Galatians 5:1-14

Tonight we will be reading through Galatians 5:1-15.  It is here that Paul begins to reach the conclusion of his Gospel message with the confluence of Faith, Spirit, and Love. As Paul states in vv. 5-6, we are in Christ through the Spirit by Faith, and our Faithfulness is actualized by Love. In other words, the practical implication of the Gospel (Gal. 1:3-4) is that when we place our Faith in Christ (2:16) we enter into the family of God (4:5).  It is here that we become transformed by the Spirit (4:6-7) and thereby freed from the elemental spirits and the present evil age (4:9, 1:4).  And having been freed, we may now pursue our perfect end which is to Love (5:14). For, as Paul says elsewhere, Love is the only thing which is eternal (1 Cor. 13:8). Or as John says more directly, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), meaning not that Love is not a characteristic of God (such as omniscience), but that Love is the very fundamental nature of God so that the two terms “Love” and “God” are interchangeable.  We are freed so that we may love others as God has loved us. 

In making this argument, Paul undercuts the very foundation of his opponents’ argument who claim that salvation comes from legal obedience.  For as Paul writes, if you love your neighbor as yourself, you have fulfilled the requirements of the law. v.14. In other words, the whole of the law is fulfilled not in circumcision, or Sabbath observances, or in any of the other 611 commandments contained in the Law, but simply in loving your neighbor as yourself. See, Lev. 19:18. Paul’s purpose is to point out that fulfilling the legal commandment of love is impossible through observance to the black letter of the law, but only in Faith through the working of the Spirit. See, also, 2 Cor. 3:6. Paul’s argument here, of course, is no different than Jesus’ teaching that all the Law and the Prophets depend upon the two-fold commandment of love God and love your neighbor. Matt 22:40.

For tonight, think through how Love makes effective your Faith. How would our worship, doctrines, and treatment of others be different if Love controlled our thoughts, our actions, and our reasonings?  What would happen if we imitated the love shown by the father to the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32) or the master to the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20) or Jesus’s teaching on the love for our enemies (Matt. 6:43-48)?

Dinner at 6. The menu is Fajitas. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

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