“From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Galatians 6:17-18 NET).
Paul the Apostle opened his letter to the churches of Galatia with this message: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:3). Here now in the final verse of this epistle, Paul closes this great Biblical letter in the same manner in which he began: “Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (NLT).
Remember that “grace” refers to God’s unmerited favor towards undeserving human beings- and its appearance within the opening and closing portions of this letter is highly significant. You see, we have watched as Paul has challenged the Galatians throughout this letter with statements such as these…
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7 NIV).
“You stupid people of Galatia! Who put you under an evil spell? Wasn’t Christ Jesus’ crucifixion clearly described to you?” (Galatians 3:1 GW).
“…have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16 NET).
But now, Paul ends this epistle by expressing his affirmation for the Galatians as his brothers and sisters in Christ and his desire to see the Lord’s continued display of grace within their lives. This tiered approach provides us with a good example to follow whenever we are called upon to share difficult truths with others.
So now that we have reached the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the final word belongs to a commentator who places these closing verses in their historical context…
“Paul gave no commendation at the beginning of Galatians, and the tone of the whole letter is one of hurt surprise, sorrow and indignation; but in this final word ‘brethren,’ one finds the loving heart of Paul yearning for his beloved converts in Galatia. It is a final word of love and hope for all of them. He had not given them up; they were still brethren.
History gives no clue to the manner of their receiving this letter, nor to the continued success or failure of the Galatians; but as McGarvey said: We have no word of history which reveals to us the immediate effect of Paul’s epistle; but the fact that it was preserved argues well that it was favorably received. Due to its vigor and power, it could not have been otherwise than effective.” (1)
(1) Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Galatians 6:18”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/galatians-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.