Paul concludes his letter to the Galatian believers by summing up his point. Circumcision is NOT the way to Jesus! He puts that in capital letters so they don’t miss it.
This whole letter has been explaining to the Gentile believers in Galatia why they do not need circumcision. In fact, if they accept circumcision they will be required to follow the whole law. Paul now points to why the false teachers were trying to get the believers to adopt the practice in the first place.
We already discovered it was out of jealousy. Paul tells us that it was so “that they may boast in your flesh” (verse 13b). If the Gentile believers bought into this doctrine the false teachers could claim they brought the gospel to them. They wanted to “pad their numbers.” To make themselves look good to the other groups.
This group advocating circumcision weren’t even keeping the law themselves. We already know that no one is able to keep it fully, so we are certain this group wasn’t either. But they were basing their whole appeal on the law being necessary for salvation. Therefore, they were deluding themselves regarding their own standing with Jesus. I wonder if Paul was ever able to get through to them on the issue of their own salvation.
The circumcision group was trying to mix the old with the new in order to avoid the more controversial parts of Jesus’ work. They wanted the repentance and salvation Jesus had to offer but they wanted to receive it in the same manner as they had previously received God’s grace; through works and the law. They didn’t want the cross that called EVERYONE a sinner. They didn’t want to hear that they couldn’t work out their salvation on their own. They didn’t want to have to depend on Jesus for their forgiveness. Jesus was a sticking point with the Jews and if they eliminated Him from the equation then the persecution they would encounter would be significantly less or even absent.
But you CANNOT take Jesus out of the process. Without Him and His work everything else is worthless. Being kind to one another is nice but it has no value without the motivating reason of love, given by Jesus, behind it. No works, no matter how great or small, has any value without being done through the Spirit and for Jesus. Persecution, in one form or another, is part of that path. And you will never face it alone.
Father God, thank You for ALL of Jesus’ work. Thank You that I don’t have to try and keep the law. I would NEVER make it. I know that for a fact. Thank You that You asked me to simply accept the work Jesus had already done on my behalf.
Lord Jesus, thank You for paying my debts. I know there is nothing more that I could add or subtract from what You did. You did it ALL. My only response is, thank You and show me how I can show You my gratitude. I’m with Paul; I won’t boast of my actions but I WILL boast of Yours.