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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Galatians 1



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Verse 1

An apostle

This title is prefixed to Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians. Here with special emphasis, because Paul's apostleship had been challenged.

Of men - by man ( ἀπ ' ἀνθρώπων - δἰ ἀνθρώπου )

Better, from men - through man or a man. In contradiction of the assertion that he was not directly commissioned by Jesus Christ, like the twelve, but only by human authority. From men, as authorising the office; through man, as issuing the call to the person. He thus distinguishes himself from false apostles who did not derive their commissions from God, and ranks himself with the twelve. Man does not point to any individual, but is in antithesis to Jesus Christ, or may be taken as = any man.

By Jesus Christ

See Acts 11:4-6; 1 Corinthians 11:1.

And God the Father

The genitive, governed by the preceding διὰ byor through. The idea is the same as an apostle by the will of God: 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1. Διὰ is used of secondary agency, as Matthew 1:22; Matthew 11:2; Luke 1:70; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 1:2. But we find διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ bythe will of God, Romans 15:32; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, etc., and διὰ θεοῦ byGod, Galatians 4:7. Also δἰ οὗ (God), 1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 2:10.

Who raised him from the dead ( τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν )

It was the risen Christ who made Paul an apostle. For resurrection the N.T. uses ἐγείρειν toraise up; ἐξεγείρειν toraise out of; ἔγερσις raisingor rising; ἀνιστάναι toraise up; ἀνάστασις and ἐξανάστασις raisingup and raising up out of. With νεκρὸς deadare the following combinations: ἐγείρειν ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν (never ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ) to raise from the dead; ἐγ. ἐκ νεκ. or τῶν νεκ. toraise out of the dead; ἀναστήσαι to raise, ἀναστῆναι tobe raised or to rise ἐκ. νεκ. (never ἀπὸ ); ἀνάστ. ἐκ. νεκ. ; or τῶν νεκ. resurrectionof the dead; ἀνάστ. ἐκ. νεκ.; ἐξανάστασις ἐκ. νεκ risingor resurrection out of the dead or from among. It is impossible to draw nice distinctions between these phrases.

Verse 2

Brethren - with me

The circle of Paul's colleagues or more intimate friends. Comp. Philemon 4:21, Philemon 4:22, where the brethren with me are distinguished from all the saints - the church members generally.

Unto the churches of Galatia

See Introduction. This is a circular letter to several congregations. Note the omission of the commendatory words added to the addresses in the two Thessalonian and first Corinthian letters.

Verse 3

Grace to you, etc.

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1. He will not withhold the wish for the divine grace and peace even from those whom he is about to upbraid.

Verse 4

Gave himself for our sins

Comp. Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14. Purposely added with reference to the Galatians' falling back on the works of the law as the ground of acceptance with God. For or with reference to sins ( περὶ ) expresses the general relation of Christ's mission to sin. The special relation, to atone for, to destroy, to save and sanctify its victims, is expressed by ὑπὲρ onbehalf of. The general preposition, however, may include the special.

Out of this present evil world ( ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ )

Lit. out of the world, the present (world which is ) evil. For αἰών ageor period, see John 1:9, and additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Here it has an ethical sense, the course and current of this world's affairs as corrupted by sin. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:4. Ἑνεστῶτος , present, as contrasted with the world to come. Elsewhere we have ὁ νῦν αἰών thenow world (1 Timothy 6:17); ὁ αἰὼν τοῦκοσμοῦ theperiod of this world (Ephesians 2:2); ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος thisworld or age (Romans 7:2). Ἑνεστῶτος , not impending, as some expositors, - the period of wickedness and suffering preceding the parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:3), which would imply a limitation of Christ's atoning work to that period. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:26. The sense of present as related to future is clear in Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Hebrews 9:9. For the evil character of the present world as conceived by Paul, see Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2.

Verse 5

To whom be glory, etc.

For similar doxologies see Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:17.

Forever and ever ( εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων )

Lit. unto the ages of the ages. See additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and comp. Romans 16:27; Philemon 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18. Often in Revelation. In lxx. habitually in the singular: see Psalm 89:29; 110:3,30. In the doxology the whole period of duration is conceived as a succession of cycles.

Verse 6

I marvel ( θαυμάζω )

Often by Greek orators of surprise as something reprehensible. So in New Testament Mark 6:6; John 7:21; Luke 11:38; John 4:27.

So soon ( οὕτως ταχέως )

Better, so quickly. Paul does not mean so soon after a particular event, as their conversion, or his last visit, or the entry of the false teachers, - but refers to the rapidity of their apostasy; ταχέως being used absolutely as always.

Removed ( μετατίθεσθε )

A.V. misses the sense of the middle voice, removing or transferring yourselves, and also the force of the continuous present, are removing or going over, indicating an apostasy not consummated but in progress. The verb is used in Class. of altering a treaty, changing an opinion, desertion from an army. For other applications see Acts 7:16; Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 11:5. Comp. lxx, Deuteronomy 27:17; Proverbs 23:10; Isaiah 29:17. Lightfoot renders are turning renegades.

Him that called ( τοῦ καλέσαντος )

God. Not neuter and referring to the gospel. Calling, in the writings of the apostles, is habitually represented as God's work. See Romans 8:30; Romans 9:11; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 1:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3.

Into the grace ( ἐν χάριτι )

Into is wrong. It should be by.

Another gospel ( ἕτερον )

Rather a different, another sort of gospel. See Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:7; Luke 18:10. In illustration of the differences between ἄλλος anotherand ἕτερος differentsee 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Romans 8:23.

Verse 7

Another ( ἄλλο )

A different gospel is not another gospel. There is but one gospel.

But ( εἰ μὴ )

Rev. only. As if he had said, “there is no other gospel, but there are some who trouble you with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel.”

Some that trouble ( οἱ ταράσσοντες )

The article with the participle marks these persons as characteristically troublesome - the troublers. Comp. Luke 18:9, of those who were characteristically self-righteous. For trouble in the sense of disturbing faith and unsettling principle, see Galatians 5:10; Acts 15:24. Not necessarily, as Lightfoot, raising seditions.

Verse 8


See on 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

Angel from heaven ( ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ )

The phrase only here. “Angels in heaven or the heavens,” Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Mark 13:32. “Angels of the heavens,” Matthew 24:36.

Other than that ( παρ ' ὃ )

Roman Catholic interpreters insist that παρ ' should be rendered contrary to, though the Vulg. gives praeterquam besides. Some Protestant interpreters insist on besides as being against supplementing the gospel with traditions. The explanation is found in the previous words, a different gospel. Any gospel which is different from the one gospel, is both beside and contrary to.

Accursed ( ἀνάθεμα )

See on Romans 9:3, and see on offerings, Luke 21:5. Comp. κατάρα , curse and see on ἐπικατάρατος cursed Galatians 3:13. In lxx. always curse, except Leviticus 27:28, and the apocryphal books, where it is always gift or offering. By Paul always curse: see Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:22. The sense of excommunication, introduced by patristic writers, does not appear in New Testament.

Verse 9

As we said before ( ὡς προειρήκαμεν )

Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2; Philemon 3:18. Not to be referred to the preceding verse, since the compound verb would be too strong, and now in the following clause points to an earlier time, a previous visit. Comp. Galatians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:6.

Verse 10

For do I now persuade ( ἄρτι γὰρ - πείθω )

For introduces a justification of the severe language just used. The emphasis is on now, which answers to now in Galatians 1:9. I have been charged with conciliating men. Does this anathema of mine look like it? Is it a time for conciliatory words now, when Judaising emissaries are troubling you (Galatians 1:7) and persuading you to forsake the true gospel? Persuade signifies conciliate, seek to win over.

Or God

Persuade or conciliate God is an awkward phrase; but the expression is condensed, and persuade is carried forward from the previous clause. This is not uncommon in Paul's style: See Philemon 1:5; Ephesians 1:15; Philemon 2:6, where μορφὴ formapplied to God, is probably the result of μορφὴν δούλου formof a servant (Galatians 1:7) on which the main stress of the thought lies.

Verse 11

I certify ( γνωρίζω )

Or, I make known. Certify, even in older English, is to assure or attest, which is too strong for γνωρίζειν tomake known or declare. This, which in the New Testament is the universal meaning of γνωρίζειν , and the prevailing sense in lxx, is extremely rare in Class., where the usual sense is to become acquainted with. For the formula see on 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

After man ( κατὰ ἄνθρωπον )

According to any human standard. The phrase only in Paul. See Romans 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32. Κατὰ ἀνθρώπους accordingto men, 1 Peter 4:6.

Verse 12

Of man ( παρὰ ἀνθρώπου )

Better, from man. Παρὰ fromemphasizes the idea of transmission, and marks the connection between giver and receiver. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:14; Acts 10:22. In the Gospels and Acts παραλαμβάνειν usually means to take, in the sense of causing to accompany, as Matthew 4:5; Matthew 17:1; Mark 4:36, etc. Scarcely ever in the sense of receive: see Mark 7:4. In Paul only in the sense of receive, and only with παρὰ , with the single exception of 1 Corinthians 11:23( ἀπὸ ). The simple λαμβάνω usually with παρὰ , but with ἀπὸ , 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:22.

By the revelation of Jesus Christ ( δἰ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ )

Not, by Jesus Christ being revealed to me, but, I received the gospel by Jesus Christ's revealing it to me. The subject of the revelation is the gospel, not Christ. Christ was the revealer. Rev. (it came to me ) through revelation of Jesus Christ.

Verse 13

Conversation ( ἀναστροφήν )

Better, manner of life. See on 1 Peter 1:15.

In the Jews' religion ( ἐν τῷ Ἱουδαΐσμῷ )

Only here and Galatians 1:14. Lit. in Judaism. It signifies his national religious condition. In lxx, 8:2; 14:38; 4Macc. 4:26.

Beyond measure ( καθ ' ὑπερβολὴν )

PLit. according to excess. The noun primarily means a casting beyond, thence superiority, excellency. See 2Corinthians href="/desk/?q=2co+4:7&sr=1">2 Corinthians 4:7, 2 Corinthians 4:17. It is transliterated in hyperbole. For similar phrases comp. 1 Corinthians 2:1; Acts 19:20; Acts 3:17; Acts 25:23.

Wasted ( ἐπόρθουν )

Better, laid waste. In Class. applied not only to things - cities, walls, fields, etc. - but also to persons. So Acts 9:21.

Verse 14

Profited ( προέκοπτον )

Better, advanced. See on is far spent, Romans 13:12. Paul means that he outstripped his Jewish contemporaries in distinctively Jewish culture, zeal, and activity. Comp. Philemon 3:4-6.

Equals ( συνηλικιώτας )

N.T.oThe A.V. is indefinite. The meaning is equals in age. So Rev., of mine own age.

Nation ( γένει )

Race. Not sect of the Pharisees. Comp. Philemon 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Romans 9:3.

Zealous ( ζηλωτὴς )

Lit. a zealot. The extreme party of the Pharisees called themselves “zealots of the law”; “zealots of God.” See on Simon the Canaanite, Mark 3:18. Paul describes himself under this name in his speech on the stairs, Acts 22:3. Comp. Philemon 3:5, Philemon 3:6.

Traditions ( παραδόσεων )

The Pharisaic traditions which had been engrafted on the law. See Matthew 15:2, Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:3, Mark 7:13, and on 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

Verse 15

It pleased ( εὐδόκησεν )

See on εὐδοκία goodpleasure, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Separated ( ἀφορίσας )

Set apart: designated. See on Romans 1:1, and see on declared, Romans 1:4. The A.V. wrongly lends itself to the sense of the physical separation of the child from the mother.

From my mother's womb ( ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου )

Before I was born. Others, from the time of my birth. A few passages in lxx. go to sustain the former view: Isaiah 64:2,24; 66:1,5. That view is also favored by those instances in which a child's destiny is clearly fixed by God before birth, as Samson, Judges href="/desk/?q=jud+16:17&sr=1">Judges 16:17; comp. Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; John the Baptist, Luke 1:15. See also Matthew 19:12. The usage of ἐκ as marking a temporal starting point is familiar. See John 6:66; John 9:1; Acts 9:33; Acts 24:10.

Called ( καλέσας )

See on Romans 4:17. Referring to Paul's call into the kingdom and service of Christ. It need not be limited to his experience at Damascus, but may include the entire chain of divine influences which led to his conversion and apostleship. He calls himself κλητὸς ἀπόστολος anapostle by call, Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1.

Verse 16

To reveal his Son in me ( ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ )

In N.T. ἀποκαλύπτειν toreveal is habitually used with the simple dative of the subject of the revelation, as Luke 10:21. Once with εἰς unto Romans 8:18: with ἐν inof the sphere in which the revelation takes place, only here, unless Romans 1:17be so explained; but there ἐν is probably instrumental. Render ἐν here by the simple in: in my spirit, according to the familiar N.T. idea of God revealing himself, living and working in man's inner personality. See, for instance, Romans 1:19; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:10, Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:25; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 John 2:5, 1 John 2:14, etc. Lightfoot explains, to reveal his Son by or through me to others. But apart from the doubtful use of ἐν , this introduces prematurely the thought of Paul's influence in his subsequent ministry. He is speaking of the initial stages of his experience.

Immediately ( εὐθέως )

Connect only with I conferred not, etc. Not with the whole sentence down to Arabia. Paul is emphasizing the fact that he did not receive his commission from men. As soon as God revealed his Son in me, I threw aside all human counsel.

Conferred ( προσανέθεμην )

Poand only in Galatians. Rare in Class. The verb ἀνατιθέναι means to lay upon; hence intrust to. Middle voice, to intrust one's self to; to impart or communicate to another. The compounded preposition πρὸς implies more than direction; rather communication or relation with, according to a frequent use of πρὸς . The whole compound then, is to put one's self into communication with. Wetstein gives an example from Diodorus, De Alexandro, xvii. 116, where the word is used of consulting soothsayers.

Flesh and blood

Always in N.T. with a suggestion of human weakness or ignorance. See Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12.

Verse 17

Went I up ( ἀνῆλθον )

Comp. Galatians 1:18. Only in this chapter, and John 6:3. More commonly ἀναβαίνειν , often of the journey to Jerusalem, probably in the conventional sense in which Englishmen speak of going up to London, no matter from what point. See Matthew 20:17; Mark 10:32; John 2:13; Acts 11:2. In Acts 18:22the verb is used absolutely of going to Jerusalem. The reading ἀπῆλθον Iwent away had strong support, and is adopted by Weiss. In that case the meaning would be went away to Jerusalem from where I then was.

Apostles before me

In point of seniority. Comp. Romans 16:7.


It is entirely impossible to decide what Paul means by this term, since the word was so loosely used and so variously applied. Many think the Sinaitic peninsula is meant (Stanley, Farrar, Matheson, Lightfoot). Others, the district of Auranitis near Damascus (Lipsius, Conybeare and Howson, Lewin, McGiffert). Others again the district of Arabia Petraea.

Verse 18

To see ( ἱστορῆσαι )

N.T.o1. To inquire into: 2. to find out by inquiring: 3. to gain knowledge by visiting; to become personally acquainted with. In lxx, only Matthew href="/desk/?q=mt+16:18&sr=1">Matthew 16:18; see on John 1:42; see on 1 Corinthians 1:12.

Verse 19

Save James ( εἰ μὴ )

With the usual exceptive sense. I saw none save James. Not, I saw none other of the apostles, but I saw James. James is counted as an apostle, though not reckoned among the twelve. For Paul's use of “apostle,” see on 1 Thessalonians 1:1, and comp. 1 Corinthians 15:4-7.

The Lord's brother

Added in order to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21; Matthew 10:2; Mark 10:35), who was still living, and from James the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). The Lord's brother means that James was a son of Joseph and Mary. This view is known as the Helvidian theory, from Helvidius, a layman of Rome, who wrote, about 380, a book against mariolatry and ascetic celibacy. The explanations which differ from that of Helvidius have grown, largely, out of the desire to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary. Jerome has given his name to a theory known as the Hieronymian put forth in reply to Helvidius, about 383, according to which the brethren of the Lord were the sons of his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Alphaeus or Clopas, and therefore Jesus' cousins. A third view bears the name of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (ob. 404), and is that the Lord's brothers were sons of Joseph by a former wife.

Verse 20

I lie not

Comp. Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Timothy 2:7.

Verse 21

Regions ( κλίματα )

PoComp. Romans 15:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10. Κλΐμα , originally an inclination or slope of ground: the supposed slope of the earth from the equator to the pole. The ancient geographers ran imaginary parallel lines from the equator toward the pole, and the spaces or zones or regions between these lines, viewed in their slope or inclination toward the pole, were κλίματα . The word came to signify the temperature of these zones, hence our climate. In Chaucer's treatise on the Astrolabe, chapter 39 is headed “Description of the Meridional Lyne, of Longitudes and Latitudes of Cities and Towns from on to another of Clymatz.” He says: “The longitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro est to west, y-lyke distant by-twene them alle. The latitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro north to south the space of the erthe, fro the byginning of the firste clymat unto the verrey ende of the same clymat, even directe agayns the pole artik.” In poetical language, “climes” is used for regions of the earth, as Milton:

“Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms.”

Syria and Cilicia

Syria, in the narrower sense, of the district of which Antioch was the capital: not the whole Roman province of Syria, including Galilee and Judaea. Matthew 4:24; Luke 2:2; Acts 20:3. This district was the scene of Paul's first apostolic work among the Gentiles. Cilicia was the southeasterly province of Asia Minor, directly adjoining Syria, from which it was separated by Mt. Pierius and the range of Amanus. It was bordered by the Mediterranean on the south. It was Paul's native province, and its capital was Tarsus, Paul's birthplace.

Verse 22

Was unknown ( ἤμην ἀγνοούμενος )

Better, was still unknown, the imperfect denoting that he remained unknown during his stay in Syria and Cilicia.

Of Judaea

The province, as distinguished from Jerusalem, where he must have been known as the persecutor of the church. See Acts 9:1, Acts 9:2.

Which were in Christ

See on 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

Verse 23

They had heard ( ἀκούοντες ἧσαν )

Correlative with I was unknown, Galatians 1:22. Note the periphrasis of the participle with the substantive verb, expressing duration. They were hearing all the time that I was thus unknown to them in person.

The faith

See on Acts 6:7, and comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:2. The subjective conception of faith as trustful and assured acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, tends to become objective, so that the subjective principle is sometimes regarded objectively. This is very striking in the Pastoral Epistles.

Verse 24

In me

The sense is different from that in Galatians 1:16, see note. Here the meaning is that they glorified God as the author and source of what they saw in me.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 1:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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