Galatians 5:7
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
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(7-12) All was going well at first. What sudden intruder has stopped your path and led you astray? Certainly it is not God, to whom you owe your calling, that has persuaded you to such a course. You tell me that not many have fallen away. But those few are enough to infect the whole. Not that I wish to implicate all in the sin of some. Most of you I can trust to be true to me. The author of your troubles, whoever he is, shall not escape. God shall judge him. Do you turn round on me and say that I, too, have preached circumcision? The persecutions that I have to undergo from the Jews are proof that I preach it no longer. If I do preach circumcision then the other stumbling-blocks in the way of my teaching are removed. I have no need to lay stress upon a crucified Messiah. The advocates of circumcision may carry their self-mutilation a step further if they please.

This section is very abrupt in style. The thought bounds from subject to subject, not stopping to insert links of connection. At the end of the passage there is a vein of severe irony.

(7) Ye did run well.—Again, as in Galatians 2:2, a metaphor from foot racing. The Galatians had made a good start, but suddenly changed their course.

Who did hinder you?—The metaphor here is not quite the same, but is somewhat akin to that just used. The original meaning of the word translated “hinder” is to “break up a road,” as an army before the advance of hostile forces.

The truthi.e., the doctrine taught by St. Paul in opposition to the Judaising tenets which had been introduced into the Galatian Church.

Galatians 5:7-10. Ye did run well — In the race of faith, love, and obedience; in true, genuine Christianity; believing its truths, experiencing its graces, enjoying its privileges, performing its duties. The exercises of faith and holiness, enjoined in the gospel, are often in Scripture compared to the ancient athletic exercises of the Greeks, especially to the race; because in that exercise the greatest exertions of activity and strength were necessary to obtain the prize, Hebrews 12:1. Who did hinder you — Who hath interrupted you in that good course; that ye should not continue to obey the truth? — In this question the apostle does not ask who the person was that had put a stop to them; but he expresses his surprise and grief at their being stopped. This persuasion — Concerning the Mosaic law, and the necessity of observing it in order to your justification and salvation; cometh not of God, who calleth you — To his kingdom and glory. A little leaven — If it be suffered to continue; leaveneth the whole lump — Operates unseen, till it diffuses itself on every side: that is, a little false doctrine may soon corrupt the judgment in other points, and a small number of seduced persons may soon infect the whole church. It is a proverbial expression, in which the pernicious and infectious nature of erroneous doctrine and vicious example is set forth. Hence our Lord gave the name of leaven to the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Matthew 16:11-12. The same name the apostle gives to the doctrine of the Judaizing teachers in this passage, and to the incestuous person, 1 Corinthians 5:7. Yet I have confidence in you — That, on reading this, and being thus warned of your danger; you will be no otherwise minded — Than I am, and ye were, concerning the doctrine of justification by faith; but he that troubleth you — And would pervert your minds from the purity of the faith; shall bear his judgment — A heavy burden, already hanging over his head. The apostle seems to refer to one person chiefly, as endeavouring to seduce them.

5:7-12 The life of a Christian is a race, wherein he must run, and hold on, if he would obtain the prize. It is not enough that we profess Christianity, but we must run well, by living up to that profession. Many who set out fairly in religion, are hindered in their progress, or turn out of the way. It concerns those who begin to turn out of the way, or to tire in it, seriously to inquire what hinders them. The opinion or persuasion, ver. 8, was, no doubt, that of mixing the works of the law with faith in Christ in justification. The apostle leaves them to judge whence it must arise, but sufficiently shows that it could be owing to none but Satan. It is dangerous for Christian churches to encourage those who follow, but especially who spread, destructive errors. And in reproving sin and error, we should always distinguish between the leaders and the led. The Jews were offended, because Christ was preached as the only salvation for sinners. If Paul and others would have admitted that the observance of the law of Moses was to be joined with faith in Christ, as necessary to salvation, then believers might have avoided many of the sufferings they underwent. The first beginnings of such leaven should be opposed. And assuredly those who persist in disturbing the church of Christ must bear their judgment.Ye did run well - The Christian life is often represented as a race; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:24-26. Paul means here, that they began the Christian life with ardour and zeal; compare Galatians 4:15.

Who did hinder you - Margin, "Drive you back." The word used here (ἀνακόπτω anakoptō) means properly to beat or drive back. Hence, it means to hinder, check, or retard. Dr. Doddridge remarks that this is "an Olympic expression, and properly signifies "coming across the course" while a person is running in it, in such a manner as to jostle, and throw him out of the way." Paul asks, with emphasis, who it could have been that retarded them in their Christian course, implying that it could have been done only by their own consent, or that there was really no cause why they should not have continued as they began.

That ye should not obey the truth - The true system of justification by faith in the Redeemer. That you should have turned aside, and embraced the dangerous errors in regard to the necessity of obeying the laws of Moses.

7. Translate, "Ye were running well" in the Gospel race (1Co 9:24-26; Php 3:13, 14).

who, &c.—none whom you ought to have listened to [Bengel]: alluding to the Judaizers (compare Ga 3:1).

hinder—The Greek means, literally, "hinder by breaking up a road."

not obey the truth—not submit yourselves to the true Gospel way of justification.

This was once your faith, your profession, and according to this you directed the course of your life and actions; who hath hindered you in your course, or turned you out of your way, or given you a check in your race; and hath made you disobedient to, or to swerve from, the truth which you formerly owned and professed.

Ye did run well,.... In the Christian race; when they first set out in a profession of religion, they embraced and held fast, and were zealously attached to the truths of the Gospel; they were in the lively exercise of grace on its proper object, and very diligent in the discharge of duty; they made great proficiency in the knowledge of divine things, and ran with cheerfulness and without weariness in the ways of Christ, and in the paths of truth and holiness. The metaphor is taken from runners in a race; see 1 Corinthians 9:24 so far this is said to their commendation, but this should have been persisted in:

who did hinder you; not the apostle, or any of his brethren; no, they encouraged them to go on, and gave them all the assistance they could, to help them forward; but it was the false apostles that hindered them, who did all they could to remove them to another Gospel, and turn them aside out of the right way:

that ye should not obey the truth? of the Gospel, particularly the truth of justification by the righteousness of Christ; which they did not so cheerfully embrace, and show such a respect unto, as they had formerly done; see Galatians 3:1, and which he says not by way of inquiry, but of complaint and concern; and with some indignation against the persons who had been the means of hindering their Christian progress, and with a view to reclaim the Galatians if possible.

{6} Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

(6) Again he chides the Galatians, but with both an admiration and a praise of their former race, so that he may make them more ashamed.

Galatians 5:7-9. How naturally—and, in conformity with the apostle’s lively emotion, asyndetically—the utterance of this axiom of the Christian character and life, which the readers had formerly obeyed, is followed by disapproving surprise at the fact that they had not remained faithful to it (Galatians 5:7), and then by renewed warning against the false teachers, based on the ungodly nature (Galatians 5:8) and the destructive influence (Galatians 5:9) of their operations!

ἐτρέχετε καλῶς] that is, your Christian behaviour—your Christian life and effort—was in course of excellent development. A figurative mode of presenting the activity of spiritual life very frequently used by the apostle. Comp. Galatians 2:2; Php 3:11.

τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψε] A question of surprise (comp. Galatians 3:1): who hindered you? Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 15:22; 1 Peter 3:7. In Polyb. xxi. 1. 12 it is used with the dative. So also Hippocr. pp. 28, 35; for it means properly: to make an incision.

τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι] from obeying the truth, that is, the true gospel, according to which faith alone is that which justifies, μή is employed, as usual, after verbs of hindering. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 810 f.; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 867; Winer, p. 561 [E. T. 755]. The infinitive with μή denotes that which, so far as the will of the hinderer is concerned, shall not take place.

ἡ πεισμονὴ κ.τ.λ.] After the surprise comes the warning. ἡ πεισμονή occurs again only in Apoll. Synt. p. 195. 10, in Eustath. (Il. ι, p. 637. 5, a, pp. 21, 26, et al.; see Wetstein), and in the Fathers (Ignat. ad Romans 3 interpol.; Just. Mart. Ap. I. 53, p. 87; Epiph. Haer. xxx. 21; Chrysostom, ad 1 Thess. i. 4). Whether, however, the word is to be understood actively, as persuasion, or passively, as compliance, is a point which must be decided in the several passages by the context. In this passage it is understood as persuasion by MSS. of the Itala (suasio), Vulgate (persuasio), Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Michaelis, Zachariae, Koppe, Borger, Flatt, Paulus, Usteri, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Matthias, Holsten, and others; on the other hand, Chrysostom (οὐκ ἐπὶ τούτοις ἐκάλεσεν ὑμᾶς ὁ καλῶν, ὥστε οὕτω σαλεύεσθαι), Oecumenius (τὸ πεισθῆναι τοῖς λέγουσιν ὑμῖν περιτέμνεσθαι), Theophylact (τὸ πείθεσθαι τοῖς ἀπατῶσιν), Luther (1519 and 1524; but in 1538, and in his translation: such persuasion), and others, including Morus, Winer, Rückert, Matthies, Olshausen, Reiche, Hofmann, Reithmayr, explain it as compliance,[227] which, however, does not fit the word used absolutely. The latter rather yields the thought: The persuasion is not of your caller, is not a thing proceeding from God (see, on the contrary, 2 Corinthians 11:15). Paul would have this applied to the mode of operation of the pseudo-apostles, who worked upon the Galatians by persuasion (talking over), so that they did not remain obedient to the truth, but turned ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος αὐτοὺς ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ to an ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον (Galatians 1:6). If it were to be taken as compliance, some more precise definition must have been appended;[228] because compliance is ungodly not in itself, but only according to the nature of the demand, the motive, and the moral circumstances generally. Some have made it to mean credulitas (Estius, Winer, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), but the sense of the word is thus altered. The talking over, however, did not need anything added, since it is of itself, in matters of faith at any rate, objectionable; hence it was very superfluous in Luther, Grotius, and many others, to take the article as demonstrative. Moreover, the active sense is excellently adapted to the designation of God by ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς, inasmuch as the talking over is a mode of operating on men characteristically different from the divine calling: the former not befitting the divine dignity like the latter; the former bound up with human premeditation, art, and importunity, taking place ἐν πειθοῖς σαφίας λόγοις (1 Corinthians 2:4), counteracting free self-determination, and so forth. Comp. Soph. Fragm. 744, Dind.: δεῖνον τὸ τᾶς Πειθοῦς πρόσωπον. Aesch. Agam. 385: βιᾶται δʼ ἁ τάλαινα πειθώ. Bengel, Morus, and de Wette understand it as obstinacy (the “clinging to prejudices,” de Wette), making it correspond with the foregoing τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μή πείθεσθαι. So also Ewald, although translating it as self-confidence, and comparing πίσυνος. But the passages cited above from Eustathius do not make good this signification; and, in particular, Od. x. p. 785. 22, is quite improperly adduced in its favour (see Reiche, p. 79 f.). Reiche, preferring the signification compliance, takes the sentence as asking indignantly: “Annon assensus, obsequium veritati praestandum e Deo est, qui vos vocavit?” But why should Paul have expressed this by the singular word πεισμονή not used by him elsewhere, and not by the current and unambiguous πίστις or ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως? By employing the latter, he would, in fact, have also suited the foregoing πείθεσθαι.

The καλῶν ὑμᾶς is neither Christ (Theophylact, Erasmus, Michaelis, and others) nor the apostle (Locke, Paulus), but God. See on Galatians 1:6. The present participle is not to be understood of a continuing call “ad resipiscentiam” (Beza),—a view at variance with the constant use of the absolute καλεῖν (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 5:13; Romans 8:30, et al.); nor does it represent the calling as lasting up to the time of their yielding compliance against the truth (Hofmann), which would be an idea foreign to the N.T. (Galatians 1:6; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 386 f.); but it is to be taken substantivally, your caller, the definition of the time being left out of view. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Winer, p. 331 [E. T. 444]. God, the caller to everlasting salvation, has assigned to every one, by calling him at his conversion (Php 3:14), the “normam totius cursus” (Bengel).

μικρὰ ζύμη κ.τ.λ.] The meaning of this proverbial warning (see on 1 Corinthians 5:6) is: “If the false apostles have, by means of their persuasion, succeeded in making even but a small beginning in the work of imparting to you erroneous doctrines or false principles, this will develope itself to the corruption of your whole Christian faith and life.” So, taking the figure with reference to doctrine, in substance also Chrysostom, Theophylact (who, however, explain μικρὰ ζύμη too specially of circumcision), Luther, Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, and many others, including Flatt and Matthies. It is true that the dogma of his opponents was in itself fundamentally subversive (as Wieseler objects); but its influence had not yet so far developed itself, that the ζύμη might not have been still designated relatively as μικρά. Others interpret it as referring to persons: “vel pauci homines perperam docentes possunt omnem coetum corrumpere,” Winer (comp. Theodoret, Jerome, Augustine, Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, Locke, Bengel, Borger, Paulus, Usteri, Schott, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Hofmann, Windischmann, Reithmayr, and others); but against this it may be urged that the number of the false teachers, as it is in itself a matter of indifference, and does not acquire greater significance through their having intruded themselves from without, remains also unnoticed throughout the epistle, and the point in question was solely the influence of their teaching (comp. πεισμονή), which was the leaven threatening to spread destructively. Comp. Galatians 1:7 ff., Galatians 3:1.

[227] This view serves to explain the omission of the οὐκ in D*, min., Cod. lat. in Jer. and Sedul. Clar. Germ. Or. (once), Lucifer. Theodoret also appears not to have read it, as he gives the explanation: ἴδιον Θεοῦ τὸ καλεῖν, τὸ δὲ πείθεσθαι τῶν ἀκουόντων.

[228] At least ὑμῶν, which is actually read by Syr. Erp. codd. in Jer. Lucif. Aug. Ambrosiast. Sedul. Arm. has αὕτη γὰρ πεισμονή. Vömel and Hofmann seek to remove the indefiniteness by reading instead of the article the relative : which obedience. But, according to this view, ἣ πεισμ. must have been correlative to the foregoing πείθεσθαι (comp. Wis 16:2), and this consequently must have been defined not negatively, but positively, somewhat as if Paul, instead of τῇ ἀληθ. μὴ πείθεσθαι, had written ἑτέρῳ εὐαγγελίῳ πείθεσθαι. But having written τ. ἀληθ. μὴ πείθεσθαι, he must, in correlation with μὴ πείθισθαι, have continued relatively with ἣ ἀπείθεια.

Galatians 5:7. ἐνέκοψεν. The figure of a race, introduced by ἐτρέχετε, is here carried on. Hitherto they had run a smooth course of obedience to truth; who had thrown obstacles in their way?

7. The abruptness of thought and style is a marked feature of these two chapters. It is not always possible to trace the connexion with certainty.

Ye did run well] ‘You were running nobly’. The metaphor is taken from the stadium—a favourite one with St Paul, c. Galatians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, &c.

who did hinder you] who was it that threw obstacles in your way? There may be a covert allusion here to some particular individual, prominent among the false teachers, to whom reference is again made Galatians 5:10.

that ye should not obey the truth] The truth personified, and here equivalent to the Gospel which Paul had preached to them. These words have been transferred from this place to ch. Galatians 3:1; see note there.

The verb ‘obey’ has the same root as the noun rendered ‘persuasion’ in the next verse, and they are in juxtaposition in the Greek. We have another instance of the Pauline usage pointed out in the note on Galatians 5:1. It is not easy to preserve the play on the words. It may be indicated by translating, ‘that from the truth you should withhold obedience. The obedience which you are rendering cometh not from him who calleth you’.

Galatians 5:7. Ἐτρέχετε καλῶς, ye did run well) in the race of faith, as your calling required, Galatians 5:8; comp. Php 3:14. This implies greater activity than to walk. He again comes to arguments calculated to conciliate and move the feelings.—τίς, who) no one, to whom you ought to have listened. So, who, Galatians 3:1.—ἐνέκοψε, hindered) in running.

Verses 7-12. - In these verses the language is remarkably curt and disjointed. Their style seems to betoken, either the mind of the writer musing in painful embarrassment, uncertain how best to grapple with the case before him through imperfect knowledge of the circumstances ("Who did hinder you?" ); or, possibly, the painful effort which it cost the apostle to "write with his own hand." In ver. 13 he at length takes up a line of thought which he is able to follow on with fulness and fluency. Verse 7. - Ye did run well (ἐτρέχετε καλῶς); full well ye were running. "To run" is a favourite figure with St. Paul, drawn from the foot-races of the Isthmian Games or other public games common throughout the Roman empire, and applied above (Galatians 2:2) to his own course of apostolic service, but here, as in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:17; and Philippians 3:14, in a wider reference to the course of general Christian obedience. In vers. 5, 6 the apostle has indicated the proper character of a Christian believer's life, as one which is animated by a faith energizing through love, and by the anticipation of attaining hereafter the awards to be rendered to the justified. Compare the general strain of thought, strikingly similar to that in the present context, pursued in Philippians 3:12-15. Obviously, one Important element in the comparison is the Christian's forward advance in self-improvement, as well as his continuing prosecution of work for Christ's cause. These characteristics had, and not long before, marked the manner of life of the Galatian Christians. Upon the recurrence of this recollection, here again, as in Galatians 3:1-4; Galatians 4:13-16, the apostle bewails the change that had taken place. They had been so full of joy and of love in believing (Galatians 4:14, 15). But now an incipient relinquishment of their hope in Christ had left them cheerless, and, in consequence, ready to look abroad in quest of other grounds of assured confidence; while also the thence ensuing conflicts of controversy and faction had marred their once happy mutual concord (ver. 15). The form of Christian life which the Galatian Churchmen had in those days presented to view was apparently similar to that which at an earlier date he had described as marking the Thessalonian Church (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and at a later time applauds in the Colossian (Colossians 1:4-6, 8). Who aid hinder you; or, who did drive you back (τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψε [Receptus, ἀνέκοψε]). The ἀνέκοψε of the Textus Receptus would mean, as in the margin of our English Bibles, "Who has driven [or, beaten, struck] you back," and would be illustrated by the use of the verb in Wisd. 18:23, "Standing between, he beat back the wrath," as Aaron did. But ἐνέκοψε is the reading of all recent editors. The precise meaning of ἐγκόπτω does not seem to be, as some suppose, "to stop," but rather "to hamper, shackle, impede." It occurs Acts 24:4, "be tedious;" 1 Thessalonians 2:18, "Satan hindered;" Romans 15:22 and 1 Peter 3:7, "hindered." So the substantive ἐγκοπή, 1 Corinthians 9:12, "That we may cause no hindrance to [clog the success of] the gospel." Possibly this sense is derived from the hindrance caused to the traveller by the road being "cut into" or cut up before he goes over it. But it is more probably connected with the use of κόπτω in the sense of "worry," as in Demosthenes, 'Olynth.,' it. p. 22, "Worried from time to time by these expeditions up and down." So here, "Who was it that clogged your steps in running your race?" Not positively "arrested your steps:" this disastrous result, it was to be hoped, was not yet brought about; they were only as yet lagging in their course. This interrogation "who" does not so much demand that the evil worker shall be named and brought to light, as express the pity of it, that any one should have been able to work them so much mischief; as in Galatians 3:1. Nevertheless, the author of the mischief had cause to tremble (see ver. 12, and note). That ye should not obey the truth? (τῇ ἀληθείᾳ [T. Tr., Lightfoot, omit the τῇ] μὴ πείθεσθαι;); that ye should not be hearkening unto the truth (or, unto truth)? "The truth" directly cites the gospel; that is, the gospel which proclaims righteousness as theirs who believe in Christ apart from works of the ceremonial law; comp. Galatians 3:5, "That the truth of the gospel might continue with you," the particular phase of the gospel there intended being clearly evinced from the circumstances referred to. "Truth," without the article, denoting "that which is true," cites the same by implication. The verb πείθομαι, frequently rendered in the Authorized Version by "obey," as Romans 2:8 and Hebrews 13:17, properly means to lend a compliant ear to advice or persuasion; "to hearken," as Acts 5:36, 37, 40; Acts 23:21; Acts 27:11. The apostle means that they were turning their ears away from the truth to listen to pernicious counsels or teaching. The verb is in the present tense with reference to the continued attention which they ought to be now giving to the gospel. Galatians 5:7Ye did run (ἐτρέχετε)

Better, as giving the force of the imperfect, ye were running. You were on the right road, and were making good progress when this interruption occurred. Comp. Galatians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7.

Well (καλῶς)

Bravely, becomingly, honorably to yourselves and to the church. Often in Paul. See Romans 11:20; 1 Corinthians 7:37, 1 Corinthians 7:38; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 4:17; Philippians 4:14.

Did hinder (ἐνέκοψεν)

See on 1 Peter 3:7. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 15:22.

Obey the truth (ἀληθείᾳ πείθεσθαι)

The exact phrase N.T.o. Disobey (ἀπειθοῦσι) the truth, Romans 2:8 : obedience (ὑπακοή) of the truth, 1 Peter 1:22.

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