Galatians 6: 11 – 18 Not circumcision but the new creation
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May 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. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule – to the Israel of God.
From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
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This is the final short section of the letter. Paul reiterates his warnings about the false doctrine of circumcision, but he also seems to want to sum up his beliefs about being a Christian in this fallen world. There is a lot of theology in these few, short paragraphs, and what I write here doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
“May 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.”
The world has been crucified to me. What might this mean?
A small part of the meaning might be that I need no longer allow human desires and drives to rule me. When I follow the direction of the Holy Spirit I avoid sin. When I forget to follow his direction, or when I choose not to do so, I sin – but, through Jesus, there is a way back to God for me.
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”
What counts is the new creation. What might Paul mean by this?
“The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” and yet life continues; we are not immediately with God in heaven. However, we are no longer ruled by human passions. We live as much as possible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
But there is daily life to be negotiated; a living to be earned; children to raise; neighbours to help.
Once, all these matters would have been guided by our human drives and ambitions. Now we are called to live daily life according to the bidding of the Lord, not by obeying the Mosaic law, not by being circumcised, but by allowing God to transform us into the likeness of Christ through the power of his Holy Spirit. We are to become a new creation.
What a wonderful world it is, and how much more wonderful when we are created anew! As we place everything into God’s hands, it is a true delight to experience the love, the joy, the peace, the forbearance, the kindness, the goodness, the faithfulness, the gentleness and the self-control that are the fruits of the Spirit.
What counts is the new creation.
We are the new creation.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making it possible for us to become a new creation.
Thank you that you have made us a new creation. Thank you for Jesus, for his death and resurrection that overcame the power of sin in our lives. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live according to your will.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This study of St Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is complete.
Over Easter, I shall publish meditations on the events of Holy Week, before starting another epistle next week.
I wish you all a blessed Easter.