|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:6-9 Those who would establish any other way to heaven than what the gospel of Christ reveals, will find themselves wretchedly mistaken. The apostle presses upon the Galatians a due sense of their guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; yet he reproves with tenderness, and represents them as drawn into it by the arts of some that troubled them. In reproving others, we should be faithful, and yet endeavour to restore them in the spirit of meekness. Some would set up the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corrupted Christianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, every one who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospels than that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering to self-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, are devices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the moral law as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroy true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for justification on good works, whether real or supposed, is as fatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for good works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of Christ's righteousness, and not to advance any thing which may betray others into so dreadful a delusion.
Verse 6. - It is unnecessary again to remark on the disturbance of mind indicated by the abruptness with which the apostle plunges into the language of reproof. It cannot fail to strike every careful reader. I marvel (θαυμάζω); I do marvel. The verb is used here with reference to something disappointing, something felt to be painful as well as strange. So Mark 6:6 with reference to the unbelief of the Nazarenes. It is unjust to the apostle to take this "I do marvel" of his as a mere artifice of politic address: though unquestionably, as Chrysostom and Luther have well noted, it does soften his rebuke. The apostle was genuinely surmised; for he had had so much reason for thinking well of them (comp. Galatians 3:1; Galatians 4:14, 15; Galatians 5:7). How could converts, once so cordial and affectionate, have possibly been so misled? As he reflects on the case, whatever feeling of resentment mingled with his surprise turns off upon the pseudo-evangelists misleading them; and accordingly it is upon these that his anathema is pronounced, not upon them at all (cf. Galatians 5:9, 12). They, indeed, by listening to the false teaching, were in danger of falling from grace; but this he rather compassionates than angrily denounces. That ye are so soon removed (ὅτι οὕτω ταχέως μετατίθεσθε); that ye are so quickly falling away. This "quickly" has been taken by many as meaning "so soon after ye were called," and as consequently furnishing some ground for determining the time of the writing of the Epistle. But the comparison of the use of the same adverb (ταχέως) in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, "Be not quickly shaken;" and in 1 Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands hastily on no man," suggests rather the meaning, "so quickly upon being solicited thereto." The verb μετατίθεσθαι, to transfer one's self to a different course of thinking, acting, partisanship (cf. Liddell and Scott, 'Lexicon'), is used both in an unfavourable and in a good sense. Thus 2 Macc. 7:24, Μεταθέμενον ἀπὸ τῶν πατρίων νόμων "If he would give over following the laws of his country;" Appian, 'Bell. Mithr.,' 41: "Falling away, going over, from (ἀπὸ) Archelaus to Sylla;" Jamblich, 'Protrept,' 17, "Change from (ἀπὸ) a restless and profligate mode of life to an orderly one." The verb, being in the present tense, and not in the aorist or the perfect, suggests the idea of an action in its commencing stage, and not yet fully consummated; as Chrysostom observes: "That is, 'I do not yet believe nor suppose that the delusion has got to be complete' - the language of one who will fain win them back." From him that called you into the grace of Christ (ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι Ξριστοῦ); from him that called you w be in the grace of Christ. The phrase, "he that called you," recites the personality of "our God and Father," spoken of in vers. 3, 4. The calling of man into the kingdom of God is habitually ascribed by St. Paul to the First Person in the Trinity (cf. ver. 15; Romans 8:30; Romans 9:24, 25; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15, 17; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9). God's name is omitted, as in ver. 15 (where it is wanting in the more recent texts), and Galatians 2:8, "For he that wrought for Peter." The apostle impressively, even startlingly, describes their defection from the truth of the gospel as no other than a defection from God himself; similarly to the strain of language pursued in Hebrews 3:12-15. "The grace of Christ" recites the state of acceptance with God into which Christians are brought by Christ through faith in him. So Galatians 5:4. "Fallen away from grace;" Romans 5:2, "Through whom we have also had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." The genitive, "of Christ," denotes the Author, as in" the peace of God" (Philippians 4:7); "righteousness of God" (Romans 1:17; Romans 3:21, etc.). There is a pathos in the word "grace," as referring to the sweet gentleness of Christ's yoke as contrasted with the yoke of ceremonial-ism which the Galatians were so foolishly hankering after. The construction, "Called you in the grace of Christ," is similar to "Called us in peace" (1 Corinthians 7:15); "Ye were called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4); "Called us... in sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The verb "call," implying as it does the bringing into a certain state, suggests the sense here given to the clause, in preference to our taking it as meaning "called you by the grace of Christ." Unto another gospel (εἰς ἐτερον εὐαγγέκιον); unto another (or, a new) sort of gospel. The adjective ἕτερον, as contrasted with ἄλλο used in the next verse, appears to intimate the changed quality of the object, its strange new-fangled character. The adjective does sometimes take this shade of meaning. Thus 1 Corinthians 14:21, Ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέροις, "By men of strange tongues, and by lips of strangers;" 2 Corinthians 11:4, Πνεῦμα επτερον... εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον," Different spirit... different gospel;" 1 Timothy 1:3, Ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν, "Teach a different doctrine." The reader will find a brief but instructive description of the difference at times observable between ἕτερος and ἄλλος in Bishop Lightfoot's note on the passage; who cites the Septuagint rendering in Exodus 1:8 of the Hebrew "new king," which it gives βασιλεὺς ἕτερπς: and a passage in Xenophon's 'Cyclopaedia,' 8:3, 8, "If you accuse me... another time when I serve you... you will find me (ἑτερῳ διακόνῳ) another sort of attendant." The phrase, "another sort of gospel," so far as giving the new form of doctrine the title of "gospel" at all, is paradoxical and sarcastic. The paradox is corrected in what follows. The substantive, "gospel." is borrowed, not without a tinge of irony, from the pretensions of the innovators; they, of course, would be ready to designate their mangled form of Christian doctrine as still "the gospel." The epithet which the apostle adds gives his own view of its character.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I marvel that ye are so soon removed,.... The apostle now enters on the subject matter of this epistle, and opens the occasion and design of it, which were to reprove the Galatians for their instability in the Gospel; and, if possible, to reclaim them, who were removed, or removing from the simplicity of it; and which was very surprising to the apostle, who had entertained a good opinion of them, looked upon them as persons called by the grace of God, well established in the doctrines of the Gospel, and in no danger of being carried away with the error of the wicked the person from whom he says they were removed is,
from him that called you into the grace of Christ; by whom is meant, not the apostle himself, who had been an instrument in the calling of them to the knowledge of Christ, and the participation of his grace, and from whose Gospel, or the Gospel as preached by him, in its clearness and purity, they were now departing; but either Christ, and so the Syriac and Arabic versions read the words, "from Christ who called you by own grace"; or rather God the Father, and some copies read, "into", or "by the grace of God": to whom calling is most commonly ascribed in the sacred writings: and which is to be understood, not of a ministerial call, or a call to preach the Gospel of Christ; though there might be some in these churches who were called both internally and externally to that sacred office; nor a mere outward call by the ministry: for though doubtless there might be some among them who were only so called, yet as much as they were under profession of Christ, and nothing appearing to the contrary, they were all in a judgment of charity looked upon as effectually called by the grace of God; which calling is here meant: for they were called "into the grace of Christ"; some read it, "in", or "by the grace of Christ": referring it either to the moving cause of calling, which is not the works and merits of men, but the free grace and favour of God in Christ; or to the efficient cause of it, which is not the power and will of man, but the efficacious grace of Christ, through the powerful operations of his Spirit: but the words are well rendered, "into the grace of Christ"; that is, to the enjoyment of the fulness of grace which is in Christ; of all the blessings of grace he has in his hands; such as justification, peace, pardon, atonement, wisdom, strength, joy, comfort, and every supply of grace; and particularly fellowship with him, into which the saints are called, and than which nothing is more desirable: but the difficulty is, how such persons can be said to be removed from God, who has thus called them to partake of grace in Christ. They are not, nor can they be removed from the everlasting and unchangeable love of God to them in Christ, of which their calling is a fruit, effect, and evidence; nor from their covenant interest in him, which is immovable and inviolable; nor from a state of justification, in which they openly are, who in the effectual calling have passed from death to life, and so shall never enter into condemnation; nor from the family and household of God, in which they are; no, nor from the grace of calling with which they are called by God, and which has eternal salvation inseparably connected with it; but this must be understood doctrinally of their removal from the Gospel of Christ, though not of a total and final one. It is observed by some, that the word used is in the present tense, and shows that they were not gone off from the Gospel, but were upon going, so that the apostle had some hopes, yea, confidence of their being restored, Galatians 5:10. And besides, though such as are truly called by grace cannot be finally and totally deceived by false prophets and false teachers, yet they may be greatly unhinged by them, and may fall from some degree of steadfastness in the doctrine of faith, which was the case of these Galatians: but what increased the apostle's surprise, and aggravated their sin and weakness, was, that they were "so soon" removed from the simplicity of the Gospel; he having been with them but a few years before, and preached the Gospel to them, which the means of their conversion, and of planting churches among them; at least he had lately paid them a visit, when he afresh strengthened them in the faith of the Gospel, Acts 18:23. Or this may regard that easiness of mind which appeared in them, who upon the first attack of them by the false teachers, were weakly and cowardly giving up their faith, and at once giving into the notions of these men, as soon as they were proposed unto them. That which they are said to be removed
another Gospel, different from that, and very unlike to what had been preached to them, and they had received; which had nothing of the grace of Christ, of the doctrines and blessings of grace that had, by which they were called; very different from the Gospel of Christ, and his apostles, insomuch that it did not deserve the name of a Gospel; and the apostle calls it so, not that he thought it to be one, but because it was in the opinion of others, and was so styled by the false apostles; wherefore, by way of concession, he so calls it, though he immediately corrects it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Without the usual expressions of thanksgiving for their faith, &c., he vehemently plunges into his subject, zealous for "the glory" of God (Ga 1:5), which was being disparaged by the Galatians falling away from the pure Gospel of the "grace" of God.
I marvel—implying that he had hoped better things from them, whence his sorrowful surprise at their turning out so different from his expectations.
so soon—after my last visit; when I hoped and thought you were untainted by the Judaizing teachers. If this Epistle was written from Corinth, the interval would be a little more than three years, which would be "soon" to have fallen away, if they were apparently sound at the time of his visit. Ga 4:18, 20 may imply that he saw no symptom of unsoundness then, such as he hears of in them now. But English Version is probably not correct there. See see on Ga 4:18; Ga 4:20; also see Introduction. If from Ephesus, the interval would be not more than one year. Birks holds the Epistle to have been written from Corinth after his FIRST visit to Galatia; for this agrees best with the "so soon" here: with Ga 4:18, "It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you." If they had persevered in the faith during three years of his first absence, and only turned aside after his second visit, they could not be charged justly with adhering to the truth only when he was present: for his first absence was longer than both his visits, and they would have obeyed longer in his "absence" than in his "presence." But if their decline had begun immediately after he left them, and before his return to them, the reproof will be just. But see on Ga 4:13.
removed—Translate, "are being removed," that is, ye are suffering yourselves so soon (whether from the time of my last visit, or from the time of the first temptation held out to you) [Paræus] to be removed by Jewish seducers. Thus he softens the censure by implying that the Galatians were tempted by seducers from without, with whom the chief guilt lay: and the present, "ye are being removed," implies that their seduction was only in process of being effected, not that it was actually effected. Wahl, Alford, and others take the Greek as middle voice. "ye are removing" or "passing over." "Shifting your ground" [Conybeare and Howson]. But thus the point of Paul's oblique reference to their misleaders is lost; and in Heb 7:12 the Greek is used passively, justifying its being taken so here. On the impulsiveness and fickleness of the Gauls (another form of Kel-t-s, the progenitors of the Erse, Gauls, Cymri, and Belgians), whence the Galatians sprang, see Introduction and Cæsar [Commentaries on the Gallic War, 3.19].
from him that called you—God the Father (Ga 1:15; Ga 5:8; Ro 8:30; 1Co 1:9; 1Th 2:12; 5:24).
into—rather, as Greek, "IN the grace of Christ," as the element in which, and the instrument by which, God calls us to salvation. Compare Note, see on 1Co 7:15; Ro 5:15, "the gift by (Greek, 'in') grace (Greek, 'the grace') of (the) one man." "The grace of Christ," is Christ's gratuitously purchased and bestowed justification, reconciliation, and eternal life.
another—rather, as Greek, "a second and different gospel," that is, into a so-called gospel, different altogether from the only true Gospel.
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