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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Galatians 4

Verse 1

Now I say [λεγω δε] . Introducing a continued, explanatory discussion. Comp. chapter Galatians 3:17; Galatians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 1:12.

The heir [ο κληρονομος] . See on inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4. The article is generic as in the mediator, chapter Galatians 3:20.

A child [νηπιος] . A minor. See on 1 Corinthians 3:1. Used by Paul in contrast with teleiov full grown. See Ephesians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Philippians 3:15. The Jews called proselytes or novices babes. See Romans 2:20.

Lord of all. Legally, by right of birth, though not actually.

Verse 2

Tutors [επιτροπους] . Better, guardians. See on Luke 8:3. Only here in Paul. A general term, covering all to whom supervision of the child is intrusted, and should not be limited to paidagwgov (chapter Galatians 3:24). See 2 Macc. 11 1; 13 2; 14 2.

Govenors [οικονομους] Better stewards. Lat. dispensatores. More special than guardians, signifying those who had charge of the heir's property. See on Luke 16:1. In later Greek it was used in two special senses :

1. The slave whose duty it was to distribute the rations to the other slaves : so Luke 12:42.

2. The land - steward : so Luke 16:1. Comp. Romans 16:23, oJ oijkonomov thv polewv, commonly rendered city - treasurer : A. V. chamberlain. 66 In Lucian, Alex. 39, the Roman procurators, or fiscal administrators, are called Kaisarov oijkonomoi; comp. Ezra 4:49; Esther 8:9. The dispensator in the Roman household had charge of the accounts and made the payments (see Cicero, ad Att 11 1; Juv. James 1:91). He was commonly a slave. Christian teachers are called "stewards of the mysteries of God" and "of the grace of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10), as those who have received the counsels of God and impart them to men. A bishop or overseer is also called "a steward of God" (Titus 1:7).

The time appointed [προθεσμιας] . N. T. o. o LXX In Athenian law the term limited for bringing actions and prosecutions. Proqesmiav nomov a statute of limitations. It was also applied to the time allowed a defendant for paying damages, after the expiration of which, if he had not paid, he was called uJperhmerov, or ejkproqesmov, or uJperproqesmov one who had gone over his day of payment. Whether Paul 's figure assumes that the father is dead or living is a point which does not affect his argument. It is not easy to decide. As Alford justly remarks : "the antitype breaks through the type and disturbs it, as is the case wherever the idea of inheritance is spiritualised." Proqesmia an appointed time for the termination of the minority, would seem to imply that the father is conceived as living; since, if he were dead, that matter would be regulated by statute. 67

Verse 3

We. Not Jewish Christians only, but all Christians. For in verse 5, Jewish Christians are distinctly characterized as those under the law, while the following we, subjects of Christian adoption, points back to the we in this verse. Again, elements of the world is too wide a conception to suit the law, which was given to Israel only.

Elements of the world [τα στοιχεια του κοσμου] . For the word stoiceia in N. T. see Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:20; Hebrews 5:12; 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12. See on 2 Peter 3:10. Interpretations differ.

1. Elements of knowledge, rudimentary religiou s ideas. See Hebrews 5:12. The meaning of world will then be, the material as distinguished from the spiritual realm. Elements of the world will be the crude beginnings of religion, suited to the condition of children, and pertaining to those who are not Christians : elementary religious truths belonging to mankind in general. Thus the Jewish economy was of the world as appealing to the senses, and affording only the first elements of a spiritual system. The child - heir was taught only faint outlines of spiritual truth, and was taught them by worldly symbols.

2. Elements of nature - of the physical world, especially the heavenly bodies. See 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12; Wisd. 7 17. According to this explanation, the point would be that the ordering of the religious life was regulated by the order of nature; "the days, months, times," etc. (verse 10), as well as the heathen festivals, being dependent on the movements of the heavenly bodies. This was the patristic view (Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret).

3. The elements of the world are the personal, elemental spirits. This seems to be the preferable explanation, both here and in Colossians 2:8. According to Jewish ideas, all things had their special angels. In the Book of Jubilees, chapter 2, appear, the angel of the presence (comp. Isaiah 63:9); the angel of adoration; the spirits of the wind, the clouds, darkness, hail, frost, thunder and lightning, winter and spring, cold and heat. In the Book of Enoch, 82 10 - 14, appear the angels of the stars, who keep watch that the stars may appear at the appointed time, and who are punished if the stars do not appear (xviii. 15).

In the Revelation of John we find four angels of the winds (xiv. 18); the angel of the waters (xvi. 5); the age in the sun (xix. 17). In Hebrews 1:7 we read, "who maketh his angels winds." Paul also recognizes elemental forces of the spiritual world. The thorn is "a messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7); Satan prevents his journey to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18); the Corinthian offender is to be "delivered to Satan" (1 Corinthians 5:5); the Kingdom of God is opposed by "principalities and powers" (1 Corinthians 14:24); Christians wrestle against "the rulers of the darkness of this world; against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the upper regions" (Ephesians 6:12). In this passage the elements of the world are compared with overseers and stewards. This would seem to require a personal interpretation. In verse 8, "did service to them which by nature are no gods," appears to be = "in bondage under the elements," suggesting a personal interpretation of the latter. The Galatians had turned again to the observance of times and seasons (verse 10), which were controlled by the heavenly bodies and their spirits. 68

Verse 4

Fullness of the time [το πληρωμα του χρονου] . The moment by which the whole pre - messianic period was completed. Comp. Ephesians 1:10. It answers to the time appointed of the Father (verse 2). For plhrwma see on John 1:16. The meaning of the word is habitually passive - that which is completed, full complement. There are frequent instances of its use with the genitive, as "fullness of the earth, blessing, time, the sea, Christ," in all which it denotes the plenitude or completeness which characterizes the nouns. 69 Sent forth [εξαπεστειλεν] . From himself : from his heavenly glory. This does not mean that God then, for the first time, embodied what had previously been a mere ideal, but that he sent forth a preexisting person. See Philippians 2:6. Philippians 2:7 Philippians 2:0 Made of a woman [γενομενον] . Or born. Repeated, and expressing the fact that Christ became a man, as distinguished from his prehistoric form of being.

Under the law. The earthly being of Christ began under the law. He was not only of human birth, but of Jewish birth; subjected to all the ordinances of the law, as circumcision for instance, like any other Jewish boy.

Verse 5

To redeem [ινα εξαγοραση] . See on chapter Galatians 3:13. To redeem from the dominion and curse of the law. The means of redemption is not mentioned. It cannot be merely the birth of Christ of a woman and under the law. These are mentioned only as the preliminary and necessary conditions of his redeeming work. The means or method appears in chapter Galatians 3:13. We might receive [απολαβωμεν] . Not receive again or back, as Luke 14:27, for adoption was something which men did not have before Christ; but receive from the giver.

The adoption [την υιοθεσιαν] . P o. See on Romans 8:15, and comp. Romans 9:4; Ephesians 1:5. Not sonship, but sonship conferred.

Verse 6

Because ye are sons [οτι] . For oti in this sense at the beginning of a clause see Romans 9:7; 1 Corinthians 12:15; John 14:19; John 20:29. The emphasis is on sons. The spirit would not be given is ye were not sons. Others take oti as demonstrative, as a proof that ye are sons; but examples of such usage are wanting. It is not a proof of the fact of sonship that the apostle is giving, but a consequence of it. Comp. Romans 8:16, where the witness of the Spirit attests the sonship.

The Spirit of his Son. The Holy Spirit which animated Jesus in his human life, and which, in the risen Christ, is the life - principle of believers. See 1 Corinthians 14:45, and comp. Romans 8:9-11. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:10, where Paul uses Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ and Christ as convertible terms. The phrase Spirit of Jesus Christ only Philippians 1:19. In John 3:34 Christ is represented as dispensing the Spirit. He is fully endowed with the Spirit (Mark 1:10; John 1:32) : he sends the Spirit from the Father to the disciples, and he is the burden of the Spirit's testimony (John 14:26; John 16:7, John 16:9, John 16:10, John 16:15). The Paraclete is given in answer to Christ 's prayer (John 14:16). Christ identifies his own coming and presence with those of the Spirit (John 14:17, John 14:18). Paul identifies him personally with the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Our hearts. Note the interchange of persons : we might receive, ye are sons, our hearts. Comp. Romans 7:4.

Crying [κραζον] . A strong word, expressing deep emotion. The verb originally represents the sound of a croak or harsh scream; thence, generally, an inarticulate cry; an exclamation of fear or pain. The cry of an animal. So Aristoph. Knights, 1017, of the barking of a dog : 285, 287, of two men in a quarrel, trying to bawl each other down : Frogs, 258, of the croaking of frogs. This original sense appears in N. T. usage, as Matthew 14:26; Matthew 14:23; Matthew 27:50; Mark 5:5, etc., and is recognized even where the word is used in connection with articulate speech, by adding to it the participles legwn, legontev saying, or didaskwn teaching. See Matthew 8:29; Matthew 14:22; Mark 3:11; John 7:28, etc. In Mark 10:47 the inarticulate cry and the articulate utterance are distinguished. At the same time, the word is often used of articulate speech without such additions, as Mark 10:48; Mark 11:9; Mark 14:13, Mark 14:14; Luke 18:39; Acts 7:60; Acts 19:34; Romans 8:15. It falls into more dignified association in LXX, where it is often used of prayer or appeal to God, as Jude 1:3:9, Jude 1:15; Jude 1:4:3; Jude 1:6:7; Psalms 21:2, Psalms 21:5; Psalms 27:1, Psalms 54:16; and in N. T., where it is applied to solemn, prophetic utterance, as Romans 9:27; John 1:15, and is used of Jesus himself, as John 7:28, John 7:37; John 12:44, and of the Holy Spirit, as here. The Spirit gives the inspiration of which the believer is the organ. In Romans 8:15 the statement is inverted. The believer cries under the power of the Spirit.

Abba, Father. Comp. Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15. O pathr the Father, is not added in order to explain the Aramaic Abba for Greek readers. Rather the whole phrase Abba oJ pathr had passed into the early Christian prayers, the Aramaic title by which Christ addressed his Father (Mark 14:36) being very early united with the Greek synonym. Such combinations of Hebrew and Greek addresses having the same meaning were employed in rabbinical writings. Comp. also Revelation 9:11; Revelation 12:9.

Verse 7

Servant [δουλος] . Bondservant. See on Matthew 20:26; Mark 9:35; Romans 1:1.

Then an heir [και κληρονομος] . Kai marks the logical sequence. Comp. Romans 8:17. The figure is based upon Roman, not upon Jewish, law. According to Roman law, all the children, sons and daughters, inherited alike. According to Jewish law, the inheritance of the sons was unequal, and the daughters were excluded, except where there were no male heirs. Thus the Roman law furnished a more truthful illustration of the privileges of Christians. Comp. chapter Galatians 3:28.

Of God through Christ. The correct reading is dia qeou through God, omitting Christ.

Verse 8

Over against their filial freedom in Christ, Paul sets their lapse into subjection to the elements of the world (verse 3).

Knew not God. See on 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

Ye did service [εδουλευσατε] . Better, were in bondage or were slaves. By nature [φυσει] . Not denying their existence (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:5) but their deity. Emphasis on by nature. Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:20.

Verse 9

Rather are known of God. Rather corrects the first statement, have known God, which might seem to attach too much to human agency in attaining the knowledge of God. The divine side of the process is thrown into the foreground by are known, etc. Known does not mean approved or acknowledged, but simply recognized. Saving knowledge is doubtless implied, but is not expressed in the word. The relation of knowledge between God and his sons proceeds from God. The Galatians had not arrived at the knowledge of God by intuition nor by any process of reasoning. "God knew them ere they knew him, and his knowing them was the cause of their knowing him" (Eadie). Comp. 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Timothy 2:19; Matthew 7:23. Dean Stanley remarks that "our knowledge of God is more his act than ours." If God knows a man, that fact implies an activity of God which passes over to the man, so that he, as the subject of God 's knowledge, comes into the knowledge of God. In N. T. ginwskein often implies a personal relation between the knower and the known, so that knowledge implies influence. See 1 Corinthians 2:8; John 1:10; John 2:24; John 17:3. For a parallel to this interchange between the active and the passive, see Philippians 3:12.

How [πως] . "A question full of wonder" (Bengel). Comp. I marvel, chapter Galatians 1:6.

Turn ye again [επιστρεφετε παλιν] . Better, the continuous present, are ye turning, as of a change still in progress. Comp. chapter Galatians 1:6. Palin again, according to N. T. usage, and corresponding with palin anwqen in the following clause. Not back, which is the earlier sense and the usual classical meaning.

Weak and beggarly elements [ασθενη και πτωχα στοιχεια] . For elements see on verse 3. For ptwca beggarly, see on Matthew 5:3. The two adjectives express the utter impotence of these "elements" to do and to bestow what was done and given by God in sending his Son into the world. Comp. Romans 8:3; Hebrews 7:18.

Again [παλιν ανωθεν] . Anwqen [ανω αβοςε] adds to palin the idea of going back to the beginning. Its primary meaning is from above; thence, from the first, reckoning in a descending series. So Luke 1:3; Acts 26:5. Acts 26:71 Such combinations as this are not uncommon in N. T. and Class. See, for instance, Acts 18:21; Matthew 26:42; Acts 10:15; John 21:16. But these additions to palin are not pleonastic. They often define and explain it. Thus, John 21:16, palin marks the repetition of Jesus ' question, deuteron the number of the repetition. He asked again, and this was the second time of asking.

Ye desire [θελετε] . It was more than a mere desire. They were bent on putting themselves again into bondage. See on Matthew 1:19.

Verse 10

Ye observe [παρατηρεισθε] . See on Mark 3:2, and John 18:12, and comp. Joseph. Ant 3:5, 5, parathrein tav eJbdomadav to watch the weeks. The word denotes careful, scrupulous observance, an intent watching lest any of the prescribed seasons should be overlooked. A merely legal or ritual religion always develops such scrupulousness. Days. Sabbaths, fast - days, feast - days, new moons. Comp. Romans 14:5, Romans 14:6; Colossians 2:16.

Months. Sacred months. Comp. Isaiah 66:23. In the preexilic time the months were mostly not named but numbered first, second, third, etc., and this usage appears also in the post - exilic writings of the O. T. Only four months had special names : the first, Abib, the ear month, which marked the beginning of harvest (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18) : the second, Sif or Z? the flower month (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:37) : the seventh, Ethanum, the month of streaming rivers fed by the autumnal rains (1 Kings 8:2) : the eighth, Bul, the month of rain (1 Kings 6:38). In the post - exilic time names for all the months came into use, the most of which appear in the Palmyrene inscriptions and among the Syrians. According to the Talmud, the returning Jews brought these names from Babylon. The names of all are found in a month table discovered at Nineveh. N?n corresponds to Abib (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7), answering to the latter part of March and April. Jjar answered to Ziv (Targ. 2 Chronicles 30:2), our May. Tisri to Ethanim, the seventh month of the ecclesiastical, and the first of the civil year, corresponding to October. Marcheschwan (see Joseph. Ant 1:3, 3) answered to Bul and November. Tisri, being the seventh or sabbatical month, was peculiarly sacred, and the fourth [σιςαν, υνε] , fifth (Ab, August), and tenth (Tebeth, January) were distinguished by special fasts. Times [καιρους] . Better, seasons. See on Matthew 12:1; Ephesians 1:10, and comp. Leviticus 23:4. The holy, festal seasons, as Passover Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles. See 2 Chronicles 8:13.

Years [ενιαυτους] . Sabbatical years, occurring every seventh year. Not years of Jubilee, which had ceased to be celebrated after the time of Solomon.

Verse 11

I am afraid of you [φοβουμαι υμας] . Not a felicitous translation, though retained by Rev. Rather, "I am afraid for you or concerning you." The second uJmav is not attracted into the principal clause so as to read, "I am afraid lest I have bestowed labor," etc. The two clauses are distinct. I am afraid about you : then the reason for the fear is added, lest I have bestowed, etc.

Upon you [εις υμας] . Lit. into you. The labor, though in vain, had born directly upon its object. See the same phrase Romans 16:6.

In vain [εικη] . Comp. chapter Galatians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 14:2, and eijv to no purpose, Philippians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. After all my labor, you may return to Judaism. Luther says : "These words of Paul breathe tears."

Verse 12

Be as I am [γινεσθε ως εγω] . Better, become as I am; free from the bondage of Jewish ordinances.

I am as ye are [καγω ως εγω] . Rather, I became. Supply ejgenomhn or gegona. Become as I am, for I became a Gentile like you. Comp.

Philippians 3:7, Philippians 3:8. For the phrase ginesqai wJv to become as, see Matthew 6:16; Romans 9:29; 1 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 9:20-22.

Ye have not injured me at all [ουδεν με ηδικησατε] . This translation misses the force of the aorist, and conveys a wrong impression, that Paul, up to this time, had received no wrong at the hands of the Galatians. This was not true. The reference is to his earlier relations with the Galatians, and is explained by vv. 13, 14. Rend. ye did not injure me at all. Ye did not injure me then, do not do so now.

Verse 13

Ye know [οιδατε δε] . The A. V. omits de which is wanting in some Mss. De not oppositional as commonly explained : "Ye did not injure me, but on the contrary ye know, etc. "; but introducing an explanation of ye did not injure me by reference to the fact that they might easily have been moved to do him wrong by the unfavorable circumstances under which he first preached the gospel to them (through infirmity of the flesh). The formulas oida de, oidamen de, oidate de, are habitually used by Paul to introduce an explanation of what precedes, from a new point of view. See Romans 2:2; Romans 3:19; Romans 14:29; Philippians 4:15. The general sense therefore is :" Ye did not wrong me at all as you might easily have been moved to do; for [δε] you know in what an unfavorable light my infirmities placed me when I first came among you. "

Through infirmity [δι ασθενειαν] . On account of infirmity. Referring to the fact that Paul, in his first journey, was compelled by sickness to remain in Galatia, and preached to the Galatians during this enforced sojourn. This fact made their kindly reception the more commendable. 73 At the first [το προτερον] . Either generally, at an earlier time than the present (as John 6:62; John 9:8; 1 Timothy 1:13), or the first time (as Hebrews 7:27). Here in the latter sense. Paul had visited the Galatians twice before he wrote this letter.

Verse 14

My temptation which was in my flesh [τον πειρασμον υμων εν τη σαρκι μου] . The correct reading is peirasmon uJmwn your temptation. The trial to which they were subjected by his bodily infirmity (verse 13), and which might have tempted them to treat him with indifference.

Ye despised not nor rejected [ουκ εξουθενησατε ουδε εξεπτυσατε] . Commonly explained by making both verbs govern your temptation. Thus the meaning would be : "You were tempted to treat my preaching contemptuously because of my bodily infirmity; but you did not despise nor reject that which was a temptation to you." This is extremely far fetched, awkward, and quite without parallel in Paul 's writings or elsewhere. It does not suit the following but received me, etc. It lays the stress on the Galatians' resistance of a temptation to despise Paul; whereas the idea of a temptation is incidental. On this construction we should rather expect Paul to say : "Ye did despise and repudiate this temptation." Better, make your temptation, etc., dependent on ye know (verse 13); place a colon after flesh, and make both verbs govern me in the following clause. Rend. "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you the first time, and (ye know) your temptation which was in my flesh : ye did not despise nor reject me, but received me." The last clause thus forms one of a series of short and detached clauses beginning with verse 10. Ouk ejxouqenhsate ye did not set at nought, from ouJuden nothing. The form oujqen occurs Luke 22:35; Luke 23:14; Acts 19:27; Acts 26:26; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 11:8. For the compound here, comp. Luke 18:9; Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11; 2 Corinthians 10:10. o Class. Exeptusate spurned, N. T. o. Lit. spat out. A strong metaphor, adding the idea of contempt to that of setting at nought. Comp. HoObadiah 1:0. Obadiah 1:5 322; Aristoph. Wasps, 792. The two verbs express contemptuous indifference. Emesai to vomit, as a figure of contemptuous rejection, is found in Revelation 3:16. The simple ptuein to spit only in the literal sense in N. T. Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23; John 9:6, and no other compound occurs.

As an angel. Bengel says : "The flesh, infirmity, temptation, are known to angels; wherefore to receive as an angel is to receive with great veneration." As Jesus Christ. With even higher honor than an angel. Comp. Matthew 10:40; John 13:20.

Verse 15

Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? [που ουν ο μακαρισμος υμων] . Makarismov, P o. Comp. Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9. Not blessedness, but pronouncing blessed, felicitation. "What had become of your self gratulation on my presence and teaching?" Ye spake of is an attempt to render uJmwn. Better, "Where is then that gratulation of yours?" I bear you record [μαρτυρω] . Better, witness. Bear record is common in A. V. for bear witness. Record is used both of a person, as God is my record, Philippians 1:8; I call God for a record, 1 Corinthians 1:23, and in the sense of evidence or testimony. So Shaks. Richard 2 1 1 30 : "First, Heaven be the record to my speech."

Plucked out [εξορυξαντες] . Lit. dug out. Only here, and Mark 2:4, of digging up the roof in order to let down the paralytic before Jesus. Your own eyes [τους οφθαλμους υμων] . Better, your eyes. Eyes, as most treasured possessions. Comp. Psalms 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8. Some have found here evidence that Paul was afflicted with disease of the eyes. See Dr. John Brown's Horae Subsecivae. Accordingly they explain these words, "You would have given me your own eyes to replace mine." But uJmwn is unemphatic, your. All attempts to connect the passage with Paul 's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 7:7) are to be dismissed as fanciful.

Verse 16

Therefore [ωστε] . Better, so then : seeing that your love for me has waned.

Your enemy [εχθρος υμων] . 'Ecqrov enemy, in an active sense, as is shown by the next clause. Not passive, an object of hatred, which would have the pronoun in the dative.

Because I tell you the truth [αληθευων υμιν] . 'Alhqeuein, only here and Ephesians 4:15, means to speak the truth or to deal truly. The present participle refers to the same time as gegona I am become, the time of his second visit. The clause is usually construed as interrogative (A. V.). It is rather a direct statement with a slight interrogative suggestion. "So then, I am become your enemy, am I"

Verse 17

They zealously affect you (zhlousin uJmav). They are zealously paying you court in order to win you over to their side. Affect, in this sense, is obsolete. It is from affectare, to strive after, earnestly desire. So Shaks. Tam. of Shr. 1 1 40 :

"In brief, sir, study what you most affect." Ben Johnson, Alchem. 3 2 :

"Pray him aloud to name what dish he affects." As a noun, desire. So Chaucer, Troil. and Cress. 3 1391 : "As Crassus dide for his affectis wronge" (his wrong desires). Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1.

Not well [ου καλως] . Not in an honorable way.

Nay [αλλα] . So far from dealing honorably.

They would exclude you [εκκλεισαι υμας θελουσιν] . From other teachers who do not belong to their party - those of anti - Judaising views who formed the sounder part of the church.

That ye might affect them [ινα αυτους ζηλουτε] . So that in your isolation from others, you might be led to seek affiliation with them.

Verse 18

It is good - in a good thing. Zhlousqai to be zealously sought, in the same sense as before. It is passive. It is good for you Galatians to be zealously sought. In a good thing [εν καλω] answers to ouj kalwv not honorably, verse 17. In a good matter - the interest of the gospel. Thus Paul would say : "These Judaisers zealously strive to win you over to their views; but they do not do this in an honorable way. There is no harm in seeking to interest and enlist you, provided it is in a good cause."

Verse 19

My little children [τεκνια μου] . Only here in Paul, but often in John. See John 13:33; 1 John 2:1, 1 John 2:12, 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:18, etc. 74 See on chapter Galatians 3:26.

I travail in birth again [παλιν ωδινω] . Better as Rev. of whom I am again in travail. Wdinw only here and Revelation 12:2.Galatians 4:27 is a quotation. The metaphorical use of the word is frequent in O. T. See Psalms 7:14; Sir. 19 11; 31 5; 63 17; Micah 4:10; Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 66:8. Paul means that he is for the second time laboring and distressed for the Galatian converts, with the same anguish which attended his first efforts for their conversion. The metaphor of begetting children in the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 4:15; Philippians 1:10. It was a Jewish saying : "If one teaches the son of his neighbor the law, the Scripture reckons this the same as though he had begotten him."

Until Christ be formed in you [μεχρις ου μορφωθη χριστος εν υμιν] . The forming of Christ in them, their attainment of the complete inner life of Christians, is the object of the new birth. By their relapse they have retarded this result and renewed Paul 's spiritual travail. The verb morfoun N. T. o. The idea under different aspects is common. See Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27.

Verse 20

I desire [ηθελον] . Better, I could wish, the imperfect tense referring to a suppressed conditional clause, as if it were possible. Comp. Acts 25:22; Romans 9:3.

To change my voice [αλλαξαι την φωνην μου] . To address you, not with my former severity, so as to make you think me your enemy, but affectionately, as a mother speaks to her children, yet still telling them the truth [αληθευων] .

I stand in doubt of you [απορουμαι εν υμιν] . Lit. I am perplexed in you. For this use of ejn, comp. 2 Corinthians 7:16; Galatians 1:24. Paul 's perplexity is conceived as taking place in the readers. For the verb, see on Mark 6:20; 2 Corinthians 4:8. Paul means : " I am puzzled how to deal with you; how to find entrance to your hearts.

21 - 31. Paul now defends the principle of Christian freedom from the law by means of an allegorical interpretation of the history of Abraham 's two sons. He meets the Jusaisers on their own Old Testament ground, going back to the statement of chapter Galatians 3:7.

Verse 21

Tell me. He plunges into the subject without introduction, and with a direct appeal.

Desire [θελοντες] . Are bent on being under the law. See on verse 9. Under the law [υπο νομον] . For nomov with and without the article, see on Romans 2:12. Here, unquestionably, of the Mosaic law.

Hear [ακουετε] . (Do ye not) hear what the law really says : listen to it so as to catch its real meaning? Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:2; LXX, Genesis 11:7; Deuteronomy 28:49. Deuteronomy 28:7 Deuteronomy 28:5 The law [τον νομον] . In a different sense, referring to the O. T. For a similar double sense see Romans 3:19. For nomov as a designation of the O. T. generally, see 1 Corinthians 14:21; John 10:24; John 11:34; John 14:25.

Verse 22

For [γαρ] . Your determination to be under the law is opposed by Scripture, if you will understand it, for it is written, etc.

A bondmaid [της παιδισκης] . The bondmaid, indicating a well known character, Hagar, Genesis 16:3. The word in Class. means also a free maiden; but in N. T. always a slave. So almost always in LXX; but see Ruth 4:12; Judith 12 13.

Verse 23

Was born [γεγεννηται] . Has been born, or is born : perfect tense, treating the historical fact as if present.

After the flesh [κατα σαρκα] . According to the regular course of nature. Very common in Paul.

By promise [δι επαγγελιας] . Most editors retain the article, the promise of Genesis 17:16, Genesis 17:19; Genesis 18:10. Comp. Romans 9:9. In virtue of the promise; for according to natural conditions he would not have been born.

Verse 24

Are an allegory [εστιν αλληγορουμενα] . N. T. o. Lit. are allegorised. From allo another, ajgoreuein to speak. Hence, things which are so spoken as to give a different meaning from that which the words express. For parable, allegory, fable, and proverb, see on Matthew 13:3.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/galatians-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.