5:2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all!
5:11 Now, brothers and sisters, 1 if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? 2 In that case the offense of the cross 3 has been removed. 4 5:12 I wish those agitators 5 would go so far as to 6 castrate themselves! 7
2 sn That is, if Paul still teaches observance of the Mosaic law (preaches circumcision), why is he still being persecuted by his opponents, who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law?
3 sn The offense of the cross refers to the offense to Jews caused by preaching Christ crucified.
4 tn Or “nullified.”
5 tn Grk “the ones who are upsetting you.” The same verb is used in Acts 21:38 to refer to a person who incited a revolt. Paul could be alluding indirectly to the fact that his opponents are inciting the Galatians to rebel against his teaching with regard to circumcision and the law.
6 tn Grk “would even.”
7 tn Or “make eunuchs of themselves”; Grk “cut themselves off.” This statement is rhetorical hyperbole on Paul’s part. It does strongly suggest, however, that Paul’s adversaries in this case (“those agitators”) were men. Some interpreters (notably Erasmus and the Reformers) have attempted to soften the meaning to a figurative “separate themselves” (meaning the opponents would withdraw from fellowship) but such an understanding dramatically weakens the rhetorical force of Paul’s argument. Although it has been argued that such an act of emasculation would be unthinkable for Paul, it must be noted that Paul’s statement is one of biting sarcasm, obviously not meant to be taken literally. See further G. Stählin, TDNT 3:853-55.