Posts Tagged circumcision
Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia.
Do you notice how Paul seems to be defending himself?
“I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”
And then there’s “All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.”
And then, later in the chapter, “Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Kinda sounds like Paul is defending his authority.
Well, that’s because in his absence, Jewish Christians had come in teaching that same old circumcision message we read about in Philippians. These people had a religious spirit that kept them in bondage to fleshly acts that lead to salvation – which is the exact opposite from Christ’s message of freedom from the flesh. These religious people began to try and discredit Paul as part of their message. That’s why Paul is defending his authority. I like his comment in verse 10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
I like his style. And I agree with this statement for myself. Following Christ is not the way to win friends and influence people!
So – this letter has kind of a harsh tone. “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God…”
Do you know anybody who has turned away from Christ’s message of freedom ONLY through Jesus and exchanged it for some things they must do, at least in part, in order to be saved? Good works? Confession to a priest, perhaps? Holy days of obligation, anyone? I don’t mean to pick on the Catholic religion. There are other religions that also require these types of actions.
And – don’t hear me say that good works are wrong. James has a good message on this in his book. But, works without faith are simply worthless acts when it comes to salvation. We cannot be saved by fleshly circumcision – just like we cannot be saved by our own good works. If that was the case, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
I find myself back in a dBrag again. We are reading through Philippians and today, it’s chapter 3.
Interesting comments from Paul about the Judaizers. They often called Gentiles “dogs”. Paul throws this name right back at them. His comments about circumcision are due to the fact that the religious Jews felt that you had to be physically circumcised in order to follow God. It was a source of pride. One of Paul’s frequent messages was that God prefers circumcised hearts more than flesh. Paul went as far as to say it was unnecessary and here calls them flesh mutilators because their fleshly circumcision is meaningless as far as God is concerned.
I read somewhere that Paul used clever language here. He took their favorite word “peritome” (circumcision) and changed it to “katatome” (mutilation). I can’t wait to meet Paul some day. I like his style!
How many things do we do “in the name of God” that, because of the condition of our heart, are meaningless? God knows our heart, our motives.