Having Begun in the Spirit

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses a growing danger. Certain “men from Jerusalem” claim that Gentiles must keep the deeds of the Mosaic Law to “complete” their faith, or at least, some of them. They are “compelling Gentiles to Judaize” by adopting circumcision, calendrical observances, and perhaps the Levitical dietary restrictions.

Paul would have none of it. Unlike his other letters, this time, his opening salutation was curt, and he immediately chastised the Galatians and launched into a diatribe against the Judaizing faction from Jerusalem.

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The Spirit of Life

In Galatia, “false brethren” were preaching “another gospel” that pressured Gentiles to get circumcised, and otherwise, to conform to the regulations of the Law. Paul would have none of it, and he responded with a series of arguments, including an appeal to the receipt of the Spirit by uncircumcised Gentile believers.

Since his Gentile converts received the Spirit while uncircumcised, it follows that circumcision is not a requirement for right standing before God or membership in His new covenant people – (Galatians 3:1-5).

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First Fruit of the Resurrection

Paul presents Abraham as the great exemplar of faith. God counted his faith as “righteousness” when he was yet uncircumcised, and that means He justified him apart from the “works of the Law.” Therefore, he became the father of all men who are also “from faith.” Circumcision was added after the promise as the “seal” of Abraham’s justifying faith.

Because of his faith, the patriarch became the “heir of the world,” the kosmos, a promise which from the beginning envisioned something far greater than the tiny territory of Palestine or the small nation of Israel.

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The Life-Giving Spirit

Jesus declared that “the Spirit makes alive [‘quickens’]. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life.” His words echo the scriptural principle that life and the “Spirit” are inextricably linked. The “flesh” is not inherently evil, but it has no life without the spirit given by God.

In John 6:63, the Greek word rendered “makes alive” or “quicken” is zôopoieô; literally, “to make alive” (Strong’s – #G2227), a combination of the noun zôon – a “living being” – and the verb poieô – “to make.” Thus, the sense is to “cause to live, quicken, vitalize.”

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Redemption of Our Body

In Romans, Paul declares there is “now no condemnation” for anyone who is “in Jesus.” This happy condition now exists because the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and of death.” And he also links the salvation of believers to the inheritance of Christ and the redemption of the creation itself.

The sin of Adam condemned the entire creation to bondage, sin, and death, not just humanity. Under the Mosaic law, humanity could not liberate itself from bondage to sin and death. That would take something, or, more accurately, SOMEONE else.

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