Introduction: This final section of Galatians is a portion written by Paul’s own hand. Paul normally used an ‘amanuensis’ to write his letters. An amanuensis is a person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts. Paul would use the amanuensis to write neatly and coherently what he told him to write. One reason Paul probably needed this service is found in verse 11. Paul probably had to write with large letter characters because of some sort of eye trouble which was also alluded to when he reminded the Galatians of how they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if it could have helped. But now, because of the urgency of this letter and perhaps even the tone of it, Paul picks up the pen himself and writes the final sentences. By doing this he intends to show three things to the Galatian Church. He shows his affection for the Galatians, the importance of this letter, and an emphasis on the truths contained in this closing paragraph. These truths are that the false teachers seek glory in themselves and not in the Cross, they desire to avoid persecution, the cross is our only glory, outward circumcision doesn’t mean a thing, and all who believe are the Israel of God, regardless of circumcision.
I. False Motives From False Teachers
A. They Desire To Have You Circumcised To Make A Good Showing In The Flesh
B. They Desire To Have You Circumcised To Avoid Persecution
C. They Desire To Have You Circumcised So They May Glory In Your Flesh
II. A True Motive From The Apostle
A. The Cross Is Our Glory
B. The World Has Been Crucified To Us
C. We Have Been Crucified To The World
III. Marks That Matter
A. Circumcision Or Uncircumcision? Neither.
B. EXCURSUS: The Circumcision Of The Heart
Galatians 3:16, 29, Rom 2:25-29, Eph. 2:11-22, I Cor. 7:18-19, Col 2:11-14
In Romans 11 we are pictured as having been grafted into Israel.
In Romans 9, Paul tells us that it is not those who are children by the flesh who are regarded as children, but those of promise.
In Leviticus, those who are not circumcised in the heart are excluded from the covenant. Lev 26:40-42
And in Deuteronomy, Moses commands, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” Deu 10:16, Deu 30:1-6
In Jeremiah, the prophet tells Israel, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh– Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.” Jer 9:25-26 Israel in these verses are compared with every other pagan, uncircumcised nation because although they are circumcised in the flesh, they are not circumcised in the heart. see also Jer 4:3-4, Eze 44:6-9
Stephen, as he preached to the mob that would stone him, said, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Act 7:51-53
But regarding Christians, Paul says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh–“ Phi 3:2-3
C. The Israel Of God
1. Not the ‘New’ Israel
2. Not the ‘Nation’ of Israel
3. The ‘Only’ Israel of God
D. The Marks Of Persecution, Our Outward Circumcision 2Co 4:8-12, Phi 1:29-30
Conclusion: Paul ends this letter as abruptly as he begins it. He doesn’t send greetings to the Galatians, but instead offers this blessing upon them, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” A fitting end to a letter in which he has utterly destroyed the works of the flesh as the grounds of any kind of standing before God. He leaves them only with grace and nothing more. May we find the courage, peace, and freedom to embrace this life of grace through the power of the Spirit. On behalf of the Apostle and Jesus Christ, Grace be to you.