Galatians 6:17-18 17From now on 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.
Paul now comes to the close of his letter. The last few statements of a letter are always significant, especially in Paul’s letters. This represents his last thoughts for this church. The letter is now complete. Other letters of Paul are longer, such as Romans or the Corinthian correspondence. This letter has said all Paul needs to communicate to the churches of Galatia. Outsiders had come to these church and were preaching a different version of the gospel than what Paul preached when he was there visiting. Their false gospel was about how the Gentiles basically needed to become Jews in order to be Christians. This same topic was discussed in Antioch and eventually among the apostles and key leaders in Jerusalem. The leaders came to accept the evidence that God saves all people through faith in Jesus Christ and fills all people with his Holy Spirit. There is no Jew nor Greek but all who believe can be made new creations in Christ.
The so-called agitators were leading the Galatians to oppose Paul and cause him troubles. As would be natural for anyone who cares about the truth of the gospel and that people respond in faith, this all was of big concern for Paul. He hopes this letter will resolve this by convincing the Galatians to return to the true gospel and reject the false teaching. One of the key proofs that Paul is correct is that he bears on the his body the marks of Jesus. There are two ways to view this statement. One is that Paul literally has on his body marks from persecution, beatings, and imprisonments because of his faith in Jesus. Or, this statement could be figurative for the spiritual crucifixion Paul has gone through by his total commitment and consecration to Jesus, as he wrote in 2:20. The spiritual commitment has affected Paul’s physical body. There may be a combination of these two. The literal physical suffering of Paul is because of his spiritual commitment. Paul has been living the crucified life and calls the Galatians to do the same. Even if it may seem difficult, it is the best way and leads to eternal life.
The letter ends in v. 18 with a typical blessing, with which all of Paul’s letters end in some form. The letter began with the blessing of grace (1:3) and ends with the same blessing. Grace is what the Galatians need in order to make the necessary changes in their beliefs and practices. This grace comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. All of God’s grace is mediated through Jesus. This grace affects us in various ways, beginning in our relationship with God by drawing us to faith in Christ. This grace is manifested then through our behavior in the form of godly actions. The Holy Spirit takes God’s good intentions and options for us and makes them real and transforming when we die to our old self and life the crucified life of faith. Another way to say this is simply that we live by faith in communion, fellowship, communication, and obedience to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit whom the Father sent in the name of Christ leads to this new life. This life has profound affects on our attitudes, actions, worldview, values, perspective, actions, relationships, and every other aspect of who we are. This is the life for which we have been created and brings the most satisfaction. This profound message is found throughout all of Paul’s letters and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels and what other early Christians wrote as recorded in the New Testament. It is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and reveals God goal for us as his creation.
For older posts, click here.