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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 11
Verse 11. 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, Ac 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 any 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 peculiar badge of the Jewish religion; it implies all the rest, Ga 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 night require much explanation to show why he had recommended circumcision in any case, as in the case of Timothy, Ac 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 Ac 14:1,2,19; 17:4,5,13.
Comp. Paley, Horae Paulinae, Galat. No. v.
Then is the offence of the cross eased. "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 men 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 Barnes "1 Co 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 men 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.
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