May 31, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Galatians 4-6
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Context: Paul continues with this theme of throwing off the chains of slavery (the law) and accepting salvation through grace. If you rely on salvation through the law, then you are responsible for knowing the law and keeping the law. Since no one is perfect, no one can uphold the law. Paul reminds the Galatians of the all the works that were required of them when serving pagan gods and how miserable they were. When they accepted the salvation of grace, through Jesus Christ, they were filled joy and felt free. Why, then, would they listen to these false teachers and shackle themselves again? Paul again draws on Abraham for an example. Paul uses the birth of Abraham's sons, Ishmael and Isaac, as examples of slavery in the law and the freeness of grace. Further, the son of the slave is not cherished as is the son of the free woman. Paul begins chapter five by outlining the six negative consequences of returning to the law: Christ will be of no value, obligation to the entire law, falling away from grace, kept from growing spiritually, the offense of the cross removed, and anger. Additionally, the law offers no means of overcoming sin; the Spirit can help us overcome sins. Paul begins his conclusion with a reminder not to become prideful. His final words are ones of warning against going down the path of following the law instead of accepting salvation through grace.
World History: Paul makes reference towards the end of the letter that he is now writing in his own. It was not uncommon to dictate letters to a scribe, who wrote them down. By adding a small not in his own handwriting, Paul is reassuring the reader that the letter did indeed come from him. Paul is not the only writer in the Bible to use a scribe. Reasons for using a scribe could vary from the person sending the letter not knowing how to write or not being a proficient writer, to a physical disability preventing them from writing, such as a poor eyesight or an unsteady hand. Using a scribe could also allow multiple copies of the letter to made at once.