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

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Verses 1-7

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

Now I say - a phrase introducing a continued explanatory argument (Ellicott). God's sending His Son to redeem us who were under the law (Galatians 4:4), and sending the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Galatians 4:6), confirms the conclusion (Galatians 3:29) that we are "heirs according to the promise."

The heir - not, as in earthly inheritances, the father's death, but our Father's sovereign will, makes us heirs.

Child, [ neepios (G3516)] - 'one under age.'

Differeth nothing ... - i:e., has no more freedom than a slave [ doulou (G1401)] not at his own disposal; nay, he is subject to a slave (Galatians 4:2; Galatians 3:24).

Lord of all - by title and birthright (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:21-22).

Verse 2. Tutors and governors, [ epitropous (G2012) and oikonomous (G3623)] - rather, 'guardians (of the person) and stewards' (of the property). So "the law was our school-master ("tutor," Galatians 3:24). Eliezer (Genesis 15:2; Genesis 24:2).

Until the time appointed of the father - in His eternal purposes (Ephesians 1:9-11). [ Prothesmia (G4287) is a legal term: a time defined by law, or testamentary disposition-the term limited for bringing actions.]

Verse 3. We - the Jews primarily; inclusively the Gentiles also. For the "we" in Galatians 4:5 plainly refers to both. The Jews in their bondage to Moses' law represented all mankind amenable to God's universal law of holiness (Romans 2:14-15: cf. Galatians 3:13; Galatians 3:23, notes). Even the Gentiles were under "bondage," and in a discipline suitable to nonage, until Christ came as the Emancipator.

Bondage - as 'servants' (Galatians 4:1).

Under the elements [ stoicheia (G4747 )] of the world - rudimentary teachings of a non-Christian character: the elementary lessons of outward things, such as legal ordinances (Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:20; Hebrews 5:12).

Verse 4. The fullness of the time - namely, 'appointed by the Father' (Galatians 4:2). The end of all preparation, the beginning of all fulfillment, the maturity of man's spiritual need (note, Ephesians 1:10; Acts 2:1; Ezekiel 5:2). 'The idea is that of a temporal space filled up by the flowing in of time' (Ellicott). 'The Church has its own ages' (Bengel). God does nothing prematurely, but, foreseeing the end from the beginning, waits until all is ripe for executing His purpose. Had Christ come directly after the fall, the enormity of sin would not have been realized fully by man, so as to feel his desperate need of a Saviour. Sin and its deadly fruits were fully developed. Man's inability to save himself by the law, whether that of Moses or that of conscience, was manifested; all the prophecies of various ages found their common center in this time; Providence, by various arrangements in the social, political, and moral world, had fully prepared the way for the Redeemer. God often permits physical evil long before He teaches the remedy. The small-pox had long raged before inoculation and vaccination were discovered. The honour of God's law required evil to be matured before He revealed the remedy. (Compare "the set time," Psalms 102:13.)

Was come, [ eelthen (G2064)] - 'came.'

Sent forth, [ exapesteilen (G1821)] - 'sent forth out of heaven from Himself.' The same verb is used of the Father's sending forth the Spirit (Galatians 4:6). (Compare John 8:42; Isaiah 48:16.)

His, [ ton (G3588) huion (G5207) autou (G846)] - 'His own Son.' Not by adoption, as we are (Galatians 4:5); nor merely by the anointing of the Spirit (Galatians 4:6; John 1:18).

Made of a woman, [ genomenon (G1096)] - 'made to be (born) of [ ek (G1537), from] a woman,' implying His true manhood (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45). The expression implies God's special interposition in His birth as man-namely, causing Him to be conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Made under the law - `made to be born under the law.' Not merely (as Alford) 'born subject to the Law as a Jew;' but "made," by His Father's appointment and His own freewill, 'subject to' it, to keep it all, ceremonial and moral, perfectly for us, as the Representative Man, and to suffer and exhaust the full penalty of our whole race's violation of it. Not only very man, but a true Israelite. This constitutes the significance of His circumcision, His presentation in the temple (Luke 2:21-22; Luke 2:27: cf. Matthew 5:17), and His baptism by John (Matthew 3:15, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness").

Verse 5. To - Greek, 'That He might redeem' from the law's bondage as well as curse.

Them that were under the law - primarily the Jews; but as these were the representative people of the world, the Gentiles too (Galatians 3:13).

Receive, [ apolaboomen (G618)] - implies the suitableness of the thing. 'Receive as something due' (as predestined, or laid up for us by God) (Luke 16:25; Luke 23:41; Colossians 3:24; 2 John 1:8).

Adoption (Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:4; Ephesians 1:5). There are three stages:

(1) Existing, but not appropriated;

(2) Appropriated through faith in Christ; (2) Appropriated through faith in Christ;

(3) Perfected in glory (Neander).

God makes of sons of men sons of God, as God made of the Son of God the Son of man, (Augustine on Ps


Verse 6. Because ye are sons ... The split of prayer is the fruit of adoption. The Gentile Galatians thought, as the Jews were under the law before their adoption, so they too must first be under the law. Paul, by anticipation, meets this objection. As a proof 'THAT ( hoti (G3754)) ye ARE' really (Ellicott) in the free state of SONS Of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26); therefore ye need not to be, as children in nonage (Galatians 4:1), under the tutorship of the law. The Spirit of God's only-begotten Son (which is the Spirit of God: John 14:16; Romans 8:9), sent from, and leading us to cry to, the Father, attests our sonship by adoption; for the Spirit is the "earnest of our inheritance" (Romans 8:15-16; Ephesians 1:14). 'God sent forth (Greek aorist) into OUR (so A 'Aleph (') C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read; B reads "your") hearts' etc. (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:19.) As in Galatians 4:5, he changed from "them," the third person, to "we," the first; so here he changes from "ye," the second person, to 'our,' the first.

Thus he identifies their status as Gentiles with that himself and his believing fellow-countrymen as Jews. Rather (in the usual sense of hoti) cf. Neander's note on Galatians 4:5, 'BECAUSE ye are sons (already in God's electing love), God sent forth the Spirit of His Son,' etc., manifesting that sonship which He regarded as a present reality ("are") because of His purpose, even before it was actually fulfilled. So Hebrews 2:13, where "the children" are spoken of as existing in His purpose before their actual existence.

The Spirit of his Son. By faith ye are one with His Son, so that what is His is yours: His Sonship insures yours; His Spirit insures for you a share in the same. Moreover, as the Spirit of God proceeds from the Father, so the Spirit of the Son proceeds from the Son; so that the Holy Spirit (Nicene Creed) 'proceedeth from the Father and the Son.' The Father was not begotten: the Son is begotten of the Father: the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son.

Crying. The SPIRIT is regarded as the agent in praying, the believer as His organ. In Romans 8:15 "the Spirit of adoption" is said to be that whereby WE cry "Abba, Father;" but in Romans 8:26 "the SPIRIT ITSELF maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." The believer's prayer is His prayer: hence, arises his acceptability with God.

Abba, Father - the Hebrew says "Abba;" the Greek, "Father" ('Pater'): both united in one Sonship and one cry of faith, "Abba, Father." So, 'Even so' [`Nai,' Greek, Amen] (Hebrew), both meaning the same (Revelation 1:7). Christ's own cry is the believers' cry. The formula was used in reverent memory of Him who taught us to call God "our Father" (Mark 14:36).

Verse 7. Wherefore - conclusion from Galatians 4:4-6.

Thou - such an individual appropriation of this comforting truth God grants in answer to each who cries "Abba, Father,"

Heir of God through Christ. So C Delta f. But 'Aleph (') A B G, Vulgate, read 'an heir through God,' This combines on man's behalf the whole before-mentioned agency of THE TRINITY: the Father sent His Son and the Spirit; the Son freed us from the law; the Spirit completes our sonship. Thus, the redeemed are heirs THROUGH the Triune GOD, not through the law or fleshly descent (Windischmann in Alford) (Galatians 3:18 confirms this).

Heir - confirming Galatians 3:29 (cf. Romans 8:17). Among the Hebrews, 'sons' by free women were heirs (the first-born having double); but not by bond women and Gentiles (Judges 11:2). Among the Romans, male or female children (Galatians 3:28), natural or adopted.

Verses 8-11

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

Howbeit - contrast of their former with their present state. Appeal not to turn back from their privileges as free sons to legal bondage again.

Then - when ye were pagans before your adoption (Galatians 4:7).

Ye knew not God - not opposed to Romans 1:21. The pagan originally knew God, but did not choose to retain God in their knowledge, and so corrupted the original truth. They might still have known Him, in a measure, from His works; but as a fact they knew him not, so far as His eternity, power as Creator, and holiness, are concerned.

Ye did service, [ edouleusate (G1398)] - 'were enslaved to.'

Are no gods - i:e., have no existence in the nature of things, but only in the corrupt imaginations of their worshippers (notes, 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19-20; 2 Chronicles 13:9). Your "service" was different from that of the Jews, which was true service. Yet theirs, like yours, was a burdensome yoke; how can ye wish to resume the yoke after that God has transferred you both to a free service?

Verse 9. Known God, or rather are known of God. They did not first know and love God; but God first, in His electing love, knew them, and therefore attracted them to know Him savingly (Matt: 7:23; 1 Corinthians 8:3; 2 Timothy 2:19: cf. Exodus 33:12; Exodus 33:17; John 15:16; Philippians 3:12). God's great grace made their fall from it the more heinous. [ Eidotes (G1492) (Galatians 4:8), gnontes (G1097), and gnosthentes: a climax; 'outwardly knew;' 'inwardly having known;' 'having been known by God' in love (2 Corinthians 5:6, Greek) (Olshausen).]

How - indignant wonder at such a thing being possible, and even actually occurring (Galatians 1:6).

Weak - powerless to justify; in contrast to the justifying power of faith (Galatians 3:24: cf. Hebrews 7:18).

Beggarly - contrasted with the riches of the believer's inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:18). The "child" (Galatians 4:1) is weak, not having attained manhood; "beggarly," not having attained the inheritance.

Elements - `rudiments.' As if a schoolmaster should wish to back to learn the A B C (Bengel). Again ... again - two Greek words. "Ye desire again [beginning afresh: palin (G3825), anoothen (G509)] to be in bondage." Relapsing to bondage, to begin anew its rudiments in the form of Judaism, instead of your former paganism. The Galatians had never been under the Mosaic yoke; yet they had been under "the elements of the world" (Galatians 4:3) - the common designation for Jewish and Gentile systems, in contrast to the Gospel (however superior the Jewish was to the Gentile). Both consisted in outward, sensuous worship. Both were in bondage to the elements of sense, as though these could give justification and sanctification, which the inner spiritual power of God alone could bestow.

Ye desire, [ thelete (G2309)] - 'will.' Will-worship is not acceptable to God (Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23).

Verse 10. Ye observe, [ parateereisthe (G3906)] - 'Ye sedulously observe.' To regard the observance of certain days meritorious as a work is alien to the free spirit of Christianity: not incompatible with observing the Sabbath of the Christian Lord's day as obligatory, though not as a work (the Jewish and Gentile error in their observance of days), but as a holy mean appointed by the Lord to the great end, holiness. The whole life alike belongs to the Lord-belongs in the Gospel view-just as the whole world, not the Jews only, belong to Him. But as in paradise, so now one portion of time is needed wherein to draw off the soul more entirely from secular business to God (Colossians 2:16). "Sabbaths, new moons, and set feasts" (1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 31:3) answer to "days, months, times." "Months, however, may refer to the first and seventh months, sacred because of the number of feasts.

Times, [ kairous (G2540)] - 'seasons;' namely, the three great feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and tabernacles.

Years - the Sabbatical year of jubilee was about the time of writing this letter, A.D. 48 AD (Bengel).

Verse 11. Lest, [ meepoos (G3381)] - 'lest, haply.'

I have bestowed upon you labour, [ kekopiaka (G2872): indicative] - implying he believed his labour actually vain. My fear is not for my sake, but for yours.

Verse 12

Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

Be [become: ginesthe (G1096 )] as I am - `as I, though a zealous Jew by birth (Galatians 1:14), in my life amend you cast on Jewish habits, so do ye; for I am become as ye are'-namely, in not observing legal ordinances. 'My laying them aside among Gentiles shows that I regard them as not all contributing to justification or sanctification. Do you regard them in the same light, and act accordingly.' His observing the law among the Jews was not inconsistent with this, for he did so to win them, without compromising principle (1 Corinthians 9:20-21). But the Galatian Gentiles, by adopting legal ordinances, showed they regarded them as needful for salvation.

Ye have not injured me at all - namely, when I first preached among you, and made myself as you are; namely, living as a Gentile, not as a Jew. You at that time did me no wrong; 'ye did not despise my temptation in the flesh' (Galatians 4:14); nay, you "received me as an angel of God." Then, in Galatians 4:10, he asks, 'Have I since then become your enemy by telling you the truth?'

Verse 13

Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

How through infirmity - rather [ di' (G1223) astheneian (G769)], 'yea [ de (G1161)], ye know that because of an infinity of my flesh preached,' etc. Some bodily sickness having defined him among them, contrary to his original intention, was the occasion of his preaching the Gospel to them.

At the first, [ to (G3588) proteron (G4386)] - 'at the former time;' implying that at the time of writing he had been twice in Galatia. See 'Introduction;' also Galatians 4:15-16, and Galatians 5:21, note. His sickness was probably the same as the "thorn in the flesh" afterward, which also was overruled to good (2 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10), as the "infirmity of the flesh" here.

Verse 14

And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

My temptation. 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'your temptation.' My infirmity, which might have been a "temptation" to you, ye despised not - i:e., ye were not tempted by it to despise me and my message. Lachmann, not so well, connects it with Galatians 4:13, 'And (ye know) your temptation (i:e., the temptation to which ye were exposed through the infirmity) which was in my flesh. Ye despised not (through natural pride), nor rejected (through spiritual pride) [spurned with loathing: exeptusate (G1609)], but received me,' etc. "Temptation" may mean 'BODILY TRIALS:' ye, regarding MY trial as your trial, despised it not.

As an angel of God - as a heaven-sent messenger from God: angel means messenger (Malachi 2:7). Compare the phrase, 2 Samuel 19:27, a Hebrew one for a person to be received with the highest respect (Zechariah 12:8). An angel is free from the flesh, infirmity, and temptation.

As Christ - being representative (Matthew 10:40; 2 Corinthians 5:20) of Christ, the Lord of angels.

Verse 15

Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

Where ... - Where now is to be found your former felicitation [ tis (G5100) - ho (G3588) makarismos (G3108)] of yourselves, on your having among you the blessing of my ministry, considering how entirely you have veered about since? ['Aleph (') A B C G g, Vulgate, read pou (G4226), where; Delta, tis (G5100), 'of what value?']

Ye would have plucked out your own eyes - the dearest member of the body; so highly did you value me: proverbial for the greatest self-sacrifice (Matthew 5:29). Conybeare thinks this particular proverb has reference to a weakness in Paul's eyes, connected with a nervous frame, affected by the bright vision (Acts 22:11; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7). 'You would have torn out your own, eyes to supply the lack of mine.' But there is no 'own' in the Greek. The divine power of Paul's words and works contrasting with his personal feebleness (2 Corinthians 10:10), powerfully at first impressed the Galatians, who had all the impulsiveness of the Keltic race. Subsequently they soon changed, with Keltic fickleness.

Verse 16

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Translate, 'So then am I become (in your eyes) your enemy by telling you the truth?' (Galatians 2:5; Galatians 2:14.) He had not been counted their enemy at his first visit: he implies that he had since then, before his now writing; so that the occasion of his telling them the unwelcome truth must have been at his second visit (Acts 18:23: see 'Introduction'). The Judaizers designated him 'that enemy' (Clement, 'Recogn.' 1: 70, 71). The fool and sinner hate, the righteous love, faithful reproof (Psalms 141:5; Proverbs 9:8).

Verse 17

They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

They - your flatterers: in contrast to Paul, who tells them the truth.

Zealously - zeal in proselytism characterized Jews and Judaizers (Galatians 1:14; Matthew 23:15; Romans 10:2).

Affect you - i:e., court you (2 Corinthians 11:2).

Not well, [ ou (G3756) kalos (G2570)] - not in a good way or for a good end. Neither the cause nor the manner is what it ought to be.

They would exclude you - `they wish to shut you out' from me (and so from the true Gospel Church, by imposing on you legalism), 'that ye may zealously court themselves,' instead of me.

Verse 18

But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

Good [ kalon (G2570 )] to be zealously affected - rather, passive, to correspond to 'zealously court' (Galatians 4:17), 'to be zealously courted.' I find no fault with them for zealously courting you, nor with you for allowing yourselves to be zealously courted; provided it be 'in a good cause' [ en (G1722) kalo (G2570)] (1 Corinthians 9:20-23). My reason for saying the "not well" (Galatians 4:17: the same Greek as "good," and 'in a good cause,' Galatians 4:18), is, that their zealous courting of you is not in a good cause. The old interpreters support the English version (cf. Galatians 1:14). Winer, 'to be reciprocally zealous:' Bengel, The Middle Voice, 'to kindle zeal by zeal, you responding to the zeal of your minister.'

Always. Translate and arrange, 'at all times, and not only when I am present with you.' I do not desire to have the exclusive privilege of zealously courting you. Others may do so in my absence, if only it be in a good cause (Philippians 1:15-18).

Verse 19

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

My little children (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1; 1 John 2:1). My relation to you is not merely that of one zealously courting you (Galatians 4:17-18), but that of a father to his children (1 Corinthians 4:15).

I travail in birth - i:e., like a mother in pain until her child is born.

Again - a second time. A long-continued travail. The former time was when I was "present with you" (Galatians 4:18; note, Galatians 4:13).

Christ be formed in you - that yon may live only Christ, think only Christ (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17), and glory only in Him. His death, resurrection, and righteousness (Philippians 3:8-10; Colossians 1:27).

Verse 20

I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. [ eethelon (G2309) de (G1161), without an (G302)] 'I could indeed wish.' If circumstances permitted, I would gladly be with you.

Now - as I was twice already. Speaking face to face is so much more effective toward loving persuasion than writing (2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13).

Change my voice - as a mother (Galatians 4:19); laying side the severity heretofore in this letter: adapting my tone to what I saw in person your case might need.

I stand in doubt of you, [ aporoumai (G639) en (G1722) humin (G5213)] - 'I am perplexed about you' (literally, in your case), namely, how to deal with you, gently or severely, to bring you back to the right path.

Verse 21

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

Desire - of your own accord madly courting that which must condemn you.

Do ye not hear - do ye not consider the inner sense of Moses' words? The law itself sends you away from it to Christ. Do ye not heed it? Having sufficiently maintained his point by argument, the apostle illustrates it by an allegorical exposition of historical facts. He confutes the Judaizers with their own weapons. But their allegorical interpretations in the synagogues were unauthorized by the Spirit. (Compare the Jerusalem Talmud, Succa, cap. Hechalil.) His allegorical exposition is not the work of fancy, but sanctioned by the Holy Spirit. History, rightly understood, contains in its complicated phenomena continually-recurring divine laws. The history of the elect people, like their legal ordinances, had, besides the literal, a typical meaning (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47; Revelation 11:8). Just as the extraordinarily-born Isaac, the gift of grace according to promise, supplanted, beyond all human calculations, the naturally-born Ishmael, so the new theocratic race, the spiritual seed of Abraham by promise, Gentile as well as Jewish believers, take the place of the natural seed, who imagined that to them exclusively belonged the kingdom of God.

Verse 22

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

(Genesis 16:3-16; Genesis 21:2.)

Abraham - whose sons ye wish to be (cf. Romans 9:7-9).

A bond maid, the other by a free woman - Greek 'the well-known bond maid the free woman ' A bond maid, the other by a free woman - Greek, 'the well-known bond maid ... the free woman.'

Verse 23

But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

But. The two sons, though sprung from a common father, Abraham, were, notwithstanding, very different.

After the flesh (implying weakness) - born in the usual course of nature; in contrast to Isaac, born 'by virtue of the promise' (Greek), as the efficient cause of Sarah's supernatural pregnancy (Romans 4:19). Abraham was to lay aside all confidence in the flesh (after which Ishmael was born), and to live by faith alone in the promise (according to which Isaac was miraculously born, contrary to all fleshly calculations).

Verse 24

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

Which things, [ hatina (G3748)] - the which things; all which things; all the circumstances of the history.

Are an allegory - `are allegorical;' i:e., have another besides the literal meaning.

These are the two covenants - `these (women) are (i:e., mean. Omit "the," with A B C Delta G. But 'Aleph (') has it) two covenants.' As the bondage of the mother determined that of the child, the children of the free covenant of promise, answering to Sarah, are free; the children of the legal covenant of bondage (Hagar) are not so.

One from - i:e., taking its origin from mount Sinai. Therefore, he is treating of the moral law (Galatians 3:19) chiefly (Hebrews 12:18). Paul was familiar with Sinai in Arabia (Galatians 1:17), having gone to that region after his conversion. At the gloomy scene of the giving of the law he learned to appreciate, by contrast, the grace of the Gospel, and so to cast off all past legal dependencies.

Which gendereth - i:e., bringeth forth children (doomed) unto bondage, inasmuch as she was a slave herself (cf. Acts 3:25).

Verse 25

For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

Translate, 'For this word [ to (G3588)], Hagar, is (imports) mount Sinai in Arabia' (i:e., among the Arabians-in the Arabian tongue). Haurat, the traveler, says that to this day the Arabians call Sinai, 'Hadschar' - i:e., Hagar, 'stone.' Usually called Dschebel Musa. Hagar twice fled into Arabia (Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 21:1-34): from her the mountain and city took its name, and the people were called Hagarenes. So A B Delta f. But 'Aleph (') C G read to gar Sina. 'for Sinai is in Arabia' (the home of Hagar's children), instead of Agar Sina. Then "the one" (covenant) is nominative to "answereth to." Sinai, with its rugged rocks, far removed from the promised had, well represents the law, which inspires terror and the spirit of bondage.

And - moreover [ de (G1161)].

Answereth, [ sustoichei (G4960)] - 'stands in the same rank with,' 'corresponds to,' etc.

Jerusalem which now is - i:e., the Jerusalem of the Jews, having only a present temporary existence, in contrast with the spiritual Jerusalem of the Gospel, which in germ, under the form of the promise, existed ages before, and shall be forever.

And. A B C Delta G 'Aleph (') read 'for she is in bondage.' As Hagar was in bondage to her mistress, so Jerusalem that now is, is in bondage to the law, also to the Romans; her civil state corresponding to her spiritual.

Verse 26

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

This stands instead of the sentence which we should expect, to correspond to Galatians 4:24, 'one from mount Sinai.' But the other covenant answers to the heavenly Jerusalem above, which is (in the allegory) Sarah.

Jerusalem which is above (Hebrews 12:22, "the heavenly Jerusalem") - the center of the spiritual kingdom, as the old Jerusalem was the center of Judaism. See note on the distinction between Hierousalem and Hierosolyma, Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2. Here 'the Messianic theocracy, which before Christ's second appearing is the Church, and after it, Christ's kingdom of glory' (Meyer).

Free - as Sarah; opposed to "is in bondage" (Galatians 4:25).

Which is - `in which character she [ heetis (G3748)] is.'

Mother of us - namely, believers already members of the invisible church hereafter to be manifested.

All. Omitted in 'Aleph (') B DeltaGfg, Vulgate. Supported by A C. All. Omitted in 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g, Vulgate. Supported by A C.

Verse 27

For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

For - proof that 'she is the mother of us' (Isaiah 54:1).

Thou barren - Jerusalem above: the spiritual Gospel Church, the fruit of 'the promise,' answering to Sarah, who bore not "after the flesh;" contrasted with the law, answering to Hagar, who was fruitful in the course of nature. Isaiah speaks primarily of Israel's restoration after her long calamities; but his language is framed by the Holy Spirit to reach beyond this to the spiritual Zion, including not only the Jews, the natural descendants of Abraham and children of the law, but also the Gentiles. The spiritual Jerusalem is regarded as "barren" while the law trammelled Israel; for then she had no spiritual children of the Gentiles.

Break forth - into crying.

Cry - shout for joy.

Manymore. Translate, as Greek, 'Many are the children of the desolate (the New Testament Church, made up mainly of the Gentiles, who once had not the promise, and so without God as her husband), more (the children of both shall be many, but those of the desolate more), than of her which hath an (Greek, THE) husband' (of whom the other is destitute-namely, the Jewish Church having GOD for her husband, Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 2:2). Numerous as were the children of the legal covenant, those of the Gospel are more so.

Verse 28

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

We. So A C Delta 'Aleph ('), Vulgate. But B G f g, 'ye.' "We" better accords with Galatians 4:26; Galatians 4:31.

Children of promise - not children after the flesh, but by virtue of promise (Galatians 3:18; Galatians 4:23; Galatians 4:29; Galatians 4:31). "We ... are" so, and ought to continue so.

Verse 29

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

But - But our being "children of promise" does not exempt us from persecution.

Persecuted, [ ediooken (G1377), used to persecute]. Ishmael 'mocked' [ tsachaquw (H6711), equivalent in Numbers to Hagar] Isaac, which contained the germ and spirit of persecution (Genesis 21:9). His mocking was probably directed against Isaac's faith in God's promises. Being the older by natural birth, he haughtily prided himself above him that was born by promise, as Cain hated Abel's piety.

Him that was born after the Spirit. The language refers primarily to Isaac, born in a spiritual way-namely, by the Spirit-energized promise of God making Sarah, out of the course of nature, fruitful in old age (Romans 4:19-20). But it is so framed as to refer also to believers justified by grace through faith, as opposed to carnal Judaizers and legalists.

Even so it is now (Acts 9:29; Acts 13:45; Acts 13:49-50; Acts 14:1-2; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:13; Acts 18:5-6; Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12; Galatians 6:17). The Jews persecuted Paul, not for preaching Christianity against paganism, but for preaching it as distinct from Judaism. Except in the two cases of Philippi and Ephesus (where the persons beginning the assault were pecuniarily interested in his expulsion), he was nowhere set upon by Gentiles, unless when stirred up by the Jews. The coincidence between Paul's letters and Luke's history (the Acts) in this respect is plainly undesigned; and so a proof of genuineness (Paley).

Verse 30

Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

Nevertheless - BUT let not believers be disheartened at the prospect of persecution; for "Scripture saith," etc. Genesis 21:10; Genesis 21:12, Sarah's words confirmed by God - "Shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." But what was there said literally is here by inspiration applied in its allegorical import to the New Testament believer, antitypically "the son of the free woman." In John 8:35-36, Jesus refers to this.

Cast out - from the house and inheritance: literally, Ishmael; spiritually, the carnal and legalists.

Shall not be heir, [ ou (G3756) mee (G3361) kleeronomeesei (G2816)] - 'must not (shall in no wise) be heir.' So Jephthah, Judges 11:2.

Verse 31

So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

So then [ ara (G686) oun (G3767), G. But 'Aleph (') B Delta, dio (G1352), 'Wherefore.' A C, heemeis (G2249) de (G1161), 'But we.' f g, Vulgate, itaque] - 'Wherefore:' the conclusion from what precedes. In Galatians 3:29; Galatians 4:7, it was established that we, New Testament believers, are "heirs." 'Wherefore we are not children of the bond woman (whose son was 'not to be heir,' Galatians 4:30), but of the free woman' (whose son was, according to Scripture, to be heir). For we are not "cast out" as Ishmael, but accepted as sons.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/galatians-4.html. 1871-8.
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