Online Bible Commentary
The World has been Crucified to Me
Galatians 6:11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (NKJV)
Paul has just completed his first missionary journey in which he and Barnabas planted churches in southern Galatia at Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. This letter is the first of Paul’s letters.
The new believers in Galatia, influenced by Judaizers, have already turned from Paul’s Gospel to a false gospel of a mix of works and grace instead of grace alone. Judaizers claimed that Christians must also follow the Old Testament law, including circumcision. So Paul is writing to the Galatian believers to direct them back to the true Gospel of salvation by grace and not a combination of grace and works.
As Paul nears the completion of this, his first, letter to churches he reveals that he has written this in his “own hand” (v. 11a). In later letters he may have dictated to a secretary of amanuensis.
In this letter Paul has used “large letters”, perhaps revealing that he had poor eyesight. Some believe that he may have suffered an eye injury during his visit to Lystra when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). If so, this injury may have been his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Paul then turns to the Judaizers who called for Gentile believers to be crucified. He accuses them of wanting a “good showing in the flesh” in order to win points with the unbelieving Jews (v. 12a). By winning them over the Judaizers hoped “that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (v. 12b).
Paul continues his criticism by writing that “those who are circumcised” do not even keep the law themselves. The hypocritical Judaizers wanted Gentile believers to keep the law by being circumcised only “that they may boast” (v. 13).
They wanted to boast of this to unbelieving Jews so that they would not be persecuted, as was Paul. On the contrary, Paul claims that he will not “boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14a).
Paul does not care about what the unbelieving world thinks of him. The world is dead to him and he is dead to the world (v. 14b). He is sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s Christians are called to the same devotion to the Lord that Paul displayed. We should not care about pleasing the world. The world is sold out to Satan and Christians should be sold out to the Lord. We should only care about pleasing the Lord.