Galatians 4:15
Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
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(15) Where.—The reading of the Received text is “What,” which, however, must be taken as if it were equivalent to “where,” the reading which has the strongest attestation.

The blessedness ye spake of.—The Greek is a single word: your felicitation of yourselves; your boast of blessedness; or (as we should say) your boasted blessedness. What has become of all those loud assertions in which you were once heard declaring yourselves “blest” in the presence of the Apostle?

For.—You did declare yourselves blest; for, &c.

Ye would have plucked out your own eyes.—The word “own” should be struck out, and the emphasis laid on “eyes.” The inference which has been drawn from this passage, that St. Paul suffered from an affection of the eyes, hardly seems to hold good. The “eyes” may be mentioned only as something peculiarly dear and precious. Comp. the Old Testament phrase, “to keep as the apple of an eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2).

Galatians 4:15-16. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of — On which ye so congratulated one another? Since ye once thought yourselves so happy in my presence with, and my preaching among you, how happens it that you are now so alienated from me? For if it had been possible — If it had been a thing allowable, and I could have received any benefit by it; ye would have plucked out your eyes, and have given them to me — As a convincing proof of your affection for me. Am I become your enemy — Or have you any reason to account me such; because I tell you the truth? — And bear a faithful testimony to the uncorrupted gospel, which I desire to maintain among you in all the purity in which I planted it? “The apostle’s address, in thus putting the Galatians in mind of their former affection and gratitude to him, as their spiritual father, and his contrasting it in this verse with their present temper of mind, is admirable.”

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.Where is then the blessedness - Margin, "What was" - in accordance with the Greek. The words "ye spake of" are not in the Greek, and should have been printed in italics. But they obscure the sense at any rate. This is not to be regarded as a question, asking what had become of the blessedness, implying that it had departed; but it is rather to be regarded as an exclamation, referring to the happiness of that moment, and their affection and joy when they thus received him. "What blessedness you had then! How happy was that moment! What tenderness of affection! What overflowing joy!" It was a time full of joy, and love, and affectionate confidence. So Tyndale well renders it, "How happy were ye then!" In this interpretation, Doddridge, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, Koppe, Chandler, and others concur. Locke renders it, "What benedictions did you then pour out on me!"

For I bear you record - Itestify.

Ye would have plucked out your own eyes ... - No higher proof of attachment could have been given. They loved him so much, that they would have given to him anything, however dear; they would have done anything to contribute to his welfare. How changed, now that they had abandoned his doctrines, and yielded themselves to the guidance of those who taught a wholly different doctrine!

15. Where, &c.—Of what value was your congratulation (so the Greek for "blessedness" expresses) of yourselves, on account of your having among you me, the messenger of the Gospel, considering how entirely you have veered about since? Once you counted yourselves blessed in being favored with my ministry.

ye would have plucked out your own eyes—one of the dearest members of the body—so highly did you value me: a proverbial phrase for the greatest self-sacrifice (Mt 5:29). Conybeare and Howson think that this particular form of proverb was used with reference to a weakness in Paul's eyes, connected with a nervous frame, perhaps affected by the brightness of the vision described, Ac 22:11; 2Co 12:1-7. "You would have torn out your own eyes to supply the lack of mine." The divine power of Paul's words and works, contrasting with the feebleness of his person (2Co 10:10), powerfully at first impressed the Galatians, who had all the impulsiveness of the Celtic race from which they sprang. Subsequently they soon changed with the fickleness which is equally characteristic of Celts.

Some understand the blessedness here spoken of in a passive sense; you were then a blessed and happy people, receiving the doctrine of the gospel in the truth and purity of it; what is now become of that blessedness? But both the preceding and the following words seem to rule the sense otherwise, viz. Where is that blessedness which you predicted of me? You called me then blessed, and showed me such a dear affection that you would, if it would have done me good, have parted with what was dearest to you.

Where is then the blessedness you spake of?.... Or, as some copies read, "what was then your blessedness?" what, and how great was it? meaning, when the Gospel was first preached to them by him; when Christ was revealed to them as God's salvation; when the doctrines of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, and full pardon by his atonement and satisfaction by his sacrifice, were published among them; when the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts, and the Spirit of Christ was sent thither, crying "Abba", Father: but, alas! where was this blessedness now, since they were turning to the weak and beggarly elements of the ceremonial law, and were inclined to observe its ordinances, and bring themselves hereby into a state of bondage? They were happy persons while under the ministry of the apostle; as a Gospel ministry is a great happiness to any that enjoy it; for this is the way to find eternal life, to have spiritual peace and pleasure, joy and comfort, light and liberty, whereas a contrary doctrine leads to all the reverse. The apostle hereby puts them in mind how they were looked upon as happy persons by himself at that time, whom they received with so much respect and reverence, and his ministry with so much readiness and cheerfulness, and to so much profit and advantage; and also by other churches who were sensible of the high favour they enjoyed, by having so great a preacher of the Gospel among them; and even at that time they thought themselves the happiest persons in the world, and that they could not have been more so, unless they had had Christ himself in person among them; so beautiful were the feet of this bringer of glad tidings to them:

for I bear you record, that if it had been possible ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me; so fully persuaded was the apostle of their strong and sincere affection for him at that time, that he was ready to attest the truth of this in any form to any persons; that were it a possible thing for them, and could it have been of any advantage to him, they would even have plucked out their eyes, than which nothing is dearer, or more useful to a man, and have parted with them to him, and for his sake; and doubtless persons so affected would cheerfully have laid down their lives for him; but things had taken another turn since.

{p} Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

(p) What a talk was there abroad in the world among men, how happy you were when you received the gospel?

Galatians 4:15. Of what nature, then, was your self-congratulation? A sorrowful question! for the earnestness with which the Galatians had then congratulated themselves on the apostle’s account, contrasting so sadly with their present circumstances, compelled him to infer that that congratulation was nothing but an effervescent, fleeting, and fickle excitement. Hence the reading ποῦ οὖν (see the critical notes) is a gloss in substance correct; comp. Romans 3:27. Others explain it: On what was your self-congratulation grounded? Why did you pronounce yourselves so happy? So Bengel, Koppe, Winer, Matthias, and Schott.[196] In this case qualis would have to be taken in the peculiar sense: how caused, which, however, would require to be distinctly suggested by the context. Others still, as Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Piscator, Calovius, Wolf, and including Baumgarten-Crusius, Hilgenfeld, Reiche, Wieseler, interpret: “How great (comp. Ephesians 1:14) therefore was your congratulation! how very happy you pronounced yourselves!” But then the ὥστε in Galatians 4:16 would be deprived of its logical reference, which, according to our interpretation, is contained in τίς οὖν ὁ μακαρ. ὑμ. And the words would, in fact, contain merely a superfluous and feeble exclamation.

The μακαρισμός (comp. Romans 4:6; Romans 4:9), with which ὑμῶν stands as the genitive of the subject (comp. Plat. Rep. p. 590 D), and not as the genitive of the object (Matthias),—for the object is obvious of itself,—refers to the circumstance that they had congratulated themselves, not that they had been congratulated by Paul and others (Jerome, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius), or even that they (the Galatians) had congratulated the apostle (Estius, Locke, Michaelis). See the sequel. The word, synonymous with εὐδαιμονισμός, is never equivalent to μακαριότης (Erasmus, Luther, Piscator, Homberg, Calovius, comp. Olsh.).

μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ.] justification of the expression just used, ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν.

τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς κ.τ.λ.] A description of the overwhelming love, which was ready for any sacrifice. Such proverbial modes of expression, based upon the high value and indispensableness of the eyes (Proverbs 7:2; Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8; Matthew 18:9; and comp. Vulpius and Doering, ad Catull. i. 3. 5), are current in all languages. Nevertheless, Lomler (in the Annal. d. gesammt. theol. Lit. 1831, p. 276), Rückert, and Schott have explained the passage quite literally: that Paul had some malady of the eyes, and here states that, if it had been possible, the Galatians would have given him their own sound eyes. But considering the currency of the proverbial sense, how arbitrarily is this view hazarded, seeing that nowhere else do we find a trace of any malady of the eyes in the apostle![197] Rückert and Schott, indeed, found specially on εἰ δυνατόν, and maintain that, to express the meaning of the ordinary view, Paul must have written: “if it had been necessary.” But in any case the idea was a purely imaginary one, and as a matter of fact practically impossible (ἀδύνατον); if Paul, therefore, had said: “if it had been necessary,” he would at any rate have expressed himself unsuitably. Besides, εἰ δυνατόν expresses the self-sacrificing love in a yet far stronger degree. And, if Paul had not spoken proverbially, the whole assurance would have been so hyperbolical, that he certainly could not have stood sponsor for it with the earnest μαρτυρῶ ὑμῖν.

ἐξορύξ.] the standing word for the extirpation of the eyes. See Jdg 16:21; 1 Samuel 11:2; Herod. viii. 116; Joseph. Antt. vi. 5. 1; Wetstein, in loc.

ἐδώκατέ μοι] namely, as property, as a love-pledge of the most joyful self-sacrificing devotedness, not for use (Hofmann, following older expositors),—a view which, if we do not explain it of a disease of the eyes in the apostle’s case, leads to a monstrous idea. Without ἄν (see the critical notes) the matter is expressed as more indubitable, the condition contained in the protasis being rhetorically disregarded. See Hermann, ad Soph. El. 902; de part, ἄν, p. 70 ff.; Bremi, ad Lys. Exc. IV. p. 439 f.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Symp. p. 198 C; Buttmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 490. But Ellendt (Lex. Soph. I. p. 125) well remarks, “Sed cavendum, ne in discrimine utriusque generis, quod pertenue est, constituendo argutemur.”

[196] Schott, in opposition to the context, and all the more strangely seeing that he does not even read ἦν, but merely supplies it, lays stress upon this ἦν: “illo tempore, nunc non item;” comp. Oecumenius.

[197] Lomler and Schott trace back the alleged disease of the eyes to the blindness at Damascus, and identify it with the σκόλοψ (2 Corinthians 12:7). The latter idea is just as mistaken as the former. For the σκόλοψ was, in the apostle’s view, an operation of Satan, whereas the blindness at Damascus arose from the effulgence of the celestial Christ. And this blindness, as it had arisen supernaturally, was also supernaturally removed (Acts 9:17-18). That a chronic malady of the eyes should have been left behind, would be entirely opposed to the analogy of the N.T. miracles of healing, of which a complete cure was always the characteristic.

Galatians 4:15. ποῦ οὖ … The MSS. are decisive in favour of ποῦ, which makes excellent sense. “You congratulated yourselves,” it is urged, “on my coming among you, you welcomed me as an angel, as Christ Himself: what has become of that feeling now? where is your satisfaction at your lot?”—ἐδώκατε. Some MSS. insert αν before this verb: the addition would be necessary in Attic Greek to express the conditional force of the clause, but is not needed in Hellenistic Greek—τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν. The full force of ὑμῶν may be given in English by the rendering your own eyes: for it lays stress on the contrast between their eyes and those of Paul. The addition is significant, and strongly confirms the view that his eyes were the organ specially affected by his malady.

15. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of] The last three words are not in the original. They are a paraphrase (and so an interpretation) of the genitive of the 2nd personal pronoun. Does this genitive express the object or the subject of the noun rendered ‘blessedness’? This noun occurs Romans 4:6. Here it may either mean ‘your blessedness’ (as A.V.), the blessedness which you experienced in embracing the Gospel of justification by faith apart from the works of the law. Or it may mean, your applause of me. On the whole the former is to be preferred, as bearing on the general argument of the Epistle. The latter is however in full accordance with the immediate context.

your own eyes] Rather, your eyes. Some have inferred from the A.V. that St Paul was suffering from loss of eyesight. But the emphasis is not on ‘your’ but on ‘eyes’. ‘There is no sacrifice which you were not ready to make to shew your zeal and affection towards me’.

Galatians 4:15. Μακαρισμὸς) Μακαρισμὸς is an expression derived from μακαρίζω [I congratulate]. You were thankful for [You congratulated yourselves on account of] the Gospel, and for me its messenger: what cause was there for this thankfulness [congratulation of yourselves], if you now treat me with disdain?[38]—ὀφθαλμοὺς, eyes) very dear.

[38] ἐδώκατέ μοι, you would have given me) You would thus testify a grateful mind, on the ground that you obtained so great blessedness through me. That spontaneous affection is not to be looked for on the part of any mere mercenary.—V. g.

Verse 15. - Where is then (or, what was then) the blessedness ye spake of? (ποῦ οϋν [Receptus τίς οϋν η΅ν] ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν;); where, then, is that gratulation of yourselves (or, of yours)? The reading, ποῦ οϋν, which is that of the best manuscripts, is now generally accepted in preference to that of the Textus Receptus, τίς οϋν η΅ν, in which, however, τίς οϋν stands on a higher footing of evidence than the remaining word η΅ν. This latter reading may be taken to mean: either, "Of what sort, then, was that gratulation of yours? "that is, what was its value in respect to the depth of conviction on which it was founded? - τίς being qualis, as Luke 10:22; Luke 19:3, etc., which would bring us to much the same result as ποῦ: or, "How great, then, was that gratulation of yours!" But the "then" (οϋν) comes in lamely; τότε ("at that time") would have been more in place; and, further, it is questionable whether the τίς of admiration ever occurs without the wonder taking a tinge of inquiry, as, for example, Mark 6:2; Luke 5:21; Colossians 1:27, which would be out of place here. With the more approved reading, ποῦ οϋν, the apostle asks, "What is, then, become of that gratulation of yourselves?" The "then" recites the fact, implied in the description given of their former behaviour, that they did once felicitate themselves on the apostle's having brought them the gospel. This is more directly brought into view in the words which follow. As the verb μακαρίζω means "pronounce happy," as Luke 1:48 and James 5:11, the substantive μακαρισμὸς denotes "pronouncing one to be happy;" as Romans 4:6, 9. So Clement of Rome ('Ad Cor.,' 50), who weaves the apostle's words into his own sentence with the same meaning. This felicitation must have been pronounced by the Galatians upon themselves, not upon the apostle; the apostle would have spoken of himself on the object of their εὐλογία, not of their μακαρισμός. For I bear you record (μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν); for I bear you witness; testify on your behalf; the phrase always denoting commendation (Romans 10:2; Colossians 4:13). Compare "Ye were running well," Galatians 5:3. The verb denotes a deliberate, almost solemn, averment. That, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me (ὅτι εἰ δυνατόν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ [Receptus, α}ν ἐδώκατε] μοι,); that, if possible, ye had spirted out your eyes to give them to me. The phrase, ἐξορύσσειν ὀφθαλμούς, occurs in the Septuagint of Judges 16:21 and 1 Samuel 11:2, Hebrew, "bore out the eyes." The omission of the ἄν, which is rejected by recent editors, perhaps intimates the certainty and readiness with which they would have done it; but the particle occurs very sparingly in the New Testament as compared with classical Greek. There seems something strange in the specification of this particular form of evidencing zealous attachment. If there had otherwise appeared any question of making gifts, the apostle might have been construed to mean, "Ye were ready to give me anything, your very eyes even;" but this is not the case. Possibly the particular mention of "the Churches of Galatia" in 1 Corinthians 16:1 may have been occasioned by their having shown an especial readiness, even at the apostle's second sojourn among them, to take part in the collection referred to; or by their having been the first Churches he came to in that particular tour, the directions which he gave to them being given also to all the Churches he went on to visit; but on this point see Introd. p. 16. The tone of Galatians 6:6-10 does not betoken especial open-handedness on their part, unless, perhaps, the words, "let us not grow weary," hint at a liberality once displayed but now declined from. On the whole, this specification of "eyes" seems rather to point to there having been something amiss with the apostle's own eyes, either from ophthalmia or as the effect of personal outrage perpetrated upon him. It is especially deserving of notice how the apostle, in the two clauses of this verse, links together their joy in their newly found Christian blessedness with their grateful love to himself; the latter fact is adduced as proof of the former. Their gospel happiness, he feels, was indissolubly woven in with their attachment to him: if they let go their joy in Christ Jesus, as, apart from any qualification to be acquired by observances of the Law of Moses, their all-sufficient righteousness, they must also of necessity become estranged from him, who was nothing if not the exponent and herald to them of that happiness. This consideration is of great moment for the right understanding of the next verse. Galatians 4:15Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? (ποῦ οὖν ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν)

Μακαρισμὸς, Po. Comp. Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9. Not blessedness, but pronouncing blessed, felicitation. "What had become of your self gratulation on my presence and teaching?" Ye spake of is an attempt to render ὑμῶν. Better, "Where is then that gratulation of yours?"

I bear you record (μαρτυρῶ)

Better, witness. Bear record is common in A.V. for bear witness. Record is used both of a person, as God is my record, Philippians 1:8; I call God for a record, 1 Corinthians 1:23, and in the sense of evidence or testimony. So Shaks. Richard II. I. i.:30:

"First, Heaven be the record to my speech."

Plucked out (ἐξορύξαντες)

Lit. dug out. Only here, and Mark 2:4, of digging up the roof in order to let down the paralytic before Jesus.

Your own eyes (τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν)

Better, your eyes. Eyes, as most treasured possessions. Comp. Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8. Some have found here evidence that Paul was afflicted with disease of the eyes. See Dr. John Brown's Horae Subsecivae. Accordingly they explain these words, "You would have given me your own eyes to replace mine." But ὑμῶν is unemphatic, your. All attempts to connect the passage with Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 7:7) are to be dismissed as fanciful.

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