Can you explain Galatians 6:11?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN GALATIANS 6:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:11: “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” What can these words teach us about him?

Over half of the Book of Acts (chapters 13-28) documents the efforts the Holy Spirit wrought through Paul the Apostle. Paul’s ministry during that time abounded with various and sundry miracles. We read of his first miracle in chapter 13—the temporary blinding of a satanically-inspired Jew (picturing sinful Israel’s temporary blindness during our current Dispensation of Grace). Chapters 14, 16, 19, 20, and 28 highlight some of his other major miracles—bodily healings, exorcisms, at least one man being raised from the dead, Paul surviving a venomous snake bite, and so on. The Epistle to the Galatians, including Galatians 6:11, was likely Paul’s earliest Book. It not only vehemently defends his unique apostleship (separate and distinct from the 12 Apostles), but also underscores his unique message (grace as opposed to law/legalism).

In the opening 10 verses of Galatians, we grasp the epistle’s purpose and urgency: “[1] Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead; ) [2] And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: [3] Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, [4] Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: [5] To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. [6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

False teachers have surreptitiously entered the grace churches of Galatia (central Turkey); they are using the Bible (Law of Moses), but not rightly dividing it. They are mixing Law and Grace, and thereby deceiving the Galatian saints. Hence, instead of employing a secretary (or amanuensis—see Romans 16:22), Paul himself is hurriedly penning Galatians. He must warn the brethren to immediately cease from fellowshipping with doctrinal perverts!

The Apostle writes in Galatians 6:11 that he has composed “how large a letter.” Yet, when we examine Galatians, in English, it only has 3,098 words and six chapters and 149 verses (King James Bible). Ephesians is approximately the same length, yet it is never called “large.” In fact, the Book of 2 Corinthians is nearly double that, yet never referred to as “large.” The Books of Romans and 1 Corinthians, each weighing in at nearly 9,500 English words, are enormous, but Scripture never calls them “large” either. What made Galatians such a “large” letter? An additional question we pose is—could the Holy Spirit have had a secret reason for it being “large” in that sense? Please take some moments to think about it!

As we said earlier, Paul usually employed a secretary to physically write his epistles; he would sign his name at the end as a sign of authority (see Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). However, Galatians was unique. Its autograph—or original manuscript—was physically written entirely by Paul. The Apostle was in such a hurry to “sound the alarm” for the Galatians to beware of the doctrinal error besieging them. He had no time to wait for a secretary to come and assist! Since Paul penned Galatians entirely by himself, that original manuscript was exceptionally striking. It easily grabbed the attention of its readers.

In Galatians chapter 4, verses 13-15, we see the following: “[13] Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. [14] And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. [15] Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” These few verses actually allow us to learn about Paul the man. Doubtless, our beloved brother suffered severe vision problems. We can imagine his eyes straining to see to write. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit superintended, so that not a word or letter was lost as Galatians was literally drafted on papyrus.

Dear friends, had we seen the original manuscript of Galatians, the first thing to grab our attention would be its text. It would have been very large Greek letters. It would be no different from today’s large-print Bibles—whose fonts are designed for easy readability. However, in the case of Galatians, the words were not written large for the sake of visually-impaired readers. No, those large letters were for the benefit of the visually-impaired writer, so he could see exactly what he was penning. Then again, there is a strong indication that those large letters were written for the readers’ benefit as well. How so?

Once more, Paul’s physical vision was greatly hindered. Consequently, he wrote in large, block letters (especially with Galatians). What caused his vision issues? Various explanations have been offered. Perhaps it was permanent damage caused by the bright glory of Jesus Christ that he saw in Acts 9:1-9. After all, he had spent the next three days blind! While God through believing Ananias miraculously restored Paul’s vision, there could have been lasting effects. Another idea was that Paul suffered chronic “conjunctivitis” (commonly called “pink eye,” “ophthalmia,” or eye inflammation). Yet another possibility is that his poor eyesight was the result of abuse, physical violence inflicted by ruthless unbelievers. While conducting his “Acts” ministry, performing miraculous demonstrations, Paul himself battled physical infirmities (Galatians 4:13-15; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Regardless of why Paul had poor eyesight, the text of Galatians, likely his first epistle, was quite LARGE (Galatians 6:11). It was not without benefit to the Galatians, saints caught in Satan’s snare (2 Timothy 2:26) and needing the Holy Spirit to send them a clear, attention-grabbing correction. Galatians’ GIANT letters screamed of Paul’s unique apostleship (1:1,11,12,16,17,19,22; 2:8; et cetera) and screamed of his special Gospel message (2:2,7,9,16,20,21; et cetera). “You are to follow Paul, not Moses!” “You are under Grace, not Law!” “Paul is not an extension of the 12 Apostles!” “Paul’s Gospel is your Gospel message!” “You are Gentiles in the Body of Christ, not members of the nation Israel!”

Saints, while neither time nor space permits us to discuss it in-depth, read the conclusion of Galatians (verse 11 to the end—only eight verses): “[11] Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. [12] As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. [13] For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. [14] But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. [15] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [16] And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. [17] From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. [18] Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”

In these closing verses of the Epistle to the Galatians, you can see the Holy Spirit through Paul urging the Galatians one final time to leave the stipulations of the Mosaic Law, works-religion, and enjoy God’s grace, peace, and victory. Paul had limited physical sight, but this epistle to Galatia is a real “eye-opener,” giving great insight to us today, that we may have the same stunningly clear spiritual sight he had! (In one last twist of irony, people in religion today often enjoy physical sight, but are blind to the blatant teachings of Galatians.)

Also see:
» Is Galatians 1:6-7 contradictory?
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» Has God’s Word failed?

One response to “Can you explain Galatians 6:11?

  1. Pingback: Shine as Lights #4 | 333 Words of Grace

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