D. Thomas Lancaster on Galatians 6

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In Galatians 6:1, Paul continued to work toward answering the question, “What is the God-fearing Gentile’s obligation to Torah?” He said, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you, too, be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

When Paul spoke of those “who are spiritual,” he meant those who were walking out the Torah in the leading of the Holy Spirit, as he has just finished explaining. In other words, “You who are leading godly lives with the fruit of the Spirit in your life (one of which is gentleness) shall restore him and correct him.” This is a commandment directly from the Torah:

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)…

Neither the Torah nor Paul envision a community in which each man defines what is permissible and what is not permissible. If Paul intended to tell the Gentiles, “Do not worry about the laws in the Torah. Just do whatever the Spirit leads you to do,” then he had absolutely no basis to say, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him.” Under a “Spirit-led” economy of personal revelation, who could say whether a particular act constituted a transgression or not?…

What did Paul mean by the term “law of Christ?” What was the “Torah of Messiah?” Christians sometimes teach that Yeshua replaced the Torah of Moses with the Torah of Christ. On the contrary, the “Torah of Messiah” is not a different Torah or a replacement of the Torah. Rather, it presented a re-prioritizing of the Torah under the Master’s principle that all the commandments hang upon the two greatest commandments: love of God and love of neighbor…

To claim that we can sin and sin freely without consequence is to mock God, who judges the world in fairness and repays each man according to what he has done. Paul contrasted two types of sowing. One man “sows to his own flesh,” and one man “sows to the Spirit”…

Paul offered this dire warning at the end of the epistle lest anyone be tempted to interpret his words as freedom from obligation to Torah. Although he had argued against the obligation for Gentile believers to undergo circumcision, to convert, and to take on the “works of the law” unique to Jewish people, he in no way exempted the God-Fearers from obedience to the universal statutes and principles of God’s Torah. He encouraged the Gentile believers, saying, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). The “due season” is the resurrection of the dead which he has promised they will share in along with Israel…

Paul made a judgment about their motivations. He suggested that the influencers were only trying to “make a good showing in the flesh,” that is physically in the eyes of men. Their concern was primarily a matter of prestige. They were concerned about how things looked in the eyes of the larger community. They wanted to influence the Gentile God-Fearers to go through full conversion in order to make themselves look good, “in order that they might not be persecuted for the sake of the cross of Christ”…

The influencers sought to avoid persecution by washing their hands of Paul’s gospel and by persuading the God-fearing Gentiles to undergo conversion. Paul explained, “They desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Galatians 6:13). If the believing proselyte could get the other Gentiles to also undergo full conversion, many social tensions and uncomfortable dynamics within the Jewish community would vanish. It would look good to the synagogue leaders and the whole community. It would uphold the theology of particularity and eliminate the awkward sense of dual relationship…

Paul was taking a shot at the “once-saved-always-saved,” “once-baptized-always-saved,” cheap-grace, “all-Israel-has-a-share-in-the-world-to-come” theology… People tend to trade institutional status for actual obedience and relationship with God. The Christian says to himself, “I’m a Christian, I’ve been baptized, so I have nothing to worry about.” The same thing seems to have been happening among the proselytes in Rome and Galatia. After becoming Jewish, the proselyte slipped into a spiritual lethargy, as if to say, “I have already arrived at the goal.”

My Note:  And that concludes this week’s study through the Book of Galatians… Once it is put in historical context, it makes a whole lot more sense… And much more applicable to today… Even though its still a hard subject… This is just my opinion, but I think the Gospels and the Epistles in the New Testament are much more difficult to swallow than the Old Testament… In fact, I would go so far as to say that I more easily find Grace in the Torah than in the words of the Apostles, and even Jesus Himself– though let me clarify quickly that I  do not doubt that Jesus and the Apostles were full of Grace… But right along with Grace, they were full of Truth…

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25 KJV).