Gal 6:11-13 “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. 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. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.”
It is evident in many of Paul’s letters that he dictated the letter and some brother who was with him wrote down what Paul was saying. Many scholars attribute this to the idea that Paul was afflicted with some type of eye disease. Whatever the case, Paul made a point of calling the Galatian brethren’s attention to the fact that the actual writing of this letter was by his own hand.
I believe this was done to impress upon these brothers and sisters Paul’s deep concern for them. His love for them was such that he put aside his own distress in order to instruct and comfort them. He felt a deep need to counsel them again in the truth of Jesus and to warn them against being caught up in the machinations of those whose purpose was to gain an advantage over them.
There were those who had come to them from Jerusalem in the guise of making sure they could be in fellowship (as long as it was on their terms). They wanted the Galatians to be circumcised, but not because they truly felt it necessary for God’s covenant. Instead, they wanted to be able to point to themselves and take credit for making sure the Galatian brethren were behaving like they wanted them to.
These were Jews that believed on Jesus, but they were not willing to bear persecution for their belief. Therefore, they were attempting to mix law and grace (Acts 15:1-5). They wanted the joy of Jesus’ salvation, but they did not want to suffer the persecution of their leaders and the government of that day.
It is not possible for the works of the law and God’s work of grace through Jesus Christ to be mixed. Paul wrote to the saints at Rome “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work (Rom 11:6).” Even when men make an outward show of keeping the law (such as circumcision), they are still not truly able to satisfy the law.
For many, it is important that they zealously affect us, not to see us become better disciples of Jesus, but so they can boast of their influence over us. It is not about giving God glory: instead, it is about man seeking glory for himself. Our care for the church should be such that we would be willing to write a “large letter” with our lives if need be. Our lives should declare with boldness the power and majesty of God and the insufficiency of man.
May the grace of Almighty God move us to labor in a manner that demonstrates His preeminence!