Israel of God: Galatians 6:16

Israel of God: Galatians 6:16

The proper motive by which Paul operated was glorying in the cross alone in verse 14: “Through the cross, the world is crucified to us and we are crucified to the world.” He then draws his conclusion concerning circumcision and what the right criterion is in verse 15: “As a basis of salvation, circumcision means nothing and uncircumcision means nothing. What counts is being a new creation, being a new creature, which means being regenerated through the cross.”

Regeneration through the cross frees one from the Law because we are dead to the Law and no longer have any obligation to keep that Law. While circumcision is necessary for Jewish believers in keeping with the Abrahamic Covenant, it is necessary for obedience just as baptism is necessary for obedience. But neither circumcision nor baptism has anything to do with a requirement for salvation. Neither circumcision nor baptism will avail in the area of justification or sanctification.

Finally, Paul spells out the results for the two groups in verse 16: And as many as walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

For those who follow the rule that “circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the cross of Jesus,” there is peace and mercy for two separate groups. First, upon them. Who are the them? The them are the Gentile believers to whom he has been writing. Secondly, upon the Israel of God. Who are the Israel of God? It is not the Church. The Israel of God refers to Jewish believers, the believing Remnant within and among the Jewish people.

So, there is peace and mercy upon two different groups of people who follow the rule that circumcision means nothing and uncircumcision means nothing, only a new creation is what counts. Peace and mercy upon the Gentile believers who follow this rule and upon the Jewish believers who follow this rule. Never make the mistake of identifying the Israel of God with the Church or with Gentile believers as being some kind of new “spiritual Jews.” This is nowhere taught in Scriptures. There are two different groups in this verse separated by the word and: first, them, who are the Gentile believers and secondly, the Israel of God, who are the Jewish believers.

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