|New International Version (©2011)|
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
New Living Translation (©2007)
Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.
English Standard Version (©2001)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
But in the past, when you didn't know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods.
International Standard Version (©2012)
However, in the past, when you did not know God, you were slaves to things that are not really gods at all.
NET Bible (©2006)
Formerly when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods at all.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
For then when you had not known God, you served those which by their nature were not gods.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
When you didn't know God, you were slaves to things which are really not gods at all.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
But then, when you knew not God, you did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
American King James Version
However, then, when you knew not God, you did service to them which by nature are no gods.
American Standard Version
Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods:
But then indeed, not knowing God, you served them, who, by nature, are not gods.
Darby Bible Translation
But then indeed, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods;
English Revised Version
Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them which by nature are no gods:
Webster's Bible Translation
However then, when ye knew not God, ye did service to them which by nature are no gods.
Weymouth New Testament
But at one time, you Gentiles, having no knowledge of God, were slaves to gods which in reality do not exist.
World English Bible
However at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods.
Young's Literal Translation
But then, indeed, not having known God, ye were in servitude to those not by nature gods,
|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:8-11 The happy change whereby the Galatians were turned from idols to the living God, and through Christ had received the adoption of sons, was the effect of his free and rich grace; they were laid under the greater obligation to keep to the liberty wherewith he had made them free. All our knowledge of God begins on his part; we know him because we are known of him. Though our religion forbids idolatry, yet many practise spiritual idolatry in their hearts. For what a man loves most, and cares most for, that is his god: some have their riches for their god, some their pleasures, and some their lusts. And many ignorantly worship a god of their own making; a god made all of mercy and no justice. For they persuade themselves that there is mercy for them with God, though they repent not, but go on in their sins. It is possible for those who have made great professions of religion, to be afterwards drawn aside from purity and simplicity. And the more mercy God has shown, in bringing any to know the gospel, and the liberties and privileges of it, the greater their sin and folly in suffering themselves to be deprived of them. Hence all who are members of the outward church should learn to fear and to suspect themselves. We must not be content because we have some good things in ourselves. Paul fears lest his labour is in vain, yet he still labours; and thus to do, whatever follows, is true wisdom and the fear of God. This every man must remember in his place and calling.
Verse 8. - Howbeit (ἀλλά); a strongly adversative conjunction, belonging to the whole sentence comprised in this and the next verse, which are closely welded together by the particles μὲν and δέ. In contravention of God's work of grace just described, they were renouncing their sonship and making themselves slaves afresh. Then (τότε μέν). The μέν, with its balancing δέ, here, as often is the case, unites together sentences not in their main substance strictly adverse to each other, but only in subordinate details contrasted, of which we have an exemplary instance in Romans 8:17, Κληρονόμους μὲν Θεοῦ συγκληρονόμους δὲ Ξριστοῦ. In such cases we have often no resource in English but to leave the μὲν untranslated, as our Authorized Version commonly does; "indeed" or "truly," for example, would be more or less misleading. The truth is, the apostle in these two verses is heaping reproach upon the Galatian Judaizers; first, in this verse, for their former (guilty) ignorance of God and their idolatries, and then, in the next verse, for their slighting that blessed friendship with God which they owed only to his preventing grace. In dealing with Gentile Christians the apostle repeatedly is found referring to their former heathenism, for the purpose of enforcing humility or abashing presumption, as for example in Romans 11:17-25; Romans 15:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 2:11-13, 17. In the case of the Galatians his indignation prompts him to use a degree of outspoken severity which he was generally disposed to forbear employing. The "then" is not defined, as English readers might perhaps misconstrue the Authorized Version as intending, by the following clause, "not knowing God," which in that version is "when ye knew not God" - a construction of the words which the use of the participle would hardly warrant; rather the time referred to by the adverb is the time of which he has before been speaking, when God's people were under the pedagogy of the Law. This, though when compared with Christ's liberty a state of bondage, was, however (the apostle feels), a position of high advancement as compared with that of heathen idolaters. These last were "far off," while the Israelites were "nigh" (compare the passages just now referred to). During that time of legal pedagogy the Galatians and their forefathers, all in the apostle's view forming one class, were wallowing in the mire of heathenism. When ye knew not God (ou)k ei)do/te Qeo/n); ye knew not God and, etc. "Knowing not God" describes the condition of heathens also in 1 Thessalonians 4:5," Not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles which know not (τὰ μὴ εἰδότα) God;" 2 Thessalonians 1:8, "Rendering vengeance to them that know not (τοῖς μὴ εἰδόσιν) God." Both of these passages favour the view that the apostle does not in the least intend in the present clause to excuse the idolatries which he goes on to speak of, but rather to describe a condition of godlessness which, as being positive rather than merely negative, inferred utter pravity and guiltiness. He uses οὐκ with the participle here, in place of the μὴ in the two passages cited from the Thessalonians, as intending to state an historical fact viewed absolutely - a sense which is made clear in English by substituting an indicative verb for the participle. Ye did service unto (ἐδουλεύσατε); served; devoted yourselves to. The verb is, perhaps, used here in that milder sense in which it frequently occurs; as in Matthew 6:24; Luke 15:29; Luke 16:13; Acts 20:19; Romans 7:6, 25; Romans 14:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The Revised Version, however, gives "were in bondage to" in the present instance, but "serve" in the passages now cited. The aorist, instead of an imperfect, describes the form of religious life which they then led as a whole. Them which by nature are no gods (toi = fu/sei mh\ ou = si θεοῖς). The Textus Receptus has τοῖς μὴ φύσει οϋσι θεοῖς, which would apparently mean "which arc not gods by nature, but only in your imagination;" like "There be that are called gods," in 1 Corinthians 8:5 - Zeus, Apollo, Here, etc., mere figments of imagination (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:4). The more approved reading suggests rather the idea that the objects they worshipped might not be non-existent, but were certainly not of a Divine nature; "by nature," that is, in the kind of being to which they belong (Ephesians 2:3; Wisd. 13:1, μάταιοι φύσει). The question may be asked - If they were not gods, what then were they? The apostle would probably have answered, "Demons;" for thus he writes to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:20): "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils (δαιμονίοις), and not to God." Alford renders, "to gods which by nature exist not," etc.; but the more obvious sense of οϋσιν is that of a copula merely (comp. 2 Chronicles 13:9, Septuagint, "He became a priest (τῷ μὴ ὄντι θεῷ)").
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Howbeit then, when ye know not God,.... Whilst in Gentilism, and in a state of unregeneracy, they had no true knowledge of God; though they might know by the light of nature, and works of creation, that there was a God, yet they did not know who he was, but called either mortal men, or some one or other of the creatures, or stocks, and stones, and images of men's device, by this name; they knew not the God of Israel; they did not know God in Christ, and are therefore said to be without him; and a common description of them it is, that they knew not God: and whilst this was their case, what follows was true of them,
ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods; only by name, and in the opinion of men, but have no divinity in them, are only called gods, mere nominal, fictitious deities, who have nothing of the nature and essence of God in them; for there is but one God by nature and essence, the Father, Son, and Spirit; all others have only the name and appearance, but not the truth of deity; and these the Gentiles in their times of ignorance did "service" to, which is what the Jews call , "strange service"; that is, idolatry, concerning which there is a whole treatise in the Talmud, and which bears that name (o). This service lay in paying homage to them, worshipping of them, and performing various rites and ceremonies in a way of adoration, and which they reckoned religious service; and which, comparatively speaking, whilst in this state of blindness, was excusable in them; though it is a wonderful instance of grace that such idolaters should be the sons of God.
(o) Aveda Zara.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8-11. Appeal to them not to turn back from their privileges as free sons, to legal bondage again.
then—when ye were "servants" (Ga 4:7).
ye knew not God—not opposed to Ro 1:21. The heathen originally knew God, as Ro 1:21 states, but did not choose to retain God in their knowledge, and so corrupted the original truth. They might still have known Him, in a measure, from His works, but as a matter of fact they knew Him not, so far as His eternity, His power as the Creator, and His holiness, are concerned.
are no gods—that is, have no existence, such as their worshippers attribute to them, in the nature of things, but only in the corrupt imaginations of their worshippers (see on 1Co 8:4; 1Co 10:19, 20; 2Ch 13:9). Your "service" was a different bondage from that of the Jews, which was a true service. Yet theirs, like yours, was a burdensome yoke; how then is it ye wish to resume the yoke after that God has transferred both Jews and Gentiles to a free service?
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