Christians and Jews Alike…
As he begins to close the letter to the Galatians, St. Paul offers peace to both Chrisitans and Jews alike:
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. –Galatians 6:16, NAB
In this verse, St. Paul recognizes those “who follow this rule” (had become a new creation), and the people of Israel. Together, the Christians and Jews represented both the New and Old Covenants between God and His people.
The role each of these groups played in salvation history is important for us to remember. The New Covenant fulfills the promises of the Old, and the Old Covenant tells us the story and backdrop that led to the New. Together, they create the entire picture of man’s story with his Creator.
As we learn to study Scripture and the Word of God, it is important for us to understand the entire story. Each day, we study various books of the Bible in these daily reflections, but understanding them often requires seeing the bigger picture of how they fit within the entire context of the Bible’s narrative.
For instance, most of Galatians deals with circumcision – a common Jewish practice that had been instituted in the Old Covenant. Understanding St. Paul’s teaching, then, can be enhanced by understanding the history behind it.
Studying Scripture is not about memorizing single Bible verses. While it’s a great practice to remember those Scriptures that inspire us, understanding the entire Sacred Scripture as a whole provides even greater value. When we know the story of the Christians and Jews alike, the Old Covenant and the New, we can better see the beauty of God’s grace and mercy unfolding before our very eyes.