The Meaning of Galatians 5:11 Explained

Galatians 5:11

KJV: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

YLT: And I, brethren, if uncircumcision I yet preach, why yet am I persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away;

Darby: But I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why am I yet persecuted? Then the scandal of the cross has been done away.

ASV: But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away.

What does Galatians 5:11 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Evidently some people were saying Paul advocated circumcision. He may have preached it before his Damascus road conversion, but since then he had stopped. Probably Paul meant that the accusation of his critics that he preached circumcision when it suited him was not true (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:18). [1] Paul thought it wise for some Christians, such as Timothy, to undergo circumcision for the sake of effective ministry ( Acts 16:3). However, he did not teach that it was necessary for salvation.
Paul"s point here was that if he taught circumcision was necessary for salvation the Judaizers would not have persecuted him. If people need circumcision, they do not need the cross of Christ. The legalists opposed Paul"s preaching of the Cross because it implied that people are unable to please God themselves.
"The skandalon [2] of the cross, for Jews (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23), lay in the curse which it involved for one who was hanged on it (cf. Galatians 3:13). That one who died such a death should be proclaimed as Lord and Christ was intolerable. In the eyes of Gentiles the idea that salvation depended on one who had neither the wit nor the power to save himself from so disreputable a death was the height of folly. But there is a more general skandalon attached to the cross, one of which Paul is probably thinking here: it cuts the ground from under every thought of personal achievement or merit where God"s salvation is in view. To be shut up to receiving salvation from the crucified one, if it is to be received at all, is an affront to all notions of proper self-pride and self-help-and for many people this remains a major stumbling-block in the gospel of Christ crucified. If I myself can make some small contribution, something even so small as the acceptance of circumcision, then my self-esteem is uninjured." [3]
In short, Paul"s gospel was a stumbling block for two reasons: it presented a crucified Messiah and it advocated a way of salvation apart from circumcision and the Law.

Context Summary

Galatians 5:1-12 - Hold Fast Your Freedom
We are free. The Son has made us free, and we are free indeed, though not free to disobey the dictates and promptings of our new nature. We are set free from minute prescriptions, from priestly rules and requisitions, from all that would cramp and hinder our spiritual development; but we are still under the law of Christ, who will see to it that the essential righteousness of the Mosaic law is fulfilled in us, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Romans 8:1.
If the Mosaic law is kept as a means of salvation, we must fulfill it all, Galatians 5:3. For himself, as "we" suggests, Galatians 5:5, Paul had an assured confidence that his hope could not be disappointed. Christ is ever calling us upward, Galatians 5:8. Be on guard against the ferment of false teaching, Galatians 5:9. The Apostle shows the absurdity of supposing that he was in favor of circumcision, since, if that were the case, the long persecution of his life would cease, Galatians 5:11. These verses were in Bunyan's mind when he depicted Mr. Worldly Wiseman, of the town of Carnal Policy, as endeavoring to turn Christian out of the Way of the Cross to the house of Mr. Legality. [source]

Chapter Summary: Galatians 5

1  He wills them to stand in their liberty,
3  and not to observe circumcision;
13  but rather love, which is the sum of the law
19  He lists the works of the flesh,
22  and the fruits of the Spirit,
25  and exhorts to walk in the Spirit

Greek Commentary for Galatians 5:11

Why am I still persecuted? [τι ετι διωκομαι]
Some of the Judaizers even circulated the slander that Paul preached circumcision in order to ruin his influence. [source]
And I []
In sharp contrast with the disturber. [source]
If I yet preach circumcision [εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω]
Commonly explained as an allusion to a charge circulated by the Judaisers that Paul preached or sanctioned the circumcision of Gentile converts in churches outside of Galatia, as, for example, in the case of Timothy, Acts 16:3. But it is quite unlikely that any such charge was circulated. The Judaisers would not have founded such a charge on an individual case or two, like Timothy's, especially in the face of the notorious fact that Paul, in Jerusalem and Antioch, had contested the demand for the circumcision of Gentile Christians; and Paul's question, “Why do I suffer persecution?” would have been pertinent only on the assumption that he was charged with habitually. not occasionally, preaching circumcision. Had the Judaisers actually circulated such a charge, Paul would have been compelled to meet it in a far more direct and thorough manner than he does here. He would have been likely to formulate the charge, and to deal incisively with the inconsistency in his preaching which it involved. The course of his thought is as follows: “He that troubleth you by preaching circumcision shall bear his judgment; but I am not a disturber - not your enemy (Galatians 4:16), for I do not preach circumcision; and the proof of this is that I am persecuted. If I preached circumcision, there would be no offense, and therefore no disturbance; for the cross would cease to be an offense, if, in addition to the cross, I preached just what the Judaisers assert, the necessity of circumcision.” [source]
Yet [ἔπι]
As in the time before my conversion. The second ἔπι is not temporal but logical, as Romans 3:7; Romans 9:19. What further ground is there for persecuting me? [source]
Then [ἄρα]
As a consequence of my preaching circumcision. [source]
The offense of the cross [τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ]
Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:23. For offense, see on offend, Matthew 5:29. [source]
Ceased [κατήργηται]
Lit. been done away or brought to nought. See on Galatians 5:4. If Paul had preached circumcision as necessary to salvation, the preaching of the cross would have ceased to be an offense, because, along with the cross, Paul would have preached what the Judaisers demanded, that the Mosaic law should still be binding on Christians. The Judaisers would have accepted the cross with circumcision, but not the cross instead of circumcision. The Judaisers thus exposed themselves to no persecution in accepting Christ. They covered the offense of the cross, and conciliated unbelieving Jews by maintaining that the law was binding upon Christians. See Galatians 6:12. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Galatians 5:11

Galatians 6:18 Brethren []
Rev. rightly puts the word at the end of the verse. The position is unusual. It would seem as if Paul intended to close this severe letter with an assurance that the “foolish Galatians” were still his brethren: They are addressed as “brethren,” Galatians 4:12; Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:1. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:24. [source]
Galatians 6:12 For the cross [τῷ σταυρῷ]
Better, by reason of the cross. Because of preaching a crucified Messiah. See on Galatians 5:11. The Judaisers attempted to cover with the law - the requirement of circumcision - the “offense” of a crucified Messiah. [source]
Philippians 3:18 Even weeping [και κλαιων]
Deep emotion as he dictated the letter and recalled these recreant followers of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:4). The enemies of the cross of Christ (τους εχτρους του σταυρου του Χριστου — tous echthrous tou staurou tou Christou). Either the Judaizers who denied the value of the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:14) or Epicurean antinomians whose loose living gave the lie to the cross of Christ (1 John 2:4). [source]
Philippians 3:18 The enemies of the cross of Christ [τους εχτρους του σταυρου του Χριστου]
Either the Judaizers who denied the value of the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:14) or Epicurean antinomians whose loose living gave the lie to the cross of Christ (1 John 2:4). [source]

What do the individual words in Galatians 5:11 mean?

I now brothers if circumcision still proclaim why am I persecuted In that case has been abolished the offense of the cross
Ἐγὼ δέ ἀδελφοί εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω τί διώκομαι ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ

δέ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἀδελφοί  brothers 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
περιτομὴν  circumcision 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: περιτομή  
Sense: circumcised.
ἔτι  still 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ἔτι  
Sense: yet, still.
κηρύσσω  proclaim 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: κηρύσσω  
Sense: to be a herald, to officiate as a herald.
τί  why 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: τίς  
Sense: who, which, what.
διώκομαι  am  I  persecuted 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 1st Person Singular
Root: διώκω  
Sense: to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away.
ἄρα  In  that  case 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἄρα  
Sense: therefore, so then, wherefore.
κατήργηται  has  been  abolished 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: καταργέω  
Sense: to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative.
σκάνδαλον  offense 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: σκάνδαλον  
Sense: the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick.
τοῦ  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
σταυροῦ  cross 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: σταυρός  
Sense: an upright stake, esp.