Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In God’s New Testament economy He first makes us His sons and then the new creation and the Israel of God. Toward the end of Galatians, Paul speaks both of a new creation (6:15) and of the Israel of God (v. 16). The fact that he refers to these matters in the conclusion of the book is an indication of their importance. Hence, it is crucial that we have a proper understanding of the new creation and also of the Israel of God.
In 6:16 Paul says, “And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” Here Paul does not mention peace in a general way, but in a particular way. Furthermore, he does not say “peace be unto you,” but says “peace be upon the Israel of God.” For peace to be upon us is different from it being unto us. Peace upon us is more subjective than peace unto us. According to 6:16, this peace is not upon the believers generally; rather, it is upon those who walk by this rule, the elementary rule of the new creation. Peace will be upon those who walk by the rule of the new creation. This indicates that here in the conclusion of Galatians peace is conditional. In order for peace to be upon us, we need to be those who walk by the rule of the new creation to be the true Israel of God.
Before Paul speaks of grace in verse 18, he inserts verse 17 and says, “For the rest let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the brands of Jesus.” The insertion of this verse is a further indication that at the end of Galatians both peace and grace are mentioned with certain conditions. If peace is to come upon us, we must fulfill the conditions. Because peace here comes upon us in a very particular way, we need to meet a certain requirement, the requirement that we walk by the rule of the new creation to be the Israel of God.
We have pointed out that in Galatians Paul speaks of two kinds of walk by the Spirit. The walk in 5:16 is a more general walk, whereas the walk in 5:25 and 6:16 is a particular walk, a walk according to a certain rule or principle. Having the second kind of walk is a condition for peace to come upon the Israel of God. This is not the peace which comes upon God’s people in a general way; it is a specific peace which comes upon a particular people, those who have the second kind of walk by the Spirit.
In 3:26 Paul says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” As sons of God, we are His folks, members of His household. But God’s New Testament economy is not only to make us His sons, but also to make us the Israel of God.
Perhaps we can understand the difference between the sons of God and the Israel of God if we consider as an illustration how a son in a royal family is trained to be king. On the one hand, such a son grows up as a member of the royal family, the son of the king and queen. On the other hand, he must be trained in order to become king in the future. Thus, he must have two kinds of living: the first, as a son in the royal family; the second, as a king-to-be. If he has the first kind of living without the second, he will not become equipped or qualified to be king. A boy is not trained to be a king overnight. Nor does he become qualified to be a king simply by developing certain virtues. If he is joyful, loving, meek, faithful, and self-controlled, he will be a very good boy. But these virtues in themselves do not qualify him to be a king. As a king-to-be, he must be trained to live and act in a kingly way. The way he sits in a chair or converses with others must be kingly. As one with a dual status—that of a son in the royal family and that of a king-to-be—he must have two kinds of living.
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