Ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, δι᾽ οὗ ἐμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ
What does it mean to "glory in the cross?"
The first rule of interpretation is context, and the previous two verses provide the setting.
Galatians 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. (NASB)As Paul makes clear throughout this letter, Judaizers were pressuring the Galatian Gentile Christians to be circumcised. Their purpose in this campaign was to avoid persecution themselves and to be able to boast about making "converts," which appears to be what Paul means by "so that they may boast in your flesh."
The word translated "boast" in v. 13 (NASB) is the same word translated "glory" in v. 14 (KJV). To "glory" in something is to view it as a basis for bragging, boasting, or being proud. BDAG offers the sense "to take pride in someth.," and the glosses "boast, glory, pride oneself, brag" for Gal. 6:13, 14.
In contrast to the Judaizers who wanted to brag or boast about a "righteousness" achieved through external conformity to the Law, specifically through circumcision, Paul asserts that he will only glory, boast, brag about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I remember singing songs about "glorying in the cross," and being uncertain what precisely it mean to glory in the cross. It is difficult to glory in the cross if I do not see the cross as more than the place Jesus died for my sins.
As I have matured in my understanding of the significance of the cross in God's plan of redemption, my appreciation for the cross (metonymy for all that was accomplished by Jesus in his atonement on the cross) has grown.
The cross should be the grounds for our boasting for at least the following reasons:
• The cross reveals the monstrous nature of my sin – the Son of God had to suffer and die to ransom me. Yet, He did!Hallelujah for the cross!
• The cross trumpets the necessity of justice, the inevitability of punishment for sin, and an irrevocably moral universe.
• The cross testifies to the value God places upon humanity, made in His image (Col. 3:10).
• The cross unveils the vastness of God’s desire for our restoration to relationship with Himself, the unsearchable limits of His love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).
• The cross is a token of God's purpose to give me all that it takes to live in relationship with Him, for if God spared not His son, how shall He not also with him give me all things freely (Rom. 8:32).
• The cross was the place where Christ provided a propitiation for righteous wrath of God for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
• The cross frees me from the law's claim upon me – for the law views me as dead through my union with Christ – and frees me to be married to Christ and bring forth fruit to God (Rom. 7:4-6).
• On the cross Jesus bore in his body the punishment my sins rightly deserved so that I need never experience that punishment (1 Peter 2:24)
• The cross is the basis of my justification (Gal. 2:16-20).
• The cross provides me with a righteousness I could never acquire on my own (Phil. 3:9; 1 Peter 2:24)
• The cross frees me from sin’s control (Romans 6:1-7:6)
• The cross is the means by which the world has been crucified to me and I have been crucified to the world (Gal. 6:14).
• The cross leads to resurrection and new life.
• The cross is the basis for the believer's entire sanctification (actualizing my union with Christ’s death to sin) and all ongoing growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 6).
• The cross points to the sacrificial blood which now cleanses those who walk in the light from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7).
• The cross removed the barrier to the holy of holies – the temple veil was torn from top to bottom when Jesus cried it is finished.