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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 4

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-31

1 The place of an infant heir differs from that of a slave in right but not in fact. Though entitled to all, he is treated as though master of nothing. He is watched by guardians, and supervised by stewards. This was the position of Israel under the law. Theirs was the sonship and the glory and the covenants, but these are all reserved for future display. Dignities are suited to capacity; privileges to age. Infancy is debarred from their use, not merely by the formal legal prohibition, but by intrinsic disqualification. The responsibilities of property are beyond the strength and understanding of a child.

3 Israel, during the period of minority, was in bondage under the "elements" of the world. These "rudiments" or elementary religious observances, while "infirm and poor" (9) and put in contrast with Christ ( Col_2:8 ), were necessary to their education and served an essential purpose in the progress of revelation. But no one who knows the liberty of sonship would tolerate their shackles for an instant.

4 In Israel the assumption of the responsibilities and dignities of manhood was a notable event in a man's life. In the life of the nation this was signalized by the advent of God's Son, Who reclaimed them from the bondage of the law.

6 The people in our Lord's day were bi-lingual. They used an Aramaic dialect in the familiar talk of the household, but all understood Greek, which was almost a universal language at that time, "Abba" is Aramaic, corresponding to our familiar "Papa".

9 It is most remarkable that the apostle puts the Mosaic ceremonial on a par with heathen rites. They were not turning back to their previous idolatry but to the observances under the law, which they had not practised before. But he insists it is all the same in God's sight as if they really had returned to the rites of heathenism.

10 Do any of us observe these things? Paul would be afraid of us!

12 If Paul had given up the Mosaic ritual and became as they were for their sakes, surely they ought to follow his example, for he certainly had far more reason to cling to it than they had to lapse back into it.

15 Eye diseases are very common in the East. Paul's first acquaintance with the Galatians was when, as a sick traveler, he proclaimed the evangel to them in the midst of his infirmities. From this passage we get a glimpse of the fervent love his message evoked, and are led to suppose that he had some affliction of the eyes.

17 The words zealous and jealous proboably were once the same in English, as they are so closely allied in form and meaning. They represent a single Greek word. It is not always clear which is the better rendering, but here jealousy, rather than zeal, seems to satisfy the context.

19 What affectionate mothering stirs the apostle as he broods over his erring children!

22 The controversy turns on the question "Who are the heirs of Abraham?" Is the ground of sonship circumcision and law keeping, or faith? The Juodaisers said, We are Abraham's sons! Abraham had two sons, says Paul. Which line do you belong to, Ishmael or Isaac? You are

Ishmaelites, sons of Hagar, born of the flesh, born into slavery. You are not heirs of Abraham! Isaac, the child of promise, is the true heir. These two sons of Abraham illustrate the relation between law and promise, flesh and spirit. Ishmael came into Abraham's home between the promise and the advent of the true heir. Born of unbelief, he was a continual trial and persecuted the son of promise. But finally the decree went forth: Cast out this maid and her son! It could hardly be that the Galatians are listening to any but so-called "believing" Jews who were associated with the apostles, and with James. They would not listen to the persecutors of the ecclesia in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jews believed but they all were zealous of the law ( Act_21:20 ). This shows that those associated with the Pentecostal administration were virulently opposed to Paul and his doctrine of grace. When he was in Jerusalem they led the multitude against him and nearly killed him. These Jewish Christians were the most troublesome enemies of the ecclesias among the nations which had been founded by Paul.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Galatians 4". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/galatians-4.html. 1968.
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