Paul and the other New Testament writers refer to the Scriptures, Law, and commandments quite frequently in their writings. Since the New Testament did not formally exist at the time of their writing, their references must refer to the Old Testament.
Keeping this in mind we continue with chapter 5.
Galatians 5:5-12 (KJV)
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
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.
Verse 5 continues on Paul's theme of salvation by faith. Believers through the Holy Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness, eternal life. This hope of eternal life is based on trusting in Yeshua's righteousness, but leads to an increasing sanctification and righteousness of the believer.
This occurs through faith and is not based on whether one is a Jew or a Gentile. (Paul again used circumcision and uncircumcision to identify Jews and Gentiles.) Faith is demonstrated by good deeds motivated by love.
In verse 7 Paul commended the Galatians for their "walk" that resulted from salvation by faith. He returned to the topic of why they would turn away from the truth and follow the false teachers, whose teaching was not from God (verse 8). He then reminded the Galatians that a little bit of yeast put into bread dough will leaven the entire loaf, just like a small deviation from the truth of God can cause great damage to the believers (verse 9).
Paul then encouraged the Galatians by stating his confidence in them in verse 10. Notice, that his confidence was based on the Lord's ability to keep the Galatian believers sound rather than on their own ability! The false teachers, or anyone else potentially coming along with false ideas, would be accountable to God for their teaching error to the Galatians.
In verse 11 Paul pointed out that if he went back and preached according to what the false teachers believed, that the Galatians needed to be ritually converted in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God, he would be in line with what traditional Judaism believed. He would not be persecuted any more, but then the "offense" of the cross would no longer exist either. Basically, Yeshua would have died for nothing if ritual conversion was what saved.
Lastly, Paul emphatically denounced the false teachers in verse 12. Being "cut off" in this case likely meant to "separate from" or to "expel" the false teachers. Considering that the false teachers believed that the Galatians needed to be ritually circumcised, Paul very likely was turning the tables on the false teachers and was suggesting that "cut off" was to be taken more literally. No one could ever accuse Paul of timidity!
Next time we will discuss the topic of Christian liberty.