You observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Jump to: Alford • Barnes • Bengel • Benson • BI • Calvin • Cambridge • Chrysostom • Clarke • Darby • Ellicott • Expositor's • Exp Dct • Exp Grk • Gaebelein • GSB • Gill • Gray • Haydock • Hastings • Homiletics • ICC • JFB • Kelly • KJT • Lange • MacLaren • MHC • MHCW • Meyer • Parker • PNT • Poole • Pulpit • Sermon • SCO • TTB • VWS • WES • TSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ye observe.—A compound word, signifying not only “to observe,” but “to observe scrupulously.” The word is used by Josephus in his paraphrase of the fourth commandment: “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy” (Ant. iii. 5, § 5).
Days—i.e., in the first instance and especially, the Jewish sabbaths; but other fasts or festivals which occupied a single day may be included.
Months.—The description mounts in an ascending scale—days, months, seasons, years. The “months,” however, mean really “the first day of the month,” the “new moon.” (See Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 28:11; Psalm 81:3.)
Times.—Seasons: such as the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Years.—Such as the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee. The Apostle is giving a list which is intended to be exhaustive of all Jewish observances, so that it would not necessarily follow that the Galatians had actually kept the year of jubilee, or even that it was kept literally by the Jews at this time.
As to the bearing of this passage on the general question of the observance of seasons, it is to be noticed that the reference is here to the adoption by the Galatians of the Jewish seasons as a mark of the extent to which they were prepared to take on themselves the burden of the Mosaic law. It does not necessarily follow that the observance of Christian seasons is condemned. At the same time, it is quite clear that St. Paul places all such matters under the head of “elements” or “rudiments.” They belong to the lowest section of Christian practice, and the more advanced a Christian is the less he needs to be bound by them. This, again, is qualified by the consideration that it is dangerous for any one individual to assume his own advanced condition, and to think himself able to dispense with the safeguards which his brother-Christians require. It is safest to follow the general rule of the Church, so long as it is done intelligently—i.e., with a consciousness of the reason and expediency of what is done, and not in a spirit of mere mechanical routine. The comparison between the literal and the spiritual observance of seasons, and the superiority of the latter as the more excellent way, is well brought out by Origen in some comments upon this passage: “If it be objected to us on this subject that we are accustomed to observe certain days—as, for example, the Lord’s Day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost—I have to answer that, to the perfect Christian—who is ever in his thoughts, words, and deeds serving his natural Lord, God the Word—all his days are the Lord’s, and he is always keeping the Lord’s Day. He, also, who is unceasingly preparing himself for the true life, and abstaining from the pleasures of this life which lead astray so many, such a one is always keeping the Preparation Day. Again, he who considers that ‘Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,’ and that it is his duty to keep the feast by eating of the flesh of the Word, never ceases to keep the Paschal Feast. And, finally, he who can truly say: ‘We are risen with Christ,’ and ‘He hath exalted us, and made us sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ,’ is always living in the season of Pentecost . . . But the majority of those who are accounted believers are not of this advanced class; but from being either unable or unwilling to keep every day in this manner, they require some sensible memorial to prevent spiritual things from passing away altogether from their minds” (Against Celsus, viii. 22, 23).
Days - The days here referred to are doubtless the days of the Jewish festivals. They had numerous days of such observances, and in addition to those specified in the Old Testament, the Jews had added many others as days commemorative of the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, and of other important events in their history. It is not a fair interpretation of this to suppose that the apostle refers to the Sabbath, properly so called, for this was a part of the Decalogue; and was observed by the Saviour himself, and by the apostles also. It is a fair interpretation to apply it to all those days which are not commanded to be kept holy in the Scriptures; and hence, the passage is as applicable to the observance of saints' days, and days in honor of particular events in sacred history, as to the days observed by the Galatians. There is as real servitude in the observance of the numerous festivals, and fasts in the papal communion and in some Protestant churches, as there was in the observance of the days in the Jewish ecclesiastical calendar, and for anything that I can see, such observances are as inconsistent now with the freedom of the gospel as they were in the time of Paul. We should observe as seasons of holy time what it can be proved God has commanded us, and no more.
And months - The festivals of the new moon, kept by the Jews. Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-14. On this festival, in addition to the daily sacrifice, two bullocks, a ram, and seven sheep of a year old were offered in sacrifice. The appearance of the new-moon was announced by the sound of trumpets. See Jahn, Archae. 352.
And times - Stated times; festivals returning periodically, as the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. See Jahn, Archae. chap. 3.-346-360.
times—Greek, "seasons," namely, those of the three great feasts, the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
years—The sabbatical year was about the time of writing this Epistle, A.D. 48 [Bengel].days the Jewish festivals, such as their new moons, &c.; by months, the first and the seventh month, when they religiously fasted; by times, their more solemn times, such as were their feasts of first-fruits, tabernacles, &c.; and by years, their years of jubilee, the seventh and the fiftieth year. His meaning is, that they took themselves to be under a religious obligation to observe these times as still commanded by God. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Galatians 4:10. Facts which vouch the ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν κ.τ.λ. just expressed.
The interrogative view, which Griesbach, Koppe, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Hilgenfeld, following Battier (Bibl. Brem. VI. p. 104), take, has been again abandoned by Usteri, Schott, and Wieseler; and Hofmann prefers the sense of sorrowful exclamation. But the continuance of the reproachful interrogative form (Galatians 4:9) corresponds better to the increasing pitch of surprise and amazement, and makes Galatians 4:11 come in with greater weight.
παρατηρεῖσθε] Do ye already so far realize your θέλετε? Ye take care, sedulo vobis observatis, namely, to neglect nothing which is prescribed in the law for certain days and seasons. Comp. Joseph. Antt. iii. 5. Galatians 5 : παρατηρεῖν τὰς ἑβδομάδας; also Dio Cass. liii. 10 (of the observance of a law). The idea superstitiose (Winer, Bretschneider, Olshausen, and others) is not implied in παρα, nor the praeter fidem which Bengel finds in it.
ἡμέρας] Sabbaths, fast and feast days. Comp. Romans 14:5-6μῆνας] is usually referred to the new moons. But these, the feast-days at the beginning of each month, come under the previous category of ἡμέρας. In keeping with the other points, παρατηρεῖσθαι μῆνας must be the observance of certain months as pre-eminently sacred months. Thus the seventh month (Tisri), as the proper sabbatical month, was specially sacred (see Ewald, Alterth. p. 469 f.; Keil, Archäol. I. p. 368 ff.); and the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months were distinguished by special fasts.
καιρούς] מוֹעֲדִים, Leviticus 23:4. The holy festal seasons, such as those of the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, are meant; “quibus hoc aut illud fas erat aut nefas,” Erasmus.
ἐνιαυτούς] applies to the sabbatical years (see, as to these, Ewald, p. 488 ff.; Keil, p. 371 ff.), which occurred every seventh year, but not to the jubilee years, which had, at least after the time of Solomon, fallen into abeyance (Ewald, p. 501). But that the Galatians were at that time in some way actually celebrating a sabbatical year (Wieseler), cannot be certainly inferred from ἐνιαυτ., which has in reality its due warrant as belonging to the consistency and completeness of the theory. On the whole passage, comp. Colossians 2:16, and Philo, de septenar. p. 286.
From our passage, moreover, we see how far, and within what limits, the Galatians had already been led astray. They had not yet adopted circumcision, but were only in danger of being brought to it (Galatians 5:2-3; Galatians 5:12, Galatians 6:12-13). Nothing at all is said in the epistle as to any distinction of meats (comp. Col. l.c), except so far as it was implied in the observance of days, etc. Usteri (comp. Rückert) is of opinion that Paul did not mention circumcision and the distinction of meats, because he desired to represent the present religious attitude of his readers as analogous to their heathen condition. But, according to the comprehensive idea of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, even the mention of circumcision and the distinctions of meats would have been in no way inappropriate to the πάλιν ἄνωθεν. Olshausen quite arbitrarily asserts that the usages mentioned stand by synecdoche for all.
 De Wette very arbitrarily considers that the present tense denotes, not the reality then present, but only the necessary consequence of the ἐπιετρ. and δουλ. θέλετε, conceived as being already present.Galatians 4:10. The observance of Sabbaths and new moons, of feasts and fasts, of sabbatical and jubilee years, was clearly enjoined by the ceremonial Law; and Paul admitted the obligations of that Law for himself and for all the Circumcision. He continued to frequent the Sabbath-worship of the synagogue, attended the feasts, bound himself under voluntary vows. What he condemns is the adoption of these practices by baptised Gentiles: for this imputed to them an inherent sacredness incompatible with the true freedom of the Spirit.10. Perhaps this verse should be read interrogatively, ‘Do ye observe &c.?’ or the construction may be carried on from the preceding verse, ‘How is it that ye are turning, … that ye are observing &c.?’
Ye observe] The whole meaning of the verse depends on the sense attached to this word. It is compounded of a verb which means to observe and a preposition which implies that either the purpose or the method of observation is bad. The simple verb and corresponding noun are commonly used in N. T. in a good sense, e.g. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me”. John 14:21, ‘Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God.” 1 Corinthians 7:19. But the compound is never so used. Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; Luke 16:1; Luke 20:20; Acts 9:24. Comp. for the noun, Luke 17:20. St Paul is not condemning the observance of ‘days and months and times and years’ but their mis-observance. Jewish Christians might continue to keep them as hallowed customs of divine origin, but not as grounds of justification. These were not to be sharers with Christ in the great work of salvation. Bondage to these rudiments forfeited the liberty of the Gospel. Gentile believers were never bound to such observances, and if they yielded to the Judaizing teachers and submitted to the yoke of the Jewish ceremonial, they were no longer partakers of the liberty of Christ.
Compare Colossians 2:16, where not the simple observance is condemned, but the slavery which is involved in its being required for salvation, and the dishonour which is done to Christ by adding to His perfect righteousness. See note on ch. Galatians 5:2.
days] ‘sabbaths and fasts’. There is clearly no exemption here from the obligation of the observance of ‘the seventh day’. ‘The law of the Sabbath, i.e. of one weekly day of holy rest in God (the seventh in the Jewish, the first in the Christian Church) is as old as the Creation, it is founded on the moral and physical constitution of man, it was instituted in Paradise, incorporated in the Decalogue on Mount Sinai, put on a new foundation by the Resurrection of Christ, and is an absolute necessity for public worship and the welfare of man’. Dr Schaff. What St Paul condemns is the observance of the day in a legal spirit, in compliance with the minute and childish prohibitions of the Rabbinic system and as a matter of merit with God.
months] As marked by the ‘new moons’. Comp. Isaiah 1:13; Numbers 28:11 &c., or possibly the ‘seventh month’, Leviticus 23:24 foll.
times] Better, seasons, the great annual festivals, which lasted several days, as the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, &c.
years] Every seventh year was a sabbatical year and every fiftieth year a Jubilee. See Leviticus 25:2-17.Galatians 4:10. Ἡμέρας) days: Romans 14:5, i.e. Sabbaths, Colossians 2:16, note. The time of the Sabbath was held the most sacred of all. Therefore the order of gradation is to be observed, comp. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 31:3 : σάββατα, νουμηνίας, ἑορτὰς, Sabbaths, new moons, feast days, in an affirmative sentence; but in a prohibition, the order is inverted, as in the passage quoted from Colossians above.—παρατηρεῖσθε) you observe, as if there were anything beside faith.—καὶ καιροὺς, and times) longer than months, shorter than a year, i.e. feasts מעדים, which the LXX. frequently translate καιροὺς.—ἐνιαυτοὺς, years) anniversary solemnities, for example, the commencement of the year with the month Tisri; for it cannot be said that the sabbatical years, which had been fixed for the land of Canaan, were observed by the Galatians, although this epistle was written about the time of the sabbatical year, which ended (Dion. era) A.D. 48; see Ord. Temp. (arrangement of dates), p. 281, 423 [Ed. ii. p. 242, 364].
 The παρὰ in the compound verb is evidently understood by Beng. in this sense, as often παρὰ is used elsewhere, sc. of something added incidentally, besides what is really essential. So ὁ νόμος παρεισῆλθεν, the law entered stealthily, and as something superadded incidentally, Romans 5:20.—ED.Verse 10. - Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years (ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε, καὶ μῆνας καὶ καιρούς καὶ ἐνιαυτούς); days ye are intent on observing, and months, and seasons, and years. In the compound verb παρατηρεῖν, the prepositional prefix, which often denotes "amiss," seems rather, from the sense of "at one's side," to give the verb the shade of close, intent observation. This may be shown by the circumstances to be of an insidious character; thus the active παρατηρεῖν in Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; Luke 14:1; Acts 9:24, and the middle παρατηροῦμαι, with no apparent difference of sense, in Luke 20:20. Josephus uses the verb of "keeping the sabbath days" ('Ant.,' 3:05, 8), and the noun παρατήρησις τῶν νομίμων, for "observance of the things which are according to the laws" ('Ant.,' 8:03, 9). The accumulation of nouns with the reiterated "and," furnishing another example of the δεινότης of St. Paul's style, betokens a scornfully impatient mimesis. These reactionaries were full of festival-observing pedantry - "days," "new moons," "festivals," "holy years," being always on their lips. The meaning of the first three of the nouns is partially suggested by Colossians 2:16, "Let no man judge you... in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day (ἑορτῆς νουμηνίας, σαββάτων);" in which passage, we may observe, there is a similar tone of half-mocking mimesis; where the same ideas are apparently presented, but in a reverse order. Comp. also 2 Chronicles 8:13, Offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles." The "days," then, in the present passage, we may suppose, are the sabbath days, together perhaps with the two fast days every week which the Jewish tradition prescribed (Luke 18:12). The "months" point to the new moons, the observance of which might occasion to these Gentiles considerable scope for discussion in adjusting themselves to the Jewish calendar, different no doubt from the calendar they had been hitherto used to. The "seasons" would be the annual festivals and fasts of the Jews, not only the three prescribed by the Levitical Law, but also certain others added by tradition, as the Feasts of Purim and of Dedication. So far we appear to be on tolerably sure ground. The fourth item, "years," may refer either to the sabbatical year (Leviticus 25:2-7), which at any rate latterly the Jews had got to pay much attention to (1 Macc. 6:49, 53; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:10, 6; also 14:16, 2; Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 5:4); or possibly the jubilee years, one such fiftieth year, it might be, falling about this time due. Bengel ('Gnomon') supposes that a sabbatical year might be being held A.D. , to which date he assigns this Epistle; while Wieseler ('Chronicles Synops.,' p. 204, etc., referred to by Bishop Lightfoot) offers a similar conjecture for the year A.D. autumn to A.D. autumn. Very striking is the impatience which the apostle manifests in overhearing as it were the eager discussions occupying the attention of these foolish Galatian Judaizers. Their interest, he perceived, was absorbed by matters which were properly for them things of no concern at all, but which, with ostentatious zeal as such persons do, they were making their concern. The cause of their doing so lay, we may believe, in the feeling which was growing up in their minds that such like outward observances would of themselves make their life acceptable to God; this general sentiment habiting itself, in the choice of the particular form of outward ceremonies to be adopted, in the observance of the celebrations given by God to his people for the season of their nonage. The principle itself was no doubt repugnant to the apostle's mind, even apart from the Judaizing form which it was assuming, and which threatened a defection from Christ. Curious regard to such matters he evidently on its own account regards with scorn and impatience. But therewith also the old venerable religion, localized at Jerusalem as its chief seat, would under the impulse of such sentiments be sure to perilously attract their minds away from the "reformation" (διόρθωσις, Hebrews 9:10) to which it had now been subjected; and they were in danger of losing, nay, had in great degree at least already lost, the zest which they once had fell in embracing the exceeding great and precious gifts which Christ had brought to them. What was there here but the "evil heart of unbelief" spoken of in Hebrews 3:12, "in departing from the living God," now manifesting himself to his people in his Son? It is this animus characterizing the behaviour of the Galatian Churchmen which marks its essential difference as compared with that observance of "days" and "meats" which in Romans 14. the apostle treats as a matter, relative to which Christians were to live in mutual tolerance. As long as a Christian continued to feel his relation to the Lord Jesus (Romans 14:6-9), it mattered not much if he thought it desirable to observe the Jewish sabbath or to abstain from eating animal food. He might, indeed, make himself thereby chargeable with spiritual unwisdom; the apostle clearly thought he would; but if he still held fast by Christ as the sole and all-sufficing Source to him of righteousness before God and of spiritual life, he was to be received and welcomed as a brother, without being vexed by interference with these foolish tenets of his. It became different when his care for such really indifferent externals took his heart away from a satisfied adherence to the Lord; then his ceremonialism or asceticism became rank and even fatal heresy. And this was what the apostle was fearing on behalf of his once so greatly cherished disciples in Galatia.
See on Mark 3:2, and see on John 18:12, and comp. Joseph. Ant. 3:5, 5, παρατηρεῖν τὰς ἑβδομάδας to watch the weeks. The word denotes careful, scrupulous observance, an intent watching lest any of the prescribed seasons should be overlooked. A merely legal or ritual religion always develops such scrupulousness.
Sacred months. Comp. Isaiah 66:23. In the preexilic time the months were mostly not named but numbered first, second, third, etc., and this usage appears also in the post-exilic writings of the O.T. Only four months had special names: the first, Abib, the ear month, which marked the beginning of harvest (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18): the second, Sif or Zv, the flower month (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:37): the seventh, Ethanum, the month of streaming rivers fed by the autumnal rains (1 Kings 8:2): the eighth, Bul, the month of rain (1 Kings 6:38). In the post-exilic time names for all the months came into use, the most of which appear in the Palmyrene inscriptions and among the Syrians. According to the Talmud, the returning Jews brought these names from Babylon. The names of all are found in a month table discovered at Nineveh. Nsan corresponds to Abib (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7), answering to the latter part of March and April. Jjar answered to Ziv (Targ. 2 Chronicles 30:2), our May. Tisri to Ethanim, the seventh month of the ecclesiastical, and the first of the civil year, corresponding to October. Marcheschwan (see Joseph. Ant. 1:3, 3) answered to Bul and November. Tisri, being the seventh or sabbatical month, was peculiarly sacred, and the fourth (Sivan, June), fifth (Ab, August), and tenth (Tebeth, January) were distinguished by special fasts.
Sabbatical years, occurring every seventh year. Not years of Jubilee, which had ceased to be celebrated after the time of Solomon.
LinksGalatians 4:10 Interlinear
Galatians 4:10 Parallel Texts
Galatians 4:10 NIV
Galatians 4:10 NLT
Galatians 4:10 ESV
Galatians 4:10 NASB
Galatians 4:10 KJV
Galatians 4:10 Bible Apps
Galatians 4:10 Parallel
Galatians 4:10 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 4:10 Chinese Bible
Galatians 4:10 French Bible
Galatians 4:10 German Bible