Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:12

I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
New American Standard Version

Adam Clarke Commentary

I would they were even cut off which trouble you - This saying has puzzled many, and different interpretations of the place have been proposed by learned men.

At first sight it seems as if the apostle was praying for the destruction of the false teachers who had perverted the Churches of Galatia. Mr. Wakefield thought οφελον αποκοψονται might be translated, I wish that they were made to weep; and in his translation of the New Testament the passage stands thus: "I wish that they who are unsettling you may lament it." I believe the apostle never meant any such thing. As the persons who were breeding all this confusion in the Churches of Galatia were members of that Church, the apostle appears to me to be simply expressing his desire that they might be cut off or excommunicated from the Church. Kypke has given an abundance of examples where the word is used to signify amputating; cutting off from society, office, etc.; excluding. In opposition to the notion of excommunication, it might be asked: "Why should the apostle wish these to be excommunicated when it was his own office to do it?" To this it may be answered: The apostle's authority was greatly weakened among that people by the influence of the false teachers, so that in all probability he could exercise no ecclesiastical function; he could therefore only express his wish. And the whole passage is so parallel to that, 1 Corinthians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 5:7, that I think there can be no reasonable doubt of the apostle's meaning: Let those who are unsettling the Church of Christ in your district be excommunicated; this is my wish, that they should no longer have any place among you."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I would they were even cut off - That is, as I understand it, from the communion of the church. So far am I, says Paul, from agreeing with them, and preaching the necessity of circumcision as they do, that I sincerely wish they were excluded from the church as unworthy a place among the children of God. For a very singular and monstrous interpretation of this passage, though adopted by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Jerome, Grotius, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and others, the learned reader may consult Koppe on this verse. To my amazement, I find that this interpretation has also been adopted by Robinson in his Lexicon, on the word ἀποκόπτω apokoptōI will state the opinion in the words of Koppe. “Non modo circumcidant se, sed, si velint, etiam mutilant se - ipsa genitalia resecent.” The simple meaning is, I think, that Paul wished that the authors of these errors and disturbances were excluded from the church.

Which trouble you - Who pervert the true doctrines of salvation, and who thus introduce error into the church. Error always sooner or later causes trouble; compare the note at 1 Corinthians 5:7.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:12

I would they were even cut off that trouble you.

Reasons for Paul’s indignation

Not content with argument he charges the Judaizers with what is base, cowardly, and corrupt. They are mean and time-serving, and dread the loss of caste among their fellow-countrymen. His whole being at last becomes excited with indignation; his brow darkens; his feelings explode; and the flash and the thunderbolt leap forth in an anathema. Only something very serious could justify even an apostle in such a mode of conducting religious controversy. What was it? The error he denounced was--

1. A species of blasphemy against the Divine fact which constituted God’s method of reconciliation, and, as such, it shocked Paul’s love and reverence for the Christ it dishonoured (Galatians 2:21).

2. A species of apostasy from Christ, whatever might be their verbal profession of belief, and thus it shocked and was resented by his love for man (Galatians 5:2-5).

3. A thing absurd in itself, and, as such, it shocked his understanding (Galatians 2:16-18).

4. It opposed the idea of progress, intellectually considered, and it was thus inconsistent with Paul’s hope for humanity (Galatians 4:9).

5. It was a yoke put on the neck of the Gentiles, and, as such, it shocked the apostle’s respect for liberty, and offended and aroused his spirit of independence (Galatians 5:1).

6. It was an attempt to perpetuate a national distinction, and to keep up the supremacy of a particular people, and, as such, it offended St. Paul’s philanthropy and ran counter to his conviction of the design of the gospel, the oneness of the race, and the equality of the nations (Galatians 3:26-28).

7. It interfered with the bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit, and, as such, it grieved the apostle on account of his anxiety for the holiness of the Church (Galatians 3:2-3). (T. Binney.)

Church troublers

The Church is troubled--

I. By false doctrine; thus Ahab troubled Israel (1 Kings 18:18), and false apostles the Galatians.

II. By wicked example; thus Achan troubled Israel (Joshua 7:15).

III. By force and cruelty; thus tyrants and persecutors trouble the Church (Acts 12:1). (W. Perkins.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.

"The priests of Cybele, whom the Galatians had formerly worshipped,"[13] made themselves eunuchs. Also, "The cult of Attis, whose famous temples were at Rome and in Phrygia of Asia Minor, practiced sacral castration."[14] None of the Galatians, therefore, could misunderstand Paul's ironic, and perhaps humorous, remarks here. Paul was so disgusted with all the argument demanding circumcision that he uttered this outburst, which may be paraphrased, "It would be good if you fellows, always wanting to circumcise somebody, would just circumcise yourselves like those priests of Cybele!" Criticism of Paul's remark here is unbecoming, for the remark is a protest, not any sort of recommendation.

Before moving to a study of the next paragraph, the student should observe the double reference "in Christ" (Galatians 5:6) and "in the Lord" (Galatians 5:10), indicating the ever-present consciousness on his part of the dominating concept which pervades all of his writings, that salvation is always a matter of one's being "in Christ," who alone is righteous, and whose perfect faith and perfect obedience are the only true ground of redemption for any man. When one is "baptized into Christ" be becomes Christ, in the sense of being part of his spiritual body, being saved, not in his own identity, but "as Christ." This expression, "in Christ," or its equivalent, is found 169 times in Paul's writings.

ENDNOTE:

[13] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 956.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

I would they were even cut off which trouble you. These words are a solemn wish of the apostle's with respect to the false teachers, or an imprecation of the judgment of God upon them; that they might be cut off out of the land of the living by the immediate hand of God, that they might do no more mischief to the churches of Christ: this he said not out of hatred to their persons, but from a concern for the glory of God, and the good of his people. The word here used answers to the Hebrew word קפח, and which is often made use of by the Jews in solemn imprecations; we readF15T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 85. 1. of a righteous man, מקפח את בניו, "that cut off his children": the gloss upon it is,

"he used to say, when he made any imprecation, אקפח את בני, "may I cut off my children";'

that is, may they die, may they be cut off by the hand of God, and I bury them;

"says R. TarphonF16T. Bab. Sabbat, fol, 116. 1. , may my children be "cut off", if these books of heretics come into my hands, that I will burn them;'

and says the same RabbiF17T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 17. 1. Misn. Oholot, c. 16. sect. 1. & Maimon, in Bartenora in ib. may I "cut off" my children, or may my children be cut off, if this sentence or constitution is cut off, or should perish. There is another use of this word, which may have a place here, for it sometimes signifies to confute a person, or refute his notionF18T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 52. 2. Nazir, fol. 49. 2. .

"It is a tradition of the Rabbius, that after the departure of R. Meir, R. Judah said to his disciples, let not the disciples of R. Meir come in hither, for they are contentious; and not to learn the law do they come, but לקפחני בהלכות, "to cut me off"; (i.e. as the gloss says, to show how sharp they are that none can stand against them;) to confute and overcome me, by their sentences, or constitutions.'

So the apostle here might wish that the mouths of these false teachers were stopped, their notions refuted, that they might give them no more trouble; to which agrees the Arabic version; "they that trouble you I wish they were dumb"; or that their mouths were stopped, as such vain talkers should be; see Titus 1:10 or the sense of the apostle is, that it was his will and desire that these men should be cut off from the communion of the church; with which views he mentions the proverbial expression in Galatians 5:9 with which compare 1 Corinthians 5:6 or that they would cut themselves off, by withdrawing from them, going out from among them, and leaving them as these men sometimes did.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

11 I would they were even cut off which g trouble you.

(11) An example of a true pastor inflamed with the zeal of God's glory, and love for his flock.

(g) For those that preach the Law cause men's consciences to always tremble.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/galatians-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

which trouble you — Translate, as the Greek is different from Galatians 5:10, “they who are unsettling you.”

were even cut off — even as they desire your foreskin to be cut off and cast away by circumcision, so would that they were even cut off from your communion, being worthless as a castaway foreskin (Galatians 1:7, Galatians 1:8; compare Philemon 3:2). The fathers, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom, explain it, “Would that they would even cut themselves off,” that is, cut off not merely the foreskin, but the whole member: if circumcision be not enough for them, then let them have excision also; an outburst hardly suitable to the gravity of an apostle. But Galatians 5:9, Galatians 5:10 plainly point to excommunication as the judgment threatened against the troublers: and danger of the bad “leaven” spreading, as the reason for it.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
It hardly seems befitting an apostle, not only to denounce the false apostles as troublers of the Church, and to consign them to the devil, but also to wish that they were utterly cut off--what else would you call it but plain cursing? Paul, I suppose, is alluding to the rite of circumcision. As if he were saying to the Galatians: "The false apostles compel you to cut off the foreskin of your flesh. Well, I wish they themselves were utterly cut off by the roots."

We had better answer at once the question, whether it is right for Christians to curse. Certainly not always, nor for every little cause. But when things have come to such a pass that God and His Word are openly blasphemed, then we must say: "Blessed be God and His Word, and cursed be everything that is contrary to God and His Word, even though it should be an apostle, or an angel from heaven."

This goes to show again how much importance Paul attached to the least points of Christian doctrine, that he dared to curse the false apostles, evidently men of great popularity and influence. What right, then, have we to make little of doctrine? No matter how nonessential a point of doctrine may seem, if slighted it may prove the gradual disintegration of the truths of our salvation.

Let us do everything to advance the glory and authority of God's Word. Every tittle of it is greater than heaven and earth. Christian charity and unity have nothing to do with the Word of God. We are bold to curse and condemn all men who in the least point corrupt the Word of God, "for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

Paul does right to curse these troublers of the Galatians, wishing that they were cut off and rooted out of the Church of God and that their doctrine might perish forever. Such cursing is the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus Peter cursed Simon the sorcerer, "Thy money perish with thee." Many instances of this holy cursing are recorded in the sacred Scriptures, especially in the Psalms, e.g., "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell." (Psalm 55:15.)

THE DOCTRINE OF GOOD WORKS

Now come all kinds of admonitions and precepts. It was the custom of the apostles that after they had taught faith and instructed the conscience they followed it up with admonitions unto good works, that the believers might manifest the duties of love toward each other. In order to avoid the appearance as if Christianity militated against good works or opposed civil government, the Apostle also urges us to give ourselves unto good works, to lead an honest life, and to keep faith and love with one another. This will give the lie to the accusations of the world that we Christians are the enemies of decency and of public peace. The fact is we Christians know better what constitutes a truly good work than all the philosophers and legislators of the world because we link believing with doing.

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Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

I would (οπελονophelon). Would that, used as conjunction in wishes. See 1 Corinthians 4:8; note on 2 Corinthians 11:1. Here a wish about the future with future indicative.

They which unsettle you (οι αναστατουντες υμαςhoi anastatountes humas). Late verb from αναστατοςanastatos driven from one‘s abode, and in papyri in this sense as well as in sense of upsetting or disturbing one‘s mind (boy‘s letter) as here. In Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38 we have it in sense of making a commotion.

Cut themselves off (αποκοπσονταιapokopsontai). Future middle of αποκοπτωapokoptō old word to cut off as in Acts 27:32, here to mutilate.

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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 5:12". "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

They were cut off ( ἀποκόψονται )

More correctly, would cut themselves off. Perhaps the severest expression in Paul's Epistles. It turns on the practice of circumcision. Paul says in effect: “These people are disturbing you by insisting on circumcision. I would that they would make thorough work of it in their own case, and, instead of merely amputating the foreskin, would castrate themselves, as heathen priests do. Perhaps that would be even a more powerful help to salvation.” With this passage should be compared Philemon 3:2, Philemon 3:3, also aimed at the Judaisers: “Beware of the concision ” ( τὴν κατατομήν ), the word directing attention to the fact that these persons had no right to claim circumcision in the true sense. Unaccompanied by faith, love, and obedience, circumcision was no more than physical mutilation. They belonged in the category of those referred to in Leviticus 21:5. Comp. Paul's words on the true circumcision, Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29; Philemon 3:3; Colossians 2:11.

Which trouble ( ἀναστατοῦντες )

Only here in Paul, and twice elsewhere, Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38. olxx. Stronger than ταράσσειν disturbRather to upset or overthrow. The usual phrase in Class. is ἀνάστατον ποιεῖν tomake an upset. Used of driving out from home, ruining a city or country. See on madest an uproar, Acts 21:38. Rev. unsettle is too weak.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

I would they were even cut off — From your communion; cast out of your church, that thus trouble you.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

О, если бы удалены. Апостол продолжает выражать свое негодование. Он уже молил о погибели мошенников, обманувших галатов. Кажется, говоря «удалены», он намекает на обрезание, на котором настаивали лжеучителя. К этому мнению склоняется Златоуст. Павел как бы говорит: из-за обрезания они разрывают Церковь на части. Я хотел бы, чтобы сами они были полностью оторваны от Церкви. Однако подобная молитва кажется не соответствующей кротости апостола. Ибо следует желать спасения всем людям, а не того, чтобы кто-нибудь из них погиб. Отвечаю: это верно, если мы думаем о самих людях. Ведь Бог заповедует нам желать спасения всех без исключения людей, подобно тому, как Христос пострадал за грехи всего мира. Однако мысль благочестивых иногда отвлекается от рассмотрения людей и начинает взирать на славу Божию и царство Христово. Ведь насколько возвышеннее слава Божия спасения людей, настолько же сильнее должна она побуждать нас любить ее и к ней стремиться. Поэтому верные, желая продвижения славы Божией, иногда забывают о мире и живущих в нем людях. Они больше возжелают погибели всего мира, нежели хоть какого-то умаления божественной славы.

Однако будем помнить: подобное их желание проистекает из того, что, отвлекшись от людей, созерцают они Божию славу. Поэтому апостола нельзя обвинить здесь в жестокости, словно он выступает против любви. Затем, если сравнить Церковь с одним или несколькими людьми, насколько она всех их перевесит? Жестоко то милосердие, которое одного человека предпочло бы всей Церкви. С одной стороны я вижу, как подвергается опасности стадо Господне, а с другой – вижу волка, нападающего на нее по наущению сатаны. Неужели забота о Церкви не должна занять все мое помышление, и я не восхочу купить ее спасение погибелью волка? В этом случае я не хочу на самом деле кого-то погубить, просто любовь к Церкви приводит меня в такой восторг, что ничего больше меня уже не заботит. Итак, тот, кто не пылает подобным рвением, не может быть пастырем Церкви. Слова, переведенные мною как «возмущающие», на греческом означают – сдвигать кого-то с присущего ему положения. Фразу эту апостол вставил ради усиления смысла, желая не только удалить лжеучителей, но и вообще отсечь и оторвать их от Церкви.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 12. I would they were even cut] Not circumcised only, cut round, but cut off, Non circumcidantur modo, sed et abscindantur. (Chrys.)

That trouble you] That turn you upside down, or that turn you out of house and home.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 5:12. I would they were even cut off which trouble you. Who subvert or unsettle you. It by no means agrees with the gentle genius of Christianity to suppose that this Apostle, who understood it so well, and cultivated it so much, should mean by this to intimate that he wished these troublers dead; or that any bodily evil were inflicted upon them by human violence. All arguments, therefore, which are drawn from this text in favour of persecuting principles, must be veryinconclusive: but when we consider the particular circumstances in which these seducing teachers opposed the Apostle, it will appear that they very well deserved that ecclesiastical censure which he here wishes to be pronounced against them. Some, following a different reading, render this verse, They ought to be cut off, and shall in reality be cut off, who trouble you.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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

The apostle's meaning is, "That it were very fit, were it seasonable, that those which had thus seduced them, should be excommunicated and and cut off from the church's communion.

Where note, 1. How implicity and interpretatively St. Paul compares these seducers to rotten members, which are and ought to be cut off, lest the gangrene overspread the whole body: I would they were cut off; implying, that like rotten members they deserved it, and the church's safety called for it, would her then circumstances admit of it.

Note, 2. That in the very expression here used by St. Paul, of cutting off, there seems to be an allusion to the practice of circumcision, which is a cutting off the foreskin of the flesh, and throwing it away.

Now, says the apostle, I wish that these judaizing teachers, that urge you to be circumcised, that is, to cut off and cast away the foreskin of your flesh, I wish that they might be cut off as superfluous flesh, and cast out of the fellowship and communion of the church.

Yet, note, 3. The apostle doth rather declare what such seducers deserve, than actually inflict the censure itself; he satisfied himself with an affectionate wish, lest the number of the seduced being great, and perhaps the seducers not a few, they should be hardened rather than reformed, and the ordinance itself exposed; I would they were even cut off, &c.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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

12.] The καί introduces a climax—I would (reff.) that they who are unsettling you would even … As to ἀποκόψονται, (1) it cannot be passive, as E. V., ‘were even cut off.’ (2) It can hardly mean ‘would cut themselves off from your communion,’ as the καί is against so mild a wish, besides that this sense of the word is unexampled. (3) There is certainly an allusion to ἐνέκοψεν in Galatians 5:7, so that in reading aloud the Greek, the stress would be, ὄφελ. κ. ἀπο κόψονται οἱ ἀν. ὑμ. But (4) this allusion is one only of sound, and on account of the καί, all the more likely to be to some well-known and harsh meaning of the word, even as far as to which the Apostle’s wish extends. And (5) such a meaning of the word is that in which (agreeably to its primitive classical sense, of hewing off limbs, see Lidd. and Scott) it is used by the LXX, ref. Deut., by Arrian, Epict. ii. 20, by Hesych., ὁ ἀπόκοπος, ἤτοι ὁ εὐνοῦχος—by Philo, de legg. special. ad vi. vii. dec. cap. § 7, vol. ii. p. 306, τὰ γεννητικὰ προσαπέκοψαν,—de vict. offerent. § 13, p. 261, θλαδίας κ. ἀποκεκομμένος τὰ γεννητικά (Wetst.). It seems to me that this sense must be adopted, in spite of the protests raised against it; e.g. that of Mr. Bagge recently, who thinks it “involves a positive insult to St. Paul” (?). And so Chrys., and the great consensus of ancient and modern Commentators: and, as Jowett very properly observes, “the common interpretation of the Fathers, confirmed by the use of language in the LXX, is not to be rejected only because it is displeasing to the delicacy of modern times.”

ὄφελον is used in the N. T. as a mere particle: see reff.: also Hermann on Viger, p. 756–7, who says: “omnino observandum est, ὤφελον nonnisi tunc adhiberi, quum quis optat ut fuerit aliquid, vel sit, vel futurum sit, quod non fuit aut est aut futurum est.” The construction with a future is very unusual; in Lucian, Solœc. 1, ὄφελον καὶ νῦν ἀκολουθῆσαι δυνήσῃ is given as an example of a solœcism. I need hardly enter a caution against the punctuation of a few mss. and editions, by which ὄφελον is taken alone, and the following future supposed to be assertive, as βαστάσει above, Galatians 5:10. The reff. will shew, how alien such an usage is from the usage of the N. T.

ἀναστατοῦντες, ἀνατρέποντες, Hesych. It belongs to later Greek: the classical expression is ἀνάστατον ποιεῖν, Polyb. iii. 81. 6 al.: or τιθέναι, Soph. Antig. 670: and it is said to belong to the Macedonian dialect. Ellic., referring to Tittmann, p. 266: where however I can find no such assertion.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

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

Galatians 5:12. The vivid realization of the doings of his opponents, who were not ashamed to resort even to such falsehood (Galatians 5:11), now wrings from his soul a strong and bitterly sarcastic wish(232) of holy indignation: Would that they, who set you in commotion, might mutilate themselves! that they who attach so much importance to circumcision, and thereby create commotion among you, might not content themselves with being circumcised, but might even have themselves emasculated! On ὄφελον as a particle, see on 1 Corinthians 4:8. “Omnino autem observandum est, ὤφελον (as to the form ὄφελον, see Interpr. ad Moer. p. 285 f.) non nisi tum adhiberi, quum quis optat, ut fuerit aliquid, vel sit, vel futurum sit, quod non fuit aut est aut futurum est,” Hermann, ad Viger. p. 756. It is but very seldom used with the future, as Lucian, Soloec. 1. See Hermann l.c.; Graev. ad Luc. Sol. II. p. 730.

καί] the climactic “even,” not that of the corresponding relation of retribution (Wieseler), in which sense it would be only superfluous and cumbrous.

ἀποκόψονται] denotes castration (Arrian, Epict. ii. 20. 19), either by incision of the vena seminalis (Deuteronomy 23:1) or otherwise. See the passages in Wetstein. Comp. ἀπόκοπος, castrated, Strabo, xiii. p. 630; ἀποκεκομμένος, Deuteronomy 23:1. Owing to καί, which, after Galatians 5:11, points to something more than the circumcision therein indicated, this interpretation is the only one suited to the context: it is followed by Chrysostom and his successors, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Cajetanus, Grotius, Estius, Wetstein, Semler, Koppe, and many others; also Winer, Rückert, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Hofmann, Reithmayr, Holsten; comp. Ewald, who explains it of a still more complete mutilation, as does Pelagius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and others. In opposition to the context, others, partly influenced by an incorrect aesthetical standard (comp. Calovius: “glossa impura”), and sacrificing the middle signification,—which is always reflexive in Greek prose writers (Kühner, II. p. 19), and is also to be maintained throughout in the N.T. (Winer, p. 239, [E. T. 316]),—have found in it the sense: “exitium imprecatur impostoribus” (Calvin, acknowledging, however, the word as an allusion to circumcision; Calovius, and others); or have explained it of the divine extirpation (Wieseler); or: “may they be excommunicated” (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, Michaelis, Zachariae, Morus, Baumgarten-Crusius, Windischmann, and others);(233) or: “may all opportunity of perverting you be taken from them” (Elsner, Wolf, Baumgarten); or: “may they cut themselves off from you” (Ellicott).

ἀναστατοῦν] stronger than ταράσσειν, means here to stir up (against true Christianity), to alarm. Comp. Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38. The word, used instead of the classic ἀνάστατον ποιεῖν, belongs to the later Greek; Sturz, dial. Mac. p. 146.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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 5:12. ἀποκόψονται, shall be cut off) Immediately after the reproof concerning the past, Paul entertains [and expresses] good hope of the Galatians for the future; but he denounces punishment against the seducers in two sentences, which, by disjoining in the meantime the particle ὄφελον, are as follows:— δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, κ. τ. λ., καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς. That one concealed troubler, worse than the others, Galatians 5:10, who boasted that Paul himself agreed with him about circumcision, is here, cursorily in passing, refuted, Galatians 5:11; but the others also, who are disturbing the Galatians about the status of the Gospel [in relation to circumcision and the law], are threatened with being cut off. Thus the particle καὶ, and, retains its natural meaning, and these words cohere, βαστάσειδὲκαὶ ἀποκόψονται, as well as those, κρίνετεδὲκαὶ ἐξαρεῖτε, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 : ἀποκόψονται is the future middle, which, as often happens, so here, has a passive signification: it corresponds to the Hebrew word כרת, and is a conjugate of the verb ἐγκόπτειν, Galatians 5:7. Either the whole, when a part is cut off [the whole has the part cut off], or a part cut off from the whole, is said respectively ἀποκόπτεσθαι. Some ascribe the former sense in this passage to the zeal of the apostle, so that the mutilation of the body of the circumcised [viz. by taking away not merely the foreskin, but the whole member] may be denoted; and, indeed, the LXX. often translate כרת by κόπτω, ἀπόκοπτω, etc., especially Deuteronomy 23:1) 2, where ἀποκεκομμένος is used for that, which the French here translate more than circumcised; but we can scarcely receive what is said by the apostle but by metonymy, i.e., that as persons cut off they may be debarred from the Church. Deut. as above. The second sense is more consistent with the gravity of the apostle, that he should speak thus: As the prepuce is cut off by circumcision, as a thing which it becomes an Israelite to want, so those shall be cut off, as a worthless prepuce, from the communion of the saints, and shall be accursed (anathema): ch. Galatians 1:7, and following verses. With a similar reference to circumcision, Paul, Philippians 3:2, speaks of κατατομὴν, concision; nor is it altogether foreign to the subject, what Apollon. in Philostr. Galatians 5:11, says of the Jews, already of old time, they not only cut themselves off from the Romans, but also from all men. Now, what is to be done with the particle ὄφελον? Most construe ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται; but ὄφελον, though it is a particle of sufficiently frequent occurrence, is nowhere to be found construed with the future of the indicative. The Complutensian Edition acknowledging this fact, to avoid this difficulty, have given ἀποκόψωνται; but it is unsupported by the copies.(49) There are many imprecations in the sacred writings, and this word ὄφελον is not used in any of their formulæ: nor would Paul in this passage, after a categorical (unconditional) denunciation, finally make war by a prayer against the disturbers of the peace. στιγμή, the point, is put after ὄφελον in the sixth Augustan. I think it will be found so in many MSS., if philologers would notice such things; for the comma is certainly in some ancient editions, especially in that of Basle, 1545. Nay, ὄφελον may be very conveniently connected with the preceding words: ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ; ὄφελον,—was then the offence of the Cross taken away? I wish it were. ὄφελον is subjoined in reference to a thing desirable (such as is also noticed 1 Corinthians 4:8), as μὴ γένοιτο, Galatians 3:21, is used in reference to a matter by no means pleasant; and as εἶεν among the Greeks in cases of concession, or esto among the Latins. And, as in ch. Galatians 2:17, after ἄρα is put μὴ γένοιτο, so here, after ἄρα is put ὄφελον. I wish that the Cross were a scandal to no one—I wish that all, along with Paul, may hereafter glory in the Cross, ch. Galatians 6:14-15.— οἱ ἀναστοῦντες ὑμᾶς) The same word as at Acts 17:6. It denotes, to remove a man entirely from the station which he occupies.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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

I wish that God would some way or other put an end to these that trouble you. This Paul speaketh not out of hatred to their persons, but out of a zeal to the glory of God, and a just indignation against these men, who had so much hindered the salvation of the members of this church. And it is not improbable that the apostle here spake by the Spirit of prophecy, as knowing God would cut them off; so that his and the like imprecations of holy men in Scripture are not to be drawn into precedents, or made matters for our imitation, unless we had the same discerning of spirits which they had, or the same Spirit of prophecy and revelations from God as to future things. But how far it is lawful or unlawful for ordinary persons, whether ministers or private Christians, to pray against God’s or his church’s enemies, is a question for the arguing which this place is too narrow.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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

удалены были Лучше было бы перевести «покалечились». Это слово в греческом языке часто означало кастрацию, которая была распространена в культе Кибелы – его священники добровольно становились евнухами. Ирония Павла заключается в том, что если сторонники иудаизма так непоследовательны в вопросе обрезания как способа угодить Богу, они могли бы дойти и до религиозного экстремизма и искалечить себя.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

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

Galatians 5:12. ῎οφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς—“I would that they would even cut themselves off who are unsettling you.” The verb ἀναστατοῦν is defined by Hesychius as ἀνατρέπειν. Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38. The term is of deeper meaning than ταράσσοντες in Galatians 1:7 -not only troubling, but unhinging you. The ordinary classic phrase is ἀνάστατον ποιεῖν. Sturz, De Dialect. Alexandrinâ, p. 146. Symmachus, however, employs the verb, Psalms 59:11 (Psalms 58:11); and Aquila, Psalms 11:12 (Psalms 10:12). Bengel takes quite a peculiar view of the connection. ῎οφελον, according to him, should stand by itself, as being a curt answer to the previous clause taken interrogatively—“Is then the offence of the cross ceased?” “I wish it were; he shall bear his judgment, . . . and they who are unsettling you shall be cut off.” (Similarly Bagge.) Besides the disjointed construction, the insulation of ὄφελον and the wrong translation of the middle verb forbid this exegesis. ῎οφελον is very rarely joined with the future, so that D, F have ἀποκόψωνται-an evident emendation. Lucian gives such a connection as an example of a solecism, Pseudosophista, p. 216, vol. iv. Bipont. The word is allied to ὤφειλε- ὤφελον. Matthiae, § 513; 1 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 11:1; Klotz-Devarius, 516. D3, K, L have ὤφελον. The future is here used virtually for the optative, and the word is treated as a mere particle, Winer, § 41; A. Buttmann, § 185. In the use of the term in 1 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 11:1, there is a tinge of irony.

What then is the meaning of ἀποκόψονται? 1. It cannot bear the passive sense-the abscindantur of the Vulgate, or “were cut off” of the English version. Winer, § 38, 4. The usage, though it occurs in classical writings, does not seem to be found in the New Testament. The Gothic, too, has vainei jah usmaitaindau; and the Syriac has the common idiom, “cutting were cut off.” Calvin interprets it in the same way-exitium imprecatur impostoribus illis, and he vindicates the exegesis: “And yet I should not wish that a single individual perish thus; but my love of the church, and my anxiety for her interests, carry me into a kind of ecstasy-quasi in ecstasin-so that I can think of nothing else.” Bagge explains it—“cut off from a position of hope that they may ever accept the salvation of Christ.” The interpretation of Wieseler and Schmoller is similar to Calvin's; so Hammond, and Chandler who renders—“excluded from the church, disowned by you as brethren;”—“were themselves cut off from the society of the church with the circumcising knife of excommunication” (Boston). But the passive translation is grammatically untenable; and if excommunication were the penalty, the apostle in his plenary authority would have pronounced the sentence himself.

2. Retaining the proper middle signification, the verb has been supposed to mean “cut themselves off, or get themselves cut off, from fellowship with you.” Generally this view is held by Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, a Lapide, Bengel, Windischmann, Webster and Wilkinson, Ellicott, and Gwynne who renders—“that they would even beat themselves away!” But this meaning is unusual; the καί in this case also loses its emphasis; and why in such a crisis did the apostle only wish for the severance and not at once command it, as in 1 Corinthians 5:11? There may be an allusion to the ἐνεκόψε of Galatians 5:7, both being compounds of the same verb; but the paronomasia will not bear out Gwynne's idea—“Instead of intercepting the progress of others, make away with yourselves,” for the καί again becomes meaningless, and the wish amounts to little. But the words of the apostle are sharp and precise.

3. The meaning is keener than this, that they may be deprived of all opportunity of seducing you (Wolf, Baumgarten), and greatly stronger than that of doing penance-Busse thun.

4. Nor is the meaning merely in a tropical sense, utinam spadones fient propter regnum coelorum, et carnalia seminare cessabunt; the view of Thomas Aquinas, and of Augustine who calls it sub specie maledictionis, benedictio. Some admit in the phrase a reference to circumcision—“would execute upon themselves not only circumcision, but excision also” (Conybeare). Bengel too: Quemadmodum praeputium per circumcisionem abscinditur, ut quiddam, quo carere decet Israelitam; ita isti tanquam praeputium rejiculum de communione sanctorum abscindentur et anathema erunt.

5. Another and literal sense has been given, which some brand as indelicate, which Bagge calls “a positive insult to St. Paul,” which Gwynne stigmatizes as “a filthy witticism,” and of which even Le Clerc writes, Imprecatio scurrae est non Pauli, viz. I would that they would not only circumcise, but even castrate themselves;-Chrysostom saying, μὴ περιτεμνέσθωσαν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀποκοπτέσθωσαν; and Jerome as decidedly, non solum circumcidantur sed etiam abscindantur-would not only circumcise, but eunuchize themselves. Now, 1. this is the proper meaning of the term, to hew off limbs- κάρη, αὐχένα, τένοντας: Iliad, 9.241; Odyss. 10.127; Rost u. Palm sub voce. 2. This verb and its noun are the technical terms employed for this act: Arrian, Epictetus, 2.20. γάλλος ὁ ἀπόκοπος ἤτοι ὁ εὐνοῦχος, Hesychius; Lucian, Eunuchus, p. 210, vol. v. Opera, Bipont. 3. The word bears the same meaning in the Septuagint: οὐδὲ ἀποκεκομμένος, Deuteronomy 23:1; also Philo, De Leg. Spec. § 7; De Victis Offer. § 13. See Wetstein in loc. A portion of the passage quoted by Bentley (Critica Sacra, p. 48) from Dio Cassius is a various reading. Dio Cassius, lib. 79:11, p. 448, vol. ii. Op. ed. Dindorf. 4. Both the name and the thing were familiarly known in Galatia, especially in the town of Pessinus, where, on Mount Dindymus, Cybele had her shrine, which was served by emasculated priests. Lucian, Cronosolon, § 12, p. 16, vol. ix. Op. Bipont. Justin Martyr also uses the verb of the priests of the mother of the gods: I. Apolog. p. 70, E, p. 196, vol. i. Opera, ed. Otto. See also Bardesanes, Cureton's Spicileg. Syr. p. 32. Strabo also mentions the ἀπόκοποι γάλλοι, 13:4, 14, p. 87, vol. iii. Geograph. ed. Kramer. Reference may also be made to the wild wail of the Carmen, lxiii. of Catullus. Diodorus Siculus, 3:31, p. 247, vol. i. Opera, ed. Dindorf. Such a mutilation must have been so well known in the province of Galatia, that the apostle's words in connection with the περιτομή of the previous verse could scarcely have conveyed any other allusion to a Galatian reader; and this reconciles us to this third interpretation. The verb could not have the same hard sound to them as it has to us. 5. The καί in this way preserves its ascensive force-not only circumcise, but even eunuchize themselves. In a similar spirit and play of terms, the apostle says, Philippians 3:2-3 : βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν· ἡμεῖς γὰρ ἡ περιτομή. Circumcision to a Gentile was a mere bodily mutilation of the same kind as that of the priests of Cybele. See under Philippians 3:2. Such an ἀποκοπή was quite on a level with their περιτομή: let them show their extravagant attachment to the rite by imitating the degraded ministers of Cybele. Luther writes, Allusit ad circumcisionem, q. d. cogunt vos circumcidi utinam ipsi funditus et radicitus excindantur. Such is the view of all the Greek fathers, of Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, and of Winer, Matthies, Schott, Olshausen, Usteri, De Wette, Hilgenfeld, Alford, Ewald, Jowett, and Prof. Lightfoot. It is needless to apologize for the apostle's words, as springing either from Judaicus furor, as Jerome says, or, as he further hints, from human frailty, since the apostle was a man adhuc vasculo clausus infirmo. Nor does it serve any purpose to call the imprecation simply prophetic (Pareus) or ecstatic (Calvin). It is a bitter sarcasm on the fanatical fondness for circumcision, and the extravagant estimate of its value, which these Judaistic zealots cherished, and which they were putting into prominence with persistent vehemence-a scornful and contemptuous estimate of the men, and of the mere mutilation for which they had such a passion.

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". 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

‘I would that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off.’

NEB puts this in this way, ‘as for these agitators, they had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves’ (i.e. like the eunuch priests of Cybele who might have been well known to the Galatians). For if they made eunuchs of themselves instead of circumcising themselves they would be cut off from their own status under the Law (Deuteronomy 23:1). They would become outsiders. If we take it like this, this would represent a sardonic attack on the Judaisers. But, especially in view of what he is to say about love, he is possibly rather simply expressing a wish that they would ‘remove themselves’ (a pun, having their preaching of circumcision in mind where the foreskin is removed), thus ‘cutting themselves off’ from the Galatians.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/galatians-5.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Judaizers had gone too far with circumcision. Paul"s wish that the Judaizers who were so keen on circumcision would mutilate (i.e, castrate) themselves reflects his deep feelings about the seriousness of their heresy. If God granted Paul"s wish, they could not produce converts, figuratively speaking. Priests of the Cybele cult in nearby Phrygia practiced castration. [Note: Barclay, p48; George, pp371-72.] Paul regarded his legalistic rivals as no better than pagan priests.

". . . for Paul to compare the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision to pagan practices even in this way is startling. For one thing, it puts the efforts of the Judaizers to have the Gentiles circumcised on the same level as abhorred pagan practices. For another, it links their desire for circumcision to that which even in Judaism disbarred one from the congregation of the Lord ( Deuteronomy 23:1)." [Note: Boice, p491.]

Thus Paul"s desire for the false teachers seems to have been that they would cut themselves off from the company of believers. [Note: Fung, p242.]

"Most often Galatians is viewed as the great document of justification by faith. What Christians all too often fail to realize is that in reality it is a document that sets out a Christ-centered lifestyle-one that stands in opposition to both nomism and libertinism. Sadly, though applauding justification by faith, Christians frequently renounce their freedom in Christ by espousing either nomism or libertinism, and sometimes (like the Galatians) both. So Paul"s letter to the Galatians, though directly relevant to the Galatian situation, speaks also to our situation today." [Note: Longenecker, p235.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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 5:12. I wish that they who are unsettling you would even go on to abscission; that the circumcisers would not stop with the half measure of circumcision, but go beyond it even to abscission or mutilation (make themselves eunuchs), like the priests of Cybele. A severe irony similar to the one in Philippians 3:2-3, where Paul calls the boasters of ‘circumcision’ the ‘concision.’ Self-mutilation was a recognized form of heathen worship, especially in Pessinus in Galatia, and therefore quite familiar to the readers. Thus by glorying in the flesh the Galatians relapsed into their former heathenism. The words may be explained: ‘cut themselves off’ from your communion, but the interpretation above given agrees best with the meaning of the verb, and the ‘even’ (which points to something more than circumcision), and is maintained by the Greek fathers and the best modern commentators. The translation of the E. V. ‘were even cut off,’ i.e., excommunicated, is ungrammatical (the Greek verb is in the middle, not the passive mood), and due to false delicacy. Christianity has abolished the revolting practice of self-mutilation, so that even the word is offensive; but in the days of Paul it was still in full force in Galatia, and is continued among Mohammedans who employ many eunuchs (especially in harems). Paul had evidently the dangerous power of sarcasm, but he used it very sparingly, and only in a worthy cause.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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 5:12. . This adverb occurs also in 1 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 11:1, Revelation 3:15. In all three places it expresses dissatisfaction with the actual position, “Would that it were otherwise”. But it acquires this force from its combination with past tenses, like the aorist in Attic Greek. When coupled however with a future as it is here, it does not express a wish, but like the future of declares what ought to be the logical outcome of the present. The clause predicts in bitter irony to what final consummation this superstitious worship of circumcision must lead. Men who exalt an ordinance of the flesh above the spirit of Christ will be bound in the end to proceed to mutilation of the flesh like heathen votaries.— . This word was habitually used to describe the practice of mutilation which was so prevalent in the Phrygian worship of Cybele. The Galatians were necessarily familiar with it, and it can hardly bear any other sense.— . This word forcibly expresses the revolutionary character of the agitation which was upsetting the peace and order of the Galatian Churches. It is used in Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38 to denounce seditious and riotous conduct.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

were, &c. = even dismembered themselves. Reference to the rite practised by the Phrygians in the worship of Cybele. Compare Mark 9:43, (Revised Version would even cut themselves off)

trouble. Greek. anastatoo. See Acts 17:6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

They ... which trouble you, [ anastatountes (Greek #387)] - turning upside down (Acts 17:6): setting up what ought to be down, and down what ought to be up: different from [ ho (Greek #3588) tarassoon (Greek #5015)] Galatians 5:10, 'they who are subverting you.'

Were even cut off - rather, 'that they would even cut themselves off' from your communion, as a worthless foreskin cast away; even as they desire you to cut off your foreskin (Galatians 1:7-8 : cf. Philippians 3:3) [apokopsontai: middle]. Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom explain, 'Would that they would even cut themselves of' -

i.e., cut off not merely the foreskin, but the whole member, like the Galatian priests of Cybele: if circumcision be not enough, then let them have excision also: an outburst hardly suitable to the gravity of an apostle, and unsupported by the ancient versions. Galatians 5:9-10 point to communication as the judgment threatened against the troublers; and danger of the "leaven" spreading, as the reason for it.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

(12) I would they were even cut off.—The Authorised version is undoubtedly wrong here. The words may mean “cut themselves off,” i.e., from your communion, but it seems far best to take the words, with all the ancient Greek interpreters and a large majority of modern commentators, including Dr. Lightfoot and Bishop Wordsworth, as referring to an extension of the rite of circumcision, such as the Galatians might see frequently practised by the priests of Cybele, whose worship had one of its most imporant centres in their country—I would they would even make themselves eunuchs. Let them carry their self-mutilation still further, and not stop at circumcision.

The expression is in several ways surprising as coming from St. Paul. We should remember, in some mitigation of it, the fact just alluded to, that the Galatians were themselves familiar with this particular form of self-mutilation; and familiar with it, no doubt, in discourse as well as in act. Christianity, while it has had the effect of putting a stop to such horrible practices, has also banished them even from thought and word. It is less, perhaps, a matter of wonder that we should have to appeal to the difference in standard between the Apostle’s times and our own, than that we have to appeal to it so seldom. Still, at the best, words like these must be allowed to come some way short of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.” We may compare with them, as well for the particular expression as for the general vehemence of language, Philippians 3:2 : “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of concision” (with a play on “circumcision”). The Apostle himself would have been the last to claim that he had “already attained, either were already perfect.” A highly nervous and excitable constitution such as his, shattered by bodily hardships and mental strain, could not but at times impair his power of self-control. It is to be noticed, however, that his indignation, if it sometimes carries him somewhat too far, is always roused in a worthy cause. Such momentary ebullitions as these are among the very few flaws in a truly noble and generous character, and are themselves in great part due to the ardour which makes it so noble.

Which trouble you.—A different word from that which is similarly translated in Galatians 5:10. Its meaning is stronger: “to uproot and overthrow.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/galatians-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
cut
10; 1:8,9; Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15; 30:33; Leviticus 22:3; Joshua 7:12,25; John 9:34; Acts 5:5,9; 1 Corinthians 5:13; Titus 3:10
trouble
Acts 15:1,2,24
Reciprocal: Genesis 30:34 - General1 Samuel 26:19 - cursed;  Matthew 26:10 - Why;  Acts 15:19 - that;  Galatians 1:7 - but;  Galatians 2:4 - because;  Galatians 6:17 - let

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

This could relate to one of two things. That something outside the church would cut off the Judaizers access to them, or that they would remove the Judaizers from their midst. Paul uses a future tense here thus they have not been cut off as yet, but his desire is clear - that they WOULD be cut off.

I think from his illustration of Hagar and Ishmael that his desire is for the people of the Galatian church to cut off these false teachers. In the church, only the church can cut off false teaching - unless the Lord might intervene and take care of the problem, by physically removing the person in some manner.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.I am so far from preaching circumcision, that I would they might inflict upon themselves excision. There is clearly an antithesis between the circumcision and the excision; but the question is, what excision is meant? A large number of modern expositors understand, with our English translators, excision from the Church. And Bengel sustains the antithesis under this interpretation in words which we shall leave in their original Latin: “Quemadmodum preputium per circumcisionem abscinditur, ut quiddam, quo carere decet Israelitam; ita isti tanquam preputium rejiculum de communione sanctorum rejicientur et anathema erunt.”

But those who best knew the true meaning of the Greek term for this excision—the old Greek commentators—give another sense of the word; a sense which the decency which Christianity has created in modern times induces many to believe that the apostle could hardly have intended. The same Greek word is in the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy xxiii, 1, for one made a eunuch. The rite of circumcision undoubtedly symbolized the cutting off the sensual from our nature; and it is wonderful that among some heathen the same rite was so increased in severity, perhaps with a similar meaning, at first, as to produce a complete, relentless emasculation. Now in Galatia it was probably no more repulsive to name this excision than to speak of circumcision. The city of Pessinus, capital of Galatia, was the seat of the worship of Cybele, whose priests mutilated themselves as a religious rite. In literature, in public discourse, and in conversation, the thought and the name were familiar. St. Paul, therefore, in language at that time entirely inoffensive, indignantly preferred that these circumcisionists should go the whole extent, and turn excisionists, priests of Cybele, and the salvation of his Church would no longer be endangered. Circumcision was now as useless as this excision; both had better be abandoned to pagans, and Christians abstain from and contemn both alike. And this indignant expression of contempt for both Paul now follows with a lesson of Christian spiritual purity.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

12. I wish. Both the TEV and the NIV give the literal translation of what Paul actually said. Paul is speaking in bitter irony! The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “APOKOPSONTAI. This word was habitually used to describe the practice of mutilation which was so prevalent in the Phrygian worship of Cybele. The Galatians were necessarily familiar with it, and it can hardly bear any other sense.”

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "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

12.Would that they were even cut off. His indignation proceeds still farther, and he prays for destruction on those impostors by whom the Galatians had been deceived. The word, “cut off,” appears to be employed in allusion to the circumcision which they pressed. “They tear the church for the sake of circumcision: I wish they were entirely cut off.” Chrysostom favors this opinion. But how can such an imprecation be reconciled with the mildness of an apostle, who ought to wish that all should be saved, and that not a single person should perish? So far as men are concerned, I admit the force of this argument; for it is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world. But devout minds are sometimes carried beyond the consideration of men, and led to fix their eye on the glory of God, and the kingdom of Christ. The glory of God, which is in itself more excellent than the salvation of men, ought to receive from us a higher degree of esteem and regard. Believers earnestly desirous that the glory of God should be promoted, forget men, and forget the world, and would rather choose that the whole world should perish, than that the smallest portion of the glory of God should be withdrawn.

Let us remember, however, that such a prayer as this proceeds from leaving men wholly out of view, and fixing our attention on God alone. Paul cannot be accused of cruelty, as if he were opposed to the law of love. Besides, if a single man or a few persons be brought into comparison, how immensely must the church preponderate! It is a cruel kind of mercy which prefers a single man to the whole church. “On one side, I see the flock of God in danger; on the other, I see a wolf “seeking,” like Satan, “whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8.) Ought not my care of the church to swallow up all my thoughts, and lead me to desire that its salvation should be purchased by the destruction of the wolf? And yet I would not wish that a single individual should perish in this way; but my love of the church and my anxiety about her interests carry me away into a sort of ecstasy, so that I can think of nothing else.” With such zeal as this, every true pastor of the church will burn. The Greek word translated “who trouble you,” signifies to remove from a certain rank or station. By using the word καὶ, even, he expresses more strongly his desire that the impostors should not merely be degraded, but entirely separated and cut off. (87)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.