When Paul testifies that Christ has freed us for a freedom that is expressed in loving service to the neighbor (Galatians 5:1, 14), the words are not new. But for Paul and for us, it is clear that alternative options of slavery always stand near, as the immediately following talk of "biting" and "devouring" one another indicates (verse 15). To experience the fulfillment of Paul's claims about freedom rests on the power of a new creation, a new world. It will require a death and a resurrection. The world of bondage has to be put to death, and a new world of freedom has to come to life. At the center of this freedom stands the cross and resurrection of Christ.
So it is to this final assertion that Paul confidently returns in the conclusion of his Letter to the Galatians. Although the words "new creation" occur nowhere else in the letter, they certainly pick up and summarize the many ways in which Paul's entire argument asserts that new life in Christ is the promise of the gospel. The promise to Christians, united in the death and resurrection of Christ, clothed with his life in baptism, is that in Christ we are ushered into a new world--a new matrix of existence--in which each "No" of the language and grammar of bondage and the law has been turned into the "Yes" of God's leading and guiding Spirit.
14May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which* the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For* neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011