posted on Mar, 24 2016 @ 06:02 PM
“Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”
(Galatians ch6 v14).
Paul’s purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians is to convince them not to be persuaded into accepting circumcision or any of the other
regulations of the Law of Moses.
Just before the words quoted above, he was criticising the motives of those who wanted them to be circumcised. He claims that these people are only
interested in the prestige and “glory” they would get out of enlisting the Galatians to their own party.
Whereas he himself is not interested in personal glory.
The only thing that matters is knowing the crucifixion of Christ.
The point is that he has been included in the event.
He has been “crucified together with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (ch2 v20).
Therefore he is “dead to” everything that belongs to the old life, and they no longer concern him.
He is “dead to” the Law of Moses (ch2 v19).
He is “dead to” the passions of the flesh (ch5 v24).
And he now declares that he is “dead to” the whole present world, and vice-versa.
The same applies to all those who belong to Christ.
The only thing that counts is this “new creation”, of “Christ living in me”.
Compared with this, there is no great significance in circumcision (or the absence of circumcision).
“Peace and mercy be upon all those who walk by this rule, [that is], upon the Israel of God” (v16).
In some translations, we find “AND upon the Israel of God”.
But this is misleading, because it suggests that “those who walk by this rule” and “the Israel of God” are two different parties.
In this case, the Greek KAI does not mean “and”. The basic meaning is “also”, and the word here is being used to introduce an alternative way
of saying the same thing.
It is the equivalent of “and, indeed” or “that is” or “namely” or “to wit”.
If it is left out altogether, as in the RSV, that has the same effect in English usage.
Paul’s meaning is that those who walk by this rule ARE the Israel of God.
In which case we need to remind ourselves what is meant by “this rule”.
Evidently Paul is referring to the declaration of the previous verse;
“Nothing counts except the new creation”.
The Israel of God are those who base themselves upon the event of new creation in Christ.
This is in keeping with everything else he has told us in this letter.
He says that the true sons of Abraham are those who are “men of faith”, not the physical descendants (ch3 v17)
He says we are like Isaac, as “children of promise”, and our mother is “the Jerusalem above”, which is free, not “the present Jerusalem”,
which remains in slavery (ch4 v26).
Elsewhere he distinguishes between Israel “according to the flesh”, the main body of the Jewish people, and Israel “according to the Spirit”.
The distinction is reflected in this letter in the contrast between the births of Isaac and Ishmael, for Isaac is the one who was “born according to
the Spirit” (ch4 v28).
Paul’s point is that only those who live by faith in Christ crucified are Israel “according to the Spirit”.
They are the Israel of God.