“From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17 NKJV)
The Greek word for “marks” in Galatians 6:17 is “stigma”. It describes a mark upon the body created with pricks in the skin or with a brand pressed into the flesh.
A stigma, in the first century meaning of the word, represented ownership. It was applied to soldiers and to slaves who would not be able to deny their identity. Some pagan worshipers would also apply it to themselves in order to display their allegiance.
But when it comes to Paul, the stigma upon his body was neither a tattoo nor a flesh-burning brand – his stigma was the marks created by his faith in Jesus (and he wasn’t talking about a mystical experience either!).
In contrast to the Judaizers of Galatians 6:12 who sought to compromise the gospel of Christ in order to avoid persecution, the marks upon Paul’s body was proof his faith believed that faith in Jesus could save one’s soul, and he would not change his story. He had the stripes to prove it! He had been beaten five times by the Jews with 40 stripes minus one, beaten three times by civil authorities with the rod, and was stoned one time with the purpose of killing him (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).
When an individual viewed the physical body of Paul there was no doubt as to who he belonged to … it just wasn’t spelled out with letters.
“So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15 NKJV)