by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 February 17, 2013 Dayton, Texas
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.
I. Paul's "Testimony".
A. The recipients of it.
1. The "every man that is circumcised" has to be understood in the light of the preceding verse.
a. He does not mean "every" man that is circumcised.
b. He means "every man that is circumcised as a means to justification".
1) The preceding verse is addressed, not to Jews who are typically circumcised when they are eight days old, but to Gentiles who would only be circumcised if they had been convinced there was a "need" for it.
2) The overwhelming "need" in the context is "justification before God" in order to escape the judgment of God.
2. The "ye who would be justified by the law" of 5:4clearly identifies who the audience is and why they might submit to circumcision.
a. This fits the overall issue of the letter: the failing confidence in the Gospel as explained by Paul.
b. This also addresses a critical fact: no one who "wishes to be justified by law" can make much of a profession of faith in "salvation by grace". At stake is what the person actuallybelieves.
1) Given the reality of faith's initial characteristic as "not well informed", "not firmed up", and "able to be confused", Paul is walking a tightrope here: did the Galatians actually exercise "faith" when he preached to them, or did it just sound like a good idea to them?
2) Since "faith as a grain of mustard seed" ultimately triumphs by the grace and power of the Object of That Faith, those Galatians who actually believe will ultimately come around to Paul's point of view.
3) Since, in Luke's terminology, one can "believe for a while", it is possible for a person to hear, think what is heard is good (and true), "believe" for a while, and then be persuaded that what was heard was actually a lie. If that happens, the person can be said to have not crossed over the line between "thinking something is good and true" and actually "believing" unto a settled conviction. The Scriptures make much of the fact that "believing" is a result of a process that, obviously, begins with hearing a certain declaration and passes, in stages, through the concepts of "thinking" unto a biblically legitimate conviction. At any point along the way a person can be led to a consideration that a former claim "believed" is, in fact, not true. At that point, "faith" (such as it is) in that former claim dies and is replaced by a new "faith" in the counter argument. It is not an accident that Abraham was declared "just" in Genesis 15 and not in Genesis 12. It is also no accident that Genesis 15:8 records Abraham asking "the Lord God" by what means he might "know that I shall inherit it". Once the point of justifying faith is reached (at this point faith as a grain of mustard), there needs to be reinforcement. Abraham's question automatically raised a question: did he not "believe" the "Lord God"?
B. The "Testimony" Itself.
1. Is a repetition ("again") of 3:10-12.
2. Consists of "being obligated" to "do" the whole law.
a. This is the nature of "law": to impose obligation with "teeth" for failure.
b. This does not allow "selective", or "partial", obligation.
3. Has one highly significant conclusion: legalists are "effectually removed" from Christ; they have "fallen" from grace.