Galatians 6.11-18 – A Summary and Final Statement

See what big letters I make as I write to you with my own hand!

Those who want to make a good showing in external matters are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do so only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not obey the law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast about your flesh. But 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. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

(NET)

It seems that for this summary and final statement, Paul has taken the pen from the scribe and chosen to write it himself (v.11, cf. 1 Corinthians 16.21, Colossians 4.18, 1 Thessalonians 3.17). A hugely important message is finished with a very personal touch.

Paul again warns the Galatians of the Judaizers who wish to simply use them for their own personal statistics (vv.12-13). Rather than being able to boast about how many Galatian converts they have won (v.13b), Paul says that the cross of Christ is really the only thing worth boasting about (v.14). His summary statement on the wider issue facing the Galatians is conclusive:

… neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation!

Perhaps feeling like he would be interpreted as anti-Jewish, Paul writes that there is still a place for believing Jews in this new creation (v.16, Romans 9.6). 

His closing words are deeply personal. Paul appeals for peace in the community and no further division (v.17), then wishes the Galatians the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters, as he did in his opening (1.3).

Paul has sought to warn, to teach, and to encourage the Galatians in a real and raw way. His letter has been strong, striking, and in parts, shocking. Overall though, we get the sense that Paul loved these people and genuinely wanted the best for them. As Donald K. Campbell wrote, 

How could the Galatians fail to respond in obedience to the persuasive and ultimately tender appeal found in this letter?

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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