Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
November 3, 2013
11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 See with how large letters I write unto you with mine own hand.
12 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14 But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
16 And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 Henceforth, let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
- I. Paul's "Large Letters".
- A. "Large letters" generally signal poor eyesight. The AV's "how large a letter" is clearly a mistranslation of the plural "letters"; the Textus Receptus is accurate, the translation is not.
- 1. This oblique mention of poor eyesight is a significant reference back to 4:15 where there is a poignant appeal to the Galatians to return to their former commitment, in compassion, to Paul's identity as their messenger from God.
- 2. The fact that their attitude has shifted as radically as it has needs to be addressed by them. Godly doctrine does not make others lesser objects of compassionate love; it makes them more so. Legalism hardens the heart against others as a matter of course.
- B. This is an apparent attempt on Paul's part to make his readers aware that this letter actually came from him (2 Thessalonians 2:2 and 3:17).
- 1. The purveyors of deceit will stoop to anything to press their agenda -- even letters that are supposed to have come from a recognized, and highly valued, source of doctrine.
- 2. Paul made it a practice to warn his converts of these tactics and set up a "sign" from him to them in his epistles so that they would know the epistle came from him.
- C. The reason for such an effort is clearly the issue of chapters 1-2 where he lays out the answer to the question: why should we believe that you are a spokesman for God?
- D. Paul is clearly attempting to cover all of the bases: how do we know this letter came from Paul?
- II. Paul's Description of "Legal" Motives.
- A. Paul's root term for "motivation": thelousin.
- 1. This word is all about what a person "wishes" would happen within certain parameters.
- 2. The problem with "wishing" is that people often "wish for" multiple things simultaneously and sometimes those "wishes" are mutually exclusive; thus the old saying, "you can't have your cake and eat it too".
- 3. Paul's use of the term at this place in his letter indicates that the "goal" of those who insist upon "circumcision" is "iffy" at best, a "wish" that is out of the control of the one who "wishes".
- B. Paul's critical term: euprosopesai.
- 1. Paul is the sole author of the New Testament to use this term and he only found use for it in this text.
- 2. The word's etymology indicates "putting on a good face" and is a metaphor for the attempt to impress others by means of false details.
- 3. Paul, having been a life-long (prior to his conversion) perpetrator of the false doctrine he now opposes, is formidably aware of the heart that drives the false doctrine: a desire to impress men at the expense of "truth" simply to obtain their "wow" factor...the "glory" which men have to offer those who "wow" them.
- C. Paul's critical realm: sarki.
- 1. In Paul's theology, this is the realm of everything that is wrong between men and God.
- 2. The issue involved is the false appearance that is created by a corrupt spirit attempting to use the physical body as its instrument to obtain praise.
- D. Paul's main accusation: me diokontai.
- 1. It appears from this accusation that Paul has the "false brethren" in mind, not "the Jews".
- a. The false brethren give lip service to the cross.
- b. But, because that will lead to persecution, they eviscerate the doctrine of the cross by insisting upon circumcision.
- 2. Thus, even the desire to make a good appearance has a baser root: the desire to keep oneself from being persecuted.
- a. The bottom line: this universe is all about me, my comfort, my pleasure, me, me, me. I'm not going to agree to anything that will make it necessary for me to "suffer" if I can possibly help it.
- b. Go along to get along no matter how much "truth" gets trampled in the dust.
- 3. That "persecution" is automatic to the equation was established by Ishmael's treatment of Isaac and Paul insisted that it would be like that for as long as Messiah remains absent from the scene.
- a. Fallen men simply cannot help being violently antagonistic to those who refute their dogma and lifestyle.
- b. Until the Christ makes all things "right", the cross will be the dividing line among men.