If you have studied Galatians up to this point, it is helpful to interpret this passage by thinking of the following acronym: F.O.T.O. FOTO means to Focus On the Obvious. How do you observe the obvious in every Bible passage?
- Look for repeated words: Verses 6-10 use ‘sow’, ‘sows’ and ‘sowing’. ‘Good’ is written 4 times in verses 6-12. Circumcision vs. uncircumcision is discussed primarily in vs. 12-16.
- Observe singular vs. plural usage: Paul identifies himself to be part of the audience of ‘us’, not just as one trying to tell the Galatians what to do. Vs. 16 connects peace and mercy to all people, not exclusively to the Jews or Gentiles.
- Look for relationships between words or phrases: ‘Sowing’ is linked to life in the ‘Spirit’ versus life in the ‘sinful nature’. Vs. 15-Paul cancels out the meaning of circumcision vs. uncircumcision altogether, instead, he is concerned about a ‘new creation’. Paul contrasts ‘boasting’ in the flesh with ‘boasting’ in the Lord in vs. 13-14.
- Remember the context of the book of the Bible being studied: Paul is writing to refute the Judaizers who have strayed away from the true gospel message of God’s saving grace. The letter was written around 50AD, which can be linked back close to Acts 15.
Bible translation is not just for pastors, teachers, and good readers. It is a learned discipline that starts with baby steps. A great first baby step to Biblical observation is to FOTO!