World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
12It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Select a resource above

12. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh. Such men pay no regard to edification, but are guided by an ambitious desire to hunt after popular applause. The Greek verb εὐπροσωπὢσαι, 100100     “The word we render, ‘to make a fair shew,’ properly signifies to be handsome and lovely. Hence it is used to signify anything that recommends itself by its specious appearance, [Thus ἀπολογία εὐπροσῶπος, Lucian.] Now this was the case of these Judaising teachers. Their great care was to avoid persecution: and, in order to this, they made it their study εὐπροσωπὢσαι, to keep fair with the Jews, ἐν σαρκὶ, by means of the flesh, that is, not only by boasting of their own circumcision, but by making it a point of merit with them, that they had pressed the necessity of circumcision upon others.” — Chandler. is highly expressive, and denotes the kind looks and address which were assumed for the purpose of pleasing. He charges the false apostles with ambition. As if he had said, “When those men lay circumcision upon you as a necessary burden, do you wish to know what sort of persons they are, what are the objects of their regard or pursuit? You are mistaken if you imagine that they are at all influenced by godly zeal. To gain or preserve the favor of men is the object they have in view in offering this bribe.” It was because they were Jews that they adopted this method of retaining the good-will, or at least allaying the resentment, of their own nation. It is the usual practice of ambitious men meanly to fawn on those from whose favor they hope to derive advantage, and to insinuate themselves into their good graces, that, when better men have been displaced, they may enjoy the undivided power. This wicked design he lays open to the Galatians, in order to put them on their guard.

Only lest they should suffer persecution. The pure preaching of the gospel is again designated the cross of Christ. But there is likewise an allusion to their favourite scheme of resolving to preach Christ without the cross. The deadly rage by which the Jews were animated against Paul, arose from their being unable to endure a neglect of ceremonies. To avoid persecution, those men flattered the Jews. Yet after all, if they had themselves kept the law, their conduct might have been suffered. On the contrary, they disturbed the whole church for the sake of their personal ease, and scrupled not to lay a tyrannical yoke on the consciences of men, that they might be entirely freed from bodily uneasiness. A dread of the cross led them to corrupt the true preaching of the cross.