Galatians 4:14
And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
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(14) My temptation which was in my flesh.—The true reading is here, your temptation in my fleshi.e., my bodily infirmities, which might have been a temptation to you to reject me. St. Paul seems to have suffered from grievous bodily infirmity, which he elsewhere (2Corinthians 12:7) describes as a “thorn (or rather, stake) in the flesh.” The effects of this were seen in his personal appearance, which his enemies described as “mean” (2Corinthians 10:10); and he himself felt it as a corrective against any tendency to spiritual pride (2Corinthians 12:7). An attack of this malady came upon him during his visit to Galatia, and it was with health shattered by this that he first preached the gospel to the Galatians. Still, to their credit, they took no notice of it, and gave him the warmest possible reception. As to the nature of the malady referred to, see Notes on 2 Corinthians 12.

Despised not, nor rejected.—The second of these two words is stronger than would appear from the English version. It is used of the expression of physical disgust: ye despised not, nor loathed. The Apostle says that the Galatians did not despise “their temptation,” meaning “the thing (malady) which they were tempted to despise.”

Even as Christ Jesus.—You showed to the ambassador of Christ as much enthusiasm, as deep and ardent an affection, as you could have shown to Christ Himself.

4:12-18 The apostle desires that they would be of one mind with him respecting the law of Moses, as well as united with him in love. In reproving others, we should take care to convince them that our reproofs are from sincere regard to the honour of God and religion and their welfare. The apostle reminds the Galatians of the difficulty under which he laboured when he first came among them. But he notices, that he was a welcome messenger to them. Yet how very uncertain are the favour and respect of men! Let us labour to be accepted of God. You once thought yourselves happy in receiving the gospel; have you now reason to think otherwise? Christians must not forbear speaking the truth, for fear of offending others. The false teachers who drew the Galatians from the truth of the gospel were designing men. They pretended affection, but they were not sincere and upright. An excellent rule is given. It is good to be zealous always in a good thing; not for a time only, or now and then, but always. Happy would it be for the church of Christ, if this zeal was better maintained.And my temptation - "My trial," the thing which was to me a trial and calamity. The meaning is, that he was afflicted with various calamities and infirmities, but that this did not hinder their receiving him as an angel from heaven. There is, however, a considerable variety in the mss. on this verse. Many mss., instead of "my temptation," read "your temptation;" and Mill maintains that this is the true reading. Griesbach hesitates between the two. But it is not very important to determine which is the true reading. If it should be "your," then it means that they were tempted by his infirmities to reject him; and so it amounts to about the same thing. The general sense is, that he had some bodily infirmity, perhaps some periodically returning disease, that was a great trial to him, which they bore with, with great patience and affection. What that was, he has not informed us, and conjecture is vain.

But received me as an angel of God - With the utmost respect, as if I had been an angel sent from God.

Even as Christ Jesus - As you would have done the Redeemer himself. Learn hence:

(1) That the Lord Jesus is superior to an angel of God.

(2) that the highest proof of attachment to a minister, is to receive him as the Saviour would be received.

(3) it showed their attachment to the Lord Jesus, that they received his apostle as they would have received the Saviour himself; compare Matthew 10:40.

14. my temptation—The oldest manuscripts read, "your temptation." My infirmity, which was, or might have been, a "temptation," or trial, to you, ye despised not, that is, ye were not tempted by it to despise me and my message. Perhaps, however, it is better to punctuate and explain as Lachmann, connecting it with Ga 4:13, "And (ye know) your temptation (that is, the temptation to which ye were exposed through the infirmity) which was in my flesh. Ye despised not (through natural pride), nor rejected (through spiritual pride), but received me," &c. "Temptation does not mean here, as we now use the word, tendency to an evil habit, but BODILY TRIAL."

as an angel of God—as a heaven-inspired and sent messenger from God: angel means "messenger" (Mal 2:7). Compare the phrase, 2Sa 19:27, a Hebrew and Oriental one for a person to be received with the highest respect (Zec 12:8). An angel is free from the flesh, infirmity, and temptation.

as Christ—being Christ's representative (Mt 10:40). Christ is Lord of angels.

And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; the apostle saith they were so far from injuring him, (as he had said, Galatians 4:12), that they had expressed great kindness to him: for though, when he first came amongst them to preach the gospel, he was a man of no great presence; but, in the judgment of some, vile and base; or was full of bodily weakness and disease, was persecuted by men; yet they did not reject nor despise him, for those temptations he had in the flesh: by which he means, the same things he before meant by infirmities, for both bodily weaknesses, and sufferings for the gospel, are temptations, or, as the word signifieth, trials.

But received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus; nay, (saith he), you were so for from rejecting or despising me upon that account, that (on the contrary) you received me as if I had been an angel; yea, if Jesus Christ himself had come amongst you, you could not have been more kind to him than you were to me. This he tells them, partly, to let them know, that what he had spoken was not out of any ill will or prejudice to them; partly, to retain their good will, that they might not show themselves uncertain and inconstant in their judgments and affections; and partly, (as the following verse testifieth), to show the levity of some of them, who had too much forgotten their first judgment of him, and value for him.

And my temptation which was in my flesh,.... The same with the infirmity of his flesh, and which was a trial of his faith and patience, and every other grace, as the afflictions of the saints be. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version read, "your temptation in my flesh"; that which was a trial of them, whether they would receive him or not. This

ye despised not; nor the apostle on the account of it, nor his ministry; they thought never the worse of him, nor of the Gospel he preached, because of this:

nor rejected; him, nor the counsel of God declared by him,

but received me; as they did, into their cities and places of worship, into their houses, and into their hearts and affections: and that

as an angel of God; with all that reverence and respect, that high esteem, veneration, and affection, as if one of the celestial inhabitants had been sent down from heaven to bring them the good tidings of the Gospel: or "as a messenger of God", as the phrase may be rendered: as one that had his mission and commission from God, which was not at all disputed by them: but they looked upon him under that character, and regarded him as such,

even as Christ Jesus; as his ambassador, as representing him, as being in his stead; yea, if he had been personally present as man among them, they could not have shown greater respect to him as such, than they did to the apostle; for as for any religious worship and adoration, that they did not offer to him; and had they, he would have addressed them in like manner he did the inhabitants of Lystra, Acts 14:14. Now since they showed him so much respect, notwithstanding all his infirmities, temptations, and afflictions, when he first preached the Gospel; what should hinder that they should not pay the same regard to him now, by abiding in his doctrine and following his example, since he was the same man in his principles and practices now as then?

And my {n} temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as {o} Christ Jesus.

(n) Those daily troubles with which the Lord tried me among you.

(o) For the sake of my ministry.

Galatians 4:14. Still dependent on ὅτι, as is logically required by the contrast to οὐδέν με ἠδικ., which is introduced by οἴδατε δὲ, ὅτι.

τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου κ.τ.λ.] As to the reading ὑμῶν, see the critical notes. The sense is: that ye were put to the proof as respected my bodily weakness (namely, as to your receiving and accepting my announcements, demands, etc., notwithstanding this my suffering and impotent appearance; see the antithesis, ἀλλʼ ὡς κ.τ.λ.); this proof ye have not rejected with disdain and aversion, but on the contrary have submitted yourselves to it so excellently, that ye received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. The καί is not and yet (Koppe, Winer, Matthies), but the simple and, continuing the address (οἴδατε, ὅτι κ.τ.λ.).

ἑν τῇ σαρκί μου] is the more precise definition of τὸν πειρασμ. ὑμῶν, specifying wherein the readers had to undergo a trial,—namely, in the fact of Paul’s having then preached to them in such bodily weakness. Comp. Plat. Phil. p. 21 A: ἐν σοὶ πειρώμεθα, upon thee we would make the trial. Hom. Il. xix. 384, πειρήθηἐν ἔντεσι. Comp. also βασανίζεσθαι ἐν, Plat. Pol. vi. p. 503 A. Hence ἐν τῇ σαρκί did not require the connecting article, as it is in reality blended with τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν so as to form one idea. See on Galatians 3:26. And the definition of the sense of ἐν τῇ σαρκι μου is derived from διʼ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκός in Galatians 4:13. Fritzsche, l.c. p. 245, objects to the sense which is given by the reading ὑμῶν: 1. sententiam ab h. l. abhorrere. But how aptly does the negative assertion, that the Galatians, when they were put to the trial by the apostle’s sickness, did not despise and reject this trial, correspond with the positive idea, that, on the contrary, they have received him as an angel of God! And how suitable are the two ideas together to the previous οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε! 2. Sententiam verbis parum aptis conceptam esse; expectaras καλῶς ὑπεμείνατε. But this καλῶς ὑπεμείνατε is in fact most exhaustively represented by the negative and positive testimony taken together; the negative testimony expresses the acceptance, and the positive the standing, of the πειρασμός. 3. The sense does not suit the following ἀλλʼἐδέξασθέ με. But even with the adoption of the reading ὑμῶν the rejection of the apostle is in point of fact negatived; hence τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶνἐξεπτύσατε cannot be inappropriate to the ἐδέξασθέ με which follows. Lachmann (comp. Buttmann in Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 379) makes καὶ τὸν πειρασμ. ὑμ. ἐν τ. σ. μ. dependent on οἴδατε (placing a colon after ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου), whereby the flow of the discourse is quite unnecessarily broken.

ἐξεπτύσατε] expresses the sense of ἐξουθ. figuratively and by way of climax, adding the idea of detestation. Comp. Revelation 3:16, and the Latin despuere, respuere. So forcible an expression of the negative serves to give the greater prominence to the positive counterpart which follows. In the other Greek writers, besides the simple πτύειν (Soph. Ant. 649. 1217), there occur only καταπτύειν τινός, ἀποπτύειν τινά (4Ma 3:18; Eur. Troad. 668, Hec. 1265; Hes. ἔργ. 724), and διαπτύειν τινά (in Philo also παραπτύειν) in this metaphorical sense (see Kypke, II. p. 280; Ruhnk. Ep. crit. p. 149; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 17); but ἐκπτύειν is always used in the proper sense (Hom. Od. v. 322; Aristoph. Vesp. 792; Anthol. Theodorid. 2; Apoll. Rhod. 478), as also ἐμπτύειν τινί (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 17). Even in the passage quoted by Kypke, Plut. de fort. vel virt. Alex. I. p. 328, it is used in the proper sense, because ὥσπερ χαλινόν stands beside it. We are bound to acknowledge this deviation from the Greek usage, and it must be considered as caused by ἐξουθ., as in fact Paul is fond of repeating, not without emphasis, compounds presenting the same preposition (Galatians 2:4; Galatians 2:13; Romans 2:18; Romans 11:7, et al.).

ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν] a climax added asyndetically in the excitement of feeling, and presenting to a still greater extent than ὡς ἄγγελ. Θεοῦ (Hebrews 1:4; Php 2:10; Colossians 1:16) the high reverence and love with which he had been received by them, and that as a divine messenger. Comp. Matthew 10:40; John 13:20. Observe also, that even among the Galatians Paul doubtless preached in the first instance to the Jews (whose loving behaviour towards the apostle was then shared in by the Gentiles also); hence the comparison with an angel and with Christ in our passage is in keeping with the apostle’s historical recollection, and does not render it at all necessary to assume an ὕστερον πρότερον in the representation, which would thus anticipate the already Christian view.


According to the Recepta τ. πειρ. μου τὸν ἐν τ. σ. μ., or, as the first μου has special evidence against it, according to the reading τὸν πειρ. τὸν ἐν τ. σ. μ., the explanation must be: “My bodily temptation ye have not despised or disdainfully rejected,” that is, “Ye have not on account of my sickness, by which I have been tried of God, rejected me, as the bodily impotence in which it exhibited me to you might have induced you to do.” Taken by itself, this sense, and the mode of expressing it, would be suitable enough (in opposition to Wieseler), even without the hypothesis, based on ἐξεπτ., of some nauseous sickness (in opposition to Fritzsche).

Galatians 4:14. τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν. The best MSS. all read ὑμῶν, not μου or μου τον. The accusative τὸν πειρασμόν is not governed by ἐξουθενήσατε or ἐξεπτύσατε, whose real object is the με which follows ἐδέξασθε: it is really a pendent accusative in apposition to the sentence: As for the temptation to you in my flesh (i.e., the temptation to reject me with contempt and disgust on account of my diseased state), you did not.…

14. And my temptation] The true reading is probably ‘your temptation’. The Apostle’s sickness was a trial of their faith. Like his Divine Master, he had no natural ‘form nor comeliness’ (2 Corinthians 10:10), and when to this natural disqualification bodily disorder was added, they might well have asked if such a teacher had any claim on their acceptance.

ye despised not nor rejected] Very strong expressions, implying that there was something repulsive in the character of the disease.

rejected] Nearly = ‘loathed’. The construction is simple, the ‘temptation’ being put for the ‘sickness’ which constituted it, and which they might have regarded with contempt and disgust.

even as Christ Jesus] An unconscious fulfilment on the part of the Galatians of our Lord’s words, ‘He that receiveth you, receiveth me’, Matthew 10:40.

Galatians 4:14. Τὸν πειρασμόν μου, my temptation) i.e. me with [i.e. notwithstanding] my temptation. Holy men, even apostles, in former times did not conceal their temptations, as men do now, not even in public.—ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου, in my flesh) He mentions Paul in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 12:7.—οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε, ye did not despise) through natural pride.—οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, nor rejected) through spiritual pride, with still greater contempt. There is a distinction—(1.) In respect to the object, the temptation in the flesh; and these temptations might have seemed worthy of contempt in a twofold way. (2.) In relation to the antithesis, which is twofold:

α) you did not despise [ἐξουθενήσατε] me, but—as an angel: who might be greatly esteemed from the place which he occupies in creation, for he has a most excellent nature, on account of which even carnal man cannot but magnify the angels:

β) nor rejected [ἐξεπτύσατε], but—as Christ: this is more from a spiritual point of view [His spiritual relation to us].—ἄγγελον, an angel) The flesh, infirmity, even temptation, are unknown to angels; wherefore to receive one as an angel, is to receive him with great veneration.—Χριστὸν, Christ) who is greater than the angels.

Verse 14. - And my temptation which was in my flesh (καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν [Receptus, πειρασμόν μου τὸν] ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου) i and that which was a temptation for you in my flesh. "In my flesh;" that is, in my bodily appearance. Instead of ὑμῶν, the Textus Receptus gives μου τόν: but ὑμῶν is the reading of the best manuscripts, and, as the more difficult one, was the one most likely to be tampered with; it is accordingly accepted by recent editors with great unanimity. "My trial "would add to the sentence a tinge of pathetic self-commiseration. "Your trial" brings out the sentiment how greatly his affliction would be likely to indispose his hearers to listen to his message; it "tested" very severely the sincerity and depth of their religious sensibility. Ye despised not, nor rejected (οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε); ye scorned not, nor loathed. The disfigurement on the apostle's person, whatever it was, did not detain their attention; they did not, at least not long, occupy themselves with indulging their feelings of ridicule or disgust; their sense of it got to be soon absorbed in their admiration of the apostle's character and in their delight in the heavenly message which he brought to them. The verb ἐξουθενέω, in the New Testament found only in St. Luke and St. Paul, means always, not merely "to despise," but to express contempt for a thing, "to scout" (comp. Luke 18:9; Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11; Romans 14:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:20). Grotius observes of ἐξεπτύσατε that it is a figurative expression drawn from our spitting out of our mouth what greatly offends our taste; quoting Catullus ('Carm.' 50, 'Ad Lic.'): "Precesque nostras, Oramus, ne despuas." Critics have remarked that ἐκπτύειν, which is not found elsewhere used thus metaphorically as ἀποπτύειν is, is probably so applied here by the apostle to produce a kind of alliteration after ἐξουθενήσατε: as if it were "Non reprobastis, nec respuistis." But received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus (ἀλλ ὡς ἄγγελον Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με ὡς Ξριστὸν Ἰησοῦν); but as an angel of God received ye me, as Christ Jesus. Their first feeling of aversation from his personal appearance gave place to emotions of delight in his message of which he seemed as it were the embodiment, and of reverential love and gratitude to himself. His manifest absorption in the glad tidings he brought, and in love to his Lord, irradiating his whole being with his unbounded benevolence and gladsomeness as the messenger of peace (Ephesians 2:17), was recognized by them with a response of unspeakable enthusiasm. A faint parallel is afforded by 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Galatians 4:14My temptation which was in my flesh (τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου)

The correct reading is πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν your temptation. The trial to which they were subjected by his bodily infirmity (Galatians 4:13), and which might have tempted them to treat him with indifference.

Ye despised not nor rejected (οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε)

Commonly explained by making both verbs govern your temptation. Thus the meaning would be: "You were tempted to treat my preaching contemptuously because of my bodily infirmity; but you did not despise nor reject that which was a temptation to you." This is extremely far fetched, awkward, and quite without parallel in Paul's writings or elsewhere. It does not suit the following but received me, etc. It lays the stress on the Galatians' resistance of a temptation to despise Paul; whereas the idea of a temptation is incidental. On this construction we should rather expect Paul to say: "Ye did despise and repudiate this temptation." Better, make your temptation, etc., dependent on ye know (Galatians 4:13); place a colon after flesh, and make both verbs govern me in the following clause. Rend. "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you the first time, and (ye know) your temptation which was in my flesh: ye did not despise nor reject me, but received me." The last clause thus forms one of a series of short and detached clauses beginning with Galatians 4:10. Ὁυκ ἐξουθενήσατε ye did not set at nought, from οὐδέν nothing. The form οὐθέν occurs Luke 22:35; Luke 23:14; Acts 19:27; Acts 26:26; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 11:8. For the compound here, comp. Luke 18:9; Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11; 2 Corinthians 10:10. oClass. Ἑξεπτύσατε spurned, N.T.o. Lit. spat out. A strong metaphor, adding the idea of contempt to that of setting at nought. Comp. Hom. Od. v. 322; Aristoph. Wasps, 792. The two verbs express contemptuous indifference. Ἑμέσαι to vomit, as a figure of contemptuous rejection, is found in Revelation 3:16. The simple πτύειν to spit only in the literal sense in N.T. Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23; John 9:6, and no other compound occurs.

As an angel

Bengel says: "The flesh, infirmity, temptation, are known to angels; wherefore to receive as an angel is to receive with great veneration."

As Jesus Christ

With even higher honor than an angel. Comp. Matthew 10:40; John 13:20.

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