“And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased”
In this verse, Paul answers the charge that he preached circumcision, which was inconsistent with his doctrine of grace alone.
And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision,
Evidently, the legalists represented Paul as still preaching “circumcision” while at the same time advocating grace. This was a lie, for it would be inconsistent for Paul to do so. Paul did circumcise Timothy to lessen disapproval among the Jews (Acts 16:3). This left him open to the charge that he circumcised to suit his purposes.
The word “if” is contrary to the fact in the Greek – “If, and I don’t.” Paul never promoted circumcision for salvation or as a norm for living the Christian life.
why do I still suffer persecution?
Paul proves that he did not preach circumcision and is not a legalist because he suffered persecution for preaching the cross. If Paul still advocated the same thing as the legalists, why were they still persecuting him? Turning back to legalism would abrogate his persecution.
Then the offense of the cross has ceased
Paul uses “offense” here metaphorically for the cross giving offense or causing revulsion to legalism. Legalists in Galatia looked on the mutually exclusive work of Christ on the cross with disdain. The cross aroused opposition from the legalists because it revolved around grace. Man’s total depravity offends people because they must lay their self-righteous pride at the feet of the cross.
People hate grace because it is an affront to their pride.
We cannot add anything to the Christian life without destroying the very essence of it. We can add nothing to faith through grace for salvation, nor can we add anything to faith through grace for sanctification.
What is it about the cross that stumbles people? God requires them to junk their self-righteousness and trust Christ alone. We want our morality to curry brownie points with God. This does not cater to educated and nice people, for this is where they place their pride. The more religious they are, the bigger the offense with God. We must throw ourselves on the cross and the cross alone.