Galatians 6:12

As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
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AD 400
To please “in the flesh” means to please human beings. For those he calls false apostles, in order that they gain the approval of the Jews or at least not elicit their hostility, were preaching Christ in such a way that they also taught the necessity of observing the law. Paul was never intimidated by his opponents. He consistently refused to keep silent about the truth. He constantly was attentive to what he was teaching and how he was living.

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The Jews were inflicting great persecution on those who seemed to be deserting their traditional observances such as circumcision. Paul’s lack of fear has been demonstrated through his composing such a letter in his own handwriting. In this way he shows that those who force the Gentiles into circumcision are operating under fear’s control, as though they were subject to the law.

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh. This is a reference to the Judaisers, and their desire to commend themselves to their kinsmen after the flesh. Or the meaning may be that they desired to please by the observance of carnal circumcision. This latter is supported by the use of the term flesh in the next verse They constrain you to be circumcised. Because they hope to be secure from the persecutions of the Jews, who were bitterly hostile to the Cross of Christ, and all who preached it.

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
He tells them the false teachers would have them circumcised first, to avoid persecution from the Jewish party; and secondly to glory in having made them their proselytes. (Witham)


AD 420
Caius [Julius] Caesar and Octavianus Augustus, and Tiberius, the successor of Augustus, had published laws that permitted the Jews scattered throughout the whole sphere of the Roman Empire to live by their own code and observe their ancestral ceremonies. Whoever was circumcised, therefore, even if he was a Christian, was reckoned as a Jew by the Roman authorities. But anyone who was not circumcised and by his uncircumcision proclaimed himself no Jew became liable to persecution, both from Jews and from Gentiles! So those who were leading the Galatians into evil, wishing to evade the persecution, were persuading the disciples to circumcise themselves for protection. This the apostle calls “making a good show” in the flesh. .

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Here he shows that they suffered this, not willingly but of necessity, and affords them an opportunity of retreat, almost speaking in their defence, and exhorting them to abandon their teachers with all speed. What is the meaning of to make a fair show in the flesh? it means, to be esteemed by men. As they were reviled by the Jews for deserting the customs of their fathers, they desire, says he, to injure you, that they may not have this charged against them, but vindicate themselves by means of your flesh. His object here is to show that they did not so act from respect to God; it is as if he said, This procedure is not founded in piety, all this is done through human ambition; in order that the unbelievers may be gratified by the mutilation of the faithful, they choose to offend God that they may please men; for this is the meaning of, to make a fair show in the flesh. Then, as a proof that for another reason too they are unpardonable, he again convinces them that, not only in order ...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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