Gal 6:13 "For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal 6:13-15)



One of the most difficult things for those who have been snared by a justified-by-law mentality is the fact that "salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). This is because a law-system does not depend upon a Savior. It knows nothing of Jesus being exalted to "give repentance" (Acts 5:31), or of Him being "the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2). The grace of God is not perceived as the means to salvation (Eph 2:8), and the concept of a "Savior" is repressed (Acts 5:31; 1 John 4:14). Rarely does a person seeking to be justified by works speak of being "given on the behalf of Christ . . . to believe" (Phil 1:29), being "quickened" (Eph 2:1), being "born again" (1 Pet 1:23), or being a "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17). The thought of God putting us into Christ (1 Cor 1:30), or working in us "both to will and to do of His own good pleasure" (Phil 2:13), or opening one's heart so they can respond to the Gospel (Acts 16:14), are simply not prominent in thought or word. When a person or a group is led away from the One who called them into the grace of Christ, the mind becomes unacquainted with this kind of expression. There is a preference for rules, and steps, and procedures because obtaining salvation is taught academically, or in an abstractive manner, instead of insightfully. By "abstract,"I mean in disassociation from concrete facts - like regeneration, newness, change, etc. Salvation is rather associated with something men do, rather than something they become, or something they receive. The Galatians had lost their hold of the Divine involvement in salvation, and had been led to see the main work in salivation as their own. They really saw no further need for grace, and that is why it was not longer prominent in their thinking. The circumcision of Christ was totally obscured to them when they were convinced of the necessity of outward circumcision. It is a circumstance that has been duplicated in our time. Additionally, Paul will now show that those who taught such perversions were really seeking their own glory.


Gal 6:13 "For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh."

The extensive manner in which Paul is teaching the Galatians reveals to us the complications of a system that leads people to believe they can be justified by Law instead of by faith. Such people do not deny the necessity of faith, but rather teach that God carries out salvation by responding to what YOU do. Of course, what they do not tell the people is that there is no way for men to thoroughly evaluate what others do. There is more to "doing" than what is outward. When men believe, it must be "with the heart" (Rom 10:10). When they obey, it must be "from the heart" (Rom 6:17). They cannot be "double minded" (James 1:8; 4:8). There must be no doubt (James 1:6). Their heart must be "broken and contrite" (Psa 51:17). They must have "received the love of the truth" (2 Thess 2:10). These are all matters that cannot be perceived with the senses. They are also conditions that must be validated by God Himself before salvation can be realized. This means that salvation is not achieved by men, but men receive it from God. While those who teach law as the appointed means of appropriating salivation may acknowledge that such statements are in the Bible, they themselves do not rely upon them, nor do they teach the truth of them to men.

THOSE WHO TAUGHT THEM WEREN'T KEEPING THE LAW. Those who taught the Galatians they ought to be circumcised were themselves circumcised. They had personally done what they were requiring men to do. Lest this be viewed as a good and consistent thing, Paul makes this salient observation about such teachers: they do not "keep the Law." Other versions read, "not . . . obey the Law," NIV "not . . . observe the Law," NAB "not even those who had themselves circumcised did this to follow Jewish laws," GWN "don't keep the whole Law," NLT "don't try to keep the other Jewish laws," LIVING "do not really keep the Law," WEYMOUTH and "do not [really] keep the Law." AMPLIFIED

Paul is not saying that these teachers deliberately broke the Law, or that they were willing to keep only a part of it. He was not saying they failed to put forth a hearty effort to keep the Law. Nor, indeed, is this a charge of hypocrisy, such as the deeds of the scribes and Pharisees. Remember, Paul's point is not merely to expose the false teachers among the Galatians, but to persuade them that men could not be justified by the Law.

What Paul is pointing out here is the POWERLESSNESS of a law-approach to salvation. If circumcision ranked high on the scale of obedience, it would have been attended by moral power-i.e. the power to fulfill the Law. But the fact of the matter is that it did not have such power. From a practical point of view, those who were circumcised were no more able to keep the Law than the heathen who remained in an uncircumcised state. There is no moral power in circumcision, or any other work imagined to give men the advantage in life and godliness.

These teachers were not teaching because of the spiritual advancement that circumcision had brought to them. They had not tapped into Divine power by doing what they felt was required. It was not the love of Christ that was constraining them (2 Cor 5:14). What, then, was the thing that motivated them to teach as they did?

When it comes to the lack of power that is found in systems of law and human conjecture, the spiritual impotence of such systems is reason enough for them to be rejected. If they were true, they would yield the kind of results God ascribes to His great salvation.

DESIRE TO HAVE YOU CIRCUMCISED. Other versions read, "want you to be circumcised," NIV "would have you," BBE "they wish you to be." DARBY

The word "desire" means, "1) to will, have in mind, intend 1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose 1b) to desire, to wish 1c) to love 1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing 1d) to take delight in, have pleasure," STRONG'S "to be resolved or determined, to purpose." THAYER

The word "desire" speaks more of motive than simply wanting something. These teachers were not compelled by a heart's desire that the Galatians be "saved," as Paul desired for Israel (Rom 10:1). What, then, was the desire that compelled them to demand circumcision?

THAT THEY MAY GLORY IN YOUR FLESH. Other versions read, "that they may boast in your flesh," NKJV "boast about your flesh," NIV ""boast of having gained your adherence," CJB "brag about what was done to your body," GWN "boast about it and claim you as their disciples," NLT "boast of you as members of their party," LIVING "glory in your flesh (your subjection to external rites)," AMPLIFIED and "boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible." MESSAGE

The Living Bible and The Message convey the idea most precisely. The advancement of their sect was the thing in which they rejoiced. That could only be accomplished by something that was outward. This kind of desire is still prominent within the Christian community. It is seen in the quest for numbers, sectarian reports, etc.


6:14 "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

GOD FORBID. Other versions read, "may it never be," NASB "may I never," NIV "far be it from me," RSV "Heaven forbid that!" CJB "it is out of question," NJB and "let it not be." YLT

This is the expression of a man who is living unto and consciously before the living God. While, from a language point of view, the word "God" is not in this Greek text, it is most assuredly in the sense of the text. Speaking strictly from an etymological point of view, the statement is the expression of the revulsion of the thought expressed, and the desire never to be so described. From a spiritual point of view, it is like a call to God to assist the person in never glorying in anything but the Lord Jesus Christ.

GLORY. Other versions read, "boast," NKJV "rejoice,' GENEVA and "brag." GWN The word "glory" means to boast, give praise and honor to, to exult or rejoice in. It includes giving credit to, or ascribing superior value to the thing that has made the person what he is. The Jewish teachers had caused the Galatians to glory in circumcision, as though through it they had gained Divine approval and been counted as righteous and obedient. Paul sees circumcision as outside of Christ, but he also knows there are a host of other things in which men can make their boast. Some boasted in having the Law itself , which came from God (Rom 2:17,23). Some boasted that Abraham was their father (Matt 3:9; Lk 3:8). Others boast in their works or own achievements (Eph 2:8). Many of our contemporaries make their boast in the sect to which they belong, the school they attended, their religious heritage, their creed, or even their local congregation. Paul refuses to glory or boast in such things.

SAVE IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Other versions read, "except in," NKJV and "but only in." BBE

Paul is expounding the source of genuine difference. Being a Jew, having the Law, and being circumcised do not alter the character of an individual or the way they live. They do not have the motivational power that is needed to get through this world without being contaminated by it. They do not place a person in Christ, or produce a fellowship with Him.

With spiritual expertise, the apostle states the source of his glorying as "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." He does not glory,

or make his boast, in his own cross - a cross that he has picked up, and with it followed Christ. It is Christ's cross that is his glory, his boast, his cause for glorying. There is where the sacrifice was made. There is where the sins were taken away. There is where the head of the serpent was bruised. There is where peace was made. There is where the Lord tasted death "for every man" (Heb 2:9). Paul will now trace his own motives and conduct to the cross of Christ.

THROUGH WHOM. Other versions read, "through which," NASB "by which," NRSV "through Him," CJB "through which {Or whom}" NIB/NIV "Because of that cross," NLT and "through whom." AMPLIFIED

Is Paul speaking about the cross itself, or the Lord Jesus Christ? Actually, it is both. Jesus is the one who sanctifies the cross, for without Him, it has no effect whatsoever. As Paul stated earlier, "I am crucified with Christ" (2:20). What he now states pertains to his identity with the Christ of the cross, as well as the cross itself, which is the experiential point of view.

THE WORLD IS CRUCIFIED TO ME. So far as Paul was concerned, the world died on the cross, losing its attractiveness, and becoming a loathsome thing. This is something circumcision, or any form of law-keeping, could not accomplish. Further, until this is accomplished, the world has power over the individual, giving sin the advantage. This has to do with Paul's attitude toward the world. It is one in which the world is viewed as condemned, loathsome, and worthy of death. Not loving the world or the things in it results from this perspective (1 John 2:15-16).

No person can live above the world who maintains a love for it. Further, that love cannot be successfully put away by law - any law. The world must be seen for what it really is, and that view can only be obtained on the cross with Jesus. There is where the world loses both its attraction and its power.

I UNTO THE WORLD. The idea here is that the world had also written off Paul, considering him dead and worthless. When he became dead with Christ, the world no longer saw him as valuable or to be desired. This is another view of the world hating the believer - like the recalcitrant Jews hated Jesus as He hung upon the cross. The world did not know Jesus (John 1:10), and it does not know those who are "dead with Christ" (Col 2:20). This is why John wrote, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" (1 John 3:13).

Being rejected by the world is the clear result of being chosen "out of the world" (John 15:19). It is the confirmation that "the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not" (1 John 3:1). In view of this, it becomes evident why courting the friendship of the world is wrong, and constitutes one "the enemy of God" (James 4:4). If Jesus chose us out of the world, the world is crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. What possible reason justifies seeking its friendship?


6:15 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."

Having substantiated that the newness of life produces enmity with, and the rejection of, the world, Paul now makes a clear statement about what really matters. Any approach to religion that relies wholly upon discipline, or adherence to a set of rules, is wholly inadequate.

IN CHRIST JESUS. This phrase has to do with the position, or location, of the believer. Redemption is "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24). The state of "no condemnation" is "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1). The "law of the Spirit of life" is "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:2). The mighty love of God is "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:29). "All spiritual blessings" are realized "in Christ" (Eph 1:3).

What Paul now states applies exclusively to being "in Christ." It has no applicability outside of Christ. He is not describing an environment created by men. Nor, indeed, can men gain entrance into this blessed realm by their own wisdom or works.

NEITHER CIRCUMCISION NOT UNCIRCUMCISION AVAILS ANYTHING. The word "avail" means "to have power 2a) to have power as shown by extraordinary deeds 2a1) to exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome 2b) to be a force, avail 2c) to be serviceable 2d) to be able, can." THAYER It has to do with bringing the advantage, or giving the power to do what is required. It includes the idea of overcoming the world, the devil, and sin.

When you are considering the abiding place of Jesus Christ, what is the worth of circumcision? What advantage does it bring? What distinction is to be seen in it? How are men made the better for it? The answer is clear, "circumcision" does not "avail any thing" in Christ Jesus! Other versions read, "neither is . . . anything," NASB "means anything," NIV "counts for anything," RSV "is nothing," BBE "doesn't matter," GWN "that matters," NJB and is"of any importance." AMPLIFIED

When it comes to the crux of the matter, what can circumcision enable a person to do "in Christ." Or, what power or ability can uncircumcision impart? When it comes to being "in Christ," what can a Jew do that a Gentile cannot do? Mind you, this has to do with distinctions that God made in the flesh - the ONLY distinction He made: Jew and Gentile, or "the circumcision" (Acts 10:45; Rom 3:30) and "the uncircumcision" (Rom 2:26; 4:9).

If this is true of distinctions God made, what must be said of distinctions man has made? Is a former drunkard "in Christ" given the advantage through a twelve-step program? Is a person who observes the Sabbath day more able to please God than one who is not? Does denominational affiliation add spiritual aptitude? In Christ Jesus, is a formally educated man more capable than one who is not? What real advantage comes from adhering to the traditions of men? If circumcision, instituted and enforced by God Almighty, brings no inherent advantage to those in Christ, how dare any man say that something originated by men can do such a thing? Highly polished and professional skills do not bring a single advantage to those who are in Christ!

I acknowledge that outside of Christ, there are certain things that bring temporal advantages to men - but they have nothing to do with salivation or identity with God! Our minds must be turned toward the "in Christ" perspective, not what can be seen with the eye and diagnosed with the carnal mind!

Paul does not think of advantage in the context of the business world, the sports world, or even the church world. When we speak of things that "avail," or give advantage, grant power, or bring aptitude, we must confine ourselves to being "in Christ." Any other advantages are only temporal, and are not to be permitted to dominate our hearts and minds.

IT IS THE NEW CREATURE THAT COUNTS. Other versions read, "a new creation," NKJV "a new order of existence," BBE "transformed into a new creation," NLT "changed into new and different people," LIVING and "a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah]." AMPLIFIED

Elsewhere, Paul affirms that any person "in Christ" IS a "new creature," or "creation" NKJV (2 Cor 5:17). This is the one who has been "born again" (1 Pet 1:23), has experienced the "washing of regeneration" (Tit 3:5), and is God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:10).

Two things ought to be seen here. First, the person who is not "in Christ Jesus" can be given nothing of eternal advantage. Second, "in Christ Jesus" there is nothing that avails that does not come from God. When anyone teaches that something not integral to the new creation brings advantage to the believer, they have not told the truth, whether they know it or not.

Philosophy cannot empower the heart and mind of the believer. The knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages do nor strengthen "the inner man." Conceding to the weakness of the flesh will certainly not make those in Christ better.

The Galatians had been successfully moved away from God by embracing the teaching that being circumcised gave them an advantage that could not otherwise be obtained. Legion is the name of those who have accepted similar teachings that presented other means of becoming better, more capable, stronger in the faith, and obtaining more grace through other means.