Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
November 10, 2013
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:
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 Description of "Legal" Motives.
- A. Paul's root term for "motivation": thelousin (wishing).
- 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 (to make a fair show).
- 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 (flesh).
- 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 (not be persecuted).
- 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.
- II. Paul's Description of the Legal Activity.
- A. He uses the word anagkazousin, which he used in 2:3 to describe what did not happen to Titus and again in 2:14 to describe what Peter was attempting to do to the Gentile believers.
- 1. The word indicates the idea of putting extreme pressure upon a person in order to get them to do something that they, apparently, are not inclined to do (thus, the extreme pressure).
- 2. In the Galatian context, the "extreme pressure" is "doctrine": people are being told that God demands something of them.
- B. The "demanded" activity is summarized under the concept of "circumcision", a catch-all term in Paul's writings to refer to the large umbrella of "all that the Law demands".
- 1. "Circumcision" was a male-oriented term that did not refer to women, but the concept put women under the same legal necessity as the men: circumcision = commitment to keep the Law.
- 2. Paul's claim is that the legalists are attempting to set up a doctrinal construct that makes a relationship with God entirely "justice" based. This excludes grace and mercy.
- II. Paul's Support For His Accusation.
- A. The first line of "reason": those promoting circumcision do not keep the Law.
- 1. The accusation is, on the face of it, absolutely undeniable.
- 2. This "undeniability factor" is often dishonestly put into the fog with the argument that God does not see "sin" like Paul does. He, say the false brethren, makes a big distinction between "little" sins and "big" sins (venial and mortal), and His distinction only really settles upon whether a person is "trying to do good". If a person is trying to do good, God will sweep all failures to do good under the rug. Then, they add a distinction into the cross of Christ by claiming it was only to bring about a new birth, not a new way of living. Once the connection with Adam is broken, say they, we are able to live well and do good and God will impose a form of "purgation" to deal with all of our failures to do good.
- 3. Invariably, "legal systems" have a certain few things that God "really won't tolerate" and those few things are only judged on the external issues of actual, physical action. There will be no consideration of motive by God, they say.
- 4. The hidden mantra of the legalist is "God does not see".
- B. The second line of "reason": since "keeping the Law" is not the objective, it must be something else, and that "something else" is "obtaining glory through success in persuading others to become their disciples".
- 1. From beginning ("Paul, an apostle..." -- the insignificant one speaks for God) to end ("The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit -- 6:18), the letter to the Galatians is Paul's attack upon the "pride of life" syndrome that struck early (when the "striker" [Cain] slew Abel) and strikes often in every generation ("...so also it is now" [Galatians 4:29]).
- 2. Paul's "in order that" phrases (6:12: in order that they be not persecuted for the cross; and 6:13: in order that they may glory in your flesh) reveal all. They fear persecution and loss of "glory" from men; two most deadly fears if truth is at stake.