Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 6:11-16. In these verses the main point is that we have been crucified to the religious world in order to live a new creation.
In 6:11 Paul says, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand.” There may be two reasons Paul speaks of “large letters.” The first is that large letters indicate the importance of what Paul was writing. Through using large letters, Paul may have wanted to impress his readers with the importance of this Epistle. Second, the use of large letters may have been due to the weakness of Paul’s eyes (4:13-15). The weakness to which Paul refers in 4:13 may have been in his eyes. This would have caused him to write in large letters. This physical weakness may also have been the thorn in the flesh, the thorn which Paul prayed might be removed from him (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
In verses 12 and 13 we see the boast of the Judaizers: “As many as desire to make a good show in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For neither do they that are circumcised themselves keep the law, but they desire you to be circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” The Greek expression rendered “good show” in verse 12 means a good countenance, hence a good appearance for making a good show, a good display. It is used here in a negative sense. Circumcision, like the cross, is not a good show, but an abasement. However, the Judaizers made it a good show as a boast in the flesh.
The expression “in the flesh” means outwardly in the sphere of the flesh, which is condemned and repudiated by God. Their circumcision was in man’s natural and external being, without the inward reality and spiritual value which are in our regenerated spirit.
According to verse 13, not even those who compelled the Galatians to be circumcised kept the law. They wanted the Galatians to be circumcised so that they could boast in their flesh. On the one hand, they wanted to make a display in their own flesh; on the other hand, they wanted to boast in the flesh of the Galatians.
In verses 14 through 16 we have the boast of the Apostle Paul. “But far be it from me to boast,” Paul says in verse 14, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” The cross is truly an abasement, but Paul made it his boast. The world has been crucified to us, and we to the world. This has taken place not directly, but through Christ, the One who was crucified. The explanation in verse 15 proves that the world here refers mainly to the religious world. The word “for” at the beginning of verse 15 indicates that this verse is an explanation of the foregoing verse. Furthermore, circumcision, being a religious matter, indicates that the world in verse 14 must be mainly the religious world.
In verse 15 Paul says, “For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” When this verse is considered along with verses 11 through 14, we see that Paul’s concern here is mainly with the religious world, not the secular world. Those who were seeking to compel the Galatian believers to be circumcised were not trying to lure them into the secular world; they were wanting to bring them into the religious world to make a display in the flesh and to avoid persecution. The various matters Paul covers in these verses are thus related to religion, not to the secular world. Therefore, we see clearly from the context that the world in verse 14 is the religious world.
On the one hand, the religious world was crucified to Paul; on the other hand, he was crucified to the religious world. Because of the cross of Christ, the religious world would not have anything to do with Paul, nor would Paul have anything to do with the religious world. The same is true of us today.
In verse 15 Paul says that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation. The old creation is our old man in Adam (Eph. 4:22), our natural being by birth, without God’s life and the divine nature. The new creation is the new man in Christ (Eph. 4:24), our being regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:6), having God’s life and the divine nature wrought into us (John 3:36; 2 Pet. 1:4), with Christ as its constituent (Col. 3:10-11). It is this new creation that fulfills God’s eternal purpose by expressing God in His sonship.
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