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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Galatians 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. In all the other Epistles of St Paul the salutation ends with our Galatians 1:3. Here Galatians 1:4 enlarges on the work of Christ, and Galatians 1:5 adds a doxology. In Rom. and Tit. a somewhat similar enlargement is made earlier in the salutation.

Παῦλος. His Gentile name, and always used of him in connexion with his Gentile work; see Colossians 1:1 note; also St Paul the Traveller pp. 81–87.

ἀπόστολος. Envoys (‘envoy’ is perhaps the best translation of ἀπόστολος) were frequently sent by Jews from Jerusalem to instruct, and to gather alms; see the note on Colossians 1:1, where add a reference to Hort, St James, pp. xvi. sqq. The comma of the editions rightly emphasizes. Here only does St Paul at once lay stress on the fact of his apostleship, and proceed to elaborate its meaning. This unique description bears closely upon the purpose, and method, of the Epistle. Cf. κλητὸς ἀπ. in Romans 1:1. Cf. also 1 Corinthians 9:1.

οὐκ ἀπʼ ἀνθρώπων dependent on ἀπόστολος. For a similar contrast of ἄνθρωποι to Christ cf. Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:20-22; Colossians 3:23-24.

Probably he was thinking especially of the Twelve. His apostleship was not from them. Acts 13:1-3 doubtless refers to a special commission; otherwise he might mean that his apostleship was not in reality from the Church of Antioch.

οὐδὲ (stronger than οὔτε) διʼ ἀνθρώπον, neither by Barnabas (Acts 9:27; Acts 11:25), nor by James the head in Jerusalem. St Paul at once mentions his independence as regards man, and his sole responsibility to Jesus and God. No one acted as mediary between him and the source of his commission. It is improbable that διʼ ἀνθρώπον = “by man,” “the singular [only] supplying the link of opposition to διὰ Ἰ. Χρ.” (Jowett).

ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς. One preposition governs . Χρ. and God the Father as is usual in the salutations. See also Galatians 1:3 (ἀπὸ) and 1 Timothy 6:13 (ἐνώπιον). To complete his contrast with the preceding clause he should have added ἀπό. The omission is probably due to his vivid sense of the unity of the two Persons. Lightfoot says, “The channel of his authority (διὰ) coincides with its source (ἀπό).” In the other salutations the Father is mentioned first, here Jesus, perhaps because He appeared to St Paul.

Θεοῦ πατρὸς. Father apparently in the widest sense, not of Christ (Colossians 1:3), nor of us (Galatians 1:3-4, Colossians 1:2), alone.

τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. From a state of death, see Colossians 2:12 note. The fact that Jesus had really risen from the dead would be the first impression made on St Paul by the words he heard at his call (Acts 9:4-6); it was also the pledge of the truth of that which he believed and of its ultimate triumph.

Verses 1-5


(Galatians 1:1) Paul appointed Apostle, by no human source or agency, but by Jesus Christ and (with Him) God the Father, who raised Him from the dead (He called me and He lives!), (Galatians 1:2) and all my present travelling companions—to the various Churches of Galatia!

(Galatians 1:3) Grace to you and peace (with Him and in your hearts and lives) from God the Father of us Christians and from the Lord Jesus Christ (to whom alone we owe our present state), (Galatians 1:4) who gave Himself to death on behalf of our sins, that He might release us out of the age of the Evil one who besetteth us—both His death and our deliverance being in accordance with the effective will of our God and Father,

(Galatians 1:5) To Whom be the glory rightly due to Him, unto the ages of eternity. Amen.

Verse 2

2. καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοί, “and the whole of the brethren with me.” For οἱπάντες see Galatians 5:14 note. Contrasted with πάντες οἱ ἄγιοι which = all the believers in the place whence a letter was written (Philippians 4:21), and meaning probably his special friends and workers with him at the time. His usual custom was to name some one person (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1). On this occasion he may have purposely avoided any name either lest his own position should seem less independent, or lest the one named should be challenged with him. This would be the more likely if he had with him at the time representatives from Galatia (cf. Sosthenes from Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:1). Further the absence of names in this salutation may be connected with a similar absence of names at the close of the Epistle, which was due, no doubt, to the fact that the Epistle was a kind of circular letter intended for more than one place; see Galatians 6:18 note.

ἀδελφοί. “Brother” as a term signifying religious relationship is of course far from peculiar to Christianity, though its significance was immensely developed by it. ἀδελφοί was used of members of religious associations and guilds at least as early as the 2nd century B.C. (see Deissmann, Bible Studies, 1901, pp. 87, 142; see also Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics, pp. 96 sqq., 630, Moulton and Milligan in Expositor, VII. 5, 1908, p. 58). Even in the O.T. we may see the privileges of “brother” extended to all Israelites, and even to foreigners who claimed the protection of Jehovah (Gêrim), cf. Leviticus 19:17-18; Leviticus 19:34. In the N.T. ἀδελφοί is used (a) of Jews as such, Acts 2:29; Acts 2:37; Acts 3:17 (cf. 2 Maccabees 1:1), (b) of Christians as such, see (besides in the Epistles) especially John 21:23; Acts 11:1; Acts 15:23 b. Cf. ἀδελφότης, 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 5:9[41], and φιλαδελφία, 1 Peter 1:22 (where see Hort); cf. φιλάδελφος, 2 Maccabees 15:14. [From the note on Colossians 1:2 in this series.]

ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις. ἐκκλησία is originally “an assembly called out” not from other men (see Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, p. 5), but from their houses or their ordinary occupations. So in a non-religious sense Acts 19:32; Acts 19:39; Acts 19:41[42]. So of Jewish religious assemblies and the Jewish congregation as a whole (Septuagint often from Deut. onwards, e.g. Deuteronomy 31:30; Micah 2:5; Ezra 10:8; see also Acts 7:38). Christians used it (a) of an assembly gathered for worship (1 Corinthians 14:28; 1 Corinthians 14:34); (b) of the body of believers that usually met in one house (Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2); (c) or that belonged to one town (1 Corinthians 1:2), or district (Acts 9:31, and in the plural, 1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:19, and our verse); (d) of the whole body of believers (Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24; Matthew 16:18, and in the plural, Revelation 22:16). The plural in our verse shows that the letter was sent to many places, doubtless because the errors were not solely, or chiefly, in one town (contrast the errors combated in Col.), but spread over many centres, οὐ γὰρ μιᾷ πόλει, ἀλλὰ παντὶ γράφει τῷ ἔθνει. πανταχοῦ γὰρ εἴρψεν ἡ νόσος (Theodoret).

τῆς Γαλατίας. North Galatia. See Introduction.

Verse 3

3. χάρις ὑμῖν. St Paul here adapts the common epistolary χαίρειν, asking for the Galatians more than greeting and joy, even God’s grace. For this whole verse see the notes on Colossians 1:2. Robinson (Ephesians, pp. 221–226) shows that St Paul’s use of this word was “dominated by the thought of the admission of the Gentiles to the privileges which had been peculiar to Israel.” St Paul prays here and in Galatians 6:18 that this free favour, with all it included, might be continued to his readers; he warns them in Galatians 1:6 and Galatians 5:4 that in it alone lay all their hope; and he employs it as a synonym for his commission to preach to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9). It is only with a slightly different connotation, which still lays stress on the undeserved character of the favour shown, that he uses it of his own call to the Gospel (Galatians 1:15), and employs it as marking in the strongest possible way the distinctive character of the Gospel itself in contrast to the Law (Galatians 2:21).

καὶ εἰρήνη. A Jewish formula perhaps derived ultimately from the High Priest’s blessing, Numbers 6:26. As used by St Paul after χάρις it refers chiefly to external peace, God’s protection encircling believers.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, the Father of us who are in Christ.

κ. κυρίον Ἰ. Χρ. . Χρ. doubtless dependent on ἀπὸ not κνρίον. Probably ἠμῶν was placed in some MSS. after κνρίον in order to avoid a misinterpretation. The addition of this clause (though found in each of St Paul’s Epistles except Col., and also 1 Thess. which also omits ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν) serves as a starting-point for laying stress on His work of salvation. Deissmann points out that when St Paul wrote his epistles κύριος was recognized as a divine title over the whole East (Licht vom Osten, p. 254).

Verse 4

4. τοῦ δόντος ἑαντὸν. In this sense Titus 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:6[43] in each case with ὑπέρ; cf. Acts 19:31. So Eleazar, who slew the elephant, ἔδωκεν ἑαντὸν τοῦ σῶσαι τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ (1 Maccabees 6:44). In Galatians 2:20 παραδόντος ἑαντὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, where, as here, there may be an echo of our Lord’s saying recorded in Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28. Observe how St Paul loses no time in speaking of Christ’s work of deliverance in this epistle which insists so much upon the completeness of the freedom obtained for us.

ὑπὲρ. See notes on Textual Criticism. It has a sense of “interest in,” which is wanting to περί (Lightfoot). For ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3.

ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς. ἐξαιρεῖν here only in St Paul’s epistles. ὀκ with words of this kind suggests that the persons delivered have been within the grasp of the enemy; see Colossians 1:13 note.

ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ. See notes on Textual Criticism. On this difficult phrase see Bp Chase, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church, pp. 115–117. Two interpretations are possible:

[1] “out of the present age, evil as it is,” πονηροῦ being then a kind of tertiary predicate; cf. 1 Peter 1:18. On the absence of the article see Winer-Schmiedel, § 20. 6b, and Blass, Gram. § 47. 8, who quotes Herm. Mand. x. 3 ὅτι λυπεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τὸ δοθὲν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἱλαρόν. ἐνεστώς however seems to be “used in a strictly temporal sense only when the context … defines the meaning” (Romans 8:38, 1 Corinthians 3:22); the primary thought is rather “of imminence, often of some threatening power” (Bp Chase). Moulton and Milligan quote an example of its combination with αἰών (= period of life) from a papyrus of 37 A.D. Expositor, VII. 5, 1908, p. 173.

[2] But more probably the words τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πον. are a genitive of possession, cf. Barnabas xv. 5 ἐλθὼν ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ καταργήσει τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ ἀνόμου, which suggests that πονηροῦ is here masculine. Cf. 1 John 5:19. In this case the translation is “to deliver us from the age of the evil one who besetteth us,” and the reference to the Lord’s Prayer appears to be certain.

κατὰ τὸ θέλημα. Probably with both δόντος κ.τ.λ. and ἐξέληται κ.τ.λ., i.e. both Christ’s sacrifice of Himself and the object of that sacrifice were in accordance with God’s will.

τοῦ θεοῦ κ. πατρὸς ἡμῶν, “our God and Father.” Supremacy, suggesting power and worship; Fatherhood, as regards believers (Galatians 1:3 note), suggesting their origin and their protection.

Verse 5

5. ᾧ ἡ δόξα κ.τ.λ. The doxology in the salutation (here only) takes the place of thanks to God for his readers. The article suggests “which properly belongs to Him.”

Verse 6

6. θαυμάζω ὅτι. Here only in the Pauline Epistles; Luke 11:38; John 3:7; John 4:27[44]. Cf. Mark 15:44; 1 John 3:13.

οὕτως ταχέως. Hardly “so soon” (A.V.) referring to the brevity of time (Philippians 2:19; Philippians 2:24) since his first or his second visit, but “so quickly” (R.V.) referring to the rapidity with which they are yielding to the temptation (cf. 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Wisdom of Solomon 14:28 ἢ ἐπιορκοῦσιν ταχέως). Cf. Exodus 32:8 παρέβησαν ταχύ, where the Hebrew leaves no room for doubt. See Introduction, p. xxxiii.

μετατίθεσθε. Here only in the Pauline Epistles. Not passive as in Acts 7:16, Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 11:5 but middle as in 2 Maccabees 7:24, where Antiochus promised to enrich the youngest son of the seven brethren, if he would turn from the customs of his fathers, μεταθέμενον ἀπὸ τῶν πατρίων. The present shows that St Paul still hoped that the change would not be completed. Cf. his frequent use of the present in this epistle, e.g. Galatians 3:3, Galatians 4:9. Sirach 6:9 καὶ ἔστιν φίλος μετατιθέμενος εἰς ἔχθραν, often quoted, illustrates the moral use of the verb (cf. ὁ μεταθέμενος of Dionysius who left Stoicism for Epicureanism), and its construction with εἰς, but not the use of the present, for there it is timeless, as the Hebrew shows.

ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς. Almost certainly God the Father (Galatians 1:5). The words also probably suggest, as Chrysostom says, that the Galatians thought they were pleasing the Father by observing the Law, as the Jews thought when they persecuted Jesus. The call (Galatians 5:8; Galatians 5:13) is so often attributed to the Father (Galatians 1:15) that the clause can hardly mean “from Christ who called you” (Peshito).

ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ, “in Christ’s grace.” The external evidence for Χριστοῦ is overwhelming, ἐν hardly merely instrumental (cf. διά, Galatians 1:15), nor = εἰς. It suggests the permanence of the divine favour in which God calls (cf. Galatians 2:21, also 2 Thessalonians 2:16, Hebrews 12:15), and through which and in which the blessing of Christ is given (Acts 15:11, Romans 5:15). For the absence of the article cf. 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:10.

εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον. On the words εὐαγγέλιον, εὐαγγελίζω, see Milligan, Thess. pp. 141 sqq. ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο. The relation between ἔτερος and ἄλλος is doubtful:

[1] Possibly ἕτερος = difference in kind, and ἄλλος difference in number, “to a second, a different gospel, which is not another,” i.e. as it is not the same, it is no gospel at all (Lightfoot). So apparently in 2 Corinthians 11:4 ἄλλον Ἰησοῦν, “a second Jesus,” but πνεῦμα ἕτερον and εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον “a different spirit,” and “a different gospel.” In this case the colon after ἄλλο stands.

[2] But probably ἕτερος = a second in a series, indicating the slighter specific difference between members of the same class (Galatians 1:19, Galatians 6:4); ἄλλος the broader generic difference between two distinct classes, a second regarded as belonging to another series (Galatians 5:10). Thus in Thuc. II. 40. 1–3 “ἑτέροις indicates another class of the Athenians (viz. the industrial as distinguished from the military or the statesman class), while ἄλλοις denotes other nations as distinguished from the Athenians” (Ramsay, Gal. p. 263, whom consult for other passages, and the opinions of other scholars). In this case the colon after ἄλλο must be omitted.

Verses 6-9

6–9. Surprise at the rapidity with which they were yielding to the false teachers.

(Galatians 1:6) I wonder that you are so quickly (yielding to the temptation and) going over from God who called you in the grace that is to be found in Christ, into a second gospel, (Galatians 1:7) which gospel is nothing else than an attempt of persons to disturb your allegiance, and a desire on their part to completely reverse the gospel that Christ gave. (Galatians 1:8) But (so abhorrent is this act to me) supposing that even if I and my fellow-workers, or an angel from heaven, were to preach a gospel to you contrary to that gospel which we did preach to you, let him be accursed and separated from God. (Galatians 1:9) As I and my fellow-workers have said to you in time past, so now, at this time, I say again, if anyone does preach you a gospel contrary to that which ye once accepted at our hands, let him be accursed and separated from God.

Verse 7

7. ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο εἰ μὴ κ.τ.λ. εἰ μὴ = πλὴν ὅτι (Acts 20:23; Romans 14:14). Two interpretations are now possible:

[1] Perhaps “unto another gospel (I mean that promulgated by the older Apostles) which is not a different gospel (from mine, for they really agree with me), except in so far as there are some that … would pervert” etc. But this seems to read too much into the sentence.

[2] More probably “unto a different gospel; which is nothing else save that there are some that … would pervert” etc. (so American Revisers’ marg., Ramsay, Winer-Schmiedel, § 26. 6 d). For ἄλλο εἰ μὴ cf. Herod, I. 200 οὐδὲν ἄλλο σιτέονται, εἰ μὴ ἰχθῦς μοῦνον. They are proclaiming another gospel which pretends to be more, but really they are only troubling you and wishing to overthrow the true.

τινές εἰσιν κ.τ.λ. St Paul here gives his opinion of their action, in (a) its primary effect, the disturbance of the proper attitude of the Galatian Christians, and (b) its purpose.

ταράσσοντες. Continuing the metaphor of μετατίθεσθε, i.e. raising seditions among you, cf. Galatians 5:10. So even Sirach 28:9 (Heb. not extant) ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλὸς ταράξει φίλους. In Acts 15:24 the Church at Jerusalem employs the same term with reference to the same controversy.

μεταστρέψαι. Elsewhere in the N.T. Acts 2:20; James 4:9 W.H. marg.[45], in each case of complete change into something of the opposite nature. So also here. Cf. Sirach 11:31 τὰ γὰρ ἀγαθὰ εἰς κακὰ μεταστρέφων.

τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοῦ. In itself the genitive may be subjective, the gospel preached and sent by Christ (so doubtless ὁ λόγος τοῦ χριστοῦ, Colossians 3:16, see note there); or objective, the gospel of Christ’s coming and work, as probably in 1 Thessalonians 3:2. But St Paul’s claim to preach the gospel that he had received from Christ Himself, Galatians 1:12, and his insistence upon its all-importance, suggest the former interpretation here.

Verse 8

8. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς. I and those with me (Galatians 1:2) in spite of any such false statements as the Galatians may have heard (Galatians 1:10 note). They know the gospel that he preached on his first visit. He will afterwards remind them of the effect of it among them, briefly in Galatians 1:9 and more in detail in Galatians 3:1 sqq. Upholders of the South Galatian theory see an implied reference to St Paul’s circumcision of Timothy, a semi-Gentile, which might have suggested his sympathy with obedience to the Law on the part of Gentile Christians on his second visit (Acts 16:3).

ἤ ἄγγελος ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ. ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ is added probably only to enhance the dignity of the supposed preacher. But of course it does not exclude the bare possibility of ἄγγελος, when alone, meaning a human messenger. Upholders of the South Galatian theory compare the belief at Lystra in a divine visit, and the assertion that St Paul was Hermes the messenger of the gods (cf. Galatians 4:14 note and Introd. p. xxviii.).

εὐαγγελίσηται [ὑμῖν] παρʼ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν. παρά, “contrary to,” Romans 16:17. After so strong a word as μεταστρέψαι “besides” seems improbable. But Protestant commentators have not unnaturally deduced from παρά here a lesson against the addition of anything besides the Scriptures: “For he that delivers any doctrine out of them, and beside them, as necessary to be believed, is accursed” (Perkins). εὐηγγελισάμεθα. The reference is to St Paul’s companions on his first visit (Silas and Timothy, Acts 15:40; Acts 16:3), or on his second (probably Timothy). According to the South Galatian theory they would be Barnabas on the first visit (Acts 13, 14) and Silas and Timothy on the second.

ἀναθέμα ἔστω = Galatians 1:9. ἀνάθεμα is in the LXX. the regular translation of cherem, a thing devoted to God either for preservation or destruction. In Rabbinic and modern times cherem often signifies excommunication from a visible society, and this meaning has been attributed to ἀνάθεμα here. But to the Apostle ἀνάθεμα is the very antithesis of nearness and likeness to Christ. Hence he names as the supreme example of demonic utterance the saying ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς (1 Corinthians 12:3) and suggests as the most extreme form of his love to the Israelites that he could pray to be himself ἀνάθεμα ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ (Romans 9:3). Here therefore he is solemuly writing a curse in the strongest possible form, ἀπηλλοτριωμένος θεοῦ (Theodore on Zechariah 14:8, quoted by Swete). Deissmann sees in this passage and others (especially 1 Corinthians 5:4-5) examples of the influence upon St Paul of the heathen use of formulae devoting persons to gods of the underworld (Licht v. Osten, pp. 218 sqq.).

Verse 9

9. Repeats the curse, but (a) the change from the subjunctive to the indicative suggests that there is a person actually engaged in this erroneous preaching; (b) St Paul lays stress on the fact that the gospel of this person contradicts what they had in fact accepted.

ὡς προειρήκαμεν (cf. Galatians 5:2-3; Galatians 5:21), καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν. ἄρτι, Galatians 1:10. The statement appears to be too emphatic to refer to Galatians 1:8. It would seem therefore that even on his last visit (hardly on his first) he felt the need of warning them against possible false teaching. Probably however it had not actually come to them then, or he would hardly have expressed surprise at their beginning to fall away (Galatians 1:6). Compare Galatians 4:16 note and the Introduction, p. xxxvi.

ὑμᾶς. In Galatians 1:8 εὐαγγ. takes the dative. But the accusative is the simplest objective case, and when the emphasis lies not on the verb but on the object it is readily employed when a choice is possible, as was the case with εὐαγγ. in late Greek; cf. Luke 3:18.

παρελάβετε, “received at our hands,” Colossians 2:6 note. He says this “lest the Galatians should say: We, O Paul, do not pervert the Gospel that thou hast preached unto us: we understood thee not rightly, but the teachers that came after thee have declared unto us the true meaning thereof” (Luther).

Verse 10

10. ἄρτι γὰρ. The ἄρτι is not in contrast to the time before his conversion (see ἔτι infra), nor to the occasion when he circumcised Timothy, but only takes up the ἄρτι of Galatians 1:9, emphasizing that sentence. The γάρ presents a proof that his strong asseveration there shows that he is not the smooth-tongued hypocrite that his adversaries would make him out to be. The conjectural emendation τί γάρ; (Romans 3:3) is quite unnecessary.

ἀνθρώπους πείθω, “Am I now winning over men” (Acts 12:20; 2 Maccabees 4:45)? i.e. am I softening down unwelcome truths to men, that I may by some means win them over to my way of thinking?

ἢ τὸν θεόν; possibly πείθω retains its full force: “or am I trying to persuade God, as though I would get Him to tone His message down?” But this attitude towards God seems to have no parallel in St Paul’s writings. Doubtless the clause is appended by zeugma, and means “Or am I not in reality concerned with God only?” For Galatians 1:10-12 imply St Paul’s absolute dependence on God in contrast to men.

ἤ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; cf. ἀνθρωπάρεσκος in Colossians 3:22, and perhaps 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where however see Milligan. Probably both this and the preceding sentence refer to accusations, brought against St Paul by the Judaizers, that he accommodated the gospel to the heathen, allowing them not to observe the Jewish Law, although its observance was necessary, in order that he might persuade them to a kind of belief in Christ.

εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, cf. Galatians 5:11. He refers to the time before his conversion when he showed complaisance to Jews in persecuting Christians.

Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἄν ἤμην. “I should not be Christ’s slave.” The emphatic position of Χριστοῦ suggests that he would be the slave of another (Romans 6:22). Probably St Paul already has in his mind the liberty he has obtained by being the slave of a Divine master; see Galatians 4:5, Galatians 5:1 notes.

Verses 10-24

10–12. My one object is to please God, and to serve Christ, who revealed to me the Gospel

(Galatians 1:10) I say “now,” for my words show clearly that I care not to win over men, but God alone. I once indeed tried to please men, but that was before my conversion. If that were still my practice I should not be Christ’s servant—His by right and my full consent. (Galatians 1:11) I say that a change came over me; for I will tell you, my brothers, of the Gospel that I brought to you and how I came to preach it. It is not of human measure, (Galatians 1:12) For indeed it came not to me from man at all, neither did human lips explain it to me, but it came entirely by revelation given me by Christ Himself.

Verse 11

11. γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν. The δέ of the Received Text and W.H. margin is perhaps taken from 1 Corinthians 15:1. γὰρ. I have suggested that a great change came over me; I say so for I will now tell you more fully of it and the nature of the Gospel entrusted then to me. The direct personal statement γνωρίζω (-ομεν) ὑμῖν is found only in the nearly contemporary letters 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1, in each case introducing matter of grave importance.

ἀδελφοί. St Paul uses this appeal no less than nine times in this epistle. Its absence from “Eph.” Col. suggests that, besides meaning “brethren in Christ,” it had also the connotation of personal and individual acquaintance. Its frequency in Rom. is more an apparent than a real exception, in view of the number of his friends at Rome (c. 16). It is also not found in the Pastoral Epistles, for Timothy and Titus were rather his sons.

τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ. Cf. Galatians 2:2. The gospel for the preaching of which among them he himself had been responsible. For the form of the sentence cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1. He appears to mean not the historical facts (1 Corinthians 15:1), but the Gospel as it essentially is, including (but not confined to) the freedom of Gentile converts from the Law.

ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον. Not after the standard and measure of man. The phrase is stronger than κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τ. ἀνθρώπων, Colossians 2:8, and even than διδασκαλίαι τῶν ἀνθρώπων, Colossians 2:22. It is above man’s devising, to be received and handed on in its integrity, neither diminished nor increased. Compare Galatians 3:15 note.

Verse 12

12. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ κ.τ.λ. Expanding the thought of κατὰ ἄνθρωπον. My Gospel is not after the measure of man, for indeed it came to me not through man at all but through the personal revelation of Jesus Christ. οὐδὲ apparently does not emphasize the ἐγώ, as though he was claiming equality with the Twelve, but refers to the whole clause.

παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον, “at the hands of man.” “In all cases where the idea of transmission is prominent παρὰ will be used in preference to ἀπό, be the communication direct or indirect; so Philippians 4:18” (Lightfoot). For παραλαμβάνω παρά see 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

οὔτε. The marginal οὐδὲ (אAD*) suggests reception from man in a minor degree.

ἐδιδάχθην. Though received from God it might have been explained by man. This was not the case.

ἀλλὰ δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. “But it came to me through revelation from Jesus Christ”; as his apostleship (Galatians 1:1) so his reception of the Gospel. He is doubtless thinking only of the time of his conversion, not of his later experiences recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7. ἀποκάλυψις (Galatians 2:2, cf. verb Galatians 1:16, Galatians 3:23) always of the unveiling of Divine things (which therefore are presumably not far off), never of one man revealing a secret to another. “Revelation is distinguished from ordinary moral and spiritual influences by its suddenness. It shows us in an instant, what under ordinary circumstances would grow up gradually and insensibly. In the individual it is accompanied by a sudden transition from darkness to light; in the world at large it is an anticipation of moral truth and of the course of human experience” (Jowett).

Ἰησοῦ Χρ. is doubtless subjective, as even in Revelation 1:1. Observe that the words form a claim parallel to the affirmation by our Lord about St Peter (Matthew 16:17). Perhaps not unintentionally, if, as is probable, St Paul knew of our Lord’s saying.

Verse 13

13. ἠκούσατε γὰρ, “as we might say: For you, who know my former life, may well believe that it was by nothing short of a miracle I was converted. I will tell you the whole tale, and you will see how unlikely I was to have received the Gospel from the word of others” (Jowett).

“Ye heard,” hardly from Jews, astonished at my conversion; but probably from me and those with me when I preached to you first (Galatians 1:8).

τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν. The verb ἀναστρέφω presents nearly the same metaphor as περιπατεῖν, but neither it nor its substantive is ever hallowed to mean the religious life as such. It is “the going up and down among men in the various intercourse of life” (Hort on 1 Peter 1:15); our “mode of life,” “converse”; not “behaviour,” which has only an external connotation. Polybius (IV. 82. 1) has a suggestive parallel to our passage: ὁ δὲ Φίλιπποςἐκεῖ τὸ λοιπὸν μέρος τοῦ χειμῶνος διέτριβε, κατά τε τὴυ λοιπὴν ἀναστροφὴν καὶ κατὰ τὰς πράξεις τεθανμασμένος ὑπὲρ τὴν ἡλικίαν κ.τ.λ. See reff. to the Inscriptions in Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 88, 194, Licht vom Osten, p. 226).

ποτε. Its position is “due to the verb included in ἀναστροφήν. As St Paul would have said ἀνεστρεφόμην ποτἐ, he allows himself to write τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε” (Ellicott).

ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ,, Galatians 1:14, 2 Maccabees 2:21; 2 Maccabees 8:1; 2 Maccabees 14:38 bis; 4 Maccabees 4:26[46]. Judaism as a religion of faith and custom. Cf. Ἰονδαΐζειν, Galatians 2:14[47], Ἰονδαϊκῶς, Galatians 2:14, Ἰουδαϊκός, Titus 1:14[48]. For the contrast between Ἰουδαϊσμός and Χριστιανισμός see also Ignat. ad Magn. §§ 8, 10.

ὄτι καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν. Peculiar to the 3rd group of St Paul’s Epp.

ἐδίωκον. Observe the three imperfects ἐδίωκον, ἐπόρθουν, προέκοπτον, descriptive of the long continuance of his “mode of life.”

τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf. Galatians 1:2 note. The exact phrase occurs elsewhere in the N.T. only in 1 Corinthians 1:2 (= 2 Corinthians 1:1), 1 Corinthians 10:32, 1 Corinthians 11:22, 1 Corinthians 15:9 and in St Paul’s speech, Acts 20:28. Compare also 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:15, and the plural 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4. Observe the tacit assumption that the Ἰονδαῖοι do not form ἡ ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ (contrast the use of ἡ ἐκκλησία in Acts 7:38), although in 1 Thessalonians 2:14 his addition of ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ implies that there might be ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ θεοῦ not in Christ.

καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν,, Galatians 1:23, Acts 9:21[49]. Cf. 4 Maccabees 4:23 of Antiochus Epiphanes ὡς ἐπόρθησεν αὐτούς, δόγμα ἔθετο, ὅπως εἴ τινες αὐτῶν φάνοιεν τῷ πατρίῳ πολιτευόμενοι νόμῳ, θάνοιεν.

Verse 13-14

13, 14. The Gospel was no product of my previous life

(Galatians 1:13) For you heard (when I first came among you) of my mode of life once in the religion of the Jews, that I used to persecute excessively the true Church of God, and used to lay it waste, (Galatians 1:14) and was making progress in the religion of the Jews beyond many of my contemporaries among the Jews, being all the time exceedingly zealous for the traditional teaching handed down to me by my fathers.

Verse 14

14. καὶ προέκοπτον. Always intransitive in the N.T. as sometimes in classical Greek. Cf. προκοπή, Philippians 1:12; Philippians 1:25 and ἐνκόπτω, ch. Galatians 5:7. So on a papyrus of the 2nd cent. A.D. a young soldier thinking of his promotion writes ἐλπίζω ταχὺ προκόσαι (προκόψαι, Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 118); and on an inscription of the 1st cent. A.D. it is said of a person that he μέχρι τᾶς τῶν Σεβαστῶν γνώσεως προκό[ψ]αντος “advanced to personal acquaintance with the Emperors (Augustus and Tiberius),” ibid. p. 277.

ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς. With some modesty. Doubtless he could have said πάντας.

συνηλικιώτας[50]. Cf. the quotation from Polybius Galatians 1:13. In Theodotion’s translation of Daniel 1:10 we find συνήλικος.

περισσοτέρως, “somewhat excessively.”

ζηλωτὴς. Cf. ζηλόω, Galatians 4:17 bis, 18. So he describes himself as ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τοῦ θεοῦ καθὼς πάντες ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ σήμερον in Acts 22:3. Cf. also Philippians 3:6. The same word is used of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20. It would imply that he belonged to the party of the Pharisees but not more than this. On the other hand Simon ὁ καλούμενος Ζηλωτής, Luke 6:15, ὁ ζηλωτής, Acts 1:13, doubtless belonged once to the extreme wing of that party which both before and after this time worked so much mischief politically. For its meaning here cf. Mattathias’ words in Josephus, Ant. XII. 6. 2 (§ 271) εἴ τις ζηλωτής ἐστιν τῶν πατρίων ἐθῶν καὶ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ θρησκείας ἑπέσθω ἐμοί.

ὑπάρχων., Galatians 2:14; Acts 16:20; Acts 16:37, i.e. from the very first and all the time.

τῶν πατρικῶν[51] μου παραδόσεων, “of the traditions of my fathers.” παράδοσις, when referring to Jewish teachings, is used so specifically of the Oral in contrast to the Written Law (Mark 7:3-13; Josephus, Ant. XIII. 10. 6 (§ 297), 16. 2 (§ 408)), that there can be little doubt that St Paul uses it so here. His phrase is thus a summary statement of the great principle of the Oral Law, the existence and importance of traditions explanatory of the Written Law and supplementary to it, systematically handed down. By the addition of μου St Paul seems to indicate that he uses πατρικός in its stricter sense (Genesis 50:8; Leviticus 22:13; Sirach 42:10; 4 Maccabees 18:7) of his own relations, not in the wider sense of ancestral as belonging to all Jews; see πατρῷος (Acts 22:3; Acts 24:14; Acts 28:17[52]) and πάτριος (Ecclus. Prol.). He doubtless mentions his own ancestors as being in the chain of tradition, which began (technically speaking) with Moses, because they were not only of purest Hebrew blood, but also Pharisees (Philippians 3:5; Acts 23:6). In Acts 22:3 ὁ πατρῷος νόμος seems to refer primarily to the written Law. See also Colossians 2:8 note.

Verse 15

15. ὅτε δὲεὐθέως. For St Paul’s present aim is not to describe God’s revelation to him but his independence of man. δέ. In contrast to tradition. He received the Gospel by God’s good pleasure and call and revelation.

εὐδόκησεν, “was well-pleased.” See Colossians 1:19 note, and Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

ὁ θεὸς. See notes on Textual Criticism. With εὐδόκησεν, 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 10:5[53].

ὁ ἀφορίσας με. Cf. Galatians 2:12. St Paul uses the same term of himself in Romans 1:1. In Acts 13:2 it is also used of him and Barnabas, but with distinct reference to his first missionary journey. The separation is from others of his nation; cf. Numbers 16:9, of the sons of Levi, διέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς Ἰσραὴλ ὑμᾶς ἐκ συναγωγῆς Ἰσραήλ, Numbers 8:14; cf. also Leviticus 20:26. As “Pharisee” = “separated,” it is possible that St Paul consciously contrasted the Phariseeship of his family and training with that of grace, which God had in view for him from the very first. Mr Hart in the illuminating study of Pharisaism contained in his Ecclesiasticus (1909, p. 275), points out that as the root P-R-SH represents in the Targum of Onkelos the Hebrew B-D-L “separate,” the name Pharisee “is directly associated with the action of God Himself, who separated light from darkness (Genesis 1:4), Israel from the nations (Leviticus 20:24), and the Levites from the People (Numbers 16:9).” To an English reader, it may be added, this may seem fanciful, but not to a Jew.

ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου. Probably = “even before my birth,” i.e. before I had any impulses of my own; cf. Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5. In Luke 1:15 the phrase apparently means from birth onwards.

καὶ καλέσας. When? For “the κλῆσις is never an act in the divine mind, but always an historical fact” (Meyer). Perhaps before birth (Isaiah 49:1), but more probably at his conversion, the call including the whole summons of which the revelation (to be mentioned immediately) was the culminating point.

διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. Contrast Galatians 1:6. The grace of God as such, not a specific form of it as in Galatians 2:9; Romans 12:3.

Verses 15-17

15–17. Nor was the Gospel a product of conference with other Christians

(Galatians 1:15) But when (in contrast to the life described in Galatians 1:13-14) God, who separated me in purpose before I was even born (there is the true Phariseeship!), and called me by His grace (at my conversion), (Galatians 1:16) was pleased to reveal His Son in my heart, in order that I may ever preach Him as the Gospel among the Gentiles—at once I did not lay the matter before any mere man for his approval and advice, (Galatians 1:17) nor did I even go up to Jerusalem to those who were senior to me in apostleship, but, on the contrary, I went away to the solitudes of Arabia, and after staying there a time returned again to Damascus (where, as you know, my conversion had taken place).

Verse 16

16. ἀποκαλύψαιἐν ἐμοὶ. Dependent on εὐδόκησεν. More than external manifestation was necessary. For that alone could not bring truth home to St Paul. He says therefore that the revelation came into his heart and remained there. τῆς ἀποκαλύψεως καταλαμπούσης αὐτοῦ τὴν ψυχήν, καὶ τὸν Χριστὸν εἶχεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ λαλοῦντα (Chrys.). This does not of course exclude an external manifestation. Other explanations of ἐν ἐμοί are (a) “in my case,” cf. Galatians 1:24, and (b) “in and through me to others.” So perhaps 1 Timothy 1:16. This last explanation (Lightfoot’s) is attractive, because we thus obtain a clear distinction of three stages expressed in Galatians 1:15-16, viz.: separation from before birth, call at his conversion, and entering on his ministry to others (Acts 9:20 sqq., Acts 13:2-3). But there does not appear to be sufficient reason for distinguishing the ἀποκάλυψις of this verse from that of Galatians 1:12.

ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. The final object of God’s revelation to him was not his own salvation, but that he should preach to others (Acts 9:15). Observe the present, of continued effort, and the accusative of the Person preached (Acts 5:42; Acts 8:35; Acts 11:20; Acts 17:18[54]). Contrast Galatians 1:9.

εὐθέως. This is the only place where the root of this word occurs in St Paul’s writings. “εὐθέως is really connected with ἀπῆλθον; but the Apostle, whose thoughts outrun his words, has interposed the negative clause, to anticipate his purpose in going away” (Jowett). The word does not exclude his first brief ministry in Damascus (Acts 9:20), a matter with which he is not concerned. He is showing that he went, not to Jerusalem, but to Arabia.

οὐ προσανεθέμην,, Galatians 2:6[55], “I did not lay (the matter) before.” Cf. Galatians 2:2. The πρός intensifies the thought of the direction already implied in ἀνεθέμην. The compound is sometimes used (as here) of laying a matter before another for his judgment and advice. Zahn quotes Chrysippus ὄναρ γάρ τινά φησι θεασάμενονπροσαναθέσθαι ὀνειροκρίτῃ.

σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι. A very common phrase in Rabbinic writings, but always with a slight notion of contemptuous comparison with God. “Men; whose intelligence is limited and their counsel moulded by the constitution of their material clothing” (Beet). St Paul speaks quite generally, but he would have in his mind any Christians in some position of authority, especially if this was based on past personal intercourse with the incarnate Christ (before or after the Crucifixion, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1), and, above all, those whom he proceeds to mention in the next clause.

Verse 17

17. οὐδὲ, “nor even.” For if I did not choose to consult others it might have seemed reasonable that I should confer with the Twelve.

ἀνῆλθον,, Galatians 1:18; John 6:3[56]. Cf. ἀναβαίνω, Galatians 2:1-2 and often in Gospels and Acts. ἀνά. See Galatians 2:1, note.

εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα. The Aramaic and Greek form; Galatians 1:18, Galatians 2:1 Paul[57]; while Ἰερουσαλήμ, Galatians 4:25-26 is the Hebrew form. On the occurrence of the two forms elsewhere see W.H. Appendix, p. 160.

πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους. The priority of their apostleship formed the only reason why it was likely that he should go.

ἀλλὰ ἀπῆλθον. In the Pauline Epp. Romans 15:28[58]. I went quite away from Jerusalem and any other place where I was likely to meet with Christians. Not, of course, in order that he might preach to the heathen (in spite of the mention of this in Galatians 1:16) but that he might be alone. This would not exclude some evangelistic activity if the opportunity presented itself, but it cannot have been the primary object of his withdrawing from Christian counsellors.

εἰς Ἀραβίαν. Perhaps he wandered through various parts of the large kingdom of the Nabathaeans, extending at that time from Damascus to the Sinaitic peninsula. It is hardly probable that he went to Mt Sinai itself. See Appendix, Note A.

καὶ πάλιν ὑπέστρεψα εἰς Δαμασκόν. Why does he mention this fact? Because as he did go there it was the simplest way of calling attention to the fact that he did not go to Jerusalem even now. Observe that he has not stated that his conversion was near Damascus; the πάλιν is an undesigned coincidence with Acts 9:3.


Arabia in Galatians 1:17 and Galatians 4:25

THE terms Arabia and Arabians, as used during the first century A.D., referred not only to the peninsula proper including the Sinaitic peninsula (Galatians 4:25), but also especially to the kingdom of the Nabathaeans. So Josephus expressly in Antt. I. 12. 4 § 221. He also speaks of Arabia being on the east of Peraea (B.J. III. 3. 3 [§ 47]), of its being visible from the Temple towers (B. J. v. 4. 3 [§ 160]), and of its limit in the country of Gamalitis (Antt. XVIII. 5. 1§ 113). The Nabathaeans, who presumably came from a more southern part, were settled in Petra B.C. 312 (if not even earlier, in the first half of the 5th cent. B.C. see Malachi 1:3), and from that time came into frequent touch with the Seleucid, Egyptian, Jewish, and Roman rulers, holding their own with some ease, on account of the natural difficulties of their country. The limits of their kingdom changed, but in the first century A.D. extended as far north as the neighbourhood of Damascus. Damascus itself was under the suzerainty of Rome, but the cessation of Roman coinage there after 33–34 until 62 A.D. makes it probable that during those years it was in the hands of the Arabians, probably ceded to Aretas IV. by Caligula. Thus St Paul’s notice, 2 Corinthians 11:32, is so far confirmed. See further Schürer, English Translation, I. ii., pp. 345 sqq., C. H. Turner in Hastings, D.B. I. 416, and Nöldeke in Hastings-Selbie, D.B. s.v. Arabia.

It is then clear, if the language of Josephus is sufficient guide, that when St Paul speaks of spending two years in Arabia he may mean anywhere in the kingdom of the Nabathaeans, from near Damascus down to the Sinaitic peninsula. As he does not give any closer definition he probably wandered from place to place. He may even have gone as far south as Mt Sinai, but we know too little of the possibilities of travelling at that time in Petra and the districts bordering upon it to be able to say that he could do so. It may be doubted whether the sentimental reason of visiting the scene of the giving of the Law would have appealed to him just after his conversion. The case of Elijah was wholly different: to him the revelation to Moses was the highest conceivable; not so to St Paul.

Verse 18

18. ἔπειτα. “The twice-repeated ἔπειτα in this verse, in Galatians 1:21 and in Galatians 2:1, singles out three events in the Apostle’s life bearing upon his intercourse with the Church of Jerusalem: his first introduction to them, his departure to a distant sphere of labour, and his return to Jerusalem with Barnabas” (Rendall). In itself ἔπειτα may mark either a fresh stage in the enumeration (1 Corinthians 12:28; Hebrews 7:2), or a point of time consecutive to what has preceded (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 15:46; Hebrews 7:27). Often of course the two coalesce, as is expressly brought out by μετὰ τοῦτο in John 11:7 and in our verse by the following words. See also Galatians 2:1 note.

μετὰ τρία ἔτη. From his conversion. For this is the only important time that he has as yet mentioned. He was emphasizing the fact that so long a period elapsed between that and his visit to Jerusalem. He contrasts the end of the three years with their beginning, οὐδὲ ἀνῆλθον (Galatians 1:17).

ἀνῆλθον. See the note on ἀνέβην, Galatians 2:1. The visit is that recorded in Acts 9:26.

ἱστορῆσαι[59]. In the Greek Bible only in 1 Esdras 1:31 [33] bis, 40 [42] in the meaning of “relate.” Here it = “see,” differing from ἰδεῖν “only as it has for its object any remarkable person or thing. Thus ἱστορῆσαι πόλιν is to visit the curiosities of a place. Josephus (Ant. I. 11. 4, [§ 203]), speaking of Lot’s wife, says: εἱς στήλην ἁλῶν μετέβαλεν. ἱστόρησα δ ̓ αὐτήν· ἔτι γἁρ καὶ νῦν διαμένει” (Field, Notes on the translation of the N.T.). Cf. also Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, VII. 7, p. 474, 1909. Chrysostom writes: οὐκ εἶπενἰδεῖνΠἐτρον, ἀλλ ̓ “ἱστορῆσαιΠέτρον, ὅπερ οἱ τὰς μεγάλας πόλεις καὶ λαμπρὰς καταμανθάνοντες λέγουσιν. οὕτω πολλῆς ἄξιον ἡγεῖτο σπουδῆς εἷναι καὶ τὸ μόνον ἰδεῖν τὸν ἄνδρα. The word, that is to say, suggests that St Paul’s visit to Jerusalem was prompted more by curiosity to see St Peter than by any other motive. Jülicher (Paulus und Jesus, p. 55) thinks that he went in order to learn the facts of our Lord’s life on earth. But this is to forget the abundant evidence that at least the main facts of that life were circulated orally among all believers almost or quite from the very first.

Κηφᾶν. See notes on Textual Criticism, Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:11; Galatians 2:14; elsewhere only in John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:5. Contrast Πέτρος in Galatians 2:7-8 (Paul[60]). The Aramaic term is generally employed in this epistle and 1 Cor. because it was more often on the lips of the Jewish-Christian emissaries, and therefore St Paul reverts to it after mentioning the form that was in general use among Greek-speaking Christians.

καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν, “I prolonged my stay with him,” Acts 10:48. The ἑπί “is not per se intensive, but appears to denote rest at a place,” Ell. on Colossians 1:23. For the construction see 1 Corinthians 16:7.

ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε. Not long enough for me to become his disciple.

Verses 18-24

18–24. A short visit to Jerusalem and then a long absence. Yet the churches of Judaea, though they knew me not by sight, recognized me and my work

(Galatians 1:18) Then three years from my conversion I did go up to Jerusalem to gratify my curiosity to see Cephas, and I stayed with him only a fortnight. (Galatians 1:19) But I saw no other of the Apostles, with the exception of one who is not quite in the same class, James the brother of the Lord. (Galatians 1:20) God is my witness to the truth of my statements. (Galatians 1:21) Then I went far away into the country districts of Syria and of Cilicia. (Galatians 1:22) But I was entirely unknown by sight to the Christian churches of Judaea. (Galatians 1:23) Only they were hearing: Our former persecutor is now preaching the glad tidings of the faith of which once he used to make havoc. (Galatians 1:24) And they found occasion in me to glorify God.

Verse 19

19. ἕτερον δὲ, i.e. a second (Galatians 1:6 note).

τῶν ἀποστόλων (Galatians 1:1 note) οὐκ εἶδον, εἰ μὴ Ἰύκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίον. St Peter was to St Paul the object of attraction, not St James, from whom the emissaries of Galatians 2:12 came, and St Paul saw no other of the Apostles—save etc. The phrase suggests that St Paul put St James in a different category from the series of apostles to which St Peter belonged, though it does not exclude his possession of the title “Apostle” in some sense (cf. Luke 4:26 for this use of εἰ μὴ). See Hort, Epistle of St James, p. xix. and for εἰ μή p. xvi.

By “the brother” we are probably to understand half-brother, a son of Joseph by a former wife. This (the “Epiphanian” theory) is defended by Lightfoot in his classical essay contained in his commentary on our epistle. For a learned defence of the theory that “brother” means full-brother, a younger son of Joseph and Mary (the “Helvidian” theory), see J. B. Mayor’s edition of the Epistle of St James, pp. v–xxxvi. See also the discussion in the Expositor VII. 6 and 7. A third theory is that he was a cousin (the “Hieronymian” theory).

Verse 20

20. ἃ δὲ γράφω ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ. “It is a matter of life and death to the Apostle to prove his independence of the twelve” (Jowett). St Paul’s asseveration refers primarily to what he has already stated about his true relation to them, but naturally its force is carried on to his following words also.

ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ., 1 Timothy 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1. Cf. Romans 1:9.

ὅτι. “This has no regular construction. It depends upon the idea, ‘I declare,’ ‘I asseverate,’ contained in ἰδοὺ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ” (Jowett).

οὐ ψεύδομαι., Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Timothy 2:7.

Verse 21

21. ἔπειτα,, Galatians 1:18 note. Galatians 1:21-24 continue the description of his independence of the Twelve. He stayed in Jerusalem only a fortnight and then went far away, and that for a long time.

An endeavour has been made to press these verses against the South Galatian theory, by saying that if the letter was addressed to South Galatia, St Paul must have mentioned his first visit, Acts 13, 14, for it would be the strongest proof that he was away from Jerusalem. But if his first visit to South Galatia was long after this decisive journey to Syria and Cilicia there was no need to mention it, and in any case he is not drawing an itinerary. It had nothing to do with his relation to Jerusalem.

ἦλθον εἰς τὰ κλίματα. κλίματα originally “slopes.” In Aquila (Leviticus 19:27) apparently of the “side,” “edge” of the head, and so perhaps in Jeremiah 48:45 (= Numbers 24:17, κλίματα Symmachus) of Moab depicted under the figure of a man, though this latter passage may also mean the “slopes” or “corner districts” of the land of Moab. Elsewhere in the N.T. (Romans 15:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10[61]) “districts,” as probably here (cf. Polyb. 1:44. 6; x. 1. 3), not meaning the whole regions of Syria and of Cilicia, but districts in them. Thus the phrase indicates that St Paul did not stay only in Antioch or in Tarsus (Acts 9:30; Acts 11:25).

τῆς Συρίας καὶ [τῆς] Κιλικίας. See note on Textual Criticism.

There is the same doubt about the text in Acts 15:41 (cf. 23). Ramsay (Gal. p. 277) says “Paul here thinks and speaks of the Roman Province, which consisted of two great divisions, Syria and Cilicia; and he designates it by the double name, like Provincia Bithynia et Pontus. We must accordingly read τῆς Συρίας καὶ Κιλικίας.” But, apart from the difficulty of accepting this naïve idea of textual criticism, the expression Provincia Syria et Cilicia has never been discovered. Perhaps when St Paul was writing, though hardly when he made his journey, they were separate provinces, for although “Cilicia was usually under the legatus of Syria (Dio Cass. 53. 12 where Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, Cyprus are ἐν τῇ τοῦ Καίσαρος μερίδι; cf. Tac. Ann. 2. 78), Cilicia is found under a separate governor, however, in 57 A.D. (Tac. Ann. 13. 33) perhaps as a temporary measure after the disturbances of 52 A.D. (Ann. 12. 55)” (Woodhouse in Enc. Bib. col. 828). In Mr J. G. C. Anderson’s map [1903] marking the boundaries of the Provinces from A.D. 63 to A.D. 72 it is separated from Syria. If we are to assume that the mention of these two places corresponds with the formal visits recorded in Acts 9:30 (Tarsus), Acts 11:25 (Syria), then of course the order here given is not chronological, and is due either to the greater political and commercial importance of Syria or to the closer geographical relation of Syria to Jerusalem (= “I went to Syria (Acts 11:25), nay as far as Cilicia” (Acts 9:30). But the above assumption is arbitrary, and it may well be that St Paul is simply describing his course to his home in Tarsus, “I went away from Jerusalem through Syria to Cilicia.” See also Introd. p. xx.

Verse 22

22. ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενοςμόνον δὲ ἀκούοντες ἦσαν. As this is an original Greek part of the N.T., not a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic, Dr Moulton is inclined to give this periphrastic tense its full classical emphasis, “I was entirely unknown … only they had been hearing” (Proleg. 1906, p. 227).

τῷ προσώπῳ. Cf. Colossians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:17.

ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις,, Galatians 1:2 note.

τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ. The qualifying τ. ἐν Χρ. prevents any misunderstanding, Galatians 1:13 note. The Church at Jerusalem had indeed seen St Paul since his conversion (Acts 9:29; Acts 11:30), but he distinguishes Judaea from Jerusalem, as in his speech in Acts 26:20. Neither here nor in any of the three other passages where Ἰουδαία occurs in St Paul’s writings is there any reason to think that he includes more than approximately the old kingdom of Judah, i.e. that he uses the word in its Roman official sense of the district including Galilee and Samaria. See Introd. p. xx.

Verse 23

23. ἀκούοντες. Presumably from members of the Church at Jerusalem in particular (thus suggesting that his preaching was not contradictory to that of the elder Apostles), as well as from other Christian travellers.

ὅτι. Recitative, Romans 3:8.

ὁ διώκων. Timeless, 1 Thessalonians 2:12 (where, however, see Milligan), Galatians 5:24.

εὐαγγελίζεται τήν πίστιν. Cf. Galatians 1:8; Galatians 1:16. It is difficult to decide what exactly was in the mind of the speakers. [1] Did they use it in an objective sense, as a synonym of “the Gospel,” the good news brought, which could be received only by faith? This is the usage, apparently, in Acts 6:7; Acts 13:8, Judges 1:3; Judges 1:20 and sometimes in the Pastoral Epp., e.g. 1 Timothy 4:1. In this case the ἥν following regards this, so to say, external and objective possession, as laid waste together with those who accept it. Similarly, we say that the Christian faith was stamped out in the greater part of Japan for three hundred years, when the Christians there were, as it was supposed, all extirpated. [2] Or were they thinking of the characteristic of believers, faith subjective in contrast to works? Compare Ephesians 3:17, and 1 Thessalonians 3:6, the personal faith of the Thessalonians, the good news of which Timothy carried to St Paul. In favour of this is the fact that πίστις is usually subjective in St Paul’s Epp., but seeing that he argues so much in favour of faith, as contrasted with works, we cannot lay stress on any merely numerical comparison of the senses in which it is used. In this case the ἥν regards the subjective faith of believers as injured together with its possessors.

On the whole the former seems to be the more probable.

ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει,, Galatians 1:13. Cf. ταύτην τὴν ὁδὸν ἐδίωξα (Acts 22:4).

Verse 24

24. καὶ ἐδόξαζον. In this meaning, frequent in N.T. and LXX. From Polybius onwards in the passive voice only (see Nägeli. Wortschatz, p. 61). The tense suggests that they found continued cause for δόξα. They kept on recognizing God’s handiwork in me and giving Him praise.

ἐν ἐμοὶ, more than “in my case.” They found the cause for glory in my person, i.e. my history, words and deeds.

τὸν θεόν. At the end, for emphasis. Certain Jewish Christians now find fault with me. It was not so. The churches of Judaea, who may be supposed to know what was right, were satisfied with what they heard of me and glorified God (Matthew 5:16).

Possibly also the words suggest the reason stated by Theodore of Mopsuestia: “maxime cum nemo hominum perspiciatur qui conversionis ejus auctor esse videatur.”


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Galatians 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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