Class #61, Part C: In this study, we bring to a close our study of the book of Galatians. We saw how the Book of Concord uses Galatians 5:1-4, 5:17-24, and 6:6-7 as proof texts for various doctrines.
Class #59: Now that we have finished a verse-by-verse look at the book of Galatians, we are getting the big picture by outlining the book. We are also making note of the most quoted passages and the doctrines which these passages support.
References: Galatians Outline
Class #58: The book of Galatians is quoted or referenced about 64 times in the Book of Concord. The Formula of Concord, included in the Book of Concord, gives a glowing evaluation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Book of Galatians. The Christian Questions with Their Answers for Those Who Intend To Go To The Sacrament, an appendix to the Small Catechism, makes two references to the book of Galatians. The importance of this book in supporting the Reformation’s teaching of justification by grace through faith cannot be overstated.
This study is a special pre-summary of our Galatians class. There will be one more class summarizing the whole book of Galatians.
References: 64 times in book of Concord
Class #57: St. Paul concludes his letter by stating that those false teachers who are not convinced by his letter and who wish to continue to argue about justification by faith alone are to be considered quarrelsome and contentious. They may not remain in the congregation. This teaching about faith in Christ, in which neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters at all, is the teaching of St. Paul, the Twelve Apostles, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
We also went through a list of passages in which St. Paul often concludes his letters with an admonition to persistent false teachers. Some of the passages are used in the Scriptural practice of closed communion and some are used to determine church fellowship.
There will be one more class summarizing the whole book of Galatians.
Class #56: As St. Paul summarizes his letter, he emphasizes the essence of those who are to be considered Christian. It is not outward actions nor the presence or absence of the mark of circumcision–the very things in which the Judaizers boasted. True Christians walk according to the “rule”(6:16, the Greek work is from canon).
The canon is not a rulebook for outward actions. The canon is being a “new creation” (6:15). It is “to be created like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). We are righteous through faith in Christ. We show forth holiness as faith “expressing itself through love” (5:6). St. Paul pronounces a benediction of “peace and mercy” upon those who have this renewal of the mind worked by the Holy Spirit.
The believer has peace in his conscience with God, as well as God’s mercy to help in the midst of afflictions.
Class #55: In the work of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, St. Paul will boast! The cross of Christ is the instrument by which the believer is saved. Through faith in Christ, I died with Christ(Col 2:20), and Christ lives in me(Gal 2:19-20). In my conversion to Christ, the world’s sinful desires are killed off in me.
My new life in Christ is not characterized by circumcision or uncircumcision; those outward human activities profit me nothing. The Christian is a new creation! We are changed from within. God gives us His Spirit(Gal 3:2), creates in us a new pure hearts (Ps 51:10), and we are made new in the attitude of our minds(Eph 4:23-24).
Class #54: As St. Paul summarizes his letter, he wants the Galatians to know three things about the Judaizers, who were teaching falsely. First, they were doing it out of pride that they might “make a good showing” before others and boast of their ability to win disciples after themselves. Second, they were requiring the law so “that they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” Third, these false teachers require circumcision, but they don’t keep the whole law. Gal. 5:3, “…every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.”
It is the second point which is most important. In Galatians 5:11, St. Paul said, “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” Any time you add a law requirement to the Gospel, the gospel ceases to be Gospel. Gal 5:2, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” The Judaizers were able to avoid persecution by saying salvation is by Jesus AND the keeping the law of circumcision.
Class #53: Believers are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Having been set free from from the yoke of slavery to sin (Gal 5:2), they use their freedom to serve one another in love (5:13)–especially their pastor(6:6) and fellow congregational members(6:10).
There are only two possibilities: unbelievers, doing the works of the flesh, or believers, doing the fruit of the Spirit and resisting their own sinful nature. In today’s study, St. Paul is warning those “believers” who think that they can gratify and indulge the sinful nature and still receive everlasting life. You might be able to deceive yourself, but God is not fooled. St. Paul is also encouraging believers to continue to do good and not lose heart! Believers continue to put to death the misdeeds of the body, so that they might live/walk according to the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Class #52: Galatians 6:6 is included in Luther’s Small Catechism in the Table of Duties for “What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors.” St. Paul tells the hearer, who is being taught the Word by the teacher, to share (koinoneito) all good things with his teacher. The word “share” is much more than simply giving someone a bite of your sandwich. This word refers to our Christian fellowship, communion, and participation with each other in the Word (Phil 4:14ff).
St. Paul is continuing to teach the true life of sanctification, as opposed to the vainglorious who provoke and envy in their conceit. Having received salvation as a gift through faith in Christ, we walk by the Spirit. In our vocation as a hearer, we share with our pastor in all good things.