Galatians 5:11-12. “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”
“If I were to preach the circumcision, do you think I would be persecuted, as I am now? If I preached legalism, no one would be offended. But I can’t do that. It wouldn’t be true to the calling which God has given me.”
And what does he mean by the offence (scandal) of the cross?
It was a disgrace to end one’s life by dying on a cross. It was a Roman punishment, designed to be as horribly painful, humiliating, and degrading as possible. The Roman philosopher Cicero said, “The cross, it is so shameful it never ought to be mentioned in polite society.”
Yet the Son of God died on a cross. How shameful! Surely this Jesus, a rabble rousing nobody from Nazareth, couldn’t possibly be the Messiah Who would deliver Israel. His contemptible death on a cross proved He was nothing more than another crazed zealot who would become a distant memory very quickly.
Paul is saying to the Galatians that, if they embrace legalism, they are setting that cross aside, making it nothing. And that idea upsets him so much that his next words are “I wish they would cut themselves off that trouble you, because they pervert the gospel of Christ!”