Lectionary Commentaries for June 19, 2022
Second Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 8:26-39

Jeannine K. Brown

At the outset of Jesus’ ministry, we find him in a synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16)1. From this starting point, Jesus is always on the move, leaving people before they are ready (for example, 4:42-43) and arriving after they’ve been expecting him (5:15, 17; 6:17-18; 8:4). He alternates ministering to crowds (5:1) and to individuals (5:4), in public (4:31) and in private (4:38), in accordance with and subversive to the people’s expectations (for example, 4:20-22 and 4:28, respectively). Along the way, he gathers disciples (5:11; 8:1-3) as well as enemies (6:11) at a rapid pace. Luke’s eighth chapter brings about a dramatic interruption, where Jesus takes an apparently spontaneous trip across the lake of Gennesaret to a place where his presence will be altogether unexpected, except by the demons there.

After a dramatic journey across the lake (Luke 8:22-25), Jesus steps for the first and last time into Gentile territory. (Note that Luke omits Jesus’ journey to Tyre and Sidon, see also Mark 7:24-37). Once there, Jesus encounters a man possessed by demons. It is a scene marked by tombs and swine (8:27, 32)—a location riddled with ritual impurity. 

This is not Jesus’ first encounter with demons (4:33; 6:18), uncleanness (5:13; 7:14), or even Gentiles (7:1-10, see also 4:25-27), yet Luke infuses this story with more intensity than the other episodes. While the perils of nature have assailed them on their lake journey (8:22-25), this demon-possessed man threatens with superhuman strength and tortured madness (8:29). The name Legion (8:30) connotes great numbers as well as military force, both reminding Luke’s reader of Roman power and indicating that Jesus is engaged in a formidable spiritual battle. Luke’s use of the term “abyss” (8:31) suggests that the battle takes place on a cosmic plane, in its allusion to the apocalyptic prison of demonic powers (Revelation 20:1). What role does this confrontation play in Jesus’ overall ministry, that it is treated with such intensity?

One key to this question lies in Jesus’ declaration of his mission to travel from town to town, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom (4:43) and assisted by a growing band of disciples (5:10; see also 9:2; 10:11). We see how this mission expands geographically in Luke 4-8, moving from the synagogues to all the surrounding towns and countryside, before extending to the land across the lake opposite Galilee (8:26). Here, there is no eager crowd, like the one that waits for Jesus on the Galilean side (8:40). Jesus engages the location of the Gerasenes on his own (his disciples are not mentioned anywhere in the account), in a place that anyone in their right mind would avoid. No one greets him apart from “Legion.” In this unlikely setting, Jesus performs one of his most extraordinary miracles and brings comprehensive healing to an unlikely recipient (Green, 336).

After Jesus exorcises the demons, those who had tended the pigs that were destroyed announce news about the man’s restoration to the surrounding area (8:34). The people of the region beg Jesus to leave them (8:37), a stark contrast to the Galilean Jews who earlier had begged Jesus to stay with them (4:42). It seems the Gentile lands are not yet ready for good news of the reign of the one true God.

Yet, the mission across the lake is not without fruit, for Jesus gains one new disciple. The healed demoniac sits at the feet of Jesus, revealing his new discipleship status (8:35; Bovon, 324). This newest disciple becomes a witness to Jesus and his power, for although the man begs to return with Jesus, Jesus sends him back to his home to proclaim what God has done for him (8:38-39). Jesus not only heals this individual; he also leaves a witness behind for everyone who has initially rejected him. 

In subsequent chapters, Jesus’ missionary movement will expand further, from the twelve (9:1-2) to the seventy-two (10:1), and finally, to all the disciples who remain after his resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:33; Acts 1:15). These early disciples will carry the good news of the kingdom all the way to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). 

This strange and frightening encounter provides two points of impetus for preaching. First, the account prefigures the geographical and missionary expansion of the good news of the kingdom. Yet it indicates that Gentile reception of the good news will not be uniformly positive. In fact, this episode stands in sharp contrast to the exuberant, albeit mixed, reception by Jesus’ own people so far in Luke. It also marks the end of Jesus’ geographical expansion to Gentile territory within the Gospel, all the while foreshadowing the Gentile mission that will move ahead in Acts (Acts 1:8). Yet to all people who are receptive, Jesus will prove to be “a light for revelation to the Gentile and for glory to [God’s] people Israel” (Luke 2:32). 

Second, Luke emphasizes Jesus’ power in this passage. Not even a “Legion” from the demonic realm can keep Jesus from restoring this person in torment and allowing him to return to his home (8:39). Jesus takes on evil on its own turf, as it were, and is victorious over these forces of evil and death. Luke will soon narrate Jesus’ ultimate victory over death and will connect it closely with the gospel going to all nations (24:26-27). Today, we can preach with confidence that Jesus has the power to bring life from death. This is truly good news for all people.

Works Referenced

Bovon, François. Luke 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1-9:50. Hermeneia. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002.

Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.


  1.  The author would like to acknowledge Narah Larson, MA student at Bethel Seminary, who contributed significant insights and writing for the first draft of this commentary. 

First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 65:1-9

J. Blake Couey

Isaiah 65:1–9 bears witness to the ugliness of intra-religious conflict. Along with other texts in Isaiah 56–66 (“Third Isaiah”), it was written in the centuries after the return of Judean exiles from Babylon in 538 BCE. During this period, divisions emerged within the post-exilic worshiping community in Jerusalem. Many texts in Isaiah 56–66 reflect the perspective of one of these groups, who refer to themselves as God’s “servants” (Isaiah 65:8, 13–15). In Isaiah 65:1–9, this group expresses frustration and hostility toward their rivals.  

This is not an easy text on which to preach! But with attention to its likely historical and social context, it offers resources for reflection on theological, liturgical, or political disagreements among believers. And the tension between divine anger and mercy is an important feature of the biblical portrayal of God.

Intra-religious conflict

The text makes several lurid accusations against the rival religious community. They have rejected God’s ways, making them “a rebellious people” (verse 2). Of course, they would likely say the same of the speaker’s community! 

Their primary offense is illicit worship practices (compare Isaiah 57:4–13; 66:17): 

    • They worship in unacceptable places: “gardens” (verse 3), “mountains,” and “hills” (verse 7). Throughout the Hebrew Bible, such outdoor shrines are associated with false deities (Deuteronomy 12:2; 1 Kings 14:23; Isaiah 17:10–11; Ezekiel 6:13). 
    • They perform rituals in “tombs” (verse 4). In the Hebrew Bible, contact with graves makes a person ritually impure (Numbers 19:13–22). The reference to tombs also suggests the practice of necromancy or ancestor veneration, which was strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:11; Leviticus 20:6; Isaiah 8:19–21). 
    • They violate acceptable food practices by “eat[ing] swine’s flesh” and drinking “broth of abominable things” (verse 4). Consumption of meat from pigs is forbidden in Leviticus 11:7. 

The extreme nature of these charges suggests they are exaggerated. Rather than an accurate account of the disagreement between the rival groups, this text is a polemical caricature of the opponents. 

Despite these harsh criticisms, the conflict depicted in the text is likely between two groups who worshiped the same God and shared many beliefs and practices. Intra-religious schisms often prove more bitter than those between different religious traditions. In our era of extreme divisiveness, in which denominations split over views of sexual ethics and churches are polarized over political affiliation, it’s important to think carefully about how we describe other believers with whom we disagree. There may be occasions where the kind of hyperbole used in this text may be appropriate. At the same time, other biblical texts—not least the commandment against false witness (Exodus 20:16)—caution against wholesale adoption of the rhetorical strategies of Isaiah 65.

Humility and self-critique

Along with accusations of illicit religious practices, verse 5 depicts the rival group saying, “Keep to yourself; do not come near to me, for I am too holy for you.” They have deemed anyone who disagrees with them to be religiously inferior, and they will no longer associate with them. This experience of being excluded would have been painful for the group who produced this text, which may partly explain their bitterness toward their rivals.

As religious conflicts escalate, one or both sides may claim to be the only true believers. Those who disagree are not only wrong, but dangerous. Different viewpoints on biblical interpretation may lead to accusations of rejecting biblical authority altogether. People on opposite sides of a disputed ethical question may write off their challengers as depraved. This is not to say that theological or ethical differences are unimportant. Far from it—such differences may have significant impact. But it is rarely helpful to believe that one side alone has a monopoly on truth, or to refuse to accept that the other side is acting in good faith. This attitude destroys community and prevents the growth that can come through open expression of disagreement.

In particular, an exclusive belief in our own correctness discourages introspection and self-critique. Alongside their blistering critiques of their rivals, the community behind Third Isaiah retained the capacity to recognize their own shortcomings. In Isaiah 58:2–14, God addresses worshipers whose ritual practices are correct, but are not accompanied by concern for the vulnerable and oppressed. This text is a model for critical self-examination. Prophetic critique that only addresses others’ moral failings, and never one’s own, is highly suspect.

Judgment and mercy

At the beginning of the text, God goes to great lengths to establish a relationship with the rival group, despite their rejection: “I said, ‘Here I am, here I am.’… I held out my hands all day long” (verses 1-2). In verses 6–7, that openness gives way to threats of punishment: “I will not keep silent, but I will repay.” Then that declaration is tempered in verses 8–9, when God resolves “for my servants’ sake … not [to] destroy them all.” This movement between mercy and judgment threatens to leave the reader with whiplash, but this tension lies at the very heart of the portrayal of God in the Bible (For example, Exodus 34:6–7; Hosea 11:8–9; Isaiah 54:8).

In verse 8, God explains the change of mind by comparing the post-exilic community to a cluster of grapes. Some grapes may be rotten, but destroying the cluster would mean losing the wine that the good grapes could yet produce. It’s similar logic to Jesus’ parable of the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13:24–30. This rejection of vengeance, even if only temporary, suggests a better way for dealing with intra-religious disagreement. Putting aside escalating rhetoric and exclusionary practices, we should accept that we’re all part of the same community. However much we may wish it, God isn’t likely to vindicate us by punishing our rivals. We may never know who is right or wrong on this side of heaven. In the meantime, we should recommit ourselves to the hard work of living together, and never give up hope for the possibility of reconciliation.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on 1 Kings 19:1-4 [5-7] 8-15a

L. Daniel Hawk

The account of Elijah’s flight to Horeb follows on the heels of two spectacular demonstrations of Yahweh’s power at Mount Carmel. The first instance recounts a dramatic contest with four hundred fifty prophets of Baal, during which Yahweh displays divine supremacy by sending fire to burn up a sacrifice on an altar saturated with water (18:20-40)—leading the onlookers to slaughter the impotent prophets of the losing deity. The second instance reports the end of a drought that Elijah had earlier decreed (17:1; 18:41-46). 

In the prior account, we see a confident and fearless prophet, who openly confronts a powerful king, depends on Yahweh for sustenance, brings a widow’s dead son to life, and provokes prophetic adversaries with bravado.

What a shock, then, when the narrative takes a sudden and surprising turn. A threat from the queen inexplicably strikes Elijah with fear, and he runs for his life. The prophet we now see is gripped by such crushing despair that he wants to die. He complains bitterly, with a considerable degree of self-pity. As he reflects on his situation, Elijah does not think about the great works of God he has witnessed and participated in. He does not rejoice in decisive victories. Instead, he looks inward, overwhelmed by disappointment, danger, and defeat.

The narrator accentuates the reversal of Elijah’s mood and fortunes through repetition and contrast:

    • Jezebel knows where to find Elijah, although Ahab could not (18:9-12).
    • At Carmel, Elijah revels in the claim that “I myself am the only prophet of Yahweh left” (18:22a); now the same declaration is a whining discouragement (19:10, 14).
    • At Carmel, Elijah rebuilt an altar to Yahweh, witnessed the killing of Baal’s prophets, and brought the people back to covenant fidelity; now he sees only an Israel that has torn down altars, abandoned the covenant, and had its prophets killed.
    • At Horeb, Elijah hides in a cave and complains about being alone (verse 9), ironically recalling Obadiah’s earlier report that he has hidden one hundred fifty prophets in a cave (18:13).

The sense of reversal is heightened by contrasting repetitions within the unit.

    • Elijah flees in terror when he hears that Jezebel seeks his life (verse 2) but asks God to take his life (verse 4).
    • Jezebel sends a messenger who threatens death and rouses Elijah (verse 2), and Yahweh sends a messenger who provides food for the journey (verses 7-8). Malakh occurs both times in the Hebrew text.
    • Elijah lies down after eating the food Yahweh’s messenger provides the first time, but gets up and journeys to Horeb the second time.

Allusions to other biblical texts construct an even wider web of reversals.

    • Elijah’s flight evokes Hagar’s journeys (Genesis 16:7-14; 21:14-19). Hagar also flees southward and is met by Yahweh’s messenger, who asks two location-oriented questions and tells her to return (verse 9; see also 1 Kings 19:15).
    • The reference to Horeb links the account to Deuteronomy, which uses this name for the site of Israel’s covenant and thus to the centrality of covenantal fidelity the book emphasizes (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 10:12-20; 29:1-28). Elijah’s complaint that Israel has pulled down Yahweh’s altars stands in counterpoint to Deuteronomy’s command that Israel pull down all Canaanite altars (Deuteronomy 7:5-6).
    • The theophany that Elijah experiences at Horeb echoes the theophany Moses receives in the same vicinity. Yahweh calls both men to “stand” while Yahweh passes by (verses 11-13; see also Exodus 33:18-23), and both experience the theophany from an opening within rock. Notably, the narrator comments that Yahweh was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, all of which are commonly associated with theophanies.

We also note a change in the tone of the narrative. The narration in the previous unit has been clear and straightforward. Yet, now it generates uncertainty, dislocation, and obscurity, taking a meandering course and raising questions. We are not told what Elijah is thinking or feeling. We have only his words. Why does Jezebel threaten Elijah rather than sending someone to kill him? Why does Elijah flee to Horeb? Does he want out? Does he intend to enact a symbolic renewal of the covenant, now that the nation has rejected Baal? The angel’s twice-voiced question brings the sense of aimlessness to the surface: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

We are drawn, finally, to Yahweh’s role in the narrative, which is brought to the foreground through the three prominent repetitions. 

    • The reports that Yahweh’s angel provides food and water to Elijah confirm Yahweh’s care of, concern for, and commitment to the prophet. It is a journey that the servant takes but that Yahweh sustains.
    • Yahweh’s twice-voiced question—“What are you doing here, Elijah?”—expresses both concern and an invitation to take stock of where he is and what he is doing at this point in time.
    • Yahweh’s self-disclosure through an ethereal voice rather than cataclysmic manifestations, re-centers Elijah away from the spectacular, divine manifestations of Yahweh’s presence so recently witnessed at Carmel, to the mundane, quiet, and decidedly unspectacular, steady cadences of everyday life with Yahweh as the journey continues.

The motifs of reversal, disappointment, exhaustion, and aimlessness may find resonance with congregations and pastors worn down by an interminable pandemic, political polarization, conspiracy-theory madness, economic hardship, deferred dreams, dislocated populations, and now, the specter of global war. Or where memories of powerful, vibrant, Spirit-empowered ministry have given way to enervated inertia and a desert outlook. Ministry in the era of the Great Resignation can deplete energy and numb the soul.

Elijah’s story reminds us that our circumstances and perspective can turn on a dime. It assures us that God provides food for the journey as we wander through deserted areas, remembering what we have left but not knowing where we will end up. It removes the burden of pursuing the spectacular, the exciting, and the dramatic, resets our focus on the unspectacular, quiet voice of God that animates ministry within the mundane, and tells us that neither we nor God are finished yet. There is more yet to do and more yet to be disclosed, in a new and unfamiliar desert.


Commentary on Psalm 22:19-28

James Howell

Many years ago, I was sitting in a lecture by a Jewish scholar who was explaining how Jewish children, before there were books, when literacy and scroll ownership were all but nonexistent, learned the Psalms. The child’s mother would recite one Psalm after another from memory, regularly, until the child knew the Psalms, and knew them well. I nodded appreciatively, and then felt a shudder rise up in me. Mary taught Jesus the Psalms. And then, during his hour of bitter agony, she watched helplessly as he uttered the very words she’d taught him as a boy, none more harrowing than “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some believe that in those days, if you voiced the opening of a Psalm, listeners would rummage ahead in their minds to the whole Psalm. If I say “The Lord is my shepherd,” you mentally continue into “I shall not want,” “Yea, though I walk through the valley,” et cetera. Today’s lectionary chunk of Psalm 22 begins deep into the thing, in verse 19. Did Jesus intend it all? Did his mother, and Jewish bystanders, hear the whole thing in their minds? Did Mary recollect verse 9, “It was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast … Since my mother bore me you have been my God”?

Verses 19-26 reveal to us that the God-forsaken one doesn’t stop talking with God—like Job, or like Jews in Nazi concentration camps. After shrill screams of abandonment, the Psalmist still asks for God to “come quickly,” and to deliver my life “from the mouth of the lion”. Did Jesus think of Daniel—who after all, did get out of that den unscathed? Are we off the hook with Christianity’s harsh critics if we say “Well, Jesus was saved, just in a different way,” in the face of horrific, unsaved suffering in our world, and among those to whom we preach?

The lament is part of the Good News. Not the prelude to the Good News, or the foil for the Good News. It is Good News that we have a God who abandons us, but not so radically as not to be able to hear our cries, or to be with us even though unseen, unfelt, not intervening. This is the appeal of our faith: God isn’t freaked out by suffering.

Can you hear and feel the Psalmist’s calmest assurance? “He has not despised the afflicted of the afflicted; he has heard when he cried to him.” Not “He has prevented affliction.” As Jesus, with only seconds of failing breath left in him, articulates this lament he’s learned as a child, we are awed by his agony. And if we look away, our eyes fall on Mary and her immense, unspeakable agony. If we blush or sigh in exasperation and look upward, in the distance we surely get a glimpse of God’s own agony in this moment.

Salvador Dali’s duly famous painting of the crucifixion, which hangs in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, views Jesus’ last moment from above, the way God witnessed God’s hardest, most painful moment in all of created time. God’s heart, shattered, the expense of that love beyond any measure.

Our sliver of Psalm 22 has its resounding notes of praise. Nothing glib here, like the hairdresser Annelle trying to cheer up M’Lynn at the grave of her daughter Shelby in Steel Magnolias: “It should make you feel a lot better that Shelby is with her King … We should all be rejoicing.” God is more mortified than we are by such simplistic pablum. The God-forsaken Psalmist can praise because of something deeper, a humbled awareness that life is short and cruel, and the God who made the sun that just hid its face, who gave him such a mother, and a vocation that mattered, is listening in wretched agony with him, and her. The word “praise” can be spoken without a grin, more of a whisper, a sigh, a bit of a groan. Praise.

Did Jesus, with his fleeting breaths, get as far in his mind at verse 26? “The poor shall eat and be satisfied.” The night before, Philip had said “Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied” (John 14:8). He showed them, in this moment, the heart of the Father. He washed the disciples’ feet— and now his were covered in grime, sweat and blood. As Jesus broke the Passover bread he’d said “This is my Body.” And they ate, those poor ones. Did they understand? Of course not. The few left at the cross, who weren’t hiding, surely saw his broken flesh and pouring out blood and recalled his breaking the bread and pouring the wine just hours earlier.

Mary hadn’t been there. But she had been there when Jesus ate and drank as a child, meals she’d cooked, and before that from her breast, mentioned in this Psalm. As she saw his precious body she’d first washed after it emerged after grueling pain from her womb, broken, and bloodied, did she recall her own body at his birth? Rachel Marie Stone re-envisions the Christmas pains:

“A girl was in labor with God. She groaned and sweated and arched her back, crying out for her deliverance and finally delivering God, God’s head pressing on her cervix, emerging from her vagina, perhaps tearing her flesh a little; God the Son, her Son, covered in vernix and blood, the infant God’s first breath the close air of crowded quarters… God the Son, her Son, pressed to her bare breast… God the Son, her Son, drank deeply from his mother. Drink, my beloved. This is my body, broken for you.”1

Of course, not too many hours later, those poor disciples did eat once more—when the risen Christ cooked fish for them on the seashore. The afflicted did eat. Jesus was saved from the mouth of the lion. God heard him.


  1. Rachel Marie Stone, Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light (Downers Grove: IVP, 2018), 127.

Second Reading

Commentary on Galatians 3:23-29

Carla Works

Contrary to popular Protestant belief, the law is not the enemy of grace. It is a gift from God, intended to guide God’s people toward an abundant life, toward a life where everyone thrives. So, what is the problem in Galatians? The law is not the good news. 

In Galatians, Paul is livid—livid that the believers have so easily turned away from the gospel (1:6-9). Paul’s vitriol in this letter—seemingly aimed at the law—is not targeted at the law itself, but at his opponents who have placed the observance of the law as central to the marks of faith. At the heart of their preaching is a faith that requires obedience to the law. It seems that these opponents have linked the work of the Spirit and the promises of Abraham to law observance—at the very least to circumcision and food practices. To read Galatians is to hear one side of an argument. To read Galatians 3:23-29 is to overhear a small piece of that heated exchange.  

To gain a fuller appreciation for Paul’s view of the law, it is necessary to look backwards in the letter. The opposing teachers seem to have linked the law with receiving the promises of Abraham. Paul reminds the believers that God has given the inheritance to Abraham by promise and thus, by grace, not by Abraham’s ability to follow the law (3:17-18). The law has an important function. It points out transgressions (3:19). The law is not opposed to God’s promises (3:21). Rather, the law is a guide toward the kind of abundant life that God wants for God’s creation, but the law cannot guarantee that life. Hence, verse 21, if a law could be made that would guarantee life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  

The law is like the servant in the household who is responsible for the heir (3:24). This is a critical role, somewhere between a nanny and a custodian. This person must protect the heir at all costs, see to the heir’s education and training, and accompany the heir always. In a world where one’s household is one’s security, identity, and legacy, it is impossible to overstate the importance of such a task. The law has a function—to direct people toward abundant life where everyone thrives. In Romans 7:12, Paul will even say that the law is holy, just, and good. The good and holy law, though, cannot guarantee that world. The assurance of life is what God has done in Christ—that is, to raise Jesus from the dead.  

By placing their future in their ability to follow the law, the Galatians have become misguided.  Following the law does not make them heirs of Abraham. In Christ they are already children of God. Just as Abraham has placed his trust in God, the Galatians have and should continue to place their trust in God, not in their ability to follow God’s good, holy, and just law. Why? Because they are incapable of withstanding sin’s power.  

In this “present evil age” (1:4) the power of sin is so great that it has corrupted all.  The law can point toward goodness, justice, and peace, but it cannot create a peaceable, loving, and just people. The law is not in the business of transformation. 

God has done through the cross and resurrection, what neither the Galatians nor we could do for ourselves. The Galatians have been baptized into Christ and, therefore, belong to Christ. By virtue of being in Christ, they are heirs of the promises to Abraham—promises which included descendants and land. In Romans 4:13, Paul will say, “The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” 

In Christ, something extraordinary has happened, there is neither Jew nor Greek. The opposing teachers have encouraged the Galatians to take on the very practices of law observance that would publicly identify them with the Jewish people. They may have argued that circumcision was necessary to become children of Abraham and part of the “Israel of God” (6:16). Paul, however, has reframed the discussion by reminding the Galatians that their hope has never been in any act that they have accomplished or their public identity. It has always been in Christ—specifically in what God has done through Christ.  

In Christ, the distinctions of being a Jew or a Gentile are reframed. They can be one in Christ—as circumcised or as uncircumcised. The pairs of opposites in Galatians 3:28 demonstrate what is likely an early baptismal liturgy (see also 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). There is unity in the midst of their diversity. These relationships that once contained power dynamics and strife are now relationships of mutual blessing. It is not that Gentiles must become Jews or females must become males (as texts like the Gospel of Thomas will later teach!). Rather, Paul’s vision of the church is that all nations—in their God-given distinctiveness—will praise God with one voice (Romans 15:7-13). The one pair of opposites that we can see the earliest church working to dismantle is the slave/master pairing. Unfortunately, as the Parousia gets delayed the church gets further and further removed from living into that radical call. 

This baptismal formula, though, calls the church to exhibit a glimpse of God’s new creation right now. Through the power of God’s Spirit at work to transform the lives of believers, that glorious baptismal call is possible. In Christ, the Galatians experience the work of the Spirit, molding them into new creation, into people who exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (5:22-23).

In this week’s passage, we see the limits of the law and the magnitude of God’s grace—a grace that extends to all. Two thousand years removed from the debate over Gentile inclusion, we can forget how radical this baptismal liturgy would be. It is a reminder that God is at work among all nations. Praise be to God.