In Galatians 4:12, Paul issues a brief plea to his Galatian converts. He says, “Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong.” Paul had become like the Galatian gentiles in 20 undue hardshiporder to win them to Christ. He set aside his Jewish religious prejudices against the disgusting gentile practices and actually became like them. He didn’t present himself as better than them, as was the custom of the Jews. That’s still true today. On one of our flights from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv, Kathy sat next to a Hasidic Jew who refused to shake her hand, and made sure there was never any opportunity for their shoulders to touch. Gentiles made Jews unclean! But Paul, cared more about the salvation of the Gentiles than he did about personal defilement – Just like Jesus did in His encounter with the woman of Samaria, with lepers, with various diseases and with dead bodies.

Instead the Galatians were adopting the Jewish customs of superiority with their own kind, and were actually treating Paul and his Gospel as something inferior to the Jewish Law. They actually were cutting themselves off from Paul by rebuilding the same barriers that he had worked so hard to destroy. Paul’s exhortation to become as he is most likely refers to their accepting others as equals, clean, and deserving of love, just as he had. As a former Jew, he had accepted them as clean and as equals in God’s eyes and worthy of His love. He wanted them to keep the love and acceptance of Christ in the forefront.

He goes on to say that the Galatians are not doing him any wrong or harm. This is a difficult phrase and it has been the subject of much debate. There are two possible interpretations. First, it could be Paul’s way of saying that they were only hurting themselves. To turn from the Gospel of Grace to a Gospel of the works of the Law, wouldn’t change his life, but it would certainly ruin theirs. Second, it could be a reference to what the writer of the book of Hebrews has said about “crucifying Christ again.” Turning back to the law actually reduces the value of the death of Christ on the cross to an equal status of the sacrifices offered under the Jewish Laws. It makes Christ just another religion. It’s just another way up the mountain to God. It reduces the Grace of God to another simple performance based religion. Paul wasn’t being injured by them. They weren’t deserting Paul, they were deserting God; “I am astounded that so quickly you are deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).