observing the law. The epistle is to Gentiles (Galatians) who were
being seduced by Judaizers to keep the law. The main point they were
trying to make was for Gentiles to become circumcized in order to
obey the law. Paul has stated that if they become circumcized, then
Christ would profit them nothing, Galatians 5:2.
The entire epistle is filled with the superiority of the faith as
opposed to observation of the law. Mount Sinai has been supplanted
by heavenly Jerusalem. Hagar is upstaged by Sarah. Ishmael is the
work of the flesh while Isaac is the work of the promise of God. So
to say here at the end that Paul is encouraging Jews who are obeying
the law is to shift the focus of the entire letter in a direction
which simply is not there.
Instead, the focus is contained in the verse just previous to that.
In Messiah Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision will avail
anything. But what will give us power in Messiah? A new creation.
A NEW CREATION. That is the focus here. As many as walk according
to this rule, that is, the rule of the new creation, peace upon them,
and upon the Israel of God. The statement is echoing the individual
and corporate aspects of the blessings of God which come from being a
new creation in Messiah. The individual aspect is "blessing upon as
many as", the corporate aspect is "the Israel of God".
Paul has already proven that all who are in Messiah are a part of
heavenly Jerusalem, whether Jew or Gentile, circumcision or
uncircumcision. So all are a part of the New Jerusalem which is the
bride of Messiah. Paul is not writing to those who are still under
the bondwoman, but he is writing to those who are free, and
encouraging them not to become entangled in the law all over again.
The Israel of God is the entity which Paul has carefully defined in
his epistle. It is all who are a new creation, Jew and Gentile,
having been freed from the law through faith in Christ. All who are
Abraham’s children are the Israel of God.
I think it is interesting that Paul does NOT address the entity
as "Israel", but as "the Israel of God". This would clear confusion
as to the identity of ethnic Israel in relation to the church. The
church is the Israel of God, the true Israel. One day, all [ethnic]
Israel will be saved, but for now, God is working through elect
Israel (is that a better term?) with believing Gentiles grafted in.
That’s the Israel of God.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman