Too far?


The Bible uses some harsh and pointed language.  In Galatians 5, for example:

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This persuasion is not from him who calls you.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers,still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.  I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

Bob Deffinbaugh:

Verse 12 is looked upon by some as a crude piece of sarcasm. This is hardly the case. Paul’s purpose is to press the error of the Judaizers to its illogical and unacceptable conclusion. The Judaizers had emphasized circumcision more than the Old Testament Law had. The mentality of the Judaizers was that the cutting off of a little flesh was commendable and pleasing in God’s sight. In short, they taught that circumcision contributed to a man’s righteousness. If this were really true, Paul queries, then why not press the matter even further? If cutting off a little flesh is good, cutting off much flesh is even better. Why not be so pious as to castrate oneself?

Now this is a bit extreme for even the Judaizer. First, the Old Testament Law forbade a castrated man from entering the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:1). No Jew would ever have considered going this far. In addition, well known to the Galatian saints was the pagan ritual of the priests of Cybele in which they castrated themselves. To go to this extent was to imitate the heathen. From the Old Testament Scriptures and contemporary culture, the Galatians would recognize castration as too extreme, and yet it was the logical extension of their doctrine. As this illustration graphically reveals, the horrifying thought of castration was intended to show the Galatians that the Judaizers had gone too far.