| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 51 - Page 46 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be
justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value, the only thing
that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (5: 1-6).
The tenses are important in this passage "If you let yourself be circumcised". The
verb is present subjunctive and does not refer to the past. Paul does not say "If you have
been circumcised" for that would have excluded himself and every man who was a Jew.
It was the contemplation of this rite and the attitude of mind that saw it as necessary to
salvation. And in doing this the person concerned put himself in the position of not only
being circumcised, but obeying the whole law, which had already been proved impossible
for man who is a sinner and therefore constantly failing to reach the law's perfect
5: 5 - 6: 8.
pp. 173 - 178
Paul is now about to introduce a pointed contrast with those who, by their defection
and legalism, were falling from grace:
"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal. 5: 5).
"By faith" is opposed to "by law" of verse 4. The Spirit can refer to the work of the
Holy Spirit or the sphere in which He works through the believer, that is the "spirit", the
new nature as opposed to the "flesh", the old sinful nature. "To wait for"
(apekdechomai) means "to eagerly expect". The Judaizer expected to attain to
righteousness by keeping the law, whereas the instructed believer looked for justification
in the sphere of spirit through faith in Christ.
As a summary the Apostle now states:
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only
thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (5: 6, N.I.V.).
Paul is not one-sided. He does not allow the Gentile to boast of his uncircumcised
state, any more than he will allow the Jew to boast in his circumcision. Both are now
unnecessary and irrelevant "in Christ". He has stated the same thing in Gal. 6: 15 and
I Cor. 7: 19. At the same time the Apostle does not say "faith only" for this could be an
empty lifeless faith. Rather it is faith expressed by a practical love which is constantly
concerned for others.
He continues in expostulation: