|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:16-18 A new creation to the image of Christ, as showing faith in him, is the greatest distinction between one man and another, and a blessing is declared on all who walk according to this rule. The blessings are, peace and mercy. Peace with God and our conscience, and all the comforts of this life, as far as they are needful. And mercy, an interest in the free love and favour of God in Christ, the spring and fountain of all other blessings. The written word of God is the rule we are to go by, both in its doctrines and precepts. May his grace ever be with our spirit, to sanctify, quicken, and cheer us, and may we always be ready to maintain the honour of that which is indeed our life. The apostle had in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, the scars of wounds from persecuting enemies, for his cleaving to Christ, and the doctrine of the gospel. The apostle calls the Galatians his brethren, therein he shows his humility and his tender affection for them; and he takes his leave with a very serious prayer, that they might enjoy the favour of Christ Jesus, both in its effects and in its evidences. We need desire no more to make us happy than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle does not pray that the law of Moses, or the righteousness of works, but that the grace of Christ, might be with them; that it might be in their hearts and with their spirits, quickening, comforting, and strengthening them: to all which he sets his Amen; signifying his desire that so it might be, and his faith that so it would be.
Verse 17. - From henceforth (τοῦ λοιποῦ). This genitive form is found, in the New Testament, only here and in Ephesians 6:10, where the Textus Receptus reads τὸ λοιπόν. As being less ambiguous, it is chosen in preference to τὸ λοιπόν, because this latter word is also used in the sense "finally," as in Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:8, as well as for "henceforth," as in Matthew 26:45; Hebrews 10:13. The meaning of τοῦ λοιποῦ is illustrated by Aristophanes, 'Pax.,' 1050, "You shall never dine henceforth (τοῦ λοιποῦ) any more in the Prytaneum;" and Herod., 3:15. Let no man trouble me (κόπους μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω). The phrase, κόπους πραέχειν, "cause trouble, or annoyance," occurs also in Matthew 26:10; Luke 11:7; Luke 18:5. Obviously the apostle refers to such trouble as was now accruing to him from the endeavours of the Judaizing party to pervert his Galatian disciples. On him fell the "anxiety of all the Churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28). In any of his Gentile Churches, the defeat of the work of the gospel by Judaizing perversion was a "worry" which touched him to the very quick. There is nothing to warrant the supposition that he alludes to assaults made in particular upon his apostolical authority, such as he had often occasion to deal with, as, for example, at Corinth. None such have been referred to in this Epistle, though he has found occasion to complain of the alienated affections of his converts. For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (ἐγὼ γὰρ τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ [Receptus, τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησου] ἐν τῷ σώματί μου βαστάζω); I am one who bear branded on my body the flesh-marks of Jesus. The ἐγὼ is inserted with emphasis. Being such as he here describes himself, he had a claim upon his brethren to be spared unnecessary annoyance. The Greek word stigma here employed denotes a mark on the flesh, either by puncture, its proper sense, with a hot, sharp instrument, very often with hot needles (see Prudentius's lines quoted by Grotius in his note on the χάραγμα, mark, in Revelation 13:16), or more summarily by simply branding without puncture. It served sometimes as a mark of permanent ownership, as upon horses or cattle (Liddell and Scott, sub verb. στίζω). In respect to slaves, it was not considered humane to brand them, except for punishment, or as security in particular cases against running away. Hence στιγματίας, brandling, designated a scoundrel or a runaway slave; as Aristophanes, 'Lys.,' 331; 'Av.,' 760. Others besides slaves were sometimes branded in ignominious punishment: Aristophanes, 'Ran.,' 1507; Herod., 7:233. Thus we have in Æschines (38, 26), ἐστιγμένος αὐτομόλος, "a branded deserter." Vegetius (quoted by Facciolati, sub verb. stigma), writing three hundred years later, states ('Do Re Milit.,' 1:8; 2:5) that, in the Roman army, raw recruits had to be proved fit for service before they were allowed to have the tattoo put upon them. After due trial, they were "punc-turis in cute punctis milites scripti et matriculis inserti." But this testimony does not establish the fact of such usage prevailing in the Roman army in St. Paul's time; though it is quite supposable that then, as now, soldiers might sometimes tattoo on their arm or hand the name of a favourite general. Instances are cited of consecration to a particular god being signalized by stigma. Herodotus, writing five hundred years before, says of a certain temple of Heracles, on the Egyptian coast, that if a servant, belonging to any man whatever, took sanctuary in it, and put upon himself sacred stigmata, giving himself to the god, no one could touch him (2:113). In 3Macc. 2:29 mention is made of a "mark of Dionysus" ivy leaf being, by means of fire, put upon the body of Jews in Egypt in the time of Ptolemy Philopator; but this would seem to have been intended rather as a barbarous indignity, because especially abhorrent to their religious feelings, than as an actual consecration of them to Dionysus as his "slaves." But that it was in some cases employed to signalize a "sacred slave" is attested by Philo, 'De Mon.,' 2. p. 221, M; and Lucian, 'De Dea Syr.,' § 59, as cited by Bishop Lightfoot, who remarks that "such a practice could not have been unknown in a country which was the home of the worship of Cybele." An example more familiar to the apostle's mind might, perhaps, be cited from Isaiah 44:5 (Septuagint), ἐπιγράψει χειρὶ αὐτοῦ Τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐμί, "shall write upon his hand, I am God's," which rendering Gesenius ('Thes.,' in verb. kathabh) consents to accept. But if this rendering be the right one, it may yet be doubted whether it means writing by puncture; for γράμματα στικτὰ appear in Leviticus 19:28 to be forbidden; unless, indeed, the prohibition be taken to refer to idolatrous tattoos only. But even thus the use of such in idol-worships has a further confirmation. It appears, however, to be a strong objection to our supposing the apostle to be here alluding to either the stigmata of consecration or those of other ownership, that such would infer no more suffering than would attend simple tattooing; whereas it is plain that the apostle alludes to marks which evidenced the undergoing of inflictions of extraordinary severity. The word stigma had passed into Roman usage, being employed both in a literal sense and also in a figurative one of a "stigma," as we also speak, cast upon a person's character as by a poet's lampoon. Thus Martial ('Epigr.,' 12:62) writes, "Frons haec stigmate non meo notanda," "This forehead to be marked with a stigma not of my affixing," where the word frons indicates a close adherence to the original notion of a slave's forehead branded. Suetonius ('Caes.,' 73), "Catullum, a quo sibi versiculis de Mamurra perpetua stigmata imposita non dissimulaverat, satisfacientem eodem die adhibnit coenae." Reviewing the evidence now adduced as to the manner in which the term was used, we observe that the words "brandling" and "branded" (στιγματίας and ἐστιγμένος) were used to describe a person made infamous to open view by brand-marks put upon his person. It was natural that the word stigma would thus acquire the sense of a mark of patent infamy left upon a man's person by some corporal abuse which he had been subjected to, without any other qualifying idea. Now, it appears most probable that it is in this sense that the apostle here uses the word. The term points to those scars, seams, perhaps long-continuing sores, which the long course of ever-recurring hardships and ill usage, through which he had passed, must have left upon him - patent evidence to all who looked upon him of the manner in which his fellow-men regarded and treated him; this only, apart from any qualifying idea, whether of ownership, or of military allegiance, or of religious consecration. It is in this general sense that Chrysostom appears to have read the clause; and this general sense satisfies all the requirements of the context. A strong light is thrown upon this matter by what the apostle, near about this same time, wrote to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 11:22-27. The passage, as indeed does the whole Epistle, with much also of the frmer Epistle addressed to the same Church, betokens a strong feeling at this particular time resting on his mind, of the grievous, countless, hardships which marked his career - a feeling, very supposably, just then freshened by some very painful experiences recently gone through, from the effects of which his bodily form was still suffering. "In stripes above measure,... in deaths oft. Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one; thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep." Such are some particulars which he specifies; and the enumeration is very suggestive with reference to our present point. Could he have undergone that "stoning" at Lystra, after which he was dragged out of the city as dead to be left to lie without burial, and have carried away no enduring disfigurement? Whether any marks would be likely to remain upon him from the five Jewish whippings, we cannot tell; but we may be assured that the three floggings inflicted with the cruel vitis of the Roman soldiery must have scarred his flesh with seams of permanent disfigurement. Perhaps while he wrote, sores remaining from some one of those eight punishments were making themselves painfully felt. These judicial inflictions, however, severe as some of them may have been, were nevertheless regulated by law and custom. There were m all probability other, much more barbarous and altogether unregulated, violences, which came often upon him from the brutality of mobs, from the assaults of "robbers," from accidents in shipwreck. It could not fail but that his person presented, wherever he went, conspicuously to view, tokens that he was one wont to be both regarded and dealt with as if he were, no doubt deservedly, a wretched outcast; in his own forcible, most deeply pathetic phrase, περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόμου πάντων περίψημα "as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things" (1 Corinthians 4:13). The apostle's enemies taunted him with the contrast which subsisted between the solemnity and power - would-be power they meant - of his letters, and the meanness and feebleness of his personal appearance and his personal address (2 Corinthians 10:1, 10). His personal presence may, originally and by natural make, not have been calculated to bespeak respect. But whatever disadvantages he lay under originally, must, beyond all question, have been vastly aggravated by the bodily hard ships to which he had been subjected. These must have left effects (this, perhaps, being the "stake in the flesh" which be groaned under - "Satan's messenger to buffet him," the fruits, certainly, of Satan's working in the hearts of godless men) which he felt to be not only fraught with personal humiliation in whatever intercourse he held with his fellow-men, but also likely greatly to mar his efficiency in his ministerial work. The only consolation remaining to him was that, in the utter extinction of all self-love, he rejoiced to know that Christ's grace had, in this enhanced feebleness of his instrument, the clearer field wherein to manifest its own Divine potency (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10). "The flesh-marks of Jesus." This may be understood as meaning that they were incurred in Jesus' service. In part it may be so taken; but the relation expressed by this genitive appears to go deeper than that. The apostle means, the marks which disfigured the body of Jesus as now reproduced in his body. The genitive is used in just the same way as it is in the strikingly similar clause in 2 Corinthians 4:10, "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus (παντότε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν σῶ σώματι περιφέροντες), where ' ἡ νεκρωσις τοῦ Ἰησοῦ means apparently "the deadness or corpse-condition of Jesus" (compare the use of the Greek noun in Romans 4:19); the state of Jesus' νενεκρωμένον σῶμα, while yet hanging a corpse on the cross. By s strong hyperbole, prompted by the intense feeling then on his mind of his own bodily sufferings and the almost ever-present imminency of death (comp. vers. 7-12 of the same chapter), the apostle, in those words, refers to "Jesus' corpse-condition" as reproduced in his own bodily condition, adding the expression of his assured conviction that all was to this end - that "the life also of Jesus," that is, the life which Jesus himself lives, should be all the more clearly manifested by what he was working in the world, in and through a body apparently so death-bound as the apostle's was. The use of the phrase, thus interpreted, coheres well with the feeling which, in the writing of this Epistle, was very near to his soul, of his being "crucified along with Christ." The phrase, then, glances at those swollen, livid, blood-flecked, wales and bruises (τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ, 1 Peter 2:24:) which the Roman scourging that immediately preceded his being handed over for crucifixion must have left on his sacred flesh - no part spared - the entire frame pervaded alike with disfigurement and with torture. To the body of his adorable Lord at that hour - to the human consciousness of every thoughtful spectator, defaced, shorn by the dis-honouring whip of the dignity properly connate with a human body, and made utterly vile (for this should seem to have been the symbolical meaning and intent of that customary preliminary of crucifixion) - and, at length on the cross, presenting to open view those brand-marks of degradedness, the apostle feels his own body to be, in the treatment it had received and the condition to which it had been reduced, in no small measure assimilated. Not only was he in spirit joined unto his Lord and one spirit with him; but in body likewise was he (so to speak) joined unto his Lord, and one body with him; being deeply "taught" in the lesson of what was meant by being "a sharer of his sufferings, while day by day becoming more conformed to the fashion of his death" (Philippians 3:10); clothed with Christ in this sense also; clothed with the Crucified One. The verb βαστάζω, as here introduced, may be distinguished from the περιφέροντες of 2 Corinthians 4:10, by presenting the notion of one's carrying something in thought separable from one's self, instead of being (so to speak) commingled with one's own being. "I am carrying, and can offer to your view, the brand-marks of Jesus." Chrysostom catches this view, perhaps carrying it out somewhat far, in his animated comment, "He saith not, 'I have,' but I carry;' like a man priding himself on a trophy and ensigns of a king." The use of the same verb in Acts 9:15, "to bear my Name before the Gentiles and kings," clearly illustrates its import here. This closing verse is withal no piteous appeal for commiserating sympathy. The tone of "from henceforth," betokening the feeling of one who has made up his mind not to be trifled with, precludes the notion of his mood being one of mere self-pity and tenderness. Far more does the apostle hereby make claim to share with his Lord in that mingled sentiment of reverence and deferential, sympathetic compliance, which the disciple of Christ might be expected to entertain towards his Lord, crucified for him; such a sentiment as would prompt him to lighten, if he might, his burden and pain, to take part in his enterprise, to help forward his designs. Those brand-marks would cry out in loud protest against a fellow-disciple's antipathy, tergiversation, or disesteem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
From henceforth let no man trouble me,.... Having so clearly stated and explained the doctrine of justification, and so largely proved that it is not by works, but by faith, and that circumcision and other rituals of the ceremonial law were not necessary to it, he desires, nay, in an authoritative way he requires, that they give him no further trouble on that head; signifying, that he expected they would be satisfied with what he had wrote, and abide by the truth and obey it, as they had formerly done; that he should hear no more objections from them, or complaints of them: nor need they further inquire his sense of these things; by this they would fully know his faith and practice; as indeed they might also by his suffering persecutions on the account of his faith, and his preaching the Gospel of Christ, and particularly this part of it:
for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus; by which he means, not the marks in Christ's hands, feet, and side; but the reproachful characters the apostle was stigmatized with; or the real scars in his body, made by beating, scourging, and stoning of him; or his sufferings and persecutions in general, which he endured for the sake of Christ and his Gospel; see 2 Corinthians 11:23. The allusion is either to servants and soldiers, who, when taken into service, used to have some particular mark put upon them, that they might be known to be such an one's servant, or soldier (c); as the Hebrew servant, who was willing to serve his master, had his ear bored through with an awl, Exodus 21:6 so the apostle was known to be a firm and faithful servant, and a good soldier of Christ, by the reproaches and afflictions which he underwent for his sake; or else to those marks which, by way of reproach and punishment, were made upon fugitive servants, or soldiers, that deserted; as the sufferings of the apostle were designed as reproaches to him, and punishments of him, for preaching the Gospel of Christ; but these he gloried in, and bore and carried as trophies and marks of honour. Just as veteran soldiers show the scars and wounds they have received in battle, as tokens of their valour and courage, in facing and fighting the enemy in greatest danger: these he is said to bear "in his body"; not in the bodies of others, he gloried not in their flesh, as the false apostles did; nor in the circumcision of his own flesh, the scar that left there the mark of Moses and of a Jew; but in those things which were marks of his being a disciple of Christ, and not of Moses, and which he bore for his sake; and since therefore it was so easy to discern on which side of the question he was, from his suffering persecution for the cross of Christ; and since he had so many and such great trials and exercises, he, with apostolical gravity and authority, commands them to give him no more trouble, from the time of their reception of the epistle, henceforward.
(c) Vid. Lydium de re militare, l. 1. c. 6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. let no man trouble me—by opposing my apostolic authority, seeing that it is stamped by a sure seal, namely, "I (in contrast to the Judaizing teachers who gloried in the flesh) bear (as a high mark of honor from the King of kings)."
the marks—properly, marks branded on slaves to indicate their owners. So Paul's scars of wounds received for Christ's sake, indicate to whom he belongs, and in whose free and glorious service he is (2Co 11:23-25). The Judaizing teachers gloried in the circumcision mark in the flesh of their followers: Paul glories in the marks of suffering for Christ on his own body (compare Ga 6:14; Php 3:10; Col 1:24).
the Lord—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
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