Galatians 6:17 reads, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (NKJV). Throughout this epistle the apostle Paul spoke of false teachers who were trying to convince the new converts in Galatia to be circumcised. They wanted to put “a MARK in their flesh” which would indicate their loyalty to the Law of Moses. By way of contrast, Paul speaks of how he bore in his body “the marks of the Lord Jesus” which was the proof of his loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Back in that day it was customary to “brand slaves” as a mark of ownership. The Judaizing teachers were compassing land and sea to convert men and women to the Law. What was their real motive behind this?  Galatians 6:12-13 provides the answer: “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. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that THEY MAY BOAST IN YOUR FLESH.” We see first that the Jewish teachers wanted to AVOID PERSECUTION. When one simply adheres to religious forms and ceremonies the world will not hate or persecute them; in fact, the world will applaud them for their religion. But if one preaches the “cross of Christ,” one can expect persecution. Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy 3:12, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” These legalists also wanted to BOAST IN THEIR BEING CIRCUMCISED. I can imagine that every person that was persuaded to be circumcised became another “notch in the belt” of these proud and self-righteous men. They could point to their convert and say, “See, this ‘marked man’ is MY NEW CONVERT!” In a sense, they were claiming ownership of them and the mark of circumcision was the “brand mark” of their slavery to these men and to the Law.

Paul had, at one time, boasted in his “MARK in the flesh.” In Philippians 3:4-6 he gave a list of all the things he was proud of and trusted in to make him righteous in God’s sight. In verse 5 he bragged that he had been “circumcised the eighth day.” His pious parents had followed the law to the letter and thus their son, from the beginning of his life, had that “MARK in the flesh” to show that he was a true Jew. Yet Paul’s eyes were opened to see that all those things that he trusted in were worthless. This is borne out in Philippians 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (NKJV). From that point on, Paul experienced untold sufferings from men who hated Christ. We have a partial list of some of those sufferings in 2nd Corinthians 11:24-25, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned.” Can you even imagine the scars Paul bore in his body after years of being persecuted and abused? Yet in our portion today we see that Paul refers to all those scars as “the marks of the Lord Jesus.” He knew that those “marks” branded him as a slave of Jesus Christ and he was happy to have those “marks of ownership.” We saw that the false teachers boasted in their new converts being circumcised. But we see in Galatians 6:14 that Paul only had one thing to boast in: “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.”  (209.5)  (DO)