May 21, 2020 – Thursday
Galatians 5:11 NIV
11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
This chapter is about the great disagreement between the Jews preaching circumcision being required for salvation and those (Paul and others) who preached circumcision was not required. The only thing required is to accept the wonderful grace offered through Jesus which also frees one from the law. Paul said it best in the first five verses of this chapter in the KJV: 1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. It is the imputed righteousness imputed by one’s faith in Jesus that saves, not circumcision. Paul becomes even more eloquent when he writes in the next verse (returning to the NIV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Paul goes on to complement the Galatians on how well they were doing until those preaching circumcision came in and deceived them. 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. He goes further with his concern that the deception being preached on circumcision would act like yeast and infect their faith throughout taking them away from their faith in Christ. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.
Then we come to our verse of the day where Paul seems to be talking about preaching circumcision himself. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. So it would be natural to ask what gives with this? Perhaps Paul believed he could be charged with inconsistency as during his first visit to Galatia on his second missionary trip with Timothy, he had Timothy circumcised.
However, if the Galatians were to say he had preached circumcision himself he has an answer ready for them and it is in our verse for today where Ellicott’s Commentary tells us His answer is, that if he really preached circumcision he would not be so persecuted by the Judaising party. And he has also a further answer, which is conveyed in an ironical form: “If I do preach circumcision, and if I have ceased to lay stress on that one great stumbling-block, the cross of Christ, I may assume that there are no more hindrances in the way of my teaching.” Circumcision is taken as occupying, in the Judaising system, the same place that the cross of Christ occupied in that of St. Paul. The two things are alternatives. If one is taught there is no need for the other.
Paul’s deep conviction of the very real opposition between ceremonial Judaism and Christianity grew over time and can be seen in the events in Acts until it reached such a point he would write concerning those pushing circumcision and Judaism 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! Strong words, especially for our ears but referring to Ellicott’s commentary once again we find that the Galatians were themselves familiar with this particular form of self-mutilation; and familiar with it, no doubt, in discourse as well as in act. Christianity, while it has had the effect of putting a stop to such horrible practices, has also banished them even from thought and word.
Clearly Paul had moved away from any idea that one needed anything other than Jesus for Salvation or to repeat the equation from a few days ago: Jesus + nothing = Everything. Indeed.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton