Friday 29 March 2019

Bible Book:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything: the only thing that counts is faith working through love. (v. 6)

Galatians 5:2-6 Friday 29 March 2019

Psalm: Psalm 106:1-10


Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians after the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50CE), a meeting of church leaders in the early church, in which it was agreed that gentile (non-Jewish) Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews. This was a controversial decision.

Many Jewish Christians wanted to put their ‘faith’ in keeping the provisions of the Jewish law as well as in Christ and expected gentile converts to do the same. Paul thinks this is a confusion and cloudy thinking.

Circumcision was often the final step in conversion after accepting other Jewish customs (Galatians 4:10). Baptism into Christ was the major step into initiation into Christian faith. To be initiated into both Judaism and into Christ for many Christian Jews seemed a safe hedging of bets and they wanted to impose this onto gentile converts.

Paul in today’s passage passionately argues that this is rubbish. The only thing that counts is ‘faith [in Christ] working through love’(v. 6).

(v. 2) He begins by emphatically stating that going through circumcision is pointless. You could say that it amounts to superstition. This is very hard for those brought up in the Jewish faith to swallow.

(v. 3) He argues that if as a gentile you are circumcised, then you must also obey the whole Jewish law. Otherwise, why be circumcised?

(v. 4) This in effect means that you are hoping to use the keeping of the law as a means of maintaining your relationship with God and this will put you under its curse (Galatians 3:10), presumably because it is impossible to keep every jot and tittle of the law. It is so easy to fall foul of the law, not least from breaches in ignorance.

Putting your faith in the ‘law’ means you are not putting your faith in Christ. You are in fact falling away from Christ.

(v. 5) Christians, inspired (in breathed) by the Spirit, live with joyful anticipation for the hope of being in right relationship with God.

(v. 6) It has nothing to do with circumcision, one way or the other. The crucial element is having a ‘faith’ that is working with ‘love’. A faith in action, shown by love.


To Ponder:

  • Imagine you are part of a Jewish Christian family who has heard Paul’s letter read. What sort of conversation would you have round your next family meal as you teased out the implications of his letter?
  • What might you say to someone who said that having faith in Jesus Christ did not mean they had to come to church on Sundays?
  • What would you say is the crucial, defining mark(s) of having faith in Christ? Can you think of a story to illustrate it? 
Previous Page Thursday 28 March 2019
Next Page Saturday 30 March 2019