Galatians 4:9
Parallel Verses
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?

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?

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?

Galatians 4:9 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

But now ... - The sense is, that since they had been made free from their ignoble servitude in the worship of false gods, and had been admitted to the freedom found in the worship of the true God, it was absurd that they should return again to that which was truly slavery or bondage, the observance of the rites of the Jewish law.

That ye have known God - The true God, and the ease and freedom of his service in the gospel.

Or rather are known of God - The sense is, "Or, to speak more accurately or precisely, are known by God." The object of this correction is to avoid the impression which might be derived from the former phrase that their acquaintance with God was owing to themselves. He therefore states, that it was rather that they were known of God; that it was all owing to him that they had been brought to an acquaintance with himself. Perhaps, also, he means to bring into view the idea that it was a favor and privilege to be known by God, and that therefore it was the more absurd to turn back to the weak and beggarly elements.

How turn ye again - Margin, "Back." "How is it that you are returning to such a bondage?" The question implies surprise and indignation that they should do it.

To the weak and beggarly elements - To the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law, imposing a servitude really not less severe than the customs of paganism. On the word elements, see the note at Galatians 4:3. They are called "weak" because they had no power to save the soul; no power to justify the sinner before God. They are called "beggarly" (Greek πτωχὰ ptōcha, poor), because they could not impart spiritual riches. They really could confer few benefits on man. Or it may be, as Locke supposes, because the Law kept people in the poor estate of pupils from the full enjoyment of the inheritance; Galatians 4:1-3.

Whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage - As if you had a wish to be under servitude. The absurdity is as great as it would be for a man who had been freed from slavery to desire his chains again. They had been freed by the gospel from the galling servitude of paganism, and they now again had sunk into the Jewish observances, as if they preferred slavery to freedom, and were willing to go from one form of it to another. The main idea is, that it is absurd for people who have been made free by the gospel to go back again into any kind of servitude or bondage. We may apply it to Christians now. Many sink into a kind of servitude not less galling than was that to sin before their conversion. Some become the slaves of mere ceremonies and forms in religion. Some are slaves to fashion, and the world still rules them with the hand of a tyrant. They have escaped, it may be, from the galling chains of ambition, and degrading vice, and low sensuality; but they became slaves to the love of money, or of dress, or of the fashions of the world, as if they loved slavery and chains; and they seem no more able to break loose than the slave is to break the bonds which bind him. And some are slaves to some expensive and foolish habit. Professed Christians, and Christian ministers too, become slaves to the disgusting and loathsome habit of using tobacco, bound by a servitude as galling and as firm as that which ever shackled the limbs of an African. I grieve to add also that many professed Christians are slaves to the habit of "sitting long at the wine" and indulging in it freely. O that such knew the liberty of Christian freedom, and would break away from all such shackles, and show how the gospel frees people from all foolish and absurd customs!

Galatians 4:9 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Allegories of Sarah and Hagar
We shall attempt this morning to teach you something of the allegories of Sarah and Hagar, that you may thereby better understand the essential difference between the covenants of law and of grace. We shall not go fully into the subject, but shall only give such illustrations of it as the text may furnish us. First, I shall want you to notice the two women, whom Paul uses as types--Hagar and Sarah; then I shall notice the two sons--Ishmael and Isaac; in the third place, I shall notice Ishmael's conduct
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856

Luther -- the Method and Fruits of Justification
Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, was born at Eisleben in 1483, and died there 1546. His rugged character and powerful intellect, combined with a strong physique, made him a natural orator, so that it was said "his words were half battles." Of his own method of preaching he once remarked: "When I ascend the pulpit I see no heads, but imagine those that are before me to be all blocks. When I preach I sink myself deeply down; I regard neither doctors nor masters, of which there are in the church
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume I

"For as Many as are Led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. For Ye have not Received the Spirit of Bondage
Rom. viii. s 14, 15.--"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." The life of Christianity, take it in itself, is the most pleasant and joyful life that can be, exempted from those fears and cares, those sorrows and anxieties, that all other lives are subject unto, for this of necessity must be the force and efficacy of true religion,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Moral Reactions of Prayer
The Moral Reactions of Prayer All religion is founded on prayer, and in prayer it has its test and measure. To be religious is to pray, to be irreligious is to be incapable of prayer. The theory of religion is really the philosophy of prayer; and the best theology is compressed prayer. The true theology is warm, and it steams upward into prayer. Prayer is access to whatever we deem God, and if there is no such access there is no religion; for it is not religion to resign ourselves to be crushed
P. T. Forsyth—The Soul of Prayer

Cross References
1 Corinthians 8:3
but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

2 Corinthians 11:20
For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

Galatians 4:3
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.

Colossians 2:20
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

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