The World and the Spirit
Galatians 6:12-13 (Daily Prayer Bible)
The World and the Spirit (Galatians #100)
The ones who insist that everyone act Jewish are just trying to escape persecution by the Jewish authorities. They do not even follow the Law particularly well; they just want to brag about making converts to Judaism.
Galatians 6:12-13 (D.P. “American Bible”)
12 Those who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to coerce you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For the circumcised do not even observe the law themselves; they only want you to be circumcised so that they can boast about your flesh.
Notes on the Scripture
We looked at verse 12, by itself, previously. Combined with verse 13, this section is Paul’s parting shot at the Judaizers. In Galatians, he follows a rhetorical practice that is still taught in schools today: beginning by stating his primary topic (Galatians 1:6-7) and ending by quickly recapitulating and summarizing the same topic at the end. The body of the letter is, then, a withering critique of those who were trying to meld Christianity into Judaism.
Verse 13 adds another dimension to verse 12. The basic, specific message of verse 12 is that the Judaizer’s motivation in urging Christians to become “Jewish” was fear, giving in to faithlessness. They wanted to look like Jews so that the authorities would not persecute them.
But the way he phrased his criticism — a good showing in the flesh — not only refers to the specific act of circumcision, but also, to the duality of living in the flesh as opposed to living in the spirit. Yes, the Judaizers were hypocrites in the sense that they pretended to be Christians, but hedged their bets by worshipping as Jews. Even more woeful, though, they did not even follow the law of Moses. They were not only insincere Christians, but also insincere Jews!