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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Galatians 1



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Verse 1

Not from men, neither through men (ουκ απ αντρωπων ουδε δι αντρωπουouk ap' anthrōpōn oude di' anthrōpou). The bluntness of Paul‘s denial is due to the charge made by the Judaizers that Paul was not a genuine apostle because not one of the twelve. This charge had been made in Corinth and called forth the keenest irony of Paul (2 Corinthians 10-12). In Galatians 1; 2 Paul proves his independence of the twelve and his equality with them as recognized by them. Paul denies that his apostleship had a human source (ουκ απ αντρωπωνouk ap' anthrōpōn) and that it had come to him through (δι αντρωπουdi' anthrōpou) a human channel (Burton).

But through Jesus Christ and God the Father (αλλα δια Ιησου Χριστου και τεου πατροςalla dia Iēsou Christou kai theou patros). The call to be an apostle came to Paul through Jesus Christ as he claimed in 1 Corinthians 9:1 and as told in Acts 9:4-6; Acts 22:7.; Acts 26:16. He is apostle also by the will of God.

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

Verse 2

All the brethren which are with me (οι συν εμοι παντες αδελποιhoi sun emoi pantes adelphoi). The same phrase in Philemon 4:21 in distinction from the saints in Philemon 4:22. Probably the small company of travelling companions.

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

Verse 3

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

Verse 4

For our sins (υπερ των αμαρτιωνhuper tōn hamartiōn). Some MSS. have περιperi (concerning). In the Koiné{[28928]}š this use of υπερhuper as like περιperi has come to be common. He refers to the death of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 5:6.). As a rule περιperi occurs of things, υπερhuper of persons.

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

Out of this present evil world (εκ του αιωνος του ενεστωτος πονηρουek tou aiōnos tou enestōtos ponērou). Literally, “out of the age the existing one being evil.” The predicate position of πονηρουponērou calls emphatic attention to it. Each word here is of interest and has been already discussed. See Matthew 13:22 for aiōn Matthew 6:23 for ponēros αιωνEnestōtos is genitive masculine singular of πονηροςenestōs second perfect (intransitive) participle of Ενεστωτοςenistēmi for which see 2 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:26. It is present as related to future (Romans 8:38; Hebrews 9:9).

According to the will of God (ενεστωςkata to thelēma tou theou). Not according to any merit in us.

Verse 5

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

Verse 6

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

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

Verse 7

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

Only (ει μηei mē). Literally, “except,” that is, “Except in this sense,” “in that it is an attempt to pervert the one true gospel” (Lightfoot).

Who disturb you (οι ταρασσοντεςhoi tarassontes). The disturbers. This very verb ταρασσωtarassō is used in Acts 17:8 of the Jews in Thessalonica who “disturbed” the politarchs and the people about Paul.

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

Verse 8

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

Let him be anathema (ανατεμα εστωanathema estō). See note on 1 Corinthians 12:3 for this word.

Verse 9

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

Verse 10

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

I should not be (ουκ αν ημηνouk an ēmēn). Conclusion of second class condition, determined as unfulfilled. Regular construction here (ειei and imperfect indicative in the condition ηρεσκον ουκ ανēreskonαντρωπαρεσκοιouk an and imperfect in the conclusion). About pleasing men see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:4. In Colossians 3:22; Ephesians 6:6 Paul uses the word “men-pleasers” (anthrōpareskoi).

Verse 11

Which was preached (το ευαγγελιστενto euaggelisthen). Play on the word ευαγγελιονeuaggelion by first aorist passive participle of ευαγγελιζωeuaggelizō “the gospel which was gospelized by me.”

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

Verse 12

Nor was I taught it (ουτε εδιδαχτηνoute edidachthēn). He did not receive it “from man” (παρα αντρωπωνpara anthrōpōn which shuts out both αποapo and διαdia of Galatians 1:1), whether Peter or any other apostle, nor was he taught it in the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem or at the University of Tarsus. He “received” his gospel in one way, “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (δι αποκαλυπσεως Ιησου Χριστουdi' apokalupseōs Iēsou Christou). He used παρελαβονparelabon in 1 Corinthians 15:3 about the reception of his message from Christ. It is not necessary to say that he had only one (because of the aorist active παρελαβονparelabon from παραλαμβανωparalambanō for it can very well be constative aorist) revelation (unveiling) from Christ. In fact, we know that he had numerous visions of Christ and in 1 Corinthians 11:23 he expressly says concerning the origin of the Lord‘s Supper: “I received (παρελαβονparelabon again) from the Lord.” The Lord Jesus revealed his will to Paul.

Verse 13

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

In the Jews‘ religion (εν τωι Ιουδαισμωιen tōi Ioudaismōi). “In Judaism.” The word in N.T. only here and next verse, already in 2 Maccabees 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4 Maccabees 4:26. In these passages it means the Jewish religion as opposed to the Hellenism that the Syrian Kings were imposing upon the Jews. So later Justin Martyr (386 D) will use ΧριστιανισμοςChristianismos for Christianity. Both words are made from verbs in ιζω̇izō

Beyond measure (κατ υπερβοληνkath' huperbolēn). “According to excess” (throwing beyond, υπερβοληhuperbolē).

I persecuted (εδιωκονediōkon). Imperfect active, “I used to persecute” (see Acts 7-9 for the facts).

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

Verse 14

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

Beyond many of mine own age (υπερ πολλους συνηλικιωταςhuper pollous sunēlikiōtas). Later compound form for the Attic ηλικιωτηςhēlikiōtēs which occurs in Dion Hal. and inscriptions (from συνsun with, and ηλικιαhēlikia age). Paul modestly claims that he went “beyond” (υπερhuper) his fellow-students in his progress in Judaism.

More exceedingly zealous (περισσοτερως ζηλοτηςperissoterōs zēlotēs). Literally, “more exceedingly a zealot.” See note on Acts 1:13; note on Acts 21:20; and note on 1 Corinthians 14:12. Like Simon Zelotes.

For the traditions of my fathers (των πατρικων μου παραδοσεωνtōn patrikōn mou paradoseōn). Objective genitive after ζηλοτηςzēlotēs ΠατρικωνPatrikōn only here in N.T., though old word from πατηρpatēr (father), paternal, descending from one‘s father. For πατρωιοςpatrōios see note on Acts 22:3 and Acts 22:14. Tradition (παραδοσιςparadosis) played a large part in the teaching and life of the Pharisees (Mark 7:1-23). Paul now taught the Christian tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Verse 15

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

Who separated me (ο απορισας μεho aphorisas me). ΑποριζωAphorizō is old word (from αποapo and οροςhoros) to mark off from a boundary or line. The Pharisees were the separatists who held themselves off from others. Paul conceives himself as a spiritual Pharisee “separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1, the same word απωρισμενοςaphōrismenos). Before his birth God had his plans for him and called him.

Verse 16

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

I conferred not with flesh and blood (ου προσανετεμην σαρκι και αιματιou prosanethemēn sarki kai haimati). Second aorist middle indicative of προσανατιτημιprosanatithēmi old verb, double compound (προσ αναprosana), to lay upon oneself in addition, to betake oneself to another, to confer with, dative case as here. In N.T. only here and Galatians 2:6.

Verse 17

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

Into Arabia (εις Αραβιανeis Arabian). This visit to Arabia has to come between the two visits to Damascus which are not distinguished in Acts 9:22. In Acts 9:23 Luke does speak of “considerable days” and so we must place the visit to Arabia between Acts 9:22, Acts 9:23.

Verse 18

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

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

Verse 19

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

Verse 20

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

Verse 21

Into the region of Syria and Cilicia (εις τα κλιματα της Σψριας και της Κιλικιαςeis ta klimata tēs Syrias kai tēs Kilikias). This statement agrees with the record in Acts 9:30. On κλιματαklimata see note on 2 Corinthians 11:10. Paul was not idle, but at work in Tarsus and the surrounding country.

Verse 22

And I was still unknown (ημην δε αγνουμενοςēmēn de agnoumenos). Periphrastic imperfect passive of αγνοεωagnoeō not to know.

By face (τωι προσωπωιtōi prosōpōi). Associative instrumental case.

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

Verse 23

They only heard (μονον ακουοντες ησανmonon akouontes ēsan). Periphrastic imperfect, “They were only hearing from time to time.”

That once persecuted us (ο διωκων ημας ποτεho diōkōn hēmas pote). Present active articular participle, a sort of participle of antecedent time suggested by ποτεpote “the one who used to persecute us once upon a time.”

The faith (την πιστινtēn pistin). Here used in the sense of “the gospel” as in Acts 6:7.

Verse 24

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

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


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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