Reflection on Gal 4:18-19Post date: 2018-06-30
Reflection on Gal 4:18-19
"It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you."
Before penetrating into the depth of these verses, it is appropriate to read the whole chapter four of the Epistle to the Galatians, which contains these words. Here the Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul confronts us with a number of truths. Beginning with verse 12, the Apostle Paul personally addresses the Christians of Galatia: “I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. You know I was sick when I first preached the Gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible. Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but their intentions are not good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.” The Apostle reminds the Galatians of their initial zeal, when he preached Jesus among them by word and mighty deeds. Their sincerity was great.
These Galatians were Gentiles who received God’s life. But immediately afterwards, the so-called Judaeo-Christians came in among them whose intentions, as the Apostle Paul says, are not good, for what they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. And then he continues, saying that it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good. These Judaists, however, who emphasized circumcision and observance of all Jewish regulations, were zealous to win over the new believers and to lead them away from the essence, i.e. from salvation in Jesus Christ.
Judaists, i.e. Christians who placed emphasis primarily on the observance of Moses’ commands, and circumcision in particular, rather than on salvation in Jesus Christ, thus practically put aside the saving faith in Jesus Christ, even though they talked about Him. Jesus and His redemptive death on the cross was not the only condition of salvation for them. So Judaists obscured the very essence of the Gospel, imposing on the Galatian Christians the rabbinic Jewish concept of the law. They threw them into confusion and led them astray, and therefore in chapter five of this Epistle the Apostle uses harsh words: “The one who is throwing you into confusion will bear his judgment, whoever he may be. Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go so far as to emasculate themselves!”
Let us focus, in this Word of life, on the depth of the words: “I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
The word formed is of great importance here. It is the Greek verb “morfoó” which means “to morph, or to form” or in the passive voice “to assume a form, or to be formed”. “Metamorphosis” is a familiar word which means transformation. The Apostle is zealous for one thing: that Christians become mature, that they be truly rooted in Christ, and he literally says, that Christ be formed in them. And he himself not only prays for them, not only instructs them in God’s Word, but he himself undergoes this process of change spiritually. He literally says: “I am in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” The Apostle undergoes this process and endures this pain practically until the end of his life. It culminates in his martyr’s death in Rome, which again is a sacrifice for his spiritual children, won by him for Christ, who became children of God, heirs of God’s kingdom.
If we continue reading the Epistle to the Galatians, verses 21 to 31 give a picture of two covenants between God and people. One covenant is from Mount Sinai through Moses and bears children who are to be slaves, as is written: “Mount Sinai in Arabia corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.” And further: “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” This verse covers the prophecy concerning the Holy Mother of God. The last verse reads: Brothers, you are not children of the slave_woman, i.e. Hagar or Eve, but you are children of the free woman, i.e. the Blessed Virgin. So the other covenant that bears children who are to be free is the covenant in Christ’s blood and death. “In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” (1Cor 11:25)
So the covenant established by Jesus is based on faith and God’s grace, sets us free from the bondage of sin, and gives us true freedom and eternal life. The Scripture says about the Mother of Jesus that she is full of grace and blessed among women. She is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus gave her to us as our mother by the cross. Until that time the words of Jesus were true about us: “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” We are gradually delivered from this slavery of sin, and these are the pains of childbirth, when the Blessed Virgin is worthy even more than the Apostle Paul to say about each of us: My dear children, I am in the pains of giving birth to you through the Holy Spirit until Christ is formed in you. Yes, she suffered pain when she stood by the cross. Her suffering united with the suffering of Jesus was offered even for you. And grace obtained on the cross is given through her even to you. Therefore receive the Mother of Jesus into your own like John by the cross. And then you can share in the motherhood of the Mother of Jesus, for Jesus said: “Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.” Offer up your suffering for the salvation of your close relatives and friends. Many times it is inner pain, persecution or slander, often even caused by your nearest and dearest.
Download: Reflection on Gal 4:18-19