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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Galatians 1

Verse 1

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Judaizing teachers persuaded the Galatians that Paul had taught them the new religion imperfectly and at second hand; that the founder of their church himself possessed only a deputed commission, the seal of truth and authority being in the apostles at Jerusalem; moreover, that whatever he might profess among them, he had himself at other times, and in other place, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. To refute this, he appeals to the history of his conversion, and to the manner of his conferring with the apostles when he met them at Jerusalem: that so far was his decline from being derived from them, or they from exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to what he had already preached among the Gentiles, which preaching was communicated, not by them to him, but by himself to them. Such an apologetic letter could not be a later forgery, the objections which it meets only coming out incidentally, not being obtruded as they would be by a forger; also being such as could only arise in the earlier age of the Church, when Jerusalem and Judaism still held a prominent place.

Apostle - here in the highest sense; not as in 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:6; Romans 16:7 means, 'as being persons who are favourably reported of among the apostles' (Fritzsche in Ellicott). In the earliest letters-the two to the Thessalonians-through humility, he uses no title of authority, but associates with him "Silvanus and Timotheus;" yet here, though "brethren" (Galatians 1:2) are with him, he does not name them, but puts his own name and apostleship prominent, evidently because his apostolic commission needs now to be vindicated against deniers.

Of, [ apo (G575)] - 'from;' the ultimate origin from which his mission came; 'not from men,' but from Christ and the Father.

By, [ dia (G1223)] expresses the mediating agent. Not only was the call from God as its source, but 'by Christ and His (Ellicott) Father' as the immediate Agent (so entirely are they One, that the immediate agency proper to the Son is attributed to both) (cf. Acts 22:15; Acts 26:16-18). The laying on of Ananias' hands (Acts 9:17) is no objection, for that was but a sign of the call, not an assisting cause. So the Holy Spirit calls him (Acts 13:2-3): he was an apostle before this special mission.

Man - singular, to mark the contrast to "Jesus Christ." The opposition between "Christ" and "man," and his name being put in closest connection with God the Father, imply His Godhead.

Raised him from the dead - implying that though he had not seen Him in His humiliation, as the other apostles (which was made an objection against him), he had seen and been constituted an apostle by Him in His resurrection power (Matthew 28:18; Romans 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8). Compare also, as to the ascension, the consequence of the resurrection, and the cause of His giving "apostles," Ephesians 4:11. He rose again, too, for our justification (Romans 4:25). Thus Paul prepares the way for the prominent subject, justification in Christ, not by the law.

Verse 2

And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

All the brethren. I am not alone in my doctrine. All my colleagues in the Gospel work, traveling with me (Acts 19:29, Gaius and Aristarchus, if the letter was written at Ephesus; if at Corinth, Acts 20:4, Sopater, Secundus, Timotheus, Tychicus, Trophimus; some, or all), join with me. Not that these were joint authors with Paul of the letter, but joined in the salutations and the anti-Judaistic sentiment. "All the brethren" accords with a date when he had many traveling companions, he and they having to bear jointly the collection to Jerusalem (Conybeare).

The churches. The letter, therefore, is encyclical. Pessinus and Ancyra were the principal cities. Doubtless there were many other churches in Galatia (Acts 18:23; 1 Corinthians 16:1). He does not attach any honourable title to the churches here, as elsewhere, being displeased at their Judaizing, (see 1 Cor., 1 Thess., etc.) The first letter of Peter is addressed to Jewish Christians sojourning in Galatia (1 Peter 1:1), among other place. The apostle of the circumcision, and the apostle of the uncircumcision, once at issue (Galatians 2:7-15), cooperated to build up the same churches.

Verse 3

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Grace ... peace, [ charis (G5485) (God's gratuitous favour), akin to chairein, 'joy,' the Greek salutation; blended with the Hebrew salutation, shalom, "peace," the result, of "grace."]

From ... from. Omit the second "from" The Greek joins God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in closet union, there being but one preposition. As the Father is joined with Christ in the mediating agency, so here Chest with the Father as the ultimate source [apo], usually attributed to the Father.

Verse 4

Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Gave himself (Galatians 2:20) - unto death as an offering. Found only in this and the pastoral letters (1 Timothy 2:6). The Greek [ dontos (G1325)] is different in Ephesians 5:25 [ paredooken (G3860)] (note).

For, [ peri (G4012), A 'Aleph (') Delta G, Origen; more used with the thing, sins; huper (G5228), f g, Vulgate, used with the person, 'in behalf of' sinners, 1 Peter 3:18: cf. Ellicott]

Our sins - which enslaved us to the present evil world.

Deliver us from this, [ ek (G1537)] - 'out of the,' etc. The Father and Son each "deliver us," etc. (Colossians 1:13); but the Son, not the Father, "gave Himself for" us in order to do so, and make us citizens of a better world (Philippians 3:20). The Galatians, in desiring to return to legal bondage, were renouncing the deliverance which Christ performed for us (Galatians 3:13). "Deliver" [exaireomai] is the very word used by the Lord as to His deliverance of Paul himself (Acts 26:17): an undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke, the apostle's companion.

World, [ aioonos (G165)] - 'age;' system or course of the world, regarded from a religious point of view. The present age opposes the "glory" (Galatians 1:5) of God, and is under the Evil One. The 'ages of ages' (Greek, Galatians 1:5), the 'age to come' (Hebrews 6:5), are opposed to the 'present evil age.'

According to the will of God and our Father, [ tou (G3588) Theou (G2316) kai (G2532) patros (G3962) heemoon (G2257)] - 'of Him who is at once God (the sovereign Creator) and our Father' (John 6:38-39; John 10:18, end). Without merit of ours. His sovereignty as "GOD," and our filial relation to Him as our "FATHER," ought to keep us from blending our own legal notions (as the Galatians were doing) with His will and plan. This paves the way for his argument.

Verse 5

To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Be glory - rather [ hee (G3588)] 'be the glory;' the glory which is exclusively His (cf. Ephesians 3:21, note).

Verse 6

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Without the usual thanksgivings for their faith, etc., he vehemently plunges into his subject, zealous for the "glory" of God (Galatians 1:5), which was being disparaged by the Galatians' falling away from the pure Gospel of the "grace" of God.

I marvel - implying that he had hoped better things from them; whence his sorrowful surprise at their turning out so different. So soon - after my last visit, when I believed you untainted by Judaism. If this letter was written from Corinth, the interval would be little more than three years from his second visit, which would be "soon" to have fallen away, if they were then apparently sound. Galatians 4:18; Galatians 4:20 may imply that he saw no symptom of unsoundness then, such as he hears of now. But the English version is probably not correct there (see note, also 'Introduction'). If from Ephesus, the interval would be not more than one year. I prefer, with Chrysostom, to explain "so soon" after the entry of the Judaizing teachers. So Ellicott. Birks holds the letter to have been written from Corinth after his FIRST visit to Galatia; for this agrees best with the "so soon" and Galatians 4:18, "It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you." If they had persevered in the faith during three years of his first absence, and only turned aside after his second visit, they could not be charged justly with adhering to the truth only when he was present; for his first absence was longer than both his visits, and they would have obeyed longer in his 'absence' than in his 'presence.' But if their decline had begun immediately after he left them, and before his return, the reproof will be just. But see note, Galatians 4:13.

Removed, [ metalithesthe (G3346)] - 'are being removed;' i:e., ye are suffering yourselves so soon to be removed by Jewish seducers. Thus he softens the censure by implying that the Galatians were tempted by seducers from without, with whom the chief guilt lay; and the present, 'ye are being removed,' implies that their seduction was only in process of being effected, not actually so. Wahl, etc., take the Greek as middle voice, 'ye are changing your position'-`shifting your ground.' But thus Paul's oblique reference to their misleaders is lost; and Hebrews 7:12 uses the Greek passively, as here. On the impulsiveness and fickleness of the Gauls, whence the Galatians sprang (another form of Kel-t-s, the progenitors of the Erse, Gauls, and Cymri), see 'Introduction.'

From him that called you - God the Father (Galatians 1:15; Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). Calling belongs to the Father; the cause of the calling to the Son;

Into - rather, as Greek, 'IN the grace of Christ;' in the exercise of it, as the element in which, and the instrument by which, God calls us to salvation. 'Immanent [permanently inhering] instrumentality' (Jelf). Ephesians 2:13, "made nigh by (Greek, IN) the blood of Christ." (Compare note, Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 7:15, 'the gift by (Greek, 'in') grace (Greek, 'the grace') of (the) one man.' "The grace of Christ" is Christ's gratuitously-purchased and bestowed justification.

Another, [ heteron (G2087), 'heterogeneous'] - 'a different kind of gospel;' i:e., a so-called gospel, different altogether from the only true Gospel

Verse 7

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Another, [ allo (G243)] - a distinct Greek word from that in Galatians 1:6. Though I called it a different gospel (Galatians 1:6), there are not many gospels: there is really but one, and no other.

But, [ ei-mee (G1508)] - only that there are some that trouble you,' etc. (Galatians 5:10; Galatians 5:12.) All I meant by the 'different gospel' was nothing but a perversion by 'some' of the one Gospel. Would pervert - Greek, 'wish to pervert.' They could not really pervert the Gospel, though they could pervert Gospel professors (cf. Galatians 4:9; Galatians 4:17; Galatians 4:21; Galatians 6:12-13; Colossians 2:18). Though acknowledging Christ, they insisted on circumcision and Jewish ordinances, and professed to rest on the authority of other apostles. Paul recognizes none, except the pure Gospel.

Verse 8

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

But - however weighty they seem 'who trouble you.' [ kai (G2532) ean (G1437)] 'Even though we'-namely, I and the brethren with me-weighty and many as we are (Galatians 1:1-2). The Greek implies a case supposed which never has occurred.

Angel - in which light ye at first received me (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1; Galatians 4:14); whose authority is the highest possible next to that of God. A professed revelation even though seemingly accredited by miracles, is not to be received if it contradict the already existing revelation; for God cannot contradict Himself (Deuteronomy 13:1-3; 1 Kings 13:18; Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). The Judaizers sheltered themselves under the names of the great apostles, James, John, and Peter: 'Do not bring these names up to me; for even if an angel,' etc. Not that these apostles really supported the Judaizers; but he wishes to show, when the truth is in question, respect of persons is inadmissible.

Preach - i:e., 'should preach.'

Any other gospel unto you than. The Greek [ par' (G3844) ho (G3588) eueengelisametha (G2097)] expresses not only 'any other gospel different from what we have preached,' but also 'any gospel BESIDE that which we preached.' This opposes the traditions of Rome, which are at once besides and against the written Word, our only attested rule. The context and argument do not (as Ellicott thinks) favour the translation 'against.' Paul just denied not only the existence of a different [ heteron (G2087)] gospel, but that of another [ allo (G243)] gospel. This he enforced by saving, If he or an angel preached anything beside what he had preached, let him be accursed (Revelation 22:18).

Verse 9

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Said before - when visiting you (so "before" means, 2 Corinthians 13:2: cf. Galatians 5:2-3; Galatians 5:21), 'If any man preacheth [ euangelizetai (G2097)] unto you any gospel,' etc.: the indicative, not the subjunctive or conditional mood, is used. The fact is assumed, not supposed as a contingency, as in Galatians 1:8, 'should preach.' This implies he had already observed (namely, during his last visit) the machinations of Judaizing teachers; but his surprise (Galatians 1:6) now at the Galatians being misled by them, implies that they had not apparently been so then. As in Galatians 1:8, he said, 'which we preached,' so here, with an augmentation of force, 'which ye received'-acknowledging that they had accepted it [ parelabete (G3880)].

Accursed - ( anathema (G331), devoted to death, Leviticus 27:28). The opposite appears, Galatians 6:10.

Verse 10

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

For - accounting for his strong language.

Do I now, [ arti (G737)] - resuming the "now" of Galatians 1:9. 'Am I now making friends of men or God?' So [ peithoo (G3982)] persuade means, Acts 12:20 (Ellicott). Is what I have just now said a sample of men-pleasing? His adversaries accused him of being an interested flatterer of men, "becoming all things to all men," to make a party for himself; so observing the law among the Jews (for instance, circumcising Timothy), yet persuading the Gentiles to renounce it (Galatians 5:11) (really keeping them in a subordinate state, not admitted to full privileges, which the circumcised alone enjoyed). Neander explains "now:" 'Once, when a Pharisee, I was actuated only by a regard to human authority (to please men, Luke 16:15; John 5:44); but NOW I teach as responsible to God alone' (1 Corinthians 4:3). The "now" answers, I think, to the following "yet" still [ eti (G2089)]. Am I now still pleasing men, as I am said to have been heretofore?

For if I yet pleased men. 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate omit "for." If I were still pleasing [ereskon] men', etc. (Luke 6:26; John 15:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; James 4:4; 1 John 4:5.) On "yet," cf. Galatians 5:11.

Servant of Christ - and so pleasing Him in all things (Titus 2:9; Colossians 3:22).

Verse 11

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

The apologetic portion here begins (Ellicott).

I certify - I make known to you, as to the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after [according to: kata (G2596)] man; not of [ apo (G575)], by [ dia (G1223)], or from [ para (G3844)] man (Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:12). It is not influenced by mere human considerations, as it would be, if of human origin. Brethren. He not until now calls them so.

Verse 12

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Translate, 'For not even did I (anymore than the other apostle) receive it from [ para (G3844), not synonymous with apo (G575): para implies the more immediate source; apo, the more remote, 1 Corinthians 11:23 ] man, nor was I taught it (by man).' "Received it" implies the absence of labour in acquiring it. "Was I taught it" implies the labour of learning.

By the revelation of Jesus Christ - `by revelation of (i:e., from) Jesus Christ,' by His revealing it to me. Probably this took place during the three years in part of which he sojourned in Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18), near the scene of giving the law: a fit place for the revelation of Gospel grace, which supersedes the ceremonial law (Galatians 4:25). He, like other Pharisees who embraced Christianity, did not at once recognize its independence of the Mosaic law, but combined both. Ananias, his first instructor, was universally esteemed for legal piety, and was not likely to have taught him to sever Christianity from the law. This severance was partially recognized after the martyrdom of Stephen. Paul received it by special revelation (1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:15). A vision of the Lord is mentioned (Acts 22:18) at his first visit to Jerusalem; but this seems to have been subsequent to the revelation here (cf. Galatians 1:15-18), and confined to giving a particular command. The vision, 'fourteen years before' (2 Corinthians 12:1, etc.) was in A.D. 43 AD, still later, six years after his conversion. Thus Paul is an independent witness to the Gospel. Though he received no instruction from the apostles, but from the Holy Spirit, yet when he met them, his gospel exactly agreed with theirs.

Verse 13

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

I never should have so utterly changed had not God been the Revealer.

For ye have heard - even before I came among you.

Conversation, [ anastrofeen (G391 ] - 'my former way of life.'

Jews' religion - `Hebrew' expresses the language; 'Jew,' the nationality, as distinguished from the Gentiles; 'Israelite' (the highest title), the religious privileges as a member of the theocracy.

The church - here singular, marking its unity, though constituted of many particular churches, under the one Head, Christ. Of God - added to mark his sinful alienation from God (1 Corinthians 11:22).

Wasted - was laying it waste [ eporthoun (G4199)]: the opposite of 'building it up.'

Verse 14

And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Profited, [ proekopton (G4298)] - 'I, was becoming a proficient;' 'I made progress.'

Above - beyond.

My equals - Greek, 'of mine own age.'

Traditions of my fathers - namely, those of the Pharisees, Paul being 'a Pharisee, and son of a Pharisee' (Acts 23:6; Acts 26:5). "MY fathers" shows that it does not mean the traditions of the nation.

Verse 15

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

Separated, [ aforisas (G873)] - 'set me apart' in His electing love (cf. Acts 9:15; Acts 22:14), in order to show in me His 'pleasure,' which is the farthest point that any can reach in inquiring the causes of his salvation. The actual 'separating' to the work marked out for him is mentioned Acts 13:2; Romans 1:1. There is an allusion, perhaps by contrast, to the derivation of Pharisee from the Hebrew [ paarash (H6567)], "separated." I was once a so-called Pharisee or Separatist; but God had separated me to something far better.

From my mother's womb - thus merit in me was out of the question in His call (Psalms 22:9; Psalms 71:6; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:5; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:15; Romans 8:30; Romans 9:11).

Called me - on the way to Damascus, (Acts 9:1-43.) The moving cause of His call was God's 'good pleasure' [ eudokia (G2107)]; the mediating cause [ dia (G1223)] was His "grace;" the instrument, the heaven-sent voice (Ellicott).

Verse 16

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Reveal his Son in me - in my inmost soul, by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20: cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6). The revealing of His Son by me to 'the Gentiles' (so translate) was impossible, unless He had first revealed His Son in me: this He did at my conversion, but especially at the subsequent revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12), whereby I learnt the Gospel's independence of Mosaic ceremonialism.

That I might preach - the present [ euangelizoomai (G2097)], which includes 'that I may preach Him,' implying an office still continuing: the main commission intrusted to him (Galatians 2:7; Galatians 2:9).

Immediately. From the first I had no recourse to men. It denotes the sudden fitness of the apostle. So Acts 9:20, "straightway [the same Greek, eutheoos (G2112)] he preached Christ in the synagogues."

I conferred not, [ prosanethemeen (G4323)] - 'I had not further (namely, in addition to revelation) recourse to ... for consultation.' The divine revelation was sufficient for me.

Flesh and blood (Matthew 16:17) - weak man.

Verse 17

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Went I up. So 'Aleph (') A. But B Delta G [ apelthon (G565) for anelthon], 'went away'-namely, from Damascus.

To Jerusalem - the seat of the apostles.

Into Arabia. This journey (not recorded in Acts) was during his stay at Damascus, called by Luke facts Luke 9:23), "many [ hikanai (G2425) heemerai (G2250), a considerable number of] days." It curiously confirms the taking "many days" to stand for "three years," that the phrase occurs in the same sense (1 Kings 2:38-39). This was a country of the Gentiles; here doubtless he preached, as before and after (Acts 9:20; Acts 9:22), at Damascus: thus he shows the independence of his apostolic commission. He also here had that comparative retirement needed, after the first fervour of his conversion, to prepare him for the great work before him. Compare Moses (Acts 7:29-30). His familiarity with the scene of the giving of the law, and the meditations and revelations which he had there, appear in Galatians 4:24-25; Hebrews 12:18: see note, 2 Corinthians 1:12. The Lord from heaven communed with him, as He on earth in the days of His flesh communed with the other apostles.

Returned (back) again, [ palin (G3825) hupestrepsa (G5290)]. Returned (back) again, [ palin (G3825) hupestrepsa (G5290)].

Verse 18

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

After three years - from my conversion; as appears by the contrast to "immediately" (Galatians 1:16). These three years of Paul's direction by God alone answer to the three years (about) of the contact of the twelve with Jesus. This is the visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26) at which occurred the vision, Acts 22:17-18. The incident which led to his leaving Damascus (Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33) was not the main cause of his going to Jerusalem. So that there is no discrepancy in the statement here that he went "to see Peter;" Greek, 'to become personally acquainted with Peter' [ historeesai (G2477)]; to visit one important to know. 'Aleph (') A B read 'Cephas,' the name given Peter elsewhere in the letter, the Hebrew name; as Peter is the Greek (John 1:42). Appropriate to the view of him here as the apostle especially of the Hebrews. C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read "Peter." Peter himself, in his letters, uses the Greek, "Peter," perhaps to mark his antagonism to the Judaizers who would cling to the Hebra ic form. He was prominent among the apostles, though James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, had the chief authority there (Matthew 16:18).

Abode, [ epemeina (G1961)] - 'tarried.'

Fifteen days - only fifteen days; contrasting with the long period of three years, during which, previously, he had exercised an independent commission-a fact proving how little he owed to Peter in regard to apostolical authority or instruction. The plots of Hellenistic Jews prevented him staying longer (Acts 9:29); also the vision directing him to depart to the Gentiles, for that the people of Jerusalem would not receive his testimony (Acts 22:17-18).

Verse 19

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

Acts 9:27-28. Luke, as a historian, describes more generally what Paul, the subject of the history, himself details more particularly. The history speaks of "apostles." Paul's mention of a second apostle besides Peter reconciles the letter and the history. At Stephens martyrdom, and the consequent persecution, the other ten apostles, agreeably to Christ's directions, seem to have soon (though not immediately, Acts 8:14) left Jerusalem to preach elsewhere. James remained in charge of the mother church, as its Bishop. Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, was present during Paul's fifteen days' stay; but he, too, presently after (Acts 9:32), went on a circuit through Judea.

James the Lord's brother. This designation, to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee, was appropriate while that apostle was alive. But before Paul's second visit to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-41; Galatians 2:1) he had been beheaded by Herod (Acts 12:2). Accordingly, in the subsequent mention of James here (Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:12), he is not designated by this distinctive epithet: a minute, undesigned coincidence, and proof of genuineness. "Other of the apostles ... except James," implies that he was an apostle. James was the Lord's brother, not in our strict sense, but 'cousin,' or 'kinsman' (Matthew 28:10; John 20:17). His "brethren" are never called 'sons of Joseph' (cf. Psalms 69:8, "my mother's children," figurative for nearest kinsmen). In John 7:3; John 7:5, the "brethren" who believed not in Him may mean His near relations, not including His two brethren - i:e., relatives (James and Jude) who were among the twelve. Ellicott suggests that 'believed' is used there of a proper, intelligent belief; as in John 6:64; John 6:67 it is implied that some disciples, and even the twelve, had not a full belief. Acts 1:14, "His brethren," refers to Simon and Joses, and others (Matthew 13:55) of His kinsmen who were not apostles. It is not likely there would be two pairs of brothers named alike, of such eminence as James and Jude: the likelihood is that the apostles James and Jude are also the writers of the letters and the brethren of Jesus. James and Joses were sons of Alpheus and Mary, sister of the virgin Mary.

Verse 20

Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Solemn asseveration that his visit was only for fifteen days, and that he saw no apostle except Peter and James Probably it was reported by Judaizers that he had received a course of instruction from the apostles in Jerusalem from the first; hence, his earnestness in asserting the contrary, to vindicate his apostleship as derived directly from Christ.

Verse 21

Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia - `preaching the faith' (Galatians 1:23), and so founding the churches in Syria and Cilicia, which he subsequently confirmed in the faith (Acts 15:23; Acts 15:41). His object is to show how far he was from where the apostles were: so that they could not have been his teachers. He went first to Caesarea, the seaport; thence by sea to Tarsus of Cilicia, his native place (Acts 9:30); thence to Syria; Cilicia having its geographical affinities with Syria rather than with Asia Minor, as the Tarsus mountains separate it from the latter. His placing "Syria" in the order of words before "Cilicia" is due to Antioch being a more important city than Tarsus, as also to his longer stay in the former. Also "Syria and Cilicia," from their connection, became a geographical phrase, the more important being placed first (Conybeare). This sea Journey accounts for his being "unknown by face unto the churches of Judea" (Galatians 1:22). He passes by in silence his second visit, with alms, to Judea and Jerusalem (Acts 11:30); doubtless because it, being for a limited and special object, occupied but a few days (Acts 12:25), since there raged at Jerusalem at the time a persecution in which James, the brother of John, was martyred and Peter was in prison, and James seems to have been the only apostle present (Acts 12:17); so it was needless to mention this visit, seeing that he could not at such a time have received the instruction which the Galatians alleged he had derived from the primary fountains of authority-the apostles.

Verse 22

And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

So far was I from being a disciple of the apostles, that I was even unknown by face in the churches of Judea (except Jerusalem, Acts 9:26-29), the chief scene of their labours.

Verse 23

But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

[ Akouontes (G191) eesan (G2258)] 'They were hearing:' reports were reaching them from time to time.

He which persecuted us in times past - Saul's characteristic designation among Christians.

Destroyed, [ eporthei (G4199)] - 'was destroying.'

Verse 24

And they glorified God in me.

In me - in my person. 'Learning that the former wolf is now acting the shepherd's part, they received occasion for joyful thanksgiving to God in respect to me' (Theodoret). How different their spirits from yours toward me!

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.