Bible Track
Search Bible commentaries for key words
Search for Bible Commentaries on scripture passages
This is a chronologically-ordered Bible site with commentary on each passage.
The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of SouthPointe Bible Fellowship in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the September 30 reading. Select here for a new reading date:

BibleTrack Summary: September 30
<< Gal 3

For New King James text and comment, click here.


Galatians 4-6    Listen Podcast  

We are heirs of God (Galatians 4:1-7)

1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Paul ended Galatians 3 (see notes) in verse 29 with, "And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." In chapter 4 he carries this analogy forward to show that we are heirs of God by the process of adoption made possible by the death of Christ. He had shown back in 3:16 that "Abraham's seed" in Genesis 15:5-6 (see notes) included those who would come to Christ by faith...including Gentiles. While our physical lineage may not be Jewish, our spiritual heritage goes back to Abraham as adoptees because of and through Christ. In other words, those under the law are servants to the law, but those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are regarded as sons. So, here it is: We go from servants to sons of God upon receiving Jesus Christ as our personal savior.

The analogy used by Paul in verses 1-2 has its roots in antiquity, but he is not specific to denote whether he is referencing Jewish, Greek or Roman culture. In rabbinical writings, we are told that Jewish boys embraced the law as men shortly after their twelfth birthday, although the Old Testament majority age was 20. In Greek culture, 18 was the age of manhood, while the time was apparently set by the father in Roman culture. No matter which cultural paradigm Paul is referencing, the picture is the same; in all three cultures, the son was treated as a servant until that point in time when he was treated as an heir.

The big news here is in verses 4-5 where we see the process whereby God redeemed us to make us heirs:

It's important to distinguish here between the usage of pronouns as Paul is writing. All the way back to Galatians 2:15 (see notes), we see Paul drawing a contrast between the Jewish experience prior to salvation as opposed to that of the Gentiles. While the Jewish people were regarded as the children of God, that was a national relationship; it had nothing to do with individual salvation. The under-the-law experience of verses 1-5 here identifies the Jewish experience...that is until the redemption from under the law in verse 5 and the subsequent new relationship to God, "the adoption of sons." The pronoun turns from "we" to "ye" in verse 6 where Paul makes the point that Gentiles are also now made part of God's family, the same way as Jews - by adoption. Thus we Gentiles, likewise, become "an heir of God through Christ."

Let's not overlook the miracle of verse 6. When one receives Christ as his savior, notice Paul says that God sends "the Spirit of his Son into your hearts." Make no mistake about it...this is a direct reference to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in every Believer's life. After salvation, God dwells in Believers. Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit, a point that Paul also emphasized in I Corinthians 3:16 (see notes). The Holy Spirit indwells EVERY Believer at salvation - a fact of scripture (cf. Romans 8:9, see notes; I Corinthians 12:13, see notes).

Don't listen to those Judaizers (Galatians 4:8-20)

8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

Paul takes a little time to address the big issue here - the nagging teaching of those Judaizers. Look! If you're saved by faith, you're kept by faith also. Don't let those rascal false teachers bring you under the Law of Moses. Notice the criticism of the practice of observing the Jewish Sabbath and high days (special sabbaths) in verse 10. These apparently were being imposed by the Judaizers on these primarily-Gentile Believers. Paul emphasizes a real danger in not understanding the finished work of Christ on the cross and continuing in the observances of these days as well as the adherence to other Jewish laws. He indicates the false motives of the Judaizers (aka legalizers) in verse 17. Their goal was to win the Galatians over at the exclusion of Paul. Recognizing that Paul's teaching of grace was incompatible with their teaching of submitting to the Law of Moses after salvation, they sought to turn the Galatians against Paul and the true message of grace. So, Paul's question in verse 9 is this: "You were saved from your impotent "weak and beggarly elements" (superstitions and religious practices unable to save), are you now going to subscribe to another set of such rules and regulations?"

So, has Paul wasted his time on these Galatians...having given them the Gospel of grace only to have it displaced by a law-grace hybrid teaching by the Judaizers? That's the big question of verse 11. In expressing his concern for them, Paul encourages them in verse 12, "Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are." We simply don't have enough in that verse to conclusively decide what exactly Paul means by that statement. From context, he seems to be implying that they need to be free from the Law of Moses just as he is.

Paul makes reference to an eye ailment he had in verses 13-15. This ailment is undoubtedly the same infirmity that he spoke of in II Corinthians 12 (see notes) when he asked the Lord to remove it from him and was probably the result of the stoning he received in Acts 14:19-23 (see notes).Though obvious even to the casual reader, some today deny that Paul's "infirmity of the flesh" was a physical ailment involving his eyesight. There's no question that God had declined to heal Paul of this eye ailment; he says so in II Corinthians 12:8. So, does God heal today? I'm convinced that he does. Every time? No, not every time - not today nor in Paul's day. It is scripturally advisable to pray with people regarding their illnesses. The wisdom of James 1:5 (see notes) should be sought regarding the illness. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." It is wrong to teach a doctrine that God wants to heal of every physical infirmity, but cannot if they can't muster up enough faith to claim that miracle of healing. Wisdom - wisdom - wisdom - wisdom, the wisdom of James 1:5 is the key to healing and any other adversity in one's life. Pray for wisdom!

We see the battle lines clearly drawn in verse 16-20 between these false Judaizing teachers and himself. Paul asks in verse 16, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" That verse seems to make clear that Paul had been negatively portrayed to these Galatians as an enemy by these Judaizers because of his grace-alone salvation message. There you have it; those who teach that favor before God can only be attained through a combination of grace and works are the enemies of those who believe the simplicity of the Gospel message alone. He expresses disappointment in these Galatians for being "affected" by those Judaizers - goes so far as to say in verse 20, "I stand in doubt of you." He is amazed that they could have been so confused by this false teaching after the clarity with which he had taught them previously.

A meaningful allegory (Galatians 4:21-31)

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

You will recall that Hagar was Sarah's (Abraham's wife) servant. When Abraham and Sarah doubted God, Sarah gave Abraham an heir through Hagar, and Ishmael was born. He was not heir to the promises of God that specifically were for Isaac, the biological son of Abraham and Sarah. So, Isaac was the son of promise according to Genesis 17:16-19 (see notes). Paul spins an allegory here which is a little difficult to follow, but here's the bottom line on it: Grace is to law as Isaac is to Ishmael. In other words, just as Isaac was Abraham's heir to the Abrahamic Covenant, so are those who are saved and kept by grace heirs of the promise of the atonement Jesus provided for us on the cross. Paul is emphasizing that they are separate and distinct, using an allegory between Isaac and Ishmael based upon Genesis 16 (see notes) to do so.

In his analogy, Paul goes prophetic to make an analogy within his analogy - that of the future glory of Jerusalem as it becomes the governmental seat over all the earth. He introduces that "allegory" in verses 25-27 and quotes Isaiah 54:1 (see notes) in verse 27 to strengthen his point.

The "allegory" being stated, here are Paul's conclusions:

There's Paul's conclusion in verse 31, "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." Paul's doctrine is that of teaching the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham by faith through Abraham's seed, Jesus Christ. The Judaizers are stuck in the Law of Moses and don't understand the concept of salvation by grace.

Are you free or not? (Galatians 5:1-15)

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.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." The "therefore" of verse 1 ties it to the "allegory" of 4:21-31. Grace is freedom; law is bondage. Don't get caught up in the law.

Let's get specific here. Verses 2-3 reflect the sentiment of those Judaizers who brought about the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 (see notes). The issue was framed there in Acts 15:1 where we find these Judaizers were teaching, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." Now, circumcision is an integral part of the Law of Moses - the very token of the Mosaic Covenant. There were leaders in the church in Jerusalem who believed that ceremonial circumcision for Gentiles after salvation was absolutely necessary. That event in Acts 15 happened about the same time that Paul is writing Galatians. Paul thought it to be an outrageous proposition to require Gentiles to be made subject to the Jewish law. As a matter of fact, the outcome of the Jerusalem Council released Gentile Believers from the provisions of the Law of Moses. The question of verse 2 is simple: Are you going to trust the Law of Moses or grace for salvation? "Circumcision" as a part of the process of getting saved, invalidates grace and makes one subject to the Law of Moses instead (verse 3).

If somehow you think that keeping the law justifies, you are wrong. It never justifies. That's the key to verse 4. Who is fallen from grace? Answer: Those who think they are justified by the law - an impossible task. Only grace through faith justifies. Verse 4 does not say "fallen from salvation." It says "fallen from grace." These are people who rejected grace in lieu of law keeping - people who never got saved in the first place because they fell away from the grace that could save them...choosing law instead. Some folks who believe you can lose your salvation pull this verse out of context to attempt to prove such. So, do we and the Galatians flaunt our release from the Old Testament law? Verse 13 says that victorious Believers are conscious of their testimony just as Paul said regarding this issue in I Corinthians 10:32-33 (see notes), "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."

Then we have two faith verses - 5 and 6, "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." The Greek noun for "hope" ("elpis") literally means "confident expectation." Paul is certain that our righteousness comes about by faith (verse 5) and not law ("circumcision", verse 6). A byproduct of salvation by grace is one of the attributes of the Holy Spirit's empowerment, "love" (verse 6). Paul will accentuate that point down in verse 22.

In verse 7, Paul asks of them, "How'd you get off track?" He points out in verse 8 that this false doctrine some have embraced is not after God ("him that calleth you"). And then...a simple statement about leaven (aka yeast) in verse 9; it grows...and grows - just like when a little bit of false doctrine is injected in among members of a congregation. In verse 10 he suggests that they identify the false teachers among themselves and submit them for judgment. Now, hold on to your hat! Paul has an extreme word (with a hint of sarcasm) for those who refused to heed the Council's decree (Acts 15, see notes) and continue to teach the necessity of Gentile ritual circumcision when he says in Galatians 5:12, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." The Greek verb there for "cut off" is "apokopto." Literally, Paul is saying that those Judaizers teaching this false doctrine deserve castration; why stop with the foreskin? If some is good, more is better...right? Ouch!

Then, in verse 13, Paul turns the discussion to the issue of the correct, non-abusive use of liberty (aka freedom from the Law of Moses). Paul combats the notion that when one is not subject to the Law of Moses he has a tendency to act lawlessly - run wild, so to speak. Then he sums up the Law of Moses with regard to human interaction when he declares in verse 14, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." He undoubtedly had in mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 (see notes) when the law was boiled down into two action items: (1) Love for God and (2) Love for one another. The warning of verse 15 causes us to think that there was some significant friction there as a result of this false doctrine being taught - even mean spirited.

Here's the key to Christian living (Galatians 5:16-26)

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

If you've heard me preach, you know I just wear these verses out. I do so because herein lies the key to victorious Christian living. Verses 16-18 describe a battle that takes place within Believers between the old nature and the Holy Spirit. There is a misunderstanding among some Christians that once we are saved, we no longer are plagued by a sin nature. Of course that is not true, and Paul adequately defines the struggle that takes place within each Believer in these three verses between the Holy Spirit and the old, carnal nature of man. Each of these influences exist to some degree within every Believer. Which is stronger? Is it the carnal nature ("flesh") or is it the Holy Spirit? These verses kick off a full discussion of Holy Spirit leadership in the Believer, and how a Believer can be certain to be controlled by the Spirit. He concludes in verse 18, "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."

We are told here that following the Spirit delivers us from the power of the sinful nature. What are the products of the carnal nature ("flesh")? Here they are listed in verses 19-21.

Verse 21 here has confused some folks. Here's the bottom line on this verse. When Believers rebel against God by responding to the sinful nature rather than the Holy Spirit, God's chastening intervenes (Hebrews 12:6-8, see notes; I Corinthians 11:28-32, see notes). This is the safeguard that insures that Believers don't practice these rebellious activities of verses 19-21. And, by the way, we are talking about those who practice sin without physical consequence from God in this passage when Paul says of them, "...they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The Greek verb for "do" there is "prasso" and is a present active participle in the text. Used in that way, it refers to a continual practice. Coupled with the clear doctrine of chastisement of Believers for sin, that means that only lost people are able to practice as a lifestyle these actions of verses 19-21 without the intervening hand of God. This chastisement for sin is not to be mistaken with trial from God. For more information regarding the differentiation, click here to read the article entitled "Trial versus Chastisement."

Then there's the good list found in verses 22-23, "the fruit of the Spirit." These nine attributes are the indicators that a person is being led by the Holy Spirit. It doesn't say "fruits," but rather "fruit." In other words, when describing a Holy Spirit-led Christian, one should be able to use all nine of these attributes to do so. Just as an apple has certain distinctive characteristics, so does a Believer - and here are those characteristics:

Let me say again: When a Believer is controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, here's what he looks like in verses 22-23. Paul concludes in verses 24-25 by emphasizing that if a Believer wants to be pleasing to God and experience victory, Spirit-led living is the key. In other words, Holy Spirit leadership in a Believer keeps under subjection the lusts of one's flesh. Verse 25 emphasizes that when we are led by the Holy Spirit, a "walk" (i.e. lifestyle) will reflect it by demonstrating the attributes found in verses 22-23. How does a person become Spirit led? It's easy, really.

I call it practicing good spiritual hygiene, comprised of four practices in which all Believers should be involved.

  1. spend daily consistent time in God's Word
  2. spend daily time in prayer
  3. consistently fellowship with Believers
  4. share one's faith by becoming involved in some aspect of ministry.

These activities feed the spiritual man and make us strong Believers living in victory. Try it; you'll like it! Then there's one final allusion to the friction there in Galatia in verse 26 where he mentions "vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" - the opposite attributes from those found in verses 22-23.

When we get down to Galatians 6:6-10 (see below), Paul is going to present the concept of "sowing to the Spirit." This practice of good spiritual hygiene is the equivalent to "sowing to the Spirit." If you want to be led by the Holy Spirit, you'll need to sow to the Spirit i.e. practice good spiritual hygiene.

Bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:1-5)

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

These are good verses demonstrating the responsibility that Believers have to one another. When one stumbles within the Body of Christ, others should help identify the problem and then assist in the restoration process. Most folks today think that it is best just to mind one's own business; they're wrong about that! Colossians 3:16 (see notes) says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Hebrews 10:25 (see notes) says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." You see! We do have a scriptural responsibility to help one another along in victorious Christian living...and that isn't always compatible with the world's recommendation of minding your own business. These five verses are mandates to Believers to assist fellow struggling Believers when they have spiritual difficulties just as you would for a family member in crisis.

Let's closely analyze these five verses (6:1-5):

Some get a little confused between two statements here. Verse 2 says,"Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." But then verse 5 says, "For every man shall bear his own burden." Actually, a transition has taken place in those verses from discussing the burden of sin ("fault") in verses 1-2 to discussing the ministry of Believers, or shall we call it the "burden of service" of Believers in verses 3-5. Each Believer needs to find his place of service within the Body of Christ; that's the burden he/she must bear alone.

Some verses on giving (Galatians 6:6-10)

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Where do you invest your resources? Here are Paul's instructions to these Galatian Believers. Paul encourages them to provide for the needs of those who provide them with scriptural training when he says in verse 6, "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Here's what he's saying: If you are being fed by a ministry, support it with your financial resources.

Paul continues his discussion on giving by addressing giving for the needs of other Believers. Paul is telling the people that they should be generous with others instead of judging them. How many times have you heard someone say, "You reap what you sow!" They didn't make that up; that's Bible...right out of verse 7 here. In verse 8, Paul distinguishes between sowing to "corruption" or to "life everlasting." The reference here is that selfish deeds have rewards that do not last into eternity like those unselfishly sown with eternity in mind. Paul uses that same word (corruption - Greek "phthora") to describe our corruptible bodies in I Corinthians 15:42, 50 (see notes). He's referring to the "Judgment Seat of Christ" scenario of I Corinthians 3:10-15 (see notes). Not only so, but "sowing/reaping" analogy is used here as well in verse 9 where it is suggested that as we keep ministering, others will minister to us. Likewise, Paul says in verse 10, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

It's important for us not to miss the sowing/reaping analogy of these verses. The "soweth to the Spirit" of verse 8 is specifically addressing ingesting the Word of God. Some might misunderstand that giving money to teachers of the Word of God is the sowing. Nope! We are encouraged to support them so that they can be instrumental in sowing the Word of God to our spiritual man. We need the Word of God to grow spiritually. That's one component of good spiritual hygiene (see above).

Final warnings and benediction (Galatians 6:11-18)

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

In verse 11, it is not clear whether Paul is talking about the length of his letter written without the assistance of a transcriber, or the size of the letters he actually wrote - a reference to his eye problem. Scholars disagree; I'm good with either. What about these Judaizers? Why do they do it? Paul says in verses 12-13 that they do it because they are conformists. They don't want to rock the ecclesiastical boat (so to speak). He goes further in verse 13 to point out that they don't practice what they preach; they don't adhere to the whole Law of Moses. They're just looking for atta-boy points for getting you to comply with their false doctrine (verse 13, "that they may glory in your flesh"). In verse 14 Paul says, "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." In other words, his whole life is wrapped up in ministry; that's all that motivates him; he has put away worldly ambitions and desires.

Verse 15 is clear: Whether one is ritually-circumcised or not is NOT an issue for these Believers. In verse 16 he says in essence, "Heed this word and live in peace." Paul validates his ministry and teaching in verse 17 when he says, "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Finally...verse 18, not just a "bye, bye," but a parting expression that "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." That closing statement flies in the face of the teaching of the Judaizers, about whose false teaching Paul wrote this very letter.

In parting, Paul once again warns against those Judaizers who are teaching one has to be circumcised to be accepted with God. He points out that even they don't keep the entire law. Incidentally, Paul frequently refers to observant Jews as "the circumcision" in his writings. Just don't let them snooker you into doing that which is meaningless.

For commentary on another passage, click here.

Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner