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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Galatians 4

 

 

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Verse 1

1.] λέγωδέ refers to what follows (reff.), and does not imply, ‘What I mean, is.’

ὁ κληρ., generic, as ὁ μεσίτης, ch. Galatians 3:20. The question, whether the father of the κληρονόμος here is to be thought of as dead, or absent, or living and present, is in fact one of no importance: nor does it belong properly to the consideration of the passage. The fact is, the antitype breaks through the type, and disturbs it: as is the case, wherever the idea of inheritance is spiritualized. The supposition in our text is, that a father (from what reason or under what circumstances matters not. Mr. Bagge quotes from Ulpian, speaking of the right of a testator appointing guardians, “Tutorem autem et a certo tempore dare et usque ad certum tempus licet.” Digest. xxvi. 2. 8) has preordained a time for his son and heir to come of age, and till that time, has subjected him to guardians and stewards. In the type, the reason might be absence, or decease, or even high office or intense occupation, of the father: in the antitype, it is the Father’s sovereign will: but the circumstances equally exist.

οὐδὲν διαφ. δούλου] διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ κ. παίειν κ. ἄγχειν κ. στρεβλοῦν, κ. ἃ τῶν δεσποτῶν πρὸς τοὺς οἰκέτας, ταῦτα τῶν υἱέων τοῖς ἐφεστῶσιν ἀξιοῦσιν ὑπάρχειν. Libanius (Wetst.). See below on Galatians 4:3; and Plato, Lysis, pp. 207. 8, cited at length in Bagge.

κύριος πάντων ὤν must be understood essentially, rather than prospectively. It is said of him in virtue of his rank, rather than of his actual estate: in posse, rather than in esse.


Verses 1-7

1–7.] The Apostle shews the correspondence between our treatment under the law and that of heirs in general: and thus, by God’s dealing with us, in sending forth His Son, whose Spirit of Sonship we have received, confirms (Galatians 4:7) the conclusion that WE ARE HEIRS.


Verse 2

2.] ἐπιτρόπους, overseers of the person; guardians: οἰκονόμους, overseers of the property, stewards. See Ellicott’s and Bagge’s notes.

προθεσμία, the time (previously) appointed. The word (an adjective used substantively: scil. ἡμέρα or ὥρα. See for the classical meaning, ‘the time allowed to elapse before bringing an action,’ Smith’s Dict. of Antt. sub voce) is a common one: Wetst. gives many examples. The following clearly explain it: ὁρίσαι προθεσμίαν, ἐν ᾗ τὸ ἱερὸν συντελεσθήσεται, Polyæn. p. 597:— εἰ δὲ ὁ τῆς ζωῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων χρόνος εἰκοσαετὴς ἦντὴν δὲ τῶν κ. ἐτῶν προθεσμίαν ἐκπληρώσαντα, Plut. ad Apollon. p. 113 e. It is no objection to the view that the father is dead, that the time was fixed by law (Hebrew as well as Greek and Roman): nor on the other hand any proof of it, that προ θεσμία will hardly apply to a living man’s arrangement: see on the whole, above.


Verse 3

3.] ἡμεῖς—are Jews only here included, or Jews and Gentiles? Clearly, both: for ἵνα τ. υἱοθεσ. ἀπολάβωμεν is spoken of all believers in Christ. He regards the Jews as, for this purpose, including all mankind (see note on ch. Galatians 3:23), God’s only positive dealings by revelation being with them—and the Gentiles as partakers both in their infant-discipline, and in their emancipation in Christ.

ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι refers, not to any immaturity of capacity in us, but to the lifetime of the church, as regarded in the προθεσμία τοῦ πατρός: see below on Galatians 4:4.

τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου] Aug. interprets this physically, of the worship of the elements of nature by the Gentiles: Chrys., Thdrt., al., of the Jewish new moons and sabbaths: Neander (Pfl. u. Leit. p. 370), of a religion of sense as opposed to that of the spirit. But it is more natural to take στοιχεῖα in its simpler meaning, that of letters or symbols of the alphabet, and τοῦ κόσμου not in its worst sense, but as in Hebrews 9:1, ἅγιον κοσμικόν,—‘belonging to the unspiritual outer world.’ Thus (as in reff. Col.) the words will mean, the elementary lessons of outward things (as Conybeare has rendered it in his note: ‘outward ordinances,’ in his text, is not so good). Of this kind were all the enactments peculiar to the Law; some of which are expressly named, Galatians 4:10. See στοιχεῖα well discussed in Ellicott’s note; and some useful remarks in Jowett, in loc.

Meyer prefers taking ἦμεν and δεδουλωμένοι separate: ‘we were under the elements of the world, enslaved:’ as answering better to ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστίν above.


Verse 4

4.] τὸ πλήρωμα τ. χρόνου (‘that whereby the time was filled up:’ see note on Ephesians 1:23,—Fritzsche’s note on Romans 11:12, and Stier’s, Ephesians 1. p. 199 ff. for a discussion of the meanings of πλήρωμα) answers to the προθεσμία τ. πατρός, Galatians 4:2; see reff. The Apostle uses this term with regard not only to the absolute will of God, but to the preparations which were made for the Redeemer on this earth: partly as Thl., ὅτε πᾶν εἶδος κακίας διεξελθοῦσα ἡ φύσις ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη ἐδεῖτο θεραπείας, partly as Bengel, ‘suas etiam ecclesia ætates habet.’ The manifestation of man’s guilt was complete:—and the way of the Lord was prepared, by various courses of action which He had brought about by men as his instruments.

ἐξαπέστ. cannot,—however little, for the purposes of the present argument, the divine side of our Lord’s mission is to be pressed,—mean any thing less than sent forth from Himself (reff.).

γενόμ. ἐκ γυν. will not bear being pressed, as Calv., Grot., Estius, al., have done (“discernere Christum a reliquis voluit hominibus: quia ex semine matris creatus sit, non viri et mulieris coitu,” Calv.): it is Christ’s HUMANITY which is the point insisted on, not His being born of a virgin. On the other hand, the words cannot for an instant be adduced as inconsistent with such birth: they state generically, what all Christians are able, from the Gospel record, to fill up specifically.

γενόμ. ὑπὸ νόμον] ‘born of a woman,’ identified Him with all mankind: born under (the idea of motion conveyed by the accusative after ὑπό is accounted for by the transition implied in γενόμενος) the law, introduces another condition, in virtue of which He became the Redeemer of those who were under a special revelation and covenant. A Gentile could not (humanly speaking, as far as God has conditioned His own proceedings) have saved the world: for the Jews were the representative nation, to which the representative man must belong. γενόμ. is both times emphatic, and therefore not to be here rendered ‘legi subjectum,’ as Luther, ‘unter das Gesess gethan.’


Verse 5

5.] See above. Christ, being born under the law, a Jewish child, subject to its ordinances, by His perfect fulfilment of it, and by enduring, as the Head and in the root of our nature, its curse on the tree, bought off (from its curse and power, but see on ch. Galatians 3:13) those who were under the law: and if them, then the rest of mankind, whose nature He had upon Him. Thus in buying off τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον, He effected that ἡμεῖς, all men, τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμενshould receive (not ‘recover,’ as Aug., al., and Jowett (‘receive back’): there is no allusion to the innocence which we lost in Adam, nor was redemption by Christ in any sense a recovery of the state before the fall, but a far more glorious thing, the bestowal of an adoption which Adam never had. Nor is it, as Chrys., καλῶς εἶπεν, ἀπολάβωμεν, δεικνὺς ὀφειλομένην: it is true, it was the subject of promise, but it is the mere act of reception, not how or why it was received, which is here put forward. Nor again, with Rückert and Schött., must we render ἀπο—‘therefrom,’ as a fruit of the redemption. This again it is, but it is not expressed in the word) the adoption (the place, and privileges) of sons. The word υἱοθεσία occurs only in the N. T. In Herod. vi. 57 we have θετὸν παῖδα ποιέεσθαι, and the same expression in Diod. Sic. iv. 39.


Verse 6

6.] Meyer interprets this verse with Chrys.: καὶ πόθεν δῆλον ὅτι γεγόναμεν υἱοί, φησίν; εἶπε τρόπον ἕνα, ὅτι τὸν χριστὸν ἐνεδυσάμεθα τὸν ὄντα υἱόν· λέγει κ. δεύτερον, ὅτι τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἐλάβομεν· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἐδυνήθημεν καλέσαι πατέρα, εἰ μὴ πρότερον υἱοὶ κατέστημεν. And so Thdrt., Thl., Ambr., Pel., Koppe, Flatt, Rückert, Schött., and Ellicott. [Jowett combines both interpretations: but this can hardly be.] If so, we must assume a very unusual ellipsis after ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί,—one hardly justified by such precedents as Romans 11:18,— εἰ δὲ κατακαυχᾶσαι, οὐ σὺ τ. ῥίζαν βαστάζεις, κ. τ. λ., Romans 11:15, and supply, ‘God hath given you this proof, that.…’ Meyer urges in defence of his view the emphatic position of ἐστε, on which see below. I prefer the ordinary rendering because it suits best (1) the simplicity of construction,—the causal ὅτι thus beginning a sentence followed by an apodosis, as in ref.,—whereas we have no example of the demonstrative ὅτι followed by the ellipsis here supposed: cf. ch. Galatians 3:11, where δῆλον follows:—(2) the context;—it is not in corroboration of the fact that we are sons, but as a consequence of that fact, that the Apostle states what follows: to shew the completeness of the state of sonship. In Romans 8:16, the order of these is inverted, and the witness of the Spirit proves our sonship: but that does not affect the present passage, which must stand on its own ground. (3) The aorist ἐξαπέστειλεν is against Meyer’s view—it would be in that case ἐξαπέσταλκεν. It is now used of the time of the gift of the Spirit. Render then: Because moreover ye are sons (the stress on ἐστε is hardly to be urged: υἱοί ἐστε would certainly give a very strong emphasis on the noun: all we can say of ἐστε υἱοί, where so insignificant a word as a verb substantive is concerned, is that there is now no such strong stress on υἱοί, but that the whole fact, of the state of sonship having been brought in, and actually existing, is alleged) God sent forth (not, ‘hath sent forth’—see above) the Spirit of His Son (you being now fellows with that Son in the communion of the Spirit, won for you as a consequence of His atonement: called, Romans 8:15, πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας, and ib. Romans 8:9, πνεῦμα χριστοῦ, where participation in Him is said to be the necessary condition of belonging to Christ at all) into our hearts (as he changed from the third person to the first in the foregoing verse, so now from the second: both times from the fervour of his heart, wavering between logical accuracy and generous largeness of sympathy), crying (in Romans 8:15, it is ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν. Here the Spirit being the main subject, is regarded as the agent, and the believer merely as His organ) Abba Father. ὁ πατήρ is not a mere Greek explanation of ἀββᾶ, but an address by His name of relation, of Him to whom the term ἀββᾶ was used more as a token of affection than as conveying its real meaning of ‘my father:’ see notes on Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15. Aug. gives a fanciful reason for the repetition: “Eleganter autem intelligitur non frustra duarum linguarum verba posuisse idem significantia propter universum populum, qui de Judæis et de Gentilibus in unitatem fidei vocatus est: ut Hebræum verbum ad Judæos, Græcum ad gentes, utriusque tamen verbi eadem significatio ad ejusdem fidei spiritusque unitatem pertineat.” And so Luther, Calvin, and Bengel.


Verse 7

7.] Statement of the conclusion from the foregoing, and corroboration, from it, of ch. Galatians 3:29. The second person singular individualizes and points home the inference. Meyer remarks that this individualization has been gradually proceeding from Galatians 4:5ἀπολάβωμεν,— ἔστε,— εἶ.

διὰ θεοῦ] The rec. θεοῦ διὰ χριστοῦ seems to have been an adaptation to the similar passage, Romans 8:17.

On the text, Windischmann remarks, “ διὰ θεοῦ combines, on behalf of our race, the whole before-mentioned agency of the Blessed Trinity: the Father has sent the Son and the Spirit, the Son has freed us from the law, the Spirit has completed our sonship; and thus the redeemed are heirs through the tri-une God Himself, not through the law, nor through fleshly descent.”


Verse 8

8.] τότε refers back for its time, not to Galatians 4:3, as Windischmann, but to οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος, Galatians 4:7.

In οὐκ εἰδότ. θ., there is no inconsistency with Romans 1:21; there it is the knowledge which the Gentile world might have had: here, the matter of fact is alleged, that they had it not.

τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θ.] to gods, which by nature exist not: see 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 and note. The rec. would be, “to those which are not by nature gods,” i.e. only made into gods by human fancy: but this is not the Apostle’s way of conceiving of the heathen deities. Meyer compares 2 Chronicles 13:9, ἐγένετο εἰς ἱερέα τῷ μὴ ὄντι θεῷ. Notice μή—giving the Apostle’s judgment of their non-existence—and see 2 Corinthians 5:21 note, where however I cannot hold with Ellic., that μὴ γνόντα expresses ‘God’s judgment’ (?).


Verses 8-11

8–11.] Appeal to them, as the result of the conclusion just arrived at, why, having passed out of slavery into freedom, they were now going back again.


Verse 9

9.] “The distinction which Olsh. attempts to set up between εἰδότες as the mere outward, and γνόντες as the inner knowledge, is mere arbitrary fiction: see John 7:26-27; John 8:55; 2 Corinthians 5:16.” Meyer.

μᾶλλον δὲ γν. ὑπ. θ.] See note on 1 Corinthians 8:3. Here the propriety of the expression is even more strikingly manifest than there: the Galatians did not so much acquire the knowledge of God, as they were taken into knowledge, recognized, by Him,— προσληφθέντες ὑπὸ θεοῦ, Thl.: οὐδὲ γὰρ ὑμεῖς καμόντες εὕρετε τὸν θεόν, … αὐτὸς δὲ ὑμᾶς ἐπεσπάσατο, Chrys. And this made their fall from Him the more matter of indignant appeal, as being a resistance of His will respecting them. No change of the meaning of γνωσθ. must be resorted to, as ‘approved,’ ‘loved’ (Grot., al.: see others in De W. and Mey.): cf. Matthew 25:12; 2 Timothy 2:19. Cf. also Philippians 3:12.

πῶς] how is it that …? see reff.

ἀσθ.] so the προάγουσα ἐντολή is called in Hebrews 7:18, ἀσθενὲς κ. ἀνωφελές. Want of power to justify is that to which the word points here.

πτωχ.] in contrast with the riches which are in Christ. Or both words may perhaps refer back to the state of childhood hinted at in Galatians 4:6, during which the heir is ἀσθενής, as immature, and πτωχός, as not yet in possession. But this would not strictly apply to the elements as the Gentiles were concerned with them: see below. On στοιχεῖα, see note, Galatians 4:3.

πάλιν] These Galatians had never been Jews before: but they had been be fore under the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, under which generic term both Jewish and Gentile cultus was comprised: so that they were turning back again to these elements.

ἄνωθεν] from the beginning,—afresh; not a repetition of πάλιν: Mey. quotes πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς, Barnab. Ep. 16, p. 773 Migne: and Wetstein gives, from Plautus, Cas. Prol. 33, ‘rursum denuo.’

θέλετε, as in E. V., ye desire: but if thus expressed here by our translators, why not also in John 5:40, where it is still more emphatic?


Verse 10

10.] The affirmative form seems best, as (see Ellic.) supplying a verification of the charge just brought against them interrogatively: explaining τίς τῆς δουλείας τρόπος, Thdrt. Wishing to shew to them in its most contemptible light the unworthiness of their decadence, he puts the observation of days in the forefront of his appeal, as one of those things which they already practised. Circumcision he does not mention, because they were not yet drawn into it, but only in danger of being so (ch. Galatians 5:2, al.):—nor abstinence from meats, to which we do not hear that they were even tempted.

ἡμέρας, emphatic, as the first mentioned, and also as a more general predication of the habit, under which the rest fall. The days would be sabbaths, new moons, and feast days: see Colossians 2:16, where these are specified.

παρατηρ.] There does not seem to be any meaning of superstitious or inordinate observance (as Olsh., Winer, &c.), but merely a statement of the fact: see ref. Joseph., where, remarkable enough, the word is applied to the very commandment (the fourth) here in question. “When παρά is ethical, i.e. when the verb is used in a bad sense, e.g. ἐνεδρεύειν κ. παρατηρεῖν, Polyb. xvii. 3. 2, the idea conveyed is that of hostile observation.” Ellicott.

μῆνας] hardly new moons, which were days: but perhaps the seventh month, or any others which were distinguished by great feasts.

καιρούς] any festal seasons: so Leviticus 23:4, αὗται αἱ ἑορταὶ τῷ κυρίῳ κληταὶ ἅγιαι, ἃς καλέσετε αὐτὰς ἐν τοῖς καιροῖς αὐτῶν.

ἐνιαυτούς] can hardly apply to the sabbatical or jubilee years, on account of their rare occurrence, unless indeed with Wieseler, Chron. der Apost. Zeitalt. p. 286 note, we are to suppose that they were then celebrating one: perhaps those observations may be intended which especially regarded the year, as the new year. But this is not likely (see above on μῆνας): and I should much rather suppose, that each of these words is not minutely to be pressed, but all taken together as a rhetorical description of those who observed times and seasons. Notice how utterly such a verse is at variance with any and every theory of a Christian sabbath, cutting at the root, as it does, of ALL obligatory observance of times as such: see notes on Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16. “These periodical solemnities of the law shewed, by the fact of their periodical repetition, the imperfection of the dispensation to which they belonged: typifying each feature of Christ’s work, which, as one great and perfect whole, has been performed once for all and for ever,—and were material representations of those spiritual truths which the spiritual Israel learn in union with Christ as a risen Lord. To observe periods then, now in the fulness of time, is to deny the perfection of the Christian dispensation, the complete and finished nature of Christ’s work: to forsake Him as the great spiritual teacher of His brethren, and to return to carnal pædagogues: to throw aside sonship in all its fulness, and the spirit of adoption: and to return to childhood and the rule of tutors and governors.” Bagge: who however elsewhere maintains the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath.


Verse 11

11.] There is no attraction in the construction ( φοβ. ὑμᾶς, μή πως …), as Winer (comm. in loc.) holds: in that case ὑμεῖς must be the subject of the next clause (so in Diod. Sic. iv. 40 (Meyer), τὸν ἀδελφὸν εὐλαβεῖσθαι, μή ποτεἐπίθηται τῇ βασιλείᾳ): but φοβ. ὑμᾶς stands alone, and the following clause explains it. So Soph. Œd. Tyr. 760, δέδοικʼ ἐμαυτὸνμὴ πόλλʼ ἄγαν εἰρημένʼ ᾖ μοι. The indicative assumes the fact which μή πως deprecates:—see reff.


Verse 12

12.] This has been variously understood. But the only rendering which seems to answer the requirements of the construction and the context, is that which understands εἰμι or γέγονα after ἐγώ, and refers it to the Apostle having in his own practice cast off Jewish habits and become as the Galatians: i.e. a Gentile: see 1 Corinthians 9:20-21. And so Winer, Neander, Fritz., De W., Meyer, Jowett (alt.), &c. (2) Chrys., Thdrt., Thl., Erasm.-par., al., regard it as said to Jewish believers, and explain,— τοῦτον εἷχον πάλαι τὸν ζῆλον· σφόδρα τὸν νόμον ἐπόθουν· ἀλλʼ ὁρᾶτε πῶς μεταβέβλημαι. ταύτην τοίνυν καὶ ὑμεῖς ζηλώσατε τὴν μεταβολήν (Thdrt.). But to this Meyer rightly objects, that ἤμην, which would in this case have to be supplied, must have been expressed, as being emphatic, and cites from Justin ad Græcos, c. 2, where however I cannot find it, γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ, ὅτι κἀγὼ ἤμην ὡς ὑμεῖς. (3) Jerome, Erasm.-not., Corn.-a-lap., Estius, Michaelis, Rückert, Olsh., ‘… as also I have accommodated myself to you.’ But thus the second member of the sentence will not answer to the first. (4) Luther, Beza, Calvin, Grot., Bengel, Morus, Peile, al., would understand it, ‘love me, as I love you’ (“accipite hanc meam objurgationem eo animo quo vos objurgavi: … sit in vobis is affectus erga me, qui est in me erga vos,” Luth.). But nothing has been said of a want of love: and certainly had this been meant, it would have been more plainly expressed. The words ἀδελφοί, δέομαι ὑμῶν are by Chrys., Thdrt., al., Luther, Koppe, al., joined to the following: but wrongly, for there is no δέησις in what follows.

οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε] The key to rightly understanding these words is, their apposition with ἐξουθενήσατε, … ἐξεπτύσατεἐδέξασθε below. To that period they refer: viz. to the time when he first preached the Gospel among them, and the first introduction of this period seems to be in the words, ὅτι κἀγὼ ὡς ὑμεῖς. Then I became as you: and at that time you did me no wrong, but on the contrary shewed me all sympathy and reverence. Then comes in the inference, put in the form of a question, at Galatians 4:16,—I must then have since become your enemy by telling you the truth. The other explanations seem all more or less beside the purpose: δηλῶν ὅτι οὐ μίσους, οὐδὲ ἔχθρας ἦν τὰ εἰρημένα … Chrys., and similarly Thl., Aug., Pel., Luth., Calv. (‘non excandesco mea causa, nec quod vobis sim infensus’), Estius, Winer, al., which would be irrelevant, and indeed preposterous without some introduction after the affection of the foregoing words: ‘ye have done me no wrong,’ i.e. ‘ex animo omnia condonabat si resipiscerentur,’ Beza: so Bengel, Rückert, al.,—which is refuted by the aorist ἠδικήσατε, of some definite time. The same is true of ‘ye have wronged not me but yourselves’ (Ambr., Corn.-a-lap., Schött.),—‘… not me, but God, or Christ’ (Grot. al.).


Verses 12-16

12–16.] Appeal to them to imitate him, on the ground of their former love and veneration for him.


Verse 13

13.] διʼ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκός can surely bear but one rendering,—on account of bodily weakness: all others (e.g. ‘in weakness,’ as E. V., μετὰ ἀσθενείας, as Œc., Thl., ‘per infirmitatem,’ as vulg., Luth., Beza, Grot., Estius, Jowett (comparing Philippians 1:15, where see note), ‘during a period of sickness,’ as Mr. Bagge) are ungrammatical, or irrelevant, as ‘on account of the infirmity of (your) flesh’ (Jer., Estius, Hig., Rettig), which would require some qualifying adverb such as οὕτως with εὐηγγελισάμην, and would besides be wholly out of place in an Epistle in which he is recalling them to the substance of his first preaching. The meaning then will be, that it was on account of an illness that he first preached in Galatia: i.e. that he was for that reason detained there, and preached, which otherwise he would not have done. On this, see Prolegomena, § ii. 3: the fact itself, I cannot help thinking, is plainly asserted here. Beware of conjectural emendation, such as διʼ ἀσθενείας of Peile, for which there is neither warrant nor need.

τὸ πρότερον may mean ‘formerly,’ but is more probably ‘the first time,’ with reference to that second visit hinted at below, Galatians 4:16, and ch. Galatians 5:21. See Prolegomena, § Galatians 4:3.


Verse 14

14.] I had in some former editions retained the rec., feeling persuaded that out of it the other readings have arisen. The whole tenor of the passage seeming to shew that the Apostle’s weakness was spoken of as a trial to the Galatians, μου appeared to have been altered to ὑμῶν,—or to have been omitted by some who could not see its relevance, or its needfulness. But the principles of sounder criticism have taught me how unsafe is such ground of arguing, and have compelled me to adopt the text of the most ancient MSS. The temptation seems to have been the ‘thorn in the flesh’ of 2 Corinthians 12:1 ff., whatever that was: perhaps something connected with his sight, or some nervous infirmity: see below, and notes on Acts 13:9; Acts 23:1.

ἐξεπτύσατε] “expresses figuratively and in a climax the sense of ἐξουθ. Cf. the Latin despuere, respuere. In other Greek writers we have only καταπτύειν τινός, ἀποπτύειν τινά (Eur. Troad. 668; Hec. 1265. Hes. ἔργ. 724), and διαπτύειν τινά in this metaphorical sense,—but ἐκπτύειν always in its literal sense (Hom. Od. ε. 322), as also ἐμπτύειν τινί. Even in the passage cited by Kypke from Plut., Alex. i. p. 328, it is in its literal sense, as ὥσπερ χαλινόν follows. We must treat this then as a departure from Greek usage, and regard it as occasioned by ἐξουθ., as Paul loves to repeat the same prepositions in composition (Romans 2:17; Romans 11:7 al.), not without emphasis.” Meyer.

ὡς ἄγγελ. θ., ὡς χρ. ἰησ.] a climax:—besides the freedom of angels from fleshly weakness, there is doubtless an allusion to their office as messengers—and to His saying, who is above the angels, Luke 10:16. No inference can be drawn from these expressions being used of the Galatians’ reception of him, that they were already Christians when he first visited them: the words are evidently not to be pressed as accurate in point of chronology, but involve an ὕστερον πρότερον: not, ‘as you would have received,’ &c., but ‘as you would (now) receive.’


Verse 15

15.] Where then (i.e. where in estimation, holding what place) (was) your congratulation (of yourselves)? i.e. considering your fickle behaviour since. ‘Quæ causa fuit gratulationis, si vos nunc pœnitet mei?’ Bengel. Various explanations have been given: ‘quæ (reading τίς) erat beatitudo vestra,’ neglecting the οὖν, and making μακαρισμός into beatitudo, which it will not bear: so (Œc., Luth., Beza, &c. All making the words into an exclamation (even if τίς be read) is inconsistent with the context, and with the logical precision of οὖν, and ὥστε below. ‘Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?’ (E. V.) is perhaps as good a rendering as the words will bear.

μαρτυρῶ γὰρ] a proof to what lengths this μακαρισμός, and consequently their high value for St. Paul ran, at his first visit. In seeking for a reference for this expression, τ. ὀφθ. ὑμῶν ἐξορ. ἐδώκ. μοι, the right course will be, not at once to adopt the conclusion, that they point to ocular weakness on the part of the Apostle, nor because they form a trite proverb in many languages, therefore to set down (as Meyer, De W., Windischmann, al., have done) at once that no such allusion can have been intended, but to judge from the words themselves and our information from other sources whether such an allusion is likely. And in doing so, I may observe that a proverbial expression so harsh in its nature, and so little prepared by the context, would perhaps hardly have been introduced without some particle of climax. Would not the Apostle have more naturally written, ὅτι εἰ δυνατόν, καὶ τοὺς ὀφθ. ὑμ.…? Had the καί been inserted, it would have deprived the words of all reference to a matter of fact, and made them purely proverbial. At the same time it is fair to say that the order τοὺς ὀφθ. ὑμῶν rather favours the purely proverbial reference. Had the Apostle’s eyes been affected, and had he wished to express “You would, if possible, have pulled out your own eyes, and have given them to me,” he would certainly have written ὑμῶν τοὺς ὀφθ., not τοὺς ὀφθ. ὑμῶν. In other words, the more emphatic τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς is, the more likely is the expression to be proverbial merely: the less emphatic τ. ὀφθ. is, the more likely to refer to some fact, in which the eyes were as matter of notoriety concerned. The inference then of any ocular disease from these words themselves seems to me precarious. Certainly Acts 23:1 ff. receives light from such a supposition; but with our very small knowledge on the subject, many conjectures may be hazarded with some shew of support from Scripture, while none of them has enough foundation to make it probable on the whole. The proverb is abundantly illustrated by Wetst. ἐξορύσσω is the regular classic word: cf. Herod. viii. 116: this however is doubted by Ellic. See on the whole passage, Jowett’s most interesting “fragment on the character of St. Paul,” Epp. &c. vol. i. pp. 290–303.


Verse 16

16.] So that (as things now stand; an inference derived from the contrast between their former love and their present dislike of him. See Klotz, Devar. ii. 776) have I become your enemy (‘hated by you;’— ἐχθρ. in passive sense: or perhaps it may be active, as Ellic.) by speaking the truth (see Ephesians 4:15 note) to you? When did he thus incur their enmity by speaking the truth? Not at his first visit, from the whole tenor of this passage: nor in this letter, as some think (Jer., Luther, al.), which they had not yet read; but at his second visit, see Acts 18:23, when he probably found the mischief beginning, and spoke plainly against it. Cf. similar expressions in Wetst.: especially ‘obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit,’ Ter. Andr. i. 1. 40: ὀργίζονται ἅπαντες τοῖς μετὰ παῤῥησίας τʼ ἀληθῆ λέγουσι, Lucian, Abdic. 7.


Verse 17

17.] ‘My telling you the truth may have made me seem your enemy: but I warn you that these men who court you so zealously (see ref. 2 Cor., and cf. Plut. vii. 762, cited by Fritz. ὑπὸ χρείας τὸ πρῶτον ἕπονται κ. ζηλοῦσιν, ὕστερον δὲ καὶ φιλοῦσιν) have no honourable purpose in so doing: it is only in order to get you away from the community as a separate clique, that you may court them.’ Thus the verse seems to fit best into the context. As regards particular words, ἐκκλείω must bear the meaning of exclusion from a larger and attraction to a smaller, viz. their own, party. (Our very word ‘exclusive’ conveys the same idea.) I have therefore not adopted Mey.’s rendering, ‘from all other teachers,’—nor that of Luther (1538), Calv., Grot., Beng., Rück., Olsh., Winer, al., ‘from me and my communion,’—nor that of Chrys., Œc., Thl., τῆς τελείας γνώσεως ἐκβαλεῖν,—nor that of Erasm., Corn.-a-lap., ‘from Christian freedom.’

The mood of ζηλοῦτε has been disputed: and it must remain uncertain here, as in 1 Corinthians 4:6, where see note. Here as there Meyer would give ἵνα the meaning of ‘in which case:’ but it is surely far better where the sentence so plainly requires ἵνα of the purpose, to suppose some peculiar usage or solœcism in formation of the subjunctive on the part of the Apostle.


Verse 18

18.] Two meanings are open to us: (1) as E. V. (apparently: but perhaps ‘zealously affected’ may be meant for the passive—for ‘earnestly courted’) and many Commentators taking ζηλοῦσθαι as middle—or passive with a signification nearly the same, ‘it is good to be zealously affected in a good cause, and not only during my presence with you:’ in which case the sense must be referred back to vv.13–15, and the allusion must be to their zeal while he was with them. But, considering that this context is broken at Galatians 4:17,—that the words ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν καλῷ are an evident reference to ζηλοῦσιν ὑμ. οὐ καλῶς, and that the wider context of the whole passage adduces a contrast between their conduct when he was with them and now, I think it much better (2) to explain thus: ‘I do not mean to blame them in the abstract for τὸ ζηλοῦν ὑμᾶς: any teacher who did this καλῶς, preaching Christ, would be a cause of joy to me (Philippians 1:15-18): and it is an honourable thing (for you) to be the objects of this zeal (‘ambiri’) ἐν καλῷ, in a good cause (I still cannot see how this rendering of ἐν καλῷalters the meaning of the verb’ (Ellic.): it rather seems to me that the non-use of καλῶς, while the paronomasia is retained, leads to this meaning), at all times and by every body, not only when I am (or was) present with you:’ q. d. ‘I have no wish, in thus writing, to set up an exclusive claim to ζηλοῦν ὑμᾶς—whoever will really teach you good, at any time, let him do it and welcome.’ Then the next verse follows naturally also, in which he narrows the relation between himself and them, from the wide one of a mere ζηλωτής, to the closer one of their parent in Christ, much as in 1 Corinthians 4:14 f.,— ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητὰ νουθετῶ· ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν χριστῷ, ἀλλʼ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας· ἐν γὰρ χρ. ἰησοῦ διὰ τ. εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα.

On other interpretations, I may remark, ( α) that after ζηλοῦσιν, the strict passive meaning is the only suitable one for ζηλοῦσθαι, as it is indeed the only one justified by usage: ( β) that ζηλόω must keep its meaning throughout, which will exclude all such renderings as ‘invidiose tractari’ here (Koppe): ( γ) that all applications of the sentence to the Apostle himself as its object ( ἐν καλῷ, in the matter of a good teacher, as Estius, Corn.-a-lap., al.) are beside the purpose.


Verse 19

19.] belongs to what follows, not to the preceding. Lachmann, (I suppose on account of the δέ following, but see below,) with that want of feeling for the characteristic style of St. Paul which he so constantly shews in punctuating, has attached this as a flat and irrelevant appendage to the last verse (so also Bengel, Knapp, Rückert, al.): and has besides tamed down τεκνία into τέκνα, thus falling into the trap laid by some worthless corrector. My little children (the diminutive occurs only here in St. Paul, but is manifestly purposely, and most suitably chosen for the propriety of the metaphor. It is found (see reff.) often in St. John, while our Apostle has τέκνον, 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1), Whom (the change of gender is common enough. Meyer quotes an apposite example from Eur. Suppl. 12, θανόντων ἑπτὰ γενναίων τέκνωνοὕς ποτʼ … ἤγαγε) I again (a second time; the former was ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με, Galatians 4:18) travail with (bear, as a mother, with pain and anxiety, till the time of birth) until Christ shall have been fully formed within you (for Christ dwelling in a man is the secret and principle of his new life, see ch. Galatians 2:20),


Verse 20

20.] yea, I could wish (see note on Romans 9:3. There is a contrast in the δέ between his present anxiety in absence from them and his former παρεῖναι, Galatians 4:18; similar constructions with δέ are frequent, especially after vocatives, when some particular is adduced more or less inconsistent with the address which has preceded: thus Hom. Il. ο. 244, ἕκτορ, υἱὲ πριάμοιο, τίη δὲ σὺ νόσφιν ἀπʼ ἄλλων | ἧσʼ ὀλιγηπελέων; Eur. Hec. 372, μῆτερ, σὺ δʼ ἡμῖν μηδὲν ἐμποδὼν γένῃ … al. freq.) to be present with you now, and to change my voice (from what, to what? Some say, from mildness to severity. But surely such a change would be altogether beside the tone of this deeply affectionate address. I should rather hold, with Meyer,—from my former severity, when I became your enemy by ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν, to the softness and mildness of a mother, still ἀληθεύων, but in another tone. The great majority of Commentators understand ἀλλάξαι as Corn.-a-lap. (Mey.): ‘ut scilicet quasi mater nunc blandirer, nunc gemerem, nunc obsecrarem, nunc objurgarem vos.’ But so much can hardly be contained in the mere word ἀλλάξαι without some addition, such as πρὸς τὸν καιρόν, πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον (1 Corinthians 12:7), or the like): for I am perplexed about you (not ‘I am suspected among you,’ but ἐν ὑμῖν as in 2 Corinthians 7:16, θαῤῥῶ ἐν ὑμῖν,—the element in which: the other is irrelevant, and inconsistent with the N. T. usage of ἀποροῦμαι: see reff. The verb is passive: Meyer quotes Demosth. p. 830. 2, πολλὰ τοίνυν ἀπορηθεὶς περὶ τούτων κ. καθʼ ἕκαστον ἐξελεγχόμενος, and Sirach 18:7, ὅταν παύσηται, τότε ἀπορηθήσεται).


Verse 21

21. θέλοντες] καλῶς εἶπεν· οἱ θέλοντες, οὐ γὰρ τῆς τῶν πραγμάτων ἀκολουθίας, ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐκείνων ἀκαίρου φιλονεικίας τὸ πρᾶγμα ἦν. Chrys.

τ. νόμον οὐκ ἀκούετε] do ye not hear (heed) the law, listen to that which the law imparts and impresses on its hearers? Meyer would understand, ‘do ye not hear the law read?’ viz. in the synagogues, &c. But the other seems to me more natural.


Verses 21-30

21–30.] Illustration of the relative positions of the law and the promise, by an allegorical interpretation of the history of the two sons of Abraham: “intended to destroy the influence of the false Apostles with their own weapons, and to root it up out of its own proper soil” (Meyer).


Verse 22

22.] γάρ answers to a tacit assumption of a negative answer to the foregoing question—‘nay, ye do not: for,’ &c. Phrynichus says on παιδίσκη, τοῦτο ἐπὶ τῆς θεραπαίνης οἱ νῦν τιθέασιν, οἱ δʼ ἀρχαῖοι ἐπὶ τῆς νεάνιδος, οἷς ἀκολουθητέον.


Verse 23

23.] κατὰσάρκα, according to nature, in her usual course: διʼ ἐπαγγελίας, by virtue of (the) promise, as the efficient cause of Sara’s becoming pregnant contrary to nature: see Romans 4:19.


Verse 24

24.] which things (on ὅς and ὅστις see Ellic.’s note: here ἅτινα seems to enlarge the allegory beyond the mere births of the two sons to all the circumstances attending them) are allegorical: i.e. to be understood otherwise than according to their literal sense. So Suidas: ἀλληγορία, ἡ μεταφορά, ἄλλο λέγον τὸ γράμμα, κ. ἄλλο τὸ νόημα: Heysch., ἀλληγορία, ἄλλο τι παρὰ τὸ ἀκουόμενον ὑποδεικνύουσα: and gloss. N. T., ἀλληγορούμενα, ἑτέρως κατὰ μετάφρασιν νοούμενα, καὶ οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν. The word is often used, as the thing signified by it is exemplified, by Philo. It was the practice of the Rabbinical Jews to allegorize the O. T. history. “Singula fere gesta quæ narrantur, allegorice quoque et mystice interpretantur. Neque hac in parte labores ipsorum plane possumus contemnere. Nam cadem Paulus habet, qualia sunt de Adamo primo et secundo, de cibo et potu spirituali, de Hagare, etc. Sic Joannes memorat Sodomum et Ægyptum mysticam, plagas item Ægyptias per revelationem hostibus Ecclesiæ immittendas prædicit,” Schöttgen. How various persons take this allegorical comment of the Apostle, depends very much on their views of his authority as a Scripture interpreter. To those who receive the law as a great system of prophetic figures, there can be no difficulty in believing the events by which the giving of the law was prepared to have been prophetic figures also: not losing thereby any of their historic reality, but bearing to those who were able to see it aright, this deeper meaning. And to such persons, the fact of St. Paul and other sacred writers adducing such allegorical interpretations brings no surprise and no difficulty, but only strong confirmation of their belief that there are such deeper meanings lying hid under the O. T. history. That the Rabbis and the Fathers, holding such deeper senses, should have often missed them, and allegorized fancifully and absurdly, is nothing to the purpose: it is surely most illogical to argue that because they were wrong, St. Paul cannot be right. The only thing which really does create any difficulty in my mind, is, that Commentators with spiritual discernment, and appreciation of such a man as our Apostle, should content themselves with quietly casting aside his Scripture interpretation wherever, as here, it passes their comprehension. On their own view of him, it would be at least worth while to consider whether his knowledge of his own Scriptures may not have surpassed ours. But to those who believe that he had the Spirit of God, this passage speaks very solemnly; and I quite agree with Mr. Conybeare in his note, edn. 2, vol. ii. p. 178, “The lesson to be drawn from this whole passage, as regards the Christian use of the O. T., is of an importance which can scarcely be overrated.” Of course no one, who reads, marks, learns, and inwardly digests the Scriptures, can subscribe to the shallow and indolent dictum of Macknight, ‘This is to be laid down as a fixed rule, that no ancient history is to be considered as allegorical, but that which inspired persons have interpreted allegorically: but at the same time, in allegorizing Scripture, he will take care to follow the analogy of the faith, and proceed soberly, and in dependence on that Holy Spirit, who alone can put us in possession of His own mind in His word.’ Calvin’s remarks here are good: “Quemadmodum Abrahæ domus tunc fuit vera Ecclesia: ita minime dubium est quin præcipui et præ aliis memorabiles eventus qui in ea contigerunt, nobis totidem sint typi. Sicut ergo in circumcisione, in sacrificiis, in toto sacerdotio levitico allegoria fuit: sicuti hodie est in nostris sacramentis, ita etiam in domo Abrahæ fuisse dico. Sed id non facit ut a literali sensu recedatur. Summa perinde est ac si diceret Paulus, figuram duorum testamentorum in duabus Abrahæ uxoribus, et duplicis populi in duobus filiis, veluti in tabula, nobis depictam.” As to the objection of Luther, repeated by De Wette, that this allegory shews misapprehension of the history (die Allegorie von Sara und Hagar, welche … zum Stich zu schwach ist, denn sie weichet ab vom historischen Verstand. Luth., cited by De W.), because Ishmael had nothing to do with the law of Moses, the misapprehension is entirely on the side of the objectors. Not the bare literal historical fact is in question here, but the inner character of God’s dealings with men, of which type, and prophecy, and the historical fact itself, are only so many exemplifications. The difference between the children of the bond and the free, of the law and the promise, has been shewn out to the world before, by, and since the covenant of the law. See an excellent note of Windischmann’s ad loc., exposing the shallow modern critical school. See also Jowett’s note, on the other side: and while reading it, and tracing the consequences which will follow from adopting his view, bear in mind that the question between him and us is not affected by any thing there said on the similarity between St. Paul and the Alexandrians as interpreters of Scripture,—but remains as it was before,—was the O. T. dispensation a system of typical events and ordinances, or is all such typical reference fanciful and delusive? For these (women ( αὗται), not as Jowett, Ishmael and Isaac, which would confuse the whole: the mothers are the covenants;—the sons, the children of the covenants) are (import in the allegory, see reff.) two covenants (not ‘revelations,’ but literally covenants between God and men): one (covenant) indeed from Mount Sina (taking its origin from,—or having Mount Sina as its centre, as ὁ ἐκ πελοποννήσου πόλεμος) gendering (bringing forth children: De W. compares υἱοὶτῆς διαθήκης, Acts 3:25) unto (with a view to) bondage, which one is (identical in the allegory with) Agar.


Verse 25

25.] (No parenthesis: συστοιχεῖ δέ begins a new clause.) For the word Agar (when the neuter article precedes a noun of another gender, not the import of that noun, but the noun itself, is designated,—so Demosth. p. 255. 4, τὸ δʼ ὑμεῖς ὅταν εἴπω, τὴν πόλιν λέγω. Kühner ii. 137) is (imports) Mount Sina, in Arabia (i.e. among the Arabians. This rendering, which is Chrysostom’s,— τὸ δὲ σινᾶ ὄρος οὕτω μεθερμηνεύεται τῇ ἐπιχωρίῳ αὐτῶν γλώττῃ (so also Thl., Luther), is I conceive necessitated by the arrangement of the sentence, as well as by τὸ ἄγαρ. Had the Apostle intended merely to localize σινᾶ ὄρος by the words ἐν τῇ ἀρ., he could hardly but have written τὸ ἐν τῇ ἀρ., or have placed ἐν τ. ἀρ. before ἐστιν. Had he again, adopting the reading τὸ γὰρ σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ ἀραβίᾳ, intended to say (as Windischmann), ‘for Mount Sina is in Arabia, where Hagar’s descendants likewise are,’ the sentence would more naturally have stood τὸ γὰρ σινᾶ ὄρ. ἐν τῆ ἀρ. ἐστίν, or καὶ γὰρ σινᾶ ὄρ. ἐν τ. ἀρ. ἐστίν. As it is, the law of emphasis would require it to be rendered, ‘For Sina is a mountain in Arabia,’ information which the judaizing Galatians would hardly require. As to the fact itself, Meyer states, “ حَجَرُ in Arabic, is a stone: and though we have no further testimony that Mount Sina was thus named κατʼ ἐξοχήν by the Arabians, we have that of Chrysostom; and Büsching, Erdbeschreibung, v. p. 535, adduces that of the traveller Haraut, that they to this day call Sinai, Hadschar. Certainly we have Hagar as a geographical proper name in Arabia Petræa: the Chaldee paraphrast always calls the wilderness of Shur, חגרא.” So that Jowett certainly speaks too strongly when he says, “the old explanations, that Hagar is the Arabic word for a rock or the Arabic noun for Mount Sinai, are destitute of foundation.” As to the improbability at which he hints, of St. Paul quoting Arabic words in writing to the Galatians, I cannot see how it is greater than that of his making the covert allusion contained in his own interpretation. We may well suppose St. Paul to have become familiarized, during his sojourn there, with this name for the granite peaks of Sinai), but ( δέ marks the latent contrast that the addition of a new fact brings with it: so Ellic.) corresponds (viz. Agar, which is the subject, not Mount Sina, see below. “ συστοιχεῖν is ‘to stand in the same rank:’ hence ‘to belong to the same category,’ ‘to be homogeneous with:’ see Polyb. xiii. 8. 1, ὅμοια κ. σύστοιχα.” Mey., Chrys., all., and the Vulg. (conjunctus est), take it literally, and understand it, γειτνιάζει, ἅπτεται, ‘is joined, by a continuous range of mountain-tops,’ understanding Sina as the subject) with the present Jerusalem (i.e. Jerusalem under the law, the Jerusalem of the Jews, as contrasted with the Jerusalem of the Messiah’s Kingdom), for she ( ἡ νῦν ἱερουσ., not ἄγαρ) is in slavery with her children.


Verse 26

26.] But (opposes to the last sentence, not to μία μέν, Galatians 4:24, which, as Meyer observes, is left without an apodosis, the reader supplying that the other covenant is Sara, &c.) the Jerusalem above (i.e. the heavenly Jerusalem = ἱερ. ἐπουράνιος, Hebrews 12:22, ἡ καινὴ ἱερ. Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2, and see reff. on ἄνω. Michaelis, al., suppose ancient Jerusalem (Melchisedek’s) to be meant.

Vitringa, al., Mount Zion, as ἡ ἄνω πόλις means the Acropolis. But Rabbinical usage, as Schöttgen has abundantly proved in his Dissertation de Hierosolyma cœlesti (Hor. Heb. vol. i. Diss. v.), was familiar with the idea of a Jerusalem in heaven. See also citations in Wetst. This latter quotes a very remarkable parallel from Plato, Rep. ix. end,— ἐν ᾗ νῦν δὴ διήλθομεν οἰκίζοντες πόλει λέγεις, τῇ ἐν λόγοις κειμένῃ, ἐπεὶ γῆς γε οὐδαμοῦ οἶμαι αὐτὴν εἶναι. ἀλλʼ ἦν δʼ ἐγώ ἐν οὐρανῷ ἴσως παράδειγμα ἀνάκειται τῷ βουλομένῳ ὁρᾷν καὶ ὁρῶντι ἑαυτὸν κατοικίζειν. διαφέρει δὲ οὐδὲν εἴτε που ἐστὶν εἴτε ἔσται· τὰ γὰρ ταύτης μόνης ἂν πράξειεν, ἄλλης δὲ οὐδεμιᾶς. εἰκός γʼ, ἔφη.

The expression here will mean, “the Messianic Theocracy, which before the παρουσία is the Church, and after it Christ’s Kingdom of glory.” Mey.) is free, which (which said city, which heavenly Jerusalem) is our mother (the emphasis is not on ἡμῶν as Winer: nay rather it stands in the least emphatic place, as indicating a relation taken for granted by Christians. See Philippians 3:20. The rendering adopted by Mr. Bagge, “which (Jerusalem the free) is (answers to, as ἥτις ἐστὶν ἄγαρ above) our mother (viz. Sarah),” is untenable from the absence of the article before μήτηρ, besides that it would introduce confusion, and a double allegory).


Verse 27

27.] Proof of this relation from Prophecy. The portion of Isaiah from which this is taken, is directly Messianic: indicating in its foreground the reviviscence of Israel after calamity, but in language far surpassing that event. See Stier, Jesaias nicht pseudo-Jesaias, vol. ii. p. 512. The citation is from the LXX, verbatim.

ῥῆξον] sc. φωνήν: cf. many examples in Wetst. Probably the rule of supplying ellipses from the context (following which Kypke and Schött. here supply εὐφ οσύνην, from εὐφράνθητι, and Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9; cf. also ‘erumpere gaudium, Ter. Eun. iii. 5. 2 (Ellic.)) need hardly be applied here; the phrase with φωνήν was so common, as to lead at last to the omission of the substantive.

The Hebrew רִנָּה, ‘into joyful shouting,’ seems not to have been read by the LXX.

St. Paul here interprets the barren of Sara, who bore not according to the flesh (= the promise), and the fruitful of Agar (= the law). Clem. Rom., Ephesians 2. ad Cor. 2, p. 333, takes the στεῖρα of the Gentile Church, ἐπεὶ ἔρημος ἐδόκει εἶναι ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ λαὸς ἡμῶν, νυνὶ δὲ πιστεύσαντες πλείονες ἐγενόμεθα τῶν δοκούντων ἔχειν θεόν (the Jewish Church), and similarly Origen (in Rom., lib. vi. 7, vol. iv. p. 578), … ‘quod multo plures ex gentibus quam ex circumcisione crediderint.’ And this has been the usual interpretation. It only shews how manifold is the ‘perspective of prophecy:’ this sense neither is incompatible with St. Paul’s, nor surely would it have been denied by him. (So Chrys., al., in this passage, which is clearly wrong: for ἡμῶν, even without πάντων, must apply to all Christians for the argument to hold.)

ὅτι πολ] not, as E. V., “many more &c.,” which is inaccurate: but, many are the children of the desolate, more than (rather than; both being numerous, hers are the more numerous) of her, &c.

τὸν ἄνδρα] The E. V. has perhaps done best by rendering ‘an husband,’ though thus the force of the Greek is not given. ‘The husband’ would mislead, by pointing at the one husband (Abraham) who was common to Sara and Agar, which might do in this passage, but would not in Isaiah: whereas ἐχ. τὸν ἄνδρα means, ‘her (of the two) who has (the) husband,’ the other having none: a fineness of meaning which we cannot give in English.


Verse 28

28.] But (transitional: or rather perhaps adversative to the children of her who had an husband, which were last mentioned. With ἡμεῖς, it would be resumptive of Galatians 4:26) ye (see var. readd.), brethren, like (the expression in full, κατὰ τ. ὁμοιότητα ΄ελχισεδέκ, occurs Hebrews 7:15. Wetst. quotes from Galen, ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὐ κατὰ λέοντά ἐστι τὴν ῥώμην, and from Arrian, Hist. Gr. ii., τιμώμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ δήμου κατὰ τὸν πατέρα ἄγνωνα: see also reff.) Isaac, are children of PROMISE ( ἐπαγγ. emphatic:—are children, not κατὰ σάρκα, but διὰ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, see Galatians 4:23, and below, Galatians 4:29).


Verse 29

29.] ὁ κατ. σάρ. γεν., see Galatians 4:23. It has been thought that there is nothing in the Hebrew text to justify so strong a word as ἐδίωκεν. It runs, ‘and Sarah saw the son of Hagar … מְצַחֵק’ ( παίζοντα μετὰ ἰσαὰκ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς, LXX); and some deny that צָחַק ever means ‘he mocked.’ But certainly it does: see Genesis 19:14. And this would be quite ground enough for the ἐδίωκεν, for the spirit of persecution was begun. So that we need not refer to tradition, as many have done (even Ellic., whom see; Jowett, as unfortunately usual with him when impugning the accuracy of St. Paul, asserts rashly and confidently, that the sense in which the Apostle takes the Hebrew is inadmissible), to account for St. Paul’s expression.

τὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα, sc. γεννηθέντα, him that was born after the Spirit, i.e. in virtue of the promise, which was given by the Spirit. Or, ‘by virtue of the Spirit’s agency:’ but the other is better.

οὕτως καὶ νῦν] “nec quicquam est quod tam graviter animos nostras vulnerare debeat, quam Dei contemptus, et adversus ejus gratiam ludibria: nec ullum magis exitiale est persequutionis genus, quam quum impeditur animæ salus.” Calv.


Verse 30

30.] ἀλλά, as in E. V., ‘nevertheless:’ notwithstanding the fact of the persecution, just mentioned. The quotation is adapted from the LXX, where μον ἰσαάκ stands for τῆς ἐλευθέρας. We need hardly have recourse (with Ellic.) to the fact that God confirmed Sarah’s words, in order to prove this to be Scripture: the Apostle is allegorizing the whole history, and thus every part of it assumes a significance in the allegory.

κληρονομήσῃ] See Judges 11:2 (LXX), κ. ἐξέβαλον τὸν ἰεφθάε, κ. εἶπον αὐτῶ, οὐ κληρονομήσεις ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, ὅτι υἱὸς γυναικὸς ἑταίρας σύ. “The distinction drawn by Hermann on Œd. Col. 853, between οὐ μή with future indicative (duration or futurity) and with aorist subjunctive (speedy occurrence), is not applicable to the N. T. on account of (1) various readings (as here): (2) the decided violations of the rule where the MSS. are unanimous, as 1 Thessalonians 4:15; and (3) the obvious prevalence of the use of the subjunctive over the future, both in the N. T. and ‘fatiscens Græcitas:’ see Lobeck, Phryn. p. 722.” Ellicott.


Verse 31

31.] I am inclined to think, against Meyer, De W., Ellic., &c., that this verse is, as commonly taken, the conclusion from what has gone before: and that the διό is bound on to the κληρονομήσῃ preceding. For that we are κληρονόμοι, is an acknowledged fact, established before, ch. Galatians 3:29; Galatians 4:7. And if we are, we are not the children of the handmaid, of whom it was said οὐ μὴ κληρονομ., but of the free-woman, of whose son the same words asserted that he should inherit. Observe in the first clause παιδίσκης is anarthrous: most likely because emphatically prefixed to its governing noun (cf. ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος, Romans 11:13): but possibly, as indefinite, q. d. we are the children of no bondwoman, but of the freewoman. I prefer the former reason, as most consonant to N. T. diction. V.

 


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

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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