Barry Newman's Blog

July 16, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XX)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:29 pm

Euaggelion and Euaggelizomai in Galatians

Before concluding one should not fail to recognise how dominant the words “euaggelion” and “euaggelizomai” are in the letter to the Galatians.  Taken together, the noun and the verb occur 14 times. This absolute frequency of the noun and verb considered together is only exceeded in the book of Acts (17) and only equalled in1 Corinthians (14). The only other book to reach double figures is Romans (12).

Galatians is that letter which offers no thanks to God for his work in the believers to whom the letter is addressed.  It is written to counteract an alternative gospel, a gospel which demanded the observance of certain rituals, particularly circumcision. Having been at pains to establish his own apostolic credentials, Paul declares that “we know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (3: 16).  Yet the Galatian problems went beyond their thoughts about circumcision.  Paul writes: “You observe days and months and seasons and years!  I am afraid I have laboured over you in vain” (4: 10, 11). But he continues: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5: 1).  “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail but faith working through love” (5: 6).  “You were called to freedom brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be slaves of one another” (5: 13). “Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16).  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (5: 25). “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (6: 14, 15).

We do well to examine ourselves with regards to the possibility of a false gospel. Circumcision may not constitute a problem for us but what other “under the law” type of practices and beliefs do we have?  What are we to make of our rituals, our observances, our demands on ourselves and others?  Have they become mandatory, part of the requirements, we imagine in our foolishness, God demands of us over and above living by his Spirit, having been justified by faith in his Son, Christ crucified?

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