Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 6:11 - 6:15

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 6:11 - 6:15


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Concluding Remarks.

Paul's love in contrast to the behavior of the false teachers:

v. 11. Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

v. 12. As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ.

v. 13. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Law, but desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.

v. 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.

v. 15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

The apostle here calls attention to a special evidence of his love for the Galatian Christians: See with what large letters I write to you with my own hand! As a rule, Paul dictated his letters, affixing only the conclusion or his personal greeting with his own hand, as a proof of the epistle's authenticity, 1Co_16:21; Col_4:18; 2Th_3:17. In this case, however, the apostle seems to have written the entire letter personally, and with large characters, which seems to have been a mark of unusual favor and respect.

But even as the love of Paul appeared in his every move, so the intrigues of his opponents stood out prominently, if one but drew the right conclusions from their actions: As many as wish to please in matters of the flesh, these constrain you to be circumcised, only that they should not suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ. The Judaizing agitators were not sincere; they wanted to make a show before men to gratify their own carnal vanity; they were trying to gain followers in order to boast of their popularity. In this sense only did they insist upon circumcision, not because they actually believed the rite to be necessary for salvation. At the same time (and here another carnal reason appears) they followed this course in order not to be persecuted by, or on account of, the Cross of Christ; they did not want to embrace the cause of the Cross of Christ because a plain Gospel-confession brought persecution. So they escaped persecution on the part of the Jews, and in most cases also on the part of the Gentiles, by this questionable method. But Paul lays bare their hypocrisy: For not even they themselves, although circumcised, keep the Law, but they desire that you be circumcised in order to boast in your flesh. The Jewish teachers, with all their bragging of being circumcised, were not concerned for the Law on its own account. They were like the scribes and Pharisees to whom the Lord addressed Himself, Mat_23:25-28. It was not their interest in the Law or in the spiritual welfare of the Galatians that prompted the Judaizing teachers to preach the necessity of circumcision, but merely their desire to boast of converts, of more persons gained for their own views and obedient to their wishes.

The position of Paul had nothing in common with such selfishness: But let it be far from me to glory but in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world. That is the significance which the Cross has for him, that is the effect which it has had upon him and upon his entire way of thinking. He boasts of the triumph of the Cross of Christ, which overcame his own flesh, which effectually overcame the power of the world over him and his former carnal love for the world and its lures, whether of honor, pleasure, or wealth. He knows that justification and salvation have come to him through Christ Crucified, that atonement has been made for him by his Lord's Passion and death. That is his one exultant boast. He has, therefore, forever severed fellowship with Jewish rites and Gentile vanities, which are an empty, hollow mockery to him. He knows, moreover: Neither circumcision has any value nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. See chap. 5:6. He that is a Jew by birth and religion for that reason cannot claim acceptance on the part of God, just as he that is a Gentile cannot for that reason hope to be more acceptable to the Lord. These conditions are mere accidents of outward circumstance, and have nothing to do with justification before God. The new creation, the regeneration of the heart through the power of God in the means of grace, that alone places a person into the right relation with God. That is the glorious comfort of all believers.