whytheology

For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

March 23 Reflection, Galatians 5:7-12

Gal 5:7-12 KJV (NIV Link Below)

 7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

10I 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.

11And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

12I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Link to NIV text

Hang on Minute, Let’s Talk about This

Alright, so Paul’s last line here sounds a bit extreme. While the action of “emasculating” (NIV) or “cutting off” (KJV) the Judaizer agitators is probably a bit far, Paul is not actually suggesting that it would be the appropriate reaction; he is merely expressing his outrage at what they are doing. While it may seem like a little thing, to ask that converts to Chrisitanity perform this tiny detail, Paul understands it as a much bigger issue. The problem was not circumcision per se, Paul admits in other places that he had circumcised _____. Rather, the issue is with what the circumcision means.

The Gospel, as Paul preached, was offensive to most Jews. It’s why, on more than one occasion, he found himself heavily persecuted by them. The offense was twofold: 1) It took away all requirements of the law, thus removing the Jewish-Gentile distinction for all time. 2) The way in which this was done was through a cross. Jesus, without blemish, died upon a cross. By dieing in such a manner Jesus’ death was, according to Jewish law, a curse. What had not been understood, however, was that the curse that was upon Jesus’ rightfully belonged to us. Jesus died in our place, bearing the curse that should have been ours. His resurrection, then, removed that curse for all time because it died with him, but Jesus was raised, and lives now, without it. Therefore those who link their lives with Christ, by declaring him their lord, die with him, but moreso by dieing with him they are therefore raised with him as well. If we deny the changed relationship we have with the law, by allowing something like circumcision to remain a requirement for salvation, then we deny that in Christ the law was fulfilled and that we are made righteous apart from it. To deny this on even one point, like circumcision, opens the door to its outright denial. If circumcision is still required, then nothing has changed. If we try to earn God’s grace, we have missed the point of grace altogether.

Add your thoughts below and build each other up. What do you think of Paul’s racing metaphor in verse 1? Do you sometimes feel that someone or something has “cut in on you” making it difficult to keep a good steady pace in your spiritual “race”? Do you think Paul goes too far by suggesting it would be better if the “agitators” “cut off” their point of disagreement? How do you take Paul’s strong language here?

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