(Vs. 11) The apostle had great affection for the believers at Galatia. The errors to which they had been exposed and into which many had fallen caused him great grief; so he says, "Take notice of the LENGTH of this epistle and the fact that it is written IN MY OWN HAND." There were longer epistles, but most of them had been dictated by Paul and written by someone else (Rom. 16: 22). Oh, for a heart that cares for others and that is broken when their peace is threatened by error or sin!
(Vs. 12) Paul's chief purpose in this epistle wasto expose the false teachers and their errors; so he cannot conclude without taking some further notice of them, which he does by exposing their HYPOCRISY and AMBITION.
1. They do what they do to be seen of men. Their religion is an outward show (Matt. 6:1-5) and only exists in the observance of days, circumcision, and laws respecting meats and drinks. They congratulate one another on their spirituality and devotion to religious practices.
2. They want you to adopt their ceremonies and legalistic rules lest they suffer persecution from the religious Jews who were offended at the preaching of THE TOTAL SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST. Christ crucified is our atonement, and Christ's obedience is our righteousness without any part of the Levitical Law to be added. To be saved a man has ONLY to look by faith to Christ, not to be baptized, circumcised, observe a day, join a church, or keep a law. "We are COMPLETE IN HIM!"
(Vs. 13) These religious teachers who preach the law, teach the law, and boast of their regard for the law do not keep THE WHOLE LAW. This the flesh cannot do, and to bring in one part of the law for righteousness or justification before God requires us to keep the whole law perfectly. But they require you Gentiles to submit to circumcision so that they can boast before the other Jews of the number of proselytes or converts they have won to their brand of religion or system of salvation. Everv religionist glories or rejoices in something. These false teachers glory in the flesh, in the outward form, in the noise they make, in the work they do, and in the souls they have won.
(Vs. 14) Paul says, "I glory in the cross of Christ." My chief glory, rejoicing, and delight is in the Person and work of Christ, not in myself, my works, nor even in whatever God is pleased to do through me, but in Christ alone! He gloried not in the WOOD of the cross but in the PERSON Who suffered on that tree and the effects of His obedience and sacrifice. CHRIST is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
"The world is crucified unto me." I do not fear men nor what they can do anymore than I would fear one nailed to a tree. The ceremonial law is nailed to His cross. The world, its riches, honors, applause, pleasures, and profits are also nailed to that cross. I am no more drawn to them than I would be to a convicted felon nailed to a cross.
"I am crucified to the world. " The world had no affection for him, and he had none for the world. "You can count me out of your plans; I am dead to your whole philosophy and system." The ceremonial law was dead to Paul, and Paul was dead to it. He would have nothing to do with these beggarly elements.
(Vs. 15) Circumcision and OBEDIENCE to any of the rituals and ceremonies can profit you nothing before God for justification and righteousness. ABSTINENCE from these rituals and ceremonies can profit you nothing. That which is profitable and of eternal value is "a new creature." The new creature consists of a new spiritual man in Christ Jesus, a new glory of Christ motivated by a real love for Him.
(Vs. 16) This is the rule of our walk and conduct: to renounce all trust in and dependence upon any outward thing, to believe alone in Christ for righteousness, to walk in love, holiness, and newness of life under the influence of His Spirit and grace! (II Cor. 5:14-15.)
(Vs. 17) The false apostles boast of their circumcision made by their own hands; but Paul holds up the real scars in his body, made by stonings, beatings, imprisonment, and the sufferings which he endured for preaching the gospel of Christ. Like a soldier who holds up the stub of an arm lost in battle to show his devotion and bravery, Paul says, "Don't bother me anymore with your false claims of will-worship and righteousness by the law." Preach Christ crucified and sufferings will follow.
(Vs. 18) Paul closes with his usual benediction, expressing his love for them as brethren and wishing for them the best blessing of god, the grace of Christ, that this might be in their hearts and spirits!
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