Christian" but do not have a testimony of genuine conversion to Christ. These politicians are accepted by the
world. But if a leader dares
to announce that he is a born again believer who has accepted Christ as his
Saviour, he will be fiercely attacked.
- The cross represents the world's hatred for the Lord
Jesus Christ, and for the world's hatred for His
- Our Lord said in John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye
know that it hated me before it hated you."
- The cross represents the condemnation of the flesh, and
its efforts to please God by good works.
- The Judaizers spoke often about the importance of the
law, but Paul points out in verse 13 that they themselves failed to keep
- Our Lord said in Matthew 23:3-5, "All therefore
whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their
works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on
men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their
fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of
- "But all their works they do for to be seen of men"
(Matt. 23:5a). Galatians 6:12 says
they "desire to make a fair shew in the flesh."
- Religious people like to put on a show. Paul said the Judaizers put on a show so
they could "glory in your flesh" (6:13), i.e., so they could boast about their
success in getting their followers circumcised.
- Getting men circumcised is no great accomplishment. Getting men circumcised is not the same
as getting men saved.
- Jacob's sons persuaded Shechem and all of the other men
in his tribe to be circumcised, but they had no intention of converting Shechem
and the others to the true God of Israel.
- In fact, Jacob's sons pushed Shechem and his tribe
further away from God. Genesis
34:30 says that Jacob said to his sons Simeon and Levi, "Ye have troubled me to
make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land,
among the Canaanites and the Perizzites."
- Not only did the Canaanites and the Perizzites despise
Jacob, they also despised Jacob's God.
THE GLORY OF THE
- After talking
about the offense of the cross, Paul speaks of the glory of the cross (6:14).
Paul's boasting was not in his many accomplishments, but "in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ."
- Because of the
cross, the world died to Paul, and Paul died to the world
- Someone once
asked George Müller the secret of his successful ministry, and Müller replied,
"There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Müller and his
opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or
censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and friends; and
since then I have studied only to show myself approved to
- When a person
gets saved, he says goodbye to the world. Sometimes it may take a while to
understand that. Even George Müller
did not understand it right away.
But once he did he never turned back.
- This is the
idea behind baptism (cf. Gal. 3:27).
- Harry Ironside
told a story about a man who was asked by a Mason, "You belong to my lodge,
- The man
replied, "No, I do not."
- The man
persisted: "But I know you. I was
there the night you were initiated, and once you are a member of the lodge, you
are a member until death."
- "Exactly, I
quite admit what you say, but I buried the lodge member in Lake Ontario." The Christian man was referring to his
- When a Christian truly understands Galatians 6:14, the
world loses its charm and attraction.
The world is stripped of its glory and robbed of its power to seduce and
- Sometimes when I am waiting in line to buy groceries at
the supermarket, I glance at the tacky tabloids strategically placed by the
cashier. And I am surprised at the
unflattering photographs of the movie stars and other celebrities. They no longer appear attractive
or glamorous. In fact, some
actually look ugly and frightening. That is the way the world really is. May God open our eyes to see
- The cross is the dividing line between the church and
the world; between good and evil; between truth and error; between light and
darkness; between salvation and damnation; and between heaven and
NEW LIFE IN THE CROSS
- The Judaizers
taught salvation through good works, keeping the law, and ritualism,
particularly circumcision (6:12, 13, 15).
- The Judaizers
said, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved"
- Paul said in
Galatians 5:2, "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ
shall profit you nothing."
- There could be
no compromise (1:6-9).
- "For in Christ
Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new
- Are you a "new
- "Therefore if
any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17).
- This is not
through circumcision, or any other religious ritual but through faith in Christ
(cf. Gal. 3:26).
- This is God's "rule" (6:16).
- This is "the law of Christ"
- Paul did not want to be "troubled" over false doctrine
and religious ritualism (6:17). He
had been whipped and beaten for preaching the true Gospel of salvation by grace
through faith in Christ.
- He had the "marks" (scars) to prove it (6:17). The false teachers did not want to be
persecuted, but Paul was persecuted, beaten, whipped, and imprisoned for
preaching the Gospel.
- Paul ends the epistle appropriately with "the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ" (6:18).
- The name
"Charing Cross" originates from the Eleanor
cross erected in the 13th century by King Edward
I as a memorial to his wife,
- Charing Cross
is located smack dab in the center of London, England. It is named after the Eleanor
cross which once stood there, in what was once the
hamlet of Charing.
- Since the
second half of the 18th century Charing Cross has been recognized as the center
- The original
cross is long gone, and since 1675 the site of the cross has been occupied by a
statue of King Charles
I mounted on a horse.
- One day a
little girl got lost walking around the crowded city streets of London, and a
policeman seeing her crying, tried to calm her down and help
- He asked her
where she lived. Did she live near
- Did she live
near Big Ben?
- How about Westminster Abbey? Did she live near
- "How about Charing Cross?"
- "Yes!" she said.
"Sir, if you can take me to the cross, I'll find my way home from
- That is what we must do. We must point people to the cross. It is the only way (Gal.
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