We’ve come to the final post in this series on Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. It’s been a long but, I hope, fruitful stroll through some wonderful and transformational truths. Let me finish with Paul’s final words in verse 17.
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Gal 6:17, 18)
Paul speaks about the marks on his body, no doubt referring to the scars left from his many beatings and stoning, but he calls them the “marks of Jesus.” A practice among the military soldiers of Paul’s day was to brand themselves with the name of their general as a show of loyalty and support – a branding of themselves. Paul, I think, is making a similar allusion. He is saying that he is so closely associated with Jesus, so fiercely loyal to his Master that he carries the “brand” of Jesus. Anyone who met Paul would instantly know that Paul had no other allegiance but to Jesus and His Gospel. Martin Luther explained it like this, “The marks on my body indicate whose servant I am. If I was anxious to please men, if I approved of circumcision and good works as factors in our salvation, if I would take delight in your flesh as the false apostles do, I would not have these marks on my body. But because I am the servant of Jesus Christ and publicly declare that no person can obtain the salvation of his soul outside of Christ, I must bear the badge of my Lord. These marks were given to me against my will as decorations from the devil and for no other merit but that I made known Jesus.”
As we finish this study, my hope is that we would see the uncompromising Truth of the Gospel and the powerful Freedom in the Gospel. Christ has called us to live for Him and in Him. May we also carry the brand of Jesus so clearly and plainly that all who meet us may know that we are His and that our lives may declare His excellencies.