Bible Commentaries
Galatians 1

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verses 1-5

Galatians 1:1-5 . APOSTOLIC ADDRESS, BENEDICTION AND DOXOLOGY. The Epistle opens with the author’s name and the designation of his office, Paul, an Apostle . So far it follows the regular practice of Apostolic Epistles in advancing at the outset a claim to attentive hearing. But circumstances gave in this case a special significance to this opening; for in the Galatian Churches rival agitators had seriously challenged the author’s right to this title of Apostle, so that the bare mention of his office involved a distinct protest against the slanders which had been circulated in regard to his office and his person. He proceeds, accordingly, to an emphatic vindication of his divine commission, not from men, neither through man . He raises here a twofold issue, evidently corresponding to two specific points in his qualifications for the office, which his adversaries had on their side selected for attack. The transition from the plural in the first clause, to the singular in the second, is significant, and helps to furnish a key to the two particular points in his career on which his enemies had fastened. His mission to the Gentiles had apparently been disparaged on the plea that it had emanated from men, i.e. , from the Church of Antioch only. Again, the validity of his commission was impugned on the ground that he had originally received the Spirit through a man, i.e. , through the agency of Ananias, who had been deputed to lay his hands upon him at Damascus. By these insinuations an invidious comparison was instituted between Paul and the original Apostles who had been sent forth by Christ Himself, and had received the Spirit by a miraculous outpouring from Heaven on the day of Pentecost. It was obviously impossible to confute these aspersions by alleging any specific act of the risen Lord. Accordingly Paul contents himself for the moment with an indignant repudiation of the calumnies, reserving his full vindication for the historical review of his conversion and Christian life (Galatians 1:10 to Galatians 2:14 ). The tokens by which the risen Lord had attested His presence and His commission to His servant Paul had been very real and certain to the eye of faith; but they had, from the nature of the case, been less tangible than the evidence of His living voice and presence during His earthly sojourn; they had been granted at successive stages of the Apostle’s life, and had often taken the shape of visions, personal revelations, and spiritual communion. At his conversion he had been declared a chosen vessel for future ministry; three years later the Lord had replied to his prayer in the temple, bidding him depart from Jerusalem, for (He said) I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles ; afterwards, at Antioch, the Spirit had given command, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them ; thereupon God had visibly sealed his appointment by the abundant blessing bestowed upon his labours, as the Galatians themselves could amply testify. διὰ … πατρὸς . The previous combination of ἀπό and διά in the negative clauses invites a corresponding combination here in the antithesis, ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς , declaring, on the one hand, the instrumentality of the Son in the appointment of His Apostle, and, on the other, tracing back the authority with which he was invested to God the Father as its original source. But Paul prefers here, instead of contemplating his apostleship to the Gentiles by itself as a single act of the Divine Head of the Church, to connect it with the larger design of building up the Church of Christ, for which the united action of the Father and the Son was indispensable. The Father set that design in motion by raising Him from the dead, and is here accordingly associated with the Son as directly co-operating in the government of the Church. In the subsequent review of his own personal life, Paul in like manner perceives the immediate hand of God in his pre-Christian life, setting him apart from his mother’s womb, and training him under the law for his future work as an Apostle, before he was brought to Christ at all.

Verse 2

Galatians 1:2 . οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ . No name is mentioned: neither Timothy nor Silas, nor any other companion of Paul known to the Galatians can have been with him when he wrote, nor is the name mentioned of any Christian congregation; probably he was residing in some Greek city in which no Church had yet been formed. The phrase οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ seems, from its use in Philippians 4:21 , to describe a small group of brethren immediately surrounding the Apostle; for the salutation from them is there followed by a separate salutation from the Roman Church in general. The position of the Apostle during his first few weeks at Corinth, before Silas and Timothy rejoined him, corresponds closely to the circumstances indicated by this phrase (see Introd., pp. 146 147). ἐκκλησίαις . There were four Churches in Southern Galatia, but they formed a single group, being all bound together by the great imperial highway that ran through them, and gave facility for constant intercourse. All would, therefore, respond speedily to any religious impulse, like the wave of Pharisaic reaction which the Apostle is combating in this Epistle.

Verse 3

Galatians 1:3 . The apostolic blessing is here as elsewhere summed up in the comprehensive words grace and peace . These include the lifegiving power of the spirit as well as the assurance of God’s forgiving love in Christ and peace with an accusing conscience. This verse affirms once more the co-operation of the Father with the Son in devising and carrying out the scheme of man’s redemption.

Verse 4

Galatians 1:4 . περὶ τ . ἁμαρτιῶν . The sin offerings of the Law were designated περὶ ἁμαρτίας ( cf. Hebrews 10:6 ; Hebrews 10:8 ), but περί and ὑπέρ were equally applicable with reference to Christ’s offering of Himself for our sins; the former fixing attention on the effect of His sacrifice in doing away sin, the latter on the motive which prompted Him, viz. , love for sinners. The two prepositions are combined in 1 Peter 3:18 . It is often difficult to decide which is the genuine reading owing to the variation of MSS.: but here they are greatly in favour of περί , which is also more appropriate to the context: for in this clause a comparison is intended between the sin-offerings of Christ and the typical sin-offerings of the Law; while the next expresses the motive of the Saviour by the addition ὅπως ἐξέληται … αἰῶνος . In early Greek this word denoted the appointed lifetime of man, and so combined the thought of an overruling destiny with the course of human life. From the conception of individual life was developed that of corporate life, whether of families, nations or societies, and the idea of divine appointment was more distinctly fastened on the word in Scripture, so that every successive dispensation of God was designated as an αἰών . In this place αἰῶνος denotes the world which Jesus found existing at the time of His coming, out of which He chose His disciples. World is the nearest English equivalent to αἰών in this sense, if only it be understood to mean a particular phase of human society, as in the phrases religious world, scientific world , etc., and not the material universe. ἐνεστῶτος : existing . This participle is twice elsewhere applied to things existing by way of contrast to things future ( μέλλοντα ), in Romans 8:38 and 1 Corinthians 3:22 . A similar contrast is here suggested between ὁ ἐνεστώς and ὁ μέλλων αἰών , i.e. , between the world which Christ found existing on earth and the Messianic world whose coming Hebrew prophets had foretold. πονηροῦ . This sweeping condemnation of the existing world corresponds to the language of the Baptist and to Christ’s own denunciations of the evil generation to which He came. In spite of all that revelation and conscience had done to leaven it, He found the faithful few in number, and evil predominant in the mass. ἐξέληται . Here, as in Acts 26:17 , this verb coupled with ἐκ can only denote choice out of the world, not deliverance from it, which would require the addition of ἐκ χειρός , as in Acts 12:11 , or some equivalent. The clause describes the process of selection begun by Christ on earth, and still continued by the risen Christ as He calls fresh disciples into His Church continually.

Verse 5

Galatians 1:5 . ᾧ ἡ δόξα , sc. ἐστιν . Our versions supply ἔστω and turn the clause accordingly into an invocation of praise. But the insertion of the article points rather to an affirmation, whose is the glory . The verb is usually omitted in the doxology, but ἐστιν is added in 1 Peter 4:11 . The glory consists in the manifestation of the Father’s character throughout all the ages in the continual redemption of mankind according to His will. Hereby is revealed His union of perfect wisdom, holiness, and love. εἰς τ . αἰῶνας τ . αἰώνων . αἰών denotes in Scripture a divinely appointed period (see note on Galatians 1:4 ). The larger of these divine dispensations comprehend within them other shorter periods, and are therefore designated αἰῶνες αἰώνων . The phrase in the text ascribes the glory to God for the whole term of these dispensations, i.e. , for all the ages of human life, since these together make up the sum of man’s existence. The full form is used by the Apostle in Philippians 4:20 , 2 Timothy 4:18 , but he uses elsewhere the shorter form εἰς τ . αἰῶνας . ἀμήν . This Amen crowns the previous declaration of the glory of God by an invitation to the Churches to join in the ascription of praise.

Verse 6

Galatians 1:6 . μετατίθεσθε : ye are removing (not removed as in A.V.). The agitators had not yet achieved any decisive success, though the Galatians were disposed to lend too ready an ear to their suggestions. It was not so much their actual progress, as the evidence afforded of the instability of the Galatian faith, that excited misgivings in the mind of Paul ( cf. Galatians 4:11 ; Galatians 4:20 ); he regarded the movement as merely a little leaven , and had not lost his confidence in the personal loyalty of his converts and the general soundness of their faith (Galatians 5:9-10 , Galatians 6:17 . See Introd., p. 147). τοῦ καλέσαντος , sc. Θεοῦ . The Gospel call proceeded from God, like those to Abraham and the ancient servants and people of God; the Epistles of Paul invariably attribute it to Him ( cf. Galatians 1:15 ), not to His human instruments. ἐν χάριτι . This is evidently not = εἰς τὴν χάριν ( into the grace of Christ , A.V.), but records the spirit of Divine love which prompted the call. God, of His grace in Christ, sent forth the Gospel to the Galatians by the hands of Paul and Barnabas. ἕτερον . This passage brings out forcibly the different meaning of ἕτερος and ἄλλος . ἕτερος is primarily the other of two, ἄλλος another of several. Hence ἕτερος fixes attention on two objects exclusively ( cf. note on τὸν ἕτερον in Galatians 6:4 ); here it marks the essential difference between the true and the spurious Gospel, distinguishing the latter as quite a different Gospel .

Verses 6-9

Galatians 1:6-9 . THE APOSTLE EXPRESSES SURPRISE AT THE SUDDEN DEFECTION OF HIS CONVERTS FROM THE ONLY TRUE GOSPEL, AND PRONOUNCES ANATHEMAS ON ALL PERVERTERS OF THE TRUTH. Paul is evidently startled at the tidings of a sudden revolution in Galatian feeling. His intense indignation is evinced by the vehemence of his language and the solemnity of his anathema. There could be but one true Gospel; this new doctrine was no Gospel at all, but only a heretical perversion of the truth by foreign agitators. They were probably emissaries of a Pharisaic party in the Church, which advocated circumcision and legal observances for all converts alike.

Verse 7

Galatians 1:7 . ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο . The translation of this clause in A.V. and R.V. ( which is not another ) has caused great embarrassment by its apparent identification of the spurious Gospel with the true. Lightfoot pleads ingeniously that ἄλλο may mean another besides the true Gospel, and so interprets the clause to mean that it is no Gospel at all; but this will hardly be accepted by most other scholars. The American revisers suggest the rendering which is nothing else than . But these difficulties arise from making ὅ the subject of the sentence: surely it is in fact a connecting adverb ( touching which, as to which, whereas ), as it is again in Galatians 2:10 , and probably in Galatians 2:20 . If the clause be rendered, whereas there is no other Gospel ( i.e. , than the true), the sense becomes perfectly clear, and it forms an appropriate introduction to the succeeding anathemas by its emphatic testimony to the one true Gospel. εἰ μή … This clause qualifies the former “there is no other Gospel,” only a spurious semblance (on the use of εἰ μή see note on Galatians 1:19 ). τινές . There is a studied vagueness in this and other references to the agitators. They were evidently not Galatian Christians, but strangers from abroad, whom the Apostle treats with real or affected contempt.

Verse 8

Galatians 1:8 . ἡμεῖς . Paul here associates with himself the colleagues Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, who had combined with him to preach the Gospel. He desires to impress on his disciples that the controversy is not between one teacher and another, but between truth and falsehood: no minister of Christ, not even an angel, can alter the truth in Christ. ἀνάθεμα . The two derivatives, ἀνάθημα and ἀνάθεμα , are both employed in the LXX and N.T. in different senses. ἀνάθημα serves, as in other Greek authors, to denote a temple offering, statue, or ornament ( cf. 2Ma 9:16 , Luke 21:5 ), while ἀνάθεμα is restricted to the Hebrew conception of an offering devoted under a solemn vow to death or destruction (Leviticus 27:28 , Joshua 7:1 , Acts 23:14 ). The Epistles of Paul attach to the word the idea of spiritual death. The significant addition ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ in Romans 9:3 associates with it the further idea of separation from Christ, and consequent loss of all Christian blessings and means of grace. It does not, like excommunication, pronounce a judicial sentence on particular convicted offenders, but solemnly affirms general laws of the spiritual kingdom, e.g. , in 1 Corinthians 16:22 , any who love not the Lord , here any who tamper with the truth of the Gospel, are pronounced outcasts from the faith, and dead to the Spirit of Christ.

Verse 9

Galatians 1:9 . προειρήκαμεν . The contrast between this plural and the singular λέγω proves that Paul is here referring, not to previous warnings of his own by letter, but to joint warnings given by his companions Silas and Timothy as well as himself during his visit to the Churches. He never speaks of himself in the plural number. ὡς … ἄρτι : as we have also forewarned you of late, I say again . Our versions interpret προειρήκαμεν we have said before and καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω so say I now again . But Greek usage forbids this antithesis between προ . and ἄρτι . Προλέγειν means to forewarn , not to say in time past ( cf. 2 Corinthians 13:2 , Galatians 5:21 , 1 Thessalonians 3:4 ); while ἄρτι is used indifferently of recent or of present time. In Matthew 9:18 , 1 Thessalonians 3:6 it means of late , in Matthew 26:53 , John 13:7 ; John 13:37 ; John 16:12 ; John 16:31 , 1 Corinthians 13:12 ; 1 Corinthians 16:7 it means now , by way of contrast with the future. Ἄρτι cannot therefore be used to contrast the present time with the immediate past. The words καὶ ἄρτι belong really to the preceding clause, and contain a reminder how recent had been the warnings which the Apostle is repeating. Since the rendering of John 9:25 Whereas I was blind, now I see appears to contradict this view of ἄρτι , it may be well to point out that ὤν does not mean whereas I was , but that the speaker’s real meaning was, I being ( sc. , by nature) blind now see .

The true rendering is of some historical importance, as evidence that warnings on the subject of circumcision had been given to the Galatians by Paul and his companions during a recent visit (see Introd., p. 146).

Verse 10

Galatians 1:10 . The order of words in the Greek text forbids the stress laid in our versions on the alternative men or God ; the meaning of which is besides a little obscure in this connection. The true rendering of ἤ is rather than (= μᾶλλον ἤ ), as in Matthew 18:8 , Luke 15:7 ; Luk 17:2 , 1 Corinthians 14:19 : Am I now persuading men rather than God? This language indicates clearly what kind of calumnies had been circulated. His detractors accused him of sacrificing the truth of God for the sake of persuading men. It was, we know, his boast that he became all things to all men , but whereas his real motive was that he might win all to Christ, they insinuated that he was more bent on winning favour with men than on securing the approval of God. During his recent visit he had made two concessions to Jewish feeling; he had circumcised Timothy, and had recommended for adoption regulations tending to promote harmonious intercourse between Jewish and Gentile converts. It was easy to misrepresent these concessions as an abandonment of his former principles: and they furnished his enemies accordingly with a handle for decrying him as a time-server without fixed principles, now bent on winning Jewish favour, as he had been before on gaining the Gentiles (see Introd., p. 145, and cf. Galatians 1:11 ). Ἄρτι . The Greek text throws the emphasis on this word, and its subtle irony is brought out by the ἔτι which follows. “Am I doing this now? Do you charge me now (he says in effect to these partisans of Judaism) with regarding men more than God? There was a time, before I knew Christ, when I did study to please men: if that were still my desire, I should not have been a servant of Christ.”

Verses 10-24


Verse 11

Galatians 1:11 . γνωρίζω . Here, as in 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:1 , this verb has the force of reminding rather than of making known . In all three passages the author calls attention to forgotten truths, which had once been well known.

Verse 12

Galatians 1:12 . ἐγὼ . The personal pronoun is inserted, because the author is here laying stress on the special education he had received for his ministry of the Gospel He had not learnt it, like his converts, from human teaching, but by direct communion with God in spirit, as the Twelve had learnt it from Christ’s own teaching. This independence of older Christians is a marked feature in the history of his life. The agency of Ananias was necessary for his admission into the Church, but after his baptism no older Christian appears on the scene at Damascus.

Verse 13

Galatians 1:13 . Ἠκούσατε . The Galatians had no doubt heard from Paul himself of his former persecution of the Church. How frequently it formed the topic of his addresses to Jewish hearers may be gathered from his defence of himself at Jerusalem in Acts 22:0 , and before Agrippa in Acts 26:0 Ἰουδαϊσμῷ . The rendering of this word in our versions, Jewish religion , is unfortunate: it implies a definite separation between the two religions which did not then exist, for Christians were still habitual worshippers in the synagogue; and it puts this view into the mouth of Paul, who steadfastly persisted in identifying the faith of Christ with the national religion. The word Ἰουδαϊζειν denotes the adoption of Jewish habits, language, or policy ( cf. Galatians 2:14 ). So here Ἰουδαϊσμός denotes Jewish partisanship, and accurately describes the bitter party spirit which prompted Saul to take the lead in the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the Church. Incidentally the partisanship was based on a false view of religion, for the narrow intolerance of the Scribes and Pharisees was a prevailing curse of Jewish society at the time; but Ἰουδαϊσμός expresses the party spirit, not the religion. Still more alien to the spirit of Paul is the language attributed to him in the next verse, I profited in the Jews’ religion (A.V.): for it indicates satisfaction at the success of his Jewish career, whereas he never ceased to regard it with lifelong remorse. His real assertion here is that he advanced beyond his fellows in sectarian prejudice and persecuting zeal a statement borne out by the history of the persecution. ποτε . This adverb is obviously attached to the preceding substantive ἀναστροφήν .

The imperfects ἐδίωκον … describe the course of action continuously pursued by Saul down to his conversion. ἐπόρθουν . This term is likewise applied in Acts 9:21 to the havoc wrought by Saul in the Church.

Verse 14

Galatians 1:14 . συνηλικιώτας . Saul had been educated at Jerusalem, and this word points to his contemporaries in the schools of the Pharisees. γένει . This term sometimes denotes family , but here race and nation , as in Acts 18:2 ; Acts 18:24 . So also συγγενής in Romans 9:3 ; Romans 16:7 ; Romans 16:21 . ζηλωτὴς . This is not here the proper name of a sect, being coupled with a genitive, as in Acts 21:20 . Saul had no sympathy with the anarchical sect of Zealots who preached the sacred duty of revolt from Rome, though he had the persecuting zeal of an orthodox Pharisee. πατρικῶν . This differs in sense from πατρῷος . The latter denotes the national law and customs of Israel (Acts 22:3 ; Acts 28:17 ), the former the hereditary traditions of the family, as the addition of μου further signifies. In Acts 23:6 Paul describes himself as a son of Pharisees.

Verse 15

Galatians 1:15 . ἀφορίσας . Paul looks back on his parentage and early years as a providential preparation for his future ministry: this view is justified by his antecedents. By birth at once a Hebrew, a Greek and Roman citizen, educated in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Greek learning, he combined in his own person the most essential requisites for an Apostle to the Gentiles. He was further moulded by the spiritual discipline of an intense, though mistaken, zeal for the Law of his God, which issued in bitter remorse. By this career he was fitted to become a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before the Gentile world. He did not hesitate accordingly to regard himself, like Hebrew prophets of old (Isaiah 49:1 ; Isaiah 49:5 , Jeremiah 1:5 ), as dedicated from his birth to the service of God.

Verse 16

Galatians 1:16 . ἀποκαλύψαι … ἐν ἐμοὶ . These words taken alone might denote either an inward revelation to Paul himself, or a revelation through him to the Gentiles. But the context is decisive in favour of the former: for this revelation is not only associated closely with his conversion and his personal history between that and the visit to Arabia, but it is expressly stated that it was granted with a view to future preaching ( ἵνα …).

The context distinguishes this revelation from the call; it cannot therefore be identified with the previous vision of Christ on the way, but (as the words ἐν ἐμοί import) was an inward and spiritual revelation which followed that appeal to eye and ear. The history corroborates this view: for it relates that Saul, after his vision, spent three days in solitary communion with himself and God before he was admitted to Christian baptism. προσανεθέμην . This compound verb denotes (as in Galatians 2:6 ) additional communication. After direct revelation from God Saul had no occasion to seek further advice from man. There is an apparent reminiscence in thought and language of Christ’s words, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father .

Verse 17

Galatians 1:17 . ἀνῆλθον . The religious position of Jerusalem as seat of the Temple and mother-city of the Church, its political importance, and its geographical position on the central heights of Palestine, combined to suggest the application of the terms up and down to journeys to and from Jerusalem. ἀποστόλους . In the third Gospel and early chapters of the Acts this title is habitually applied to the Twelve. It was extended to Paul and Barnabas on the occasion of their mission. In 1 Corinthians 9:2 Paul and Barnabas are distinctly enumerated amidst the recognised Apostles. Romans 16:7 suggests a further extension of the title, probably to all founders of churches. But with the possible exception of James, no addition is recorded to the number of the Twelve at Jerusalem after Matthias. Ἀραβίαν . No mention is made elsewhere of this journey; its object is clearly indicated by the context; for it is placed in strong contrast with human intercourse, and was, therefore, undertaken for the sake of solitary communion with God. The Arabian deserts were within easy reach of Damascus. Lightfoot suggests, indeed, that Paul perhaps repaired to Mount Sinai; but if the Apostle had been granted communion with God on Mount Sinai, the name would have constituted too effective an argument in favour of his Divine commission to be suppressed here. The Sinaitic peninsula was, in fact, remote from Damascus; the journey was at all times dangerous for travellers without escort, and in the year 37 (the most probable date of Saul’s conversion) was hardly possible on account of war between King Aretas and the Romans.

Verse 18

Galatians 1:18 . Ἔπειτα . The thrice-repeated Ἔπειτα in this verse, in Galatians 1:21 , and in Galatians 2:1 , singles out three events in the Apostle’s life bearing on 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. The object of this sketch was not to write a history of those years, but to fix attention on certain salient incidents which threw light on the real nature of his intercourse with Jerusalem. μετὰ τρία ἔτη . A different preposition is here employed from that used in Galatians 2:1 , which describes a mission within fourteen years. In this case no precise date is implied; for the object is not to date the visit, but to show that three full years at least had elapsed before Paul had any intercourse with the Twelve. ἱστορῆσαι : to enquire of Cephas, i.e. , to obtain information from him. This is the usual meaning of the verb; in Herodotus, and elsewhere, it denotes visits paid to places of interest with a view to getting information about them on the spot. The circumstances in which Paul found himself at that time make this sense very appropriate. He had been suddenly driven from his ministry at Damascus, and was compelled to seek a new sphere. He could not turn to any adviser more valuable than Peter for determining his future course. For that Apostle was not only prominent in the general government of the Church, but had taken the lead in its expansion by his visits to Samaria, to the maritime plain, and to Cæsarea, and by his baptism of Gentiles. In spite, therefore, of the danger of revisiting Jerusalem, Paul repaired thither to consult Peter as to how he could best serve Christ. Κηφᾶν . Several MSS. give the Greek form, Πέτρον , of this name; but the Hebrew form appears to be the original reading throughout the Epistle, except in Galatians 2:7-8 . At Jerusalem he was probably known by the name Cephas, but in the Greek Church at large by the name Peter. ἐπέμεινα . Both in the Acts and in the Pauline Epistles this verb denotes the continuance or prolongation of a stay. πρὸς αὐτόν . This can hardly be = παρʼ αὐτῷ , I abode with him . The clause expresses rather the motive for Paul’s lingering at Jerusalem, I tarried to see him fifteen days .

This narrative is so independent of the account given of Paul’s first meeting with the Twelve in Acts 9:26-29 , that some critics question the identity of the two visits. But it is clear that both passages alike refer to Paul’s first return to Jerusalem, after a prolonged sojourn at Damascus; and the subtle harmony of the two narratives is as conspicuous as their independence in details. The history states the bare fact that Paul, finding his life in imminent danger from the Jews at Damascus, fled to Jerusalem; the Epistle explains why he encountered so obvious a danger; the Epistle states that he prolonged his stay to see Peter; the history explains that he was unable to gain access to the Apostles for a time. The history records the principal events of the visit from the historical point of view, e.g. , the apprehensions felt by the Christian body, the intervention of Barnabas, the attempts on Paul’s life; the autobiography passes these by as foreign to its purpose, but is far richer in personal details, relating incidentally the date, the motive, and the duration of the visit, and particularising the brethren whom Paul saw on the occasion; whereas in the Acts mention is merely made of the disciples generally.

Verse 19

Galatians 1:19 . εἰ μὴ Ἰάκωβον . εἰ μή may either state an exception to the preceding negative clause (= except, save ), or merely qualify it (= but only ), as it does in Luke 4:26 , to none of them, sc. , the widows in Israel, but only to Sarepta in Sidon ; and in Galatians 1:7 , no other Gospel, only ( εἰ μή ) there are some that pervert the Gospel . The latter appears to be its meaning here. If James had been entitled an Apostle, the author would probably have written that he saw no other Apostles but Peter and James. But here he states emphatically that he saw no second ( ἕτερον ) Apostle, only James. The Epistle, like the Acts (see Acts 12:17 , Acts 15:13 , Acts 21:18 ), fully recognises the leading position of James in the local Church ( cf. Galatians 2:9 ; Galatians 2:12 ); and the ecclesiastical tradition which entitles him Bishop of Jerusalem corresponds to this. All the evidence left of his life suggests that he clung throughout his Christian life to Jerusalem and did not undertake such missionary labours as would entitle him to the designation of Apostle. τὸν ἀδελφὸν … James is here described as the brother of the Lord in order to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee, who was living at the time of Paul’s first visit; but elsewhere as James: after the death of the other James there could be no question who was meant.

Verse 20

Galatians 1:20 . The solemnity of this appeal to God in attestation of His truth marks at once the importance which Paul attached to his independence of human teachers, and the persistency of the misrepresentation to which he had been exposed. ἰδοὺ . This imperative is always used interjectionally in Scriptures: the subsequent ὅτι depends on ἐνώπιον τ . Θεοῦ , which has the force of an attestation.

Verses 21-23

Galatians 1:21-23 . About ten years of the life of Paul, between his flight from Jerusalem to Tarsus and his return to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council, are here passed over. They were spent, partly in and around Tarsus and Antioch, partly in the joint mission with Barnabas to Cyprus and Asia Minor. The Galatians were already acquainted with the leading facts of that period, and it was needless to refer to them here: enough that he spent those years, like those at Damascus, in an independent ministry at a distance from Jerusalem. He did indeed repair thither once with Barnabas to carry alms from Antioch to the Elders; but circumstances prevented any intercourse with the Twelve at that time: for before they reached the city the Herodian persecution had begun, and the leading Christians were in peril of death at the hands of Herod. Paul himself can only have paid a secret and hurried visit to the city, and thought it needless apparently to mention it in this place. κλίματα . This word denotes the fringes of coastland sloping down from the mountains to the sea in north-western Syria and eastern, i.e. Roman, Cilicia. It is applied in 2 Corinthians 11:10 to the coastlands of Achaia.

The name Syria is placed before Cilicia, though the ministry at Tarsus preceded that at Antioch: for the latter was by far the more important and prolonged ministry. A further reason for placing Syria first was the subordinate position of Cilicia: for Roman Cilicia was, like Judæa, only a district of the great province of Syria, separately administered by an imperial procurator at Tarsus.

In Acts 15:41 Syria and Cilicia are coupled together as forming a single region ( τὴν Συρίαν καὶ Κιλικίαν ), no article being inserted before Κιλικίαν ; not so here, for the first ministry at Tarsus was distinct from that at Antioch.

Verse 22

Galatians 1:22 . ἤμην δὲ ἀγν . The correct translation is not I was unknown (as our versions render it), but I was becoming unknown . At the beginning of this period he was a familiar figure in Jerusalem, but in the course of ten years’ absence he gradually became a stranger to the Christians of Judæa. ἐκκλησίαις . This passage speaks of the Churches of Judæa in the plural, as does also 1 Thessalonians 2:14 . In the Acts the Church throughout Judæa, Galilee and Samaria is described as a single Church according to the text of the best MSS. (Acts 9:31 ): the funds contributed for the relief of the poor Christians in Judæa are handed over to the Elders at Jerusalem (Acts 11:29 , (Acts 12:25 ); brethren from Judæa are censured as members of their own body by the assembled Church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1 ; Acts 15:24 ). It would seem from this that an effective unity of administration and control existed in Jerusalem side by side with local organisation of the several Churches of Judæa.

Verse 23

Galatians 1:23 . The faith seems to be here identified with the living body of believers, for this verse describes Saul as making havoc of the faith , while Galatians 1:13 applies that term to the Church .

Verse 24

Galatians 1:24 . They glorified God in Saul, ascribing the change entirely to the grace of God working on his heart.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.