The Apostle Paul was a master rhetorician. That is, he used the power of a formalized persuasive speech to state his beliefs and understanding of the gospel and the core of Christianity. We see this most clearly in his letters which at times seem to go around in circles as he attempts to prove a point. The center of his letter to the churches in Galatia is no exception!
After establishing his bona fides and letting his readers know he is really angry about even having to address the questions about membership requirements for the Christian Church (should pagans/Gentiles become Jews as a prerequisite to becoming a Christian?), he decides to lay out his argument in his own style of persuasive argument.
Galatians 2:15-21: Here is my foundational belief. We are justified by faith in Jesus.
Galatians 3:1-5: Remember your own experience. Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:19-25: This is what the Law really means, its true purpose. These verses (and their varied interpretations) are examples of Paul being his particularly convoluted self. However, if you take Paul’s basic argument at face-value (salvation/justification comes through faith in Jesus Christ), then in verse 22 – you get his premise. The Law had its validity for a time. Its purpose was a form of “holding pattern” until Christ came. It gave us form and structure to navigate on this earth. But now that Christ has come, we have been set free from that holding pattern.
Galatians 3:27-28: We are one in our baptisms. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Can we look at one another across denominational lines, across church tradition lines, across “conservative” or “progressive” lines, across conflicted church lines? Can we see each other as one in Christ Jesus? Can we listen to one another through our baptisms? Can we, united in our baptisms, be united in discipleship to the world in Christ Jesus? Can we humble ourselves so Christ might live through us?
May it be so.
Grace and Peace