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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

Galatians 4

Verses 1-99

7. Continuation of the argument for the inferiority of the condition under law, with the use of the illustration of guardianship (4:1-7)

Still pursuing his purpose of persuading the Galatians that they would lose, not gain, by putting themselves under the law, Paul compares the condition under law to that of an heir who is placed under a guardian for a period fixed by the father and in that time has no freedom of action, and describes it as a bondage under the elements of the world. Over against this he sets forth the condition into which they are brought by Christ as that of sons of God, living in filial and joyous fellowship with God.

1Now I say, so long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is lord of all, 2but is under guardians and stewards until the time set by the father. 3So also we, when we were children, were enslaved under the elements of the world. 4But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, made subject to law, 5that he might deliver those that were under law, that we might receive the adoption. 6And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7So that thou art no longer a slave but a son, and if son, then heir through God.

1. Λέγω δέ, ἐφʼ ὄσον χρόνονκληρονόμος νήπιός ἐστιν, οὐδὲν διαφέρει δούλου κύριος πάντων ὤν, 2.

Νήπιος, properly “one without understanding,” is used by Greek writers and in the Lxx both in this sense and with the meaning “child”; in N. T. apparently in the latter sense (1 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:14) with the added implication of immaturity, intellectual or moral. No instance has been pointed out of its use as a technical term for a minor, a child not possessed of manhood’s rights, but it is evidently this characteristic of a child that the apostle here has specially in mind. κύριος is used in the sense, rather infrequent in N. T., of “owner,” with the added idea of control. Cf. Matthew 20:8, Matthew 21:40. The participle ὤν is, of course, concessive. See BMT 437.8.

The phrase ἐπιτρόπους καὶ οἰκονόμους has given rise to much discussion as to the precise meaning of the words and the law which the apostle has in mind. The difficulty, however, pertains not to ἐπίτροπος. This is a frequent word for the guardian of a minor orphan. See Plato, Legg. VI 766 C: καὶ ἐὰν ὀρφανῶν ἐπίτροπος τελευτήση τις. Dem. 988:2: τούτων Ἀρίσταιχμος ἐπίτροπος καὶ κηδεμὼν ἐγένεθʼ ἑκκαίδεκα ἔτη. Xen. Mem. 1. 2:40: λέγεται γὰρ Ἀλκιβιάδην, πρὶν εἴκοσιν ἐτῶν εἶναι, Περικλεῖ ἐπιτρόπῳ μὲν ὄντι ἑαυτοῦ προστάτδὲ τῆς πόλεως τοιάδε διαλεκθἤναι περὶ νόμων. Arius Did. quoted in Mullach, Frag. Phil. Gr. II 87:2-5: 1 Kings 4:6, 1 Kings 4:18:3, 1 Kings 4:1 Esd. 4:47, Luke 12:42, Luke 16:1, Romans 16:23. Paul also uses it in a figurative sense of those to whom the gospel is entrusted, 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 4:2. There is no clear instance of its use with reference to one who has charge of the person or estate of a minor heir, and in particular no other instance of the use of the two terms ἐπίτροπος and οἰκονόμος together.

Under Roman law indeed (of a period a little later than that of Paul—see Sief. ad loc., p. 234) the minor was under a tutor till his fourteenth year, and thereafter under a curator until his twenty-fifth year. But against the supposition that it was this usage that Paul had in mind is the fact that he adds ἂχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός, whereas Roman law itself fixed the time during which the child was under the tutor and curator respectively. On προθεσμίας, a frequent legal term, see Dem. 952:19; Plato, Legg. XII 954 D,* etc. Cf. Job 28:3, Daniel 9:20 (Sym.). It is not found in Lxx and occurs here only in N. T.


Ramsay holds that Paul refers to the law followed in Greco-Phrygian cities, and cites the Syrian law book of the fifth century A. D., according to which the practice was the same as under the Roman law except that whereas under Roman law the father appointed only the tutor, and could not appoint the curator, under the Syrian law the father appointed both the ἐπίτροπος who, like the Roman tutor, had charge of the child till he reached the age of fourteen, and the curator who had the management of the property till the son was twenty-five years old.*

But aside from the fact that it is precarious to assume that the law found in a Syrian law book of the fifth century was in force in Phrygian cities in the first century, Ram. overlooks the fact that this usage is equally at variance with the language of Paul, who says nothing about who appoints the ἐπίτροπος and οἰκονόμος but does indicate that the father fixes the time at which the son passes from under their control.

In Greek, e. g., Athenian, law there was, so far as has been pointed out, no such distinction between tutor and curator or ἐπίτροπος and οἰκονόμος.

But the use of ἐπίτροπος καὶ κηδεμών in Dem. 988:2 as a double title of one person (see the passage above) suggests that we should not seek to distinguish between the functions of the ἐπίτροπος and those of the οἰκονόμος, but regard οἰκονόμος as Paul’s synonym for κηδεμών and, like that word, a further description of the ἐπίτροπος. Cf., also, Seneca, De Beneficiis, Lib. IV, chap. XXVII, ad fin.: quomodo dementissime testabitur, qui tutorem filio reliquerit pupillorum spoliatorem: “As he makes a most mad will who leaves as tutor to his son one who has been a spoiler of orphans.” There remains, however, the difficulty that we have no knowledge of a guardianship the period of which is fixed by the father. If, therefore, the apostle is speaking of inheritance of property from a deceased father, dying while the son is still a child, he must apparently be speaking in terms of some usage not otherwise definitely known to us.

In view of this fact, recourse may be had to a guardianship established for special reasons during the lifetime of the father, such as is illustrated in the case of Antiochus Epiphanes and his son, Antiochus Eupator. In 1 Mac. 3:32, 33 it is stated that Antiochus Epiphanes, being about to go on a military expedition into Persia, left Lysias ἐπὶ τῶν πραγμάτων τοῦ βασιλέωςκαὶ τρέφειν Ἀντίοχον τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἕως τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι αὐτόν. In 1 Mac. 6:17 it is said that when Lysias knew that the king was dead he set up Antiochus, his son, to reign in his stead, whom he had brought up (ἔτρεψεν). From these two passages it appears that Antiochus, the father, appointed Lysias to be steward of the affairs of the kingdom and guardian of his son until a specified time, in effect directing that such stewardship and guardianship terminate by the resumption of authority by the father on his return, or by succession of his son on the father’s death. While, therefore, the precise terms used by Paul do not occur, equivalents of all three of them (ἐπίτροπος, οἰκονόμος, προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός) are found in the passage in 1 Mac. This equivalence is, moreover, somewhat confirmed by certain passages in 2 Mac. In 10:11 it is stated that Antiochus Eupator, παραλαβὼν τὴν βασιλείαν,

3. οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι· “So also we, when we were children, were enslaved under the elements of the world.” ἡμεῖς is best understood as referring to Christians generally, the predicates of the sentence describing their pre-Christian condition. For, though the language of vv. 3-5 is specially appropriate to Jewish Christians and was probably written with them specially in mind, as that in v. 6 was probably written with the Gentile Galatians especially in mind, yet the use of the same or the equivalent expressions with reference to those who are included under the first person, ἡμεῖς, and those who are addressed (in the second person), together with the change in pronoun or the person of the verb when there is no antithesis but, on the contrary, continuity of reference is required by the argument, shows that these grammatical changes do not mark a substantial change of persons denoted. Cf. ἡμοῖςδεδουλωμένοι of v. 3 with οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος of v. 6 (notice especially the implication of οὐκέτι that the persons addressed —the Galatians—had previously been in bondage), and observe that in v. 5 τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον (third person) are evidently the same who constitute the subject of ὑπολάβωμεν, that in v. 6 ἡμῶν is used of those who are the subject of the verb ἐστέ, and that it is scarcely less clear from the nature of the argument that there is no real change of persons referred to (other than the change of emphasis above mentioned) in passing from v. 5 to v. 6. A comparison of ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι of this verse with πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν ἐπὶ τὰστοιχεῖα οἶς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε of v. 9 points in the same direction, v. 9 clearly implying that the previous condition of the Galatians, as well as that to which they are now in danger of turning, was a bondage to the στοιχεῖα, while v. 8 as distinctly marks them as having previously been worshippers of idols, and 3:1-6 shows that they had come to faith in Christ not through judaism as proselytes, but directly from their worship of idols. On the bearing of the phrase ὑπὸ νόμον on the inclusiveness of ἡμεῖς, see on v. 4. For a change of person similar to that which takes place in passing from v. 5 to v. 6, cf. 3:26 and notes there. Jews and Gentiles are therefore classed together as being before the coming of Christ in the childhood of the race, and in bondage, and the knowledge of religion which the Jews possessed in the law is classed with that which the Gentiles possessed without it under the common title, “the elements of the world,” τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου. On the meaning of this phrase, see detached note, p. 510. For a direct assertion of what is here implied as to the common standing of Jews and Gentiles as concerns possession of truth (but without reference to its inferiority to the Christian revelation), see Romans 2:14, Romans 2:15.


אD*F G 33, 442, 463 read ἤμεθα δεδουλ.; ABCDb et cKL. most cursives Clem. Chrys. Euthal. Thdrt. read ἦμεν. Despite the weightier external evidence for ἦμεν the strong improbability that for the common ἦμεν the unusual ἤμεθα would be substituted is decisive for the latter.

4. ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, ἐξαπέστειλενθεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, made subject to law.” That the time of all important events, and so pre-eminently that of the coming of the Christ, was fixed in the purpose of God, was probably a common thought of early Christianity (Mark 1:14, John 2:4, John 2:7:8, 30, etc. Acts 17:26, Ephesians 1:10; cf. Tob. 14:5). It was evidently shared by the apostle (Romans 3:26, Romans 5:6). Whether he thought of the time as fixed by the necessity that certain things must first be accomplished, or that the world reach a certain condition (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3ff.), or as appointed to occur after the lapse of a certain definite period (cf. Daniel 9:24ff.) is not here or elsewhere in the epistles clearly indicated. Cf. Bous. Rel. d. Jude 1:2, pp. 278 ff. That it was associated in his mind with the two ages (cf. on 1:4) is probable, yet the fulness of the time did not mark the beginning of the new age, since the former was past, the latter still future. The words ἐξαπέστειλενθεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, though in themselves capable of referring to the sending of Jesus as God’s Son out among men from the seclusion of his private life (cf. Acts 9:30, Acts 11:22, John 1:6) must yet, in view of the apostle’s belief in the pre-existence of Jesus, as set forth in 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 2:6ff. Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:16, and of the parallelism of v. 6, be interpreted as having reference to the sending of the Son from his pre-existent state (ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, Philippians 2:6) into the world. This is also confirmed by the two expressions that follow, both of which (see below) are evidently added to indicate the humiliation (cf. Philippians 2:7, Philippians 2:8) to which the Son was in the sending forth subjected, the descent to the level of those whom he came to redeem. For if ἐξαπέστειλεν referred simply to a sending forth among men, as a prophet is sent forth under divine commission, these expressions would mark his condition previous to that sending forth, and there would be no suggestion of humiliation, but, rather, the contrary. Yet on the other hand, ἐξαπέστειλεν need not, probably should not, be limited to the entrance into the world by and at birth, but should rather be understood as extending to, and including, the appearance of Jesus among men as one sent from God. On the expression τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, equivalent to τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, see detached note on Titles and Predicates of Jesus, V D, p. 408, for discussion of the evidence that the phrase here refers to the pre-existent Son and that it has special reference to the Son as the object of divine love, in the enjoyment of filial fellowship with God. Cf. also vv. 6, 7. The phrase γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός can not be interpreted as excluding human paternity, as some interpreters, both ancient and modern, have maintained (cf. Sief. and Zahn ad loc.). See, e. g., Job 14:1, βροτὸς γεννητος γυναικός. Matthew 11:11, ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν. It could be reasonably supposed to imply birth from a virgin only in case it were otherwise established that the apostle knew and accepted the dogma or narrative that Jesus was so born, and not even then would it be certain that this phrase was intended to refer to this aspect of Jesus’ birth. But of such knowledge or acceptance the writings of the apostle give no hint. γυναικός is probably, like νόμου in the following phrase, not indefinite, but qualitative, and the phrase is best translated “born of woman.” On ὑπὸ νόμον, cf. 3:23. There is no occasion to take it here in any other sense than that which it has there, “under law as a system of legalism.” See note on 3:13. It was from this subjection that Christ came to deliver men. See 5:18 and cf. 5:13, 14, as showing that those who are in Christ still remain under law as an ethical principle. Cf. also 1 Corinthians 9:20, Romans 6:14, Romans 6:15. In applying this phrase to Jesus the passage resembles Philippians 2:8, but differs in that there it is to God and here to law that he is said to be subject. That Paul carried his conception of Jesus’ subjection to law to the point of supposing that he was in his own thinking a legalist is wholly improbable; the subjection to law was, doubtless, rather in the fact of his living under legalistic judaism, obliged to keep its rules and conform to its usages. The motive for the insertion of the phrase is doubtless to emphasise the cost at which the Son effected his redemptive work; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9.


Τὸ πλήρωμα is evidently used in the active sense, “that which fills,” τοῦ χρόνου being an objective genitive; the whole period which must elapse before the event being incomplete till its last increment is added, the last moment, which fills it, is called πλήρωμα. It is, in the language of the illustration, ἡ προθεσμία τοῦ πατρός (v.2).

The words γενόμενον ὐπὸ νόμον should probably be taken in the sense “made subject to law” rather than “born under law,” for, though γενόμενον ἐχ γυναιχός evidently refers to birth, that reference is neither conveyed by, nor imparted to, the participle, but lies wholly in the limiting phrase. This idea is, therefore, not of necessity carried over into the second phrase. Had the apostle desired to express the idea “born” in both phrases, he could have done so unambiguously by the use of γεννηθέντα. Concerning the time of the subjection to law, whether at birth or subsequently, γενόμενον says nothing decisive. Both participles are best understood as attributive participles used substantively (BMT 423) in apposition, therefore, with τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, the omission of the article giving to each phrase a qualitative force which may be expressed in English by translating “his Son, one born of woman, one made subject to law.” The employment of the aorist presents the birth and the subjection to law as in each case a simple fact, and leaves the temporal relation to ἐξαπέστειλεν to be inferred solely from the nature of the facts referred to (BMT 142, 143). The thought is not very different if the participles be taken as adverbial participles of attendant circumstances (BMT 449, 450). But the phrases are best accounted for as intended not so much to express the accompaniments of the sending as directly to characterise the Son, describing the relation to humanity and the law in which he performed his mission.

5. ἵνα τοὺς ὑπο νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ, “that he might deliver those that were under law.” The phrase ὑπὸ νόμον is, doubtless, to be taken in the same sense as in v. 4 and 3:23, viz.: “under law” legalistically understood. But while in those cases the context shows that the law actually referred to is the O. T. law, the context here (see above on the inclusiveness of ἡμεῖς in v. 3 and note the second person in v. 6, with its unambiguous inclusion of the Galatian Gentiles) implies that τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον includes both Jews and Gentiles. That Paul conceived the Gentiles to possess a law, and that of divine origin, appears from Romans 2:14, Romans 2:15 (cf. 1:19, 20); and though the phrase ὑπὸ νόμον is usually employed with reference to the legalism that grew up on Jewish soil, yet that Paul was aware that the law whose work is written in the heart might also be externalised and made legalistic is intrinsically probable and is confirmed by 1 Corinthians 9:20, where τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον, standing as a middle term between Ἰουδαίις and τοῖς



And this in turn conveys an intimation that Paul already had a thought akin to that expressed in Hebrews 5:7-9 with reference to the relation between the limitations of the earthly life of Jesus and his redemptive work. Yet how he conceived that the deliverance was accomplished, whether as in 3:13 through his death, or through his life experience reaching its climax in his death (cf. Philippians 2:7, Philippians 2:8), this verse in no way decides. That the apostle conceived that Jesus himself had passed through an experience like that of Paul, referred to by him in 2:19, in that he also had discovered that one does not come into the enjoyment of a filial relation to God through obedience to statutes, and that this was embodied in the teaching of Jesus, is not in itself improbable, but is not intimated either here or elsewhere in his letters.

ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν Romans 9:4 it denotes the choice of Israel to be sons of God (cf. Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Deuteronomy 14:2, Hosea 11:1). In Romans 8:14, Romans 8:15 they are said to be υἱοὶ θεοῦ who are led by God’s Spirit, and it is added: “For ye have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received a spirit of adoption (πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας) whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” In Romans 8:23υἱοθεσία is defined as consisting in the redemption of the body, doubtless because in Paul’s thought only through the resurrection and the clothing of the spirit in the spiritual body does man enter into the fulness of fellowship with God (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:13, 1 Corinthians 15:14, 1 Corinthians 15:44). In Ephesians 1:5 adoption is spoken of as that which men are foreordained of God to obtain through Jesus Christ. ἡ υἱοθεσία is, therefore, for Paul, God’s reception of men into the relation to him of sons, objects of his love and enjoying his fellowship, the ultimate issue of which is the future life wherein they are reclothed with a spiritual body; but the word may be used of different stages and aspects of this one inclusive experience. The article τήν is, doubtless, restrictive, pointing to the thought of vv. 1, 2 that at the time appointed of the father the child is released from subjection to tutors and governors, and comes into direct relation to the father as a mature son—an intimation more fully developed in v. 6.


The meaning “sonship” would satisfy most of the passages in which υἱοθεσία occurs, but there is no occasion to depart from the etymological sense, “installation as a son.” This does not, however, justify reading back into v. 1 the idea of adoption, and from this again carrying it back through χληρονόμος into the διαθήχη of 3:15, for Paul is not careful to maintain the consistency of his illustrations. He employs here his usual term because he is speaking of the establishment of those who have previously not had the privileges of a son in the full enjoyment of them.

Whether ἴνα

To take ὅτι as meaning “that,” making ὅτιυἱοί the proposition to be established, and then to supply after it “is proved by the fact” (Philippi, following ancient interpreters), or to take ὅτι in the sense of quod, “as respects the fact that” (Wies.), introduces unwarranted complication into a sentence which is on its face complete and simple. That in Romans 8:14, Romans 8:15 sonship is apparently proved by possession of the Spirit does not forbid our interpreting this passage as making the sonship the ground of the bestowal of the Spirit; for not only is the language of Romans 8:14, Romans 8:15 open to interpretation as an argument from effect to cause, in which case there also adoption precedes possession of the Spirit, but if the reverse is true there, antecedence of sonship to the bestowal of the Spirit, clearly indicated in this passage, is explicable by the fact that υἱοθεσία (see on v. 5) is used by the apostle of different stages of the process by which men come to the full possession of the relationship of sons to God, and that the context implies that it is the first and objective stage of which he is here speaking.

Precisely the phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ does not occur elsewhere in N. T., but in Philippians 1:19 Paul uses τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and in Rom 8:9c πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ (cf. also 2 Corinthians 3:17, Acts 16:7, 1 Peter 1:11, Hebrews 9:14 Revelation 19:10). Particularly instructive is Romans 8:9, Romans 8:10, where (a) πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν, (b) πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ ἔχειν, and (c) Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν all express the same fact of experience. It is manifestly also the same experience for which Paul employs in Galatians 2:20 the phrase ζῂ͂ ἐνἐμοὶ Χριστός and in 5:25 ζῶμεν πνεύματι. Historically speaking, the sending of the Son and the sending of the Spirit are distinguished in early Christian thought, most markedly so in the fourth gospel (John 3:17, John 3:7:39, John 3:16:7; but note also that the coming of the Spirit is practically identified with the return of the Son), but also in Paul (cf. the ἐξαπέστειλεν of v. 4 with the same verb in this v.). The two terminologies, that of the Christ and that of the Spirit, have also a different origin, both, indeed, having their roots largely in O. T., but being there and in later Jewish thought quite distinct. But in the experience of the early Christians the Christ who by his resurrection had become a spirit active in their lives, and the Spirit of God similarly active, could not be distinguished. Cf. Burton, Spirit, Soul, and Flesh, p. 189. Precisely to what extent this experiential identification of the heavenly Christ and the Spirit of God has caused a numerical identification of them as personalities is difficult to say. Apparently the apostle Paul, while clearly distinguishing Christ from God the Father (see 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 2:6-8, etc.) and less sharply distinguishing the Spirit from God (Romans 5:5, Romans 5:8:7, Romans 5:8, Romans 5:9, Romans 5:14, Romans 5:15), is not careful to distinguish the Spirit and Christ, yet never explicitly identifies them. Cf. Wood, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature, pp. 229-231. The choice of τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ ὑ̓οῦ αὐτοῦ for this passage in preference to any of its equivalents is due, on the one side to the necessity of distinguishing the fact referred to from the historic coming of the Christ (4:4), which excludes τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ and Χριστόν, and on the other to the desire to connect this experience closely with the gift of Christ, which excludes τὸ πνεῦμα or τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ.

On εἰς τὰς χαρδίας ἡμῶν, added to emphasise the transition from the objective sonship to the subjective experience, see Romans 5:5, Romans 5:1 Cor. 2:22, Ephesians 3:17. It is in the heart, as the seat of intellectual and spiritual life in general (1 Corinthians 2:9, Romans 9:2, Romans 10:1, etc.) and in particular of the moral and spiritual life (2 Corinthians 4:6, Romans 1:12, Romans 1:24), that the Spirit of God operates. The use of the expression here shows that ἐξαπέστειλεν refers (not as the same word in v. 4 does) to a single historic fact (the day of Pentecost, e. g.), but to the successive bestowals of the Spirit on individuals (cf. 3:3), the aor. being, therefore, a collective historical aor. (BMT 39). On the translation of an aor. in such a case, see BMT 46, 52. On ἡμῶν, undoubtedly to be preferred to ὑμῶν, a Western and Syrian reading, see on v. 3.

κράζον Ἀββάπατήρ. “crying, Abba, Father.” The recognition of God as Father is the distinguishing mark of the filial spirit. The participle κράζον agreeing with πνεῦμα ascribes the cry to the Spirit of God’s Son; yet it is undoubtedly the apostle’s thought that it is the expression of the believer’s attitude also. For the Spirit that dwells in us dominates our lives. See chap. 2:20, 5:25, and cf. Romans 8:15: ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας, ἐνκράζομεν Ἀββάπατήρ. The use of κράζον, usually employed of a loud or earnest cry (Matthew 9:27, Acts 14:14, Romans 9:27) or of a public announcement (John 7:28, John 7:37), in the Lxx often of prayer addressed to God (Psalms 3:5, Psalms 107:13), emphasises the earnestness and intensity of the utterance of the Spirit within us. Though the word κράζον itself conveys no suggestion of joy, it can hardly be doubted that the intensity which the word reflects is in this case to be conceived of as the intensity of joy. Though to be free from law is to obtain adoption, sonship in its full realisation is more than mere freedom from law. The significance of such freedom lies, indeed, precisely in the fact that it makes it possible that a truly filial relation and attitude of man to God shall displace the legal relation that law creates, that instead of our looking upon God as lawgiver in the spirit of bondage and fear (Romans 8:15) he becomes to us Father with whom we live in fellowship as his sons. See detached note on Πατήρ as applied to God, p. 391.



πατήρ, Greek equivalent of the Aramaic Ἀββά, אִבָּא, is a nominative form with vocative force. Cf. Romans 8:15, Mark 14:36, Matthew 11:26, John 20:28; Bl. D. 147.3. The repetition of the idea in Aramaic and Greek form gives added solemnity to the expression, and doubtless reflects a more or less common usage of the early church (see Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15). On the origin of this usage, see Th. s. v. Ἀββά, Ltft. ad loc., Sief. ad loc. It is quite likely that the use of the Aramaic word was derived from Jesus, being taken up into the vocabulary of Greek-speaking Christians through the medium of those who, knowing both Aramaic and Greek, in reporting in Greek the words of Jesus used this word with a sort of affectionate fondness for the very term that Jesus himself had used to express an idea of capital importance in his teaching. This is more probable than that it was taken over into the Christian vocabulary from that of the Jewish synagogue in which the idea of God as Father had so much less prominent place than in the thought and teaching of Jesus. See Bous. Rel. d. Jude 1:2 pp. 432-3, 434; Dal. WJ. p. 192. The attachment of the Greek translation ὁ πατήρ to the Aramaic word would naturally take place on the passage of the term into Greek-speaking circles.


7. ὥστε οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος

εἰ δὲ υἱός, καὶ κληρονόμος διὰ θεοῦ, “and if son, then heir through God.” That here as throughout the passage υἱός means υἱὸς θεοῦ needs no specific proof; it is sufficiently indicated in the expression τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ in vv. 4, 6, and the relation of this expression to υἱός. This obviously suggests that κληρονόμος means κληρονόμος θεοῦ. Cf. Romans 8:17: εἰ δὲ τέκνα, καὶ κληρονόμοι· κληρονόμοι μὲν θεοῦ, συνκληρονόμοι δὲ Χριστοῦ. To this conception the phrase διὰ θεοῦ adds the thought, “made so by God,” thus equivalent to κατὰ θέλημα θεοῦ; cf. 3:29, κληρονόμοι κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν. The purpose of the addition is perhaps to remind the Galatians that their position as heirs is due to divine grace, not one of right or desert, but more probably to emphasise the certainty of their possession of it. The absence of the article before θεοῦ makes the noun not indefinite but qualitative, emphasising the divineness of the one through whom they were made heir. Cf. on θεόν, v. 7. The reversion to the thought of the κληρονομία expressed in 3:18, 29 shows that the apostle has not lost sight of his main purpose throughout this and the preceding chapter, viz., to convince the Galatians that it was not through law but through the retention of their freedom from it that they could obtain the blessings promised to the sons of Abraham, which the judaisers had held before their eyes as a prize greatly to be desired but obtainable only through circumcision. The appeal of the apostle is to retain the status they already possess. Cf. v.6, “ye are sons,” and v. 9, “how turn ye back?” That he should not here employ the term υἱοὶ Ἀβραάμ, as in 3:7, but κληρονόμοι, as in 3:29, is natural, not only because κληρονόμοι more distinctly suggests the idea of the blessing to be received, but also because after υἱοί, meaning sons of God, sons of Abraham would have the effect of an anticlimax. κληρονόμοι should, therefore, be taken here in the sense, heirs of God, and as such recipients of the blessing promised to Abraham’s seed; this blessing has already been defined as justification, acceptance with God, possession of the Spirit. Cf. 3:7-14. It is, moreover, as present possessors of the κληρονομία that they are κληρονόμοι. That other blessings are in store for them is undoubtedly a Pauline thought (Romans 5:11, Romans 8:17-23), and that the conception of the κληρονόμος easily lends itself to the presentation of this phase of the matter, that which has been received being thought of as simply the earnest and first-fruit of the full blessing (see Romans 8:17-23, Ephesians 1:14) is also true. But the Galatians already possess the promised Spirit, and the emphasis in this context is upon that which is already possessed, with no clear indication that the thought goes beyond that.




Against the supposition—at first sight most natural—that the term as here used is intended to carry the thought back specifically to κληρονόμος in v. 1, is the fact that κληρονόμος is there applied to one who not having yet entered into possession of his κληρονομία is in the position of νήπιος and δοῦλος, precisely that position, therefore, which it is the purpose of this v. to deny; and, though the title κληρονόμος carries with it the idea of future release from the status of δοῦλος, the contention of the apostle is here not that the Galatians will be, but already are, sons and no longer slaves. It is more probable, therefore, that by this word he reverts for the moment to the idea of κληρονόμοι in 3:29 (cf., also, 3:18), heirs according to the promise made to Abraham, i. e., possessors of the blessing promised to Abraham and to his seed. This is not to take κληρονόμος as meaning heir of Abraham, a predicate which the apostle never applies to Christians. They are indeed called “sons of Abraham,” because it is to the seed of Abraham that the promise applies, but it is God who established the διαθήκη and makes the ἐπαγγελία, and they to whom the promise is fulfilled are his κληρονόμοι. Cf. on 3:15 and detached note on Διαθήκη, p. 496. This also makes it evident that the term κληρονόμος is not used in its strict sense of heir, i. e., recipient of the property of another who has died, or prospective recipient of the property of another when he shall have died, but, tropically, possessor of a promised possession.

The fact that κληρονόμοι here means heirs of God, and the deduction of heirship from sonship, itself inferred from an act of adoption, υἱοθεσία, gives a certain colour of support to Ramsay’s view that the διαθήκη of 3:15ff. is not a covenant but a will, and specifically a will involving the adoption of a son. If the language of 3:15ff. were harmonious with these suggestions of the present passage, the latter would fall in with that passage as part of an illustration consistently carried through the whole passage. But (1) the possibility of interpreting this phrase in the way above suggested is not sufficient ground for setting aside the strong counter-evidence that by διαθήκη he means not a will, but a covenant. Even if the expression here employed could be shown to involve the idea of adoption by will and inheritance as an adopted son, this would only show that the apostle is now illustrating the spiritual relations which are the real subject of his thought by a different group of facts of common life from those which he employed in 3:15ff. But (2) it is improbable that it is specifically an adoptive sonship that the apostle has in mind in εἰ δὲ υἱός. For, though he represents the son-ship of the Galatians in common with other believers as acquired by adoption, yet the fact of adoption is nowhere emphasised, and in the actual spiritual realm that which is illustratively called adoption carries with it, as a consequence, the bestowal of the Spirit of God’s Son, by which, it is implied, those who are sons come into like relation to God with that which the Son himself sustains. The conception of adoption, accordingly, falls into the background, leaving simply that of sonship.

8. Description of the former condition of the Galatians as one of bondage to gods not really such, and exhortation to them not to return to that state (4:8-11)

Again directly addressing the Galatians as in 3:1, and as in v. 1 characterising their former condition as one of enslavement, the apostle describes them as in bondage to gods that were not in reality such, and appeals to them, now that they have come into fellowship with God, not, as they threaten to do by their adoption of the Jewish cycle of feasts and fasts, to return to those weak and beggarly rudimentary teachings under which they formerly were, and expresses his fear that he has laboured over them to no purpose.

8But at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to the gods that are not such by nature. 9But now having come to know God, or rather having become known by God, how is it that ye are turning back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, to which ye wish to be in bondage again? 10Ye are observing days and months and seasons and years. 11I fear that in vain have I spent my labour on you.

8. Ἀλλὰ τότε μὲν οὐκ εἰδότες θεὸν ἐδουλεύσατε τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσι θεοῖς· “But at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to the gods that are not such by nature.” Doubling, so to speak, upon his course, the apostle reverts to the condition of the Galatians before they received his message, and in antithesis 1 Corinthians 8:5, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Corinthians 8:10:19, 20, Colossians 2:15. Cf. also Deuteronomy 4:19 and see literature cited in special note on Τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, p. 510.


Τότε refers to the past time implied in οὐκέτι (v. 7), when the Galatian Christians were still δοῦλοι; note the ἐδουλεύσατε of this sentence.

Εἰδότες is a perfect participle of existing state, μὴ εἰδότες meaning “not possessing knowledge.” How this state of ignorance came about is not here discussed, or whether it was partial or absolute. Cf. Romans 1:18ff.

The omission of the article with θεόν makes the word not indefinite (as in Acts 12:22, 1 Corinthians 8:4), but, as in v. 7 and very often, qualitative, referring definitely to the one God, but with an emphasis on his attributes as God, which is lacking when he is called ὁ θεός. For a similar use of θεός, with strong emphasis on the qualities of deity, see John 1:18, θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἐώρακεν πώποτε, where the contrast, however, is not between one in reality God, as compared with those not really such, but between God in the absolute sense, incapable of being directly known, and God as revealed in the person of the Son. For other examples of this indubitable, though often overlooked, qualitative use of personal appellations without the article, see Romans 1:21: γνόντες τὸν θεὸν οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόδοξαν. Romans 8:33, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:14, Galatians 5:21, Philippians 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:9: ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Other examples more or less clear, but together clearly establishing the usage, are very numerous. See note on chap. 2:6, pp. 88 ff., detached note on Πατήρ as applied to God, p. 384, and Slaten, Qualitative Nouns in the Pauline Epistles, pp. 64-68.


Ἐδουλεύσατε is a simple historical aorist, not inceptive, referring not to a point of time but to a period, BMT 38, 39, 41 Rem.

Φύσις, from φύω, is properly that which belongs to a person or thing by virtue of its origin; then its essential character; used thus even of the divine nature, which is without origin, 2 Peter 1:4. φύσει μὴ οὖσι may be an adjective element limiting θεοῖς, or οὖσι may be an adjective participle used substantively, with θεοῖς as a predicate after it. In the former case the beings referred to are characterised as gods, but with the qualification that they are not so by nature, i. e., in reality; in the latter case they are not called θεοί at all, but are characterised negatively only, as beings that by nature are not gods. Grammatically and contextually there is no ground of decisive choice between these, but 1 Corinthians 8:5, showing that Paul could apply the term θεοί to the gods of the Gentiles, though denying that it really belonged to them, favours the first interpretation. The comparison of Plato, Legg. X 904 A, οἱ κατὰ νόμον ὄντες θεοί, perhaps suggests what the positive element of the apostle’s thought was. He was speaking of “the gods of popular opinion,” as Jowett translates Plato’s phrase, Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:5, λεγόμενοι θεοί.

On οὐ with εἱδότες and μή with οὖσι, see BMT 485; the choice of negatives, though doubtless unconscious, probably reflects the feeling that οὐκ εἰδότες expressed a fact, τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς a conception, a description of a class, but without implication of its existence or non-existence. The few instances in which Paul uses οὐ with an attributive participle are quotations from the Lxx, his otherwise regular habit being to use μή with such participles and with adverbial participles not involving a direct assertion (Romans 1:28, Romans 2:14, Romans 4:17, Galatians 6:9). οὐ, with the possible exception of Colossians 2:19, in effect negatives an assertion (1 Corinthians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 4:9:26, 2 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 12:4).

9. νῦν δὲ γνόντες θεόν, μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ θεοῦ, “But now having come to know God, or rather to be known by God.” Their coming to know God is manifestly through the apostle’s preaching. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9: πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν Psalms 1:6, Nahum 1:7, 1 Corinthians 8:3, Matthew 7:23, and on the thought of God receiving the Gentiles into a favour not previously enjoyed by them, see Romans 9:25f., Romans 11:30. This fact respecting Gentiles in general the apostle conceived to be realised in respect to the Galatians in particular through his preaching the gospel to them in accordance with his commission as apostle to the Gentiles. The purpose of this added phrase, in a sense displacing the previous γνόντες, etc., is doubtless to remind the Galatians that it is not to themselves but to God that they owe their knowledge of him and escape from idolatry (cf. chap. 1:6: μετατίθεσθε Ephesians 2:8), and so to emphasise the folly and wrong of abandoning this advantage through another ἐπιστρέφειν.

Though γινώσκω does not always retain its inchoative force (see Th. s. v.) even in the aorist, yet this is often clearly discernible (cf. Luke 24:18, 1 Corinthians 1:21), and the aorist participle in particular always, apparently, retains this meaning, signifying either “having learned, having come to know,” or “knowing” (result of having come to know), not “having known.” See Matthew 16:8, Matthew 22:18, Matthew 26:10, Mark 6:38, Mark 15:45, Luke 9:11, John 5:6, Acts 23:6, Romans 1:21, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 2:9. By γνόντες there is, therefore, affirmed the acquisition of that knowledge the former possession of which is denied in οὐκ εἰδότες. Of any other distinction between εἰδότες and γνόντες, as, e. g., that the former denotes an external knowledge that God is, the latter an inner recognition of God, there is no basis in usage or warrant in the context. The absence of the article with θεόν is not without significance (cf. Romans 1:21, γνόντες τὸν θεόν. 1 Corinthians 1:21: οὐκ ἔγνωκόσμοςτὸν θεόν), being doubtless due to the same cause that led to the omission of the article in v. 8 (q. v.), viz., emphasis upon the qualities of deity in antithesis to the φύσει μὴ ὄντες θεοί. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 quoted above, noting τὸν θεόν in the first mention of God, and θεῷ without the article when the word follows the mention of the idols and with emphasis on the qualities of true deity. One might imperfectly reproduce the effect in English by reading with strong emphasis on the word God. But now having come to know [a] God (not those that are no real gods).

Μᾶλλον δέ, following a negative phrase, introduces and emphasises its positive correlate (Ephesians 4:28, Ephesians 5:11); following a positive expression it introduces an additional and more important fact or aspect of the matter, not thereby retracting what precedes (probably not even in Wisd. 8:20, certainly not in Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 14:1, 1 Corinthians 14:5, 1 Corinthians 14:2 Mac. 6:23), but so transferring the emphasis to the added fact or aspect as being of superior significance as in effect to displace the preceding thought. So clearly here, as in Romans 8:34, etc.

πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν ἐπὶ τὰ Romans 3:6, Romans 6:2, Matthew 7:4, Matthew 7:12:26, Matthew 7:29, et freq. The present tense presents the action as already in progress. (Observe that in the examples cited, when a theoretical possibility is spoken of the tense is a future or a form referring to the future, but in chap. 2:14 it is a present, referring, as in this case, to something in progress.) This corresponds with the representation of the situation in Galatia given in 1:6: θαυμάζωὅτιμετατίθεσθε. Cf. also θέλετε in next clause. The phrase τὰ άσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα manifestly refers to what v. 3 calls τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου; see on that v., and detached note, p. 510. The present expression emphasises the ineffectualness and poverty of the old religious systems in contrast with the power and richness of the gospel. See chap. 5:6, 16-24, Romans 1:17, Romans 1:8:3, Romans 1:4. It is, of course, that to which they were now turning that is specially in mind, yet the former heathenism, included under the στοιχεῖα by implication of the repeated πάλιν, is also thereby stigmatised as Romans 8:3 of the law, ὁ νόμος, is affirmed of it, not because of anything peculiar to it as distinguished from the still more imperfect ethnic systems, but because of that which was common to them both, and his usual term for the displaced system is not ὁ νόμος, but νόμος (see, e. g., chap. 3:2, 10, 11.Romans 3:20, Romans 3:21a. etc.). The word θέλετε in the appended relative clause expresses forcibly the inclination of the Galatians to abandon the Pauline gospel. Cf. θέλοντες, v. 21.


Δουλεῦσαι is attested by אB only; all other authorities apparently read δουλέυειν. The former is quite certainly a modification of the original text under the influence of πάλιν ἄνωθεν, which naturally calls for an inceptive form. The scribe missing the reference of the present to a second period of enslavement, substitutes the aorist to express the idea of a return to bondage. πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεῦσαι would have furnished no temptation to change it.

Πάλιν originally meaning “back” (return to a previous position; cf. L.&S. and Th. s. v. and reff. there) but more commonly, in later Greek, “again” (repetition of a previous action) is often used when the repetition involves return to a previous state or position (Mark 2:1, Mark 3:1); but also (like the English “again”) when the action is a return to a previous state through reversal, not, strictly speaking, repetition. So in chap. 1:17, John 10:18, Romans 11:23. So also here, since there had been no previous ἐπιστρέφειν ἐπὶ τὰστοιχεῖα, but only an εἷναι ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα, and the contemplated ἐπιστρέφειν was not a repetition of a previous act but a reversal of the ἐπιστρέφειν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9), here described in γνόντες θεόν. Wieseler’s statement, “Das πάλιν, welches hier wiederum, nicht rückwärts, heisst, weist auf eine frühere Bekehrung (ἐπιστροφή) hin, nämlich auf die ihrem, v. 8 erwähnten Heidenthume gegenüber in dem νῦν δέ u. s. w. angedeutete Bekehrung von den Götzen (ἐπιστροφὴ Mark 2:1, Mark 3:1, etc.), the repetition involves also return to a former position. Cf. 5:1. It is enforced by the nearly synonymous ἄνωθεν “anew.” It is probably an overrefinement to find in this use of the two words (cf. Wisd. 19:6) anything more than emphasis, such as is often expressed in Greek writers by αὖθις, ἄνωθεν, etc.


10. ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε καὶ μῆνας καὶ καιροὺς καὶ ἐνιαυτούς. “Ye are observing days and months and seasons and years.” That the days, etc., referred to are those which the Jewish law required to be observed is made certain by the unquestioned character of the influence to which the Galatians were yielding. See esp. v. 21. Compared with 5:1ff., in which it appears that the question of adopting circumcision was still pending, and 5:3, which indicates that the Galatians had not yet been asked to adopt the whole law, this sentence indicates that the judaisers had pursued the adroit course of presenting to them at first a part only of the requirements of the Jewish law and had begun with those things that would be least repulsive. Having secured the adoption of the festivals, and perhaps the fast-days, of the Jewish cycle, they were now urging circumcision. Whether, however, the feasts and fasts were all that the Galatians had adopted as yet, is not made clear, since the apostle may have mentioned these only as examples of their subjection to the law. But the silence of the letter about any statute of the law except circumcision, which they had not yet adopted, and the fasts and feasts, which they had, there being, for example, no mention in connection with the situation in Galatia of the law of foods, leaves no positive ground for supposing that any points except these had been raised.

On παρατηρεῖσθε, “ye observe, keep religiously,” cf. Jos. Ant. 3. 91 (5:5): παρατηρεῖν τὰς ἐβδομάδας. 14. 264 (10:25), παρατηρεῖν τὴν τῶν σαββάτων ἡμέραν. Contra Ap. 2. 282 (39, Whiston 40): οὐδὲ ἓν ἔθνος ἔνθαπολλὰ τῶν εἰς βρῶσιν ἡμἴν οὐ νενομισμένων παρατετήρηται. Nowhere in the Lxx does the word appear with this meaning, and in non-biblical writers instances have been observed only in Dion Cassius, 38. 13, τὰ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γιγνόμενα παρατηρεῖν. It occurs here only in N. T. in this sense, τηρεῖν being used in Matthew 19:17, John 8:51, Acts 15:5, etc.; φυλάσσειν in Matthew 19:20, Luke 11:28, Acts 7:53, Romans 2:26, Galatians 6:13, etc.


Ἡμέρας probably refers primarily to the sabbath days, but includes also the feasts, which are observed each on a single day.

Μῆνας, strictly “months,” may be used by metonymy for monthly recurring events (cf. Isaiah 66:23). If used in the strict sense, the word probably refers to the seventh month (see Num., chap. 29), for, though there were feasts in other months, no other month was so occupied with celebrations that it itself could be said to be observed. But it is more likely that the reference is to the celebration of the appearance of the new moon which marked the beginning of the month, this being in a sense an observance of the month. See Numbers 10:10, Numbers 10:28:11; cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31, Colossians 2:18.

Καιρούς, in itself indefinite as to either length or frequency of celebration, probably here refers to a class of celebrations not limited to a single day, thus to the great feasts, Passover, Tabernacles, etc. (see 2 Chronicles 8:13, ἐν τοῖς σαββάτοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς μησὶν καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἐορταῖς, τρεῖς καιροὺς τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, ἐν τῇ ἐορτῇ τῶν Zechariah 8:19.


Ἐνιαυτούς, “years,” may refer to the year of Jubilee or the sabbatical year. So Ell. Ltft. et al., esp. Barton (JBL. XXXIII, 118 ff.), who, referring it to the sabbatical year, founds on this interpretation an argument for the dating of the epistle in the year 54 or 55 A. D., this in turn carrying with it the conclusion that the letter was written to churches in North Galatia, so called. The doubt of Benzinger (Encyc. Bib. II 1514) whether these year-long celebrations were ever actually observed is perhaps scarcely justified in view of 1 Mac. 6:49-53; Jos. Ant. 13. 234 (8:1), 14. 475 (16:2); Bell. 1. 60 (2:4). But in view of the fact which the epistle clearly shows, that the Galatians had not yet undertaken to keep the whole law, not even having at all generally accepted circumcision (cf. on 4:1, 5:3), it must be regarded as very improbable that among the requirements of the law already adopted was a custom economically so burdensome and socially so difficult as the sabbatical year. It is, therefore, much more probable that, as he speaks of the observance of the new moon as an observance of months, so by the observance of years he means the celebration of the beginning of the year, probably on the first of the month Tishri. Against this view Barton urges it as a fatal objection that since the Talmud includes New Year’s Day among the great festivals and calls these by a word equivalent to καιροί, therefore Paul’s ἐνιαυτούς, if it refers to New Year’s Day, has already been included in καιρούς (see Barton, op. cit., p. 120). But it is quite unsafe to argue that because the Talmud includes New Year’s Day among the great feasts, therefore Paul included it in the καιροί. Moreover, non-exclusiveness of his terms is in itself not improbable. Formal exactness in such matters is not characteristic of Paul. It is, indeed, most likely that, as used here, μῆνας is included in ἡμέρας, and ἐνιαυτούς in καιρούς or ἡμέρας, the four terms without mutual exclusiveness covering all kinds of celebrations of days and periods observed by the Jews.

11. φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς μή πως εἰκῇ κεκοπίακα εἰς ὑμᾶς. “I fear that in vain have I spent my labour upon you,” i. e., that the labour which I bestowed on you is to result in nothing. A paratactically added expression of the apostle’s feeling in view of the tendency of the Galatians to adopt legalistic practices, which clearly indicates his estimate of the deadly character of legalism. Should they really come under its dominion, his labour would have been for naught. For the expression of the more hopeful feeling, between which and that of fear of the outcome expressed here the letter swings, see 5:10.

Γ̔μᾶς is best regarded as proleptically employed, not properly an object of φοβοῦμαι, but anticipating the ὑμᾶς in the subordinate clause. Cf. W. LXVI 5, and such N. T. examples as Mark 12:34, Acts 13:32, Galatians 1:11. It is true that as a rule the object accusative anticipates the subject of the subordinate clause. But that this is not uniformly the case, see Krüger, Gr. Sprachl. 61. 6:6, and the example there cited: τὴν νῆσον ταύτην ἐφοβοῦντο μὴ ἐξ αὐτῆς τὸν πόλεμον σφίσι ποιῶνται, Thuc. 4. 8:5. μὴ κεκοπίακα is then an object clause after a verb of fearing. The indicative is employed because the fact spoken of is, as an event, already past, though the result is undecided or not yet known to the writer. See BMT 227, and cf. on chap. 2:2. On εἰκῇ cf. 3:4. The meaning here is evidently “without effect.” The perfect κεκοπίακα, referring to a past action and its existing result, is appropriately employed, since it is precisely the result of his action that the apostle has chiefly in mind. εἰς ὑμᾶς is equivalent to a strengthened dative of advantage, “for you.”


9. An affectionate appeal to the Galatians to enter fully into their freedom from law, referring to their former enthusiastic reception of the apostle and affection for him, and expressing the wish that he were now with them and could speak to them in more persuasive language than he had formerly used (4:12-20)

Dropping argument, the resumption of which in vv. 21-31 is probably an after-thought, the apostle turns to appeal, begging the Galatians to take his attitude towards the law, referring to the circumstances under which he had preached the gospel to them, and the enthusiasm and personal affection with which, despite an illness which made him unattractive to them, they had received him and his message. He compares his own zealous pursuit of them with that of his opponents, justifying his by its motive, but expresses, also, the wish that he could be present with them right now and speak in a different tone from that, by implication harsher one, which he had employed on some previous occasion when he had “told them the truth.”

12Become as I am (or have become), because I am as ye are, I beseech you, brethren. 13Ye did me no wrong, but ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you on that former occasion; 14and that which was a temptation to you in my flesh, ye did not reject or despise, but ye received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15Where, then, is that gratulation of yourselves? For I bear you witness that ye would, if possible, have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16So that I have become your enemy by telling you the truth! 17They zealously seek you, not honestly, but wish to shut you out that ye may seek them. 18But it is good to be zealously sought after in a good thing, always, and not only when I am present with you, 19oh, my children, with whom I travail again in birth pangs till Christ be formed in you. 20But I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone; because I am in perplexity in reference to you.

12. Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ, ὅτι κἀγὼ ὡς ὑμεῖς, Philippians 3:4ff., esp. v. 8. Cf. also 1 Corinthians 9:21.


It affects the sense but little whether with κἀγώ we supply εἰμί or γέγονα (or ἐγενόμην); γέγονα corresponds best with γίνεσθε and the actual facts, since the apostle’s freedom from law was the result of a becoming, a change of relations. On the other hand, εἰμί corresponds best with εστέ, which must be supplied with ὑμεῖς and better fits the parallelism, which is evidently intended to be paradoxical. The interpretation of Chrys. et al., according to which ἤμην is supplied after κἀγώ, giving the meaning, “because I was formerly under law as ye now are,” is open to the two objections: (a) that, the reference to past time being essential to the thought, ἤμην could hardly have been left to be supplied, and (b) that the appeal, to be effective, must be not simply to the apostle’s former state, which he has now abandoned, but to his present state or his abandonment of the former state.

οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε· 13. οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι διʼ

Διʼ 2 Corinthians 12:7, ἐδόθη μοι σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, may not improbably be understood to refer to the same fact. But neither of these latter identifications are certain. Of the many explanations proposed, persecution, temptation to sensuality, spiritual trials, such as temptation to despair and doubt, wholly fail to meet the conditions. The language can refer only to some physical ailment hard to bear, and calculated to keep him humble and, in some measure, to repel those to whom he preached. Ltft. Lip. Dib. Gwt. pp. 46 ff., et al., favour epilepsy, Rückert et al. some affection of the eyes; Ramsay, reviving in part an ancient opinion, thinks it was fever with accompanying severe headache (St. Paul, pp. 94 ff., and Com. on Gal., pp. 422 ff.). For fuller list of conjectures, see Ltft. pp. 186 ff., Stanley, Com. on Cor., pp. 547 ff. Ramsay’s view could be sustained only by showing that fever was, in Galatia, regarded as an infliction of the gods, showing the sufferers to be under their special disapprobation. But that this was in any peculiar sense true of fevers is scarcely shown by anything that Ramsay advances. Cf. ut supra. The reference to a disease of the eyes, though favoured by v. 15, is weakened by the lack of any emphasis upon ὑμῶν indicated by position or otherwise. Epilepsy fulfils the conditions, but no better, perhaps, than many other diseases. The precise nature of the apostle’s suffering must be left undecided. No decisive inference can be drawn from this illness concerning the location of the Galatian churches. εὐηγγελισάμην is used here, as everywhere else in the epistle (1:8, 9, 11, 16, 23) in the specific sense, to preach the gospel, to bring the good news of salvation in Christ.

Πρότερος is a comparative adjective in frequent use from Homer down. πρότερον is employed as a temporal adverb from Pindar and, with the article, from Herodotus down. In the latter use it is usually the case that an event having happened twice (e. g., a place visited or a battle fought) or two periods of time being brought into comparison, and the latter having been specifically mentioned, τὸ πρότερον designates the earlier one. The two occasions or periods may both be in the past: Hdt. 2:144; Thuc. 1. 59:2, 3. 87:2, 116, 5. 65:5; Xen. Mem. 3. 8:1; Hell. 5. 3:15; Isoc. 59c (4:91), 151 d (7:53); Genesis 13:3, Genesis 28:19, Deuteronomy 9:18, Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:11:10, 1 Kings 13:6, Daniel 3:22, Daniel 3:1 Mac. 3:46, 4:60, 5:1, 6:7. Or one may be past and the other present: Thuc. 6. 86:1; Plato, Crat. 436 E; Rep. 522 A; Dem. 43:7, 33, 42, 47 48:29; Deuteronomy 2:20, Joshua 14:15, Joshua 15:15, Judges 1:10, Judges 18:29. Or one may be past and the other future: Isaiah 1:26, Jer_37 (30):20, 40 (33):7, 11, 1 Mac. 6:59. Occasionally the two events are not similar but contrasted. See exx. of this usage in Xen. An. 4. 4:14; Nehemiah 13:5, Job 42:5, 1 Timothy 1:13. πρότερον without the article signifies in enumerations “first,” implying also a second in the series (Hebrews 7:27); or “on a former occasion,” without implying either repetition or contrast, though the context sometimes suggests that what was πρότερον, “formerly,” no longer existed at the time denoted by the principal verb. Isaiah 41:22, John 7:50, 2 Corinthians 1:15, Hebrews 4:6. In a few cases τὸ πρότερον seems also to be employed in this way: Isoc. 70 (15:113), 354 c (16:27); Isaiah 52:4; Sus. 52; John 6:62, John 9:5. It is important to notice that when τὸ πρότερον designates the former of two occasions or periods, the later one is always one which is distinctly referred to or implied in the context, never, so far at least as the above examples or any others that have been cited show, one which is itself implied only in that an earlier one is called τὸ πρότερον, the former. In other words, in observed instances it implies no duality except that of an occasion mentioned in the context (which may be past, present, or future), and of the event to which τὸ πρότερον itself applies. Yet it is obvious that the knowledge of the readers might supply what is lacking in the context. While, therefore, τὸ πρότερον in this passage does not imply two previous visits, it does not exclude the possibility of them, despite the fact that we have no extant example of πρότερον referring to the former of two occasions neither of which is otherwise referred to in the context. To this should be added the evidence of vv. 16 and 20 (q. v.), slightly confirmed by 1:9, that between his first visit to Galatia and the writing of the present letter Paul had communicated with the Galatians, either in person or by letter. There are, accordingly, three possibilities: (a) τὸ πρότερον implies no comparison of occasions of preaching, but means simply “formerly.” Against this is the apparent needlessness of the phrase, if this is all that it means. It is so self-evident that his preaching in Galatia was formerly, that the inclusion of the word in this sense is seemingly motiveless. (b) The apostle regarded the present letter as a reiteration of the gospel in its distinctive features, and referred to the one and only oral proclamation of the gospel as on the former occasion, as compared with the letter. Against this is the fact that on the hypothesis that this letter is considered a preaching of the gospel, and in view of the evidence of an intervening communication cited above, the present preaching was the third, which renders it improbable that the first would be said to be τὸ πρότερον. Against it is also the fact that Paul and N. T. writers generally use εὐαγγελίζομαι of oral preaching only. Yet there is nothing in the word itself to exclude a reference to publication in writing, and ἡ γραψὴπροευηγγελίσατο of 3:8 is perhaps some evidence that Paul might use the simple verb in the same way. (c) It being known to the Galatians that Paul had preached to them orally twice, τὸ πρότερον self-evidently meant for them on the former of these two occasions. This takes the verb and τὸ πρότερον in their usual sense, and though involving a use of τὸ πρότερον with reference to the former of two events, knowledge of the second of which is supplied by the readers, not by the context—a usage which is without observed parallel—is, on the whole, the most probable. Parallels would in the nature of the case be difficult to discover, since they could be recognised only by evidence not furnished in the context. It remains, however, that the significance of τὸ πρότερον depends on the question of fact whether Paul had actually preached twice in Galatia before writing this letter; τὸ πρότερον itself does not prove him to have done so. See further in Introd. p. xlv.

That τὸ πρότερον implies two visits to Galatia is the view of Alf. Ltft. Sief. (Zahn, two or more) Bous., and many other modern interpreters from Luther down. Sief. quotes Grot. and Keil for the second of the views stated above. Vernon Bartlet, in Expositor, Series V, vol. 10 (1899), p. 275, explains τὸ πρότερον as meaning “at the beginning,” in the earlier part of his evangelising visit, and as suggesting that it was only the initiation of his work that was occasioned by his illness, the continuance of it being for other reasons. He supports this view by the contention that εὐαγγελίζομαι refers to the presentation of the gospel to a people who have not received it, and, therefore, can not be used to cover two visits (a statement sufficiently refuted by Romans 1:15, Romans 15:20). No instances of τὸ πρότερον in this sense are cited, nor does it seem to be justified by usage. The view of McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 228, that τὸ πρότερον refers to the eastward journey from Antioch to Derbe, the later, implied, journey being the return westward, does less violence to the usage of τὸ πρότερον and εὐαγγελίζομαι. But inasmuch as the letter is addressed to all the churches of the group, and the most eastern would on this theory have been visited but once, it is improbable that the apostle would have spoken of the journey up and back as involving two evangelisations of them.

14. καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε, οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, “and that which was a temptation to you in my flesh, ye did not reject or despise.” On ὑμῶν as objective genitive after πειρασμόν cf. Luke 22:28. The whole phrase, τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου, stands, as the following verbs show, by metonymy for some such expression as ἐμὲ πειράζοντα ὑμᾶς διὰ τὴν Psalms 22:24 (25). πειρασμόν is probably temptation rather than simply trial; there was something in the apostle’s physical condition which tempted them to reject him and his message. ἐξεπτύσατε, not found in the Lxx and here only in N. T., is found in Greek writers from Homer down.



Sief.’s attempt, following Lach. and Butt., to escape the difficulty that πειρασμόν is not logically the object of sἐξουθενήσατε and ἐξεπτύσατε by placing a colon after σαρκί μου, thus making πειρασμόν the object of οἴδατε, and ἐξουθενήσατε the beginning of a new sentence, is extremely forced, and in view of Psalms 22:24 (25) is quite unnecessary.

Though in all other extant instances ἐκπτύω is used of a physical act, “to spit out,” the impossibility of such a sense here and the fact that the similar compounds of πτύειν (cf. Revelation 3:16: μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου) are used in the tropical sense, make it unnecessary to question the tropical meaning, “to reject,” here.

ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, “but ye received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.” ἄγγελος is commonly used by Paul not in its general sense of “messenger” (Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:24, Luke 7:27, Luke 7:9:52, Mark 1:2, James 2:25), for which he uses 2 Corinthians 8:23, Philippians 2:25), but an “angel,” a superhuman being. Cf. 1:8, 3:19, 1 Corinthians 4:9, 1 Corinthians 4:13:1; M. and M. Voc. s. v. This is doubtless its sense here. That Paul was God’s “messenger” is implied by the context, not the word. The use of θεοῦ without the article emphasises the qualitative character of the phrase, and brings out more strongly the dignity ascribed to Paul as God’s representative. Cf. on v. 8. The sentence, however, means not that they supposed him actually to be superhuman, but that they accorded him such credence and honour as they would have given to an angel of God. Note ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν and cf. Philemon 1:17. ἐδέξασθε suggests the idea of welcome more distinctly than would have been done by ἐλάβετε or παρελάβετε. Cf. chap. 1:9, 12, 3:2; yet see also 2 Corinthians 11:4, where both verbs occur. ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν is a climactic addition. Cf. Romans 8:38, Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:16. The force of ὡς is the same as with ἄγγελον. As to the relation of the apostle to Christ Jesus which makes such reception possible, see 2 Corinthians 5:20.

The meaning of the sentence would not be materially different if ἄγγελον were taken in the not impossible sense of “messenger.” Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7, where ἄγγελος Σατανᾶ is similarly ambiguous, the phrase referring figuratively to a bodily affliction of some kind. Yet, that in both cases the word itself denotes a superhuman being is rendered probable by Paul’s evident belief in such beings and his usual use of the word. See Everling, Die paulinische Angelologie und Dämonologie, pp. 59 ff. Dib. Gwt. pp. 45 ff.

15. ποῦ οὖνμακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν· “Where, then, is that gratulation of yourselves?” The question is rhetorical, implying that the gratulation has ceased, but without good reason. Cf. Luke 8:25: ποῦπίστις ὑμῶν; and for instances with different implication, see Romans 3:27, 1 Corinthians 1:20, 1 Corinthians 1:12:17, 1 Corinthians 1:19. οὖν has the force of quae cum ita sint, referring to the facts stated in vv. 13, 14. ὑμῶν is probably objective genitive after μακαρισμός, “declaration of blessedness,” as is τοῦ Romans 4:6. Even if ὑμῶν be taken as subjective genitive (Sief.), it would be necessary to understand it as referring to a gratulation of themselves, not of others, as is shown clearly by the following sentence introduced by γάρ and referring to the enthusiasm of the Galatians in receiving Paul. On the use of the simple pronoun for the reflexive, see Rob. p. 681, and the examples in the immediately preceding and following sentences, πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν and ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν.


Ποῦ is the reading of אABCFGP 33, 104, 424**, 442, 1912 f g Vg. Syr. (psh. harcl. mg.), Boh. Arm. Euthal. Dam. Hier. Pelag. Of these f Vg. Boh. (?) Arm. Hier. al. add ἐστίν after οὖν. DKL al. pler. d Goth. Syr. (harcl. txt.) Thdr. Mop. Sever. Chr. Thdrt. Thphyl. Oec. Victorin. Aug. Ambrst. al. read τίς instead of ποῦ. DFGK al. pler. d e Goth. Chr. Thdrt. Aug. Ambrst. add ἦν after οὖν. The choice is between ποῦ οὖν and τίς οὖν ἦν, the other readings being corruptions or conflations of these. Internal evidence is indecisive. Mey. and, following him, Zahn prefer τίς οὖν ἦν. But the strong preponderance of external evidence requires the adoption of ποῦ οὖν. The alternative reading is probably an unintentional clerical corruption, ΠΟ being converted into ΤΙΣ, and Υ omitted to make sense.

μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν ὂτι εἰ δυνατὸν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ μοι. “For I bear you witness that ye would, if possible, have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.” A confirmation immediately of the assertion implied in ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν but indirectly of the affirmation of their former favourable attitude, which began with οὐδὲν ἠδικήσατέ με, v. 13. That he dwells on this matter at such length and states it so strongly shows the apostle’s strong desire to reinstate himself in the affections of the Galatians. The language escapes hyperbole only by the expression εἰ δυνατόν. The inference from the reference to the eyes that Paul’s weakness of the flesh was a disease of the eyes, though slightly favoured by εἰ δυνατόν in preference, e. g., to εἰ

Υμῖν is not an indirect object denoting the person who receives the testimony (cf. Acts 15:8), but dative of advantage, denoting the one to whose credit witness is borne (cf. Acts 22:5, Romans 10:2, Colossians 4:13). εἰ δυνατὸνἐδώκατέ μοι is evidently a hypothesis contrary to fact, ἄν being omitted. Cf. BMT 249 and Matthew 26:24, John 9:32, John 15:22, John 19:11. On the mention of the eyes as the most precious members of the body, cf. Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalms 17:8, Zach. 2:8, and on ἐξορύσσω of the plucking out of the eyes, see Hdt. 8:116: ἐξώρυξε αὐτῶνπατὴρ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς διὰ τὴν αἰτίην ταύτην (viz., for going to war against his command), and other exx. cited by Wetst., ad loc., also Lxx, Judges 16:21 (A; B reads ἐκκόπτω); 1 Samuel 11:2. Jos. Ant. 6. 69 (5:1) uses ἐκκόπτω; Matthew 5:30, Matthew 18:9, ἐξαιρέω. Of mention of the plucking out of one’s eyes as an act of self-sacrifice no example other than the present has been pointed out.

16. ὥστε ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα Romans 5:10, Romans 11:28), but in the active sense, “hostile to,” “hater of,” since in N. T. (Matthew 5:43, Romans 12:20, et freq.) and (according to Sief. ad loc., citing Dem. 439:19 1121:12; Xen. An. 3. 2:5; Soph. Aj. 554) in classical writers also, ἐχθρός with the genitive regularly has this active sense. The passive sense requires a dative expressed or understood. Xen. Cyr. 5. 4:50, etc. It follows that the phrase ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν expresses not the fact as Paul looked at it, but the view which the Galatians were taking or disposed to take; and the sentence is either a question asking (indignantly) whether [they hold that] he has indeed become hostile to them by telling the truth, or an exclamation expressing in ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα the view which the apostle sadly recognises the Galatians are taking of him, and in


The question when the truth-speaking referred to in

17. ζηλοῦσιν ὑμᾶς οὐ καλῶς, Hebrews 13:18), i. e., not sincerely and unselfishly, but with selfish motive. That from which these opponents of Paul wish to exclude the Galatians is not stated; the context implies either (a) the privilege of the gospel, i. e., the sense of acceptance with God which those have who believe themselves to have fulfilled the divine requirements, or (b) the circle of those who hold the broader view, Paul and his companions and converts, who maintain that the Gentiles are accepted if they have faith and without fulfilling the requirements of the law. In either case, the effect of such exclusion would be that the Galatians would turn to the Jewish Christians for guidance and association, and the latter would be in the position of being sought after (ζηλοῦτε). The verb ἐκκλεῖσαι rather favours the former interpretation, since it is not natural to speak of one group of persons as shutting others out from another group; a verb meaning to alienate, or to cause separation from, would be more probable. On ζηλοῦτε, see Bl.-D. 93; BMT 198. Whether we have here an irregularity of form (ζηλοῦτε being thought of as subjunctive) or of syntax (ζηλοῦτε being an indicative after ἵνα) is not possible to determine with certainty.


18. καλὸν δὲ ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν καλῷ πάντοτε, καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς “But it is good to be zealously sought after in a good thing, always, and not only when I am present with you.” Most probably a reference to his own persistent seeking after the Galatians, which he by implication characterises as ἐν καλῷ in contrast with that of the judaisers, which was οὐ καλῶς, and for the continuance of which, even while absent, he justifies himself by this statement, enforced by v. 19. This interpretation retains as the implied subject of the passive ζηλοῦσθαι the object of the active ζηλοῦτε in v. 17b, and best comports with the tone of v. 19 into which he passes from this v. apparently without break in thought.

Ζηλοῦσθκι must be taken as a passive, no instance of the middle being found elsewhere, and there being no occasion for change from active to middle form. ἐν καλῷ defines the sphere in which alone καλὸν ζηλοῦσθαι is true. πάντοτε is in evident antithesis to the following phrase, καὶ μὴπρὸς ὑμᾶς. The addition of this phrase, with its definite personal pronoun shows that καλὸνκαλῷ, though in form simply a general maxim, had in the apostle’s mind specific reference to the existing situation, the relations of the Galatians to Paul and his opponents. The words might therefore mean, “I do not object to others as well as myself seeking to gain your friendship, so only they do it in a good thing, in the realm of that which is for your good.” It is an objection to this interpretation that μὴ μόνονὑμᾶς awkwardly expresses the idea “by others as well as myself,” and that such a disclaimer of desire on the apostle’s part to monopolise the interest and affection of the Galatians does not lead naturally to v. 19. The words may also be explained by taking Paul as the implied subject of ζηλοῦσθαι. “It is a fine thing—I myself could desire—to be sought after, in a good thing—always, when I am away from you as well as when I am present.” In this case the sentence is a thinly veiled reproach of the Galatians for their fickleness in changing their attitude towards him, now that he is no longer with them. The change in implied subject of ζηλοῦσθαι without indication that the reference is now to the apostle himself is an objection to this interpretation, though not a decisive one; the apostle may have preferred to leave the reference somewhat veiled. But it is difficult on this interpretation to account for ἐν καλῷ, no such qualification being called for if the apostle is thinking of the Galatians seeking after him. Probably, therefore, the interpretation first proposed is the true one. δέ is in that case adversative, marking an antithesis between the ζηλοῦν of the judaisers, which he disapproves, and his own, which he justifies.

19. τέκνα μου, οὗς πάλιν ὠδίνω μέχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν. “oh, my children with whom I travail again in birth pangs till Christ be formed in you.” Language of deep affection and emotion, called forth by the previous words defending his right to continue his zealous efforts to hold the affection of his readers, and probably to be attached to the preceding v. The figure is after the fashion of the apostle, and extremely bold; τέκνα addresses them in affectionate tone as his children, i. e., as those whom he has already begotten or borne; οὗς πάλιν ὠδίνω represents them as again in the womb, needing a second (spiritual) birth, and himself as a mother suffering again the birth pangs, which must continue till Christ be formed in them, i. e., until it be true of them as of him that Christ lives in them (2:20).

Were it not for the δέ at the beginning of v. 20, v. 19 would naturally be taken as the beginning of a sentence and v. 20 as its completion. The occurrence of δέ, however, necessitates either connecting v. 19 with v. 18, as in WH., or assuming an anacoluthon at the beginning of v. 20, as in RV. The recurrence in v. 20 of the expression παρεῖναι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, used also in v. 18, implies a close connection between these vv. and makes it improbable that v. 19 begins a new line of thought, which is broken off at v. 20. The punctuation of WH. is therefore more probably correct than that of RV.

The figure of speech involved in ὠδίνω, though startling to modern ears, is unambiguously clear. The precise form of the thought expressed in μορφωθῇ is less certain. There are three possibilities: (a) In themselves the words not unnaturally suggest a reversal of the preceding figure, those who were just spoken of as babes in the womb, now being pictured as pregnant mothers, awaiting the full development of the Christ begotten in them. Such abrupt change of figure is not uncharacteristic of the apostle. In Romans 7:4, illustrating the relation of the believer to the law and to Christ by remarriage, following death, he makes the deceased one remarry, sacrificing illustration to the thing illustrated. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, if, as is probable, the true text is νήπιοι, the apostle in the same sentence calls himself a child, and a mother, and a nurse, each term expressing a part of his thought, and in v. 11 compares himself to a father. Nor is it a serious objection to this view of the present passage that the apostle has not elsewhere employed the figure of Christ being begotten in the believers. It would be easy to give examples of figures of speech employed by him but once, as, e. g., in this very verse the comparison of himself to a mother in birth pangs. Nor does he shrink from the employment of equally bold figures taken from the same general sphere. See Romans 7:4, where he speaks of the believer as married to Christ and as bringing forth fruit (children) to God, and 1 Corinthians 4:15 and Philemon 1:10, where he speaks of himself as the begetting father of his converts. The word μορφωθῇ (occurring nowhere else in Lxx or N. T.) is more consonant with this view than with any other. Cf. the use of the synonyms πλάσσω in Jeremiah 1:5, πρὸ τοῦ με πλάσαι σε ἐν κοιλίᾳ, Romans 9:20, 1 Timothy 2:13. The only weighty objection to this understanding of the figure is that it is not in itself strikingly appropriate for the spiritual fact to which the apostle evidently refers, and that when elsewhere Paul speaks of Christ in the believer (chap. 2:20, Colossians 1:27 et freq.) the language conveys no suggestion of pregnancy, but in less materialistic fashion denotes the indwelling presence of Christ. Yet over against this objection is to be set the fact that this passage contains, what all the others lack, the word μορφωθῇ, suggesting if not requiring the view that here the thought of the apostle takes on a different form from that which it has elsewhere. (b) It is perhaps not impossible that without reversal of figure the apostle thinks of his birth pangs as continuing till the child in the womb takes on the form of the begetting father, who is now thought of as being not Paul but Christ. The choice of μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν rather than, e. g., ὑμεῖς ἐν ὁμοιώματι Χριστοῦ μορφωθῆτε might in this case be due to the influence of the apostle’s favourite form of thought expressed in the formula Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν or the like. (c) The figure suggested by ὠδίνω may be dropped altogether, μέχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ referring figuratively, of course, but without specific thought of the birth process, to that spiritual process, the full achievement of which is elsewhere expressed by Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν and like phrases. Of these three conceptions of the apostle’s figure of speech the first seems somewhat the most probable; yet there is no perfectly decisive evidence for either as against the others. The spiritual fact for which the figure stands is substantially the same in any case. The reactionary step which the Galatians are in danger of taking, forces upon the apostle the painful repetition of that process by which he first brought them into the world of faith in Christ, and his pain, he declares, must continue till they have really entered into vital fellowship with Christ.


Against the strong external evidence for τέκνα, א*BD*FG Eus., there is no clearly pre-Syrian witness for τεκνία except Clem. Alex.; For אcACDb et cKLP al. pler. are predominantly Syrian. But combined with Clem. they probably mark the reading as of Alexandrian origin. The adoption of τεκνία by WH. txt. (mg. τέκνα) is a departure from their usual practice (cf. WH. II p. 342), for which there seems no sufficient warrant in the evidence.

20. ἤθελον δὲ παρεῖναι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἄρτι, καὶ 2 Corinthians 7:8, and for the letter to which he there refers, 2 Cor., chaps. 11-13.

On ἤθελον, cf. BMT 33; Rob. 885 f. The wish is evidently regarded as impracticable, though not distinctly characterised as such by the language. ἄρτι with more sharply defined reference to the present moment than νῦν means “at this very moment.” The clause ὅτιἐν ὑμῖν suggests for Luke 24:4, John 13:22, Acts 25:20, 2 Corinthians 4:8). ἐν ὑμῖν means “in respect to you,” as in 2 Corinthians 7:16.


10. A supplementary argument based on an allegorical use of the story of the two sons of Abraham, and intended to induce the Galatians to see that they are joining the wrong branch of the family (4:21-31)

Before leaving the subject of the seed of Abraham it occurs to the apostle, apparently as an after-thought, that he might make his thought clearer and more persuasive by an allegorical interpretation of the story of Abraham and his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, the one born in course of nature only, the other in fulfilment of divine promise. The two mothers he interprets as representing the two covenants, that of law and that of promise, and the two communities, that of the lineal descendants of Abraham, and that of those who walked in the footsteps of his faith. In the antagonism between the two sons, or their descendants, he finds a parallel to the persecution to which the Gentile Christians have been subjected at the hands of the Jewish Christians, and cites scripture to show that the former are rejected of God. The argument is in effect this: Would you be, as the judaisers have been exhorting you to be, sons of Abraham? Be so, but observe that of the Abrahamic family there are two branches, the slave and the free. We, brethren, whose relation to Abraham is spiritual, not physical, we are the sons not of the slave, but of the free.

21Tell me, ye that wish to be under law, do ye not hear the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the maid servant, and one by the freewoman. 23But the son of the maid servant was born according to the flesh; the son of the freewoman through promise. 24Which things are allegorical utterances. For these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai, bringing forth children unto bondage, which is Hagar 25(now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia) and corresponds to the Jerusalem that now is. For she is in bondage with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. 27For it is written, Rejoice thou barren woman that bearest not, break forth and shout, thou that travailest not. For more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband. 28And ye, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was born according to the Spirit, so also now. 30But what saith the scripture? Cast out the maid servant and her son. For the son of the maid servant shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. 31Therefore, brethren, we are children, not of a maid servant, but of the free-woman.

21. Λέγετέ μοι, οἱ ὑπὸ νόμον θέλοντες εἶναι, τὸν νόμον οὐκ Romans 6:14, Romans 6:15; the word νόμος thus bearing the same sense which it has constantly in this and the preceding chapter, divine law viewed by itself as a legalistic system. See note on 3:13 and detached note on Νόμος, V 2. c. On the other hand, τὸν νόμον in itself probably refers, as is indicated by 4:22, etc., to the O. T. scriptures (detached note, V 3), which, they had been taught, contained that legalistic system which they were urged to accept.


22. γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν, ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας· “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the maid servant, and one by the freewoman.” See Gen., chaps. 16, 17. παιδίσκη, properly referring to a young woman, and denoting age, not status, became among the Greeks a term for a female slave (see L.&S.) and is frequently so used in the Lxx.

23. Romans 1:3, Romans 9:5 and detached note on Πνεῦμα and Σάρξ, p. 492, 3 (a) under σάρξ), and διʼ ἐπαγγελίας, “through promise,” are antithetical, not by mutual exclusion, but in the fact that, though Isaac was begotten and born κατὰ σάρκα, his birth was also διʼ ἐπαγγελίας, and was significant because of this, while the birth of Ishmael was simply κατὰ σάρκα. On the ἐπαγγελία here referred to, see Genesis 15:4, Genesis 17:19, and cf. chap. 3:18. The perfect γεγέννηται is used in preference to the aorist ἐγενήθη, because the writer is thinking not simply of the historical fact but of the existing result of that fact, in the race of Ishmael’s descendants and especially (for γεγέννηται belongs in thought to both members of the sentence) in Isaac’s descendants.


WH. bracket μέν, omitted by B f Vg. Tert. Hil. Hier. Yet the concurrent omission of such a word by one Grk. ms. and a small group of Latin authorities seems to raise no serious question of its belonging to the text. Between διʼ ἐπαγγελίας (אAC 33, 442 al.) and διὰ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας (BDFGKLP al. pler. Or.) it is impossible to choose with confidence. Both readings are supported by good pre-Syrian groups. But the probability that Paul would have opposed to κατὰ σάρκα a qualitative διʼ ἐπαγγελίας rather than used the article in referring to a promise not previously mentioned seems to turn the scale in favour of διʼ ἐπ.

24. ἅτινά ἐστιν

The second of these meanings of the verb is excluded for the present passage by the fact that ἅτινα evidently refers either to the persons and events just named or to the statements concerning them, not to their spiritual significates, which have not yet been named; whereas this meaning occurs only in reference to the spiritual significates. If, then, we take into consideration the two remaining and for this passage only possible significations and the possible usages of the present participle in predicate, there result the following possible interpretations of ἐστιν Jeremiah 1:10. Such cases as Acts 15:27, Acts 15:21:3, 2 Peter 3:11 are only apparently vouchers for such a use of the participle, since, though they may be translated into English by “to be,” etc., they really denote not propriety, but impending futurity. To the same effect is the interpretation of Mey. Sief., “which things have an allegorical sense”; which is sustained neither by any recognised force of the participle nor by specific instances of such a meaning of the passive of this verb. (2) ἔστιν Romans 4:3: τί γὰργραφὴ λέγει; Romans 10:6; v. 26 below, el freq., and in the passive, Hebrews 7:13, ἐφʼ δν γὰρ λέγεται ταῦτα. But for this idea a periphrastic present would scarcely be used, the expression being, indeed, approximately “aoristic,” neither progression nor customariness being distinctly suggested. (3) The participle may be a present participle for the imperfect, referring to an action, strictly speaking, antecedent in time to that of the principal verb (BMT 127; Matthew 2:20, etc.). But the pres. part. is apparently never used in this way when the fact referred to belongs definitely to time distinctly past in reference to the principal verb, as must be the case here it the utterance is thought of as past at all. (4) It may be a general present participle equivalent to a noun, and meaning “allegorical utterances” (BMT 123, 432 (a); MGNTG p. 127); cf. John 12:6. τὰ βαλλόμενα “the deposits”; Romans 10:21, 1 Corinthians 15:29, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 2:5:24, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Galatians 5:3, περιτεμνόμενος, “one who receives circumcision”; 6:6, 13, Ephesians 4:28, Romans 11:26, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, ὁ ῥυόμενος, “the deliverer”; Philo, Leg. alleg. III 239 (85), ἵνα τὸ λεγόμενονγένται. It is true that N. T. furnishes no example of a present participle applied in just this way to utterances of scripture, such utterances, when designated by a participle used substantively, being always elsewhere expressed by a perfect participle (τὸ εἰρημένον: Luke 2:24, Acts 2:16, Acts 13:40, Romans 4:18; τὸ γεγραμμένον: Acts 13:29, Acts 13:24:14, 2 Corinthians 4:13, Galatians 3:10, Revelation 1:3) or by an aorist participle (τὸ ῥηθέν: Matthew 1:22 and ten other passages in Mt.). Yet in view of the frequent occurrence of the present participle of other verbs with substantive force (see exx. above) and of such expressions as ἡ γραφὴ λέγει (Romans 4:3, etc.), λέγεται ταῦτα (Hebrews 7:13; sc. ἐν γραφῇ), and ἡ γραφὴλέγουσα (James 2:23), and the apparent use of 1 Corinthians 9:8, 1 Corinthians 9:10, 1 Corinthians 9:10:4, favours the former.

It is doubtful whether any stress can be laid on the fact that Paul uses the compound relative ἅτινα rather than the simple ἅ. The generic force of ἅτινα, “which as other like things” (cf. Th. s. v. 2; MGNTG. p. 91 ff.; Ell. ad loc.) is appropriate enough in this place, conveying the thought that the predicate Romans 1:25, Romans 1:32, Romans 1:2:15, Romans 1:6:2, Romans 1:9:4, Romans 1:11:4, Romans 1:16:4, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 3:17, 2 Corinthians 8:10, Galatians 2:4, Galatians 5:4, Ephesians 4:19, Colossians 4:11, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:18, Titus 1:11, while οἵ occurs in Romans 16:7 only; αἵτινες occurs in Philippians 4:3, 1 Timothy 1:4, 1 Timothy 6:9, with no instance of αἵ; ἅτινα occurs, besides the present passage, in Galatians 5:19, Philippians 3:7, Colossians 2:23; the only certain instance of ἅ in nom. is Colossians 2:22; in 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Titus 2:1 it was probably felt to be accus.; in Colossians 2:17 the reading is uncertain; in Ephesians 5:4 it is possibly an accus., but more probably a nom. If, then, the three cases of ἅ in the nom. (probably or certainly such), viz. Colossians 2:17, Colossians 2:22, Titus 2:1, be compared with the instances of ἅτινα, it will be impossible to discover any difference in the relation of the relative clause to the antecedent that will account for the use of ἅτινα in one group and ἅ in the other. This is especially clear in Colossians 2:22, Colossians 2:23, where of successive clauses in entirely similar relation to what precedes the former uses ἅ and the latter ἅτινα. There is even less reason for ascribing to ἥτις in vv. 25, 26 any force different from that of the simple relative than in the case of ἅτινα here; for not only is it difficult to discover any of the logical relations sometimes intimated by the use of the compound relative, but Paul’s uniform employment of ἥτις for the fem. sing. nom. forbids any argument based on his use of it here in preference to ἥ.

αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι, μία μὲν Matthew 13:38, Mark 14:24; Philo, Cherub. 23 (7): γίνεται οὖν τὸ μὲν ἕτερον τῶν χερουβὶμἐξωτάτω (σφαίρα). On διαθῆκαι, here meaning “covenants,” not “testaments,” see detached note on Διαθήκη, p. 496. Of the two covenants here referred to, the first only is named, the phrase μίαΣινά identifying it as the covenant involved in the giving of the law, a familiar idea, as is shown by Hebrews 8:9 (quoting Jeremiah 31:32) 9:4, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 3:14, Sir. 24:23, Ps. Sol. 10:5. The ἑτέρα διαθήκη implied in δύο διαθῆκαι and μία is left unnamed, but is evidently that of which faith is the basal principle and which is referred to in 3:15-17 as a covenant in contrast with the law, which is not there designated as a covenant.


εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, “bringing forth children unto bondage,” i. e., bearing children destined to be slaves. The participle is adjective in force and timeless (BMT 123, 420). Applied to Hagar the phrase designates her as one who, being a slave woman, bears children who share her status of slavery. As applied to the Sinai covenant it refers to the fact that they who came under this covenant were in the position of slaves as being in bondage to the law. Cf. 4:1. The form of the expression, γεννῶσα, etc., is, of course, determined by the fact literally taken; there is nothing in the spiritual experience exactly corresponding to the child-bearing.

It is assumed in O. T. that in general the offspring of a man’s slaves were also his slaves. See Genesis 14:14, Genesis 17:12, Genesis 17:13. The status of the children which a slave concubine bore to her master is not definitely defined. The Genesis story of Hagar and Ishmael indicates that the slave mother remained a slave at least in cases in which she had been a slave before becoming her master’s concubine, and that her son was not ipso facto the heir of his father (Genesis 21:10), but suggests that the status of the son was at the option of the father.


ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἅγαρ, “which is Hagar.” The clause is best taken as identifying. On the force of ἥτις, see above on ἅτινα and on that of ἐστίν, see εἰσίν, above. This clause simply states that of the two women named above, Hagar represents in the allegory the covenant that proceeded from Sinai.

25. τὸ δὲ Ἅγαρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, “Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia.” It is not the woman Hagar (ἡ Ἅγαρ) of whom the statement is made, either as a historical person or as a character in the narrative to which he is giving an allegorical interpretation, but either the word, in which case ἐστίν affirms the equivalence of the two expressions Ἅγαρ and Σινὰ ὂρος (note the neuter article; cf. W. XVIII 3; Rob. 766), or, by association of ὄρος after Σινά with both Ἅγαρ and Σινά, the mountain (cf. WH. vol. II, ad loc., citing as parallel cases Romans 2:28ff. Romans 2:3:29). The clause accordingly implies that Mount Sinai was sometimes, directly or by implication, called Hagar or something sufficiently similar in sound to be so represented in Greek. Whether the statement is from the apostle or, as is on the whole more probable, a gloss from the hand of a scribe (see below, in discussion of the text), its intent is to confirm the previously affirmed identification of Hagar with the covenant proceeding from Sinai. Such a double name of the mountain has from the historical point of view no real value, of course, as proving a relation between Hagar and the Mount Sinai covenant; still less as proving that the favour of God rests on the spiritual followers of Abraham’s faith rather than on his physical descendants. But the statement is consonant with the allegorical method of interpretation which the whole paragraph illustrates. If it is a gloss, it is by that fact a parenthesis, and is probably so in any case. The use of δέ (rather than γάρ) is probably due to the fact that as a parenthesis it is felt to be additional and incidental rather than a part of the main argument. Cf. Th. s. v. 6, and, as illustrating the approximation of δέ and γάρ in meaning which led to their interchange, see 1:11.


The following are the readings of the first clause attested by ancient evidence:

(a) τὸ γὰρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστίν: אCFG 33 (but 33* app. τὸ δέ) f g Vg. Arm. Aeth. Orig. (both Lat. tr. and Gr. as testified by Athan.; see Zahn, p. 296, citing Goltz.). Sah. reads: quae vero mons Sina est. Goth. omits γάρ. It is important to note, however, that א adds ὄν reading: τὸ γὰρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστὶν ὂν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ “For Sinai is a mountain, being in Arabia.” But since without Ἅγαρ there would be no occasion to insert ὄν, the probability is that Ἅγαρ has fallen out, and that the testimony of א is really in favour of the presence of Ἅγαρ in the text. (b) τὸ γὰρ Ἅγαρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστίν: KL P 33** al. pler. Syr. (psh. et harcl. txt.) Arm. Chrys. Theod. Mops. Thdrt. Thphyl. (c) τὸ γὰρ Ἅγαρ ὂρος ἐστίν: d. (d) τὸ δὲ Ἅγαρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστίν: ABD 31, 442, 436, 40 lect. Syr. (harcl. mg.). Boh.: Ἅγαρ δὲ Σινά etc., some mss. omitting δέ.

Of these readings both the character of the witnesses to (b) and its apparently conflate character indicate that it is derivative; (c) is too slightly attested to be considered. Modern editors are divided between (a) and (d), Westcott, Ltft., Zahn adopting (a), Hort, Ws. Sief. (d). The latter seems, on the whole, best supported. If the presence of ὄν in א in effect makes that ms. a witness not against but for a text containing Ἅγαρ (cf. Sief. ad loc.), the external evidence is distinctly more favourable to (d) than to (a); and transcriptional probability is likewise in favour of (d), since whether through the accidental omission of ΔEA, or through a feeling of the difficulty of this reading, (d) is easily susceptible of modification into (a) while there is nothing in the form or meaning of (a) to make its conversion into (d) likely.

The difficulty of interpretation, especially the absence of definite evidence of any usage that would account for the identification of Hagar and Sinai, either as names or places suggests the possibility of an interpolation at this point. Bentley (Letter to Mill, p. 45; according to Ellis, Bentleii Crit. Sac., he afterwards changed his mind and adopted reading (a)) suggested that the words Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ were a marginal gloss afterwards introduced into the text; and Holsten, Das Evangelium des Paulus, I. 1, p. 171, et al., conjecture that the whole sentence τὸ δὲἈραβίᾳ is an interpolation. Cf. Clemen, Einheitlichkeit der Paulinischen Briefe, pp. 118 f.

Either of these conjectural emendations would remove the obscurity of the passage as representing the thought of Paul, and transfer the words to another writer who would perhaps feel no necessity for a better basis for this additional piece of allegorising than his own imagination, or who may have heard Mount Sinai called Ἅγαρ or the like. Of the two suggestions that of Holsten is the simpler and more probable, and, in view of the process by which the Pauline epistles were collected and transmitted, not in itself improbable. See notes on 3:16b and 3:20.

Precisely what the fact was of which the apostle thus avails himself (if he wrote the sentence) we do not with certainty know. It may have been that he was aware that the Arabians or certain tribes of them were called sons of Hagar (הַגְרִים, Ἁγγαρηνοί, Psalms 83:7; הִגְרִיאִים, Ἁγαρηνοί, 1Ch 5:19, cf. Ltft. ad loc.). Or he may have had in mind that there is an Arabic word, ḥagar, which may be reproduced in Hebrew as חגר and signifies “cliff, rock”; it is possible that the word may have been applied by the Arabs to that particular mountain which in Paul’s day was regarded as the scene of the giving of the law. To this it is no serious objection that the name of the mountain was on this theory חגר, while that of the woman was הגר, for scientific exactness in such a matter is not to be expected of an ancient writer. In the absence of definite evidence, however, that the word Ἅγαρ, or anything closely resembling it, was applied to a mountain also known as Σινά, all such suggestions must remain conjectures only. See Ltft., detached note, pp. 197ff. This fact has


influenced Ltft. Wies. Zahn, et al., to adopt the otherwise inferiorly attested reading τὸ γὰρ Σινὰ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, interpreting it, however, variously. Ltft. translates: “For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia,” i. e., in the land of bondsmen themselves descended from Hagar, and finds in this statement a confirmation not of ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἅγαρ, but of εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα. Zahn interprets “For Mount Sinai is in Arabia,” i. e., not in the promised land, the possession of which is the central element of the divine promise; from which it follows that the Sinai covenant does not involve the fulfilment of the promise, but, on the contrary, the enslavement of those to whom it is given. Both interpretations perhaps involve Paul’s assuming a knowledge on the part of the Galatians hardly likely to be possessed by them; but the decisive reasons are against the text rather than against the interpretation. See textual note. Ell. and Sief. reading τὸ δὲ Ἅγαρ understand the words ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ as defining not the location of Mount Sinai, but the region in which the name Hagar is applied to Sinai. This would be entirely possible if, instead of ἐστίν, Paul had written καλεῖται (with the necessary change in the order of the words preceding ὄρος), but of such a geographical expression used in this sense in such a sentence as this no example is cited.

συνστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἰερουσαλήμ, “and corresponds to the Jerusalem that now is.” Best understood as continuing ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἅγαρ after the parenthetical τὸ δὲ ἍγαρἈραβίᾳ. Yet the logical subject of συνστοιχεῖ is rather Ἅγαρ than ἥτις ( = μία διαθήκη), as δουλεύει γάρ indicates. The words continue the allegorical explanation of the O. T. passage, point by point. “The Jerusalem that now is” is manifestly used by metonymy for that Judaism of which Jerusalem was the centre.

The military use of συνστοιχεῖν, “to stand in the same file” (Polyb. 10. 23 (21) 7) suggests that the two terms referred to are in the same column, on the same side of the parallelism. Thus Ltft., who represents the thought thus:

Hagar, the bond woman. Sarah, the freewoman.

Ishmael, the child after the flesh. Isaac, the child of promise.

The old covenant. The new covenant.

The earthly Jerusalem. The heavenly Jerusalem.





But the language of the apostle (note the use of the singular number and the term-by-term parallelism) indicates that he is not simply putting things into two columns, one containing all that falls on the side of the bond and the other all that belongs to the free, but is pointing out the equivalents of the several elements of the narrative allegorically treated. If, then, it is necessary to take the word in the precise sense suggested by Polybius, the following would seem to be the diagram that would represent the thought, the items 1, 2, 3, 4, at the head of the several columns representing the four elements of the narrative on which the apostle puts an allegorical interpretation, and the items below each of these representing the things for which they stand.

(1) (2) (3) (4)

Hagar, the bond woman, bearing children unto bondage. Ishmael, born after the flesh, born unto bondage. Sarah, the freewoman (bearing free children). Isaac, born according to promise.

(a) (a)

The covenant from Sinai. The new covenant.

(b) (b)

The Jerusalem that now is. The children of Jerusalem in bondage to legalism. Jerusalem that is above. The children of Jerusalem above, according to promise, free.





Yet it is doubtful whether our interpretation should be so strictly governed by the Polybius passage (which is itself not perfectly clear, and to which no parallel has been cited). The use of the verb in Musonius (cf. L.&S.) in a less technical sense, and the use of συστοιχία in Aristotle (Metaph. 1. 5, 6 (986a23), et al., ) to denote the relation of the members of a correlative pair, such as “odd and even,” “right and left,” suggests that Paul here meant simply “is correlative to,” “in the parallelism between narrative and its allegorical significance is the corresponding term.” The statement of Sief. that this sense would require

26. ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν, “But the Jerusalem above is free.” Instead of a formally perfect antithesis, either the Jerusalem that now is, and the Jerusalem that is to be, or the Jerusalem on earth and the Jerusalem above, the apostle mingles the two forms. The same point of view from which the seed of Abraham are, not the Jews, but believers in Christ, makes the new Jerusalem not the Jewish capital, but the community of believers in Jesus the Christ, and the conception of that community as destined soon to take up its abode in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:15ff.) and as already living the heavenly life (cf. Philippians 3:20ff. Colossians 3:1-3) converts the Jerusalem that is to be, which would be the strict antithesis to the Jerusalem that now is, into the Jerusalem above (already existent). Hebrews 12:18ff. (see esp. v. 22) presents a similar contrast between Mount Sinai as the place and symbol of the giving of the law, and the heavenly Jerusalem as representing the community of believers (cf. v. 23), probably independently developed from the same root, not, of course, the source of Paul’s expression here. The freedom referred to in ἐλευθέρα is manifestly the same that is spoken of in 2:4, 5:1, and implied in antithesis to the δουλεία spoken of in 4:1-11.

The conception of a restored and beautiful Jerusalem appears even in the O. T., Ezek., chaps.40 ff. Zech., chap. 2 Haggai 2:6-9, and in other pre-Christian Jewish writings: Sir. 36:13ff. Tob. 13:9-18, 14:5, Ps. Sol. 17:33. In I Enoch 90:23, 29 the displacement of the old house by a new one is predicted (cf. Haggai 2:9). See Bous., Rel. d. Jude 1:2, p. 273; Charles, The Book of Enoch, note on 90:23. This conception of a new Jerusalem (though the precise phrase is apparently found first in Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:0Revelation 21:0:4EEzr 7:26, Ezra 7:13:36; Apoc. Bar. 32:2, which, like the Apocalypse of John, were written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D.) doubtless furnished the apostle with the basis of his conception here expressed.

ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ ἡμῶν· “which is our mother.” The form of expression is derived from the allegory of Hagar and Sarah; ἡμῶν refers to believers in Christ in general; the idea literally expressed would be, of which (community) we are members. The addition of πάντων by TR. may perhaps be traced to Polyc. Phil., chap. 3, or to the influence of Romans 4:16. On the force of ἥτις, see note on ἅτινα (v. 24).

27. γέγραπται γὰρΕὐφράνθητι, στεῖραοὐ τίκτουσα· ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον, ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα· ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλἠτῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.” “For it is written, Rejoice thou barren woman that bearest not, break forth and shout, thou that travailest not. For more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband.” The quotation is from Isaiah 54:1, and follows exactly the text of the Lxx (BאA Q), which neglects to translate the רִנָּה, “rejoicing,” “singing,” of the Hebrew. In the prophet the words are probably to be joined with 52:12; they are conceived of as addressed to the ideal Zion, bidding her rejoice in the return of the exiles, Yahweh leading (cf. 52:7-12). The barren woman is Jerusalem in the absence of the exiles, the woman that hath a husband is Jerusalem before the exile; and the comparison signifies that her prosperity after the return from exile was to exceed that which she had enjoyed before the captivity. There may possibly underlie the words of the prophet a reference to Sarah and Hagar as suggesting the symbolism of the passage (cf. 51:2), but there is no clear indication of this. The apostle, also, in quoting them may have thought of the barren woman as corresponding to Sarah, who till late in life had no child, and the woman that hath a husband to Hagar. But his chief thought is of the O. T. passage as justifying or illustrating his conception of a new redeemed Jerusalem whose glory is to surpass that of the old, the language being all the more appropriate for his purpose because it involved the same figure of Jerusalem as a mother, which he had himself just employed, unless, indeed, v. 26 is itself suggested by the passage which was about to be quoted. There is a possible further basis for the apostle’s use of the passage in the fact that its context expresses the thought that God is the redeemer not of Israel after the flesh, but of those in whose heart is his law (cf. 51:1-8, esp. v. 7). But whether the apostle had this context in mind is not indicated. The γάρ is doubtless confirmatory, and connects the whole statement with ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ ἡμῶν.


28. ὑμεῖς δέ,

Κατά in the sense “like,” “after the manner of,” occurs not infrequently in classic writers (L.&S. s. v. B. III 3) and in N. T. Cf. Ephesians 4:24, 1 Peter 1:15, 1 Peter 4:6, Hebrews 8:9. The position of ἐπαγγελίας (gen. of characteristic) is emphatic. The term is qualitative, but the reference is undoubtedly to the promise already repeatedly referred to in the epistle (3:16, 18, 21, 22). Whose children they are, whether sons of God or sons of Abraham is not emphasised; but the context as a whole implies the latter. To take τέκνα as meaning children of the Jerusalem above (Sief.) is to insist upon a closeness of connection with v. 27 which is not only not justified by anything in this v. but is practically excluded by the phrase κατὰ Ἰσαάκ and vv. 29ff.

29. 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:16) are also in mind is possible but not probable. The persecution of Isaac probably refers to Genesis 21:9, and the traditions that had gathered about it, but the apostle may also have had in mind the mutual hostility of the nations supposed to have descended from the two brothers.

The adversative Genesis 21:9 reads παίζοντα μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἑαυτῆς. On the possibility that this represents an original Hebrew different from our present Hebrew, and on the rabbinic expansion of the incident, see Ltft. ad loc. The Talmud (Beresch. Rabb. 53:15) says: “Dixit Ismael Isaaco: Eamus et videamus portionem noscram in agro; et tulit Ismael arcum et sagittas, et jaculatus est Isaacum et prae se tulit, ac si luderet.” (Quoted by Wies. ad loc.) For κατὰ πνεῦμα we should naturally expect κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν (3:29) or διʼ ἐπαγγελίας (v. 23). The introduction of πνεῦμα might naturally be explained as a substitution of the giver of the promise for the promise. But while Paul speaks of the Spirit as the content of the promise (3:14), he is not wont to speak of the promises or prophecies as given by the Spirit (cf. Mark 12:36), and in the absence of such usage it seems necessary to suppose that the phrase stands in the clause by a species of trajection from the clause which expresses the second element of the comparison, οὕτως καὶ νῦν. The full sentence would have read ὥσπερ γὰρἐδίωκε τὸν κατὰ ἐπαγγελίαν, οὕτως καὶ νῦνκατὰ σάρκα τὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα. Cf. Romans 8:5. That πνεῦμα is in the apostle’s vocabulary the usual antithesis to σάρξ (cf. 3:8, 5:16, 17, 6:8, Romans 8:4ff.) may also have had some influence. If the phrase be thought of strictly with reference to Isaac it must be explained by the fact that the promise pertaining to Isaac involved also the ultimate bestowal of the Spirit. Cf. 3:14. But see also Philo, Leg. alleg. III 219 (77): Ἰσαὰκ ἐγέννησενκύριος.

30. Genesis 21:10, and follows the Lxx except that it omits ταύτην after παιδίσκην and substitutes τῆς ἐλευθέρας for μου Ἰσαάκ at the end. The language is that of Sarah to Abraham, but probably neither this fact nor the statement of v. 12 that God said to Abraham, “In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice,” has anything to do with Paul’s use of this passage here. From the point of view of the allegorical interpretation every scripture is significant; cf. under v. 24. Allegorically interpreted the expulsion of Ishmael points to a rejection of the children of Abraham according to the flesh in favour of the sons of Abraham by faith.


31. διό,

This verse is so evidently by its very terms—note παιδίσκης, ἐλευθέρας, etc., occurring in the preceding verses but not after this point—the conclusion of the allegorical argument introduced in v. 21, that it is surprising that it should ever have been thought of otherwise. So, e. g., Meyer. It is a matter of less consequence whether v. 31 is an inference from v. 30 or the summary of 21-30. But since from v. 30, even if the premise, “we as Christians correspond to Isaac” (cf. Sief.), be supplied, the natural conclusion is not “we are children of the free,” but, “we as children of the freewoman are heirs of the promise”; it is more probable that we should take this sentence as the summation of the whole allegorical argument (cf. the use of διό in 2 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:11) and as expressing the thought which the apostle wished by this whole paragraph to impress upon the minds of the Galatians.












Cf. Confer, compare.

Lxx The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint. Quotations are from the edition of H. B. Swete. 3 vols. Cambridge, 1887-94.

B Burton, Ernest De Witt, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek. Third edition. Chicago, 1898.

Did. Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα Ἀποστόλων. Various editions.

Sief. Sieffert, F. Galatien und seine ersten Christengemeinden, in Zeitschrift für nistorische Theologie., vol. XLI, 1871.

* Dem. 952:19: λάβε δή μοι καὶ τὸν τῆς προθεσμίας νόμον. Plato, Legg. XII 954 D: ἐὰν δὲ κατʼ οἰκίας ἐν ἄστει τέ τις χρῆται, τριετῆ τὴν προθεσμίαν εἷναι, ἐαν δὲ κατ·

C C. Codex Ephrœmi Rescriptus. Fifth century. In National Library, Paris. As its name implies, it is a palimpsest, the text of the Syrian Father Ephrem being written over the original biblical text. New Testament portion edited by Tischendorf, 1843. Contains Galatians 1:21, ἔπειτα to the end, except that certain leaves are damaged on the edge, causing the loss of a few words. So e. g. ξῆλος or ξῆλοι, Galatians 5:20.


Chrys. Joannes Chrysostomus. † 407. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 228.

Euthal. Euthalius. 459. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 230, and Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Thdrt. Theodoretus. † ca. 458. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 230; Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Bous. Bousset, Wilhelm, in Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments. Göttingen, 1907. 2te Aufl., 1908.

Wies. Wieseler, Karl, Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Galater. Göttingen, 1859.

Th. Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament. New York, 1886. Rev. edition, 1889.

Ltft. Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions.

Kühner-Gerth Kühner, Raphael, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache. Dritte Auflage in neuer Bearbeitung, besorgt von Bernhard Gerth. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1898, 1904.

L.&S. Liddell, H. G., and Scott, R., Greek English Lexicon. Seventh edition revised. New York, 1882.

Ell. Ellicott, Charles John, A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1854. Various subsequent editions.

JBL The Journal of Biblical Literature.

Encyc. Bib. Encyclopedia Biblica. Edited by T. K. Cheyne and J. S. Black. 4 vols. London, 1899-1903.

W. Winer, G. B., Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Sprachidioms. Various editions and translations.

Introd. Introduction.

Grot. Grotius, Hugo (Huig van Groot), Annotationes in Novum Testamentum. Paris, 1644. See Sanday, Wm., and Headlam, A. C.. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Edinburgh and New York, 1895. , p. civ.

Butt. Buttmann, A., A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. E. T. by J. H. Thayer. Andover, 1873.

M. and M. Moulton, J. H., and Milligan, G., Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. 1914-.

Rob. Robertson, Archibald T., Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York, 1914.

33 33 (Tischendorf, Constantin, Novum Testamentum Grœce. 17). Ninth or tenth century. In National Library, Paris. Called by Eichhorn “the queen of the cursives.” Cited by Tischendorf in Galatians more frequently than any other cursive. Contains the Prophets as well as Gospels, Acts, Cath. Epp. and Paul.

424 424 (Tischendorf, Constantin, Novum Testamentum Grœce. Paul 67). Eleventh century. In Vienna. It is in the corrections of the second hand (424:2) that the pre-Syrian element especially appears. See Westcott and Hort, [Westcott, B. F., and Hort, F. J. A., The New Testament in the original Greek. London, 1881. Vol. I, Text; vol. II, Introduction and Appendix.] Introd. § 212, p. 155.

442 442 (Tischendorf, Constantin, Novum Testamentum Grœce. 73). Thirteenth century. In Upsala.

Vg. Vulgate, text of the Latin Bible.

Dam. Joannes Damascenus. † ca. 756. See Sanday, Wm., and Headlam, A. C.. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Edinburgh and New York, 1895. , p. c.; Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Hier. Eusebius Hieronymus (Jerome). † 420. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 232, and Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Thphyl. Theophylactus. Ca. 1077.

Victorin. C. Marius Victorinus. Ca. 360 a.d. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 231; Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.;

Aug. Aurelius Augustinus. Ca. 394. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 232; Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Ambrst. Ambrosiaster. Ca. 305 a.d. See Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. London, 1865. 2d ed., revised, 1866. Various later editions., p. 232; Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

K K. Codex Mosquensis. Ninth century. In Moscow.

Mey. Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm, Kritisch-exegetisches Handbuch über den Brief an die Galater. Göttingen, 1841, in Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament, 1832-59. E. T., with bibliography, by Venables and Dickson. Edinburgh, 1873-85. Various later editions. See also under Sieffert, F. Galatien und seine ersten Christengemeinden, in Zeitschrift für nistorische Theologie., vol. XLI, 1871.

Wetst. Wetstein (or Wettstein), J. J., Novum Testamentum Græcum. Amsterdam, 1751, 1752.

WH. Westcott, B. F., and Hort, F. J. A., The New Testament in the original Greek. London, 1881. Vol. I, Text; vol. II, Introduction and Appendix.

RV. The Holy Bible, Revised Oxford, N.T., 1881, O.T.1884.

Tert. Tertullian. † ca. 223. See Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

P P. Codex Porphyrianus. Ninth century. In Imperial Library, Petrograd. Published by Tischendorf in Mon. Sac. Ined. Bd. V, 1865.

M Moulton, J. H., A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Vol. I. Prolegomena. Edinburgh, 1906.

* Against the strong evidence that Paul ascribed historicity to the O. T. narratives, including those here referred to, the word

C C. Codex Ephrœmi Rescriptus. Fifth century. In National Library, Paris. As its name implies, it is a palimpsest, the text of the Syrian Father Ephrem being written over the original biblical text. New Testament portion edited by Tischendorf, 1843. Contains Galatians 1:21, ἔπειτα to the end, except that certain leaves are damaged on the edge, causing the loss of a few words. So e. g. ξῆλος or ξῆλοι, Galatians 5:20.


Cyr. Cyril of Alexandria. † 444. See Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines. Edited by Wm. Smith and Henry Wace. 4 vols. London 1877-87.

Cf. Confer, compare.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Galatians 4". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/galatians-4.html. 1896-1924.