Read Galatians 6:11-18
11See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
17Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (NIV)
Paul is at the end of the letter. Normally, Paul would dictate his letters to a scribe who would write them. He would probably simply then just sign his name at the end. But here, Paul writes the last few sentences. We are not sure why he uses large letters. They are many speculations such as he was not used to writing to his eye sight was beginning to fail. But the main point is that Paul wanted the people to know that he wrote this.
He then sums up his main point of the letter and his main argument. He kinds of chides them a bit by referring to these people as “those who want to make a good impression outwardly.” One almost hears the words of Christ when he chastised the Pharisee. We find this in Matthew 23:25-26 where Jesus says: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Jesus point was that they wanted to look good, but inside, they were still not right with God. And this is what Paul says of circumcision and even the law. It is an outward thing that has nothing to do with our relationship with God.
He points that they are looking first, to simply avoid persecution. The Romans did not persecute Jews as they were a recognized religion. Circumcision was a sign of that religion. Paul said that we should not denounce the cross of Christ to simply avoid persecution. This is still true today in some parts of the world, that there is a temptation to deny the cross of Christ to avoid persecution.
His second point as to why they are pushing this is to just so they can boast about new converts they got. He says they are asking to you do obey the law when they don’t even obey all the law, they just want to boast about the numbers. Churches fall into this trap, looking at numbers of converts rather than helping people grow in discipleship.
Paul points out that we can only boast in the cross of Christ. And the most important change is with us in that the old is gone and we become new creations in Christ. This is not an outward change, but an inward change in us. This change is what is important. This is why Paul says at one point, we all must be changed for the perishable must become imperishable.
Paul mentions that he does not want to argue with anyone because he bears the marks of Jesus. Some have speculated that Paul is talking about the Stigmata which is the signs of the nails appearing on the hands and feet. But most believe his is talking about the scars from the beatings he has taken while doing his work for Christ. He shares how he has been whipped and beaten in his letters.
Paul ends the letter with the one concept that matters most, grace. It is grace that saves and it is grace that keeps us going.
The question for the whole of this book is that are we trying to earn our salvation through actions? Are we trying to prove we are worthy? This is an easy trap to fall in. The real question is are we allowing God’s work in our lives to change us into a new creation? Do you see signs that something new is forming in you? I know as I look back on my life, I can see the change in so many ways, things I did, things I used to like and such. But I see change.
I hope you found something meaningful as we looked at this letter to the Galatians.
Blessings and Peace