|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:6-11 Many excuse themselves from the work of religion, though they may make a show, and profess it. They may impose upon others, yet they deceive themselves if they think to impose upon God, who knows their hearts as well as actions; and as he cannot be deceived, so he will not be mocked. Our present time is seed time; in the other world we shall reap as we sow now. As there are two sorts of sowing, one to the flesh, and the other to the Spirit, so will the reckoning be hereafter. Those who live a carnal, sensual life, must expect no other fruit from such a course than misery and ruin. But those who, under the guidance and influences of the Holy Spirit, live a life of faith in Christ, and abound in Christian graces, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. We are all very apt to tire in duty, particularly in doing good. This we should carefully watch and guard against. Only to perseverance in well-doing is the reward promised. Here is an exhortation to all to do good in their places. We should take care to do good in our life-time, and make this the business of our lives. Especially when fresh occasions offer, and as far as our power reaches.
Verse 11. - Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand (ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί); see with what large pieces of writing (or, with what large letters) I have written (or, I write) unto you with mine own hand. There can be hardly any doubt that the rendering "ye see" of the Authorized Version, supposing, as it seems to do, that this is meant as an indicative, must be wrong (cf. John 4:29; 1 John 3:1). The ἴδετε of the Textus Receptus in Philippians 1:30 is replaced by recent editors with one consent by εἴδετε. Each one of the four next Greek words, πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα, has been subjected to a variety of interprerations. What appears to the present writer the most probable view he must explain as briefly as he is able. The interrogative πηλίκος means "how great," as in Zechariah 2:2 (Septuagint); Hebrews 7:4. Accordingly, πόσα καὶ πηλίκα in Polyb., 1:2, 8 (cited in Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon') means "how many and how large." Many, as e.g. Chrysostom, have supposed that the word includes a reference to clumsiness, ungainliness, as attaching to the apostle's handwriting ("with what big letters!'). But no example of the word being used in this sense of "ungainliness" has been adduced; and it seems safer not to import into its rendering this additional shade of meaning. The dative ὑμῖν Bishop Lightfoot proposes to connect closely with πληίκοις as μοὶ and σοὶ are often used in familiar style, with the sense mark you! But there is no instance of this use of the dative pronoun in the Greek Testament (see Winer, 'Gram. N. T.,' § 22, 7, Anna. 2, p. 140); and here surely it more naturally connects itself with ἔγραψαψ. It is not uncommon with St. Paul to insert some word or words between a substantive and its adjective or dependent genitive, as here between πηλίκοις and γράμμασιν (see Galatians 2:9; Galatians 3:15; Philippians 4:15, etc.). In the instances now cited there appears no more logical occasion for such a seeming disarrangement of the words than there does here. The verb ἔγραψα is used with no objective accusative following, as in Romans 15:15; 1 Peter 5:12; the substantive γράμμασιν being in the dative, because the apostle is referring merely to the form of the medium of communication, and not to the substance of the communication itself. The rendering of the Authorized Version, "how large a letter I have written," cannot be defended as a literal translation, though it may be allowed on one view of the passage to give the sense rightly. But though the plural noun γράμματα, in ordinary Greek, like literae in Latin, sometimes occurs in the sense of a single epistle or letter, it is never so used by St. Paul, who always employs the word ἐπιστολὴ to express this notion, which he does no less than seventeen times. In Acts 28:21 it is rendered "letters," in the plural number; being properly "communications in writing." The noun γράμμα was the word ordinarily employed in Greek to designate a letter of the alphabet. It also denotes "a writing," as when in the plural we read in John 5:47, "if ye believe not his writings," and in 2 Timothy 3:15," the sacred writings," or Scriptures. In Luke 16:6, 7 "take thy bill" is literally, "take thy writings" (γράμματα being the now accepted reading in the Greek text). In 2 Corinthians 3:7, "the ministration of death in writings," the word probably refers to the ten commandments, each forming one writing; though it may mean "in characters of writing." In ordinary Greek it sometimes denotes a passage of a treatise or book (Liddell and Scott, under the word, 2:4). Next
(1) the verb ἔγραψα ("I have written") may be understood, as in Romans 15:15, "I have written the more boldly unto you," etc., with reference to the entire letter, now nearly complete, as it lies before him. In that case the apostle's words may be rendered, "See, with what long writings [or, 'pieces of writing'] I have written unto you with mine own hand." Through some cause or other, we know not what the cause was, writing with his own hand was not a welcome employment to him; so far unwelcome that he generally devolved the actual penning of his letters upon an amanuensis, merely authenticating each letter as his own by a postscript added in his own hand (see 2 Thessalonians 3. fin.). Perhaps Philemon forms the only' exception (see ver. 19), apart from this letter to the Galatians. We may, therefore, imagine the apostle as painfully and laboriously penning one portion after another of the Epistle; often pausing weariedly in the work as he came to the end of each γράμμα, that is, to the end of each section of his argument, each seeming to him a long and toilsome effort. And now at last he exclaims," Look, what long, laborious performances of handwriting I have achieved in writing to you! And from that learn how deeply I am concerned on your behalf, and how grave your present spiritual peril appears to me to be!" Ordinarily it was only a brief "piece of writing" that he wrote with his own hand; here, long pieces, added one after another with painful effort. Or
(2) the verb "I have written" may be referred to what the apostle is now beginning to pen, not merely because the epistolary style of the ancients, Greek and Roman, was wont to place the writer of a letter in the temporal standing-point of its recipient, as when Cicero dates his letters scribebam Id., etc., but because under some circumstances it is natural that the writer should thus refer himself to the view of his correspondent. Thus in Philemon 1:19, "I Paul have written it (ἔγραψα) with mine own hand, I will repay it." It would be quite obvious to ourselves to express our meaning in the same manner. So far, then, as such considerations reach, it appears quite supposable that the apostle, having employed an amanuensis as usual as far as the end of ver. 10, then himself took up the pen for the customary addition of an authenticating postscript; and that, for the purpose of adding especial emphasis to the postscript which he here thought advisable to add, he made his handwriting most unusually large, and that it is to this emphatic style of penmanship that he here draws attention. Many modern critics have acquiesced in this explanation; and if γράμμασιν means "letters," that is, characters of the writing, it seems the most probable; for it does not seem likely that the whole Epistle was written in letters of an extraordinary size; while, if the characters were those of his ordinary style of penmanship, the remark would be too trivial to come from him. The present writer inclines to the former method of interpretation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye see how large a letter,.... Whether it be read as imperative, "see ye", observe, take notice; or as indicative, "ye see", ye do see, or you may see with your own eyes, it is of no great consequence: "how large a letter", or "with what letters"; which some understand of the largeness of the characters he wrote in; others of the deformity of them, he not writing a good hand, being an Hebrew, and not used to writing Greek; others of the grand and sublime matter which it contained; though neither of these seem to be the apostle's meaning; but he intends the length of the epistle, the prolixity of his writing; and which he mentions, as an instance and expression of his love to then, care of them, and concern for them: inasmuch as he took so much pains to write so long a letter to them, in order to set things right in their view, and recover them from error: not but that he had sent as long, or longer letters to other churches, as to the Romans, the Corinthians, and Hebrews: but then it is to be observed what follows,
I have written unto you with my own hand. The epistle to the Romans was written by Tertius, though dictated by the apostle, Romans 16:22 as very likely the others were by Timothy, or some other amanuensis. The apostle only put his name, and wrote his salutation, which was his token, in all his epistles, of the truth and genuineness of them; 2 Thessalonians 3:17, but this was not only dictated by him, but wrote with his hand, which very probably the Galatians knew; and since it was not usual for him to do so, it was the greater proof of his affection for them; that amidst so much work, and such labours as he was employed in, he should sit down and write so long an epistle to them with his own hand, in order to expose the errors of the false teachers, and reclaim them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. Rather, "See in how large letters I have written." The Greek is translated "how great" in Heb 7:4, the only other passage where it occurs in the New Testament. Owing to his weakness of eyes (Ga 4:15) he wrote in large letters. So Jerome. All the oldest manuscripts are written in uncial, that is, capital letters, the "cursive," or small letters, being of more recent date. Paul seems to have had a difficulty in writing, which led him to make the uncial letters larger than ordinary writers did. The mention of these is as a token by which they would know that he wrote the whole Epistle with his own hand; as he did also the pastoral Epistle, which this Epistle resembles in style. He usually dictated his Epistles to an amanuensis, excepting the concluding salutation, which he wrote himself (Ro 16:22; 1Co 16:21). This letter, he tells the Galatians, he writes with his own hand, no doubt in order that they may see what a regard he had for them, in contrast to the Judaizing teachers (Ga 6:12), who sought only their own ease. If English Version be retained, the words, "how large a letter (literally, 'in how large letters')," will not refer to the length of the Epistle absolutely, but that it was a large one for him to have written with his own hand. Neander supports English Version, as more appropriate to the earnestness of the apostle and the tone of the Epistle: "How large" will thus be put for "how many."
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