Galatians 6:11–18 (NKJV)
11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.Galatians 6:11-18
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
In his farewell section of the letter to the Galatians, Paul gives the readers one last exhortation to avoid the Judaizers who would pull them back into the legalism in which they previously lived. Don’t let anyone guilt you. into being circumcised in order to please them or other Jews. The motivation for their insistence on this somewhat barbaric act is motivated by their own desire to be accepted in the Jewish community. If they are going to be a part of the Christian church, they want to still have the opportunity to be part of the Jewish community. If they are associating with uncircumcised people, other Jews who have not accepted Christ will be less likely to accept them. Therefore, they seek to make the Gentiles in the church more acceptable to their Jewish friends. This is not a proper motivation for engaging in a practice that God does not require of them! So, by his own hand, Paul is writing this letter to remind them that the only boast, or motivation for any Christian’s actions should that they glory in the cross of Christ, even if it costs one their status in society or their fellowship with the anti-Christian world. Being a new creation in Christ is so much more important than satisfying man’s desires and requirements.
Paul promises peace and mercy to those who obey his teaching, the proverbial Israel of God. By identifying them as the Israel “of God” it is quite possible that this grouping includes all those who live by grace, provided through Jesus Christ. This is the Israel formed under the new covenant of grace. This is the future of all believers and followers of God. This is the family for which Paul bore marks in his body. Paul appeals to them to not trouble him, likely referring to their weakness by which they regressed to a legalistic system that was, in essence, another gospel, or a hybrid of legalism and grace that nearly negated grace and bound the children of Paul. He sums the letter up with a normal farewell blessing of the grace of Jesus upon them. Paul, the spiritual father of this group of believers in the city or region of Galatia, is sounding a warning for his spiritual children that can save them from an old way of worship that had their tormentors bound, looking for other hapless souls to commiserate in their bondage. Paul has brought them grace and freedom, and calls them to continue following his teaching into further grace and peace in Jesus Christ. Once you have been released from your shackles, don’t go back and look longingly at them. Don’t pick them up and consider the normality they once held for you. Instead, discard them, burn them, throw them away, for they are the past and you have no need of them. What sins? God has washed them away. Do not go searching for that from which God has made you free!