Legalists and Galatians 5:12

(Legalists and Galatians 5:12) Bible Question

Question:

“Would you explain Galatians 5:12? This seems very harsh from a man like apostle Paul.”

Answer:

Paul was an ardent defender of the salvation God provides in Jesus Christ. When he saw others corrupting the gospel by adding rules that did not belong, it angered him. As he wrote he got angrier and angrier. . .

We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again. Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you start following the law by being circumcised, then Christ cannot help you. Again, I warn everyone: If you allow yourselves to be circumcised, then you must follow the whole law. If you try to be made right with God through the law, your life with Christ is finished—you have left God’s grace.

I say this because our hope of being right with God comes through faith. And the Spirit helps us feel sure as we wait for that hope. When someone belongs to Christ Jesus, it is not important if they are circumcised or not. The important thing is faith—the kind of faith that works through love.

You were doing so well. Who caused you to stop following the truth? It certainly wasn’t the one who chose you. Be careful! “Just a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise.”I trust in the Lord that you will not believe those different ideas. Someone is trying to confuse you. Whoever it is will be punished.

My brothers and sisters, I don’t teach that a man must be circumcised. If I do teach circumcision, then why am I still being persecuted? If I still taught circumcision, then my message about the cross would not be a problem. I wish those people who are bothering you would add castration to their circumcision.”–  Galatians 5:1 – 12 (Easy-To-Read Version)

The problem that Paul addresses throughout this book (letter) are those teachers who are insisting that Christians must accept all the rules and regulations of Judaism (especially circumcision).

Paul denies this emphatically. By accepting the rules placed on them by others, these Christians were being hindered in their genuine obedience. This corrupt teaching was not from God and just a little bit of this legalism will corrupt a person’s entire faith. Paul then expresses confidence that the Galatians will listen to him and reject the false teaching of these teachers.

Paul, frustrated at the false teaching and accusations, simply makes the statement that these teachers shouldn’t stop at circumcision but go ahead and emasculate themselves. This is harsh but it points out just how upset God gets when the gospel is corrupted by legalists. Legalists who want to add rules to our salvation in order to make us “real” Christians.

We need nothing more than the blood of Christ, the grace of God, and our submission to Him as Lord to be saved. That all includes how we come to Him in baptism, how we live for Him after baptism and how we trust Him to keep His promises. We don’t need any more rules than the ones the Lord has laid down to make us right with God. And, like Paul, we should have righteous anger when people insist on forcing added rules on us to “save us”.

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