Summary: Series on the Book of Galatians - Part 8 of 8
Galatians 6:11-18 – Parting Admonitions
The six chapters of this epistle are divided into three main sections of Paul’s teaching.
Chapters 1 & 2 are personal in nature and deal with Paul’s authority.
Chapters 3 & 4 are doctrinal in nature and deal with justification by faith.
Chapters 5 & 6, are practical in nature and deal with the application of the doctrine of justification.
In the last passage of the great book of Galatians, we find a very personal parting from the Apostle Paul.
See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
We know that Paul dictated most of his writing through a scribe or secretary. Usually he would simply sign his name. (Rom. 16:20-22; 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:12-18; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 3:17; Gal. 6:11).
But, he almost always ended them with his own signature.
The only exception to this was the book of Hebrews, leading some to believe that Paul did not write the book (Heb. 13:20-25). However, the salutation sounds very Pauline.
It is believed that Paul omitted his name to the epistle to the Hebrews for one of two reasons...
1. Because he felt the Hebrew church needed no authentication of his work, being one of his own, and well known of them.
2. Because he felt the religious Hebrews would more likely receive this epistle if Paul’s name was not added to it.
Paul calls attention to the size of his signature... See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
This is also believed to have two possible meanings:
1. He signs with a large signature to assure authentication.
> Let no one doubt that this is from me.
> He spent TWO CHAPTERS of this small epistle giving us his credentials. He now gives a large signature.
2. He writes with large letters because of his week eyesight.
> He is making reference to his failing eyesight, but still wants them to know that this is from himself.
In either case, Paul adds emphasis to his signature. He wants to authenticate this epistle.
And, we use his close statements to present Paul’s Parting Admonitions.
To many lawyers, your closing statements are among the most important words in a trial case. What you say here will either make or break your entire case...
Paul makes some remarkable statements as he closes his arguments on the subject of Justification by Faith.
I. One Last Warning Against Legalism (v.12-13).
A. After the last 8-10 weeks of studying Galatians you might think you have heard enough about legalism.
1. Paul doesn’t think so.
> He’s not about to end this letter without a final reminder against the false doctrine that constantly plagues the church.
2. This is the most important theme of this epistle.
> Salvation by grace apart from work.
B. Legalism is SHOWY (v.12a).
1. (v.12) Paul refers to those who "desire to make a a fair show in the flesh".
> The legalists, the Judaizers in Galatia were more interested in externals than internal.
> They were more concerned with symbols than substance.
2. They would not see that genuine Christianity is an inward transformation not an outward ceremony.
> Paul has dealt with this again and again throughout Galatians.
> Paul’s point is that no physical operation on the body can change the soul.
> (v. 15) "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation."
> In their view, the blood of Christ is insufficient.
C. Legalism is COWARDLY (v.12b).
1. They would "make a good showing in the flesh" and would also "compel you to be circumcised" at least in part "that they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ."
> Legalism is more interested in how you look before men, than how you look before God.
2. Paul himself, before he was converted was a violent persecutor of believers.
> In the first century, anyone who preached that salvation was by grace through faith alone in the work of Christ on the cross was subject to persecution.
> (Gal. 5:11) There is an offence in the cross. And, a legalist is really a coward.
3. Paul suffered physically for his faith (v. 17).
> These were physical scars representing his sufferings for his stand for Christ.
> Paul’s point is that these legalists emphasized circumcision because they were afraid of the "persecution" they would face from the Jews.
> They were cowards motivated by fear.
4. Cowardly legalism is alive and well today.
> Pastors and churches still cower under traditionalism and denominationalism for fear of what others may say or think.
> I determined some time ago, that I would preach what I believe based up on my own study of the Word not someone else’s tradition.