galatians - week six

Here is the introductory page for Galatians chapter six and week six of our congregational conversation about Paul's letter to the Galatians ...

In preparation for our time together read Galatians, chapter six. Note your own questions and insights. Bring them with you to our conversation. Consider these statements and questions:

“The loving death of the crucified Messiah has redefined the law of love. It is now the “law of the Messiah,” as Paul says in 6:2. It is a law shaped by the faithful, self-giving, loving death of Jesus. It is the law, or pattern, of cruciform faith active in cruciform love .... One of the tangible manifestations of this kind of love is the bearing of one another’s burdens (6:2). Paul does not specify the nature of these burdens, though he does make it clear that bearing them is not an option but a requirement. For Paul, bearing burdens is a form of self-giving. It is parallel to Christ’s giving of himself for us and for our sins, its purpose is the benefit of others, and its realization in daily life is not without personal sacrifice and cost. Burden bearing is the opposite of isolation and indifference, on the one hand, and of “bit[ing] and devour[ing] one another (5:15), on the other.” (Michael J. Gorman, “Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross”, pp. 221-222).

How do you make sense of these two statements by Paul - in verse two “Bear one another’s burdens” and then in verse five “For all must carry their own loads”?

In Galatians 2:19 Paul writes “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.” In 6:2 he encourages the Galatians “to fulfill the law of Christ”. What is the difference between the law he has died to and the law he would have the church aspire to?

“Let us work for the good of all and especially for those of the family of faith” (6:10). “The words express a paradox. A major part of Paul’s polemic in the letter has been directed against the Teachers’ insistence on drawing distinctions within the human family, continuing the separation of Jew from Gentile, observant from nonobservant. Reaching back to a baptismal confession, Paul has reminded the Galatians that Christ is the end of such distinctions. In him there is neither Jew nor Gentile; there is, on the contrary, a new unity (heis, “One,” in 3:28). And this new unity, this “household of faith,” is God’s new creation, as Paul will say in the next paragraph (6:15). But God is not replacing the old and enslaving distinction - Jew and Gentile - with a new and equally enslaving one - a religious distinction between church and world. On the contrary, God is summoning his new creation onto the world scene by calling into existence the church that exists for the sake of “all”. For in Christ - through the preached gospel of Christ and through the pattern of living in which each one serves the neighbour (5:14) - God is regrasping the whole of the world for himself, by summoning the church into the service of all.” (J. Louis Martyn, "Galatians", p. 554).

What kind of a life is one that is sown to the flesh? What does a life sown to the Spirit look like? (Galatians 6:8)

In his own handwriting Paul concludes the letter saying “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule - peace be upon them” (6:15-16) What rule is he referring to? How would you describe the new creation he is talking about?

What is noticeable when the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” is with the spirit of a congregation? (6:18)       

1 comment:

  1. So we have arrived at the crux of the matter.

    The place where we sink or swim, rise or fall.
    It is where we, if we truly understand what we are being called into, discover no matter how bad it gets we are not alone. At least that is what I am hanging onto these days.

    Thanks Ed for leading us through this important and interesting study of Paul and the Galatian church. See you Sunday