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The DEEP

I've Arrived Syndrome

We're not immune.

Galatians 6:11–18

See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul begins this concluding section with a curious note. Though half-blind and not accustomed to writing, Paul has taken the pen from his amanuensis (possibly Tertius, see Romans 16:22) and written in his own hand. The clumsy script that results adds yet another personal touch to what is already a gem of a personal letter. It’s a pity that the original is long gone, since no copy can do this justice.

Then Paul makes two final points about those who would compel you to be circumcised. First off, they’re doing it to show off— that they may boast in your flesh. They even think that by this they may not suffer persecution. Hold on there a moment. Persecution? Why would they be persecuted?

Experts. The intelligentsia of the day, particularly the Jewish ones, have been studying circumcision all their lives. Regardless of their view on whether Jesus is the messiah, they’re not about to let go of the body of knowledge that makes them experts. The idea that circumcision isn’t needed any more is anathema to them.

It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.” —Upton Sinclair

Paul’s other final point is that the circumcisers aren’t keeping the law themselves. I suspect this is related to a psychological phenomenon I observed on a business trip to Israel. It seemed to me that observance of the ceremonial law there was rather lax. An Israeli explained that since they were in Israel, they didn’t need to worry about it as much. They have arrived.

This might be the case with circumcision. Since, back then, circumcision was the sign of the covenant, being circumcised meant you’d arrived.

You don’t need to stress over the law.


Do not think that we’re immune to the “I’ve Arrived Syndrome.” Christians do this too.

John Nunnikhoven describes this as, “Say the sinners’ prayer and I’ll meet you at the pearly gates.”


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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