Fiery Frustration and Holy Fury

Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves.”—Galatians 5:11–12 (NLT)

Have you ever written something while fired up? Maybe you had a terrible experience at a restaurant and immediately went to town on a Yelp review. Maybe you’ve sent a strongly-worded message to your child’s teacher after learning of an injustice that took place at school. Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say most of us have penned a passionate and pointed message at one time or another.

From the first sentence of today’s Scripture, it’s clear that Paul is firing on all cylinders. One commentary states that “In the Book of Galatians, we get to see what Paul’s soul looks like when it’s set on fire.” Paul’s got a bee in his bonnet, he’s got a pebble in his shoe . . . he is wound up! We see Paul trying to talk some sense into the Galatians. 

As we’ve discussed since we began our study of Galatians, the believers in this region had fallen for the lie of legalism. They’d been led astray from the truth of the gospel and deceived into following a false gospel of works by a group called the Judaizers. 

Their message contained a lot of the same language, so it fooled the Galatians into thinking they were still following the same gospel that Paul shared with them. The Judaizers even convinced the Galatians that their message was the same as Paul’s—that they were preaching the same gospel! And Paul was upset because that made no sense. 

You see, Paul was experiencing intense opposition and persecution from the Jewish leaders. This former Pharisee was now preaching that faith in Christ alone is what makes you right with God, and his former colleagues were not having it! And based on Paul’s statement here, the Galatians knew this. So, he points out the logical inconsistency that exists here: “If I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended.” And then, in a palpable moment of frustration, Paul expresses his feelings toward those who were leading his spiritual children astray. 

I pray that we as believers would defend our spiritual children and brothers and sisters in Christ just as passionately as Paul did. We must be wary and watchful of those who claim to be Christians but preach a false gospel and seek to cause division and destruction within the body of Christ!

DIG: Why was the apostle Paul so pointed in his tone throughout the Book of Galatians?

DISCOVER: How can you be sure you’re believing and sharing the true gospel of Jesus and not a false gospel like the Judaizers? 

DO: Spend time reflecting on Paul’s passion for the gospel and how he sought to protect his fellow believers from deception. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.