6:13-18–Contrast Between Paul’s Words and the Judaizer’s Words



There is a huge difference between Law and Grace.  To put it simply, the Law was the minister of death, but grace is the minister of life (II Cor. 3:7)

(vv,  13-14)

“For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Law; but desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.”


“For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Law;”
 Literally:  “But they themselves having been circumcised do not even keep {the} Law”

         Although these Judaizers were themselves inconsistent in their own claims regarding keeping the Law, they obviously were not aware that they were inconsistent.  They claimed that the keeping of the Law was necessary for salvation, but they themselves did not keep it.  Their in-consistence was that they charged these Galatian converts were not saved because they did no obey the Law, yet they were not obeying it themselves. 
         These Judaizers probably had claimed that their motive was not to escape persecution that they were simply upholding the Law.  They obviously had convinced themselves that this was their motive, but Paul points out that these who were circumcised were keeping the Law, as they claimed to be.  To put it simply, Paul charges them with outright dishonesty.    Not only did the distance from the temple in Jerusalem prevent them from offering the sacrifices required by the Law, they had no person zeal for a rigorous observance of the Law for themselves. 


         “but desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.”
         Literally:  “but they desire you to be circumcised so they may boast in your flesh”

         Their interest in making Gentile Christians submit to the Jewish rite of circumcision was superficial and motived by simple selfishness–just so they could glory in their accomplishments.  Though they themselves were circumcised, they did not keep the other requirements of the Mosaic Law, but were trying to compel the Galatians to be circumcised in order to have something to boast about to their non-Christian Jewish acquaintances. 
         Their compelling the Galatian believers to be circumcised and profess Judaism was not from a desire to be conformed to the will of God; but because Judaism was popular and there was a large Jewish population there, and also that the more converts these false teachers could make the more occasion of self-glorying they had.  Besides, they wished to get those Christian converts, who had been before “proselytes of the gate,” to receive circumcision, that they might glory in their flesh.  Look at my converts!  Like some Indian brave showing off his scalps so the young maidens could see how great a warrior he was.  Thus they gloried, or boasted, not that the people were converted to God, but that they were circumcised, that they may boast of you as their proselytes, and make a merit of this with the other Jews.
         There may have been an even more sinister reason behind the actions of these Judaizers.  If they could get the Galatians to submit to the rite of circumcision they would be able to rule over the churches.  They would boast over their ability to make Jewish proselytes out of Gentiles and even to change the result of Paul’s ministry.  Each new convert would become one more argument to convince them and others of the truthfulness of their position.  Each convert would be one more evidence of the religious zeal and dedication to the Law.
         These Judaizers really fall under the same condemnation that Jesus made of the scribes and Pharisees when He said, “…for ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men:  for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in…for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:13, 15).

“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.”

         “But God forbid”
         Literally:  “But may it not be”

         This is really a rendering of two Greek words (mê genoito) which literally means, “may it not be.”  The sense is, “Let not this by any means be supposed.”  This is a common expression of Paul’s to display strong rejection’ After exposing the Judaizers for the phonies they really are, Paul now proceeds to contrast himself with them.  
         Paul prayed that there would never be a time when he transferred his trust from Christ.  These words, “may it never come to pass” is Paul’s heartfelt prayer for this.  He was resolved that no one or nothing would ever sway him away from total dependence on the sufficiency of Christ’s glorious provision.


         “that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
         Literally:  “for me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”

         The Judaizers gloried in what their converts could do for them, but Paul glorified in what Christ had already done for him.  They glorified in self, but he glorified in Christ.  They glorified in flesh, but he glorified in the Cross.  The cross is the great dividing point of history.  It was an offense to both the Jew and the Gentile for it was a place of shame.  It displayed for all the break between the holy Christ and the unholy world system. 
        There was no more of a conclusive way for Paul to express the centrality of the cross in his way of thinking than his exalting it as the sole object of his boasting.  He did understand how the cross was a stumbling-block for the Jews, but he could never understand how Christians could fail to see it as their greatest glory.  The major part of the weakness of much of the witness of the modern church because of its failure to boast in the cross, regardless of whether its opponents treat this message with contempt or hostility.
       Some glory in their conformity to the laws of Moses; others in their zeal, or their talents, or their learning, or their orthodoxy; others in their wealth, or their accomplishments; etc.; but the supreme boast and glorying of a Christian is in the cross of Christ.  

         “by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
         Literally:  “through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

By declaring that he gloried in the cross, Paul was not referring to the wooden pole upon which Jesus was crucified.  What Paul was really glorying in is what took place on that cross. Paul’s glorying was the fact that the cross was the instrument, “through which the world stands crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  The cross represents the redeeming work of Christ, while the world involves the world system with all its allurements, the flesh with its carnal desires and even the world religious systems with their teaching of salvation by human effort.  By what took place on that cross all these things stand as having been rendered inoperative.  I am dead to all worldly pursuits, cares, desires, and enjoyments.  Compare Phil.3:3,7, 8, as a specimen of Paul’s glorying. The “cross,” the great object of shame to them, and to all carnal men, is the great object of glorying to me.

(vv. 15-16)

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

In this verse Paul gives us his reason for glorifying in the Cross of Christ–it is because of his new standing before God.  Every believer has his own standing “in Christ Jesus.”  .

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,”
Literally: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision {has} any strength nor uncircumcision”

These things carry no weight with God whatsoever.  All our “religious” actions and externals, such as circumcision, do not count to God. What does count to God is that the person is “a new creature,” or creation.  The human distinctions disappear  in Christ (3:28).  Of his own, a person has only condemnation from God; but in Christ he has found acceptance from God. 

         “but a new creature.”
         Literally:  “but a new creation”

         Paul sums it up:  “Therefore is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;  old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).  When one becomes a true believer, his position, or standing, has completely changed;  he has been changed from sinner to saint (hagionholy one).  This is what matters to God.  According to the terms of the gospel covenant, or Christian dispensation, nothing will avail to our acceptance with God, but the real renovation of our hearts and lives.

         In his epistles Paul emphasizes the variety of gifts that belong to the child of God because of his spiritual identification with the Savior.  In Christ he has been blessed (Eph. 1:3); chosen (Eph. 1:4); accepted (Eph. 1:6); redeemed and forgiven (Eph. 1:7); granted an inheritance (Eph. 1:11); sealed (Eph. 13); washed, sanctified, and justified (I Cor. 6:11), just to name a few

“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace {be} on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God”

         “And as many as walk according to this rule”
         Literally:  “and as many shall walk by this rule”

    WALK:  (stoicheô)–literally means “to direct one’s life; to order one’s conduct.”  This word was used in 5:25 for those who are “walking in the Spirit.”

    RULE:  (kanôn)–Here means “principle;” and the principle spoken of is the Cross and all that goes with it in the N.T. economy.  This includes the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Those who rule or order their lives by the control of the Holy Spirit constitute the true Israel of God, not the Jews who have the name of Israel but are only children of Abraham after the flesh. 

         “ peace {be} on them, and mercy,”
         Literally:  “peace and mercy {be} on them

Paul is quoting (at least somewhat) Psa. 125:5 which says, “peace shall be upon Israel.”  However, he has modified the Psalmist’s thought, which contrasts the crooked ways of the wicked with Israel as being typical of those who trust in the LORD.   In his modification of the psalm, Paul contrasts those who trust in circumstances with those who rely upon Christ.  By his addition of “mercy” (eleos), after “peace” (eirênê), he may be wanting to show that, in the Christian sense, “peace” is different than that referred to by the Psalmist.  This “peace” is that peace that comes to those who have thrown themselves upon the mercy of God.

         “and upon the Israel of God”
         Literally:  “and on the Israel of God.”

The peace and mercy of God were not enjoyed by the Jews who walked according to the elements of Mosaic legalism, or by the Gentiles who walked according to the elements of pagan idolatry.  In the Christian experience men can receive this peace and mercy only by walking in freedom under the control of the Holy Spirit. 

(vv. 17-18)

“From henceforth let no man trouble me:  for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

It appears that Paul had made his last strong appeal and now realizes that nothing further can be done, so he leaves the matter with his readers.

         “From henceforth let no man trouble me:”
         Literally:  “For the rest, let no one cause troubles to me”

Paul now hopes that no one will cause him any further trouble.  In our vernacular we might state it as:  “I have had my say, so don’t you Judaizers bother me any more about my right to speak.”  Or we might word it, “You just think about all the trouble you have caused me and shame on you if you cause me any more trouble.” 

         “for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
         Literally:  “For I bear in my body the brands of the Lord Jesus.”

Some Bible scholars believe that Paul may be making an allusion to the practice of branding slaves as a sign of ownership, but this is not the best interpretation.  He has already made reference to the fact that the Judaizers were really afraid of persecution, so he may be throwing it up to them that he has already faced persecution for his ministry and he has the scars on his body to prove it.  Most likely some of these Galatians had seen these scars.  They were public evidence that Paul owed his complete allegiance to Christ, and in view of these scars, the Galatians should avoid any more harassment of him. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned”  (II Cor. 11:24-25).    He was simply saying to these Judaizers and Galatian believers, “I have the scars to prove my loyalty to Christ.  Where are your scars to prove your loyalty?  Until you have the scars to prove your own loyalty, I don’t want to hear any more argument from you.”

“Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ {be} with your spirit.  Amen.”

Paul had begun this epistle with a blessing of grace and peace (1:3) and now he closes it with a similar blessing.  He closes with his friendly address, “brethren” (brothers–adelphoi).  His use of this word is a touch of his love for them and shows that he has not cast them off, no matter what great sin they may have committed.  The “Amen” at the end is evidence of Paul’s sincerity and earnestness.   He uses this “Amen” in only one other of his epistles–to the Romans.  Here it may really be as a prayer, “so let it be.”

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