Monday 21 March 2022

Bible Book:

Those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. (v. 7)

Galatians 3:6-14 Monday 21 March 2022

Psalm 104:1-23


For most of this week we are reading from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians – a passionate and difficult letter that tries to remind these early churches of the core of the Christian message. The Roman province of Galatia included a large slice of what today is Turkey, but no one knows precisely where in this province the first readers lived. What does seem clear is that Paul is deeply troubled by reports that there is a rival mission preaching a very different gospel to the one he proclaims.

The main question is one that may seem strange to us: “Who are the descendants of Abraham?” In other words, who is included in the covenant that God made with Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people, and in the blessings that flow from it?

The rival mission seems to think that only those who follow the details of the traditional Jewish law, including circumcision, can truly call themselves ‘children of Abraham’. The effect of this would be to exclude Gentiles from the Christian community unless they entirely conformed to Jewish tradition. Paul profoundly disagrees. He takes his readers back into the story of Abraham (especially Genesis 15:6) to show that it was his faith in God, not his keeping of the law, that enabled Abraham to share in the righteousness (justice) of God. The effect of Jesus Christ’s humiliating death on the cross, says Paul, is to set us free and to open up the promises of God to everyone. We often talk today about the inclusive nature of Christianity. It is here that we find it spelled out as a theological principle.

This week we will come across many references to the ancient stories of the Old Testament and to the conflicts that affected the Early Church. If some of these seem obscure and unfamiliar, don’t worry. Paul’s key themes of faith, freedom, inclusion and love will be the important things to keep hold of.


To Ponder:

  • How do you react to the idea of Abraham as a role model for faith? Is it helpful or problematic?
  • If you were challenged to talk about the deepest reality of your life, your identity, what would you say?
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