- Locate the Passage
6:11-18 is the last preaching unit of the letter and contains a final warning followed by a benediction.
- Identify the Genre
The macro level is epistolary. The micro level is expository hortatory.
There are two imperative commands in the passage. The first appears in verse 11 and is connected to Paul’s warning. The second is found in verse 17 and is a component of his benediction.
- Determine the Structure of the Passage
In verses 11-13, Paul offers a final warning to the Galatians concerning the activity and motivation of the Judaizers. This warning is prefaced with a command to for readers to take note of Paul’s authenticating communication.
In verses 14-15, Paul contrasts the boasting of the Judaizers in the flesh with his fixed determination to boast in the cross and its result.
In verses 16-18, Paul delivers a benediction to his readers. In the midst of it, he includes a personal and final command.
- Exegete the Passage
Verse 11 begins with Paul’s appeal and command for readers to see (idete-aorist active imperative-“look”) with what large (pelikois) letters he has written (egrapsa-aorist passive indicative) to them in his own hand. This appeal is followed by a final warning related to the Judaizers. They are described as those who wish (thelousin) to have a good showing (euprosopesai-aorist active infinitive) in the flesh. These false teachers would compel (anagkazousin-present active indicative-“force”) the Galatians to be circumcised. The purpose for their application of such pressure is in order that (hina-purpose clause) they might not be persecuted (diokontai-present middle subjunctive) for the cross (instrument of cause) of Christ (verse 12). Verse 13 continues Paul’s exposure of the Judaizers. Even though they are circumcised, they do not themselves keep (phulassousin-present active indicative) the law. However, they desire the Galatians to be circumcised in order that in the flesh of the Galatians they might boast (kauchesontai-aorist middle subjunctive-“glory”).
Magnifying the contrast between himself and the false teachers, Paul writes: “But for me, may it never be (me genoito) to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world (kosmos) to me has been crucified (estaurotai-perfect middle indicative) and I to the world” (verse 14). Verse 15 echoes Paul’s earlier assertion in 5:6: Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. What matters is the appropriation of the work of the cross- a new creation (ktisis).
Verse 16 marks the beginning of Paul’s benediction. On all who will walk (stoichesousin-future active indicative) by this rule (kanoni-“canon” or “standard”), Paul confers peace and mercy (eleos), and upon the Israel of God. In light of the truth of the gospel and his commitment to it, Paul issues a final command to the Galatians in verse 17. He writes: “From now on, let no one give (paracheto-present active imperative) me troubles (kopous-plural noun); indeed the marks (stigmata-“scars”) of Jesus on my body I bear (bastazo-present active indicative).” In verse 18, the benediction concludes with the Paul’s plea for the grace of Christ to be with his brothers in the Galatian churches. “Amen” is a Hebraism which means “So be it” or “Let it be.”
- Let the Structure of the Text Drive the Sermon
- Heed the warning (11-13)
prefaced by a command
exposure of Judaizers
- Consider the contrast (14-15)
boasting only in the cross
a new creation
- Receive the benediction (16-18)
peace and mercy
command to cease giving “troubles”
grace and amen
- Heed the warning (11-13)