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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Galatians 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] The Apostle exclaims indignantly, moved by the fervour and truth of his rebuke of Peter, against the folly of the Galatians, for suffering themselves to be bewitched out of their former vivid apprehension of Christ’s work and Person.

ἀνόητοι must not, with Jer., be taken as an allusion to any supposed national stupidity of the Galatians (Wetst. on ch. Galatians 1:6, cites from Themistius a very different description: οἱ ἄνδρεςὀξεῖς κ. ἀγχίνοι κ. εὐμαθέστεροι τῶν ἄγαν ἑλλήνων): it merely springs out of the occasion: see ref. Luke.

ὑμᾶς has the emphasis—‘YOU, to whom,’ &c.

ἐβάσκανεν] Not with Chr. al., ‘envied,’ in which sense the verb usually takes a dative: so Thom. Mag., βασκαίνω, οὐ μόνον ἀντὶ τοῦ φθονῶ, ὅπερ πρὸς δοτικὴν συντάσσεται, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀντὶ τοῦ μέμφομαι κ. διαβάλλω παρὰ τοῖς παλαιοῖς εὕρηται, κ. συντάσσεται πρὸς αἰτιατικήν (not always, cf. Sirach 14:6); but, as E. V. bewitched,—fascinated: so Aristot. Probl. xx. 34, διὰ τί τὸ πήγανον βασκανίας φασὶ φάρμακον εἶναι; ἢ διότι βασκαίνεσθαι δοκοῦσι λάβρως ἐσθίοντες; … ἐπιλέγουσι γοῦν, ὅταν τῆς αὐτῆς τραπέζης ἰδίᾳ τι προσφέρωνται, μεταδιδόντες, “ ἵνα μὴ βασκάνῃς με.”

κατʼ ὀφθ.] openly,—before your eyes: so ἵνα σοι κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς λέγῃ, Aristoph. Ran. 625; cf. κατʼ ὄμμα, Eur. Androm. 1040, κρυπτὸς καταστάς, ἢ κατʼ ὄμμʼ ἐλθὼν μάχῃ;

προεγράφη] was described before, as in reff. It has been variously explained, (1) ‘depicted before you.’ So Œc., Thl. (Chrys.?), Erasm., Luth., Calv., Winer, Rückert, Jowett, &c. But προγράφειν cannot be shewn to have any such meaning; nor (see below) is it required (as Jow.) by the context. (2) ‘palam scriptus est:’ so Estius, Elsner, Bengel, al. But this, although an allowable meaning ( τῆς δίκης προγεγραμμένης αὐτῷ, διὰ πένθος οἰκούρει, Plut. Camill., 11), would not suit ἐν ὑμῖν (see below). (3) ‘proscriptus est.’ So Vulg., Ambr., Aug., Lyra. ( προὔγραφεν αὐτοὺς φυγάδας, Polyb. xxxii. 21. 12; οἱ προγεγραμμένοι, ib. 22. 1.) But this is quite irrelevant to the context. It is best therefore to keep to St. Paul’s own meaning of προγράφειν, and understand it to refer to the time when he preached Christ among them, which he represents as a previous description in writing of Christ, in their hearts and before their eyes. Jerome, Hermann, al., understand it as above, ‘olim scriptus est,’ interpreting it, however, of the prophecies of the O. T. But not to mention that no prophecy sets Him forth as ἐσταυρωμένος, the whole passage (cf. Galatians 3:2-5) evidently refers to the time when the Apostle preached among them. (See more in De W. and Meyer, from whom the above is mainly taken.) (The ἐν ὑμῖν of the rec. could hardly belong to ἐσταυρωμένος; for if so, it would more naturally be ἐσταυρ. ἐν ὑμῖν, the emphasis, as it now stands, being on ἐν ὑμῖν: but it must belong to προεγράφη, as above, and as in 2 Corinthians 3:2,—‘in animis vestris.’ So Mey. Among the various meanings proposed,—‘among you’ (E. V., &c., De W., Rück.), ‘on account of you’ (Koppe, but wrongly, see ch. Galatians 1:24, note),—Luther’s is the most remarkable: “jam non solum abjecistis gratiam Dei, non solum Christus frustra vobis mortuus est, sed turpissime in vobis crucifixus est. Ad eum modum loquitur et Epistola ad Ebr. vi. 6: denuo crucifigentes sibimetipsis filium Dei, &c.” This again is condemned by the context, and indeed by the aor. προεγράφη.)

ἐσταυρωμένος, as expressing the whole mystery of redemption by grace, and of freedom from legal obligation. ‘It has an echo of συνεσταύρωμαι in ch. Galatians 2:20.’ Jowett.


Verses 1-12

CH. Galatians 3:1 to Galatians 5:12.] SECOND, or POLEMICAL PART OF THE EPISTLE.


Verse 2

2.] τ. μόνον,—not to mention all the other grounds on which I might rest my argument, ‘this only,’ &c. διὰ συντόμου λόγου κ. ταχίστης ἀποδείξεως ὑμᾶς πεῖσαι βούλομαι. Chr.

μαθεῖν, be informed: not to be pressed, as Luther, al. (“Agite nunc, respondete mihi discipulo vestro, tam subito enim facti estis docti, ut mei jam sitis præceptores et doctores”), but taken in its ordinary sense, Bee reff. Did ye from (as its ground, see ch. Galatians 2:16) the works of the Law (not a Law) receive the Spirit (evidently here to be taken as including all His gifts, spiritual and external: not as Chr., Thl., Jer., χαρίσματα only: for the two are distinguished in Galatians 3:5), or from the hearing of faith (meaning either, ‘that preaching which proclaimed faith,’ or ‘that hearing, which received (the) faith.’ The first is preferable, because (1) where their first receiving the Gospel is in question, the preaching of it would probably be hinted at, as it is indeed taken up by the οὖν below, Galatians 3:5; (2) where the question is concerning the power of faith as contrasted with the works of the law, faith would most likely be subjective. But certainly we must not understand it ‘obedience ( ὑπακ. Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26. See 1 Kings 15:22) to the faith,’ as Wahl, al., which would spoil the contrast here)?


Verse 3

3.] Are ye so (to such an extent, emph.) foolish (as viz. the following fact would prove)? Having begun (see Philippians 1:6, where the same two verbs occur together, and 2 Corinthians 8:6, where προενήρξατο is followed by ἐπιτελέσῃ. Understand, ‘the Christian life’) in the Spirit (dative of the manner in which, reff. The Spirit, i.e. the Holy Spirit, guiding and ruling the spiritual life, as the ‘essence and active principle’ (Ellic.) of Christianity,—contrasted with the flesh,—the element in which the law worked), are ye now being completed (passive here, not mid., cf. Philippians 1:6, where the active is used: and for the passive, Luke 13:32. The middle does not appear to occur in the N. T., though it does in classical Greek, e.g. Polyb. ii. 58. 10, μηθὲν ἀσεβὲς ἐπιτελεσαμένοις. Diod. Sic. xii. 54, μεγάλας πράξεις ἐπιτελεσάμενοι) in (dative, as above) the flesh?


Verse 4

4.] Did ye suffer (not, ‘have ye suffered,’ as almost all Commentators, E. V., &c.,—i.e. πεπόνθατε, Hebrews 2:18; Luke 13:2) so many things in vain? There is much controversy about the meaning. (1) Chrys., Aug., and the ancients, Grot., Wolf, Rück., Olsh., &c., understand it of the sufferings which the Galatians underwent at the time of their reception of the Gospel. And, I believe, rightly. For (a) πάσχω occurs (see reff.) seven times in St. Paul, and always in the strict sense of ‘suffering,’ by persecution, or hardship (similarly in Heb., 1 Pet., &c.): (b) the historic aorist here marks the reference to be to some definite time. Now the time referred to by the context is that of their conversion to the Gospel, cf. τὸ πν. ἐλάβετε,— ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι above. Therefore the meaning is, Did ye undergo all those sufferings (not specially mentioned in this Epistle, but which every convert to Christ must have undergone as a matter of course) in vain (Schomer first, and after him many, and Winer, B.-Crus., De Wette, understand παθεῖν here in a good sense, in reference to divine grace bestowed on them. But πάσχω seems never to be thus used in Greek without an indication in the context of such a meaning, e.g. εὖ πάσχειν, or as in Jos. Antt. iii. 15. 1, ὅσα παθόντες ἐξ αὐτοῦ κ. πηλικῶν εὐεργεσιῶν μεταλαβόντες, where the added clause defines the παθόντες; and never in N. T., LXX nor Apocrypha at all. (3) Bengel refers it to their patience with Paul (patientissime sustinuistis pertulistisque me); but this, as Meyer remarks, would be expressed by ἀνέχειν, hardly by πάσχειν. (4) Meyer, to the troubles of their bondage introduced by the false and judaizing teachers. But not to dwell on other objections, it is decisive against this, (a) that it would thus be present, πάσχετε (see ch. Galatians 4:10), not past at all, and (b) that even if it might be past, it must be the perfect and not the aorist. I therefore hold to (1); οὐ γὰρ ὑπὲρ τοῦ νόμου ἀλλʼ ὑπὲρ τοῦ χριστοῦ τὰ παθήματα, Thdrt.: πάντα γὰρ ἐκεῖνα, φησίν, ἅπερ ὑπεμείνατε, ζημιῶσαι ὑμᾶς οὗτοι βούλονται, κ. τὸν στέφανον ὑμῶν ἁρπάσαι. Chrys. (So Ellic. ed. 2.) When Meyer says that this meaning is ganz isolirt vom Context, he is surely speaking at random: see above. (Ellic. ed. 1 took ἐπάθετε in a neutral sense, as applying to both persecutions and blessings, and nearly so Jowett: ‘Had ye all these experiences in vain?’ objecting to (1) that it is unlike the whole spirit of the Apostle. But we find surely a trace of the same spirit in Philippians 1:29-30; as there suffering is represented as a special grace from Christ, so here it might well be said, ‘let not such grace have been received in vain’))? if it be really in vain (on εἴ γε καί, see note on 2 Corinthians 5:3; the construction is, ‘if, as it must be, what I have said, εἰκῆ, is really the fact.’ The Commentators all take it as a supposition,—some, as Chr., &c., E.V., ‘if it be yet in vain,’ as a softening of εἰκῆ, others, as Meyer, De W., al., as an intensification of it, ‘if it be only in vain (and not something worse)’).


Verse 5

5.] οὖν takes up again the question of Galatians 3:2, and asks it in another form. There is a question whether the participles ἐπιχορηγῶν and ἐνεργῶν are present, referring to things done among them while the Apostle was writing, or imperfect, still spoken of the time when he was with them? Chrys., Thdrt., &c., and Bengel, al., maintain the latter: Luth., Calv., Rück., Meyer, De W., &c., the former. It seems to me, that this question must be settled by first determining who is the agent here spoken of. Is it the Apostle? or is it not rather GOD, and is not this indicated by the reference to Abraham’s faith in the next verse, and the taking up the passive ἐλογίσθη by δικαιοῖ ὁ θεός in Galatians 3:8? If it be so, then the participles here must be taken as present, but indefinite, in a substantive sense (Winer), as ὁ διώκων ἡμᾶς ποτέ, ch. Galatians 1:23. And certainly God alone can be said (and so in ref. 2 Cor.) ἐπιχορηγεῖν τὸ πνεῦμα, and ἐνεργεῖν (Ch. Galatians 2:8) δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν (see below).

ἐπιχορ.] The ἐπί does not imply addition, but as so often with prepositions of motion in composition, the direction of the supply: see notes on Acts 27:7; Romans 8:16.

δυνάμεις] here, not merely miracles or χαρίσματα, though those are included: nor is ἐν ὑμῖν, ‘among you;’ but δυν. are the wonders wrought by divine Power in you (cf. θεὸς ὁ ἐνεργῶν τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν, 1 Corinthians 12:6. θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν ἐν ὑμῖν τὸ θέλειν κ. τ. λ. Philippians 2:13. Ephesians 2:2; also Matthew 14:2), viz. at your conversion and since.

ἐξ ἔργ.] (supply does He it) in consequence of (“as the originating or moving cause,” Ellic.) the works of the law, or in consequence of the hearing (see above, Galatians 3:2) of faith?


Verse 6

6.] The reply to the foregoing question is understood: it is ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως. And then enters the thought of God’s ἐνεργεῖν as following upon Abraham’s faith. The fact of justification being now introduced, whereas before the ἐπιχορηγεῖν τὸ πνεῦμα was the matter enquired of, is no real departure from the subject, for both these belong to the ἐνάρξασθαι of Galatians 3:3,—are concomitant, and inseparable. On the verse, see note, Romans 4:3.


Verses 6-9

6–9.] Abraham’s faith was his entrance into righteousness before God: and Scripture, in recording this, records also God’s promise to him, by virtue of which all the faithful inherit his blessing.


Verse 7

7.] γινώσκ. is better taken indicatively, with Jer., Ambr., Beza, Rück., al., than imperatively, with most Commentators (and Mey., De W., Olsh., Ellic.). It is no objection to the indicative that such knowledge could not well be predicated of the Galatians: it is not so predicated, but is here set before them as a thing which they ought to be acquainted with—from this then you know (q. d. ‘omnibus patet.’ The imperative seems to me to lose the fine edge of the Apostle’s argumentative irony: besides that the usage of that mood with ἄρα is not frequent: indeed apparently only to be found in Homer; cf. Il. κ. 249; ω. 522. See on the other side, Ellicott’s note here).

οἱ ἐκ πίστεως] see Romans 2:8; Romans 3:26, and notes, those who are of faith, as the origin and the ἀφορμή of their spiritual life.

οὗτοι] emphatic; these, and these only (see Romans 8:14), not οἱ ἐξ ἔργων. Chrys. says οὐχ οἱ τὴν φυσικὴν ἔχοντες πρὸς αὐτὸν συγγένειαν: but this point is not here raised: besides, they might be, as well as others, if they were ἐκ πίστεως, see Romans 4:16.

υἱοὶ ἀβρ.] see Romans 4:11-17, and notes.


Verse 8

8.] But (transitional (see Ellicott’s note)) the Scripture (as we say, Nature: meaning, the Author of the Scripture; see reff.) foreseeing (Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. i. 732, gives examples of ‘quid vidit Scriptura?’ and the like, as common sayings among the Jews) that of faith (emphatic,—‘and not of works’) God justifieth (present, not merely as Mey., De W., al., because the time foreseen was regarded as present, nor ‘respectu Pauli scribentis,’ as Bengel,—but because it was God’s one way of justification—He never justified in any other way—so that it is the normal present, q. d. ‘is a God that justifieth’) the Gentiles (observe, there is no stress here on τὰ ἔθνη,—it is not ἐκ πίστεως καὶ τὰ ἔθνη δικαιοῖ ὁ θ.: so that, as is remarked above, no question is raised between the carnal and spiritual seed of Abraham,—nor, as Bengel, ‘ δέ vim argumenti extendit etiam ad gentes:’ the question is between those who were ἐκ πίστεως, and those who wanted to return to the ἔργα νόμου, whether Jews or Gentiles. So that in fact τὰ ἔθνη must be here taken in its widest sense, as in the Abrahamic promise soon to be quoted) announced the good news beforehand (the word is found only in Philo, and in this sense:— ἑσπέρα τε καὶ πρωΐα, ὧν ἡ μὲν προεναγγελίζεται μέλλοντα ἥλιον ἀνίσχειν, de Mundi Opif. § 9, vol. i. p. 7, and de mut. nom. § 29, p. 602, ὃς (viz. ὁ νεοττὸς) … τοὺς ταρσοὺς διασείειν φιλεῖ, τὴν ἐλπίδα τοῦ πέτεσθαι δυνήσεσθαι προευαγγελιζόμενος) to Abraham: ( ὅτι recitative) In thee (not, ‘in thy seed,’ which is a point not here raised; but strictly in thee, as followers of thy faith, it having first shewn the way to justification before God. That the words will bear that other reference, does not shew that it must be introduced here) shall all the Gentiles (see above: not to be restricted with Meyer, al., to its narrower sense, but expressing, from Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18, in a form suiting better the Apostle’s present argument, the πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς of Genesis 12:3) be blessed.


Verse 9

9.] Consequence of ἐν ευλογηθήσονται above, substantiated by Galatians 3:10 below. A share in Abraham’s blessing must be the accompaniment of faith, not of works of the law πίστεως has the emphasis.

σύν, to shew their community with him in the blessing: τῷ πιστῷ, to shew wherein the community consists, viz. FAITH.


Verse 10

10.] substantiation of Galatians 3:9; they ἐξ ἔργων νόμου cannot be sharers in the blessing, for they are accursed; it being understood that they do not and cannot ἐμμένειν ἐν πᾶσιν &c.: see this expanded in Romans 3:9-20. The citation is freely from the LXX. On τοῦ ποιῆσαι, not a Hebraism, but a construction common in later Greek, see Ellic.’s note.


Verse 11-12

11, 12.] ‘contain a perfect syllogism, so that ὁ δίκ. ἐκ πίστ. ζήσεται is the major proposition, Galatians 3:12 the minor, and ἐν νόμῳ οὐδ. δικ. παρὰ τ. θεῷ the consequence.’ Meyer. It is inserted to strengthen the inference of the former verse, by shewing that not even could a man keep the law, would he be justified—the condition of justification, as revealed in Scripture, being that it is by faith. But (= moreover) that in (not merely the elemental in, but the conditional as well: ‘in and by:’ not ‘through’) the law no man is justified (the normal present: is, in God’s order of things) with God (not emphatic as Bengel, ‘quic-quid sit apud homines:’ this would require οὐδεὶς παρὰ τῷ θεῷ δικαιοῦται: but δικαιοῦται- παρὰ- τῷ- θεῷ is simply predicated of οὐδείς) is evident, for (it is written, that) the just by faith shall live (not ‘the just shall live by his faith,’ as Winer, De W., al. The order of the words would indeed suggest this rendering, seeing that ὁ ἐκ π. δ. ζ. would properly represent the other: but we must regard St. Paul’s logical use of the citation: and I think, with Meyer, that he has abstained from altering the order of the words as being well known. He is not seeking to shew by what the righteous shall live, but the ground itself of that righteousness which shall issue in life; and the contrast is between ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως and ὁ ποιήσας αὐτά. It is right to say that Ellic. (both edd.) prefers the other rendering, and supports it by the fact that the original Hebrew will not bear this one, and that St. Paul adopts the words of the LXX as they stand; and by the contrast between ζήσεται ἐκ πίστεως, and ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. Jowett doubts whether ζήσεται could be used absolutely: but see Hebrews 12:9. I still however prefer rendering as above. The construction desiderated by Bp. Middleton to suit our rendering,— ὁ δίκαιος ὁ ἐκ π.,—would stultify the sentence, by bringing into view other δίκαιοι, who were not ἐκ πίστεως): but (logical, introducing the minor of the syllogism: see above) the law (not ‘law, as such,’ Peile: no such consideration appears here, nor any where, except in so far as the law of Moses is treated of as possessing the qualities of law in general) is not of (does not spring from nor belong to: ‘non agit fidei partes,’ Beng.) faith: but (sondern) (its nature is such that) he who has done them (viz. πάντα τὰ προστάγματά μου κ. π. τὰ κρίματά μου of Leviticus 18:5) shall live in (conditional element) them (see Romans 10:5).


Verse 13

13.] But this curse has been removed by the redemption of Christ. The joyful contrast is introduced abruptly, without any connecting particle: see an asyndeton in a similar case in Colossians 3:4. The ἡμᾶς is emphatic, and applies solely to the JEWS. They only were under the curse of Galatians 3:10,—and they being by Christ redeemed from that curse, the blessing of Abraham (justification by faith), which was always destined by God to flow through the Jews to the Gentiles, was set at liberty thus to flow out to the Gentiles. This, which is Meyer’s view, is certainly the only one which suits the context. To make ἡμᾶς refer to Jews and Gentiles, and refer ἡ κατ. τοῦ νόμ. to the law of conscience, is to break up the context altogether.

ἐξηγόρ.] See, besides reff., 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9. Ellicott remarks, ‘the ἐξ- need not be very strongly pressed, see Polyb. iii. 42 2, ἐξηγόρασε παρʼ αὐτῶν τά τε μονόξυλα πλοῖα κ. τ. λ.… The tendency,’ he continues, ‘to use verbs compounded with prepositions without any obvious increase of meaning, is one of the characteristics of later Greek: so Thiersch, de Pentat. vers. alex. ii. 1, p. 83.’

The form of the idea is,—the Law (personified) held us (Jews) under its curse; (out of this) Christ bought us, BECOMING (emphatic, standing first) a curse (not ἐπικατάρατος, concrete, but κατάρα, abstract, to express that he became not only accursed, but the curse, coextensive with the disability which affected us) for us (the JEWS again. Not, as many older Commentators, and Rück., Olsh., Peile, &c., ‘instead of us,’ but ‘on our behalf.’ It was in our stead; but that circumstance is not expressed by ὑπέρ used of Christ’s death for us—see reff. and Ellic.’s note; and Usteri, Paulin. Lehrbegriff, p. 115 ff.).

ὅτι γέγρ. κ. τ. λ. is a parenthesis, justifying the formal expression γενόμ. ὑπ. ἡμ. κατάρα. The citation omits the words ὑπὸ θεοῦ of the LXX. They were not to the point here, being understood as matter of course, the law being God’s law. The article is not in the LXX. The words are spoken of hanging after death by stoning; and are given in I. c. as a reason why the body should not remain on the tree all night, because one hanging on a tree is accursed of God. Such formal curse then extended to Christ, who died by hanging on a tree.


Verse 14

14.] in order that (the intent of γενόμ. ὑπ. ἡμ. κατάρα) the blessing of Abraham (promised to Abraham: i.e. justification by faith; Galatians 3:9) might be (come) upon the Gentiles (not, all nations, but strictly the Gentiles: see above on Galatians 3:13) in (in and by, conditional element) Jesus the Christ, that ( ἵνα, parallel with, not dependent on and included in, the former ἵνα: for this clause has no longer to do with τὰ ἔθνη, see below. We have a second ἵνα co-ordinate with a first in Romans 7:13; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Ephesians 6:19-20) we (not emphatic, nor is ἡμεῖς expressed: no longer the Jews, as Beza and Bengel, but all Christians: see Jowett’s note, which perhaps is too finely drawn) might receive (in full, as fulfilled, aor.) through the (or, but not so usually, our) faith (as the subjective medium: but rendered objective by the article, as so often by St. Paul: no stress on διὰ τ. π.) the promise of the Spirit (viz. that made Joel 2:28. See Acts 2:17; Acts 2:33; Luke 24:49,—THE PROMISE of the new covenant). The genitive τοῦ πν. is objective,—the Spirit being the thing promised. But let me guard tiros against the old absurdity, “ ἐπαγγελία τοῦ πνεύματος pro τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἐπηγγελμένον,” which would destroy, here and every where else, the logical form of the sentence. This ‘receiving the promise of the Spirit’ distinctly refers back to Galatians 3:2, where he asked them whether they received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? “Here is a pause, at which the indignant feeling of the Apostle softens, and he begins the new train of thought which follows with words of milder character, and proceeds more quietly with his argument.” Windischmann.


Verse 15

15.] τί ἐστι κατ ʼ ἄνθρ. λέγω; ἐξ ἀνθρωπίνων παραδειγμάτων. Chr. But (see 1 Corinthians 15:32) the expression refers not only to the character of the example chosen, but to the temporary standing-point of him who speaks: I put myself for the time on a level with ordinary men in the world.

ὅμως is out of its logical place, which would be after οὐδείς; see on ref. 1 Cor. To make it ‘even’ and take it with ἀνθρώπου, is contrary to its usage. A (mere) man’s covenant (not ‘testament,’ as Olsh., after Aug., al.; for there is here no introduction of that idea: the promise spoken to Abraham was strictly a covenant, and designated διαθήκη in the passages which were now in the Apostle’s mind, see Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7. On the general meaning, see Mr. Bagge’s note) when ratified (reff.), no one notwithstanding (that it is merely a human covenant) sets aside or supplements (with new conditions, Jos. Antt. xvii. 9. 4 describes Archelaus as ὁ ἐν ταῖς ἐπιδιαθήκαις ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐγγεγραμμένος βασιλεύς,—‘in his father’s subsequent testament:’ and again says of Antipas, B. J. ii. 2. 3, ἀξιῶν τῆς ἐπιδιαθήκης τὴν διαθήκην εἶναι κυριωτέραν, ἐν βασιλεὺς αὐτὸς ἐγέγραπτο. Nothing is implied as to the nature of the additions, whether consistent or inconsistent with the original covenant: the simple fact that no additions are made, is enounced).


Verses 15-18

15–18.] But what if the law, coming after the Abrahamic promise, abrogated that promise? These verses contain the refutation of such an objection: the promise was not abrogated by the law.


Verse 16

16.] This verse is not, as commonly supposed, the minor proposition of the syllegism, applying to Abraham’s case the general truth enounced in Galatians 3:15; for had it been so, (1) we should certainly find ὑπὸ θεοῦ contrasted with the ἀνθρώπου before, and (2) the parenthesis οὐ λέγειχριστός would be a mere irrelevant digression. This minor proposition does not follow till Galatians 3:17. What is now said, in a parenthetical and subsidiary manner, is this: The covenant was not merely nor principally made with Abraham, but with Abraham and HIS SEED, and that seed referred, not to the Jewish people, but to CHRIST. The covenant then was not fulfilled, but awaiting its fulfilment, and He to whom it was made was yet to appear, when the law was given.

αἱ ἐπ.] because the promise was many times repeated: e.g. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 22:18.

κ. τῷ σπ. αὐ.] These words, on which, from what follows, the stress of the whole argument rests, are probably meant to be a formal quotation. If so, the promises quoted must be Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8 (Jowett supposes xxi. 12, but qu.?), where the words occur as here.

οὐ λέγει] viz. He who gave the promises—God. ἐπὶ πολ., ἐφʼ ἑνός] of many, of one, as E. V. Plato has very nearly this usage, βούλομαι δέ μοι μὴ ἐπὶ θεῶν (de diis) λέγεσθαι τὸ τοιοῦτον, Legg. p. 662 d. See also Rep. 524 e. Cf. Ellic.’s note.

τοῖς σπέρμασιν τῷ σπέρματι] The central point of the Apostle’s argument is this: The seed to whom the promises were made, was Christ. To confirm this position,—see Genesis 22:17-18, where the collective σπέρμα of Galatians 3:17 is summed up in the individual σπέρμα of Galatians 3:18, he alleges a philological distinction, recognized by the Rabbinical schools (see Wetst. and Schöttgen ad loc.). This has created considerable difficulty: and all sorts of attempts have been made to evade the argument, or to escape standing committed to the distinction. Jerome (ad loc.), curiously and characteristically, applies the κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω to this distinction especially, and thinks that the Apostle used it as adapted to the calibre of those to whom he was writing: “Galatis, quos paulo ante stultos dixerat, factus est stultus.” The Roman-Catholic Windischmann, one of the ablest and most sensible of modern expositors, says, “Our recent masters of theology have taken up the objection, which is as old as Jerome, and forgetting that Paul knew Hebrew better than themselves, have severely blamed him for urging the singular σπέρματι here, and thus justifying the application to Christ, seeing that the word זֶרַע, which occurs here in the Hebrew text, has no plural (Wind. is not accurate here: the plur. זְרָעִים is found 1 Samuel 8:15, in the sense of ‘grains of wheat’), and so could not be used. Yet they are good enough to assume, that Paul had no fraudulent intent, and only followed the arbitrary exegesis of the Jews of his time (Rückert). The argument of the Apostle does not depend on the grammatical form, by which Paul here only puts forth his meaning in Greek,—but on this, that the Spirit of God in the promise to Abraham and the passage of Scripture relating that promise, has chosen a word which implies a collective unity, and that the promise was not given to Abraham and his children. Against the prejudice of the carnal Jews, who held that the promise applied to the plurality of them, the individual descendants of the Patriarch, as such,—the Apostle maintains the truth, that only the Unity, Christ, with those who are incorporated in Him, has part in the inheritance.” On these remarks I would observe, (1) that the Apostle’s argument is independent of his philology: (2) that his philological distinction must not be pressed to mean more than he himself intended by it: (3) that the collective and individual meanings of σπέρμα are both undoubted, and must have been evident to the Apostle himself, from, what follows, Galatians 3:29. We are now in a position to interpret the words ὅς ἐστιν χριστός. Meyer says ‘ χριστός is the personal Christ Jesus, not, as has been held (after Aug.), Christ and His Church.’ This remark is true, and untrue. χρ. certainly does not mean ‘Christ and His Church:’ but if it imports only the personal Christ Jesus, why is it not so expressed, χριστὸς ἰησοῦς? For the word does not here occur in passing, but is the predicate of a very definite and important proposition. The fact is, that we must place ourselves in St. Paul’s position with regard to the idea of Christ, before we can appreciate all he meant by this word here. Christians are, not by a figure, but really, the BODY OF CHRIST: Christ contains His people, and the mention even of the personal Christ would bring with it, in the Apostle’s mind, the inclusion of His believing people. This seed is, CHRIST: not merely in the narrower sense, the man Christ Jesus, but Christ the Seed, Christ the Second Adam, Christ the Head of the Body. And that this is so, is plain from Galatians 3:28-29, which are the key to ὅς ἐστιν χριστός: where he says, πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷσ ἐστε ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ (notice ἰησοῦ here carefully inserted, where the Person is indicated). εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ ἀβραὰμ σπεʹ ρ΄α ἐστεʹ, κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι. So that while it is necessary for the form of the argument here, to express Him to whom the promises were made, and not the aggregate of his people, afterwards to be identified with Him (but not here in view), yet the Apostle has introduced His name in a form not circumscribing His Personality, but leaving room for the inclusion of His mystical Body.


Verse 17

17.] Enthymematical inference from Galatians 3:15-16, put in the form of a restatement of the argument, as applying to the matters in hand. This however I say (this is my meaning, the drift of my previous statement): the covenant (better than a covenant, as most Commentators; even Meyer and De W.: the emphatic substantive is often anarthrous: cf. the different arrangement in Galatians 3:15) which was previously ratified by God ( εἰς χρ. being inserted by some to complete the correspondence with Galatians 3:16; the fact was so, it was ‘to Christ,’ as its second party, that the covenant was ratified by God), the Law, which took place (was constituted) four hundred and thirty years after, does not abrogate, so as to do away the promise. As regards the interval of 430 years, we may remark, that in Exodus 12:40, it is stated, “The sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” (In Genesis 15:13, Acts 7:6, the period of the oppression of Israel in Egypt is roundly stated at 400 years.) But to this, in order to obtain the entire interval between the covenant with Abraham and the law, must be added the sojourning of the patriarchs in Canaan,—i.e. to the birth of Isaac, 25 years (Genesis 12:4; Genesis 21:5),—to that of Jacob, 60 more (Genesis 25:26),—to his going down into Egypt, 130 more (Genesis 47:9); in all = 215 years. So that the time really was 645 years, not 430. But in the LXX (and Samaritan Pentateuch) we read, Exodus 12:40, ἡ δὲ κατοίκησις ( παροίκ., A.) τῶν υἱῶν ἰσραήλ, ἣν κατῴκησαν ( παρῴκ., A.) ἐν γῇ αἰγύπτῳ καὶ ἐν γῇ χαναάν (A. adding αὐτοὶ καὶ οἱ πατέρες αὐτῶν) ἔτη τετρακόσια τριάκοντα:—and this reckoning St. Paul has followed. We have instances of a similar adoption of the LXX text, in the apology of Stephen: see Acts 7:14, and note. After all, however, the difficulty lies in the 400 years of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6. For we may ascertain thus the period of the sojourn of Israel in Egypt: Joseph was 39 years old when Jacob came into Egypt (Genesis 41:46-47; Genesis 45:6): therefore he was born when Jacob was 91 (91 + 39 = 130: see Genesis 47:9). But he was born 6 years before Jacob left Laban (compare ib. Genesis 30:25 with Genesis 31:41), having been with him 20 years (ib. Genesis 31:38; Genesis 31:41), and served him 14 of them for his two daughters (Genesis 30:41). Hence, seeing that his marriage with Rachel took place when he was 78 (91-20-7; the marriages with Leah and Rachel being contemporaneous, and the second seven years of service occurring after, not, as I assumed in the first edition, before, the marriage with Rachel); Levi, the third son of Leah, whose first son was born after Rachel’s marriage (Genesis 29:30-32), must have been born not earlier than Jacob’s 81st year,—and consequently was about 49 (130–81) when he went down into Egypt. Now (Exodus 6:16) Levi lived in all 137 years: i.e., about 88 (137–49) years in Egypt. But (Exodus 6:16; Exodus 6:18; Exodus 6:20) Amram, father of Moses and Aaron, married his father Kohath’s sister, Jochebed, who was therefore, as expressly stated Numbers 26:59, ‘the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt.’ Therefore Jochebed must have been born within 88 years after the going down into Egypt. And seeing that Moses was 80 years old at the Exodus (Exodus 7:7),—if we call x his mother’s age when he was born, we have 88 + 80 + x as a maximum for the sojourn in Egypt, which clearly therefore cannot be 430 years, or even 400; as in the former case x would = 262,—in the latter 232. If we take x = cir. 47 (to which might be added in the hypothesis any time which 88 and x might have had in common) we shall have the sojourn in Egypt = 215 years, which added to the previous 215, will make the required 430. Thus it will appear that the LXX, Samaritan Pent., and St. Paul, have the right chronology,—and as stated above, the difficulty lies in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6,—and in the Hebrew text of Exodus 12:40.


Verse 18

18.] See Romans 4:14. For if the inheritance (the general term for all the blessings promised to Abraham, as summed up in his Seed who was to inherit the land,—in other words, for the Kingdom of Christ: see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) is of the law (i.e. by virtue of the law, having as its ground the covenant of the law) it is no more ( οὐκ ἔτι, as νῦν in argumentative passages, not of time, but logical—the οὐκ follows on the hypothesis) of (by virtue of) promise: but (the ‘but’ of a demonstration, appealing to a well-known fact) to Abraham by promise hath God granted (it) (and therefore it is not of the Law).


Verses 19-24

19–24.] The use and nature of the Law. What (ref.) then (is) the Law (‘ubi audimus Legem nihil valere ad conferendam justitiam, statim obrepunt variæ cogitationes: aut igitur esse inutilem, aut contrariam fœderi Dei, aut tale quippiam.’ Calv.)? For the sake of the transgressions [of it] (the words τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν have been variously understood. (1) Aug., Calv., Beza, Luth., al., explain it of the detection of transgressions, as in Romans 7. (2) Chrys., Œc., Thl., Jer., Erasm., Grot., Rück., Olsh., B.-Crus., De Wette, al., of their repression: μὴ ἐξῇ ἰουδαίοις ἀδεῶς ζῆνἀλλʼ ἀντὶ χαλινοῦ ὁ νόμος αὐτοῖς ἐπικείμενος ᾖ, παιδεύων, ῥυθμίζων, κωλύων παραβαίνειν. Chrys. (3) Luth., Est., Bengel, al., combine (1) and (2). But it is hardly possible that either of these should be the true explanation. For the Apostle is not now treating of the detection of sin, or of the repression of sin (which latter was besides not the office of the Law, see Romans 5:20), but of the Law as a preparation for Christ, Galatians 3:23-24; and therefore it must be regarded in its propædeutic office, not in its detective or (?) repressive. Now this propædeutic office was, to make sin into TRANSGRESSION,—so that what was before not a transgression might now become one. The law then was added (to the promise, which had no such power), for the sake of (in order to bring about as transgressions) the transgressions (of it) which should be, and thus (Galatians 3:23) to shut us up under sin, viz. the transgression of the law. This is nearly Meyer’s view, except that he makes this the exclusive meaning of χάριν, which usage will not sustain, cf. 1 John 3:12. Ellic.’s view is very close to mine, which he has mistaken) it was superadded (“ προσετέθη does not contradict the assertion of Galatians 3:15, οὐδεὶςἐπιδιατάσσεται. For the Law was not given as an ἐπιδιαθήκη, but came in as another institution, additional to that already existing.” Meyer) until the seed shall have come (he places himself at the giving of the law and looks on into the future: hence the subjunctive, not the optative: and without ἄν, because the time is a certain and definite one), to whom (Galatians 3:16) the promise has been (see above) made (the vulgate renders ἐπήγγελται promiserat, sc. Deus: and so Bengel prefers, from reff. active. But the passive suits Galatians 3:16 ( ἐῤῥέθησαν) better, and is justified by reff. Macc. Bretschneider understands it cui demandatum est, viz. to put an end to the law: but this is against N. T. usage of ἐπαγγέλλω, and absurd, where ἐπαγγελίαι is so often used in the context. This Seed is of course Christ), being enjoined (the aorist participle does not here denote previous occurrence, but is merely part of an aorist sentence: so Herod. i. 14, γύγης δὲ τυραννεύσας ἀνέπεμψεν ἀναθήματα …: Diod. Sic. xi. 31, γενναίως ἀγωνισάμενος πολλοὺς ἀνεῖλε τῶν ἑλλήνων. See Hermann on Viger, pp. 772–3. For διατάσσω, cf. note on Acts 7:53, and Hesiod, Op. 274, τόνδε γὰρ ἀνθρώποισι νόμον διέταξε κρονίων: it is not promulgate, as Winer) by means of (not, under the attestation of, as Peile, nor in the presence of, as Calov., al.) angels (angels were, according to the Rabbinical view, the enactors and enjoiners of the Law: so Jos. Antt. xv. 5. 3, ἡμῶν τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν δογμάτων κ. τὰ ὁσιώτατα τῶν ἐν τοῖς νόμοις διʼ ἀγγέλων παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ μαθόντων: see also the citations in Wetst.: Hebrews 2:2; and note on Colossians 2:15. Of course no explaining away of ἄγγελοι into men (Moses, Aaron, &c.) as Chrys. (altern.: ἢ τοὺς ἱερέας ἀγγέλους λέγει, ἢ καὶ αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἀγγέλους ὑπηρετήσασθαί φησι τῇ νομοθεσίᾳ), al., can be allowed. Observe, the angels are not the givers of the Law, but its ministers, and instrumental enactors: the Law, with St. Paul, is always God’s Law; see especially Romans 7:22) in the hand of a mediator (viz. MOSES, who came from God to the people with the tables of the law in his hands. Cf. his own words, Deuteronomy 5:5, κἀγὼ εἱστήκειν ἀναμέσον κυρίου κ. ὑμῶν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ ἀναγγεῖλαι ὑμῖν τὰ ῥήματα κυρίου, ὅτι ἐφοβήθητε ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ πυρὸς κ. οὐκ ὰνέβητε εἰς τὸ ὄρος, λέγων …: Philo, vita Mos. iii. 19, vol. ii. p. 160, οἷα μεσίτης κ. διαλλακτὴς οὐκ εὐθὺς ἀνεπήδησεν, ἀλλὰ πρότερον τὰς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους ἱκεσίας κ. λιτὰς ἐποιεῖτο. Schöttgen gives numerous examples from the Rabbinical books, in which the name Mediator is given to Moses.—But most of the Fathers (not Thdrt.), Bede, Lyra, Calvin, Calov., al., understand Christ to be meant: Schmieder and Schneckenburger, the Angel of the Covenant,—the Metatron. Neither of these interpretations however will hold against the above evidence).

Why does the Apostle add this last clause? I am inclined to think with Meyer that it is,—not to disparage the law in comparison with the Gospel (as Luth., Elsn., Flatt, Rück., Jowett, &c. &c.) or with the promise (Estius, Schneckenb., De Wette), but to enhance the solemnity of the giving of the law as a preparation for Christ, in answer to the somewhat disparaging question τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; If the διʼ ἀγγέλων had been here disparaging, as in Hebrews 2:2, διὰ τοῦ κυρίου or the like must have been expressed, as there, on the other side. And ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου is certainly no disparagement of the old covenant in comparison with the new, for this it has in common with the other. The fact is (see below on Galatians 3:20), that no such comparison is in question here.


Verse 20

20.] “The explanations of this verse, so obscure from its brevity, are so numerous (Winer counted 250: Jowett mentions 430) that they require a bibliography of their own.” De Wette. I believe we shall best disentangle the sense as follows. (1) Clearly, ὁ μεσίτης and ὁ θεός are opposed. (2) As clearly, ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν and εἷς ἐστιν are opposed. (3) From this contrast arises an apparent opposition between the law and the promises of God, which (not alone, but as the conclusion of the whole τί οὖν to εἷς ἐστιν) gives occasion to the question of Galatians 3:21. Taking up therefore again (1),— ὁ μεσίτης, by whose hand the law was enacted, stands opposed to ὁ θεός, the giver of the promises. And that, in this respect (2);—(a) ὁ μεσίτης is not ἑνός, but (b) ὁ θεός is εἷς. And herein lies the knot of the verse; that is, in (b),—for the meaning of (a) is pretty clear on all hands; viz. that ὁ μεσίτης (generic, so ref. Job; ‘quæ multa sunt cunctis in unum colligendis,’ Hermann ad Iph. in Aul. p. 15, præf. cited by Meyer) does not belong to one party (masculine) (but to two, as going between one party and another). Then to guide us to the meaning of (b), we must remember, that the numerical contrast is the primary idea: ὁ μεσίτης belongs not to one, but ὁ θεός is one. Shall we then say, that all reference of εἷς (as applied to ὁ θεός) beyond this numerical one is to be repudiated? I cannot think so. The proposition ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν would carry to the mind of every reader much more than the mere numerical unity of God—viz. His Unity as an essential attribute, extending through the whole divine Character. And thus, though the proposition ὁ μεσίτης ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν would not, by itself, convey any meaning but that a mediator belongs to more than one, it would, when combined with ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν, receive a shade of meaning which it did not bear before,—of a state of things involved in the fact of a μεσίτης being employed, which was not according to the ἑνότης of God, or, so to speak, in the main track of His unchanging purpose. And thus (3), the law, administered by the μεσίτης, belonging to a state of οὐχ εἷς, two at variance, is apparently opposed to the ἐπαγγελίαι, belonging entirely to ὁ εἷς, the one (faithful) God. And observe, that the above explanation is deduced entirely from the form of the sentence itself, and from the idea which the expression ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν must necessarily raise in the mind of its reader, accustomed to the proposition as the foundation of the faith;—not from any preconceived view, to suit which the words, or emphatic arrangement, must be forced. Notice by the way, that the objection, that the Gospel too is ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου, does not apply here: for ( α) there is no question here of the Gospel, but only of the promises, as direct from God: ( β) the μεσίτης of the Gospel is altogether different, and His work different: He has absolutely reconciled the parties at variance, and MADE THEM ONE in Himself. Remember St. Paul’s habit of insulating the matter in hand, and dealing with it irrespective of all such possible objections. To give even an analysis of the various opinions on this verse would far exceed the limits of this commentary: I will only take advantage of Meyer’s long note, and of other sources, to indicate the main branches of the exegesis. (I) The Fathers, for the most part, pass lightly over it, as easy in itself,—and do not notice its pragmatic difficulty. Most of them understand by the μεσίτης, Christ, the mediator between God and man. In interpreting ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν and εἷς ἐστιν, they go in omnia alia. It may suffice to quote one or two samples. Chrys. says, τί ἂν ἐνταῖθα εἴποιεν αἱρετικοί; εἰ γὰρ τὸμόνος ἀληθινός,” οὐκ ἀφίησι τὸν υἱὸν εἶναι θεὸν ἀληθινόν, οὐκ ἄρα οὐδὲ θεόν, διὰ τὸ λέγεσθαιὁ δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν.” … ὁ δὲ μεσίτης, φησί, δύο τινῶν γίνεται μεσίτης. τίνος οὖν μεσίτης ἦν ὁ χριστός; ἢ δῆλον ὅτι θεοῦ κ. ἀνθρώπων; ὁρᾷς πῶς δείκνυσιν ὅτι καὶ τὸν νόμον αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν; εἰ τοίνυν αὐτὸς ἔδωκε, κύριος ἂν εἴη καὶ λῦσαι πάλιν. And Jerome, ‘manu mediatoris potentiam et virtutem ejus debemus accipere, qui cum secundum Deum unum sit ipse cum patre, secundum mediatoris officium alins ab eo intelligitur.’ Theodoret, having explained the μεσίτης of Moses, proceeds, on ὁ δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν,— ὁ καὶ τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τῷ ἀβραὰμ δεδωκώς, καὶ τὸν νόμον τεθεικώς, καὶ οὖν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἡμῖν ἐπιδείξας τὸ πέρας. οὐ γὰρ ἄλλος μὲν ἐκεῖνα θεὸς ᾠκονόμησεν, ἄλλος δὲ ταῦτα. (II) The older of the modern Commentators are generally quite at fault: I give a few of them: Grotius says, ‘Etsi Christus mediator Legem Judæis tulerit, ut ad agnitionem transgressionum adduceret, eoque ad fœdus gratiæ præpararet, non tamen unius est gentis Judaicæ mediator, sed omnium hominum: quemadmodum Deus unus est omnium.’ Luther (1519), ‘Ex nomine mediatoris concludit, nos adeo esse peccatores, ut legis opera satis esse nequeant. Si, inquit, lege justi estis, jam mediatore non egetis, sed neque Deus, cum sit ipse unus, secum optime conveniens. Inter duos ergo quæritur mediator, inter Deum et hominem; ac si dicat, impiissima est ingratitudo, si mediatorem rejicitis, et Deo, qui unus est, remittitis, &c.’ Erasmus, in his paraphrase: ‘Atqui conciliator, qui intercedit, inter plures intercedat oportet, nemo enim secum ipse dissidet. Deus autem unus est, quocum dissidium erat humano generi. Proinde tertio quopiam erat opus, qui naturæ utriusque particeps utramque inter sese reconciliaret, &c.’ Calvin, as the preferable view, ‘diversitatem hic notari arbitror inter Judæos et Gentiles. Non unius ergo mediator est Christus, quia diversa est conditio eorum quibuscum Deus, ipsius auspiciis, paciscitur, quod ad externam personam. Verum Paulus inde æstimandum Dei fœdus negat, quasi secum pugnet, aut varium sit pro hominum diversitate.’ (III) The later moderns begin to approach nearer to the philological and contextual requirements of the passage, but still with considerable errors and divergences. Bengel, on the first clause, ‘Medius terminus est in syllogismo, cujus major propositio et minor exprimitur, conclusio subauditur. Unus non utitur mediatore illo: atqui Deus est unus. Ergo Deus non prius sine mediatore, deinde per mediatorem egit. Ergo is cujus erat mediator non est unus idemque cum Deo sed diversus a Deo, nempe ὁ νόμος Lex … ergo mediator Sinaiticus non est Dei sed legis: Dei autem, promissio.’ Locke (so also Michaelis): “God is but one of the parties concerned in the promise: the Gentiles and Israelites together made up the other, Galatians 3:14. But Moses, at the giving of the law, was a mediator only between the Israelites and God: and therefore could not transact any thing to the disannulling the promise, which was between God and the Israelites and Gentiles together, because God was but one of the parties to that covenant: the other, which was the Gentiles as well as Israelites, Moses appeared or transacted not for.” (IV) Of the recent Commentators, Keil (Opusc. 1809–12) says: ‘Mediatorem quidem non unius sed duarum certe partium esse, Deum autem qui Abrahamo beneficii aliquid promiserit, unum modo fuisse: hincque apostolum id a lectoribus suis colligi voluisse, in lege ista Mosaica pactum mutuum Deum inter atque populum Israeliticum mediatoris opera intercedente initum fuisse, contra vero in promissione rem ab unius tantum (Dei sc. qui solus eam dederit) voluntate pendentem transactam,—hincque legi isti nihil plane cum hac rei fuisse, adeoque nec potuisse ea novam illius promissionis implendæ conditionem constitui, eoque ipso promissionem omnino tolli.’ And similarly Schleiermacher (in Usteri’s Lehrbegriff, p. 186 ff.), but giving to εἷς the sense of freedom and independence;—and Meyer, only repudiating the second part of Keil’s explanation from ‘hincque,’ as not belonging to an abstract sentence like this, but being historical, as if it had been ἦν, and besides contrary to the Apostle’s meaning, who deduces from our verse a consequence the contrary to this (‘hincque … fuisse’), and obviates it by the question in Galatians 3:21. For the numerous other recent interpretations and their refutations I must refer the reader to Meyer’s note (as also to Ellicott’s (in his ed. 1: see his present view in his ed. 2), who preferred Windischmann’s interpretation of εἷς, ‘One, because He was both giver and receiver united: giver, as the Father; receiver, as the Son, the σπέρμα ᾧ ἐπήγγελται.’ But this seems going too deep—almost, we may say, arriving at the conclusion by a coup de main, which would not have borne any meaning to the readers): see also Jowett’s note, which seems to me further to complicate the matter by introducing into it God’s unity of dealing with man, and man’s unity with God in Christ. (V) We may profitably lay down one or two canons of interpretation of the verse. ( α) Every interpretation is wrong, which understands Christ by ὁ μεσίτης. The context determines it to be abstract, and its reference to be to Moses, the mediator of the Law. ( β) Every interpretation is wrong, which makes εἷς mean ‘one party’ in the covenant. ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν itself confutes any such view, being a well-known general proposition, not admitting of a concrete interpretation. ( γ) Every interpretation is wrong, which confines εἷς (as Meyer) to its mere numerical meaning, and does not take into account the ideas which the general proposition would raise. ( δ) Every interpretation is wrong, which deduces from the verse the agreement of the law with the promises: because the Apostle himself, in the next verse, draws the very opposite inference from it, and refutes it on other grounds. ( ε) Every attempt to set aside the verse as a gloss is utterly futile.


Verse 21

21.] The Law being thus set over against the promises,—being given through a mediator between two,—the promises by the one God,—it might seem as if there were an inconsistency between them. The nature of the contrariety must not (as De W.) be deduced from the following disproof of it: this disproof proceeds on τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη, which is not the ground of the apparent contrariety, but its explanation. The appearance of inconsistency lay in the whole paragraph preceding—the οὐκ ἀκυροῖ of Galatians 3:17, the εἰ ἐκ νόμου, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἐπαγγελίας of Galatians 3:18,—and the contrast between the giving of the two in Galatians 3:20. “ τοῦ θεοῦ is not without emphasis: the promises which rest immediately on God, and were attested (? sic still in ed. 2) by no mediator.” Ellic. εἰ γάρ] Notwithstanding all the above features of contrast between the Law and the promises, it is not against them, for it does not pretend to perform the same office; if it did, then there would be this rivalry, which now does not exist.

νόμος ὁ δυν. is best expressed in English, as in E. V., a law which could … for the article circumscribes the νόμος to some particular quality indicated in the defining participle which follows: see reff. Peile’s rendering, “if that which ( ὁ δυνάμενος!) should have power to give life had been given in the form of law,” is in the highest degree ungrammatical.

ζωοποιῆσαι takes for granted that we by nature are dead in trespasses and sins.

ὄντως has the emphasis: in very truth, and not only in the fancy of some, by the law (as its ground) would have been righteousness (which is the condition of life eternal,— δίκαιος ζήσεται.

If life, the result, had been given by the law, then righteousness, the condition of life, must have been by it also: reasoning from the whole to its part).


Verse 22

22.] But on the contrary ( ἀλλά, not δέ: comp. Ellic. This not being the case,—no law being given out of which could come righteousness) the Scripture (not the Law, as Chrys. and most of the Fathers, also Calv., Beza, al.; but as in Galatians 3:8, the Author of Scripture, speaking by that His witness) shut up (not subjective, as Chrys., ἤλεγξενκ. ἐλέγξας κατεῖχεν ἐν φόβῳ,—for it is their objective state of incapacity to attain righteousness which is here brought out:—nor ‘conclusit omnes simul,’ as Bengel, al.: the preposition enhances the force of κλείειν, as in ‘contraho,’ συμπνίγειν, &c.: see note Romans 11:32, where the same expression occurs. “The word συγκλείειν is beautifully chosen, to set off more clearly the idea of Christian freedom by and by.” Windischmann: cf. ch. Galatians 5:1. Nor has συγκλ. merely a declaratory sense, as Bull, Examen Censuræ xix. 6, ‘conclusos involutos declaravit,’ al.) all (neuter, as indicating the entirety of mankind and man’s world: ‘humana omnia,’ as Jowett: cf. reff. I think (against Ellic. ed. 2) that we must hold fast this) under sin, in order that (the intention of God, as in Romans 11:32; not the mere result, here or any where else. Beware of such an assertion as Burton’s, quoted also by Peile;—“ ἵνα here implies, not the cause, but the consequence, as in many places.” ἵνα never implies any thing of the sort; nor does any one of the examples he gives bear him out) the promise (i.e. the things promised—the κληρονομία, cf. Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:18) (which is) by (depends upon, is conditioned by) faith of (which has for its object and its Giver—is a matter altogether belonging to) Jesus Christ (q. d. ἡ ἐπαγγ. ἐκ π.0: but the article in such sentences is frequently omitted, especially where no distinction is intended between the subject and another of the same kind: cf. τῆς πίστεως ἐν χρ. ἰησ. below, Galatians 3:26,— τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα, Ephesians 6:5, &c.

The words ἐκ πίστ. cannot well be taken with δοθῇ without harshness, especially as ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ intervenes, and τοῖς πιστεύουσιν is already expressed. Besides, in this case they would most naturally come first,— ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως ἰ. χρ. ἡ ἐπαγγ. δοθῇ τ. π.) might be given (be a free giftδοθῇ has the emphasis) to them that believe ( δοθῇ having the emphasis, τοῖς πιστ. does no more than take up ἐκ πίστ. above; q. d. ‘to those who fulfil that condition’).


Verse 23

23.] But ( δέ carries us on to a further account of the rationale and office of the law. “When the noun, to which the particle is attached, is preceded by a preposition, and perhaps the article as well, δέ may stand the third or fourth word in the sentence. So ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι δὲ ἀθηναῖοι, Thuc. i. 6: οὐχ ὑπὸ ἐραστοῦ δέ, Plato, Phædr. 227 d, &c.” Hartung, Partikell. i. 190) before (this) faith (not, the faith, in the sense of the objects of faith, but the faith just mentioned, viz. πίστις ἰησοῦ χρ., which did not exist until Christ) came (was found, or was possible, in men: cf. ref., where however it is more entirely subjective), we (properly, we Jewish believers—but not here to be pressed, because he is speaking of the divine dealings with men generally—the Law was for τὰ πάντα, the only revelation) were kept in ward (not simply ‘kept’ as E. V., but as Chrys., ὥσπερ ἐν τειχίῳ τινί,—though not as he proceeds, τῷ φόβῳ κατεχόμενοι—for, as above, our objective state is here treated of: see Romans 7:6. But we must not yet, with Chrys., al., introduce the παιδαγωγός, or understand ἐφρουρ. as conveying the idea of ‘safely kept’ ( οὐδὲν ἕτερον δηλοῦντός ἐστιν, ἢ τὴν ἐκ τῶν ἐντολῶν τοῦ νόμου γενομένην ἀσφάλειαν): συγκλειόμενοι is quite against this, and the pædagogic figure does not enter till the next verse, springing out of the preparation implied in εἰς, joined to the fact of our sonship, see below. Our present verse answers to ch. Galatians 4:2, where we find ἐπίτροποι and οἰκονόμοι, not the παιδαγωγός. See Jowett’s beautiful illustration), shut up under the law, in order to ( εἰς of the preparatory design, not merely of the result, or the arrival of the time: and it may belong either to συγκλειόμ. (not to συγκεκλεισμένοι, if that be read, as that would betoken the act completed when the Law was given), or to the imperfect ἐφρουρούμεθα) the faith (as in Galatians 3:22) about to be revealed (on the order of the words see on ref. Rom. “As long as there was no such thing as faith in Christ, this faith was not yet revealed, was as yet an element of life hidden in the counsel of God.” Meyer).


Verse 24

24.] So that (taking up the condition in which the last verse left us, and adding to it the fact that we are the SONS of God, cf. γάρ, Galatians 3:26) the Law has become (has turned out to be) our tutor (pedagogue, see below) unto (ethically; for) Christ (the παιδαγωγός was a faithful slave, entrusted with the care of the boy from his tender years till puberty, to keep him from evil physical and moral, and accompany him to his amusements and studies. See Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Antt. sub voce. The E. V. ‘schoolmaster’ does not express the meaning fully: but it disturbs the sense less than those have done, who have selected one portion only of the pedagogue’s duty, and understood by it, ‘the slave who leads a child to the house of the schoolmaster’ ( οἷόν τινι σοφῷ διδασκάλῳ προσφέρει τῷ δεσπότῃ χριστῷ, Thdrt.: so also Thl.: see Suicer, νόμος, b), thus making Christ the schoolmaster, which is inconsistent with the imagery. On the contrary, the whole schoolmaster’s work is included in the παιδαγωγός, and Christ represents the ἐλευθερία of the grown-up son, in which he is no longer guarded or shut up, but justified by faith, the act of a free man; and to Christ as a Teacher there is here no allusion), in order that by faith we might be justified (which could only be done when Christ had come): but (adversative) now that the faith (see above) has come, we are no longer under a tutor (pedagogue).


Verse 26

26.] Reason of the negation in last verse. For ye all (Jews and Gentiles alike) are SONS (no longer παῖδες, requiring a παιδαγωγός) of God by means of the (or, but not so well, your) faith in Christ Jesus (some (Usteri, Windisch., al.) would join ἐν χρ. ἰησ. with υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε, but most unnaturally,—and unmeaningly, for the idea of ἐν χρ. ἰησ. in that case has been already given by διὰ τῆς πίστεως. The omission of τῆς before ἐν will stagger no one: see Colossians 1:4, where the same expression occurs).


Verse 27

27.] For (substantiates and explains the assertion of Galatians 3:26; see below) as many of you as were baptized into (see Romans 6:3 and notes) Christ, put on Christ (at that time, compare the aorists in Acts 19:2; not “have been baptized,” and “have put on,” as E. V., which leaves the two actions only concomitant: the aorists make them identical: as many as were baptized into Christ, did, in that very act, put on, clothe yourselves with, Christ: see Ellicott’s note). The force of the argument is well given by Chrys.: τίνος ἕνεκεν οὐκ εἶπεν, ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθητε; τὸ γὰρ ἀκόλουθον τοῦ δεῖξαι υἱοὺς τοῦτο ἦν. ὅτι πολὺ φρικωδέστερον αὐτὸ τιθησιν. εἰ γὰρ ὁ χριστὸς υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, σὺ δὲ αὐτὸν ἐνδέδυσαι, τὸν υἱὸν ἔχων ἐν ἑαυτῷ κ. πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀφομοιωθείς, εἰς μίαν συγγένειαν κ. μίαν ἰδέαν ἤχθης. Observe here how boldly and broadly St. Paul asserts the effect of Baptism on all ( πάντες γὰρ … and ὅσοι ἐβαπτ.) the baptized. Luther remarks: “Hic locus diligenter observandus est contra fanaticos spiritus, qui majestatem baptismi extenuant, et sceleste et impie de eo loquuntur. Paulus contra magnificis titulis baptismum ornat, appellans lavacrum regenerationis ac renovationis Sp. sancti (Titus 3:5), et hic dicit omnes baptisatos Christum induisse, quasi dicat: non accepistis per baptismum tesseram, per quam adscripti estis in numerum christianorum, ut nostro tempore multi fanatici homines senserunt, qui ex baptismo tantum tesseram fecerunt, hoc est, breve et inane quoddam signum, sed ‘quotquot’ inquit etc.: id est, estis extra legem rapti in novam nativitatem, quæ facta est in baptismo.” But we may notice too, as Meyer remarks, that the very putting on of Christ, which as matter of standing and profession is done in baptism, forms a subject of exhortation to those already baptized, in its ethical sense, Romans 13:14.


Verse 28

28.] The absolute equality of all in this sonship, to the obliteration of all differences of earthly extraction or position. See Colossians 3:11; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13. οὐκ ἔνι = οὐκ ἔνεστιν—‘il n’y a pas:’ De Wette quotes Plato, Gorg. 507, ὅτῳ δὲ μὴ ἔνι κοινωνία, φιλία οὐκ ἂν εἴη. Buttmann (ii. 299), Kühner (i. 671), Winer (§ 14. 2, remark), maintain ἔνι to be a form of the preposition ἐν, and the same of ἔπι, πάρα, &c. But Meyer replies, that all those passages are against this view, where ἔνι and ἐν occur together, as 1 Corinthians 6:5; Xen. Anab. v. 3. 11. Observe, ἰουδ. οὐδὲ ἕλλ., δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθ.,—but ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ: the two former being accidental distinctions which may be entirely put off in falling back on our humanity,—but the latter a necessary distinction, absorbed however in the higher category: q. d. “there is no distinction into male and female.” ἄρσεν κ. θῆλυ, generalized by the neuter, as being the only gender which will express both.

γάρ, reason why there is neither, &c.—viz. our unity in Christ. On the unavoidable inference from an assertion like this, that Christianity did alter the condition of women and slaves, see Jowett’s note.

εἷς, more forcible and more strict than ἕν: for we are one, in Him, εἷς καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, as he says in Ephesians 2:15, speaking on this very subject.


Verse 29

29.] Christ is ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Galatians 3:16): ye are one in and with Christ, have put on Christ; therefore ye are Abraham’s seed; consequently heirs by promise; for to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. The stress is on ὑμεῖς, τοῦ ἀβραάμ, and κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν, especially on the latter,—carrying the conclusion of the argument, as against inheritance by the law. See on this verse, the note on Galatians 3:16 above. “The declaration of Galatians 3:7 is now substantiated by 22 verses of the deepest, the most varied, and most comprehensive reasoning that exists in the whole compass of the great Apostle’s writings.” Ellicott.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-3.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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