Galatians 6: Parting Comments

Weights by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14 ESV).

What makes a community?

The Apostle Paul’s closing remarks divide into two parts:  A series of proverbs (vv 1-10) followed by a restatement of the main theme of his letter (vv 11-18).

The proverbs can be summarized as:

  • Forgive and restore (v 1),
  • Bear each other’s burdens (vv 2-5),
  • Support your teachers (v 6),
  • You reap what you sow (vv 7-8), and
  • Keep on doing good works (vv 9-10).

These proverbs often pair mutual accountability and personal responsibility[1].

Paul highlights his summary of the letter by wrapping this summary in highly personal remarks.  Before the summary, he signs this letter by claiming that he wrote it with his own hand (v 11).  After the summary, he asserts his apostolic authority claiming that his body bears the marks of Christ (v 17)[2].

The summary then goes on to discuss those advocating circumcision.  Paul makes these points—they want to force circumcision to avoid persecution in spite of not following their own advice and to brag about their influence over you (vv 12-13)[3].  By contrast, Paul basically says—look, I only brag about the cross of Christ and about the scars on my own body, not yours (vv 14, 17).

If you have ever met an evangelist who pulled down his shirt to display the scars on his back from torture, then you know how persuasive Paul’s argument really is.

[1]Scot McKnight (The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1995, 288) makes this point following John Barclay.

[2]The word for marks here—stigmata (στίγματα; v 17) is used nowhere else in the New Testament and only one other place in the Greek Old Testament (Song of Solomon 1:11).

[3]McKnight (1995, 299).


  1. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  2. Do you have questions from chapter 5?
  3. What is a proverb?
  4. What does Christian admonishment and forgiveness look like? (v 1; also 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 3:10)
  5. How do we bear each other’s burdens? (vv 2-5; Romans 15:1; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
  6. How does “bear one other’s’ burdens” (v 2) compare with “each will have to bear his own load” (v 5)?
  7. How do you interpret verse 6? What are the good things referred to here?
  8. Why the reference to sowing the flesh (spirit) and reaping the flesh (spirit)? (vv 7-8)
  9. What are the priorities in doing good works? (vv 9-10)
  10. Why does Paul make a point of showing his own handwriting? Why big letters?  (v 11; 1 Corinthians 16:21)
  11. One author notes that Paul’s proverbs pair mutual accountability and personal responsibility? Would you agree?  What are some examples?
  12. What is the motivation of those trying to promote circumcision? (v 12)
  13. What is Paul’s point in verses 13-14?
  14. What implications do you see today from Paul’s comment on circumcision in verse 15?
  15. What is Paul trying to say in verse 17? Why?

Galatians 6: Parting Comments

Also see:

Galatians 5: Healthy Boundaries 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

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Gálatas 6: Comentarios al Fin

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

En cuanto a mí, jamás se me ocurra jactarme de otra cosa sino de la cruz de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, por quien el mundo ha sido crucificado para mí, y yo para el mundo. (Gálatas 6:14 NVI)

¿Qué hace a una comunidad?

Palabras relación vinculante;

….Palabras redentoras restauración;

………Cargas compartidas; sacrificios hechos;

………….Espíritu sembró; vida segada.

¿Qué hace a una comunidad?

Palabras de clausura del apóstol Pablo se dividen en dos partes: Una serie de proverbios (vv 1-10) seguido de una repetición del tema principal de su carta (vv 11-18).

Los proverbios se pueden resumir en:

  • Perdonar y restauración (v 1),
  • Llevar las cargas de otros (vv. 2-5),
  • Apoye a sus maestros (v 6),
  • Usted cosecha lo que siembra (vv 7-8), y
  • Mantener en hacer buenas obras (vv. 9-10).

Estos proverbios menudo se emparejan la responsabilidad mutua y la responsabilidad personal [1].

Pablo pone de relieve su resumen de la carta envolviendo este resumen en comentarios muy personales. Antes de que el resumen, que firma esta carta diciendo que él lo escribió de su puño y letra (v 11). Después de la síntesis, afirma su autoridad apostólica alegando que su cuerpo lleva las huellas de Cristo (v 17)[2].

El resumen a continuación, pasa a examinar los que abogan por la circuncisión. Paul hace que estos puntos—que quieren obligar a la circuncisión para evitar la persecución, a pesar de no seguir su propio consejo y para presumir de su influencia sobre usted (vv 12-13)[3]. Por el contrario, Pablo dice básicamente—Mira, yo sólo alardear acerca de la cruz de Cristo y sobre las cicatrices en mi proprio cuerpo, no el tuyo (vv 14, 17).

Si alguna vez has conocido a un evangelista que tira hacia abajo su camisa para mostrar las cicatrices de su espalda contra la tortura, entonces usted sabe cómo es realmente persuasivo argumento de Pablo.

[1]Scot McKnight (The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1995, 288) hace esa punta siguiendo John Barclay.

[2] La palabra para las cicatrices aquí-estigmas (στίγματα; v 17) se utiliza en ningún otro lugar en el Nuevo Testamento, y sólo otro lugar en el Antiguo Testamento griego (Cantares 1:11).

[3]McKnight (1995, 299).

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Present Suffering and Future Glory: A Chaplain’s Reflection by Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon

Our guest blogger today is Aaron Gordon.  Aaron works as a chaplain and will be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on Sunday (see details below).  Aaron’s reflection provides a glimpse into a day in the life of a chaplain.

Chaplain’s Reflection

As I walk into the room, I am instantly disturbed by what I see. A man who looks like pale skin and bones, gasping for air. His eyes are wide open, but he’s staring into space. His throat is hooked up to a breathing tube. He is restlessly taking shallow breaths and moving his head subtly left and right. This man is actively dying.

After a moment of taking in the sight, I realize the room is eerily quiet. I feel a deep sadness. I speak to the man. No acknowledgement. Examining patient records, I see this man has Christian (non-denominational) listed as his religious preference. I tell him that I am here with him, that I am praying for him. I pray for him to experience God’s peace. I pray for him to have strength as he prepares to be gathered to his ancestors. I remind him of God’s love and covenant faithfulness. I remind him of God’s promise to remain faithful to all those who believe.

I pray in Jesus’ name. I linger for a moment after I pray. As I walk out of the door I think to myself… “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

I walk down the hall and check in with the head Chaplain. I want to make sure that we have volunteers to sit with this dying man while he is near the end. The head Chaplain has made sure that we do.

Now it is time for me to chart the morning’s activities. I have updated my patient lists, rounded with the nurses on the third floor, and visited a bunch of patients.

As I sat down to work on the computer, a man walked into the Chaplain’s office. He was having a tough time with his wife, and is at the end of his rope. We talked and prayed. He needed strength to continue fighting for his relationship. I thought to myself, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”  (Romans 8:35)

As soon as he left I had to help a woman find her way upstairs. Once upstairs, I met a volunteer who had just arrived to sit with the dying patient. As I was telling her the situation, a nurse informed us that he had just died not a minute prior. We immediately walked into his room. His remains were there, motionless in the bed. Everyone was gone. It was just the volunteer and myself. Later, the man’s wife and son arrived. They were tearful but also relieved. The volunteer and myself entered into the grief…

As I reflect daily on my encounters as a Chaplain, I often feel weary. These emotional bench presses are exhausting. But something keeps me going… the thought that this is all very normal. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17) With Christ we are heirs of God’s glory indeed. But we should not think it strange that we should also experience sufferingsespecially as we bear each other’s burdens.


Aaron Gordon is a 34 year old graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary ( He is married to Jenny Gordon (32 years old) and has two energetic sons; Josiah (4 years old), and Ezekiel (3 years old). Aaron worked in the Engineering and Construction fields and volunteered in missions and youth ministry until God called Aaron and Jenny as full time missionaries to show the love of Jesus to those affected by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. During this time God revealed that Aaron had gifts of teaching and pastoral care which led him to Seminary. Aaron graduated seminary in May, 2014 and is currently serving in a one year call as a Resident Chaplain at the VA Healthcare System in Pittsburgh ( Aaron is interested in helping others to engage their faith in Jesus by meeting the needs of others and sharing the good news about Jesus Christ.

Aaron will be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at Centreville Presbyterian Church.  For directions visit:  

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Galatians 5: Healthy Boundaries

Fruits by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,

goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

against such things there is no law (Gal 5:22-23 ESV).

An interesting conversation going on in missionary circles concerns the definition of a Christian.  Is a Christian someone who has been baptized and confirmed?  Or, is a Christian someone has consistently grown closer to Christ as a disciple?  While only God knows truly who is saved, the definition of a Christian is important in understanding the role and articulation of the institutional church.  This is particularly a problem in non-western countries where persecution threatens both life and livelihood.

In Paul’s ministry among the Galatians, the question of who is a Christian was upfront and personal.  Is a Christian a sect within Judaism or an independent faith?  Being circumcised identified one with the Jewish faith, but in the first century it more importantly marked one politically as a Jewish nationalist.  And it was also not just something that your wife would notice.  Entry into the temple in Jerusalem required a ritual bath (purified, e.g. Acts 24:18) and sports in the gentile world were also frequently practiced “in your birthday suit”!  Both activities made circumcision a public event in a way that we might overlook today.

How does Paul answer the question of who is a Christian?  Ironically, Paul stands with Moses when he said:  Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart (Deuteronomy 10:16).  In Paul’s words:  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (v 6).  Neither Moses nor Paul accepted the idea that by itself circumcision placed any claim on God.  Faith working through love, as Paul says, speaks to changes in the heart.

Paul’s comments have immediate application in our cultural environment.  In our context, Paul would say:  neither baptized nor unbaptized; neither communicant nor non-communicant; counts for anything.  Going through the motions to join a church does not count.  The question remains: is your heart moving closer to Christ or not?

Movements of the heart might seem rather private but this does not imply that one can be a Christian incognito (secret Christian).  Our freedom in Christ is freedom to love our neighbors as ourselves (v 14).  Do you think that your neighbor will notice?  If money and time are involved, do you think your spouse would notice?  How about your kids?

In drawing healthy boundaries, Paul offers both a list of vices (vv 19-21) and a list of virtues (vv 22-23).  Interestingly, while the list of virtues will not guarantee admission to heaven, practicing the vices will keep you out (v 21).  In Paul’s mind, grace includes law, but is not limited by it.


  1. How did the snow affect your week?
  2. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  3. Do you have questions from chapter 4?
  4. What is freedom; what is slavery in Paul’s eye? (v 1)
  5. What is Paul’s point about circumcision and the law? (vv 2-6)
  6. What does Moses say about circumcision? (Deuteronomy 10:16-17) Why does he talk about bribing God?
  7. Why does circumcision require the whole law be obeyed? (v 3; Deuteronomy 27:1-3)
  8. One interpretation of Paul’s, advocated for example by Charles Finney (The Spirit-Filled Life (Orig pub 1861). New Kensington:  Whitaker House. 1982), was to compare grace to pledging guilty before a judge while law was like pledging innocent. Why is this legal analogy helpful?
  9. What is Paul’s argument in verse 7? (Hint: vv 7-11)
  10. What is the offense of the cross that Paul refers to? (v 11; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18)
  11. What is the freedom in Christ that Paul talks about? (vv 13-14) Can you be free in Christ and have no one notice?
  12. What does it mean to walk by the spirit or, alternatively, walk by the flesh? (v 16)
  13. How does the law and gospel relate? (v 18)
  14. What are the works of the flesh? (vv 19-21)
  15. How do the works of the flesh relate to salvation? (v 21)
  16. What are the fruits of the spirit? (vv 22-23)
  17. How does the cross of Christ relate to the works of the flesh? (v 24)

Galatians 5: Healthy Boundaries

Also see:

Galatians 6: Parting Comments 

Galatians 4: Slave and Free 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

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Gálatas 5: Límites Saludables

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

En cambio, el fruto del Espíritu es amor, alegría, paz, paciencia, amabilidad, bondad, fidelidad, humildad y dominio propio. No hay ley que condene estas cosas (Gálatas 5:22-23 NVI).

Una conversación interesante sucede en círculos misioneros se refiere a la definición de un cristiano. Es una persona cristiana que ha sido bautizado y confirmado? O bien, es una persona cristiana ha crecido de forma constante cerca de Cristo como discípulo? Mientras que sólo Dios sabe verdaderamente quién es salvo, la definición de un cristiano es importante para entender el papel y la articulación de la iglesia institucional. Esto es particularmente un problema en los países no occidentales donde la persecución amenaza tanto la vida y el sustento.

En el ministerio de Pablo entre los Gálatas, la cuestión de quién es un cristiano estaba adelantado y personal. Es un cristiano una secta dentro del judaísmo o de una fe independiente? Al estar circuncidado identificado uno con la fe judía, pero en el primer siglo que más importante marcado algunos políticamente como un nacionalista judío. Y tampoco era algo que su esposa se ​​diera cuenta. Entrada en el templo de Jerusalén requiere un baño ritual (purificado, por ejemplo, Hechos 24:18) y deportes en el mundo de los gentiles también se practica con frecuencia “en su traje de cumpleaños”! Ambas actividades hicieron la circuncisión de un acto público de una manera que podríamos pasar por alto.

¿Cómo dice Pablo respondió a la pregunta de quién es un cristiano? Irónicamente, Paul se encuentra con Moisés cuando dijo: despójate de lo pagano que hay en tu corazón (Deuteronomio 10:16). En las palabras de Pablo: En Cristo Jesús de nada vale estar o no estar circuncidados; lo que vale es la fe que actúa mediante el amor (v 6). Ni Moisés ni Pablo aceptó la idea de que por sí sola la circuncisión colocó ningún derecho sobre Dios. La fe obra por el amor, como dice Pablo, habla a los cambios en el corazón.

Los comentarios de Pablo tienen una aplicación inmediata en nuestro entorno cultural. En nuestro contexto, Pablo diría: ni bautizado, ni bautizar, ni comulga ni no- comunicante; cuenta para nada. Pasando por los movimientos a unirse a una iglesia no cuenta. La pregunta sigue siendo: ¿se está moviendo su corazón más cerca de Cristo o no?

Los movimientos del corazón pueden parecer más bien privado, pero esto no implica que uno puede ser una incógnita cristiana (Christian en secreto).  Nuestra libertad en Cristo es la libertad de amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos (v 14). ¿Crees que tu vecino se dará cuenta? ¿Qué hay de su cónyuge? Sus hijos?

En la elaboración de límites saludables, Paul ofrece tanto una lista de vicios ( vv 19-21) y una lista de virtudes (vv 22-23). Curiosamente, mientras que la lista de virtudes no garantiza la admisión al cielo, la práctica de los vicios le mantendrá fuera (v 21). En la mente de Pablo, la gracia incluye la ley, pero no está limitada por ello.

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Rare Human Being: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela by Rev. Sindile Dlamini

Sindile Dlamini
Sindile Dlamini

Rare Human Being: Nelson Mandela

Our guest blogger today, Rev. Sindile Dlamini, comes from South Africa.

Nelson Mandela Tribute

The outpouring of sympathy at the passing of Tata Nelson Mandela still intrigues me. (Tata means father in Mandela’s Xhosa language). The global leader has left an indelible mark in the lives of many people the world over.

When I spoke to a colleague recently, he continued to express his grief for Mandela describing him as a rare human being.  As I pondered, Nelson Mandela was indeed a rare human being who was marked for greatness from his birth.


At birth, he was given the following name: Rolihlahla. In our culture the naming ceremony of a child carries great significance as it determines a child’s destiny. When translated, Rolihlahla, means trouble maker. And Mandela would become a troublemaker of great significance as he dared to speak truth to power to the point that he was incarcerated for twenty seven years. At the dock, he dared to say he was even prepared to die for the cause of a free and democratic South Africa. In prison, he continued to be a troublemaker fighting for the rights of prisoners who were subjected to unbearable conditions. This caused him to win the respect of his jailers and on a wider context those who had imprisoned him to the extent that they were willing to begin negotiations for his release and set the stage for transforming South Africa into a democratic state.


Another flash back to his names–while he attended primary school, his Methodist teacher gave him the name, Nelson, after the great Admiral Lord Nelson, a British Navy service man. It was the missionaries practice to give African people English names when they arrived in Africa.  Perhaps most African names were a tongue twister and they wanted African people to assimilate to the religious culture. Yet, on hindsight, this has led to DuBois’s “double consciousness.”  Like Lord Nelson, Nelson Mandela led and lived a life of service, consumed with serving his people through the political machinery and movement of the African National Congress party; leading to his appointment to serve as the first black President of a free and democratic South Africa. In this position he modeled reconciliation, forgiveness, and social justice.


After his death, we continue to reflect on a life well lived, a life that fulfilled its God given purpose and destiny.  As a South African living in the United States I marvel at how much our histories intertwine. When I mention that I am from South Africa, most people will invariably ask me about Nelson Mandela. Indeed he is a rare human being who touched lives not only in South Africa but in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

In Psalm 2:8,  the Psalmist poses the following question: “ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession”. Sublimely Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela asked the question and God answered a resounding, yes, as evidenced by his life, service, and rare status.

Biography for Sindile

HU Stage Rev Sindile Dlamini
Rev Sindile Dlamini

Rev. Sindile Dlamini comes to Washington DC by way of Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

In May 2011, she graduated with a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity. She started as the Research Assistant in the Office of the Dean and served as Secretary and Elections Coordinator for the Student Government Association.  In 2009, she was a Graduate Student Assembly Humanitarian Award recipient. She also received a Special Recognition Award from the School of Divinity Student Government Association.

She advocates for youth to participate in service projects in the city such as Martin Luther King (Jr) Day of Service and Howard University Alternative Spring Break Service Project. In this context, youth learn the value of giving back and making a difference in the community. In this way their service competence will effect positive generational change for the community, locally and internationally.


She is also an associate minister at Michigan Park Christian Church under the leadership of Pastor. Marvin Owens and has served as a Board Secretary in 2011-2013 and participates as a Christian Education teacher.  In addition, in the wider community she is a board member for Life Restoration Ministry, Baltimore, MD. She serves as a Diaspora Coordinator for Vuka Africa Foundation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Currently, she is a Professional Chaplain at Howard University Hospital providing pastoral and spiritual care to patients, families and staff. In addition, she has previously worked as a chaplain at George Washington University Hospital. There she strengthened her pastoral care skills with palliative care patients and the trauma unit.

Publicly, she has appeared on ABC, NBC Channel 4 and Sheryl Lee Ralph Radio Show. There she talked about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela and highlighted Mandela as a symbol of social justice, reconciliation and service and truth.

Therefore she desires that her gift and calling advance the kingdom of God in all spheres of society.

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Galatians 4: Slave and Free

Pencils by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

And because you are sons and daughters, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a child, and if a child, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:6-7).

Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is not transactional?

What if God were like a Facebook friend who after one “bad hair day” simply unfriended you?  Who would ever be comfortable in their relationship with such a god?  Could you ever really love God knowing that you were constantly being evaluated?  Or, turning the question around, could you ever really love God knowing that your love was purchased with wealth or fame?

Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is a real relationship?

In Galatians 4, the Apostle Paul describes what it means to be a child of an (unconditional) promise.  When we are promised a gift (like friendship), we need only believe in the promise.  The promise is unconditional.  We do not have to do anything to earn the gift.  That is what the word, gift, implies.  The good news is that God’s grace is a gift.

Law works differently.  Law is a conditional promise.  If you obey the law, then you earn the reward promised under the law.  For example, if you apply to become a U.S. citizen, the law covering citizenship applies.  If you meet the conditions of this law, then you are eligible to become a citizen.  If you do not meet the law’s conditions and you desire the reward of the law, then you are a slave of the law (and your desire) until you meet those conditions.

With this argument concerning conditional (law) and unconditional (grace) promises, Paul is making two points:

  1. Being under law is like kids waiting to be old enough to inherit from their parents (vv 1-3).  Being under law implies immaturity.  Mature adults are under no such restrictions.  What adult would prefer to be a kid again?
  2. Being under gospel implies freedom from law, but it does not imply freedom from relationship.  We are God’s adopted children—children of the promise (vv 5-7, 23-28).  Free people do not behave like slaves because they are in relationship with their parents which includes having an inheritance (v 30).

Paul’s discussion of our freedom in Christ continues into chapter 5.

Paul’s discussion of the relationship between Abraham and his two wives, Hagar and Sarah, has generated a lot of discussion over the years.  Paul argues that being under the Mosaic covenant (the Law of Moses) is like being a slave to law.  Because Hagar was a slave woman, he equates the two (law and Hagar) in his allegory.  This causes heartburn for Jewish interpreters because the Jews were biological descendants of Sarah, not Hagar.

Paul’s argument revolves around God’s covenant with Abraham.  The Jews have not taken to heart the second half of the covenant to Abraham:  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3 ESV).  The covenant with Abraham required that Abraham become a blessing (וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה) [to the nations]—which essentially means that the Gospel needs to be told.  The Galatians were like Sarah (and the Jews were not) because they more completely fulfilled Abraham’s covenant obligations.  At a minimum, sharing the love of God has to start with sharing who God is!  Niceness is not enough; obeying the law is not enough (Galatians 5:14).

Our question is:  Are we children of Hagar or of Sarah?


  1. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  2. Who attended the Worship Workshop and would like to give a report?
  3. Do you have questions from chapter 3?
  4. According to Paul, how is a child like a slave? (vv 1-3)
  5. What does this analogy have to do with law? (v 3)
  6. What is the role of Christ? (vv 4-7)
  7. What is the “fullness of time” mean? What about “born of a woman”? (v 4)
  8. What is the argument—that was then; this is now—that Paul is making? What transition is he referring to? (vv 8-10)
  9. What is a transition? (beginning, middle, and end)
  10. What is Paul’s fear, as expressed in this rant? (vv 11-20)
  11. What is Paul’s argument here in verse 11?
  12. What is Paul’s analogy to Hagar and Sarah? (vv 22-31)
  13. How is the law like Hagar; how is it not? Why would Jewish interpreters be upset?

Galatians 4: Slave and Free

Also see:

Galatians 5: Healthy Boundaries 

Galatians 3: Law and Gospel 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site:, Publisher site:

Newsletter at:

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Gálatas 4: Esclavitud y Libertad

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Ustedes ya son hijos y hijas. Dios ha enviado a nuestros corazones el Espíritu de su Hijo, que clama: ¡Abba! ¡Padre! Así que ya no eres esclavo sino hijo/a; y como eres hijo/a, Dios te ha hecho también heredero (Galatas 4:6-7).

¿No estás contento de que nuestra relación con Dios no es transaccional?

¿Y si Dios fuera como “Facebook friend” que después de un “mal día” simplemente un-friend a usted? ¿Quién iba a ser cómodo en su relación con un Dios así? ¿Podría alguna vez realmente amar a Dios sabiendo que se estaban evaluando constantemente? O, volviendo a la pregunta alrededor, ¿podría alguna vez realmente amar a Dios sabiendo que su amor fue comprado con la riqueza o la fama?

¿No estás contento de que nuestra relación con Dios es una relación real?

En Gálatas 4, el apóstol Pablo describe lo que significa ser un niño de un (incondicional) promesa. Cuando se nos promete un regalo (como amistad), sólo necesitamos creer en la promesa. La promesa es incondicional. No tenemos que hacer nada para ganar el regalo. Eso es lo que la palabra, regalo, implica. La buena noticia es que la gracia de Dios es un regalo.

Ley funciona de manera diferente. La ley es una promesa condicional. Si obedeces la ley, entonces usted gana la recompensa prometida por la ley. Por ejemplo, si se aplica para convertirse en un ciudadano de los EE.UU. , la ley que cubre la ciudadanía se aplica. Si usted cumple con las condiciones de esta ley, entonces usted es elegible para convertirse en ciudadano. Si usted no cumple con las condiciones de la ley y que desee la recompensa de la ley, entonces usted es un esclavo de la ley (y el deseo) hasta que cumpla con esas condiciones.

Con este argumento relativo a las promesas incondicionales (la gracia) y condicionales (ley), Pablo está haciendo dos puntos:

  1. Estar bajo la ley es como los niños que esperan para ser lo suficientemente mayor como para heredar de sus padres (vv 1-3). Estar bajo la ley implica la inmadurez. Los adultos maduros están bajo no tales restricciones. Lo que los adultos prefieren ser un niño otra vez?
  2. Estar bajo Evangelio implica la libertad de la ley, pero no implica la ausencia de relación. Somos adoptados hijos- hijos de la promesa (vv. 5-7, 23-28) de Dios. La gente libre no se comportan como los esclavos, porque están en relación con sus padre , que incluye tener una herencia (v 30).

La discusión de Pablo de nuestra libertad en Cristo continúa en el capítulo 5.

Discusión de Pablo sobre la relación entre Abraham y sus dos mujeres, Agar y Sara, ha generado una gran polémica en los últimos años. Pablo argumenta que estar bajo el pacto mosaico (la Ley de Moisés) es como ser un esclavo de la ley. Porque Agar era una esclava , que equivale a los dos (la ley y Agar) en su alegoría. Esto hace que la acidez de los intérpretes judíos porque los Judios eran descendientes biológicos de Sarah, no Agar.

El argumento de Pablo gira en torno a la alianza de Dios con Abraham. Los Judios no han tomado en serio la segunda mitad del pacto a Abraham: Haré de ti una nación grande, y te bendeciré; haré famoso tu nombre, y serás una bendición (Génesis 12:2 – 3). El pacto con Abraham exigió que Abraham se convierta en una bendición ( וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה ) [a las naciones] – que esencialmente significa que el Evangelio necesita ser contada. Los gálatas eran como Sarah (y los Judios no eran) porque cumplieron de manera más completa las obligaciones del pacto de Abraham. Como mínimo, compartiendo el amor de Dios tiene que comenzar con el intercambio de quién es Dios! Niceness no es suficiente, la obediencia a la ley no es suficiente (Gálatas 5:14).

Nuestra pregunta es: ¿Somos hijos de Agar o de Sarah?

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Guest Blogger: Jesse D. Colón

Mural in Riverside Presbyterian Church
Mural in Riverside Presbyterian Church

This morning we welcome our first guest blogger, Jesse D. Colón.

Jesse D. Colón Arroyo, is a loud NewYorican who loves God and Music. He studied music in Puerto Rico and served as the Director of Music Ministries for 7 years at the church his parents founded as a mission, “Evangelio de Amor”, alongside his older brother and current pastor, Justin.  He moved to Virginia with his wife and two children in 2011 and now currently serves as a Music Coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia.


What is worship?  As a music leader in church I found defining this word harder than I thought.  It’s a word used many times to describe a type of service in church and other times referred as the musical section within the order of a service.  But if we adhere to these definitions we’re limiting worship to something that happens a day of the week or an hour within the day. Is worship done with afterwards?  Though many may agree with this perspective, it is my understanding that God has more in mind.

Looking at the word

Oxford Dictionary explains its origin from Old English–“weorthscipe” ‘worthiness, acknowledgment of worth’ (worth-shipping)

This definition could lead us to understand worship as acts of recognition.  Something we say or do to demonstrate that the object of our worship is worthy.  Some people might be okay with leaving it here but this perspective is limited.   It could be made into a checklist of things to do, and as soon as we’re done with the list, one could interpret that we’re done relating with God.  This could not be further from what Scripture teaches us.  Yes. God is worthy, but a single act of recognition is not enough.  As reflected in the Jesus of the gospels, the God I serve is worthy of my time, worthy of my attention, worthy of my affection, worthy of my resources, worthy of my service, and worthy of everything I am or have. Worship is more than just an act but also an attitude, a way of living, and a life surrendered completely and wholly to God.  All the acts of recognition we can come up with are merely reflections of what worship causes in our lives.

What does the Bible say?

The first appearance of the word “worship” in scripture is in Genesis 22:5 when Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac as an offering to God.  The Hebrew word used is shachah which literally means to prostrate or bow down.  In Genesis 24:26 we can understand this meaning because it’s very direct in saying: “Then, the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord”.  Interpreting these passages support the perspective that worship is an act of offering up or sacrificing something to God.  But we should ask ourselves: what does God want us to offer or sacrifice? In the passage of Genesis 22, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac because it was all a test of obedience and trust in God.  1 Samuel 15:22 explains it clearly: “…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

God wants us. From creation to Moses and the Ten Commandments to Jesus dying on a cross, it’s always been about God reaching out and us reciprocating.

I think this couldn’t be any more clear as when we read: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). 

What’s more revealing is that worship is what we live for and what makes us human. Thomas G. Long expresses in his book Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship [1]:

“Worshiping God is not simply a good thing to do; it is a necessary thing to do to be human.  The most profound statement that can be made about us is that we need to join with others in bowing before God in worshipful acts of devotion, praise, obedience, thanksgiving and petition.”(17)

A passage that gives light to this statement is Isaiah 43.  This is a beautiful chapter where the prophet is revealing God’s word to the people of Israel and he starts by saying in the first verse:

“But now, this is what the Lord says-he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israeleveryone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:1,7).

Granted that this was written specifically to Israel, if we understand that today we are his children and his people, then here’s what we were made for.  Worship is not something we do on Sunday mornings, but what we were made for–we were created to bring God glory.  This reminds me of a Tim Hughes song called “Living for Your Glory” where there’s a part he sings: “in everything I say and do, let my life honor You, here I am living for Your glory”.

Walking this Path

I don’t know who coined the phrase “We are what we Love”.  However, I think it gives us insight on how we can start to live this life of a worshiper described in Romans 12:1–to feel completely whole and human as God intended us to be from the beginning.  Bob Kauflin expresses in his book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God [2]: “while it’s simplistic to say worship is Love, it’s a fact that what we love most will determine what we genuinely worship”(25). Kauflin goes on to say:

“For years we’ve read or experienced firsthand the “worship wars”-conflicts over music styles, song selection, and drums. But far too little has been said about the worship wars going inside of us. And they’re much more significant. Each of us has a battle raging within us over what we love most –God or something else.”

The Great Commandment says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 10:27).

No matter what stage or season in life we might find ourselves the life of a worshiper is constantly asking this question:  do I love the Lord my God with all that I am? That is worship.

Worship Workshop

On Saturday February 8, 2014 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Jesse D. Colón ( and Noemi Simmons ( are hosting a Worship Workshop at Riverside Presbyterian Church (  A continental breakfast and lunch will be served.  If this is interesting to you, please contact Jesse or Noemi for more details.


[1] Thomas G. Long. 2001.  Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship.  Herdon:  Alban Institute. (

[2] Bob Kauflin.  2008. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God.  Wheaton: Crossway.

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