Paul’s Footsteps #72

Footsteps #72.

This study of Galatians has been intense. That is because the let­ter itself is intense. Knowing Paul’s calling, knowing the truth of what he preached, he wrote with the inspired passion of the OT prophets, of an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, or a Hosea. Just as they pleaded with the people of God in their time to turn away from their error, Paul here is doing the same with those in his time. 

It was Paul’s custom to dictate his letters to a scribe I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers.” NLT (Rom.16:22). Then, after finishing, Paul often would take the pen himself and write a few brief words with his own hand to end the letter “Here is my greeting in my own  handwriting – Paul.” NLT (1Cor.16:21). In Galatians, when he takes the pen from the scribe, Paul is still so concerned with the circumstances in Galatia that he ends up writing more instead. He simply cannot put the pen down until he pleads with the Galatians once more to turn from their foolish ways. 

Having exposed the motives that prompted some to insist on cir­cumcision, Paul presents his gospel message to the Galatians one final time, though only in summary form. For Paul, the gospel is based on two fundamental tenets: the centrality of the CrossAs for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” NLT (Gal.6:14) and the doctrine of justification  It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” NLT (Gal.6:15).  

Because we live in the twenty-first century, it is difficult for us to comprehend the shock that Paul’s comments about the Cross (Gal.6:14) originally conveyed. Today the cross of Christ is a common and cherished symbol that evokes positive feelings for most people. In Paul’s day, however, the Cross was not something to boast in but something to be despised. Jews found the idea of a crucified Messiah offensive, and Romans found crucifixion so repulsive that it was not even mentioned as a form of punishment suitable for a Roman citizen.  

A 2nd-century piece of graffiti depicts a man with a donkey’s head being crucified. Below the cross is a man with raised hands, the inscription reads “Alexander worships his god.” The point is clear: the cross of Christ is deemed ridiculous. It is in this context that Paul boldly declares that he can boast in nothing other than the cross of Christ!

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