Galatians 4:2
But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
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(2) Under tutors and governors.—The distinction between these two terms is that between guardians of the person and stewards of the property. It would be better to translate, guardians and stewards.

Until the time appointed of the father.—From this it would appear that the length of the minority was determined by the father. This, however, was not the case either in Greek or Roman law; and the suggestion that the father may have had larger powers in Galatia than elsewhere, though supported by some remote indications, seems to be one of those subtleties in which learning sometimes overreaches itself; it being unlikely that the short sojourn of the Apostle in Galatia would have been enough to make him acquainted with the technicalities of the Galatian code. It is more probable that the application of the analogy has here come in to modify the statement of the analogy itself. The minority of the human race is fixed by the heavenly Father, though the earthly father, in disposing of his children, has to conform to another law than his own will.

4:1-7 The apostle deals plainly with those who urged the law of Moses together with the gospel of Christ, and endeavoured to bring believers under its bondage. They could not fully understand the meaning of the law as given by Moses. And as that was a dispensation of darkness, so of bondage; they were tied to many burdensome rites and observances, by which they were taught and kept subject like a child under tutors and governors. We learn the happier state of Christians under the gospel dispensation. From these verses see the wonders of Divine love and mercy; particularly of God the Father, in sending his Son into the world to redeem and save us; of the Son of God, in submitting so low, and suffering so much for us; and of the Holy Spirit, in condescending to dwell in the hearts of believers, for such gracious purposes. Also, the advantages Christians enjoy under the gospel. Although by nature children of wrath and disobedience, they become by grace children of love, and partake of the nature of the children of God; for he will have all his children resemble him. Among men the eldest son is heir; but all God's children shall have the inheritance of eldest sons. May the temper and conduct of sons ever show our adoption; and may the Holy Spirit witness with our spirits that we are children and heirs of God.But is under - Is subject to their control and direction.

Tutors - The word tutor with us properly means instructor. But this is not quite the sense of the original. The word (επίτροπος epitropos); properly means a steward, manager, agent; Matthew 20:8; Luke 8:3. As used here, it refers to one - usually a slave or a freedman - to whose care the boys of a family were committed, who trained them up, accompanied them to school, or sometimes instructed them at home; compare the note at Galatians 3:24. Such a one would have the control of them.

And governors - This word (οἰκόνομος oikonomos) means a house-manager, an overseer, a steward. It properly refers to one who had authority over the slaves or servants of a family, to assign them their tasks and portions. They generally, also, had the management of the affairs of the household, and of the accounts. They were commonly slaves, who were entrusted with this office as a reward for fidelity; though sometimes free persons were employed; Luke 16:1, Luke 16:3,Luke 16:8. These persons had also charge of the sons of a family, probably in respect to their pecuniary matters, and thus differed from those called tutors. It is not necessary, however, to mark the difference in the words with great accuracy. The general meaning of the apostle is, that the heir was under government and restraint.Until the time appointed of the father - The time fixed for his entering on the inheritance. The time when he chose to give him his portion of the property. The law with us fixes the age at twenty-one when a son shall be at liberty to manage for himself. Other countries have affixed other times. But still, the time when the son shall inherit the father's property must be fixed by the father himself if he is living, or may be fixed by his will if he is deceased. The son cannot claim the property when he comes of age.

2. tutors and governors—rather, "guardians (of the person) and stewards (of the property)." Answering to "the law was our schoolmaster" or "tutor" (Ga 3:24).

until the time appointed of the father—in His eternal purposes (Eph 1:9-11). The Greek is a legal term, expressing a time defined by law, or testamentary disposition.

The heir, (mentioned in the former verse), though he be an heir of a great estate, yet is not presently possessed of it; but he is by his father kept under tutors and governors, until the time which he hath appointed when he will be pleased to release him from his pupillage, and settle some part of his inheritance upon him.

But is under tutors and governors,.... The word rendered "tutors", is adopted by the Jewish Targumists and Rabbins into their language; and by the former is used (x) for any ruler and governor, civil or domestic; and by the latter, for such as are guardians of infants, fatherless children, and such as are under age, as it is here used; and who were either appointed by the will of the deceased, or by the sanhedrim, of whom they say (y), , "we do not appoint a tutor or guardian for a bearded person"; that is, an adult person, one that is grown up to man's estate; but , "we appoint a guardian for an infant"; and they had not used to appoint women or servants, or such as were minors themselves, or any of the common people; but men of substance, integrity, and wisdom (z); a fatherless child had two tutors (a); the power that guardians so appointed had, is at large described by Maimonides (b). Governors were such as acted under the tutors or guardians, and were employed by them for the improvement of their estates and minds, as stewards, schoolmasters, &c. until the time appointed of the father; by his last will and testament, which might be sooner or later, as he pleased; but if he died intestate, the time of minority, and so the duration of tutors and guardians, were according to the laws of the nation; which with the Romans was until a man was twenty five years of age; and with the Jews, for a male, was until he was thirteen years of age and one day; and for a female, until she was twelve years of age and one day, if the signs of ripeness of age appeared; but if they did not, the time was protracted until they were twenty, and even sometimes till they were thirty five years of age, before the matter was determined (c).

(x) Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Genesis 39.4. & xli 34, 35. & xliii 15. Targum in Esther i. 8. & 2. 3. (y) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 39. 1, 2.((z) Maimon. Hilch. Necabot, c. 10. sect. 6. (a) Bartenora in Misn. Pesachim, c. 8. sect. 1.((b) Hilch. Nechalot, c. 11. (c) Ib. Hilch. Ishot, c. 2. sect. 1, 2.

But is under tutors and governors {a} until the time appointed of the father.

(a) This is added because he that is always under a tutor or governor may hardly be considered a freeman.

Galatians 4:2. Ἐπίτροπος means here not guardian (ὀρφανῶν ἐπίτροπος, Plat. Legg. p. 766 C; Dem. 988. 2; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 40; 2Ma 11:1; 2Ma 13:2; 2Ma 14:2; comp. also the rabbinical אפוטרופוס in Schoettgen, Hor. p. 743 f.), as it is explained by all who look upon the father as dead (see, however, on Galatians 4:1), but overseer, governor, and that without any more special definition (Herod. i. 108; Pind. Ol. i. 171; Dem. 819. 17; Xen. Oec. 21. 9; and very frequently in classical authors); it is neither therefore to be taken (as in Matthew 20:8; Luke 8:3) as synonymous with οἰκονόμος (which would give a double designation without ground for it), nor as equivalent to παιδαγωγός (which would be an arbitrary limitation). The term denotes any one, to whose governorship the boy is assigned by the father in the arrangement which has been made of the family affairs; and from this category are then specially singled out the οἰκονόμοι, the superior slaves appointed as managers of the household and property (Luke 16:1), on whom the νήπιος was dependent in respect to money and other outward wants.

ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός] Until the appointed time of the father, until the term, which the father has fixed upon for releasing his son from this state of dependence. ἡ προθεσμία, tempus praestitutum, does not occur elsewhere in the N.T., but is frequent in classical authors. See Wetstein; also Jacobs, Ach. Tat. p. 440.

2. tutors and governors] guardians and stewards, the one having the charge of his person, the other the management of his estate.

the time appointed of the father] the time fixed before by his father for the coming of age. It is not necessary, as has been stated already, to refer this to any special law or custom. It is clearly what might have often happened; and it is mentioned because of its typical import. The ‘fulness of the time’ is the antitype to ‘the time appointed’, and ‘the father’ of the minor has his counterpart in Him to whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.

Galatians 4:2. Ἐπιτρόπους) tutors of an heir.—οἰκονόμους) curators of goods. [Engl. Ver. not so well, governors].

Verse 2. - But is under tutors and governors (ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστὶ καὶ οἰκονόμους) but is under guardians and stewards. Ἐπίτροπος is, in Greek, the proper designation of a minor's guardian; as, for example, is shown by Demosthenes's speeches against Aphobus, who had been his ἐπίτροπος. These speeches also show that the ἐπίτροπος was entrusted with the handling of the property of his ward. Yet, as οἰκονόμος more especially denotes one entrusted with the management of property, it should seem that St. Paul uses the former term with more especial reference to the guardian's control over the person of his ward. The ward has to do what the ἐπίτροπος, guardian, thinks proper, with no power of ordering his actions according to his own will; while, on the other hand, the youth is not able to appropriate or apply any of his property further than as the "steward" thinks right; between the two he is bound hand and foot to other people's control. The plural number of the two nouns indicates the rough and general way in which the apostle means to sketch the case; speaking in a general way, one may describe a minor as subject to "guardians and stewards." Until the time appointed of the father (ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός). The noun προθεσμία, properly an adjective, ὥρα or ἡμέρα being understood, is used very commonly to denote, either a determined period during which a thing is to be done or forborne, which is its most ordinary sense (see Reiske's 'Lexicon to Demosthenes'); or the further limit of such a period, whence Symmachus uses it to render the Hebrew word for "end" in Job 28:3; or, lastly, a specified time at which a certain thing was to take place, as, for example, Josephus, 'Ant.,' 7:04, 7, "When the (προθεσμία) day appointed for the payment came." This last seems to be the meaning of the word here, though it admits of being taken in the second sense, as describing the limit of the child's period of nonage. The somewhat loosely constructed genitive, τοῦ πατρός, "of the father," may be compared either with the διδακτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, "taught of God" (John 6:45), or, in a somewhat different application, "the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). In reference to the whole case as stated by the apostle, it has been asked - Is the father to be conceived of as dead, or as only gone out of the country, or how? It is sufficient to reply that "the point of the comparison" - to use Bishop Lightfoot's words - "lies, not in the circum stances of the father, but of the son;" and, further, that to supplement the description which the apostle gives by additional particulars not relevant for the purpose of the comparison would only tend to cloud our view of its actual import. In fact, any image taken from earthly things to illustrate things spiritual will inevitably, if completely filled out, be found to be in some respects halting. Another inquiry has engaged the attention of commentators, as to how far the particular circumstance, that the period of nonage is made dependent upon the father's appoint meat, can be shown to agree with actual usage as it then obtained. It would seem that no positive proof has hitherto been alleged that such an hypothesis was in strict conformity with either Greek or Roman or Hebrew law. And hence some have had recourse to the precarious and far-fetched supposition that St. Paul founds his thesis on Galatian usage, arguing that such would have been in accordance with that purely arbitrary control which, according to Caesar ('Bell. Gall.,' 6:19), a paterfamilias exercised over wife and children among the kindred tribes in Gaul. The scruple, how ever, now referred to arises from supposing that we know more about the facts than we really do know. So far as has been shown, we cannot tell what was really the precise rule of procedure which, in the case described by the apostle, prevailed either in Judaea, or in Tarsus, or in Galatia; nor again from what region of actual experience St. Paul drew his illustration. We, therefore, have no possible right to say that the case which he supposes was not fairly supposable. On the contrary, when we reflect how open the apostle's mind was for taking note of facts about him, and how wide and varied his survey, we may safely rest assured that his supposed case was in reality framed in perfect accordance to the civil usage, to which the Galatians would understand him to refer. At the same time, it must be conceded that, amongst different modes of arranging a minor's case which actual usage permitted or may be imagined to have permitted, the apostle selected just that particular mode which would best suit his present immediate purpose. Galatians 4:2Tutors (ἐπιτρόπους)

Better, guardians. See on Luke 8:3. Only here in Paul. A general term, covering all to whom supervision of the child is intrusted, and should not be limited to παιδαγωγός (Galatians 3:24). See 2 Macc. 11:1; 13:2; 14:2.

Governors (οἰκονόμους)

Better stewards. Lat. dispensatores. More special than guardians, signifying those who had charge of the heir's property. See on Luke 16:1. In later Greek it was used in two special senses: 1. The slave whose duty it was to distribute the rations to the other slaves: so Luke 12:42. 2. The land-steward: so Luke 16:1. Comp. Romans 16:23, ὁ οἰκονόμος τῆς πόλεως, commonly rendered city-treasurer: A.V. chamberlain. In Lucian, Alex. 39, the Roman procurators, or fiscal administrators, are called Καίσαρος οἰκονόμοι; comp. 1 Esdr. 4:49; Esther 8:9. The dispensator in the Roman household had charge of the accounts and made the payments (see Cicero, ad Att. xi. 1; Juv. Sat i. 91). He was commonly a slave. Christian teachers are called "stewards of the mysteries of God" and "of the grace of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10), as those who have received the counsels of God and impart them to men. A bishop or overseer is also called "a steward of God" (Titus 1:7).

The time appointed (προθεσμίας)

N.T.o. olxx. In Athenian law the term limited for bringing actions and prosecutions. Προθεσμίας νόμος a statute of limitations. It was also applied to the time allowed a defendant for paying damages, after the expiration of which, if he had not paid, he was called ὑπερήμερος, or ἐκπρόθεσμος, or ὑπερπρόθεσμος one who had gone over his day of payment. Whether Paul's figure assumes that the father is dead or living is a point which does not affect his argument. It is not easy to decide. As Alford justly remarks: "the antitype breaks through the type and disturbs it, as is the case wherever the idea of inheritance is spiritualised." Προθεσμία an appointed time for the termination of the minority, would seem to imply that the father is conceived as living; since, if he were dead, that matter would be regulated by statute.

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