Saturday, 23 April 2016
Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. Galatians 4:12
There are a multitude of interpretations of what Paul is stating here, but it really shouldn’t be that confusing. He is a Jew and he has been telling the Galatians that the law cannot save anyone. Instead, he gave several logical reasons why the law was introduced. He then went on to show that its purpose had been served and it was the nullified through the work of Christ. He understood this and gave up on the law as a means of obtaining righteousness and being justified before God. He is now asking them to do the same.
“Brethren” means that they are, in fact, brethren. They have not lost their salvation if they were saved, but they sure will lose their joy as they live out their lives in bondage under the law. Further, those who come after them will never come to a saving knowledge of Christ because they will be trained in works and not in faith.
“I urge you to become like me.” Paul is shouting out to them, “I gave up on the law. I counted my Jewish-ness as nothing. My life as a Pharisee seeking righteousness under the law is now behind me. I live for Christ and place my life and my fate in His capable hands alone.”
“For I became like you.” Paul had given up all of those things he once boasted in. Instead, he notes that “I took up life with Gentiles and have lived as one not under the law. I showed you that through faith in what Jesus did, you are reconciled to God. As I was like you, then why would you try to change now? You received the Spirit in the condition that you were in as a Gentile. Be pleased to live your life as one now.”
“You have not injured me at all.” Of this clause, Vincent’s Word Studies notes –
“This translation misses the force of the aorist, and conveys a wrong impression, that Paul, up to this time, had received no wrong at the hands of the Galatians. This was not true. The reference is to his earlier relations with the Galatians, and is explained by Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:14. Rend. ye did not injure me at all. Ye did not injure me then, do not do so now.”
Paul is telling them that by placing themselves under the law, it would become a source of true pain for them. He is asking them to not do this insane thing and take on the yoke of bondage which Christ had paid the price to remove.
Life application: If Christ fulfilled the law, paying its price in full, then our taking on the law now can only be a giant affront to Him. It is saying, “I don’t trust that what You did was sufficient to save me. I will establish my own righteousness apart from Your work. I don’t need what You offer.” What a slap in the face of the Lord!
Lord God, Your word shows that Jesus fulfilled the law. At His death, He cried out, “It is finished.” The work was complete; He embodied the law which was set against us. Now, should we say to You, “I don’t trust that what Jesus did was sufficient to save me. I will establish my own righteousness apart from His work. I don’t need what He offers.”? What a slap in Your face! May we never be so perverse. Help us to trust in the work of Christ alone, apart from deeds of the law! Amen.