(1) He declares by another twofold similitude, that which he said before concerning the keeper and schoolmaster. For, he says, the Law (that is, the whole government of God's house according to the Law) was as it were a tutor or overseer appointed for a time. And when that protection and overseeing which was but for a time is ended, we would at length come to be at our own liberty, and would live as children, and not as servants. Moreover, he shows along the way, that the governance of the Law was as it were the basics, and as certain principles, in comparison with the doctrine of the Gospel.
(a) This is added because he that is always under a tutor or governor may hardly be considered a freeman.
(b) The Law is called elements, because by the Law God instructed his Church as it were by elements, and afterward poured out his Holy Spirit most plentifully in the time of the Gospel.
(2) He utters and declares many things at once, that is, that this tutorship was ended at his time, in order that curious men may stop asking why the schoolmastership lasted so long. And moreover, that we are not sons by nature, but by adoption, and that in the Son of God, who therefore took upon him our flesh, that we might be made his brethren.
(c) The time is said to be full when all parts of it are past and ended, and therefore Christ could not have come either sooner or later.
(d) He calls Mary a woman in respect of the sex, and not as the word is used in a contrary sense to a virgin, for she remained a virgin still.
(e) The adoption of the sons of God is from everlasting, but is revealed and shown in the time appointed for it.
(3) He shows that we are free and set at liberty in such a way that in the meantime we must be governed by the Spirit of Christ, who while reigning in our hearts, may teach us the true service of the Father. But this is not to serve, but rather to enjoy true liberty, as it is fitting for sons and heirs.
(f) By that which follows he gathers that which went before: for if we have his Spirit, we are his sons, and if we are his sons, then we are free.
(g) The Holy Spirit, who is both of the Father, and of the Son. But there is a special reason why he is called the Spirit of the Son, that is, because the Holy Spirit seals up our adoption in Christ, and gives us a full assurance of it.
(h) The word "servant" is not taken here for one that lives in sin, which is appropriate for the unfaithful, but for one that is yet under the ceremonies of the Law, which is proper to the Jews.
(i) Partaker of his blessings.
(4) He applies the former doctrine to the Galatians, with a special rebuke: for in comparison with them, the Jews might have pretended some excuse as men that were born and brought up in that service of the Law. But seeing that the Galatians were taken and called out of idolatry to Christian liberty, what pretence might they have to go back to those impotent and beggarly elements?
(k) They are called impotent and beggarly ceremonies, being considered apart by themselves without Christ: and again, by that means they gave good testimony that they were beggars in Christ, for when men fall back from Christ to ceremonies, it is nothing else but to cast away riches and to follow beggary.
(l) By going backward.
(5) He moderates and qualifies those things in which he might have seemed to have spoken somewhat sharply, very skilfully and divinely declaring his good will toward them in such a way, that the Galatians could not but either be utterly hopeless when they read these things, or acknowledge their own lack of steadfastness with tears, and desire pardon.
(m) Many afflictions.
(n) Those daily troubles with which the Lord tried me among you.
(o) For the sake of my ministry.
(p) What a talk was there abroad in the world among men, how happy you were when you received the gospel?
(q) For they are jealous over you for their own benefit.
(r) That they may transfer all your love from me to themselves.
(s) He sets his own true and good love, which he earnestly held for them, against the wicked vicious love of the false apostles.
(t) Use other words among you.
(6) The false apostles urged this, that unless the Gentiles were circumcised Christ could profit them nothing at all, and also this dissension of those who believed in the circumcision, against those who believed in the uncircumcision, both these things being full of offence. Therefore the apostle, after various arguments with which he has refuted their error, brings forth an allegory, in which he says that the Holy Spirit did through symbolism let us know all these mysteries: that is, that it should come to pass that two sorts of sons should have Abraham as a father common to them both, but not with equal success. For as Abraham begat Ishmael by the common course of nature, of Hagar his bondmaid and a stranger, and begat Isaac of Sara a free woman, by the virtue of the promise, and by grace only, the first was not heir, and also persecuted the heir. So there are two covenants, and as it were two sons born to Abraham by those two covenants, as it were by two mothers. The one was made in Sinai, outside of the land of promise, according to which covenant Abraham's children according to the flesh were begotten: that is, the Jews, who seek righteousness by that covenant, that is, by the Law. But they are not heirs, and they will at length be cast out of the house, as those that persecute the true heirs. The other was made in that high Jerusalem, or in Zion (that is, by the sacrifice of Christ) which begets children of promise, that is, believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And these children (like Abraham) do rest themselves in the free promise, and they alone by the right of children will be partakers of the father's inheritance, whereas those servants will be shut out.
(u) That desire so greatly.
(x) As all men are, and by the common course of nature.
(y) By virtue of the promise, which Abraham laid hold on for himself and his true seed, for otherwise Abraham and Sara were past the begetting and bearing of children.
(z) These represent and symbolize.
(a) They are called two covenants, one of the Old Testament, and another of the New: which were not two indeed, but in respect of the times, and the diversity of the manner of ruling.
(b) He makes mention of Sinai, because that covenant was made in that mountain, of which mountain Hagar was a symbol.
(c) Look how the case stands between Hagar and her children; even so stands it between Jerusalem and hers.
(d) That is, Sinai.
(e) Which is excellent, and of great worth.
(7) He shows that in this allegory he has followed the steps of Isaiah, who foretold that the Church should be made and consist of the children of barren Sara, that is to say, of those who should be made Ahraham's children by faith, and this only spiritually, rather than of fruitful Hagar, even then foretelling the casting off of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles.
(f) She that is destroyed and laid waste.
(g) After the manner of Isaac, who is the first begotten of the heavenly Jerusalem, as Israel is of the slavish synagogue.
(h) That seed to which the promise belongs.
(i) By the common course of nature.
(k) By the virtue of God's promise and after a spiritual manner.
(8) The conclusion of the former allegory, that we by no means procure and call back again the slavery of the Law, seeing that the children of the bondmaid will not be heirs.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany