The Offense Of The Cross
“And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased”. Paul states in I Cor. 1:23, “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block (offense) and to the Gentiles foolishness. Romans 9:33, “ behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame” I Peter 2:7,8, “ the stone ( Christ or his teachings) which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. A stone of stumbling and rock of offense”. Rock in this verse is the same one used in Matthew 16:18, “upon this rock”. This rock, that confession that Peter made, “thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. The rock is Jesus the Christ and his teachings.
Offense means to cause to stumble. Strong’s states it’s that which grinds, as a mill stone to grind grain. Christ and his teachings are a stumbling block to some. Matthew 23:44, “and whoever falls on this stone will be broken. But on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder”. But, on the other hand they will lift a person up. Luke 2:34, “behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against.
We are told in the latter part of I Peter 2:8 what causes one to stumble at Christ teachings. “They stumble, being disobedient to the word”. If disobedient causes on to fall then obedience will cause many to rise. But to what is Paul having reference to in Gal. 5:11, when he says, “the offense of the cross has ceased”?
In verse 7, Paul commends them they had “ran well” (obedience—past tense) but now someone has hindered ( produce dis-obedience) from obeying the truth. The rise and fall. The idea of “who hindered you” carries the thought, “who drove you back to where you once were”? In verse 8, Paul states, “this persuasion does not come from him who calls you”. Persuasion meaning to “win you over” Paul is asking, who persuaded you or drove you back to the road you once traveled. Paul states, it did not come from the One who called them. We are called by the Gospel and Paul preached that Gospel to them. Paul said it was not from me or Christ that persuaded you to go back.
Paul says in vs.9, “little leaven leavens the whole lump ( church). In I Cor. 5:6 Paul states there concerning a little leaven it was immorality that was affecting the whole lump. In Gal.5:9, the little leaven there was going back under the Law of Moses. Read Gal. 4:8-11, 5:1-6. In verse 10, Paul still has confidence, after all he has said to them that they would return to their state of obedience to Christ, “that you will have no other mind”, than the mind of Christ. Phil.4:5. Paul assures them at the close of this verse, “but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment”. Such a one, whoever he was God would judge.
Vs. 11, Paul starts this verse, “and I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecutions”? Paul is not saying here “I still preach circumcision”, but that others made this false claim. Paul’s argument is, if that be so, why am I still persecuted? His point was, he would not be persecuted for preaching circumcision and the Law of Moses. In that he was persecuted proves he was not preaching this but preaching Christ.
“Then the offense of the cross has ceased”. Paul’s second argument on his preaching circumcision. Some versions word it this way, “then the stumbling block of the cross has been done away with”. We looked at what causes one to rise or fall. It’s the Gospel. If Paul preached circumcision and the Law of Moses, his fellow countrymen would not have stumbled. New Living Translation reads on the verse, “if I am still preaching that you must be circumcised, as some say, why I am still be persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through Jesus Christ, no one would be offended”. Or cause to stumble.
The fact that many were offended and stumble assured those to whom Paul wrote that he was still preaching Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor. 2:2, “ I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. What about us today? Do we make the “offense of the cross” of none effect by not fully preaching whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27. If we fail to “preach the whole counsel”, we make the word of God worthless.
Luke 2:34, “behold this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many”. Do you preach Christ and him crucified?
- CL Bruner