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1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Ver. 1. Who raised him from the dead ] And by the same almighty power causeth dead souls to hear the voice of the Son of God in his ministers and live, John 5:25 ; Ephesians 1:19 .
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Ver. 2. The Churches of Galatia ] They are not unchurched though much corrupted. Uzziah ceased not to be a king when he began to be a leper; the disease of his forehead did not remove his crown.
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ver. 3. Grace be, &c. ] See Trapp on " Rom 1:7 " This Epistle to the Galatians is an epitome of that to the Romans. Peter Martyr observeth that Paul deals more mildly in that Epistle to the Romans than in this to the Galatians; because the Galatians were at first well instructed in the matter of justification, but afterwards did mix other things with Christ; therefore he so sharpens them up, yea, thundereth against them.
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:
Ver. 4. From this present evil world ] Bewitched wherewith the Galatians were relapsed from Christ. A subtle and sly enemy it is surely, and hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by it, as by Solomon’s harlot, Proverbs 7:26 .
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Ver. 5. To whom be glory ] The benefit of our redemption should make us lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to God.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Ver. 6. That ye are so soon ] Giddy headed hearers have religionem ephemeram, are whirred about with every wind of doctrine, being constant only in their inconstancy, as Ecebolus, Balduinus, and our modern sects. The bishops and doctors of England (said that martyr) in their book against the pope’s supremacy, spoke as much as Luther or any Lutheran ever did or could. If they dissembled, who could ever so deeply, speaking so pithily? if not, who could ever turn head to tail so suddenly and so shortly as these did?
Removed from him, &c. ] From Christ and me his apostle. Luther often in his books testifieth that he was much afraid, lest when he was dead, that sound doctrine of justification by faith alone would die also. It proved so in various places in Germany. Men fell to Popery as fast as leaves fall in autumn. The word here rendered removed, signifieth properly transported or transplanted. He alludes (saith Jerome) to the word Galal, to roll, as if he should say, You are Galatians, that is, rolling and changing, falling from the gospel of Christ to the law of Moses.
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Ver. 7. There be some ] That would fain have blended Pharisaism and Christianity, Acts 15:5 .
That trouble you ] ταρασσοντες . As camels with their feet trouble the waters they should drink of.
And would pervert the gospel ] They pretended only to bring in a Jewish rite or two, and yet are said to pervert the gospel, μεταστρεψαι . Ea quae post tergum sunt, in faciem convertere, as Jerome hath it, to turn that before that should be behind; to speak distorted things, διεστραμμενα , such as produce convulsions of conscience, Acts 20:30 . A little thing untowardly mingled mars all. The monstrous heresy of Nestorius lay but in one letter, θεοδοχος , and of Arius, but in one syllable, ομοιουσιος .
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.
Ver. 8. Or an angel ] Not an evil angel (as Ambrose understands it), but a good angel, per impossibile, as John 8:55 .
Than that which we, &c. ] Or besides that which we have preached. He saith not, contrary to that, but besides that; for indeed that which is directly besides, is indirectly against the gospel.
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.
Ver. 9. Than that ye have ] Of the camel it is said, that he will never carry any more weight than what at first is laid upon him; nor go one foot beyond his ordinary journey. Conscience will not budge nor yield a hair for an angel’s authority. Stand fast in the good old way, and find rest, Jeremiah 6:16 .
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.
Ver. 10. For do I now persuade men ] That is, men’s doctrines and devices.
Or do I seek to please men ] Ut κοινοφιλης , qui ab omnibus gratiam inire cupit, quem quidam per iocum Placentam vocat. Men pleasers, that curry favour with all, and covet to be counted no meddlers. These lose a friend of God. Neither do they long hold in with those whom for present they do so much please. Constantine checked a preacher, qui ausus est imperatorem in os beatum dicere, that was so bold as to call him a blessed man to his face, thinking thereby to ingratiate. (Euseb. de Vit. Const.) Theodoric, an Arian king, did exceedingly affect a certain deacon, although an orthodox. The deacon thinking to please him better and get preferment, became an Arian; which when the king understood, he changed his love into hatred, and caused his head to be struck from his shoulders. Erasmus, by seeking to please both sides, was neither owned by the Papists nor honoured by the Protestants, Pusillanimitas et ανθρωπαρεσκεια in praeclaro hoc Dei organo praepotuere. Dastardliness and man pleasance prevailed too much with him, who otherwise did the Church of God singular good service. (Amama.) How much better had he done if passing by Placenza he had held a straight course to Verona! but he dared not (as Luther) meddle either with the pope’s triple crown, or with the monks’ fat paunches, lest for his Vae vobis Woe to you, he should have been brought coram nobis, publicly to us, as father Latimer said. He held it best policy to keep his finger out of the sore: and either to say no more than Eli did to his sons, "Why do ye such things," &c., or than Jehoshaphat did to Ahab, "Let not the king say so." As pruriginosa istorum hominum scabies aspetiori certe strigili fricanda fuerat, saith Amama. But those men’s mangy hides deserved a sharper currycomb.
For if I yet pleased men ] As once I did while I was a Pharisee.
I should not be, &c. ] That rule holds good in rhetoric, but not in divinity, Non ad veritatem solum, sed etiam ad opinionem eorum qui audiunt, accommodanda est oratio. (Cic. in Partib.)
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Ver. 11. Is not after, man ] This he often inculcateth, because the false apostles had buzzed such a thing into their ears to disparage his ministry.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it , but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Ver. 12. Received it of man ] i.e. Of mere man. Jesus Christ is more than a man.
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:
Ver. 13. And wasted it ] επορθουν . As an enemy’s country with fire and sword. Mars is styled πτολιπορθος . (Homer.)
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.
Ver. 14. Above many mine equals ] Porphyry said it was great pity such a man as Paul was ever cast away upon the Christian religion. The monarch of Morocco told the English ambassador in King John’s time, that he had lately read Paul’s Epistles, which he liked so well, that were he now to choose his religion, he would, before any other, embrace Christianity; but every one, saith he, ought to die in his own religion; and the leaving of the faith wherein he was born was the only thing that he disliked in that apostle.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Ver. 15. Who separated me from, &c. ] How knew he this, but by the event? Whosoever is lawfully called to the ministry may conceive that he also was sanctified thereunto from the womb, and should therefore do his utmost in the work. Verbi minister es, hoc age, Be a servant of words, do this, was Mr Perkins’ motto.
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Ver. 16. To reveal his Son in me ] Not only as in an object (wherein the power and grace of Christ might shine and appear), but as by an instrument of revealing and preaching Christ to many.
I conferred not with flesh ] i.e. With carnal reason, an evil counsellor for the soul, Romans 8:7 . Indeed in human governments, where reason is shut out, there tyranny is thrust in; but where God commandeth, there to ask a reason is presumption, to oppose reason is flat rebellion.
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Ver. 17. But I went into Arabia ] Of this journey Luke maketh no mention in the Acts. Into these tents of Kedar came St Paul, and made them, by his preaching, comely as the curtains of Solomon, Song of Solomon 1:5 . Rude they were, but rich; black, but comely, when they had this precious man among them especially, who became a blessing to all places wheresoever he came. Contrary to that which is said of the Great Turk, that wherever he sets his foot he leaves desolation behind him. Arabia was Felix indeed when St Paul was there.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Ver. 18. To see Peter ] Not by way of idle visit, but thoroughly to observe the history of his Christian practice for godly imitation. a Historiae sunt fidae monitrices. Histor is a faithful warning.
a ιστορησαι , videndo observare.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
Ver. 19. But other of the apostles ] These were busily attending upon their particular charges and offices, according to Romans 12:7 .
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Ver. 20. Behold, before God, I lie not ] This he solemnly sweareth for their satisfaction. An oath may be lawfully taken to help the truth in necessity, and not otherwise. Hence the Hebrew word Nishbang is a passive, and signifieth "to be sworn," rather than to swear.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Ver. 21. Afterwards I came ] He kept, likewise, a diary of his travels, and was able to give a good account of his daily courses. It is not to be doubted, but that our Saviour’s disciples kept a register of his holy oracles and miracles, out of which the history of the gospel was afterwards compiled and composed. Father Latimer did the like, as appeareth by his discourses. Mr Bradford also had a journal or dairy, wherein he used to set down all such notable things as either he did see or hear, each day that passed.
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
Ver. 22. And was unknown ] So far was Paul from learning aught of them.
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
Ver. 23. Now preacheth the faith ] A marvellous conversion. I was an obstinate Papist (saith Latimer of himself) as any was in England. Insomuch that when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and his opinions.
24 And they glorified God in me.
Ver. 24. And they glorified God ] "Whoso offereth praise, he glorifieth me," Psalms 50:23 . God accounts himself as it were to receive a new being, by those inward conceptions of his glory, and by those outward honours that we do to him.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany