What does Galatians 6:12 mean?
ESV: It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
NIV: Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
NASB: All who want to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
CSB: Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised--but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
NLT: Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save.
KJV: As 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.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has taken the pen from his scribe to write the ending of his letter to the Galatians with his own hand. Writing in large letters, he begins to sum up his letter by repeating some of the big ideas he has covered.

First, he returns to the issue of circumcision. A group known as the Judaizers was trying to convince the Galatian Christians that they must believe in Jesus and be circumcised in order to truly be right with God. Paul has told them flatly that if they get circumcised for this reason, Christ will be useless to them (Galatians 5:2).

Now he says that those trying to force the Galatians to be circumcised are only doing so to make themselves look good "in the flesh." They are trying to earn the approval of other Jewish religious leaders by the number of new Gentile Christians they can convince to be circumcised. Paul doesn't want his readers to buy into that.

Also, these Judaizers insist on circumcision because they are afraid of being persecuted by other Jewish religious leaders. It's one thing to agree that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, but to teach that circumcision is not necessary will paint a target on their backs. Paul knew that from hard experience! So they take the easy way out and do both. Paul has taught clearly that the two cannot go together (Galatians 5:4).
Verse Context:
Galatians 6:11–18 is the conclusion of Paul's letter to the Galatians. He apparently took the pen from his scribe and wrote these words, with his own hand, in oversized letters. This remark is one reason some scholars think Paul might have had a problem with his eyesight. Once again, Paul reveals the motives of false teachers pressuring the Galatians to be circumcised. They are only promoting themselves. Now that Christ has come, circumcision does nothing. The Galatians should trust Christ, instead, to be made into new creations.
Chapter Summary:
Galatians 6 includes instructions for how people who are free in Christ and walking by God's Spirit, should treat each other. Christians should restore those who are caught by sin, and we should bear each other's burdens. Only those who plant the fruit of God's Spirit, by faith in Christ, will harvest eternal life. Believers should not get tired of doing good for each other! The harvest is coming. Paul concludes the letter, writing in large letters that circumcision means nothing. Only becoming a new creation through faith in Christ matters.
Chapter Context:
Galatians 5 wrapped up with a focus on what it means to be led by God's Spirit. Galatians 6 starts with describing how Spirit-led Christians serve each other by restoring those caught be sin and bearing each other's burdens. Only those who plant God's Spirit in this life, through faith in Christ, will harvest eternal life. Paul concludes the letter by writing in big letters that circumcision does not matter, only being made a new creation by faith in Christ matters.
Book Summary:
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
Accessed 2/25/2024 11:02:29 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com