Circumcision and persecution : a Pauline perspective according to Gal. 5:11 and 6:12

Jung, Kwang Jin (2019-04)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Paul’s position regarding circumcision has been one of the most controversial issues in Pauline studies. This position has been interpreted theologically in traditional readings and has been ethically focused on in the reading of the new perspective on Paul. In this study Paul’s position regarding circumcision was interpreted through the connection between circumcision and persecution presented in Gal. 5:11 and 6:12. A study of the historical background and an exegetical analysis were made to analyse the meaning of circumcision and persecution in Paul’s world. Circumcision was an important factor in Judaism in Paul’s age. It was the sign of being sons of Abraham and Jewish custom compelled circumcision for those who entered the Jewish community. Circumcision played an important role in the understanding of salvation and in this community’s life. However, Paul, following his conversion, appears to have reconsidered the concept of circumcision. His changed position regarding circumcision is shown clearly in his autobiographical narratives, for instance in not compelling Titus’s circumcision (Gal. 2:3). Gentiles became people of God through faith in Jesus Christ. In this sense Paul did not preach circumcision to the Gentile believers in Jesus, but Paul’s opponents in the Galatian Churches preached circumcision to Gentiles. The Galatian churches were deluded by his opponents’ teaching that added circumcision to the true gospel. Paul and his opponents were exposed to persecution if they failed to preach circumcision. In this situation, Paul’s behaviour is contrasted with that of his opponents. Paul did not compel the Gentile believers in Jesus to undergo circumcision despite persecution (Gal. 5:11). However, his opponents added the requirement of circumcision to the gospel and preached this teaching to Gentile Galatians. In Gal. 6:12 Paul suggested that they preached circumcision in order to avoid persecution. Paul’s important teaching has to do with enduring persecution because of not preaching circumcision so as to be true to the gospel. The contrast highlighted in Paul’s statement provided a good model of ethical life to Gentiles in Galatia. Conversely, preaching to ensure own comfort, like Paul’s opponents, is to not live according to the true gospel. Paul’s teaching plays a pivotal role in Christian life. His pronouncement in these verses encourages Christians to adhere to the true gospel and to endure suffering that may result from being true to the gospel.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Paulus se posisie ten opsigte van besnydenis was nog altyd een van die mees omstrede kwessies in Pauliniese navorsing. Hierdie posisie is teologies geïnterpreteer in tradisionele werk maar is eties gefokus in die nuwe perspektief op Paulus. In hierdie studie word Paulus se posisie ten opsigte van besnydenis geïnterpreteer deur die verband tussen besnydenis en vervolging in Gal. 5:11 en 6:12 te ondersoek. 'n Studie van die historiese agtergrond en 'n eksegetiese analise is gebruik om die betekenis van besnydenis en vervolging in Paulus se wêreld te ontleed. Besnydenis was 'n belangrike faktor in die Judaïsme van Paulus se tyd. Dit was die teken om seuns van Abraham te wees en Joodse gebruik het aangedring op besnydenis vir diegene wat die Joodse gemeenskap binnegekom het. Besnydenis het 'n belangrike rol gespeel in die verstaan van verlossing en in die lewe van die gemeenskap. Paulus het skynbaar egter na sy bekering die konsep van besnydenis heroorweeg. Sy veranderde posisie ten opsigte van besnydenis word duidelik in sy outobiografiese vertellings, byvoorbeeld in weiering van die besnydenis van Titus (Gal. 2: 3). Nie-Jode het mense van God geword deur geloof in Jesus Christus. In hierdie sin het Paulus nie besnydenis aan die heiden-gelowiges in Jesus verkondig nie, maar Paulus se teenstanders in die Galasiese kerke het wel besnydenis aan heidene verkondig. Die Galasiese kerke is bedrieg deur sy teenstanders se leer wat die besnydenis tot die ware evangelie toegevoeg het. Paulus en sy teenstanders was blootgestel aan vervolging as hulle nie die besnydenis verkondig het nie. In hierdie situasie word Paulus se gedrag gekontrasteer met dié van sy teenstanders. Hy het nie die heiden-gelowiges in Jesus gedwing om besnydenis te ondergaan nie, ten spyte van vervolging (Gal. 5:11). Sy teenstanders het egter die eis van besnydenis aan die evangelie bygevoeg en hierdie lering aan heidense Galasiërs gepreek. In Gal. 6:12 gee hy te kenne dat hulle besnydenis verkondig om vervolging te vermy. Paulus se belangrike lering het te make met volgehoue vervolging omdat hy nie die besnydenis verkondig het nie ten einde getrou te wees aan die evangelie. Die kontras wat in Paulus se stelling uitgelig is, het 'n goeie model van etiese lewe aan heidene in Galasië gegee. Omgekeerd, prediking om eie troos te verseker, soos Paulus se teenstanders, beteken dat daar nie volgens die ware evangelie geleef word nie. Paulus se leer speel 'n deurslaggewende rol in die Christelike lewe. Sy uitspraak in hierdie verse moedig Christene aan om aan die ware evangelie te voldoen en om lyding te verduur wat mag voortspruit uit die nastreef van die waarheid van die evangelie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105781
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