A Fair Show in the Flesh

Galatians 6:11-13 You see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair show 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. 

‘Letter’ [Greek: gramma] that which is written; letters of the alphabet (Luke 23:38; John 7:15; Rom. 2:27, 29; 6:6; 2Cor. 3:6); letters or epistles (Acts 28:21); books (John 5:47; 2Cor. 3:7); bill or receipt (Luke 16:6-7); and Scriptures (2Tim. 3:15). This verse refers to the fact that Paul had written this whole epistle by himself. He had written larger epistles but had dictated them to others. That he was nearly blind and this verse refers to the large characters of the alphabet he used in the epistle is not supported by any MSS or any fact in Scripture. In Paul’s day, all writing was in uncial characters (like the capital letters we use), only they were about an inch high. If he needed to write bigger letters, he could not see to write at all.

‘Make a fair show in the flesh.’ This refers to circumcision and the outward rituals of Judaism that any unsaved man could keep without being restricted otherwise. Weak Christians were tempted to go back to Judaism because they could escape persecution and more easily conform to the requirements (6:12-13). Circumcision, which was a part of the Abrahamic covenant, was a sign of the promised Redeemer out of the loins of Abraham, and of His works for all who wished to put off the sins of the flesh and serve God as new creatures. The word “circumcision” came to be synonymous with Jews (2:9; Rom. 3:30; 4:9;). Since Christ came, circumcision avails nothing (5:6; Col. 3:11). Christian circumcision is in the heart or spirit, not in the flesh (Rom. 2:28-29; 1Cor. 7:19; Php. 3:3; Col. 2:11)

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