Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. 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. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 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. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [Gal 6:11-15]
We now are going back to a theme started in chapter 4, verses 11-20. The care that Paul has for his children that he fathered by the gospel is again evident. He is showing this letter that he is writing itself as a further proof. Whether, as said by some commentators, that it is large letters due to his eye condition, or the size of the letter itself that is the proof is of little consequence. Paul wrote this because the need was so great. This falling back to the weak and beggarly elements of religion (Gal 4:9) was no small thing so Paul wrote no small letter.
Paul’s care for the Galatians is an example for us of the Lord’s care for us. He truly went through great pains to purchase us for Himself. While no sacrifice on anyone’s part can even be measured on the same scale as that of the Son of God, we can go to great lengths for those that we truly love. That is what Paul did with this Galatian letter, and we surely can go out of our way for those we know are in need as well.
It seems too that this is again showing the care that Paul has for his children contrasted with the care that the Judaizers had for themselves. It seems from this passage that these were believers who were in compromise, and would show to the unbelieving Jews that they too were true Jews, and that they were converting gentiles to become Jews. They were bringing them into the fold of Judaism, and they had the marks in their flesh to prove it. But it is not our marks in the flesh that save us. Isaiah said long ago that by His stripes we are healed (Isa 53:5). So Paul makes it plain that he will not glory in flesh. Whatever glory any may think that is due them it all goes away when we look at the cross.
To be sure, these who gloried in the flesh needed a religious rite to glory in, because they would make their boast of the law, but could not keep it. Here is Stephen’s scathing rebuke of the nation of Israel as a whole:
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it]. [Act 7:51-53]
Notice that regardless of their circumcision in the flesh, they are not circumcised in the heart (their innermost being), or in their ears (what or who they choose to hear). They certainly did not hear the prophets, or the Lord Himself. In fact, here is where they have been given the final verdict of GUILTY.
Paul, one of those who at the time of Stephen’s rebuke was in fact one of those uncircumcised in heart and ears, later had this to say regarding circumcision:
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God. [Rom 2:28-29]
However, of these who wanted to rest in the flesh, and substitute religious rites for actual law keeping, Paul gives this reminder earlier in Galatians:
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [Gal 5:3]
But thanks be to God that in place of religious ceremonies and law-keeping, we are complete in Christ:
For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power:
In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [Him] through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; [Col 2:9-13]
So as complete in Christ, we come back to Him. And to the cross. How could an instrument of torturous death become such a glory? It is because of the One who died on it, bearing all of our sins, all of our curse, the full curse of sin and its just penalty for us. For me.
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.
Everything that the world offers is nothing when compared to the cross. There is no glory anywhere, save the cross. God forbid that any of us should glory in anything else. At the cross stands the end of all human argument of worthiness to a holy God. At the cross the playing field is leveled. All are guilty, all are unworthy. The cross is truly THE crisis of human history.
Who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy Holy Child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. [Act 4:25-28]
Jews and gentiles, acting as one stood in opposition to God’s Christ, and now all stand together as only guilty. Guilty of sin and coming short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), and all as enemies of God by wicked works (Col 1:21). Now the only remedy: the cross! The very place of this awful crime against God’s Chosen is the very place that becomes our salvation. How can we glory in anything else?!
The cross of Christ alone is where the new creation begins. How could circumcision or uncircumcision mean anything, when at the cross our glorious Lord took on our shame and guilt and paid it all?
Praise God for the wonderful Savior who died for our sins on that awful cross. Amen, Hallelujah!
Previous Study: Galatians 6:6-10
Next Study: Galatians 6:16-18