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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 1

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Not from men, neither through men (ουκ απ' ανθρωπων ουδε δι' ανθρωπου). The bluntness of Paul's denial is due to the charge made by the Judaizers that Paul was not a genuine apostle because not one of the twelve. This charge had been made in Corinth and called forth the keenest irony of Paul (Galatians 1:2). In Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:2 Paul proves his independence of the twelve and his equality with them as recognized by them. Paul denies that his apostleship had a human source (ουκ απ' ανθρωπων) and that it had come to him through (δι' ανθρωπου) a human channel (Burton).

But through Jesus Christ and God the Father (αλλα δια Ιησου Χριστου κα θεου πατρος). The call to be an apostle came to Paul through Jesus Christ as he claimed in 1 Corinthians 9:1 and as told in Acts 9:4-6; Acts 22:7; Acts 26:16. He is apostle also by the will of God.

Who raised him from the dead (του εγειραντος αυτον εκ νεκρων). And therefore Paul was qualified to be an apostle since he had seen the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8). This verb εγειρω is often used in N.T. for raising from the sleep of death, to wake up the dead.

Verse 2

All the brethren which are with me (ο συν εμο παντες αδελφο). The same phrase in Philippians 4:21 in distinction from the saints in verse Galatians 1:22. Probably the small company of travelling companions.

Unto the churches of Galatia (ταις εκκλησιαις της Γαλατιας). A circular letter therefore to all the churches in the province (both South Galatia and North Galatia if he really laboured there).

Verse 3

Grace to you and peace (χαρις υμιν κα ειρηνη). As in I Thess., II Thess., I Cor., II Cor. (already written) and in all the later Epistles save that in I and II Timothy "mercy" is added. But this customary salutation (see on 1 Thessalonians 1:1) is not a perfunctory thing with Paul. He uses it here even when he has so much fault to find just as he did in I and II Corinthians.

Verse 4

For our sins (υπερ των αμαρτιων). Some MSS. have περ (concerning). In the Koine this use of υπερ as like περ has come to be common. He refers to the death of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 5:6). As a rule περ occurs of things, υπερ of persons.

Deliver (εξελητα). Second aorist middle subjunctive (final clause with οπως) of εξαιρεω, old verb to pluck out, to rescue (Acts 23:27). "Strikes the keynote of the epistle. The gospel is a rescue, an emancipation from a state of bondage" (Lightfoot).

Out of this present evil world (εκ του αιωνος του ενεστωτος πονηρου). Literally, "out of the age the existing one being evil." The predicate position of πονηρου calls emphatic attention to it. Each word here is of interest and has been already discussed. See on Matthew 13:22 for αιων, Matthew 6:23 for πονηρος. Ενεστωτος is genitive masculine singular of ενεστως second perfect (intransitive) participle of ενιστημ for which see on 2 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:26. It is present as related to future (Romans 8:38; Hebrews 9:9).

According to the will of God (κατα το θελημα του θεου). Not according to any merit in us.

Verse 5

To whom be the glory (ω η δοξα). No verb in the Greek. For like doxologies see Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:17.

Verse 6

Ye are so quickly removing (ουτως ταχεως μετατιθεσθε). The present middle indicative of μετατιθημ, to change places, to transfer. "You are transferring yourselves" and doing it "so quickly" either from the time of their conversion or most likely from the time when the Judaizers came and tempted them. So easily some of them are falling victims to these perverters of the gospel. That is a continuous amazement (θαυμαζω) to Paul and to men today that so many are so silly and so gullible to modern as to ancient charlatans.

Unto a different gospel (εις ετερον ευαγγελιον). See on 2 Corinthians 11:4 for distinction between αλλο and ετερον as here. It is not here or there a mere difference in emphasis or spirit as in Philippians 1:18 so long as Christ is preached. These men as in 2 Corinthians 11:4 preach "another Jesus" and a "different gospel" and so have fallen away from grace and have done away with Christ (Galatians 5:4). Hence the vehemence of Paul's words.

Verse 7

Which is not another (ο ουκ εστιν αλλο). It is no "gospel" (good news) at all, but a yoke of bondage to the law and the abolition of grace. There is but one gospel and that is of grace, not works. The relative ο (which) refers to ετερον ευαγγελιον (a different gospel) "taken as a single term and designating the erroneous teachings of the Judaizers" (Burton).

Only (ε μη). Literally, "except," that is, "Except in this sense," "in that it is an attempt to pervert the one true gospel" (Lightfoot).

Who disturb you (ο ταρασσοντες). The disturbers. This very verb ταρασσω is used in Acts 17:8 of the Jews in Thessalonica who "disturbed" the politarchs and the people about Paul.

Would pervert (θελοντες μεταστρεψα). "Wish to turn about," change completely as in Acts 2:20; James 4:9. The very existence of the gospel of Christ was at stake.

Verse 8

If we (εαν ημεις). Condition of third class (εαν and aorist middle subjunctive ευαγγελισητα). Suppose I (literary plural) should turn renegade and preach "other than" (παρ' ο), "contrary to that which we preached." Preachers have turned away from Christ, alas, and preached "humanism" or some other new-fangled notion. The Jews termed Paul a renegade for leaving Judaism for Christianity. But it was before Paul had seen Christ that he clung to the law. Paul is dogmatic and positive here, for he knows that he is standing upon solid ground, the fact of Christ dying for us and rising again. He had seen the Risen Jesus Christ. No angel can change Paul now.

Let him be anathema (αναθεμα εστω). See on 1 Corinthians 12:3 for this word.

Verse 9

So say I now again (κα αρτ παλιν λεγω). Paul knows that he has just made what some will consider an extreme statement. But it is a deliberate one and not mere excitement. He will stand by it to the end. He calls down a curse on any one who proclaims a gospel to them contrary to that which they had received from him.

Verse 10

Am I persuading? (πειθω?). Conative present, trying to persuade like ζητω αρεσκειν (seeking to please) where the effort is stated plainly. See 2 Corinthians 5:11.

I should not be (ουκ αν ημην). Conclusion of second class condition, determined as unfulfilled. Regular construction here (ε and imperfect indicative in the condition ηρεσκον, ουκ αν and imperfect in the conclusion). About pleasing men see on 1 Thessalonians 2:4. In Colossians 3:22; Colossians 6:6 Paul uses the word "men-pleasers" (ανθρωπαρεσκο).

Verse 11

Which was preached (το ευαγγελισθεν). Play on the word ευαγγελιον by first aorist passive participle of ευαγγελιζω, "the gospel which was gospelized by me."

It is not after man (ουκ εστιν κατα ανθρωπον). Not after a human standard and so he does not try to conform to the human ideal. Paul alone (1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32; Romans 3:15) in the N.T. uses this old and common idiom.

Verse 12

Nor was I taught it (ουτε εδιδαχθην). He did not receive it "from man" (παρα ανθρωπων, which shuts out both απο and δια of verse Galatians 1:1), whether Peter or any other apostle, nor was he taught it in the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem or at the University of Tarsus. He "received" his gospel in one way, "through revelation of Jesus Christ" (δι' αποκαλυψεως Ιησου Χριστου). He used παρελαβον in 1 Corinthians 15:3 about the reception of his message from Christ. It is not necessary to say that he had only one (because of the aorist active παρελαβον, from παραλαμβανω, for it can very well be constative aorist) revelation (unveiling) from Christ. In fact, we know that he had numerous visions of Christ and in 1 Corinthians 11:23 he expressly says concerning the origin of the Lord's Supper: "I received (παρελαβον, again) from the Lord." The Lord Jesus revealed his will to Paul.

Verse 13

My manner of life (την εμην αναστροφην). Late word in this sense from Polybius on from αναστρεφομα. In the older writers it meant literally "return" or "turning back." See 1 Peter 1:15. It is absent in this sense in the papyri though the verb is common.

In the Jews' religion (εν τω Ιουδαισμω). "In Judaism." The word in N.T. only here and next verse, already in II Macc. 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; IV Macc. 4:26. In these passages it means the Jewish religion as opposed to the Hellenism that the Syrian Kings were imposing upon the Jews. So later Justin Martyr (386 D) will use Χριστιανισμος for Christianity. Both words are made from verbs in -ιζω.

Beyond measure (καθ' υπερβολην). "According to excess" (throwing beyond, υπερβολη).

I persecuted (εδιωκον). Imperfect active, "I used to persecute" (see Galatians 1:7-9 for the facts).

Made havock of it (επορθουν αυτην). Customary action again, imperfect of old verb πορθεω, to lay waste, to sack. In N.T. only here, verse Galatians 1:23, and Acts 9:31 (used by Christians in Damascus of Saul after his conversion of his former conduct, the very word of Paul here). Paul heard them use it of him and it stuck in his mind.

Verse 14

I advanced (προεκοπτον). Imperfect active again of προκοπτω, old verb, to cut forward (as in a forest), to blaze a way, to go ahead. In N.T. only here, Romans 13:12; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 3:13. Paul was a brilliant pupil under Gamaliel. See Philippians 3:4-6. He was in the lead of the persecution also.

Beyond many of mine own age (υπερ πολλους συνηλικιωτας). Later compound form for the Attic ηλικιωτης which occurs in Dion Hal. and inscriptions (from συν, with, and ηλικια, age). Paul modestly claims that he went "beyond" (υπερ) his fellow-students in his progress in Judaism.

More exceedingly zealous (περισσοτερως ζηλοτης). Literally, "more exceedingly a zealot." See on Acts 1:13; Acts 21:20; 1 Corinthians 14:12. Like Simon Zelotes.

For the traditions of my fathers (των πατρικων μου παραδοσεων). Objective genitive after ζηλοτης. Πατρικων only here in N.T., though old word from πατηρ (father), paternal, descending from one's father. For πατρωιος see Acts 22:3; Acts 22:14. Tradition (παραδοσις) played a large part in the teaching and life of the Pharisees (Mark 7:1-23). Paul now taught the Christian tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Verse 15

It was the good pleasure of God (ευδοκησεν ο θεος). Paul had no doubt about God's purpose in him (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Who separated me (ο αφορισας με). Αφοριζω is old word (from απο and ορος) to mark off from a boundary or line. The Pharisees were the separatists who held themselves off from others. Paul conceives himself as a spiritual Pharisee "separated unto the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1, the same word αφωρισμενος). Before his birth God had his plans for him and called him.

Verse 16

To reveal his Son in me (αποκαλυψα τον υιον αυτου εν εμο). By "in me" (εν εμο) Paul can mean to lay emphasis on his inward experience of grace or he may refer objectively to the vision of Christ on the way to Damascus, "in my case." Paul uses εν εμο in this sense (in my case) several times (verse Galatians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 13:3; Philippians 1:30; 1 Timothy 1:16). Once (1 Corinthians 14:11) εν εμο is almost equivalent to the dative (to me). On the whole Lightfoot seems correct here in taking it to mean "in my case," though the following words suit either idea. Certainly Paul could not preach Christ among the Gentiles without the rich inward experience and in the objective vision he was called to that task.

I conferred not with flesh and blood (ου προσανεθεμην σαρκ κα αιματ). Second aorist middle indicative of προσανατιθημ, old verb, double compound (προσ, ανα), to lay upon oneself in addition, to betake oneself to another, to confer with, dative case as here. In N.T. only here and Galatians 2:6.

Verse 17

Before me (προ εμου). The Jerusalem apostles were genuine apostles, but so is Paul. His call did not come from them nor did he receive confirmation by them.

Into Arabia (εις Αραβιαν). This visit to Arabia has to come between the two visits to Damascus which are not distinguished in Acts 9:22. In verse Galatians 1:23 Luke does speak of "considerable days" and so we must place the visit to Arabia between verses Galatians 1:22; Galatians 1:23.

Verse 18

Then after three years (επειτα μετα τρια ετη). A round number to cover the period from his departure from Jerusalem for Damascus to his return to Jerusalem. This stay in Damascus was an important episode in Paul's theological readjustment to his new experience.

To visit Cephas (ιστορησα Κηφαν). First aorist infinitive of ιστορεω, old verb (from ιστωρ, one who knows by inquiry), to gain knowledge by visiting. Only here in N.T. If we turn to Acts 9:26-30, we shall see that the visit of two weeks to Peter came after Barnabas endorsed Paul to the suspicious disciples in Jerusalem and probably while he was preaching in the city. It was a delightful experience, but Peter did not start Paul upon his apostleship. He visited him as an equal. Peter no doubt had much to say to Paul.

Verse 19

Except James the brother of the Lord (ε μη Ιακωβον τον αδελφον του Κυριου). James the son of Zebedee was still living at that time. The rest of the twelve were probably away preaching and James, brother of the Lord, is here termed an apostle, though not one of the twelve as Barnabas is later so called. Paul is showing his independence of and equality with the twelve in answer to the attacks of the Judaizers.

Verse 20

I lie not (ου ψευδομα). So important does he deem the point that he takes solemn oath about it.

Verse 21

Into the region of Syria and Cilicia (εις τα κλιματα της Σψριας κα της Κιλικιας). This statement agrees with the record in Acts 9:30. On κλιματα, see 2 Corinthians 11:10. Paul was not idle, but at work in Tarsus and the surrounding country.

Verse 22

And I was still unknown (ημην δε αγνουμενος). Periphrastic imperfect passive of αγνοεω, not to know.

By face (τω προσωπω). Associative instrumental case.

Of Judea (της Ιουδαιας). As distinct from Jerusalem, for he had once scattered the church there and had revisited them before coming to Tarsus (Acts 9:26-30). In Acts 9:31 the singular of εκκλησια is used, but in a geographic sense for Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.

Verse 23

They only heard (μονον ακουοντες ησαν). Periphrastic imperfect, "They were only hearing from time to time."

That once persecuted us (ο διωκων ημας ποτε). Present active articular participle, a sort of participle of antecedent time suggested by ποτε, "the one who used to persecute us once upon a time."

The faith (την πιστιν). Here used in the sense of "the gospel" as in Acts 6:7.

Verse 24

They glorified (εδοξαζον). Imperfect, kept on doing it.

In me (εν εμο). In my case as in Galatians 1:16.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/galatians-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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