Galatians 5:11
And I, brothers, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(11)And I, brethren.—Rather, But I, brethren. Another abrupt transition. We should naturally infer from this passage that St. Paul had at one time seemed to preach, or at least to permit, circumcision. Thus, in the Acts, we should gather, from the account of the conference at Jerusalem in Acts 15, that he did not insist strongly upon this point, and on taking Timothy with him upon his second missionary journey—the very journey in which he first visited Galatia—his first step was to have him circumcised. It was only natural that the progress of time and of events should deepen the Apostle’s conviction of the radical antagonism between the ceremonial Judaism and Christianity. This he is now stating in the most emphatic manner, and he feels that he is open to a charge of something like inconsistency. The Galatians might say that he preached circumcision himself. 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.

Ceased.Done away; the same word as that which is translated “become of no effect” in Galatians 5:4.

Galatians 5:11-12. And I, brethren — If, as my enemies insinuate; I yet preach circumcision — As necessary to salvation, and urge it upon the believing Gentiles; why do I yet suffer persecution — From the Jews, as one apostatized from their religion? Probably the person that troubled them took occasion, from Paul’s having circumcised Timothy, to affirm that he preached the necessity of submitting to that rite. Then is the offence of the cross ceased — The grand reason why the Jews were so offended at his preaching Christ crucified, and so bitterly persecuted him for it, was, that it implied the abolition of the ceremonial law. Yet St. Paul did not condemn the conforming, out of condescension to the weakness of any one, to that law; but he did even absolutely condemn those who taught that this was necessary to justification. I would they were even cut off — From your communion; cast out of your church; that thus trouble you — “It by no means agrees with the gentle genius of Christianity, to suppose that the apostle should mean by this, that he wished them dead, or wished that any bodily evil were inflicted upon them by human violence. All arguments, therefore, which are drawn from this text, in favour of persecuting principles, must be very inconclusive.” — Doddridge.5:7-12 The life of a Christian is a race, wherein he must run, and hold on, if he would obtain the prize. It is not enough that we profess Christianity, but we must run well, by living up to that profession. Many who set out fairly in religion, are hindered in their progress, or turn out of the way. It concerns those who begin to turn out of the way, or to tire in it, seriously to inquire what hinders them. The opinion or persuasion, ver. 8, was, no doubt, that of mixing the works of the law with faith in Christ in justification. The apostle leaves them to judge whence it must arise, but sufficiently shows that it could be owing to none but Satan. It is dangerous for Christian churches to encourage those who follow, but especially who spread, destructive errors. And in reproving sin and error, we should always distinguish between the leaders and the led. The Jews were offended, because Christ was preached as the only salvation for sinners. If Paul and others would have admitted that the observance of the law of Moses was to be joined with faith in Christ, as necessary to salvation, then believers might have avoided many of the sufferings they underwent. The first beginnings of such leaven should be opposed. And assuredly those who persist in disturbing the church of Christ must bear their judgment.And I, brethren - Paul here proceeds to vindicate himself from giving countenance to the doctrines which they had advanced there. It is evident that the false teachers in Galatia appealed to Paul himself, and alleged that he insisted on the necessity of circumcision, and that they were teaching no more than he taught. On what they founded this is unknown. It may have been mere slander; or it may have arisen from the fact that he had circumcised Timothy Acts 16:3, and, possibly, that he may have encouraged circumcision in some other similar cases. Or it may have been inferred from the fact (which was undoubtedly true) that Paul in general complied with the customs of the Jews when he was with them. But his conduct and example had been greatly perverted. He had never enjoined circumcision as necessary to salvation; and had never complied with Jewish customs where there was danger that it would be understood that he regarded them as at all indispensable, or as furnishing a ground of acceptance with God.

If I yet preach circumcision - If I preach it as necessary to salvation; or if I enjoin it on those who are converted to Christianity.

Why do I yet suffer persecution? - That is, from the Jews. "Why do they oppose me? Circumcision is the special badge of the Jewish religion; it implies all the rest (see Galatians 5:2); and if I preach the necessity of that, it would satisfy the Jews, and save me from persecution. They would never persecute one who did that as they do me; and the fact that I am thus persecuted by them is full demonstration that I am not regarded as preaching the necessity of circumcision." It is remarkable that Paul does not expressly deny the charge. The reason may be, that his own word would be called in question, or that it might require much explanation to show why he had recommended circumcision in any case, as in the case of Timothy; Acts 16:3. But the fact that he was persecuted by the Jews settled the question, and showed that he did not preach the necessity of circumcision in any such sense as to satisfy them, or in any such sense as was claimed by the false teachers in Galatia. In regard to the fact that Paul was persecuted by the Jews; see Acts 14:1-2, Acts 14:19; Acts 17:4-5, Acts 17:13; compare Paley, Hora Paulina, Galat. no. v.

Then is the offence of the cross ceased - "For if I should preach the necessity of circumcision, as is alleged, the offence of the cross of Christ would be removed. The necessity of depending on the merits of the sacrifice made on the cross would be taken away, since then people could be saved by conformity to the laws of Moses. The very thing that I have so much insisted on, and that has been such a stumbling-block to the Jews (see the note at 1 Corinthians 1:23), that conformity to their rites was of no avail, and that they must be saved only by the merits of a crucified Saviour, would be done away with." Paul means that if this had been done, he would have saved himself from giving offence, and from the evils of persecution. He would have preached that people could be saved by conformity to Jewish rites, and that would have saved him from all the persecutions which he had endured in consequence of preaching the necessity of salvation by the cross.

11. Translate, "If I am still preaching (as I did before conversion) circumcision, why am I still persecuted?" The Judaizing troubler of the Galatians had said, "Paul himself preaches circumcision," as is shown by his having circumcised Timothy (Ac 16:3; compare also Ac 20:6; 21:24). Paul replies by anticipation of their objection, As regards myself, the fact that I am still persecuted by the Jews shows plainly that I do not preach circumcision; for it is just because I preach Christ crucified, and not the Mosaic law, as the sole ground of justification, that they persecute me. If for conciliation he lived as a Jew among the Jews, it was in accordance with his principle enunciated (1Co 7:18, 20; 9:20). Circumcision, or uncircumcision, are things indifferent in themselves: their lawfulness or unlawfulness depends on the animus of him who uses them. The Gentile Galatians' animus in circumcision could only be their supposition that it influenced favorably their standing before God. Paul's living as a Gentile among Gentiles, plainly showed that, if he lived as a Jew among Jews, it was not that he thought it meritorious before God, but as a matter indifferent, wherein he might lawfully conform as a Jew by birth to those with whom he was, in order to put no needless stumbling-block to the Gospel in the way of his countrymen.

then—Presuming that I did so, "then," in that case, "the offense of (stumbling-block, 1Co 1:23 occasioned to the Jews by) the cross has become done away." Thus the Jews' accusation against Stephen was not that he preached Christ crucified, but that "he spake blasphemous words against this holy place and the law." They would, in some measure, have borne the former, if he had mixed with it justification in part by circumcision and the law, and if he had, through the medium of Christianity, brought converts to Judaism. But if justification in any degree depended on legal ordinances, Christ's crucifixion in that degree was unnecessary, and could profit nothing (Ga 5:2, 4). Worldly Wiseman, of the town of Carnal Policy, turns Christian out of the narrow way of the Cross, to the house of Legality. But the way to it was up a mountain, which, as Christian advanced, threatened to fall on him and crush him, amidst flashes of lightning from the mountain [Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress] (Heb 12:18-21).

It should seem by what the apostle saith in this verse, that some of these false teachers had quoted the apostle for them, as if he himself had preached circumcision; possibly taking advantage from his circumcising Timothy, not distinguishing between what was done by Paul as of liberty, and to avoid the offence of the Jews, and what they pressed as necessary to be done (besides believing in Christ) for justification. Now, (saith the apostle),

if I yet preach up circumision as necessary to be observed,

why do I yet suffer persecution? Why am I then persecuted by the Jews, as one apostatized from their religion?

Then is the offence of the cross ceased: by the cross, he eihter means the cross of Christ; then the sense is: It is my opposing the observance of their law, that more offendeth them than my preaching of Christ crucified. Or else he meaneth the afflictions which he suffered for the sake of Christ and the gospel; (in which sense the term is used, Matthew 16:24 Luke 9:23 14:22); then the sense is, that all sufferings for the owning and preaching of Christ are at an end; let us but yield the Jews that point, (that Christians are obliged to the observance of the law of Moses), the great quarrel between them and us is at an end; but their daily persecuting of me is a sufficient demonstration that I do not preach up circumcision. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision,.... The apostle was traduced by the false teachers, as a preacher of circumcision himself in some places; and this they did partly to show him to be a variable and inconsistent man, who preached one doctrine in one place, and another in another place, and so not to be attended to; and partly with others, to draw them into their scheme upon his authority: what might give them the handle, or at least what they improved to this purpose, might be his circumcising of Timothy; but though he did this as a thing indifferent, and for the sake of the Jews, to make them easy; yet he never preached it after his conversion, and much less as necessary to justification and salvation, as these men did. This calumny he refutes by putting the following question or questions;

why do I yet suffer persecution? as is clear he did, for being against it, and preaching it down; great part of the persecutions the apostle endured was from the Jews, and that on account of his teaching them everywhere, that were among the Gentiles, to forsake Moses, and that they should not circumcise their children, and walk after the customs of their nation; a clear point this, that he did not preach it; had he, persecution from this quarter would not have followed him; and he could have done it with a good conscience, he must act a very weak part in suffering persecution on that account. The Arabic version gives the words a very different turn, and yet furnishes an answer to the calumny; "why do I persecute him that uses it?" that is, if I am a preacher of it, why am I so warm and violent an opposer of those that submit to it? these things are so opposite that there is no reconciling them; to the same purpose is the Ethiopic version: "then is the offence of the cross ceased". The last mentioned version reads it, "the cross of Christ"; and so the Alexandrian copy; meaning not the cross of affliction, reproach, and persecution, which Christ has enjoined every follower of his to take up and bear for his sake, and is offensive to the carnal man; nor the cross on which he suffered, or the sufferings of the cross; but the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ, which was an offence and a stumblingblock to the Jews; now if the apostle had preached circumcision as necessary to salvation, the other doctrine must have been dropped, and consequently the offence taken at it must have ceased, whereas it was not. The Syriac version reads by way of question, "is the offence of the cross ceased?" no it is not, a plain case then is, that the apostle did not preach circumcision, but only a crucified Christ, as necessary to salvation. Moreover, the Jews that believed would not have been so offended as they were at his preaching, had he preached the one as well the other; their offence was not that he preached Christ crucified, but that he preached, that, by the cross of Christ, circumcision and the other rituals of the ceremonial law were now abolished.

{10} And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

(10) He wishes them to consider that he seeks not his own profit in this matter, seeing that he could avoid the hatred of men if he would join Judaism with Christianity.

Galatians 5:11. But I, on my part. The Judaistic teachers, whom the apostle thus confronts, had (see Chrysostom), as is evident from our passage—with the view of weakening the hindrance, which among Pauline churches they could not but encounter in the authority of the apostle opposing them—alleged (perhaps making use of Timothy’s circumcision, Acts 16:3, for this purpose) that Paul himself still (in other churches) preached circumcision; that is, that, when Gentiles went over to Christianity, they should allow themselves to be circumcised. This calumny (comp. also Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1860, p. 216 ff.) was sufficiently absurd to admit of his dismissing it, as he does here, with all brevity, and with what a striking experimental proof! But if I am still preaching circumcision, wherefore am I still persecuted? For the persecution on the part of the Jews was based on the very fact of the antagonism to the law, which characterized his preaching of the Crucified One. See the sequel.

εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω] Paul might also have said, εἰ π. . ἐκήρυσσον, τ. . ἐ̓διωκόμην ἄν, for he means what objectively is not a real matter of fact. But he transfers himself directly into the thought of his opponents, and just as directly shows its absurdity; he assumes the reality of what his opponents asserted, and then by the apodosis annuls it as preposterous: hence the sense cannot be, as it is defined by Holsten, that his persecution on account of no longer preaching circumcision had not, possibly, the alleged pretext of making the Gentiles complete members of the theocracy, but only the one motive of national vanity and selfishness, to annul the offence of the cross.[230]

The emphasis is laid on περιτομήν; but ἜΤΙ, still (see Schneider, ad Plat. Rep. p. 449 C), does not convey the idea that Paul, as apostle, had formerly preached circumcision. For although the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit produced in none of the apostles at once and absolutely the laying aside of all religious error previously cherished, but led them forward by gradual and individual development into the whole truth (see Lücke’s apt remarks on John ii. 10, p. 501); yet in the case of Paul especially, just because he was converted in the midst of his zealotry for the law, the assumption that he had still preached the necessity of circumcision for salvation, and had thus done direct homage to the fundamental error opposed to the revelation of God in him (Galatians 1:15), and to His gospel which had been revealed to him (Galatians 1:11 f.), would be quite unpsychological. And in a historical point of view it would be at variance with the decidedly antinomistic character of his whole apostolic labours as known to us (comp. Acts 21:21), as well as with the circumstance that the requirement of circumcision in the case of the Gentile Christians, Acts 15, came upon the apostolical church as something quite new and unheard of, and therefore produced so much excitement, and in fact occasioned the apostolic conference. In a purely exegetical point of view, moreover, such an assumption is not compatible with τι ἔτι διώκομαι, because we should thereby be led to the inference that, so long as Paul preached circumcision, he had not been persecuted; and yet at the very beginning of his Christian labours he was persecuted by the Jews (Acts 9:24 f.; 2 Corinthians 11:32 f.). Rückert (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and de Wette) is of opinion that in using ἔτι they only mean to say that Paul, although he preached Christ, required that, notwithstanding this, they should still allow themselves to he circumcised. Comp. Olshausen, who refers ἔτι to the inferiority of the tendency. But in Olshausen’s view, the reference to an earlier κηρύττειν περιτομήν still remains unremoved; and in that of Rückert, the ἜΤΙ is unwarrantably withdrawn from the apostle and passed over to the side of those to whom he preached. Even if (with Hofmann[231]) we understand the ἔτι as in contradistinction to the earlier time, when the preaching of circumcision had been of general occurrence and had been in its due place, the reference of this ἔτι is transferred to a general practice of the earlier time, although, according to the words of the apostle, it clearly and distinctly assumes his own previous κήρυσσειν περιτ. The correct view is the usual one, adopted also by Winer, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Ewald, Wieseler, that ἔτι points back to the period before the conversion of the apostle. Certainly the objection is made (see Reithmayr and Hofmann), that Paul at that time, as a Jew among Jews, and coming in contact with Jewish Christians only, had no occasion at all to preach circumcision. But looking at our slight acquaintance with the circumstances of the apostle’s pre-Christian life, this conclusion is formed much too rashly. For, as ζηλωτής for God and the law (Acts 22:3; comp. Galatians 1:14; Php 3:5), Saul, who was an energetic and (comp. Acts 22:4-5) esteemed Pharisaic Rabbi, might often have had occasion enough to preach and to defend circumcision, partly in the interest of proselytizing, and partly also in polemic conflict with Christians in and beyond Judaea, who maintained that their faith, and not their circumcision, was the cause of salvation.

τί ἔτι διώκομαι;] This ἔτι also, which by most (including de Wette and Wieseler) is taken as logical, as in Romans 3:7; Romans 9:19, cannot without arbitrary procedure be understood otherwise than as temporal: “Why am I yet always persecuted?” Why have they not yet ceased to persecute me? They could not but in fact have seen how groundless this διώκειν was!

ἄρα κατήργηται κ.τ.λ.] ἄρα is, as always, igitur, rebus sic se habentibus (if, namely, I still preach circumcision). Paul gives information concerning the foregoing question,—how far, namely, there no longer existed any cause, etc.: thus therefore is the offence of the cross done away, that is, the occasion for the rejection of the gospel, which is afforded by the circumstance that the death of Christ on the cross is preached as the only ground of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:23; Php 3:18). If Paul had at the same time preached circumcision also as necessary to salvation, then would the Jew have seen his law upheld, and the cross would have been inoffensive to him; but when, according to his decisive principle, Galatians 2:21, he preached the death of the cross as the end of the law (Galatians 3:13; Romans 10:3, et al.), and rejected all legal righteousness—then the Jew took offence at the cross, and rejected the faith. Comp. Chrysostom and Theophylact. To take it as an interrogation (Syr., Bengel on Galatians 5:12, Usteri, Ewald, and others)—with which the accentuation might have been ἆρα (comp. on Galatians 2:17)—appears logically not inappropriate after τί ἔτι διώκομαι, but yields a less striking continuation of the discourse.

[230] Holsten has, in a special excursus (z. Evang. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 337 ff.), acutely explained his interpretation, and endeavoured to vindicate it. At the close he puts it in this shape: “Paul wishes to denounce to the Galatians the secret, unexpressed ground of his persecution on the part of his opponents: ‘I, dear brethren, am only persecuted because I no longer preach circumcision; for, if I still preach it as the divine will, why am I still persecuted?—Thus indeed is the offence of the cross annulled!’ ” But still Paul must have had some special inducement for positing, in εἰ κ.τ.λ., a notoriously non-real case as a logical reality; and this inducement could only be found in the corresponding accusation of his opponents. Otherwise it would be difficult to see why he should not have thrown his language into such a form, that the protasis should have begun either with εἰ and the imperfect or with ὅτι (because), and the expression of the apodoses should have undergone corresponding modification. According to Holsten’s view, the words have a dialectic enigmatical obscurity, which, looking at the simplicity of the underlying idea, would be without motive.

[231] According to Hofmann, the apostle’s meaning is, “that they would have no longer any cause for persecuting him, so soon as his preaching of Jesus Christ should be that, which it is not—a continuance of the preaching of circumcision at the present time.” This is also unsuitable, because εἰ would introduce a sumtio ficti, and that indeed in the view of Paul himself. Certainly εἰ with the present indicative might be so put; but in the apodosis the optative with ἄν must have been used, as is the case in the passages compared by Hofmann himself (Xen. Anab. vii. 6. 15, v. 6. 12. See also Memor ii. 2. 3; Bornemann, ad Sympos. 4. 10, 5. 7; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 487).Galatians 5:11. It seems strange in view of Paul’s later career that he should have needed to repudiate, however briefly and scornfully, the charge of still preaching circumcision as he had before his conversion. After his open breach with the synagogue, indeed, at Corinth and at Ephesus it would have been hardly possible to advance such a plea. But he had recently, before writing this Epistle, taken two steps open to this misconstruction on which agitators could fasten. He had deposited with the Galatians for their guidance the resolution adopted by the Church at Jerusalem which recommended scrupulous regard for the Law in certain matters, and he had himself circumcised a Galatian convert whose father had been a Greek. Paul contents himself with pointing for answer to the persecutions which he was still enduring at the hands of Jews, probably those which befel him in Macedonia.—ἆρα. The interrogative ἆρα is far more appropriate to the context than the inferential ἄρα. The Apostle, being accused of currying favour with the Jews, points indignantly to the persecutions he was suffering from them and exclaims, “Hath the stumbling-block of the Cross been done away?”11. Another abrupt transition of thought, rendering the connexion obscure and uncertain. It is however evident either that a charge of inconsistency had been brought against St Paul, or that the possibility of such a charge flashed across his mind. He could find no language too strong to condemn those who submitted to circumcision, and yet it was an admitted fact that he had himself circumcised Timothy. Did he not ‘yet’ (still) virtually preach circumcision, as he had insisted on it before his conversion? This was a specious, and if unrefuted, a fatal objection. Based on a fact, it must be met by an appeal to fact—the fact of persecution. ‘If I still Judaize, why do the Judaizers still persecute me?’

then is the offence of the cross ceased] This is ironical, ‘I suppose then the doctrine of the cross has utterly ceased to be a stumbling-block; so that there really is no reason why I should suffer persecution’.

the offence of the cross] The fact that Jesus died on the cross does not in itself constitute ‘the offence of the cross’. It is accepted by many who deny its atoning efficacy. ‘The offence of the cross’ in every age consists in this, that it cuts at the root of human merit in the matter of justification, whether in the form of legal observance, or holy dispositions, or good works. The Jews (as Chrysostom points out) accused Stephen not of worshipping or preaching Christ crucified, but of speaking against the law and the holy place. And if St Paul had preached Christ’s death upon the cross as a pattern of humility and submission, he would have escaped persecution. But he preached righteousness by the cross alone through faith, and they were offended. No more striking commentary on these words can be adduced than St Paul’s language, Romans 9:31-33, ‘Israel following after a law of righteousness, did not attain to a law of righteousness. Why? because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works of the law. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling (were offended at the rock of offence); even as it is written (Isaiah 28:16), Behold I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, and he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame’. It is interesting to note that St Peter quotes the same passage of Isaiah in a letter addressed to the strangers of Galatia (1 Peter 2:6-8).

ceased] entirely done away with. The same word which is rendered ‘is become of no effect’ Galatians 5:4. Comp. Romans 4:14; Romans 7:2.Galatians 5:11. [48]ἜΤΙ) still [as yet], ch. Galatians 1:10.—κηρύσσω, I preach) Hence we gather what had been said by this turbulent person, “that Paul himself preached circumcision;” and perhaps he took as a pretext the circumcision of Timothy; and yet the reason for his having done so in the case of the latter, a long while back, was quite different [from the grounds on which it was advocated by the disturber].—διώκομαι, I suffer persecution) They persecuted Paul, because he did away with circumcision. It was now a useless rite, which, if Paul would have conceded to his opponents, there would have been immediate peace; but he did not yield. See how keenly the truth should be defended.—ἄρα, then) If I were to preach circumcision, he says, there would at present be no offence of the Cross; but the offence still burns hotly. Therefore it is a false assertion, that I am a preacher of circumcision.—σκάνδαλον, an offence) among carnal men.—τοῦ σταυροῦ, of the Cross) the power of which is inconsistent with circumcision; ch. Galatians 6:12; Galatians 6:14. The Cross of Christ itself is intended. There was a great blending together of Jews and Judaizers. Many more easily endured the preaching of the Cross of Christ, by mixing it up with circumcision and the preaching of circumcision. They thus still retained something.

[48] This particle in the larger Ed. is reckoned rather as an uncertain reading, but by the margin of the 2d Ed. it is considered among the more certain, and therefore also in the Germ. Vers. It is twice expressed in this verse.—E. B.

D corrected later, Gfg, omit ἔτι. But AB Vulg. and Rec. Text retain it. C has εἴ τι.—ED.Verse 11. - And I, brethren (ἐγὼ δέ ἀδελφοί); but in respect to myself, brethren. The personal pronoun is again accentuated. It seems that it had been affirmed by some one, most probably that individual "troubler" of the preceding verse (on which account the point is just here mentioned), that the apostle did himself "preach circumcision." The compellation "brethren" has a tone of pathos in it: it appeals, not merely to their knowledge of his experience of persecution, but to their sympathy with him under it, He is grappling to himself, as it were, the better-minded of those he is writing to. If I yet preach circumcision (εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω); if I am still preaching circumcision. The phrase, "preach circumcision," is like that of "preaching the baptism of repentance" in Mark 1:4; it denotes openly declaring that men should be circumcised The force of ἔτι is best explained by supposing that the apostle is quoting the assertion of this gainsayer - "Why, Paul himself up to this hour still preaches circumcision, just as he did when he followed Judaism." And taking it thus, we may discern a shade of irony in the apostle's repeating the ἔτι in his reply: "Why, then, am I still persecuted up to this hour?" He had begun to be the object of persecution as soon as he began to preach Christ, as he pathetically reminds the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:32; cf. Acts 9:24). In trying to imagine how this gainsayer could have given the least colour of probability to so audacious an assertion, we may suppose that he would point to St. Paul's behaviour at Jerusalem, and no doubt elsewhere, when he "to the Jews became as a Jew; to those under the Law as under the Law" (1 Corinthians 9:20); and in all probability, as Chrysostom and others have observed, cited the well-known fact of his circumcising Timothy; and there doubtless were other facts of a similar complexion, all which, with a little distortion, might enable an unscrupulous or a merely very eager opponent to dress up a statement like that before us with a certain amount of plausibleness. Why do I yet suffer persecution? (τί ἔτι διώκομαι;); why am I still persecuted? The apostle distinctly implies

(1) that his persecutions were mainly occasioned by the hostility of the Jews; and

(2) that the hostility of the Jews mainly originated in his teaching the doctrine that the cross of Christ put circumcision, together with the observance of the Law of Moses, aside as terms of acceptance with God. The first point is fully borne out by the history of the Acts and various allusions in the Epistles, showing that the fact was so, both before and after the time when this letter was written. The second is perfectly consistent with the history, and alone fully explains it. Then is the offence of the cross ceased (ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ); then the stumbling-block of the cross hath been done away. The stumbling-block of the cross is that which makes the cross a stumbling-block. In 1 Corinthians 1:23 "Christ crucified" is designated as "to the Jews a stumbling-block;" while to Gentiles it simply seemed "folly." "Then" follows up an argument ex absurdo, as in 1 Corinthians 15:14, 18. The apostle means that the cross would not be to Jews the stumbling-block that it was if it had been preached in conjunction with the obligatoriness of circumcision together with the observance of the ceremonial law, upon those who believed in Christ. If, then, he had preached Christ crucified thus, he could not have been so offensive to the Jews. But it was all otherwise. It has been supposed that the notion of a crucified Messiah was offensive to Jewish feeling, merely because it ran counter to their conception of the Christ as a secular king and conqueror. St. Paul's words show that this was not the case. That preconception of the Jews no doubt made it difficult to them to believe in the Jesus whose worldly career had been closed by an early violent death; even as before our Lord's passion it had made it difficult to the apostles to believe that he was thus to die. But after the question whether the Christ was predestined to be a suffering Christ (Acts 26:23) had been discussed, and it had been shown from the Old Testament that the Messiah was to suffer before he should reign, it had yet to be determined in what relation the particular form of Jesus' death stood with respect to the Mosaic Law. Gentiles would naturally think of the cross chiefly, indeed solely, as a sign of extremest ignominy; they thought scorn of the Christians who looked for life from "this Master of theirs, who was crucified" (Lucian). But to Jews, with the habits of feeling to which they had been trained in the school of Moses' Law, the cross was more than a sign of extremest ignominy - to them it was a sign also of extremest pollutedness. Now, to the Apostle Paul it had been given to see, with more distinctness than the general body of believers at Jerusalem appear to have seen it, the inference to which the finger of Divine providence pointed in the particular form of death which, in the counsels of God, had been selected for the Christ to suffer (cf. John 18:32). He had seen that faith in the crucified Saviour, by just consequence and in the Divine purpose, disconnected those, who embraced it as the supreme element of spiritual life, from all obligation to the ceremonial law as viewed in relation to their acceptance with God (Galatians 2:19, and note). And because he held forth this truth, and insisted upon its vital importance in determining the mutual relations of Jew and Gentile in the Christian Church, therefore it was that he drew upon himself the peculiar unrelenting enmity with which the Jews pursued him. They could manage to live on terms of peace with their fellow-Jews at Jerusalem who held that the Christ predicted in the Old Testament was to be, in the first instance, a suffering Christ, and trusted in Jesus as fulfilling those predictions; for they saw that they, while believing in Jesus, continued, as St. James told St. Paul all of them did, to Observe and to be zealous for the Law (Acts 21:20); they were able, therefore, in some degree to tolerate their "heresy." But St. Paul was led by the Saviour of all the world to adopt a different line. The truth, which lay wrapped up in the manner of Christ's death, and which at Jerusalem was left, so to speak, in its latency, it became necessary for the welfare of mankind that Paul should bring forth into view, and apply for the doing of the work which it was designed to accomplish. The cross annihilated the obligatoriness upon God's people of the Law of Moses. And, by teaching this, this apostle revived against himself the animosity which had flamed forth so fiercely upon St. Stephen, who was charged with saying that "Jesus the Nazarene was to change the customs which Moses had delivered unto them." It illustrates the economy which marks the Holy Spirit's development of revealed truth in the consciousness of the Church, that this consequence of the crucifixion of our Lord was for a while left so much in abeyance in the mother Church in Judaea. The fact stands on the same footing as the development of the doctrine of the essential Godhead of the Lord Jesus; for this too would seem to have been not at once and by an abrupt illumination brought distinctly home to the consciousness of the Hebrew Church, but to have been deposited like a seed in its bosom to unfold itself gradually. It seemed meet to the Divine Wisdom to cradle the infant faith tenderly, that it should not be exposed to too great risks through want of sympathy on the part of its first nursing mother towards these two of its most important elements. By-and-bye, when circumstances allowed, the same great apostle, who in his Epistle develops the doctrine of the cross in relation to Mosaism, could with advantage address the Hebrew Church, either himself or through another whom he inspired with his thoughts, that Epistle, in which the Godhead of Jesus is proclaimed with as much clearness and emphasis as the dissolution of the Mosaic institute in face of the new spiritual economy. The Epistle to the Hebrews, however, in proving that the new covenant was superseding the old, does not lay the chief stress of the argument upon the Crucifixion, but upon the utter unavailingness of the Mosaic priestly functions for the clearing of the conscience as compared with the efficacy of Christ's one offering. Nevertheless,the other point is not altogether neglected; at least, a kindred argument is suggested in Hebrews 13:10-13, in which passage contact with Christ as suffering without the camp is spoken of as inferring a pollution which was incompatible with "serving the tabernacle." The "Cross" is definitely named only once, and that with relation to extreme" shame" attaching to it (Hebrews 12:2). In other Epistles which are certainly of St. Paul's own composition, the "cross" ]s mentioned in connection with the abrogation of the ceremonial law, in Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20; Colossians 2:14; but the manner in which it brought about this result is nowhere so plainly indicated as in this Epistle to the Galatians, in which "the cross" is the very key-note of the whole discussion. The flashing out of resentful feeling which we read in the next verse was probably in part evoked by the clear glimpse which the apostle this moment caught of the conscious insincerity of those seducers, shown in their making or adopting such an assertion respecting himself as he here rebuts, which facts proved to be so glaringly false. And I

In sharp contrast with the disturber.

If I yet preach circumcision (εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω)

Commonly explained as an allusion to a charge circulated by the Judaisers that Paul preached or sanctioned the circumcision of Gentile converts in churches outside of Galatia, as, for example, in the case of Timothy, Acts 16:3. But it is quite unlikely that any such charge was circulated. The Judaisers would not have founded such a charge on an individual case or two, like Timothy's, especially in the face of the notorious fact that Paul, in Jerusalem and Antioch, had contested the demand for the circumcision of Gentile Christians; and Paul's question, "Why do I suffer persecution?" would have been pertinent only on the assumption that he was charged with habitually. not occasionally, preaching circumcision. Had the Judaisers actually circulated such a charge, Paul would have been compelled to meet it in a far more direct and thorough manner than he does here. He would have been likely to formulate the charge, and to deal incisively with the inconsistency in his preaching which it involved. The course of his thought is as follows: "He that troubleth you by preaching circumcision shall bear his judgment; but I am not a disturber - not your enemy (Galatians 4:16), for I do not preach circumcision; and the proof of this is that I am persecuted. If I preached circumcision, there would be no offense, and therefore no disturbance; for the cross would cease to be an offense, if, in addition to the cross, I preached just what the Judaisers assert, the necessity of circumcision."

Yet (ἔπι)

As in the time before my conversion. The second ἔπι is not temporal but logical, as Romans 3:7; Romans 9:19. What further ground is there for persecuting me?

Then (ἄρα)

As a consequence of my preaching circumcision.

The offense of the cross (τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ)

Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:23. For offense, see on offend, Matthew 5:29.

Ceased (κατήργηται)

Lit. been done away or brought to nought. See on Galatians 5:4. If Paul had preached circumcision as necessary to salvation, the preaching of the cross would have ceased to be an offense, because, along with the cross, Paul would have preached what the Judaisers demanded, that the Mosaic law should still be binding on Christians. The Judaisers would have accepted the cross with circumcision, but not the cross instead of circumcision. The Judaisers thus exposed themselves to no persecution in accepting Christ. They covered the offense of the cross, and conciliated unbelieving Jews by maintaining that the law was binding upon Christians. See Galatians 6:12.

Galatians 5:11 Interlinear
Galatians 5:11 Parallel Texts

Galatians 5:11 NIV
Galatians 5:11 NLT
Galatians 5:11 ESV
Galatians 5:11 NASB
Galatians 5:11 KJV

Galatians 5:11 Bible Apps
Galatians 5:11 Parallel
Galatians 5:11 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 5:11 Chinese Bible
Galatians 5:11 French Bible
Galatians 5:11 German Bible

Bible Hub

Galatians 5:10
Top of Page
Top of Page