Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:11

But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.
New American Standard Version

Adam Clarke Commentary

If I yet preach circumcision - it is very likely that some of the false apostles, hearing of Paul's having circumcised Timothy, Acts 16:3, which must have been done about this time, reported him as being an advocate for circumcision, and by this means endeavored to sanction their own doctrine. To this the apostle replies: Were it so, that I am a friend to this measure, is it likely that I should suffer persecution from the Jews? But I am every where persecuted by them, and I am persecuted because I am known to be an enemy to circumcision; were I a friend to this doctrine, the offense of the cross - preaching salvation only through the sacrifice of Christ, would soon cease; because, to be consistent with myself, if I preached the necessity of circumcision I must soon cease to preach Christ crucified, and then the Jews would be no longer my enemies.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:11

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

The perversion of apostolic preaching

There are two attempts or resolves in constant operation as to the Cross. One is man’s, to accommodate it to human liking and taste: the second is God’s, to raise human liking and taste to it.

I. The aim of man. “Then is the offence of the Cross ceased.” And in such case, there must be its depreciation. It is brought down from its proper excellency. What is to be understood by the Cross? Not the wood. How should we be the better did we possess the very tree on which the Saviour hung and died? The true Cross consists in a fact, the crucifixion of the Son of God: in a doctrine, salvation by atonement: in an influence and moral power, a hatred to sin, a weanedness from the world, a penitential devotedness to the Saviour. The Cross is preached when the sinner is taught how he may be justified, and how he must be born again. In what lies its scandalising property, its offence? It was early declared that Christ should be a sign spoken against, and that in connection with his death, when the sword should pierce through her soul who held the Holy Child. This obnoxious sign was therefore the spectacle of a crucified Messiah. Now the following may be named as the principal exceptions taken to it by those who rejected it.

1. It was an improbable medium of revelation. For man can talk loudly how God should manifest Himself and His purposes toward us. He is fond of anticipating the Father of lights, would teach Him the path of judgment and show to Him the way of understanding. Is it morally probable that all His dispensations should revolve upon the Cross for their pivot?

2. It was a stigma on this religion which set it in disadvantageous contrast with every other. It was unheard of that the vilest of all deaths should give its absolute character to a religion, and that this religion of the Cross should triumph over all. Yet this was avowed.

3. It was a violent disappointment of a general hope.

4. It was a humiliating test. Ambition, selfishness, insincerity, licentiousness, ferocity, pride, felt that it was encircled with an atmosphere in which they were instantly interrupted and condemned. In what manner did the first preachers of the Cross exhibit it? So ingenuous, so unvarnished, was that manner, that it always prejudiced them: “to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness.” They preached it not only in its integrity of truths, but without gloss and concealment. They refined not on it. But man is desirous of doing this away as a wrongful and unnecessary impression. He would make the offence of the Cross to cease.

It is not to be viewed as naked and detached, it is a centre to which all that is great and serious spreads out as circumference. While it is alone and single in its incomparableness, it is full of relations and consequences. It declares the righteousness of God. It is the basis of mercy to sinners. It is intended to sanctify as well as to expiate.

II. The procedure of God. We have seen that the Cross, the true type and pledge of Christianity, may be placed in suck factitious lights and may be contemplated through such false mediums, may be so distorted from its real excellence, and so polished of its real reproach, may be so illustrated and decked, that, instead of offending, it shall be taken into favour. Yet, this is no just reading of Christianity, it is only a fiction, a tale that is told. It evades the actual import of it. It offers nothing of its actual efficacy. It is a god which cannot save. God’s way is therefore to frustrate all these miserable perversions--to set them all aside--to honour the Cross as He knows and unfolds it--to bring the sinner into direct contact with it--to suffer him to interpose nothing--to add nothing of his own--to subtract nothing however offensive to him--that he may be brought under its original power and receive its complete impression. The method is conducted after this sort.

1. It is necessary, if we would receive the proper influence of the Cross, that we be prepared to hail it as a distinct revelation. It is not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world. It is not some conclusion that the wise, the prudent, the disputer of this world, have reached. It is no gathering up of certain prepossessions and analogies. It is no happy venture in the large field of discovery and experiment. It is the immediate ray from heaven. It is a great declarative act.

2. When we rightly appreciate the Cross, when it has its full effect upon us, we recognize it as the instrument of redemption. This is not an expedient among many expedients, a safe remedy among remedies equally safe. It stands apart. This is the one vent and vehicle for mercy.

3. When our mind approves this method of salvation, it finds in it the principle of sanctification. We reverse all our aims and desires. We are called unto holiness. What shall work it in us? Gratitude for the Saviour’s love, common cause with His mission, sympathy with His design.

The offence of the Cross

I. Wherein lies the offence of the cross?

1. Its doctrine of atonement offends man’s pride.

2. Its simple teaching offends man’s wisdom, and artificial taste.

3. Its being a remedy for man’s ruin offends his fancied power to save himself.

4. Its addressing all as sinners offends the dignity of Pharisees.

5. Its coming as a revelation offends “modern thought.”

6. Its lofty holiness offends man’s love of sin.

II. How is this offence shown?

1. Frequently by the actual persecution of believers.

2. More often by slandering believers, and sneering at them as old-fashioned, foolish, weak-minded, morose, self-conceited, etc.

3. Often by omitting to preach the Cross. Many nowadays preach a Christless, bloodless gospel.

4. Or by importing new meanings into orthodox terms.

5. Or by mixing the truth of Christ with errors.

6. Or by openly denying the Deity of Him who died on the cross, and the substitutionary character of His sufferings.

Indeed, there are a thousand ways of showing that the Cross offends us in one respect or another.

III. What then?

1. Herein is folly, that men are offended with that which God ordains; with that which must win the day; with the only thing which can save them; with that which is full of wisdom and beauty.

2. Herein is grace, that we who once were offended by the Cross, now find it to be

3. Herein is heart-searching.

Many professed Christians never cause offence to the most godless.

(a) Is this because they bear no testimony to the Cross?

(b) Is this because they are not crucified to the world?

(c) Is this because there is no real trust in the Cross, and no true knowledge of Christ? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The slandered apostle

I. The report spread about Paul.

1. What it was--that he preached circumcision: from whence we see that ministers are subject to defamation, not only in respect of their lives but of their doctrine.

2. How it came about. Probably by the circumcision of Timothy. Hence we see the fashion of the world to raise reports on light occasions.

II. Paul’s defence.

1. AS it was more than a mere personal matter, and one that affected the purity and success of the gospel, he was obliged to notice it.

2. Paul disproves the charge from the fact that he is persecuted for not doing what he is charged with doing. Hence we see

3. Paul proves his innocence by the fact that the offence of the Cross was not abolished. It still offended the lapsed Galatians and their teachers. Hence this charge. (W. Perkins.)

Preach the Cross

Let others hold forth the terrors of hell and the joys of heaven. Let others drench their congregations with teachings about the sacraments and the Church. Give me the Cross of Christ. This is the only lever which has ever turned the world upside down hitherto, and made men forsake their sins. And, if this will not, nothing will. A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he knows something of the Cross. Never was there a minister, who did much for the conversion of souls, who did not dwell much on Christ crucified. Luther, Rutherford, Whitefield, M’Cheyne, were all most eminent preachers of the Cross. This is the preaching that the Holy Ghost delights to bless. He loves to honour those who honour the Cross. (Bishop Ryle.)

The offence of the Cross

Luther was offered to be made a cardinal if be would be quiet. He answered, “No, not if I might be pope,” and defends himself thus against those that thought him haply a proud fool for his pains: “Let me be counted fool, or anything, so I be not found guilty of cowardly silence.” The Papists, when they could not rule him, railed at him, and called him an apostate. He confesseth the action, and saith, “I am indeed an apostate, but a blessed and holy apostate--one that hath fallen off from the devil.” Then they called him devil; but what saith he? “Luther is a devil; be it so: but Christ liveth and reigneth; that’s enough for Luther: so be it.” Nay, such was the activity of Luther’s spirit, that, when Erasmus was asked by the Elector of Saxony why the pope and his clergy could so little abide Luther, he answered, “For two great offences--meddling with the pope’s triple crown and the monk’s fat paunches.” And hence was all the hatred. (Spencer.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:11". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling, block of the cross been done away.

If I still preach circumcision ... This evidently refers to the allegations of the false teachers to the effect that Paul himself taught circumcision, an argument they reinforced, no doubt, by appealing to the known instance of Paul's circumcising Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess (Acts 16:3). Paul's reason for doing that, however, had nothing whatever to do with Timothy's salvation, but was for the purpose of avoiding and frustrating Jewish persecution. Any allegation that Paul considered circumcision as related in any manner to salvation was effectively denied by the fact that "if Paul indeed honored circumcision in any such way, the Jews would have stopped persecuting him."

The stumbling-block of the cross ... The cross of Christ was preeminently above everything else the center and citadel of Christian hope; and if Paul trusted circumcision for anything, reliance upon the Great Atonement would have been forfeited. But is is not forfeited. The cross remains!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/galatians-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/galatians-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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 (Acts 16:3; compare also Acts 20:6; Acts 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 (1 Corinthians 7:18, 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 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, 1 Corinthians 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 (Galatians 5:2, Galatians 5:4). 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] (Hebrews 12:18-21).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.
In his great desire to recall the Galatians, Paul draws himself into the argument. He says: "Because I refuse to recognize circumcision as a factor in our salvation, I have brought upon myself the hatred and persecution of my whole nation. If I were to acknowledge circumcision the Jews would cease to persecute me; in fact they would love and praise me. But because I preach the Gospel of Christ and the righteousness of faith I must suffer persecution. The false apostles know how to avoid the Cross and the deadly hatred of the Jewish nation. They preach circumcision and thus retain the favor of the Jews. If they had their way they would ignore all differences in doctrine and preserve unity at all cost. But their unionistic dreams cannot be realized without loss to the pure doctrine of the Cross. It would be too bad if the offense of the Cross were to cease." To the Corinthians he expressed the same conviction: "Christ sent me. . .to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (I Cor. 1:17.)

Here someone may be tempted to call the Christians crazy. Deliberately to court danger by preaching and confessing the truth, and thus to bring upon ourselves the hatred and enmity of the whole world, is this not madness? But Paul does not mind the enmity of the world. It made him all the bolder to confess Christ. The enmity of the world in his estimation augurs well for the success and growth of the Church, which fares best in times of persecution. When the offense of the Cross ceases, when the rage of the enemies of the Cross abates, when everything is quiet, it is a sign that the devil is the door-keeper of the Church and that the pure doctrine of God's Word has been lost.

Saint Bernard observed that the Church is in best shape when Satan assaults it on every side by trickery and violence; and in worst shape when it is at peace. In support of his statement he quotes the passage from the song of Hezekiah: "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness." Paul looks with suspicion upon any doctrine that does not provoke antagonism.

Persecution always follows on the heels of the Word of God as the Psalmist experienced. "I believe, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted." (Psalm 116:10.) The Christians are accused and slandered without mercy. Murderers and thieves receive better treatment than Christians. The world regards true Christians as the worst offenders, for whom no punishment can be too severe. The world hates the Christians with amazing brutality, and without compunction commits them to the most shameful death, congratulating itself that it has rendered God and the cause of peace a distinct service by ridding the world of the undesired presence of these Christians. We are not to let such treatment cause us to falter in our adherence to Christ. As long as we experience such persecutions we know all is well with the Gospel.

Jesus held out the same comfort to His disciples in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven." The Church must not come short of this joy. I would not want to be at peace with the pope, the bishops, the princes, and the sectarians, unless they consent to our doctrine. Unity with them would be an unmistakable sign that we have lost the true doctrine. Briefly, as long as the Church proclaims the doctrine she must suffer persecution, because the Gospel declares the mercy and glory of God. This in turn stirs up the devil, because the Gospel shows him up for what he is, the devil, and not God. Therefore as long as the Gospel holds sway persecution plays the accompaniment, or else there is something the matter with the devil. When he is hit you will know it by the havoc he raises everywhere.

So do not be surprised or offended when hell breaks loose. Look upon it as a happy indication that all is well with the Gospel of the Cross. God forbid that the offense of the Cross should ever be removed. This would be the case if we were to preach what the prince of this world and his followers would be only too glad to hear, the righteousness of works. You would never know the devil could be so gentle, the world so sweet, the Pope so gracious, and the princes so charming. But because we seek the advantage and honor of Christ, they persecute us all around.

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Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mlg/galatians-5.html. Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Why am I still persecuted? (τι ετι διωκομαιti eti diōkomai̇). Some of the Judaizers even circulated the slander that Paul preached circumcision in order to ruin his influence.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/galatians-5.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

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.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/galatians-5.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

But if I still preach circumcision — As that troubler seems to have affirmed, probably taking occasion from his having circumcised Timothy.

Why do I still suffer persecution? 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 law. Yet St. Paul did not condemn the conforming, out of condescension to the weakness of any one, even to the ceremonial law; but he did absolutely condemn those who taught it as necessary to justification.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

It would seem from this passage that Paul had himself been charged with adhering to the necessity of circumcision.--Persecution; that is, from the Jews.--Is the offence--ceased; it would cease.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/galatians-5.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

За что же гонят меня. Доказательство от целевой причины. Я избежал бы, говорит апостол, ненависть человеков, опасности и гонения, если бы захотел смешивать Христа с внешними обрядами. Настаивая же так упорно на противоположном, я делаю это не ради себя, и не ради собственной выгоды. Но следует ли из этого, что его учение истинно? Отвечаю: правое намерение и чистая совесть учителя немало способствуют укреплению веры в его слова. Потом, нет такого безумного человека, который добровольно навлекал бы на себя зло. Наконец, Павел бросает подозрение на своих противников, намекая, что, проповедуя обрезание, они больше заботятся о собственном спокойствии, нежели о добросовестном служении Христу. Итог таков: осуждая поиск людского благоволения и похвалы, Павел отстраняется от всякого превозношения и всякой алчности. Он скорее подвергнет себя гонениям и ярости других, нежели хоть на волос уклонится от чистоты Евангелия.

Тогда соблазн креста. Павел охотно называет Евангелие крестом или проповедью о кресте, желая противопоставить его простоту человеческим представлениям о мудрости и праведности. Ибо и иудеи, и эллины призирали невзрачность Евангелия: одни – из-за ложной уверенности в собственной праведности, а другие – из-за глупого превозношения своей мудростью. Итак, говоря, что после проповеди обрезания уже нет никакого соблазна креста, Павел разумеет, что иудеи больше не стали бы его тревожить, но утихомирились бы и признали его учительство, поелику их не оскорбило бы искаженное Евангелие, составленное из Христа и Моисея. Наоборот, подобная смесь весьма приемлема для них, поелику сохраняет за ними их достоинство.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 11. Why do I yet suffer persecution] From the Jews zealous of the law. It is well observed that the nearer any are unto a conjunction in matters of religion, and yet some difference retained, the deeper is the hatred. {a} A Jew hates a Christian worse than he doth a Turk or Pagan. A Papist hates a Protestant worse than he doth a Jew, &c.

{a} Dr Day upon 1 Corinthians 16:9.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 5:11. Persecution? The persecution which St. Paul was still under, was a convincing argument that he was not for circumcision and subjection to the law; for it was from the Jews, upon that account, that at this time arose almost all the persecutions which the Christians suffered;—as may be seen throughout the history of the Acts: nor are there wanting clear footsteps of it in several other places of this Epistle, as ch. Galatians 3:4, Galatians 6:12-14.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/galatians-5.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Our apostle, in these words, signifies to us, that some of the judaizing teachers had suggested to the Galatians, as if he himself had preached elsewhere the doctrine of circumcision, and also practised the duty of circumcision, (by circumcising Timothy,) which here he opposes. "True, he did circumcise Timothy, but it was only to avoid offending the weak Jews, not out of any opinion which he had touching the necessity of circumcision: therefore, to discover to them the falsehood of that suggestion, he declares, that if he would have preached circumcision, he might have escaped persecution; the Jews were his persecutors, looking upon him as an apostate from their holy religion, for preaching up the abolishment of the Mosaic law."

Where observe, That the Jews, who looked upon themselves to be the people, yea, the peculiar and only people of God, and accounted all others contemptible and profane, were yet far greater persecutors of Christ and his apostles than the blind and barbarous Heathen, and all this out of zeal for God and his law: Why do I yet suffer persecution? implying, that the Jews did persecute him, that his not preaching circumcision was the cause why they did so.

He adds, Then is the offence of the cross ceased.

By the cross, may be understood either, 1. The doctrine of the cross, the doctrine of the gospel; and then the sense is, the Jews would not have taken such offence at my preaching the doctrine of the gospel as they do, were it not because by it circumcision, and the whole frame of the old legal administration, are laid aside.

Or else, 2. By the cross, may be understood the afflictions and sufferings which he underwent for the sake of Christ and his holy religion; and the sense then is, Verily, all my suffering had long since been at an end, would I but have yielded the Jews this point, that Christians are obliged to circumcision, and to yield obedience to the law of Moses; would I grant them this, my sufferings would soon be at an end; but my daily persecutions are evident demonstrations that I do not preach up circumcision; for had I so done, the offences of the cross had long since ceased.

Learn hence, That the faithful ministers of Jesus Chrsit, will not, dare not, conceal any part of the necessary truth, when the imminent hazard of people's salvation calls for the preaching of it, though the embittered enemies of religion should raise against them the fiercest persecution for the same: If I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/galatians-5.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

11.] The connexion appears to be this: the Apostle had apparently been charged with being a favourer of circumcision in other churches; as shewn e.g. by his having circumcised Timothy. After the preceding sharp denunciation of ὁ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς, and ὅστις ἐὰν ᾖ, it is open to the adversaries to say, that Paul himself was one of their ταράσσοντες, by his inconsistency. In the abruptness then of his fervid thoughts he breaks out in this self-defence. ἐγώ, emphatic as before.

περιτομήν has the chief emphasis, as the new element in the sentence, and not κηρύσσω, as Chrys. ( οὐ γὰρ εἶπεν ὅτι περιτομὴν οὐκ ἐργάζομαι, ἀλλά, οὐ κηρύσσω, τουτέστιν, οὐχ οὕτω κελεύω πιστεύειν), al.,—its position not allowing this. The first ἔτι is best understood, as referring, not to any change in his preaching as an Apostle (for he appears always to have been of the same mind, and certainly was from the first persecuted by the Jews), but to the change since his conversion, before which he was a strenuous fautor of Judaism. Olsh. objects to this, that κηρύσσω could not be used of that period. But this (even if it be necessary to press κηρύσ. so far into matter of fact) cannot be said with any certainty:—the course of Saul as a zealot may have often led him even to preach, if not circumcision in its present debated position, yet that strict Judaism of which it formed a part.

τί ἔτι διώκ.] ἔτι is logical, as in reff. (De W.): i.e., what further excuse is there for my being (as I am) persecuted (by the Jews)? For, if this is so, if I still preach circumcision, ἄρα, then is brought to nought, is done away, the OFFENCE (reff. stumbling-block, σκάνδ. has the emphasis) of the cross—because, if circumcision, and not faith in Christ crucified, is the condition of salvation, then the Cross has lost its offensive character to the Jew: οὐδὲ γὰρ οὕτως ὁ σταυρὸς ἦν ὁ σκανδαλίζων τοὺς ἰουδαίους, ὡς τὸ μὴ δεῖν πείθεσθαι τοῖς πατρῴοις νόμοις. καὶ γὰρ τὸν στέφανον προσενέγκοντες, οὐκ εἶπον ὅτι οὗτος τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον προσκυνεῖ, ἀλλʼ ὅτι κατὰ τοῦ νόμου κ. τοῦ τόπου λέγει τοῦ ἁγίου. Chrys.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2081

OFFENCE OF THE CROSS

Galatians 5:11. Then is the offence of the cross ceased.

THE Gospel, in the first ages, was an object of hatred and persecution both amongst Jews and Gentiles: to the Jews it was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:23.]:” and it was the one constant labour of them both to corrupt it; the one by their traditions; the other by that which was falsely called philosophy. Hence, whilst those opposite parties felt the utmost contempt for each other, they united their efforts against Christianity; as Herod and Pontius Pilate had done for the destruction of its Founder.

In the passage before us, St. Paul is guarding his converts against the attempts of the Judaizing teachers; who sought to bring back their brethren to a dependence on the law, and who laboured even to subject the Gentile converts also to an observance of the Mosaic ritual. Circumcision, in particular, was that which these teachers insisted on as ordained of God and as of perpetual obligation. St. Paul tells the Galatians, that the whole of the Mosaic ritual was abrogated; and that they must never suffer any one to bring them into subjection to it [Note: ver. 1.]. If he would have consented that the Jews should blend the Law with the Gospel, they would have been well pleased with him and with his doctrines too: “If,” says he, “I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? for then is the offence of the cross ceased.”

From these words I will endeavour to shew,

1. Whence it is that the doctrine of the cross gives offence—

The doctrine of the cross is simply that declaration, that Christ died upon the cross for our redemption, and that through his obedience unto death we must obtain favour with God — — —

Now this doctrine uniformly gives offence to those who hear it, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. For it is,

1. An humiliating doctrine—

[It brings down all men upon a level; so far, at least, that they must renounce all dependence on themselves, and seek for salvation solely through the righteousness of another. It leaves no room for any man to boast, or to glory in any thing that he possesses. The best, as well as the worst, must owe their salvation simply and entirely to Christ, from first to last — — —]

2. An unaccommodating doctrine—

[It will not bend to men’s prejudices or passions: nor must its advocates “give way to any one, no, not for an hour.” Moral works, as well as ceremonial, must be excluded utterly from the office of justifying the soul; and the whole glory must be given to Christ alone — — —]

3. A peremptory doctrine—

[It appeals not to our reason, but demands assent to its dictates. It requires the most perfect submission to all that it inculcates; and threatens with eternal damnation every one who withholds his assent from its truths, or his obedience to its commands. Its plain declaration is, “He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.”

On these grounds, I say, it is hated. It is esteemed licentious, bigoted, severe: licentious, as denying any merit to works, and therefore cutting off all motives for the performance of them; bigoted, as admitting of no relaxation, but binding all persons to receive it simply as it is; and severe, as denouncing such heavy judgments on all who cannot bring their minds to embrace it.]

The Apostle clearly supposes that this character is essential to the Gospel; and that it will, to the remotest ages, give the same offence. We inquire therefore,

II. Why it can never cease to do so—

Two reasons may be assigned;

1. The Gospel must ever remain the same—

[No alteration has ever taken place in it, or ever can take place. It is a revelation of the way which God has devised for the salvation of fallen man. He gave up his only-begotten Son to die for us, and by his own blood to make an atonement for our sins. The Lord Jesus Christ has executed this great work, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. “That cross we preach,” as the one only means of reconciling man to God: and all the servants of God have but this one testimony to bear; namely, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.].” We have nothing to announce about the merits of man: we are not authorized to make any distinction between one man and another: we are to bear the same testimony to all, whether Jews or Greeks, bond or free: and without hesitation must we declare to all, that “no other foundation of hope for sinful man can ever be laid, than that which God has laid, which is Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:11.];” and that “there is no other name given under heaven whereby any man can be saved [Note: Acts 4:12.].”

Now, if this could admit of any change, or any modification, we might hope to please men: but we are shut up to this: we can preach nothing else; and they must hear nothing else: and if they will not receive this, there is no alternative left them: perish they must, and under an accumulated condemnation too: for they will be judged, not only as transgressors of the law, but as despisers of the Gospel also; and, consequently, will have a far sorer punishment to bear, than if they had never heard of the salvation provided for them.]

2. Human nature ever remains the same—

[Men are born into the world with all the same propensities as they were in the apostolic age. Man has, by nature, the same pride of heart, that rises against the humiliating doctrines before specified. Every one wishes to have within himself some ground of glorying. To be stripped naked, as it were, without so much as one “rag of righteousness,” as the Scripture expresses it, to cover him [Note: Isaiah 64:6.], is more than he can endure. To be nothing, that Christ may be all, is a hard lesson.

Again: the heart of man is as worldly as ever: it affects not the things that are above, but the things only of time and sense. But the same Gospel which requires such self-renunciation in its principles, requires no less self-denial in its practice. We must “live not in any degree to ourselves,” but wholly and unchangeably “unto Him who died for us, and rose again.” To this our carnal hearts will not submit: and until the heart be changed by grace, it will ever quarrel with these appointments, as unreasonably precise. In no point of view whatever is the Gospel palatable to the carnal mind: let a new heart be given to a man, and all will be well: but, whilst the heart of man continues what it is, “the offence of the cross can never cease.”]

Address—

1. Let none reject the Gospel on account of the offence attaching to it—

[Many conceive the doctrine of the cross must be erroneous, because it is everywhere spoken against. But, if this is any argument against the doctrine now, it was so equally in the apostolic age; for the enmity of mankind against it was most inveterate and universal. I will certainly grant, that the existence of enmity against any doctrine will not of itself prove that doctrine to be true; for then the most pernicious tenets of the wildest enthusiasts would have a claim to our belief. But this is certain, that any Gospel which gives no offence, must be false. There are multitudes who hear what they call the Gospel, and are extremely well pleased with it: the worldly approve it: the self-righteous approve it: even the most profligate find no fault with it. Can that, I ask, be the Gospel which Paul preached? It is impossible. I know, indeed, that there is a way of preaching even truth itself without offence: but the truth, the whole truth delivered with authority as the truth of God must give offence. Men have no alternative left them, but to be offended with the preacher, or with themselves. And the very offence which they take is so far from being an argument against the doctrines they have heard, that it is a presumptive argument in their favour. If, then, you hear the doctrine of the cross firmly stated, and find that it gives offence, take it and compare it with the doctrine which St. Paul delivered: and, if you find that it accords with his, then embrace it, and hold it fast, and glory in it; saying, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,”]

2. Let none cause others to reject it, by giving any needless offence—

[Many who have embraced the Gospel are sadly inattentive to the feelings and prejudices of those around them. They will run into many absurdities, without ever considering what stumbling-blocks they lay in the way of their unconverted brethren. Some give great offence by the crude and partial statements which they make of the Gospel; and others, by the harsh, uncharitable, and contemptuous way in which they speak of those who do not accord with their views. It is a great misfortune to the world to have such persons connected with them; because they are almost of necessity led to impute to the Gospel itself the indiscretions and absurdities of those who profess it. Let these incautious professors consider what evil they do, and what guilt they contract: for if there is a “woe to the world because of offences, there is a double woe to those by whom the offence cometh.” As for those who cause “the way of truth to be evil spoken of” by their inconsistent conduct, by their neglect of their own proper calling; for instance, by a want of truth in their words, or integrity in their dealings; “let them look to it;” for evil is before them: and the very Gospel which they so dishonour will plunge them into tenfold perdition. Let all who profess the Gospel see to it, “that they give no needless offence in any thing.” Let them rather be far more observant of the whole of their duty, that they may “give no occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully:” and let it be their one continued care to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

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. . ἐ̓ διωκόμην 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; Philippians 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; Philippians 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.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

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.

D corrected later, Gfg, omit ἔτι. But AB Vulg. and Rec. Text retain it. C has εἴ τι.—ED.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/galatians-5.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/galatians-5.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

и теперь проповедую обрезание Очевидно, сторонники Иудаизма безосновательно утверждали, что Павел согласен с их учением. А он отмечает, что если он проповедует обрезание как необходимый элемент спасения, то почему же тогда сторонники иудаизма гонят его вместо того, чтобы поддержать его?

соблазн креста В греч. эквивалент слова, переведенного как «соблазн», может означать «капкан», «западня» или «камень преткновения». Всякий вариант спасения, который исключает возможность заработать его человеческими усилиями, порождает оппозицию (ср. Рим. 9:33).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

If I yet preach; that circumcision is needful to salvation, as the false teachers maintained.

Then; if he had so preached he would have agreed with the Jews, and escaped their persecutions.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Family Bible New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/galatians-5.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

Galatians 5:11. ᾿εγὼ δέ, ἀδελφοί, εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω, τί ἔτι διώκομαι;—“But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?” The first ἔτι is omitted in some MSS. The difficulty of the temporal allusion may have suggested the omission. He never or at any time preached circumcision since he became an apostle. The ἐγώ is again emphatic in position and expression—“as for me;” and the δέ is not transitional simply, but indicates a contrast. There were troublers among them, and they shall bear their judgment. Such a crimination did not apply to him, though he had been unjustly charged. It would seem that some of these troublers alleged his patronage, and were sheltering themselves under his example. He had circumcised Timothy; nay, to Jews he became as a Jew; and his practice, misunderstood, might be quoted in favour of Judaizing inconsistency. But, in direct opposition to all arguments and apologies, he says, “As for me, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?” εἰ κηρύσσω-if I preach-if it be a fact that I preach. See under Galatians 1:9. The ἔτι refers to a period prior to his conversion, when, of course, circumcision was a prominent article of his creed and advocacy. He may have taken the word κηρύσσω from his present form of labour, and applied it, though not with perfect accuracy, to his previous maintenance of Judaism in its integrity (Galatians 1:14). The present tense is used, as if borrowed from the allegation of his opponents-he preaches yet circumcision,- περιτομήν having the stress. To preach circumcision is to maintain the observance of it to be necessary to salvation, and that all Gentile converts should submit to it as essential to their admission to the church, and their hope of final acceptance.

The apostle's reply to the charge of preaching circumcision is decisive- τί ἔτι διώκομαι—“why am I still persecuted?” This second ἔτι may be regarded, but not necessarily, not as temporal, but as logical- Romans 3:7; Romans 9:19 —“If I preach circumcision, what reason is there that I should be persecuted?” The fact of his being persecuted by the Jews and Judaists was surely a proof that he was neither preaching circumcision, nor was regarded by them as preaching it. Had he been preaching circumcision, would not they have joyfully clung to him? The conclusion is inevitable-

῎αρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ—“then the offence of the cross is done away with.” 1 Corinthians 1:23. A and C, 39, 40, add τοῦ χριστοῦ, and so Jerome with the Coptic and AEthiopic versions. The addition is an exegetical emendation. The Syriac version takes the clause interrogatively, and Knapp and Vater so point it. Bengel is not disinclined to it, and Usteri and Ewald adopt it. But there is no necessity for it, and the statement by such a turn becomes feebler in character. The particle ἄρα leads to a somewhat unexpected conclusion (Klotz-Devarius, ii. p. 160. See under Galatians 2:17; Galatians 2:21)—“those things being so”—“then after all,” ergo in the Latin versions. The noun σκάνδαλον occurs often in the New Testament and the Septuagint, and properly is not offence, but that at which one stumbles or takes offence-found with its literal meaning, Leviticus 19:14 - ἀπέναντι τυφλοῦ οὐ προσθήσεις σκάνδαλον, but only tropically in the New Testament. Morus and others understand σταυρός figuratively, as denoting suffering on account of Christ. But this sense weakens the declaration, for the apostle speaks directly of Christ's cross as involved in the controversy, and in the phrase adduced from Matthew 16:24 it is his own cross that a man is asked to take up. The offence of the cross is the offence which the Jews took at the idea of salvation through the Crucified One, and Him alone: Galatians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 1:17; Philippians 2:8. Salvation by the blood of the cross was a sore stumblingblock to their national pride-an open affront to their cherished theology; for He that died on Calvary had been rejected by their people, and doomed for blasphemy and treason to a public execution. To speak of that instrument of shame and agony as the means of salvation inflamed their bitterest prejudices, and chafed them into an unscrupulous and malignant hostility, which plumed itself on doing God service when it put down and thwarted in every way, even unto death, the preachers and disciples of a crucified Messiah. 1 Thessalonians 2:15.

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/galatians-5.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But as for me brothers, if I still preach circumcision why am I still persecuted? Then the stumblingblock of the cross has been done away.’

Some may have pointed at cases like Timothy’s where he had allowed circumcision. And he no doubt still allowed Christian Jews to circumcise their sons if they wished to. But they then accuse him of ‘preaching circumcision’ by his actions. Thus he is at pains to defend himself. He points out that he suffers persecution precisely because he preaches the message of the cross as the only way of salvation, and rejects anything else as necessary for salvation. That is the stumblingblock of the cross, the fact that it does away with all merit and all deserving, that it brings all under the curse of God. It is that it tells us that the only way that we can be put in the right with God is by looking to One Who died on a cross, openly under God’s curse. It requires submission on the basis of total unworthiness. It rejects any attempt by men to contribute to their own salvation. The reason that the cross is a stumblingblock is because by it all else, and especially circumcision, is put in its proper place as not being essential. From a salvation point of view it is irrelevant, no matter what it is. It says that all must be accepted as cursed. Thus all ordinances and good works are excluded as contributing to salvation. Such ordinances, including circumcision, may be all right for those whose customs they are, as long as that is all that they make of it, but they must not be magnified into something supremely important, something essential to being saved. As Paul tells us elsewhere, what he is saying may be foolishness to men (1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25) but in it is revealed the wisdom of God.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/galatians-5.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Evidently some people were saying Paul advocated circumcision. He may have preached it before his Damascus road conversion, but since then he had stopped. Probably Paul meant that the accusation of his critics that he preached circumcision when it suited him was not true (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:18). [Note: Boice, p490.] Paul thought it wise for some Christians, such as Timothy, to undergo circumcision for the sake of effective ministry ( Acts 16:3). However, he did not teach that it was necessary for salvation.

Paul"s point here was that if he taught circumcision was necessary for salvation the Judaizers would not have persecuted him. If people need circumcision, they do not need the cross of Christ. The legalists opposed Paul"s preaching of the Cross because it implied that people are unable to please God themselves.

"The skandalon [stumbling block] of the cross, for Jews (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23), lay in the curse which it involved for one who was hanged on it (cf. Galatians 3:13). That one who died such a death should be proclaimed as Lord and Christ was intolerable. In the eyes of Gentiles the idea that salvation depended on one who had neither the wit nor the power to save himself from so disreputable a death was the height of folly. But there is a more general skandalon attached to the cross, one of which Paul is probably thinking here: it cuts the ground from under every thought of personal achievement or merit where God"s salvation is in view. To be shut up to receiving salvation from the crucified one, if it is to be received at all, is an affront to all notions of proper self-pride and self-help-and for many people this remains a major stumbling-block in the gospel of Christ crucified. If I myself can make some small contribution, something even so small as the acceptance of circumcision, then my self-esteem is uninjured." [Note: Bruce, pp237-38.]

In short, Paul"s gospel was a stumbling block for two reasons: it presented a crucified Messiah and it advocated a way of salvation apart from circumcision and the Law.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/galatians-5.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:11. If I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then hath the offence (or stumbling block) of the cross been done away. The first ‘still’ refers to the time since his conversion from Judaism. If circumcision is preached as a condition of salvation, then the cross, that is, the crucifixion, the doctrine of salvation by the atoning death of Christ, has lost its offensive character to the Jews, and there is no further reason for persecution by the Jews. The false teachers had probably spread the malicious report that Paul himself preached circumcision, because he practised it in the case of Timothy who had a Jewish mother (Acts 16:1-3); but this was exceptional and a measure of expediency and charity, not a surrender of the principle.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/galatians-5.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

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.— . The interrogative is far more appropriate to the context than the inferential . 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?”

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

if Greek. ei. App-118.

preach. Greek. kerusso. App-121.

do I, &c. = am I still persecuted.

offence. Greek. skandalon. See 1 Corinthians 1:23.

ceased. Greek. katargeo. See Galatians 5:4.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/galatians-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

'If I am still preaching (as I did before conversion) circumcision, why am I still persecuted?' The Judaizing troubler said, 'Paul himself preaches circumcision,' as is shown by his having circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3 : cf. Acts 21:24). Paul by anticipation meets their objection. As regards myself, the fact that I am still persecuted by the Jews shows that I do not preach circumcision; for it is just because I preach Christ crucified, not the Mosaic law, as the sole ground of justification, that they persecute me. If for conciliation be lived as a Jew among Jews, it was in accordance with his principle (1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 9:20). Circumcision or uncircumcision are things indifferent in themselves: their lawfulness or unlawfulness depends on the animus of him who used them. The Gentile Galatians' animus in circumcision could only be their supposition that it influenced favourably their standing before God. Paul's living as a Gentile among Gentiles showed that, if he observed Jewish rites, 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 stumblingblock to the Gospel in the way of his countrymen.

Then - presuming I did so, 'then after all,' in that case, the offence of (stumblingblock, 1 Corinthians 1:23, occasioned to the Jews by) the cross has become done away' [katergetai]. 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 have borne the former, if he had mixed with it justification by circumcision and the law, and if he had, through 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 (Galatians 5:2; Galatians 5:4). Worldly Wiseman, of the town of Carnal Policy, turns Christian out of the narrow way of the Cross to the house of legality. Bat the way to it was up a mountain, which, as Christian advanced, threatened to fall on and crush him, amidst lightning flashes from the mountain ('Pilgrim's Progress;' Hebrews 12:18-21).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(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.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/galatians-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
if
2:3; Acts 16:3
why
4:29; 6:12,17; Acts 21:21,28; 22:21,22; 23:13,14; 1 Corinthians 15:30; 2 Corinthians 11:23-26
the offence
Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:32,33; 1 Corinthians 1:18,23; 1 Peter 2:8,9
Reciprocal: Matthew 5:30 - offend;  Matthew 11:6 - whosoever;  Acts 15:19 - that;  Galatians 2:18 - GeneralEphesians 3:1 - for;  Philippians 1:10 - without;  1 Thessalonians 2:16 - Forbidding

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

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

He has already alluded to the fact that those of bondage persecute those of freedom and grace, and he states clearly that he is persecuted, implying that it was coming from the Judaizers. Evidently someone had accused Paul of preaching obedience to the law and he logically dispels this rumor.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

11.And I, brethren—In antithesis to the above whoever.

If I yet I preach circumcision—As charged by this whosoever. The original charge was probably at first based on the case of Timothy. See notes on Acts 16:3 and Galatians 2:3. Paul’s policy of becoming, in nonessentials, all things to all men—even a Jew to Jews—treating the mere act of circumcision, where it involved no vital concession, as admissible—enabled the Judaist to pretend that in the other Pauline Churches Paul preached circumcision.

Yet—Since my conversion, as I did before my conversion.

Why’ suffer persecution—His endurances and scars were ample proof that he was a most consistent and uncompromising opponent of the foundation rite of Judaism.

Yet—Continually, while I am continually preaching circumcision.

Then—In case I preach justification by circumcision I make the cross a mere appendage.

Offence’ ceased— There is no ground for all these hostilities of Judaism toward me. The attacks of these Judaizers are my defence. They persecute me, and, therefore, they are untrue when they say that I preach circumcision elsewhere than in Galatia.

 

 

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

11. But as for me. “My enemies tell you that I still preach circumcision, and perhaps point to Timothy as an example. But if that were true, why would they continue to persecute me??? If I did preach that circumcision were necessary to salvation, my offensive preaching about Christ-on-the-cross would cause no trouble with the circumcision party and the unbelieving Jews!” (Compare 1 Corinthians 1:23and note.)

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/galatians-5.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

11.And I, brethren. This argument, is drawn from the final cause. “It would be completely in my power,” he says, “to avoid the displeasure of men, and every kind of danger and persecution, were I only to mix ceremonies with Christ. The earnestness with which I oppose them is not on my own account, nor for my own advantage.” But does it therefore follow that his doctrine is true? I answer, proper feelings and pure conscience, when manifested by a teacher, have no small share in obtaining confidence. Besides, it cannot be believed that any man would be so mad as to take measures, of his own accord, for bringing distress upon himself. Lastly, he throws upon his adversaries the suspicion, that, in preaching circumcision, they were more disposed to consult their own ease than to be faithful in the service of Christ. In short, Paul was at the farthest remove from ambition, covetousness, or regard to personal interest, since he despised favor and applause, and exposed himself to the persecutions and fury of the multitude rather than swerve a hair’s-breadth from the purity of the gospel.

Then is the offense of the cross ceased. Willingly does Paul, in speaking of the gospel, call it the cross, or the preaching of the cross, when he wishes to bring its poor, simple style, into contrast with the “great swelling words” (Jude 1:16) of human wisdom or righteousness. For the Jews, puffed up with an ill-founded confidence in their righteousness, and the Greeks, with a foolish belief of their wisdom, despised the meanness of the gospel. When therefore he says that now, If the preaching of circumcision be admitted, the offense of the cross will no longer exist, he means that the gospel will meet with no annoyance from the Jews, but will be taught with their entire concurrence. And why? Because they will no longer take offense at a pretended and spurious gospel, gathered out of Moses and out of Christ, but will look with greater indulgence on that mixture which will leave them in possession of their former superiority.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.