Summary: Paul talked with great passion and pride about the marks that he bore for the sake of Jesus Christ. Such marks designate the character of the believer.
· In the early 1900’s a wealthy financier by the name of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty began to indulge in a newfound interest in archaeology, and he made many great discoveries.
· Among those discoveries are some of the most ancient copies we have of New Testament writings.
· One of those writings, a manuscript which is labeled “P46” for “papyrus number 46” is now called the oldest existing writing for a copy of any of the letters written by the Apostle Paul. That manuscript contains Galatians 6:12 on into Ephesians chapter 1.
· It is both fascinating and appropriate that the earliest writing that we have in existence of Paul contains the end of Galatians with chapter 6 verse 17.
· In this verse, Paul tells us that he bears on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore,” he says, “Don’t let any man cause me any trouble.”
· Paul says, “My body – my life – bears proof of the fact that I am a bona-fide genuine servant of the Lord Jesus Christ! I earned my credentials! Don’t you dare challenge my position of service for the Lord! ”
· The proof of your genuine commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ are the marks that you bear as a witness to your faithfulness.
· How do the marks on my life give witness to my faithfulness for Christ? There is...
o The Burden of the Marks
o The Body for the Marks
o The Brand of the Marks
1. The Burden of the Marks
· The word “mark” here in Galatians 6:17 is the word “stigmata” from which we get the words “stigma” and “stigmatism”.
· The idea behind that mark is that it is definitely something that promotes a less than desirable burden that we must carry.
· However, there is much more to Paul’s marks than a simple unwanted burden…
· In ancient times, slaves were often “branded”, leaving a permanent mark proving who owned them. In some cases, these marks became highly valued, demonstrating the fact that it represented valuable property, sometimes affording great protection.
· Needless to say, receiving the mark must have been a torturous and painful experience. Perhaps the “mark” was something that could cause pain and discomfort for years.
· Thus, the mark was a “burden”. Paul used the same word for “bearing” as was used for a woman who carried a baby in her womb.
· However, it was a burden that Paul was proud to bear! He wanted the world to know that gladly carried those marks!
2. The Body for the Marks
· Slave/property marks have to be placed on the body. You can’t put them on some piece of property you own, because that might get stolen. You can’t but it on your clothing, because clothing will wear out.
· The mark was a “brand” much the way that cattle are branded to show ownership.
· However, unlike the branding of cattle or slaves, the mark we receive of the Lord Jesus is totally voluntary.
· An ancient Hebrew slave could “volunteer” to remain a slave for the rest of his life, rather than be freed after 7 years, as was the custom. When he did so, an awl was used to punch a hole through his ear.
· If you receive marks for Jesus, you will do so by VOLUNTEERING to do it! He will never force you to take those marks!
· There is no way you can receive the marks of the Lord Jesus without offering your body as a sacrifice to Him!
3. The Brand of the Marks
· Perhaps one of the most intriguing facets of the marks that Paul mentioned is wondering what the marks really were!
· Most scholars agree, however, that these marks were scars that Paul received through his suffering at the hands of those who opposed him and his preaching of Jesus.
· In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul makes a major list of many of the sufferings he endured in service for the Lord.
· Paul said he had received the 39 lashes 5 times, 3 times he had been been with rods, and once he had been stoned. We learn of his stoning in the first missionary journey when he was in Lystra.
· There is no question that Paul would have had many scars on his body for the suffering he had done for Christ.
· Paul says, “My brands and marks on my body PROVE my devotion, and my acceptance of the Lord Jesus. I am HIS PROPERTY! I am under HIS AUTHORITY! Don’t mess with me!”
· How we need men and women to stand up for the Lord today, and earn MARKS for the Lord Jesus Christ, to carry His authority, and demand respect for Him!