Monday: The Challenge to Become

Read 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; and Acts 26:28-29. What is Paul saying there that is reflected in Galatians 4:12? How are we to understand his point?

The Challenge to Become

Image © Lifeway Collection

Several times throughout Paul’s letters, he encourages Christians to imitate his behavior. In each situation, Paul presents himself as an authoritative example that believers should follow. In 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, Paul offers himself as an example of how the believers in Thessalonica should work to earn their own living and not be a burden on others. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul calls upon the Corinthians to imitate him in placing the welfare of others first. Paul’s concern in Galatians appears to be somewhat different.

In Galatians 4:12, Paul does not ask the Galatians to imitate him; instead, he asks that they “become as” he is — he is talking about being, not acting. Why? The trouble in Galatia was not unethical behavior or an ungodly lifestyle, as in the church in Corinth. The issue in Galatia was rooted in the essence of Christianity itself. It was more about “being” than “behavior.” Paul was not saying act like me, but be what I am. The exact terminology in Galatians 4:12 occurs in Paul’s appeal to Herod Agrippa II in Acts 26:29 (ESV), where Paul writes, “I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am — except for these chains” (emphasis supplied). In other words, Paul is referring to his experience as a Christian, a foundation that rests on Christ alone, a faith that trusts in what Christ has done for him and not in his works of the law. The Galatians were placing greater value on their behavior than on their identity in Christ.

Although Paul does not specifically say how he wants the Galatians to become like him, the context of the situation in Galatians indicates it was not a blanket statement that covered every aspect and detail of his life. Because his concern was with the law-centered religion of the Galatians, Paul surely had in mind the wonderful love, joy, freedom, and certainty of salvation he had found in Jesus Christ. In light of the surpassing wonder of Christ, Paul had learned to count everything else as rubbish (Phil. 3:5-9) — and he longed for the Galatians themselves to have that same experience.

Is there someone you know (other than Jesus) who presents you a good example? If so, what are the qualities of that person that you find so exemplary, and how can you better reveal those qualities in your life?

Leave a comment

Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons