22/11/20 – Galatians 6:11-18


Galatians 6:11Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.


how largepelikos (how great; how large; [denoting geometrical magnitude rather than arithmetic, or in an ethical sense: how distinguished])


a lettergramma (a letter; any writing, document or record; note of hand; bill; account; letter or epistle) Derived from grapho (to write) Our word “grammar” is derived from gramma.


how large a letter – Some teach that this could mean “in what large letters or characters”, and therefore could indicate a possible problem with his ability to write or even his eyesight, noting Galatians 4:13-15. This is possible. However, Paul in general employed an amanuensis (one who is employed to take dictation) to write his epistles (2 Thessalonians 3:17The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. Also see Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18). Some say that his writing was larger or not as well-formed as that of an amanuensis (who could have been employed because of his good writing skills) due to some weakness or lack of ability of Paul to write. Others claim that Paul wrote in larger or capital letters to emphasise his final points (earlier manuscripts do suggest this). Another view is that Paul had written the whole Galatians epistle himself (it could have been the longest epistle so far to that date) and that he had written it himself to emphasise its importance, rather than employ an amanuensis this time.


However, it is likely that Paul did use an amanuensis for Galatians and that he added his own addendum at the end of this epistle. Many of Paul’s epistles do not have any extra writings from himself, so to have such an amount added on by Paul is indeed significant. And, while it is assumed that Paul wrote the final 8 verses, he may have actually written more. Thus, this could be seen as a measure of the importance that Paul attached to the problem of the legalism of the Jews at Galatia.


Cambridge says: in how large letters’. Many ancient and most modern expositors take this to refer not to the length of the Epistle—which is certainly not ‘large’ as compared with those to the Romans and Corinthians—but to the nature of the characters employed. It is curious that the exact meaning of this word rendered ‘how large’ should have been so far overlooked as to suggest the explanation, ‘in how rude characters,’ as though the Apostle called attention to his want of skill in writing Greek. This view might have been left unnoticed, but for the distinguished name of Chrysostom, who among others maintains it. A second explanation supposes that St Paul, in calling attention to the large characters which he used, intended to hint at the cause, either general bodily ill-health, or local infirmity, such as weak eyesight. If this latter suggestion be adopted, it will confirm the hypothesis mentioned in the note on ch. Galatians 4:13. But it is on the whole more probable that the largeness of the letters was intended to express the importance of the message to be conveyed.

Benson says: St. Paul had not yet written a larger to any church; I have written with my own hand — In testimony of my great affection for you, and concern for your spiritual welfare. He generally wrote by an amanuensis.


Paul says “see”; that is, notice what I have done here. He wants them to realise that what he has written here is significant, important. He is drawing their attention to this. He has written these final verses in his own handwriting, and hasn’t entrusted it to an amanuensis. Paul was personally writing to them as one who has a personal point to make. It seems to me that this is not demonstrating any eyesight problem nor an inability to write properly, but instead, what Paul is about to write personally is his epistle to them in a nutshell, underlined and written in bold letters perhaps. The Galatians may have not quite got the message so far, so, even if they forget everything else, Paul wants them to get the following points loud and clear from the final few verses. “If you get anything from what I’m saying, get this now!”


Galatians 6:12As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.


And here commences Paul’s summing up of his letter to them.


desirethelo (will; would; desire; have in mind; intend; take delight in) This word involves an act of the will, indicating than an active choice must be made one way or the other.


to make a fair showeuprosopeo (to make a fair show; to please) Literally “to put a good face on it”. Cambridge says: ‘to present a fair outside to the world’, like the scribes and Pharisees, who were compared by our Lord to ‘whited sepulchres, which outwardly are fair to look upon, but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness,’ Matthew 23:27.


to make a fair show in the flesh – To look right on the outside. To have an acceptable reputation, especially in religious matters. ……

Matthew 23:25-2825Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26[Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

….. To have the appearance of godliness.

2 Timothy 3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.


constrainanagkazo (to necessitate, compel, drive to, or constrain, by force, threats, entreaties)

“Every one of those to whom religious reputation is more important than truth will compel you to be circumcised for the sake of religious appearances, solely because they want to avoid the persecution that would come upon them if they preached only Christ and Him crucified.” See Galatians 6:14 and 1 Corinthians 2:2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.


This desire to avoid the criticism of orthodox Jews would have been what drove the Jews to approach the apostolic council at Jerusalem in Acts 15:

Acts 15:1, 51And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.


No doubt such persecution was present among the Jews of Galatia, most of whom probably had not converted to Christianity. The Christian Jews would have been a small minority group among them, and therefore would have had to renounce their social standing with the orthodox Jews who would have demanded at the very least circumcision for the Gentiles according to the law of Moses in order to be declared the children of Abraham (and therefore socially acceptable).


Thus the truth is out: the legalistic Jews are actually trying to preserve their dignity and social standing as Jews by claiming the necessity of circumcision, while trying to be Christians at the same time. Paul is simply saying that the only reason to be circumcised appears to be to avoid the persecution of standing against the rest of the Jews. (Note the problem with Peter in Galatians 2:14)


Note that the Christian Jews would have already been circumcised, so this problem focuses upon the Gentiles who would have been a large proportion of the churches in Galatia. Because that group to whom Paul is writing is largely Gentiles, then those Jews who were afraid of being seen as non-conformist would also have been afraid to be seen with those Gentiles whom orthodox Jews would have considered unclean. (Much like the Jews considered people such as Samaritans to be unclean, therefore untouchable! The Samaritans claimed to be the children of Abraham, yet they were not acceptably ceremonially circumcised and therefore, to the Jews, were not the children of Abraham! Of course, the Samaritans practised the Law, possibly even more strictly than the Jews, yet they were considered unacceptable because they weren’t Jews – only part-Jews – and they didn’t worship at the temple.)


Galatians 6:13For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.


may glory inkauchaomai (to glory in; boast) This is the verb form of the noun kauchema (that of which one glories or can glory; boasting) which was translated “rejoicing” in Galatians 6:4 (But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing (kauchema) in himself alone, and not in another.) It is likely that Paul in Galatians 6:13 is referring back to that boasting only in one’s self alone and not in another.


That is, not even those who are circumcised actually keep the law (that is, all of it), and unless they keep all the law, then circumcision on its own is worth nothing. Circumcision is not the whole law.

Galatians 5:3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Also see James 2:10.


Therefore, says Paul, their desire to have you circumcised is not to do with the law itself but that they may glory in (boast of) your correctness according to the demands of the law regarding circumcision. Those legalistic Jews really want to be able to boast of your compliance with the law of Moses. They want to be able to boast that you Gentiles are compliant with the law of Moses regarding circumcision and therefore it is acceptable for them as Jews to be seen with such people as you.


Paul has already declared these legalistic Jews (in Vs 12 above) to be really only concerned for their outward appearances and therefore the only reason, says Paul, for you to be circumcised is to avoid being ostracised by the other Jews for keeping unacceptable or unclean company. “You are only worried about what people might think of you!”

Galatians 2:12For before that certain came from James, he (Peter) did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.


Galatians 6:14But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.


should glorykauchaomai (to glory in; boast) as used for “may glory” in Vs 13 above. Paul is making a clear comparison between the glorying of the Jews in the outward appearances of their acquaintances and the only reason they should be glorying in: that of the cross of Jesus. Don’t glory in outward appearances, but in the inward change that results from “the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).


In fact, Paul went as far as to say that he desired to glory in (or boast of) only the cross of Jesus, in keeping with the following:

1 Corinthians 2:2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

He had reminded the Galatians of this already in Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.


It was a constant theme with Paul that the cross was where he had left his sins behind. The cross of Jesus was the only place that had set him free, and nothing else at all mattered, except his glorying alone in the cross of Jesus.

Colossians 2:13-1413And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;


In Paul’s eyes, the cross was the beginning of his new life in Christ. It might be a “stumblingblock” and “foolishness” to them who rejected it, but to Paul it represented the saving power of God. And it was such “foolish things” that God would use to confound the wise, and the “weak things” to confound the mighty. Therefore, said Paul, let glory (kauchaomai) be given to God alone.


1 Corinthians 1:18; 22-3118For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are 29That no flesh should glory in his presence 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth (kauchaomai), let him glory (kauchaomai) in the Lord.


Paul’s old life was gone; he now had a new life. He was a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). He had been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), had died to sin (Romans 6:11), and had been raised to newness of life in Christ.

Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


With Paul, it was all or nothing. Paul could either live fully for Christ, or he had to back off. There was never any compromise with Paul. By being crucified with Christ, the world had been crucified to him, and he had been crucified to the world. The world was now dead to him and he was now dead to the world. Being saved meant turning his life around, leaving the world behind. As the song says: The world behind me, the cross before me,……no turning back, no turning back.


Galatians 6:15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.


availethischuo (to be strong; to have power to do something; avail; be serviceable; to be able; can) It has the idea of being effective to achieve results. Thus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision was able to make any change in their eternal future.

For in Christ it makes no difference whether or not you are circumcised. For the Jews who had been saved, their circumcision was never going to be held against them, and for the Gentiles, likewise their uncircumcision was never going to be held against them. The only thing that mattered was to be a new creature in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.


walkThis is the word used in Galatians 5:16 (Walk in the Spirit) where “walk” meant the way of life or way of living.


according to …… rulekanon (a rod or straight piece of rounded wood used to keep something straight; measuring rod; rule; carpenter’s line; measuring tape; one’s sphere of activity; any rule or standard; a principle or law of investigating, judging, living, acting) Thus a fundamental truth, law or decree of Scripture. We get “canon” (rule, law, or decree of the Church) from this word. From kane (a straight reed).


And what rule does Paul mean? Note the previous verse (For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.) Paul is saying that if you want a simple statement that covers all his writings to the Galatians, this is it: “All that matters is that in Christ you are a new creature. There is nothing you can add to this fundamental truth, not even circumcision. You are complete in spite of whether you are circumcised or not, or anything else of the law.”

And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:10)

Colossians 2:10-1110And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:


peaceeirene (see Galatians 5:22)


mercyeleos (mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them; undeserved compassion shown to an offender)

That is, to all who live their lives according to this fundamental truth of Scripture be peace and mercy, and also upon the Israel of God.


However, note that here Paul is declaring the church to be the Israel of God, those who are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Note that according to Paul a Jew now was a spiritual Jew and not a physical Jew.

Romans 2:28-2928For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: :29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.


This appears to be a prayer of benediction, Paul’s final writing at the end of this epistle.

Galatians 6:17From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.


let no man trouble me – or “let no man cause me trouble or annoyance” It does suggest that Paul was troubled (pestered; annoyed) by certain of the Galatians because of his strong words against the necessity of circumcision.


the marksstigma or stigmata (a mark branded upon the body to name a slave’s owner) We get “stigma” (a mark of disgrace; to be branded) from this word. Paul’s stigma was to be branded as the slave of Jesus Christ, and to suffer accordingly.

2 Corinthians 4:10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

This was Paul’s badge of disgrace, his mark of shame, that he lived his life for the sake of Jesus, just as the disciples suffered shame willingly for the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:41-4241And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.


“Let no-one trouble me further concerning my Christian ministry for I have much evidence in my life (specifically my body) to demonstrate my commitment to Jesus Christ.” (Note Paul’s physical suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:22-31)


Galatians 6:18Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen. Unto the Galatians written from Rome.


Paul’s benediction. Note that it was written from Rome, probably around late 40s to early 50s AD.

The grace of God is demonstrated in our lives through our actions as a result of that grace, as the fruit of the Spirit.

It is considered likely that “written from Rome” was a later addition by Vatican manuscripts. Cambridge says: “The Subscription in the earliest MSS. is simply, ‘To Galatians’. The additional words ‘written from Rome’ appear first in a correction of the Vatican MS. of uncertain date, and in two of the later Uncials.


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