Brand-Marks For Jesus: Galatians 6:17-18
“17) From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 18) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.” Galatians‬ ‭6:17-18‬ ‭
The greatest affirmation of your belief system can be measured by how much you are willing to suffer to defend it. Paul uses that point to drive home his final argument about the gospel of justification by faith that he preached. He paid a high personal price because of his love for Jesus Christ and the gospel. Ultimately, he gave his very life to defend the doctrine of justification by faith.
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 shares parts of his story and how much he suffered for the gospel. Every time I read this text it deeply challenges me. Let me summarize.
Paul was often put in jail or prison, beaten times without number, five times he was subjected to public lashings of thirty-nine blows, three times he was beaten with rods, one time he was stoned and left for dead. Besides that, he was ship wrecked three times and on one of those occasions he spent a full night and day floating around at sea until he was rescued.
Besides that, he went on many journeys by foot and covered thousands of miles. On those trips he often went without food and drink while suffering much hardship from the elements with cold and exposure, sleepless nights, wild animals and robbers. He was in constant danger from people who wanted to kill him. When you signed up for a short term mission trip with Paul, you literally signed with your own blood. Traveling with Paul was not for the weak or faint hearted.
But that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. When he was put in jail in Philippi, he and Silas were locked in the inner jail with their hands and feet in stocks and bonds. Beyond that, as a prisoner of Rome he wore chains much of the time. May I observe that chains and shackles were not designed for bodily comfort. Paul’s body was literally covered with scars, calluses and leanness.
With that background, you now have an idea of the meaning of Galatians 6:17. Beyond that, some believe he may have actually been branded with a hot branding iron to mark him as an enemy of Rome. He suffered daily for Jesus and the gospel entrusted to him to preach.
His point was very clear; “The gospel preached by me is not motivated by personal gain. I have lost everything and suffered in unimaginable ways for this gospel. I have been willing to pay this price because of my sincere love for Jesus Christ and the defense of the true Gospel.” How could anyone ignore the weight of this closing argument?
Now ogives the final verse in the book of Galatians; “18) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit brethren. Amen.” His whole discussion of the flesh and the spirit earlier in the book of Galatians comes into focus once more in these closing two verses. Paul was willing to suffer in the flesh that he might prosper in the spirit. He understood that God’s grace could strengthen the inner man even when the outer man was suffering and decaying. (See 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
I sometimes chuckle when people inquire about going on a short term missions trip. One of the first questions they often ask is; “Can you guarantee my physical safety?” It tells me from the onset that their focus is on the flesh and not on the spirit.
This is the issue that concerns me most about the western church as we move into the end times. The obsession with personal physical comfort will result in many so called Christians abandoning their faith in the face of persecution.
Jesus said that those who seek to save their life will lose it, but those willing to suffer and even lose their life for Him and the gospel will gain true life. (See the context of Matthew 10:39 and 16:25) This is the turf the faith of the early Christians was built on.
Stop right now and analyze your focus and priorities. Are you willing to suffer in the flesh that you might prosper in the spirit? Does the smallest thought of physical discomfort cause you anxiety? Can you persevere through pain and discomfort to accomplish a task? Are you willing to suffer in the flesh to keep your word and your convictions? Do you embrace the value system of Paul as verbalized in Acts 20:22-24? Is your love for Jesus greater than your love for this life and the world?
These are questions you need to settle in defining yourself and evaluating your true faith walk. Do you have any brand-marks earned because of your love for Jesus?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global