Galatians 4:9
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

New Living Translation
So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?

English Standard Version
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

New American Standard Bible
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

King James Bible
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?

International Standard Version
But now that you know God, or rather have been known by God, how can you turn back again to those powerless and bankrupt basic principles? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again?

NET Bible
But now that you have come to know God (or rather to be known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless basic forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But now that you have known God and especially that you are known by God, you have turned again to those sick and weak principles, and you wish again to be subject to them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But now you know God, or rather, God knows you. So how can you turn back again to the powerless and bankrupt principles of this world? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again?

Jubilee Bible 2000
But now, having known God, or rather being known of God, how do ye turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, in which ye desire again to be in slavery?

King James 2000 Bible
But now, after you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

American King James Version
But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?

American Standard Version
but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?

Douay-Rheims Bible
But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known by God: how turn you again to the weak and needy elements, which you desire to serve again?

Darby Bible Translation
but now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how do ye turn again to the weak and beggarly principles to which ye desire to be again anew in bondage?

English Revised Version
but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known of God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?

Webster's Bible Translation
But now, after ye have known God, or rather are known by God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which ye desire again to be in bondage?

Weymouth New Testament
Now, however, having come to know God--or rather to be known by Him--how is it you are again turning back to weak and worthless rudimentary notions to which you are once more willing to be enslaved?

World English Bible
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental principles, to which you desire to be in bondage all over again?

Young's Literal Translation
and now, having known God -- and rather being known by God -- how turn ye again unto the weak and poor elements to which anew ye desire to be in servitude?
Parallel Commentaries
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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 9. - But now (νῦν δέ); and now. (See note on "then" in ver. 8). After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God (γνόντες Θεόν μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὐπὸ Θεοῦ); after that ye have gotten to know God, or rather to be known of God. Considering the interchangeable use of γνῶναι or ἐγνωκέναι and εἰδωέναι in John 8:55 and 2 Corinthians 5:16, it seems precarious to make much distinction between them as applied to the knowledge of God. The former, however, is the verb more commonly used in this relation; by St. John, in his First Epistle, where so much is said of knowing God, exclusively; although in other relations he, both in Epistle and Gospel, uses the two verbs interchangeably. The expression, "to know God," is one of profound pregnancy; denoting nothing less than that divinely imparted intuition of God, that consciousness of his actual being, viewed in his relation to ourselves, which is the result of truly "believing in him." Moreover, as it is knowing a personal Being, between whom and ourselves mutual Action may be looked for, it implies a mutual conversancy between ourselves and him, as the term "acquaintance" (οἱ γνῶστοί τινος), as used in Luke 2:44 and 23. 49, naturally does. So that "having gotten to be known of God" is very nearly equivalent to having been by God brought to be, to speak it reverently, on terms of acquaintanceship with him; and this does indeed seem to be meant in 1 Corinthians 8:3. The Galatian believers had in very truth gotten to know God, if they had learnt to cry out unto him, "Abba, Father." And the remembrance of this happy experience of theirs, which he had, we may suppose, himself witnessed in the early days of their discipleship, prompts him to introduce the correction, "or rather to be known of God." Their having attained such a consciousness of sonship had been, as he writes, ver. 7, "through God;" he it was that had sent forth his Sen that his people might receive the adoption of sons; he that had sent forth his Spirit into their hearts to give them the sense of sonship; he had shown that he knew, recognized them to be his (2 Timothy 2:19), by gifting them with the blissful prerogative of knowing what he was to them. The correction of "knowing" by "being known" is analogous to that of "apprehend" by "being apprehended" in Philippians 3:12. The pragmatic value of this correcting clause is to make the Galatians feel, not only what a wilful self-debasement it was on their part, but also what a slight put upon the Divine favours shown to them, that they should frowardly repudiate their filial standing to adopt afresh that servile standing out of which he had lifted his people. What was this but a high-handed contravening of God's own work, a frustration of his gospel? And this by them whom only the other day he had rescued from the misery and utter wickedness of idolatry! How turn ye again; or, back (πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν); how turn ye back again. An abrupt change from the form of sentence which the foregoing words naturally prepared us for; which might have been such as we should have by simply omitting the "how." As if it were, "After having gotten to be known of God, ye are turning back again - how can ye? - to the weak," etc. This "how," as in Galatians 2:14, is simply a question of remonstrance; not expecting an answer, it bids the person addressed consider the amazing unseemliness of his proceeding (so Matthew 22:12; comp. also 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 John 3:17). The verb ἐπιστρέφειν frequently denotes "turning back" (Matthew 10:13; Matthew 12:44; 2 Peter 2:22; Luke 8:55). To the weak and beggarly elements (ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα); the mere elementary lessons, the A, B, G (see ver. 4, and note), which can do nothing for you and have nothing to give you. The description is relative rather than absolute. The horn-book, useful enough for the mere child, is of no use whatever to the grown-up lad who has left school. In Hebrews 7:18 mention is made of "the weakness and unprofitableness" of the Levitical Law relative to the expiation of sin; which is not precisely the aspect of the Law which is here under view. The word "beggarly" was probably in the writer's mind contrasted with "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8). Whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage! (οῖς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε;); whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? The verb δουλεύειν is here, differently from ver. 8, contrasted with the condition of a son enjoying his full independence (see ver. 25 and Galatians 5:1). It would be an insufferable constraint and degradation to the full-grown son to be set to con over and repeat the lessons of the infant school. Ἄνωθεν, afresh, over again, intensifies πάλιν by adding the notion of making a fresh start from the commencing-point of the course indicated. The application of these words, together especially with the phrase, "turn back again," in the preceding clause, to the case of the Galatian converts from idolatrous heathenism, has suggested to many minds the idea that St. Paul groups the ceremonialism of heathen worship with that of the Mosaic Law. Bishop Lightfoot in particular has here a valuable note, in which, with his usual learning and breadth of view, he shows how the former might in its ritualistic element have subserved the purpose of a disciplinary training for a better religion. Such a view might be regarded as not altogether out of harmony with the apostle's spirit as evinced in his discourses to the Lyeaonians and the Athenians (Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:22-31). But though in his wide sympatheticalness he might, if discoursing with heathens, have sought thus to win them to a better faith, he is hardly just now in a mood for any such sympathetic tolerance. He is much too indignant at the behaviour of these Galatian revolters to allow that their former religious ceremonies could have been good enough to be admitted to group with those of the Law of Moses: he has just before adverted to their former heathenism for the very purpose of (so to speak) setting them down - a purpose which would be a good deal defeated by his referring to that cult of theirs as in any respect standing on a level with the cult of the Hebrews. Indeed, it may be doubted whether, at the utmost limit to which he would at any time have allowed himself to go, in the "economy" which he unquestionably was used to employ in dealing with souls, he would, however, have gone so far as to class the divinely appointed ordinances of Israel, the training-school of God's own children, with the ritual of demon-inspired worships. It is much easier to suppose that the apostle identifies the Galatian Churchmen with God's own people, with whom they were now in fact σύμφυψοι, blended in corporal identity with them. God's children had heretofore been in bondage to the A, B, C, of the Law, but were so no longer; if any of those who were now God's children took it in hand to observe that Law, then were they, though not in their individual identity, yet in their corporate identity, turning back again to the A, B, C, from which they had been emancipated. The former experience of Israel was their experience, as the "fathers" of Israel were their fathers (1 Corinthians 10:1); which experience they were now setting themselves to renew.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

But now, after that ye have known God, God in Christ, as their covenant God and Father, through the preaching of the Gospel, and in the light of divine grace; God having caused light to shine in their dark hearts; and having given them the light of the knowledge of himself in the face of Christ, and having sent down into their hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying "Abba", Father.

Or rather are known of God; for it is but little that the best of these, that have the greatest share of knowledge, know of him; and what knowledge they have, they have it first, originally, and wholly from him: that knowledge which he has of them is particular, distinct, and complete; and is to be understood, not of his omniscience in general, so all men are known by him; but of his special knowledge, joined with affection, approbation, and care: and the meaning is, that they were loved by him with an everlasting love, which had been manifested in their conversion, in the drawing of them to himself, and to his Son; that he approved of them, delighted in them, had an exact knowledge, and took special care of them: but, oh, folly and ingratitude!

how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? meaning the ordinances of the ceremonial law, he before calls "the elements of the world", and here "weak", because they could not give life, righteousness, peace, joy, comfort, and salvation; and, since the coming of Christ, were become impotent to all the uses they before served; and beggarly, because they lay in the observation of mean things, as meats, drinks, &c. and which were only shadows of those good things, the riches of grace and glory, which come by Christ. The Galatians are said to turn again to these; not that they were before in the observation of them, except the Jews, but because there was some likeness between these, and the ceremonies with which they carried on the service of their idols; and by showing an inclination to them, they discovered a good will to come into a like state of bondage they were in before; than which nothing could be more stupid and ungrateful in a people that had been blessed with so much grace, and with such clear Gospel light and knowledge.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

9. known God or rather are known of God—They did not first know and love God, but God first, in His electing love, knew and loved them as His, and therefore attracted them to the saving knowledge of Him (Mt 7:23; 1Co 8:3; 2Ti 2:19; compare Ex 33:12, 17; Joh 15:16; Php 3:12). God's great grace in this made their fall from it the more heinous.

how—expressing indignant wonder at such a thing being possible, and even actually occurring (Ga 1:6). "How is it that ye turn back again?"

weak—powerless to justify: in contrast to the justifying power of faith (Ga 3:24; compare Heb 7:18).

beggarly—contrasted with the riches of the inheritance of believers in Christ (Eph 1:18). The state of the "child" (Ga 4:1) is weak, as not having attained manhood; "beggarly," as not having attained the inheritance.

elements—"rudiments." It is as if a schoolmaster should go back to learning the A, B, C'S [Bengel].

again—There are two Greek words in the original. "Ye desire again, beginning afresh, to be in bondage." Though the Galatians, as Gentiles, had never been under the Mosaic yoke, yet they had been under "the elements of the world" (Ga 4:3): the common designation for the Jewish and Gentile systems alike, in contrast to the Gospel (however superior the Jewish was to the Gentile). Both systems consisted in outward worship and cleaved to sensible forms. Both were in bondage to the elements of sense, as though these could give the justification and sanctification which the inner and spiritual power of God alone could bestow.

ye desire—or "will." Will-worship is not acceptable to God (Col 2:18, 23).

Galatians 4:9 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul's Concern for the Galatians
8However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years.…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 8:3
But whoever loves God is known by God.

2 Corinthians 11:20
In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.

Galatians 4:3
So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.

Colossians 2:20
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
Treasury of Scripture

But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?

ye have.

1 Kings 8:43 Hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that …

1 Chronicles 28:9 And you, Solomon my son, know you the God of your father, and serve …

Psalm 9:10 And they that know your name will put their trust in you: for you, …

Proverbs 2:5 Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man …

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of …

Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the …

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true …

1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge …

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined …

Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…

2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through …

1 John 2:3,4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments…

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, …

are known.

Exodus 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, I will do this thing also that you have …

Psalm 1:6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly …

John 10:14,27 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine…

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed …

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now …

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, …

how.

Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made …

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, …

Colossians 2:20-23 Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, …

Hebrews 7:18 For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment going before …

again. or, back.

Hebrews 10:38,39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul …

elements. or, rudiments.

Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements …

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