Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)THE
EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE GALATIANS1
ADDRESS AND SALUTATION (WITH BENEDICTION)
1Paul, an apostle, (not [apostle not]2 of men, neither by [through, διά] man, but by [through] Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2[omit parenthesis] And all the brethren which [who] are with me, unto the churches 3of Galatia: [.] Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, and from our3 Lord Jesus Christ, 4Who gave himself for4 our sins, that he might deliver us from 5this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Gal 1:1. Paul, an apostle not of men, neither through man, etc.—His office, Paul says, is not derived from men (ἀπ’ ἀνθρώπων), so as to be in itself human, and therefore subservient only to human interests; nor has it even been committed to him through the medium of any man (δι’ ἀνθρώπου), in which case it might still be a divine function, although only not directly so. The change of number is only of secondary importance. The general sense: “of human derivation,” is better expressed by the indefinite plural; while on the other hand, in denying human mediation, the singular is used with more precision, by Paul, the rather, as having already in mind the definite antithesis “but by Jesus Christ.”
This double negation is essentially only a setting forth of the definition of “Apostle.” He would be in no event an Apostle, if he had his office, ἀπʼ ἀνθρ.; nor yet, if he had it, δι’ ἀνθρ. He would then stand only on equal footing with a Timothy and others, in short with all laborers in the gospel, who are inducted into their office by men; he is an Apostle only because called and inducted into his office, through Jesus Christ, etc. He was therefore placed in his office immediately through Christ, not through a man; for the activity of Ananias in Damascus had been only secondary and subsequent, the beginnings were divine. But, furthermore he has received his office through Christ from God the Father, so that, as “through Jesus Christ” explains “not through man,” so God the Father explains “not of men.” Yet Paul does not place this θεοῦ πατρ. in express antithesis to ἀπʼ ἀνθρ., inasmuch as he does not say ἀπὸ θεοῦ π. There being on the positive side no occasion for so precise a discrimination, he here no longer distinguishes between author and medium: perhaps not without design, in order thus to set his apostleship in a like direct relation, as to Christ, so to God the Father, and thereby to place the dignity of the same so much the more strongly in view. What in the first place constitutes the apostolic office, is the immediate calling through Christ, who is the κύριος ἀποστέλλων (on which account διὰ Ἰ Χρ. is placed before καὶ πατρο̇ς). Christ Himself, certainly, cannot be reduced to the same level with men, if “not of men,” etc., is to remain true. And every thought of it is precluded by this very comprehending of Christ with God the Father, as it were, in one conception, under one preposition.
[ELLICOTT neatly paraphrases thus: “Not from men as an ultimate, nor through man as a mediate authority.” The second ἀπό which we should expect to find before θεοῦ πατρός has not been omitted without good reason: while the preposition διά admits an extension of meaning that would cover both ideas (MEYER), the Apostle’s language, as it stands, is more forcible; the directness of his divine commission is emphasized (LIGHTFOOT), and although an argument for the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, must not be forced from the passage, “there is something very noticeable in this use of a common preposition with both the first and second Persons of the Trinity, by a writer so cumulative, and yet for the most part so exact in his use of prepositions as St. Paul” (ELLICOTT). SCHAFF: “By includes here the instrumental and the more remote originating cause.—The immediate coördination of Christ with God the Father, and this in contrast with the preceding men and man, prove that the Apostle regarded the Saviour as a Divine being.”—R.]
Paul here, probably, designates God the Father [i.e., “of Christ,”—R.] as who raised him from the dead, simply because through this divine act, namely, the resurrection of Christ, his own immediate vocation through Christ had been made possible (1 Cor. 15:8). [While it is not necessary to insist on a polemic reference here, as an answer to the reproach that he had not seen Christ (CALVIN), there seems to be an immediate reference to the fact that Paul was called by the exalted Christ, not that he claimed a preëminence on this account (AUGUSTINE, ERASMUS, and others), but God having raised Christ from the dead, and Christ having immediately chosen him to be an Apostle, it was fitting that he should give prominence here to that act of God which enabled him also to be an Apostle, a witness of the resurrection.—R.]
This laying claim so expressly to apostolic dignity in the very introduction, stands (as is shown by what follows) in connection with the vital questions of the Epistle, since his equal apostolic rank had been impugned by the Galatian false teachers. In Gal 1:11–2 fin. there follows the detailed proof of this “not through man, but through Jesus Christ,” whereby the “not of men” is also indirectly proved. (In other Epistles, where he has not this definite purpose in mind, Paul designates himself more simply, but in substantially the same style as ἀπόστολος or κλητὸς ἀπ. Ἰ. Χρ. διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ.)
Gal 1:2. And all the brethren who are with me.—Hardly his companions in travel at that time merely, especially helpers in his office (MEYER), but rather all the Christians of his place of residence at that time. This addition has, at all events, the special purpose of adding the authority of others to his own. He wishes the Galatians to understand, that he has on his side all the brethren in the midst of whom he writes, that these have the same opinion of their conduct, and thus indicates that the Galatians, unless they came to another mind, would sever themselves from the great communion of the brethren, who stand and abide upon the foundation of faith which Paul had laid. Of course the Apostle alone wrote the Epistle. He can, however, bring in the brethren as joint authors, so far as they may, after a previous communication of the leading thoughts, or, more probably, after hearing the Epistle itself read, have signified their agreement with it. [The more restricted meaning is allowable (see Phil. 4:21, 22, where “the brethren which are with me” are distinguished from “all the saints.”) The idea of the patristic commentators, that thus additional authority would be given, is incorrect; “the Epistle, being the product of an infallible Apostle, required no such help” (SCHAFF). CALVIN’S remark is just, however: “The concurrence of so many godly persons must have had some degree of influence in softening the minds of the Galatians, and preparing them to receive instruction.” ELLICOTT: “He adopts the inclusive term to show the unanimity that was felt on the subject of the Epistle; did it mean the whole Christian community we should certainly have expected ‘with whom I am’ rather than ‘who are with me.’ ”—R.]
Unto the churches of Galatia.—The same title, 1 Cor. 16:1. There existed there, it seems, therefore, different local congregations, of which each one constituted at least a relatively complete whole, and the Epistle was so far a circular letter. The omission of a phrase of commendation, such as is usually found in the other Epistles of the Apostle, has perhaps its ground in dissatisfaction with the Galatians. Perhaps, however, the omission is in part attributable to the external circumstance, that ἐκκλησίαι, whole congregations, are addressed, hence any such titles as κλητοί, ἅγιοι, would have been less suitable. [The dissatisfaction of the Apostle is so natural and evident a reason for the omission of any commendatory addition to the simple address, that any other explanation is farfetched. ALFORD quotes Meyer as saying that 1 and 2 Thess. present a similar instance, but in the 4th ed. MEYER expressly mentions these Epistles as no exceptions. WORDSWORTH: “a remarkable address in what it does not, as well as in what it does say.”—R.]
Gal 1:3. Grace be to you—and peace.—Respecting the Pauline form of salutation, χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη, consult remarks on the other Epistles.—From God the Father and our Lord, etc. As in Gal 1:1. Christ and the Father were comprehended under the one preposition διά, without distinction of the Father through an ἀπό, so here the reverse takes place, an evident token how little Paul has in mind a severance of the Divine Persons. Christ is by no means, then, the merely instrumental medium of grace, but, as well as the Father Himself, the Bestower of grace (see DOCTRINAL and ETHICAL notes). Here, however, “God the Father” is placed first; in Gal 1:1 the order was reversed. There is, moreover, a special reason here for placing “our Lord Jesus Christ” last, namely, that it receives in addition a predicate defining it more closely. Grace and peace, Paul wishes for the Galatians, especially in view of the path of error into which they had been led, and for this very reason with especial allusion to that, which alone secures this grace and this peace, namely, the atoning death of Christ.
Who gave Himself for us.—In this clause the Apostle anticipates the other main point which he has to unfold. Instead of regarding the cross of Christ alone as the ground of salvation, the false teachers had influenced the Galatians to seek salvation again in observance of the law. In Gal 1:1 Paul touches on the personal, here he touches on the doctrinal question, which he afterwards handles. Δόντος ἑαυτόν “gave Himself,” nothing less than His own person, which could be fully accomplished only in His death, Περί undefined: “in respect to our sins.” The sense, however, clearly appears not only from the following, “that He might deliver us,” but also in the very form of the expression, which sets forth an expiatory sacrifice that has been offered, in which Christ was the Offerer and the Offered, the Highpriest and the Sacrifice, in one person (comp. WIESELER’S careful investigation of the use of περί, ὑπέρ, ἀντί, in declarations respecting the death of Christ). [ELLICOTT: In its ethical sense, ὑπέρ retains some trace of its local meaning, “bending over to protect,” and thus points more immediately to the action, than to the object or circumstance from which the action is supposed to spring. The latter relation is more correctly defined by περί, which is thus more naturally used with the thing, “sins,” ὑπέρ with the persons, “sinners.” Often, however, in the N. T. the distinction is scarcely appreciable.—R.]
Gal 1:4. That He might deliver us.—Effect of the expiation accomplished through Christ.—Ἐξαιρεῖσθαι, to tear away from a power. The evil world is viewed as possessor by force, as a tyrant, who brings destruction, and in whose power we are by nature. This deliverance Paul doubtless understands in a double sense, as a making free from the moral corruption of the world, and also as a keeping from the destruction which it thereby brings upon its own at the judgment day. The immediate reference is to the latter, which, however, in view of the ethical character of Christianity, cannot take place without the former, as indeed there can be no doubt that the death of Christ has an ethical intent. It is false, however, to think only of this here.—“Present world” may mean, present or impending age. The latter signification is, however, hardly to be assumed here—contrary to MEYER, who would take it as meaning the evil times which, according to many passages of Scripture, are shortly to precede the second coming of Christ, and on this account are wont elsewhere to be called the last times. But “our phrase, on account of the union of ἐνεστώς with αἰών, is most naturally regarded as parallel with ὁ αἰὼν οῦτος or ὁ νῦν αἰών. The expression ὁ αἰών, since this appears to denote a period of time complete in itself, is nowhere used of the last times, preparatory only, as the pangs of travail, to the αἰὼν μέλλων. Nor, finally, is there in the connection the least reason why Paul should have confined the salutary workings of the redeeming death of Jesus to the last times.” (WIESELER). Therefore we must take it as, “the present period of time,” in sense the same as ὁ κόσμος, so that the translation “present world,” is substantially correct.—“Evil” emphasizes the ethical character of “this world,” which is besides included in the very conception of “the present world.” It is equivalent to “ruined by sin,” and therefore a deliverance out of it was necessary in the twofold relation given above. [SCHAFF: “The words contain an allusion to the Jewish distinction between ‘this world,’ and ‘the world to come,’ or the period before, and the period after the appearance of the Messiah. But the sense of these terms is modified in the N. T., so as to make the second coming of Christ the dividing line between the two æons.” LIGHTFOOT: “The distinction of time between the two, which is the primary distinction, becomes lost in the moral and spiritual conception.” The second adjective πονηρός, emphatically placed, gives prominence to the ethical idea, especially if the better supported order of the Rec., ἐκ τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ, be adopted.—R.]
According to the will of God and our Father.—It is best to connect this with the whole of Gal 1:4. It refers the redeeming work as a whole to the gracious will of the Father, and thus cuts off every ground of objection against this work from the legal point of view. The thought of this redemptive counsel of the Father moves him very naturally, then, to the concluding doxology.—In τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, ἡμῶν belongs probably only to πατρός. By θεός God is meant to be designated as the God of all alike; by πατήρ, according to His special relation to the Christian. By the prefixed article two predicates are ascribed to the same person. The same who is God is also our Father. [LIGHTFOOT argues from the absence of the article before πατρός, that ἡμῶν belongs to both nouns, but as ELLICOTT well remarks, “πατήρ is anarthrous according to rule.” CALVIN, MEYER and most, restrict the pronoun to Father, giving the last words somewhat of a predicative force: “God, who is our Father.” It is to be remarked that in Gal 1:1–3 Paul speaks of “God the Father,” i.e., the Father of Christ—but having in this verse spoken of the redemptive act of Christ, and its redeeming design for us he calls God, who has purposed this “our Father.”—WORDSWORTH: “Specially our Father by the redemption of us His children by the blood of His Son.”—R.]
Gal 1:5. To whom be glory.—To be taken as optative; for δόξα means Honor, Praise—not Essential Glory, although it is true that the δόξα which should be given to God, rests upon the δόξα which He has. [SCHAFF: “The doxology in this place is likewise an indirect reproof of the Galatians for dividing the glory of our salvation between God and man.” It is an affirmation rather than a wish. There can be no reasonable doubt that τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων here is an expression for eternity.—R.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The Apostolate. a. An essential characteristic of the apostolate was the immediate “call” through Christ, as whose “delegates” the apostles went out into the world with that proclamation of the Gospel, which should lay the foundation of all that followed. Hence the express assertion here (and afterwards the detailed proof) of this immediate calling. For this, if for no other reason, the office of the Apostles was specifically distinct from all others.5 In the office of preacher in these days, there always occurs a “call” διʼ ἀνθρώπου. The office, however, is not on this account ἀπʼ ἀνθρώπων, nor should any bearer of it thus regard it. It is on the contrary “from” “Jesus Christ and God the Father,” is divina institutio.
b. In the decision and certainty with which Paul insists upon his apostolic rank, there is implied, on the one hand, a justifiable sense of personal dignity in opposition to all who would question it, and especially to false teachers: “I am an Apostle and nothing less.” This personal feeling, however, was certainly counterpoised at once, by the feeling of humility in view of the momentous duties involved, for the discharge of which grace alone could give strength. But, above all, the Apostle lays stress on this his dignity, not in his personal interest, but in the interest of his Lord, and the gospel of his Lord; in order to shield this against the “perverting” (Gal 1:7) of the false teachers, he is forced to lay this emphasis on the fact that he is really an Apostle of Christ, and therefore was such in his preaching of the gospel.
c. The care with which he proves his fundamental authority and capacity for preaching the gospel, is a pledge to us of the soundness of this preaching. The Christian church has, therefore, in this foundation laid by the Apostle, a standard for all time by which to prove doctrine.
d. That Christ has been raised, and now lives, is the fundamental truth, which to the Apostle stands immovably firm, and on which rests, for Paul, the certainty of his calling, and for him and the other Apostles the vigor and joyfulness of their labor in their vocation. For the Apostles were in a special sense to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, and to be persuaded of it by a personal beholding of the Risen One. It was only because the risen Jesus had appeared to him, that Paul was an Apostle.
2. The brethren. This strong emphasizing of his particular vocation (or office) does not imply the least prejudice to his brotherly relation toward other Christians, who have no such vocation. Far from it. Paul not only mentions them in immediate connection with himself, including himself and them in the same salutation, but even treats them as fellow-writers, hence as those who, together with him, impart instruction and admonition, thus strengthening the weight of his own words by their concurrence. He is only called to preach what, as the substance of his faith, is the substance of theirs also; and he wishes to bring back his erring readers to the same faith in which these, his companions, stand and have remained firm. [Their concurrence could add nothing to the real authority of his apostolic teaching, but might aid in establishing that authority among the Galatians. Yet the Apostle seems fond of thus associating others of lower rank with himself in his Epistles.—R.] Here is a hint for the behavior of office-bearers towards other Christians now as well; in personal conduct, to regard and treat them as “brethren,” standing on precisely the same footing; to lay claim to no precedence; and in official activity also, while maintaining full consciousness of their own special vocation, and of the authority inherent in it, never to ignore the might which dwells in the personal faith and believing life of the members of the Church, when there is an opportunity of joining them with one’s self in exhortation and rebuke.
3. “Churches” still. Paul, it is true, gives to the Galatian Christians no especial title of honor, “yet he still counts them worthy to be called churches, because, though they were indeed for the most part fallen from the truth in some main points, they had, notwithstanding this, retained many parts of the pure Christian doctrine; he cherishes then the hope that they would still suffer themselves to be brought right again” (STARKE). Hence important doctrinal and ethical defects of a church do not of themselves warrant us in withholding or withdrawing from it the predicate ἐκκλησία. A judgment, whether in any place there is the Church of Christ or not, depends, although largely, yet not in the chief degree, upon subjective character, but in the chief degree stand the objective factors, namely, that verbum divinum recte docetur, and sacramenta recte administrantur. This, as is well known, is one of Luther’s prime principles. In the objective factors, there certainly resides the power (even if latent) to work subjectively.—Yet it cannot therefore be denied that there may be, notwithstanding, a subjective character of the congregation as respects doctrine and morals, where the predicate ἐκκλησία ceases to be applicable; we cannot, however, pronounce a judgment thereon, but must leave this to the searcher of hearts, so far as it is not a question of scandalous offences in the case of individuals.
4. God and Christ. Both in Gal 1:1 and in Gal 1:3, Christ is placed in the closest connection with God the Father; and in Gal 1:3 in such a way that Grace and Peace are invoked in the same manner from God the Father, and from Christ. From this appears, in immediate certainty, the eminent, godlike position of Christ. For the highest and best things, those which are needful for all men, proceed from Him, as much as from the Father. As respects grace, as much depends on His dispositions towards us, as on those of the Father. As Christ is thus placed with the Father on one Divine level, so is the Father, on the other side, placed on the same level with the Son, who, through His Incarnation, has drawn so near to us. LUTHER: “Therefore Paul, in wishing grace and peace not only from God the Father, but also from Jesus Christ, teacheth, first, that we should abstain from the curious searching of the Divine Majesty (for God no man knoweth), and hear Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, and uttereth to us His will.”
5. Christ’s giving Himself. The expression for the death of Christ is here (Gal 1:4) so chosen, that it appears as His own free act, while, as is known, there runs parallel to the series of passages which apprehend it thus, another representing it as something decreed by God concerning Christ, representing Christ as burdened with the Father’s curse (comp. 3:13). This designation is here chosen, in order to render prominent and bring home to the hearts of the Galatians the great love of Christ, displayed in His “giving Himself for us.” “The giving of Himself consisted of many actions, from the incarnation on, but it applies especially to his atoning death.” This “giving Himself”—this morally great act was occasioned by our sins, our moral perversion; a cutting contrast, and yet a necessary nexus between cause and effect!—For its intent was to procure a remedy for our sins, and their ruinous results.
6. This present evil world. Through our sins we belong to this present evil world, bear its character, and are in its power, that is, through it and with it are going to destruction. From this destroying might Christ would rescue us, and has rescued us, by His giving Himself for our sins, that is, through the reconciliation thus accomplished for our sins; because we, when reconciled, lie no longer under the judgment of God upon the sinful world, and therefore do not go with it to ruin. Undoubtedly Christ had in view besides, an inward, moral deliverance from the corrupt course of the world; yet this is the secondary aim; the primary is the deliverance from judgment and perdition.—God’s acts of grace, according to the Biblical view, are throughout directed, first of all, toward a deliverance from destruction, and consequently to the impartation of a good, of a definite happy destiny, not chiefly to the rehabilitation of certain ethical qualities, of a particular direction of life and will. They are directed thus, in a certain measure, towards an outward end, with which however an inward one is inseparably connected, as the economy of the Spirit, whose work it is to bring forth the corresponding ethical quality, is, although inseparable from that of the Father and the Son, yet distinct from it, presupposing it. The deliverance from the evil world, is, so far as concerns its being won, already accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ. Of course a participation in this is only gained through faith (this is implied in ἡμᾶς, which refers to believers), and is actually perfected only on the coming in of the αἰὼν μέλλων. A certain pledge and a joyful foretaste of it, however, the believer has already in justification, because this is an assurance of the divine grace. As to the rest, the apostolical expectation of the αἰὼν μέλλων as near lies at the foundation of this passage. [Whatever indications there may be elsewhere of “this apostolical expectation,” neither the words nor context show any trace of it here, except on the view of MEYER, which refers “present evil world” to the times of danger immediately preceding the second coming of Christ, a view which is not adopted by Schmoller himself, nor by any other commentator of note.—R.]
7. Redemption according to God’s will. The work of redemption was accomplished “according to the will” of the Father. This indicates the other side in the redeeming work, alluded to under 6, namely, that the death of Christ was also decreed to Him, by God for an expiation, and that Christ’s “giving Himself” was accordingly, at the same time an act of obedience to the Father’s will, a suffering Himself to be given up. Love to man and obedience to the Father, all in one, was the source of His sacrifice of Himself. This view is in full harmony with the declarations of Christ Himself, especially in John, with the emphasis which He lays on His having been sent, on His doing the will of the Father. There was nothing whatever self-elected in the redeeming work of Christ; it was a God-appointed work.—In this it first finds its firm, immovable foundation, and all scruples as to the availing worth of this self-sacrifice of Christ before God are taken away from the troubled conscience. At the same time, all clinging to such scruples is also condemned, as a striving against the will of God. We may, but we also ought to believe in the atoning death of Christ; hence especially, we ought not to lessen its significance by a righteousness of works. This will of God is the will that we should be saved, according to which, He willed both the way that should lead to our salvation, Christ’s dying on account of our sins, and also the result, our redemption. It was a loving will, but also a will of holy love, condemning sin and forgiving it; the latter only on the foundation of the former, but the former also for the sake of the latter. Because aiming at our salvation it was in any case the will of God our Father.
8. God’s honor its end. As and because the will of God is the origin of the work of redemption, so the honor of God is its aim. That He, His name, be honored, is the purpose and result of redemption. To Him belongeth honor—and that honor forever—for redemption, and such honor will be rendered Him by the Redeemed. The phrase εἰς τοὺς αἰω̈ν. τ. αἰών. no doubt looks forward to the αἰὼν μέλλων. The expression is, however, thus indefinitely framed, in order, far as the language admits, to express an eternal duration. There is nothing in this, of course, against the division found elsewhere, into simply two æons, present and future.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Gal 1:1. STARKE:—To all peculiarly spiritual offices belongs a divine vocation. Every man may take comfort in the consciousness of his office and calling, and also appeal to it when there is need. Let no one deem this pride or boasting.—SPENER:—Christ is the founder of the preacher’s office. He is the King in His Kingdom, and so sends whom He will. He is the Chief Shepherd, and therefore all under shepherds must be appointed by Him. He has obtained by His merits the spiritual power needed for the ministry, and has received the Holy Ghost to that end for our sakes. It is He, therefore, who speaks through His servants.—LUTHER:—Wert thou wiser than Solomon and Daniel, yet until thou art called, flee the sacred ministry, as thou wouldst hell and the devil, then wilt thou not spill the word of God to no purpose. If God needs thee, He will know how to call thee.—LANGE:—To be sure of one’s divine, although only mediate vocation, is a weighty matter, and gives to the conscience rest, in the office blessing, and to vindication of the same and of the pure doctrine, much joyfulness.—WÜRT. SUMM.:—There is a twofold vocation to the ministry; both are of God, who will have the gospel preached to the end of the world; but some are called of God without means, of which sort are the patriarchs, prophets, apostles; and some through men, although according to God’s commandment and ordinance.—RIEGER:—As certainly as every believer shall be taught of God, so that what he has apprehended from human instruction is confirmed in his heart with divine impressions and powerful workings, just so certainly must every teacher have in his conscience a divine seal upon his vocation, although derived through men, and on this account a joyfulness which his hearers cannot impeach.
The apostolate in its high significance; 1. for the founding, 2. for the continuance of the Christian church which must perpetually rest upon the foundation of the apostolic doctrine.—The divine vocation to office: 1. To have it, is under all circumstances needful; 2.To be certain of it, is often important; 3. To appeal to it, may often be right and proper.—How independent (of men), and yet at the same time, how dependent (on God), the preacher of the gospel is and knows himself (may and should know himself) to be!—Even so the Christian generally: he is what he is, not from men (although through men), for not natural descent nor outward fellowship makes him such—but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.—Christian sense of personal worth: 1. its justification, 2. its limits.—All through Jesus Christ! a) humbling truth—not through us; b) exalting truth—through no less a one than Christ, and thereby through the Highest, God.—[CALVIN:—In the church we ought to listen to God alone, and to Jesus Christ, whom He has appointed to be our teacher. Whoever assumes a right to instruct us, must speak in the name of God or of Christ.—BURKITT:—Behold the peculiar prerogative of St. Paul above the rest of the Apostles; they were called by Christ in the day of His humiliation; but he was called by Christ when sitting at His Father’s right hand in heaven. As his call was thus very extraordinary, so his gifts were answerable to his call.—R.]
Gal 1:2. WÜRT. SUMM.:—Although the truth of a doctrine does not rest upon the multitude of people, but alone upon God’s word, yet, when many support a doctrine founded in God’s word, the weak in the faith are noticeably strengthened thereby, because they see that not merely one or two, but many, confess such a doctrine.—SPENER:—Christians are “brethren” to each other; for they have one Heavenly Father, one first-born brother, Christ; one mother‚ the Christian church; one seed of regeneration, the divine word; one inheritance of eternal life. That is a more intimate and strict brotherhood than the common one among all men.—STARKE:—In names and titles we must give good heed not willingly to commit falsehood, nor attribute to any one, praise that does not belong to him; yet common and authorized titles must be understood not in absolute strictness, but according to common use.—SPENER:—There remains even in a loose crowd a Christian church, even though grave errors, which remove the ground of faith are found there, so long as God’s word and the holy sacraments are there and are maintained.
On Gal 1:1 and 2. Let us hear, when we begin to waver in the truth: 1. Apostolic doctrine; 2. The testimony of brethren!—Apostolic doctrine and the voice of brethren; an admonition to every church to abide in the evangelical truth.
Ver.3. RIEGER:—Paul flees in this perplexity to the riches of God in Christ Jesus, and entrusts to the grace and the peace from thence, the restoration of the Galatians also; with this greeting, as with a cordial, he not only refreshes their hearts but quickens himself also to a confidence towards God in Christ.—WÜRT. SUMM. We see here where we must begin, when after sin committed we will come to God for grace; namely, not with ourselves, not with our piety! for if we had kept this, we should be already in favor with God, nor even with God Himself out of Christ, for He is to sinners a consuming fire, but alone with Christ, and His bitter passion and death for our sins.—LUTHER:—Paul wishes the Galatians grace and peace, not from the emperor or kings and princes; for these are wont ofttimes to persecute the godly: nor does he wish them grace and peace from the world, for in the world they shall have tribulation; but from God our Father, that is, he wishes them a godly and heavenly peace.—LANGE:—True peace can never exist without grace, for grace is the ground and source of peace; on the other hand there is grace sometimes without peace, especially with the tempted, who may, for awhile fall into great disquietness of soul, and yet remain in God’s grace.
Gal 1:4. STARKE—If Christ has for our sakes given His all, ah! should not we surrender ourselves, with all that in us is, to Him? Man! keep thyself from sin, on account of which Christ hath endured so much, lest thou thyself bring to nought for Him this great work, for which He came.—LUTHER—mark diligently the word: “for our.” For therein lies all the virtue, namely, that all which is said concerning us in the Holy Scriptures, in such passages as “for me,” “for us,” “for our sin,” and the like, we should know how to take well in mind, and apply particularly to ourselves, and hold fast thereto by faith.—For thou hast, no doubt, easily brought thyself to believe that Christ, God’s Son, was given for St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s, and other saints’ sins, who were worthy of such grace; but, contrariwise it is especially and thoroughly hard, that thou, for thine own person, a poor, unworthy, condemned sinner, shouldst from thine heart certainly believe, hold, and say, that Christ, God’s Son was given for thy so many and so great sins, who yet nevertheless hast never yet been worthy of such grace.—Therefore should we well train and prepare our hearts with this utterance and the like utterances of St. Paul, that when the devil hereafter comes and accuses us and says: “See, you are a sinner, therefore you must be damned!” we may meet him and answer, “yea, good devil, for the very reason that you accuse me and will be condemning me for a sinner, for that reason will I be righteous and holy, be not damned, but saved the rather. For in this very thing, that you tell me how I am a poor sinner, and a great one, you give me a sword and weapon in hand wherewith I can mightily overcome you, yea, slay you and put you under my feet with your own arms. For if you can tell me that I am a poor sinner, I can say to you again, that Christ died for sinners.”—Count these words of St. Paul as said in earnest, and to be true, and not as a dream, when he says that the world is evil, although many people therein have many noble, beautiful, virtues; and although in outward guise and appearance there is much holiness and brilliant excellence.—To this evil world belongs also all art, wisdom, righteousness, &c., of a godless man. Thy wisdom, which thou hast out of Christ, is a double folly, thy righteousness is a double sin and godlessness, since it knows nothing of the wisdom and righteousness of Christ, and since, over and above this, it darkens, hinders, reviles and persecutes you; wherefore St. Paul may well name the world an evil world; for it is the worst when it will be at the best and most pious. In the religious, wise and learned men, it will be at its most pious and best, and yet it is twice as wicked.
BERLENB. BIBLE:—Of this present evil world, ordinances of religion form no small part, of which much is instituted whereby men will take one another captive to the spirit of the world. Without religion nevertheless will the world not be; so it dresses up such things as may be congruous with flesh and blood; but true religion burdens and depresses it. Thus the deliverance takes place especially from the Pharisaic leaven.
STARKE:—See how availing and certain is our redemption and salvation, because it proceeds from the will of the Father: how can that be unavailing, which has come to pass according to His will.
[SCHAFF:—God is our Father because He is the Father (not simply of Jesus Christ which would place him on a par with us, but) of our Lord Jesus Christ.—R.]
Gal 1:5. As often as we think on the great work of redemption, we should heartily praise God; and therefore should we often think thereon; that we may be powerfully excited to praise.—To praise God is the best divine service; it is that which must endure unto eternity. Happy he who begins it here, and prepares himself thereby for a blessed eternity. It is a proof that he knows God aright, and has become partaker of His grace, and that he will one day come to the heavenly choirs of angels who praise God.
Jesus’ giving Himself to death: 1. Its occasion (our sins); 2. Its purpose (our deliverance therefrom); or: 1. the strongest testimony against us (our sin); 2. the mightiest consolation for us; or: 1. Its great effect (to deliver us from this evil world); 2. Whence it has this effect (as being a satisfying and bearing and thereby a taking away of the divine wrath; 3. in whom it is thus effectual (only in those who are His in faith).—What defends us from being lost with this evil world? 1. Not our own righteousness whereby we only entangle ourselves in this evil world the more, but 2. Christ’s sacrificial death alone.—The appropriation of the merits of Christ: 1. Every one needs it on account of his sins; 2. The sinner needs it precisely as sinner.—Jesus Christ the Deliverer out of the power of this present evil world: 1. The world the tyrant in whose power we are; 2. Christ the Deliverer that has appeared.—Evil—the character of this world: 1. Therefore the Christian in this world longs for the world to come; 2. He must how-over be delivered from this present world, in order to enter the world to come.—Redemption through Christ rests upon the will of God: 1. A rich consolation (against all doubts); 2. An earnest admonition: Whoever lightly esteems the redemption accomplished through Christ, sins thereby against the will of God Himself.—The honor which is due to God for the redemption in Christ.—The praise of God: 1. a fruit of the redeemed state; 2. a proof of the same.—The praise which the redeemed bring to God: 1. begins in time; 2. continues into eternity.
Gal 1:3–5. LISCO:—The Apostle’s invocation of blessings for his churches: 1. What does it contain? The greatest benefits which are bestowed by God on man. 2. On what is this invocation grounded? a. On the free will offering of Christ. b. On the gracious counsel of God, to redeem us by such offering.—The benediction of the Apostle: 1. A proof his hearty love: even to the unthankful, who through their apostasy have so troubled him, he wishes the best things; 2. A proof of his standing fast in the truth: in direct opposition to them he held fast so much the more definitely the evangelical truth, of redemption through Christ’s death alone, and points them to that in contrast with their erroneous opinions.—Right wishing: 1. wishes true benefits; 2. points to the true source of such benefits.—The right behavior toward those who are disposed to depart from the truth: to open the heart fully to them in expressions of desire, full of divine blessing, before closing with and combatting their errors.
Gal 1:1–5. The appearance of the Apostle against the Galatians: 1. in the full dignity of his office, at the same time, however, associating the brethren with himself; 2. with the full love of his heart, at the same time conceding nothing of the truth.
[TITLE: Rec. ἡ πρὸς Γαλάτας ἐπιστολὴ Παύλου. Elz. Παύλου τοῦ ἀποστόλου ἡ πρὸς Γαλάτας ἐπιστολή. א. A. B. K., Lachmann, Tischendorf and most editors, πρὸς Γαλάτας.—R.]
Gal 1:1.—[The comma after “apostle” and the parenthesis are better omitted, since the clauses immediately following “Apostle” are most closely connected with it, and the idea so far from being parenthetical is one of the most prominent in the whole Epistle. “Of” is changed to “from” by Ellicott, while he retains “by” as a sufficiently exact translation of διά—R.]
Gal 1:3.—א. inserts ἡμῶν after πατρός, omitting it after κυρίου. [This reading is an alteration to conform with other salutations (Meyer). That of Rec. is undoubtedly correct. So all modern editors.—R.]
Gal 1:4.—Περί (instead of Rec.) is found in most MSS. and in the best MSS. א also, though א3., reads ὑπέρ. [The external authorities are decisive against the reading of the Rec; περί is adopted by modern editors almost universally.—R.]
It is one of the anti-scriptural fancies of the Irvingites to believe, notwithstanding this, in the reappearance of Apostles proper in their churches. WIESELER. [In LIGHTFOOT, p. 92 sq., there is an interesting discussion on “the name and office of an Apostle.” He, however, objects to the restriction of the office to the twelve, with only the exception of St. Paul, adducing the apostleship of Barnabas, and implying that “James, the Lord’s brother” (Gal 1:19) was an Apostle, even, though not the same as James, the son of Alpheus. This position is not safe, nor is it accordant with the argument of Paul in this Epistle, where he lays so much stress upon the “immediate call.” Lightfoot is forced, therefore, to deny the necessity for a call from an outward personal communication with our Lord, though his admission that the having seen Christ was a necessary qualification, is a denial of the perpetuation of the office. It is better to hold that there were but Twelve Apostles, to whom was added, by direct call, Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles—Barnabas and others were “apostolic men.” On the relation of Paul to the original college of apostles, see SCHAFF, History of the Apostolic Church, p. 512 sq., p. 233 sq. His note p. 234 is appropriate here: “The strict hierarchical view, which always looks for an outward, palpable succession, admits no satisfactory explanation of the fact, that the Apostles had no share whatever in the ordination of Paul after his conversion (Acts 9:17), and in his being sent to the Gentiles by the Church of Antioch (13:3). The divine irregularity of his call, and the subsequent independence of his labors, make Paul, so to speak, a prototype of evangelical Protestantism, which has always looked to him as its main authority, as Romanism to Peter.”—R.]
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:Occasion of the Epistle:
APOSTASY OF THE GALATIANS FROM THE GOSPEL, WHICH PAUL HAD PREACHED TO THEM, TO THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF CERTAIN SEDUCERS, AGAINST WHOM HE THEREFORE UTTERS THE ANATHEMA
6I marvel that ye are so soon removed [changing over]6 from him that called you into [in or by]7 the grace of Christ8 unto another [a different]9 gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be [except that there are] some that trouble you, and would 8[θέλοντες, wish to] pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach [should preach]10 any other gospel unto you11 than [or contrary to]12 that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [anathema]. 9As we said before,13 so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than 10 [or contrary to] that ye have received, let him be accursed [anathema]. For do I now persuade [am I now conciliating]14 men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for [omit for]15 if I yet pleased men, I should not be the [a] servant of Christ.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Without any thanksgiving for the readers’ gifts of grace, as in other Epistles, the Apostle passes immediately from the invocation of a blessing to sharp rebuke which, however, strikes not so much the Galatians themselves as their seducing teaches. Gal 1:6–9.
Gal 1:6. I marvel that ye are so soon changing over.—He finds it strange, since he has expected, and had reason to expect, something different. “So soon” refers rather to the entrance of the apostasy than to its course, as having so rapidly developed itself from its commencement. The latter view suits the connection the less, inasmuch as μετατίθεσθε designates the apostasy as yet in process of development; οὕτω ταχέως, is therefore, we may say, equivalent to—so soon after the last visit of the Apostle. [“So soon” either 1) after conversion, or 2) after his visit, or 3) after the false teachers came; all three may be included, and are true; which is the primary reference cannot be certainly determined. In any case in view of the middle force of μετατίθεσθε (“turning renegades,” LIGHTFOOT), it is a charge that the change was sudden and one for which they were to blame. SCHAFF: “The Greek implies first that the apostasy was voluntary, hence their own guilt; secondly, that it was not yet completed, and hence might be averted. The passive rendering would transfer the guilt to the false teachers.”—R.]
From him that called you: most probably from God, who called you on the ground of the grace of Christ, which He has shown in His surrender of Himself to death; not=from Christ, who out of grace has called you. It is true that with the first explanation ἐν χάρ. Χρ. is difficult to render, but in any case it is not to be understood of the state of grace, as if=called you to the possession and enjoyment of grace.—[By the grace of Christ.—The E. V. renders ἐν χά-ριτι, “into the grace,” following the Vulgate, but ἐν is here used in its instrumental sense. ALFORD: “Christ’s grace is the elementary medium of our ‘calling of God;’ the sum of all that He has suffered and done for us to bring us to God;—whereby we come to the Father,—in which, as its element, the Father’s calling of us has place.” ELLICOTT: “The dogmatical consideration that the grace of Christ, in the sense it here appears used by St. Paul, denotes an active and energizing influence rather than a passive element, seems distinctly to suggest the instrumental sense.” Comp. his notes in loco.—R.] But it is God Himself who “calls.” The reference of καλέσαντος; to the Apostle has some support in the fact that he afterwards opposes so expressly his own preaching to that of others, yet must be rejected, as καλεῖν too constantly expresses an activity of God for this interpretation. The apostasy is described, doubtless not undesignedly, as an apostasy from a person, not from a doctrine, that it may appear as ingratitude.—To a different gospel.—More exactly: to another kind of gospel = εὐαγγ. παρ’ ο͂ παρελ. (Gal 1:9). A gospel, either because the Galatians naturally took the doctrine which the false teachers brought them for the Gospel, or primarily in the general sense of Doctrine of Salvation, which the legal doctrine also claimed to be.
Gal 1:7. Yet Paul as it were at once corrects himself, and respecting that which he has just named “gospel,” denies again that this predicate in fact belongs to it, this false teaching is no gospel, but a subversion of the gospel. This is at all events the sense, if ο͂—the most obvious construction—is referred to the immediately preceding εὐαγγ. = “which other sort of gospel is no other, by the side of that preached by me, except that there are,” etc. [The more correct reference is to ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον. SO MEYER, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, LIGHTFOOT, and Schmoller himself. See ALFORD’S notes in loco for a full discussion and objections to the reference below.—R.] The reference however to the whole sentence is possible=which is nothing else (that is, this turning to another gospel) than that you have let yourselves be seduced by such as wish to subvert the gospel.
There be some that trouble you.—“Paul is fond of calling his opposers: τινές i.e., certain well known people, whom one for any reason whatever, in this case out of disparagement, will not designate more nearly.” WIESELER.—[WORDSWORTH suggests and defends an ironical meaning: “unless they who are troubling you, are somebody,” but this seems forced. LIGHTFOOT paraphrases well: “only in this sense is it another gospel, in that it is an attempt to pervert the one true gospel.”—R. ]—Ταρασσεῖν = to disturb the conscience and thereby the feelings by exciting doubts whether the gospel preached to them were the true teaching or not.—Wish to pervert = to have the will, to labor for; as the sequel plainly shows, it has not yet come to an actual perversion; μεταστρέφειν=הָכַּךְ, funditus evertere.—The gospel of Christ, probably=gospel respecting Christ, inasmuch as in the first place the gospel treats of Christ generally; especially, however, because the merit of Christ is the chief theme of the true gospel in distinction from the legal teaching. The gospel, of course, could not, in itself, be destroyed, but the evangelical preaching among the Galatians might be, if they received another teaching.
Gal 1:8. But though we—let him be anathema.—Certain persons wish to destroy the gospel of Christ among you, and bring you another, but (ἀλλά) rather let every one who does that be ἀνάθεμα, instead of passing for an evangelist.—Ἡμεῖς: first and chiefly the Apostle himself, then, however, also the “brethren who are with me,” in whose name he likewise writes.—Angel from heaven, to be taken together=angel descended from heaven. “If Paul repudiates his own and even angelic authority in the case assumed, as accursed, then every one, without exception (comp. ὅστις ἄν ἦ, 5:10), is subject to the same curse in the same case.” MEYER.—Παρ’ ο͂ εὐηγγ. ὑμῖν=literally: beyond that, etc., maybe equivalent to praterquam, or to contra. “Formerly dogmatic interest came here into play, the Lutherans, in opposition to tradition, contending for praterquam, and the Catholics in defence of it, for contra. Contra, or more exactly the sense of specific difference, is according to the context the right sense. (See Gal 1:6. ἕτερον.)” MEYER. [This sense of παρά, “contrary to,” is now generally conceded by Protestant commentators. WORDSWORTH and LIGHTFOOT give it the sense of “besides;” the latter arguing from the context that Paul means, his gospel will brook no rival, will suffer no foreign admixture, but, as ELLICOTT remarks: “the Apostle implies throughout the Epistle that the Judaical gospel was in the strict sense of the words an ἕτερον εὐαγγ., and in its very essence opposed to the true gospel.” Both ideas may properly be included (ALFORD, SCHAFF).—R.]—Εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν: namely, I and my companions at the time of your conversion. Comp. παρελάβ. Gal 1:9.
Let him be anathema.—A translation of חֵרֶם= Dedicated to God without ransom=given over to annihilation, to death, in the Old Testament to bodily, in the New Testament to θάνατος in opposition to ζωή, to eternal death. See in WIESELER a detailed elucidation and refutation of the explanation, “excommunicated.” [Ἀνά-θεμα is the common Hellenistic form of the classical and Attic word ἀνάθημα, which in both forms originally meant “devoted to God.” When the two forms were desynonymized, the Hellenistic word naturally took a meaning from the Hebrew (through the LXX.) in malam partem, while the Attic form was used in a good sense. Comp. Luke 21:5, where only it is found in N. T. This distinction was general, but not universal. Afterwards the common patristic sense of our word undoubtedly was “excommunicated,” though sometimes accompanied with distinct execration. It cannot have this meaning here, for “an angel from heaven” is not open to excommunication, nor does N. T. usage favor such a signification. Comp. Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3. See also TRENCH, Syn. N. T. § 5, MEYER, ELLICOTT, LIGHTFOOT.—This passage affords no warrant for ecclesiastical anathemas. Such a practice presupposes the milder meaning, which is incorrect, and as milder, in itself forbids such anathematizing. It is obviously unfair to find in St. Paul’s language first, a reason for ecclesiastical “excommunication,” and then a warrant for “anathematizing.”—R.]
Gal 1:9. As we said before.—Referring probably to his last visit, not to Gal 1:8.—The Apostle repeats the curse, which he has pronounced Gal 1:8, in order to show that he “speaks deliberately.” BENGEL.—[Notice that in Gal 1:8 the Apostle uses ἐάν with the subjunctive: “though we, or an angel, should preach,” in Gal 1:9, εἰ with the indicative: “if any man preach,” appending the anathema in both cases. “In the former, a pure hypothesis is put forward, in itself highly improbable; in the latter a fact which had actually occurred and was occurring” (LIGHTFOOT). There is additional force in the change of subject: even Paul or an angel from heaven-did they do so—would be anathema, much more—any man, neither Apostle nor angel—is anathema, having done so.—R.]
Gal 1:10. For am I now conciliating men?—Explanation (γάρ) of the severity with which he demeans himself towards the false teachers by this repeated ἀνάθεμα. He does it, because he is concerned only for the favor of God, not that of men. It would be natural to understand “now” like Gal 1:9 of the time of the composition of the epistle. Yet on the other hand this limitation is not quite congruous to the general contents of the verse, it is therefore better to understand it more generally of the time of the Apostle’s conversion. [It seems more natural to regard “now” as an emphatic taking up of “now” in Gal 1:9—“now in what I have said.” Paul had not been a man-pleaser before conversion. If he had been charged with it among the Galatians, he was not so sow in what he had been writing.—R.]—Πείθειν=to win over, to draw to one’s side by persuasion, whether directly by words or otherwise; here, in view of the reference to God=to gain for one’s self, to win for one’s self as a friend.—Ἀρέσκειν: sometimes to please, sometimes to be disposed to please, to live according to the pleasure of; the latter here. “Yet” goes back to the same time with “now.” [“Yet,” i.e., after my call to the apostleship, and all that has happened to me (SCHAFF). “It is equivalent to ‘at tins stage, at this late date’ ” (LIGHTFOOT).—R.]—I should not be a servant of Christ=could make no claim to this title. As a true servant of Christ, who dares not act to please men, I must, even though it should not please men, judge with all sharpness and severity respecting those who subvert the gospel. “Servant of Christ” is here doubtless to be taken in its official sense=could make no claim to the name of a teacher. With how much right Paul could say so of himself is shown, e.g., by 2 Cor. 11:23 sq.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Apostasy even in the early church. The glimpse of such scenes of the first Christian Church as our Epistle speaks of, and as are mentioned by anticipation in our section, is instructive. Even in such as had been brought to the faith by a Paul himself, a speedy lapse was possible, and yet he certainly fulfilled his office among them in the right way, and his activity was blessed. Even the best preaching cannot overcome the sinful nature of the human heart. This preserving and making steadfast in the truth, is a work of the Holy Ghost, and it goes on, just as growth is wont to do: through advances and fallings back on account of the opposing might of the flesh, according to the account of the Apostle himself. Gal 5:17.
2. The false teachers. Deflections from evangelical truth, however, are not on this account to be taken lightly; but on the contrary, very gravely, as the language of the Apostle in this passage shows. Paul had full justification in uttering a curse against the false teachers, and thus giving them over to everlasting destruction, in the wickedness they committed with their false teaching; which was a double one—1) against persons: they perplexed their consciences and brought them in danger of losing the salvation of their souls; 2) against the cause: they went about to subvert the gospel of Christ. They made an attack on the sacred rights of believers, and their conduct was therefore worthy of a curse. That this curse does not flow from personal mortification, because they had rejected his teaching, Paul shows plainly by placing himself under the curse, in case he should teach differently. Besides, the anathema is, of course, aimed at this conduct of the false teachers in itself, and this sharp opposition by no means excluded the wish that they might themselves see the error of their way, and themselves come to the knowledge of the evangelical truth. But this was not the place for saying this. He expresses himself with thorough earnestness against the false teachers, only to open the eyes of the Galatians, and to release them from the snares in which they had allowed themselves to be taken. Although in this earnestness he comes in conflict with men, he must do what beseems a servant of Christ: be zealous for Christ and the salvation of His people.
3. Pleasing men. What Paul says, Gal 1:10, appears to be opposite to 1 Cor. 10:33; but in 1 Cor. Paul speaks of things indifferent, in which a man may yield somewhat without wounding his conscience (comp. Rom. 15:2). Here, however, he means sinful complaisance, where one fashions his doctrine and preaching according to the sense of men, in order thus to gain their favor. He only then is a servant of Christ, who subordinates unconditionally the favor of men to the favor of God, who in His official activity does not seek to make Himself pleasing to men, does not make this his object. When, however, from time to time—for uninterrupted it can never be—the favor of men falls to his lot, he is to receive it from God’s hand with thankfulness and humility, as a kind indulgence, which in his manifold conflicts may be of value. That the servant of Christ must be on his guard, not to draw upon himself deservedly the ill-will of the world through pride and self-will; that he is not in carnal temper to fly in the face of men, and hence that he must always examine well whether his zeal is a spiritual one, or is not becoming a carnal one, if it were not such from the beginning, is indeed self-evident, but cannot be carefully enough considered; as in general the theory of the relation of human and divine favor is tolerably simple, but the practice is very difficult.
[4. WORDSWORTH:—Not to please men, be they never so many or great, out of flatness of spirit, so as, for the pleasing of them, either
1) To neglect any part of our duty towards God and Christ; or,
2) To go against our own consciences, by doing any dishonest or unlawful thing; or,
3) To do them harm whom we would please, by confirming them in their errors, flattering them in their sins, humoring them in their peevishness, or but even cherishing their weakness; for weakness, though it may be borne with, yet it must not be cherished.
But then, by yielding to their infirmities for a time, in hope to win them, by patiently expecting their conversion or strengthening, by restoring them with the spirit of meekness, with meekness instructing them that oppose themselves, should we seek to please all men.—R.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Gal 1:1. “I marvel:”—is a word of apostolic wisdom.—LUTHER:—St. Paul does not set upon the Galatians with vehement and terrifying words, but speaks in quite fatherly and friendly wise with them; and does not only soften down their fall and error, but excuses them also in a manner, yet so that he nevertheless also punishes them. Therefore, of all sweet and mild words, he could hardly have chosen one more fit than when he says, “I marvel.”—RIEGER:—In itself the preservation and perseverance of a man in good is more to be wondered at than when there is a stumbling or falling. But the Apostle says, “I marvel,” in order to express to them thereby the confidence of something better, which he has retained on their behalf, and to let them discover something of the hope, in which he stands, of begetting them again through the gospel unto their first faith.
WÜRT. SUMM.:—We are here reminded of our human weakness. We should endeavor to be so assured of divine truth in our own heart, as to be able to persevere therein, though even an angel would persuade us of something else, and the whole world would believe otherwise. Such perseverance is not in our power, however, but must be obtained from God through prayer and through diligent use of the divine word, which alone can make our walk steadfast.
“From him that called you by the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”—RIEGER:—A tender description of the good work begun in them. A feeling contrast with the yoke which some would now lay upon their necks.—SPENER:—Whosoever will no longer be saved simply through the grace of God in Christ falls away from the Father and the grace of Christ to another gospel, even though he holds the other articles of faith. For so soon as merit is mixed therewith, it is no more grace.
Apostasy from the truth: 1. how far not to be wondered at; 2. how far to be wondered at.—So soon alienated! 1. a word of grief, true of so many; 2. a warning word, in relation to all.—An apostatizing tendency, or inconstancy a radical fault of the human heart: 1. sluggish and immovable, where it is of moment that it should move and apply itself; 2. so movable and unsteady where it should abide firm.—To turn ourselves from Him who hath called us: 1. so lightly done; 2. weighs yet so heavily.—Another Gospel! is the world’s cry; no other! must forever remain our answering testimony.
Gal 1:7. SPENER.:—The gospel of Christ will not let itself be mixed with the doctrine of works, as if these were necessary to salvation; but as soon as this is done, the gospel is perverted.—HEDINGER:—More taught than God has thought, is to the gospel quite athwart. The false teachers will have Christ’s grace, to be sure, but something of their own works therewith. Gross error! Adding more destroys the store.—STARKE:—Where Satan cannot persuade men to open sins, he seeks to perplex their consciences, and pervert the gospel, which is the only means of salvation; in this too he very easily succeeds, because the doctrine of works appears quite agreeable to the reason.
Gal 1:8. LUTHER:—It is not in vain that St. Paul sets himself first, and will, first of all, be accursed, if he shows himself herein worthy of it. For all excellent workmen are wont also thus to do, namely, to reprehend their own faults first, for then can they so much the more freely chide and censure the faults of others.—SPENER:—No creature has authority to change anything in the gospel, or to add thereto, of however eminent rank, office, enlightenment, holiness, and miraculous power he may be. Not even the whole Church, nor her teachers, nor her councils and the like. If the change is made, no inquiry is needed; but it is to be reprobated, because it is new and another.—LANGE:—As the blessing coming out of the gospel is the most weighty and noble of all, so is the curse which rests upon the hindering of the blessing through falsifying the gospel, the greatest of all, one which remains forever upon soul and body.
Gal 1:10. LUTHER:—We cannot more hotly and bitterly anger the world than by attacking and condemning her wisdom, righteousness, ability, and powers. If we now reject and condemn these highest gifts of the world, that is truly not to behave feigningly to the world, but to strive after hate and ill luck, and, moreover, to get both our hands full of the same. For if we condemn men with all their doings, it can never fail but that we must soon take our chance and bring upon ourselves such scorn and envy that we shall be persecuted, hunted, banished, condemned, and, very likely, even murdered.—SPENER:—The sincerity of a teacher, when men see that his concern is alone to please God, and not men, is a strong ground for believing that his teaching is sound and pure.—HEDINGER:—Just so! Whoever in the church, in the state, in the family, serves men, fears and cowers before men, and, for their sake, bends the right, flatters and fawns, has trifled away his best title—Christ’s servant and disciple. A thunderstroke! Whose ears tingle not, when he hears it?—RIEGER:—O God! preserve all thy servants, that no one, through pride and self-will, may draw persecution upon himself, and fly in the faces of men; but grant also that we may not count persecution, mocking, and contempt as tokens of our having betrayed the truth, but may view them and bear them as the marks in the foreheads of thine approved servants!
The earnestness with which Paul opposes the false teachers: 1. well founded, 2. very significant for us: should (a) withhold us from the reception of any unevangelical doctrine; (b) strengthen us in the certainty that the gospel, which we have, is the true one.—A curse upon him who preaches a false doctrine! 1. A fearfully earnest utterance; 2. yet pressingly needful; 3. instructive for all that are wavering.—Let not every man undertake to be a teacher, but whoever is, let him take heed what he teaches.—The curse which Paul pronounces upon himself, if he should preach another gospel, is a token: 1. how high the gospel stands in his view; 2. how humbly he thinks of himself (viewing himself only as a mere instrument, as a servant, who has to accomplish what his Master has commanded him).—Not the Church above the word, but the word above the Church!—Two earnest questions: 1. Which seekest thou most, man’s favor or God’s favor? 2. Which is weightier, man’s favor or God’s favor?—Man’s favor or God’s favor? Choose: there is no third.—The right union of unsparingness and forbearance in our intercourse with men: an art of difficult attainment.—To be entirely unsparing, and entirely forbearing, each in the right way, is the Christian’s duty in dealing with men.—Man’s disfavor, compared with God’s favor, as insignificant as wholesome, perfects us in humility, and impels us the more to assure ourselves of the favor of God.
On the whole section.—LISCO:—The curse of the Apostle against the false apostles: I. Whom it strikes: 1. Necessarily every one, without exception, who changes the blessing of the gospel into mischief, and so out of good prepares for himself death; 2. those also who have deep insight, or other high qualities for serving the kingdom of God, and yet do not preach it purely; 3. even an angel himself, if he could preach another gospel. II. Why must it be uttered? 1. He who preaches the gospel must have a will thereby to serve, not men, but God; 2. through a false gospel men may, indeed, be attracted, but God views it as blasphemy; 3. therefore, he is placed under the curse, who will serve the gospel, and yet doing so as a man-pleaser, is found an unfruitful servant of Christ.
The apostasy of believers: 1. is, alas, sometimes a fact; 2. from what does it proceed? 3. how is it to be remedied?—The Apostle’s demeanor: 1. towards the misled: he makes a complaint and charge; but through it all the full tones of compassion and love are heard; 2. towards the misleaders: unsparingly stern even to denouncing a curse.—To fall away from the gospel is bad, but to subvert the gospel is worse.
Gal 1:6.—[Μετατίθεσθε, middle, not passive, see EXEG. NOTES.—R.]
Gal 1:6.—[Ἐν cannot mean “into,” especially after καλέω.—R.]
Gal 1:6.—[The many variations, such as the omission of Χρ., the insertion of Ἰησοῦ, the substitution of θεοῦ, all probably sprang from mistaken exegesis, joining Χρ. with καλέσαντος. The reading Χριστοῦ is very well supported and now universally retained.—R.]
Gal 1:6.—[Ἐτερον, “different in kind,” not “another of the same kind” (ἄλλο, Gal 1:7). So Alford, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot.—R.]
Gal 1:8.—[The periphrasis of the E. V. is necessary to bring out the force of εὐαγγελίζηται, in its reference to εὐαγγέλιον, Gal 1:6, 7; but the subjunctive must not be overlooked, as marking the different conditional propositions of Gal 1:8, 9.—R.]
Gal 1:8.—א. omits ὑμῖν, א3. first adds it.
Gal 1:8.—[On the meaning of παρά, here and Gal 1:9. See EXEG. NOTES.—R.]
Gal 1:9.—א1.: προείρηκα.
Gal 1:10.—[“Persuade” is obviously inapplicable to God. Πείθω here means “to conciliate,” “to make friends of.” So modern English commentators. The form: “am I,” etc., is required by the emphatic ἄρτι (Ellicott).—R.]
Gal 1:10.—Rec. εἰ γὰρ ἔτι; but γάρ is best omitted. [Rejected on preponderant MSS. authority by all modern editors.—R.]
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.I
TO DESTROY THE INFLUENCE WHICH THE FALSE TEACHERS HAD GAINED IN THE CHURCHES, PAUL REFUTES THEIR ATTACKS UPON HIS APOSTOLIC DIGNITY, AND PROVES THEREBY THE FULL AUTHORITY OF HIS PREACHING
1. To this end the appeals to the fact that he received his commission to declare the Gospel from God and Christ Himself through immediate revelation, not from the senior Apostles
11But I certify you [Now I declare unto you],16 brethren, that the gospel which was preached of [ὑπʼ, by] me is not after man. 12For I neither received [For neither did I receive]17 it of [from] man, neither was I taught it, but by [through] the [omit the] revelation of [from]18 Jesus Christ. 13For ye have [omit have] heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion [Judaism],19 how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and wasted [was destroying]20 it: 14And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals [And surpassed in Judaism many of my age]21 in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers [or my ancestral traditions]. 15But when it pleased God,22 who separated me 16[set me apart]23 from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in [within] me, that I might preach him among the heathen [Gentiles]; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17Neither went I up [away]24 to Jerusalem to them which [who] were apostles before me; but I went [went away] into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter [to make the acquaintance of Cephas],25 and abode with him fifteen days. 19But other of the apostles saw I none [I did not see], save James the Lord’s brother. 20Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God I lie not. 21Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22And [but] was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: 23But they had heard only [only they were hearing],26 That he which persecuted us in times past [who once persecuted us] now preacheth [is now preaching] the faith which once he destroyed [was destroying]. 24And they glorified God in me.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Gal 1:11. Now I declare unto you—not after man.—[Literally: “I make known unto you as respects the gospel, the one preached by me, that it is not according to man.”—R.] To the warm burst of feeling succeeds the composed statement of reasons. Accordingly we have the formal γνωρίζω, and the address “brethren,” which also shows that Paul, although in the introduction he gives no peculiar title of honor to the Galatian Christians, feels himself to be still standing in the fraternal relation to them. He takes this as his starting point with them, because his aim in what follows is to bring them back and win them again from their error. He first justifies his preceding rebuke by the distinct and formal assurance that his teaching is not of man. Of course this was not something entirely new to the church, yet it had, doubtless, been at first a merely tacit presupposition in connection with the Apostle’s preaching, without having been expressly emphasized: hence the γνωρίζω; after it had been called in question, it must be definitely affirmed.
The gospel which was preached by me is most naturally referred to the preaching of the gospel among the Galatians, although self-evidently the same declaration was of general validity.—Οὐ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον literally: “not according to man,” not after the fashion of man, not man’s work. This applies not immediately to its origin, but to its character, which however is especially and primarily conditioned by its origin (Gal 1:12). The sequel shows the phrase to be nearly equivalent in sense to “scholastic” [schulmässig].
Gal 1:12. For neither did I receive it of man, neither was I taught it.—“Neither did I”=any more than the Twelve. By the denial of any human origin of his gospel he asserts his equal rank with the other Apostles. The sentence receives a simple exposition when compared with Gal 1:1, which it more closely explains. The first and negative part: “neither did I receive it from man, neither was I taught it,” is an explanation of “not of men, neither through man,” while the second part, “but through revelation from Jesus Christ,” is an explanation of “through Jesus Christ and God the Father,” which is afterwards made yet more definite (Gal 1:15, 16).—[LIGHTFOOT: The idea of the preposition (παρά) is sufficiently wide to include both the ἀπό and διά of Gal 1:1—R.]
Through revelation from Jesus Christ.—This is commonly explained as merely a giving of instruction respecting the contents of the gospel, and there is then a difficulty as to when Christ gave to Paul this ἀπο-κάλνψις, discovery. Here Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is taken as gen. Subj. = the revelation which Jesus Christ gave. MEYER explains it of revelations received soon after the event near Damascus, of which, however, there is no mention in the Acts. Others, with reason, refuse to assume any such revelations, but explain the “revelation” as identical with the actual appearance of Christ on the way to Damascus, through which Paul received certainty of that which is precisely the essence of the gospel, namely, “Jesus the Son of God.” They are led to this, moreover, by a just instinct, that it is not the developed contents of that which Paul taught, that is here in question. This explanation, therefore, is quite correct, and Paul’s reference here is solely to the fact of that appearance on the way. Yet he has in view chiefly, not a receiving of instruction thereby, but his call to the apostleship itself, for this was a call “to preach the gospel” (see also Gal 1:18), and therefore a “receiving the gospel.” The expression, that he had received the gospel through revelation from Jesus Christ, has primarily the simple meaning, that through this he had been called and appointed to preach. In the phrase “through revelation,” etc., Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is at all events the subjective genitive, for Christ is in any case to be regarded as active in the installation of the Apostle (Gal 1:1), and hence in his call to preach. As the object of this “revelation” we are to understand not the contents of the gospel, but more simply Christ Himself, hence it is=by Christ’s revealing Himself to me.—This view is, it is true, in apparent contradiction to the “taught” immediately preceding, which seems to point to a definitely developed doctrine, but only in apparent contradiction. It is only in the negative that he speaks of “being taught;” in order to deny most entirely the human calling to preach, Paul denies also the “being taught;” he did not, he says, first receive in a course of school instruction, his equipment, authorization and capacity to preach, hence not in a secondary, derived manner, as a scholar (of the Apostles). Over against this human origin, Paul now simply asserts his “revelation from Jesus Christ” which need not be complemented by “taught”—an expression in itself awkward too—but merely by “received.”—In what immediately follows it is not “through revelation from Jesus Christ,” so much as the negative “neither was I taught it,” that is proven. For in Gal 1:15, 16, where “through revelation” has to be touched, it is mentioned properly only as a historical notice, in order to mark the transition from the first period of his life to the second, hence only in the subordinate clause. From this, however, the conclusion cannot of course be drawn; “I was taught through revelation from Jesus Christ;” for this reason first, that then we should expect a detailed statement of this positive side. But all that was to be said on the positive side, had been said already in the short διʼ ἀπο-καλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ because here a simple fact only was in question; on the other hand the “received from man” and “taught” could have taken place in many ways and at different times, might have been of long continuance; and on this account the demonstration was needed that there had been no point of time whatever, when such instruction from the senior Apostles (whom he has in mind throughout in “from man”), could have taken place, since at first he has been hostile to Christianity, and after his calling had never lived in intercourse with the senior Apostles, though at the same time he had already preached the gospel. And, he proceeds to say in chap. 2, when afterwards, he was once somewhat longer with them, he then appeared as a fully equal Apostle, and was so acknowledged; hence there could no longer be any talk of his occupying the place of a pupil.
[Since the design of the Apostle in what follows is to prove that his doctrine as well as his apostleship was God-given, that He was “taught of God,” it seems more natural to refer “revelation from Jesus Christ,” to instruction as well as to calling to the apostleship. WORDSWORTH calls attention to the force of ἀλλά, which he considers to be here “except” “save”—“nor was I taught it except by revelation,” He was θεοδίδακτος. And this view is further sustained by the omission of the article before the noun, which is not rendered definite either by the genitive following or by the fact that there was but one revelation (Paul undoubtedly had many). To what instructive revelation does he refer? Undoubtedly to that on the way to Damascus, but not to that exclusively. Nor to any particular revelation soon after his conversion (AQUINAS, MEYER, ELLICOTT, ALFORD, who suggest the sojourn in Arabia, Gal 1:17, as the probable time), but to the revelation on the way to Damascus as “the fundamental and central illumination,” “followed by special revelation” at different periods of his life. Comp. Acts 22:17; 23:11; 1 Cor. 11:13; 2 Cor. 12:1 sq.; Gal. 2:2. SCHAFF. Schmoller’s view on this point colors his notes on the entire section.—R.]
Gal 1:13. For ye heard of my conversation in time past, etc.—How far this statement is meant to confirm the previous proposition (γάρ), has just been indicated. Perhaps, however, he also emphasizes his former Jewish zeal, with particular reference to his Judaistic opposers. He wishes thereby to call attention to the fact that his present anti-Judaistic position does not result from any want of acquaintance with Judaism, but that, on the contrary, it rests upon only too intimate an acquaintance with it.
Ἰουδαϊσμός: the word in itself, it is true, signifies nothing more than the Jewish religion; yet Paul, in this connection, evidently throws more meaning into it, joining with it the additional idea: Jewish zealotism. Only thus is a proper meaning given to “surpassed in Judaism” (Gal 1:14). This again finds its explanation in how that beyond measure I persecuted, etc. “He was really engaged in the work of destruction, not merely in that of disturbance.” MEYER.
Gal 1:14. In mine own nation.—Literally “race,” the people are regarded as a single race, descending from the same ancestor.—My ancestral traditions:—not the Pharisaic traditions or the Mosaic law, together with those traditions, but teachings which the fathers of the collective people held (see WIESELER). The phrase: “the traditions of my fathers,” in itself, describes only the doctrinal and ritual definitions respecting the Jewish worship which then obtained, though, of course, resting on the Mosaic law as their foundation. But Paul, in calling himself a zealot, who surpassed many of his contemporaries, has undoubtedly in view chiefly his observance of these usages according to the peculiarly strict rule of Pharisaism. [SCHAFF: “The word παράδοσις, ‘tradition,’ which figures so prominently in the Roman Catholic controversy, in the general sense, embraces everything which is taught and handed down, either orally or in writing, or in both ways, from generation to generation; in the particular sense it may be used favorably of the divine doctrine, and even of Christianity itself, as is the case 1 Cor. 11:2 (E. V. ‘ordinances instead of ‘traditions’); 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6, or unfavorably of the human additions to, and perversions of the religion of the Old or New Testament, in which case it is generally more clearly defined as the traditions ‘of the elders’ or of men,’ as Matt. 25:2; Mark 7:3, 5, 8; Col. 2:8. In our passage it means the whole Jewish religion, or mode of worship, divine and human; but in the Pharisaic sense, as opposed to Christianity.” LIGHT-FOOT’S paraphrase is excellent: “My early education is a proof that I did not receive the gospel from man. I was brought up in a rigid school of ritualism, directly opposed to the liberty of the gospel. I was from age and temper a staunch adherent of the principles of that school. Acting upon them, I relentlessly persecuted the Christian brotherhood. No human agency, therefore, could have brought about the change. It required a direct interposition from God.”—R.]
Gal 1:15, 16. But when it pleased God.—In the interest of his demonstration of the independence of his apostolate, as respects men, he here studiously emphasizes the activity of God in conferring it, going back even to the divine ordination thereto at his very conception. [LIGHTFOOT: “Observe how words are accumulated to tell upon the one point on which he is insisting—the sole agency of God as distinct from his own efforts.”—R.]—From my mother’s womb=when he was yet in his mother’s womb, he was already set apart as an Apostle. [SCHAFF: “Comp. Jerem. 1:5; Isa. 49:1. The decree of redemption is eternal as God’s love and omniscience, but its temporal realization begins in each individual case with the natural birth, and more properly with the gospel call and the spiritual birth. He refers, however, here more particularly to his call to the apostleship, for which he was ‘set apart’ or destined, elected and dedicated by a Divine act. Comp. the same term, Rom. 1:1; Acts 13:2.”—R.]—His calling followed afterwards near Damascus. In the Acts, Christ’s appearance only is mentioned; here Paul takes up the event with a more doctrinal reference, and hence refers this appearance to its first cause, God. This, of course, implies no discrepancy with the narrative of the Acts.—Although appearances favor such a view, “called” does not denote an earlier act, preceding the revelation (Gal 1:16) which, therefore, refers to subsequent revelations (MEYER) [The aorist participle, καλέσας, in this connection, at first sight, seems to refer to an act prior to the “revelation,” not, however, necessarily long before. It does not mean a “calling” in the Divine mind, as some infer from its connection with “set apart;” but most probably the Divine act which, “by means of His grace,” resulted immediately in his conversion, when the revelation was made. ELLICOTT: “The moving cause of the call was the Divine pleasure; the mediating cause, the boundless grace of God; the instrument, the heavensent voice” or revelation; the purpose of the setting apart, the call and the revelation alike was, “that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” “To reveal” depends on “pleased,” not on “called.”—R.]
So then “reveal” is only the explanation of the “calling;” more precisely: there is thereby indicated what took place at the calling, namely, the enlightenment and conviction then effected. For this reason also, because the calling comes into mention only as respects its result, he speaks only of revealing “His Son within me.” Accordingly Paul, in this passage, indeed, says nothing of having had an outward appearance of Christ. But, that Paul, in the expression, to reveal his Son within me, was thinking of a definite, individual fact, which was connected with a definite locality, the city or the neighborhood of the city of Damascus, and not of a purely internal event, appears most clearly from what follows Gal 1:17, “returned again.” “Had the event of his conversion been a purely inward one, his recollection of the locality where it occurred would not, more than twenty years after, have still forced itself so strongly into the foreground that, in describing only the general inner result of that revolution, he would have been constrained at once to think of Damascus.” PARET, Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1858. H. 1. Furthermore and principally, the whole proof which Paul here brings for his apostolic parity rests upon the fact that he had really and truly had an appearance of the Risen One. “I have not been called by men, but just as truly as the older Apostles, by Christ Himself to be an Apostle,” is his fundamental thought: how could he be thinking on a mere internal event, a vocation by Christ only in spirit? With that, instead of his equality, his difference from the others would have been established. Therefore, if any conclusion is justified, it is this: Paul has here in his eye the event related in the Acts; presupposing, however, the outward occurrence as well known, he avails himself only of that element of it which has pertinence here, namely, that he was inwardly enlightened concerning Christ, that Christ was revealed to his inner eye, to faith. Of his conversion in itself, Paul does not speak here, or only so far as it was a condition of his capacity for the apostleship, as through it the “calling” to be an Apostle became a reality. He dates his calling, therefore, from the moment of his conversion. Therefore, he continues: that I might preach him among the Gentiles.—Him whom God has revealed to him as His Son, he was, and is still (therefore the present), to declare as such; this is the gospel which he received “through revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:12), this “the gospel which was preached by me” (Gal 1:11).—Ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν: among the Gentile nations, therefore ἐν, not the dative. For Paul preached not merely to the Gentiles, but among the Gentile nations, first to the Jews dwelling among them, and only then to the heathen themselves.
Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood—Εὐθέως, of course, belongs strictly not to the negative sentence immediately following, but to the affirmative sentence: “went away into Arabia,” it does not, however, exclude a brief previous activity in Damascus, since the Apostle was only concerned to prove that he did not go out from Damascus in any other direction than Arabia, and particularly that he did not go to Jerusalem.—“I conferred not,” I addressed no communication to flesh and blood, in order to receive instruction and direction—“flesh and blood;” here merely—one clothed with a mortal body, therefore in sense equivalent simply to—Man. The conception is thus strongly expressed, because Man appears here in antithesis with God.
Gal 1:17. Neither went I away to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me.—This is the only distinction which he concedes between himself and them.—Into Arabia. “This Arabian journey is to be regarded as his first essay of foreign labor, and it is, by εὐθέως, put in connection with the purpose of the divine revelation, that he should preach the gospel among the heathen.”—(MEYER). Yet I would not on this account wholly reject the other conjectures that have been offered as to the purpose of this journey, such as seeking protection from the Jews, “severing himself from pressure of the national spirit,” and partially also, perhaps to prepare himself in stillness for his work.—This journey into Arabia is not mentioned in the Acts, probably because it was of short duration and therefore perhaps not known to Luke; it is, with most probability, placed in the time of the “many days,” Acts 9:23; the flight from Damascus must therefore be placed at the end of this second visit there. [Two questions arise: 1. as to the place; 2. the object of this sojourn. 1. Although “the desert region about Damascus” may have been the place (since Justin includes Damascus in Arabia, and Xenophon applies the name to the region beyond the Euphrates, Anab. I. 5), yet Paul is always more definite in his geographical statements than most ancient authors, and as in the only other place where Arabia is mentioned in the N. T. (Gal. 4:25), it must mean the Sinaitic peninsula, it seems decidedly preferable to refer it to that locality in this case. Besides, as LIGHTFOOT well remarks, any other view “deprives this visit of a significance which, on a more probable hypothesis, it possesses in relation to this crisis of St. Paul’s life.” If 4:25 refers to “Hagar” as the Arabic name of Sinai, the argument is conclusive, for he was not likely to have heard this name anywhere but on the spot. If it be a mere geographical remark, then it is a very indefinite one, granting that Paul here uses “Arabia” with so extended a signification. 2. “Paul’s object in this residence in Arabia, as seems most probable from the context, was not to preach the gospel—but to enjoy a season of undisturbed preparation for his high and holy calling. This period, therefore, belongs more properly to the history of the Apostle’s inward life; and this affords the simplest explanation of the silence of the book of Acts respecting it. It was for him a sort of substitute for the three years’ personal intercourse with the Lord, enjoyed by the other Apostles” (SCHAFF, Apostolic Church, p. 236). This view of the object confirms the opinion that the Sinaitic peninsula was the locality. Where Moses and Elijah had been before him, Paul went. “Thus in the wilderness of Sinai, as on the mount of transfiguration, the three dispensations met in one;” Law, Prophecy and Gospel; Moses, Elijah and Paul. Comp. LIGHTFOOT, p. 87 sq.; STANLEY, Sinai and Palestine, p. 50.—R.]
Gal 1:18.Then after three years.—To be reckoned probably from his calling to the apostleship; for he means: I did not go up at once to Jerusalem, but only three years after. This is the first journey of Paul to Jerusalem, Acts 9:26.—Ἱστορῆοαι Κ.=in order to become personally acquainted with Cephas, not: in order to obtain instruction from him. The more precise expression is therefore designedly chosen.—Fifteen days.—Had it been in itself possible that Paul at this time received instruction, still a course of instruction strictly so called, a schooling under the senior Apostles would not have been possible in so short a time. Hence the length of his stay is expressly mentioned. [Nor does the singling out of Peter prove anything more than his prominence among the Twelve; Paul puts himself on a par with all the Apostles, including Peter.—R.]
Gal 1:19. But other of the apostles I did not see.—“Apostle” must be taken in the strict sense of the Twelve, since it is precisely his parity with these that Paul wishes to make out. Therefore James the Lord’s brother is either to be reckoned among the Apostles and identified with James, the son of Alpheus, and so “brother” to be taken in the sense of “cousin;” or “save” (εἰ μή) is to be referred only to “I did not see”=another one of the apostles I did not see, but I saw only James. Grammatically the former is decidedly the less difficult; but the identification with James, the son of Alpheus, is attended with great difficulties. Comp. WIESELER in loco. Besides this impression is evidently conveyed, that Paul by the special addition he appends to the name, wishes to distinguish this James from the Apostles, not to include him in their number. For this reason the second interpretation is to be preferred. Although not an Apostle, this James could still be mentioned by Paul, as is done here, along with the Twelve, because he had a standing well-nigh apostolic. Respecting the question how the James mentioned Gal 2:9, is related to this James, see remarks on that passage. “The notice that at that time Paul only saw Peter and James in Jerusalem, does not conflict with the indefinite τοὺς ἀποστόλους, Acts 9:27, but authentically defines it.” MEYER.
[The interpretation turns upon the much discussed question what is meant by “the brethren of the Lord,” for unless this James can be identified with James, the son of Alpheus, he is not an Apostle. The view of LIGHTFOOT, ALFORD and others that he might be an Apostle, and yet not of the Twelve, seems altogether untenable. Only one point is undisputed: This James is the one who was frequently called by the church fathers “bishop of Jerusalem,” and also “the Just.” Whether he were an Apostle, whether he wrote the general Epistle, whether referred to again in this Epistle, are open questions. Without entering into an extended discussion, it will suffice to mention the leading views and their bearing on this passage, referring the reader to special dissertations. There are three principal theories. That the brethren of the Lord were 1. the sons of Joseph and Mary; 2. the sons of Joseph by a former wife; 3. the cousins of our Lord, either the sons of the Virgin’s sister, or the sons of Joseph’s brother, etc. 1 and 2 are the older views; 3 originated with Jerome.—On this latter theory alone can we identify James, the brother of our Lord, with James, the son of Alpheus, for the other theories imply that Joseph, not Alpheus, was his father. But this theory is with difficulty supported, for not only did it originate in an attempt to justify and thus enjoin virginity in man as well as woman, but it has always been forced to call to its aid mere conjectures. Hence, if it be rejected, our verse means that Paul saw none other of the Apostles, but he did see the Lord’s brother. To which view we are in a measure forced also by the statement of John (7:5: “neither did his brethren believe in him”) after the twelve were chosen. Comp. John 6:67, where “the twelve” are spoken of. That his brethren were afterwards believers is stated (Acts 1:14, where they are mentioned in distinction from the Apostles); the reason of the so speedy conversion may be found in 1 Cor.15:7, if “James,” of whom “he was seen,” be distinguished from “the twelve” (Gal 1:5) and “all the Apostles” in the same verse.
As between 1 and 2, it may be remarked, that it seems more natural to consider the brethren of our Lord the sons of Mary, were it not for two reasons, first, the instinctive repugnance (Jos. ADD. ALEXANDER) to such a view, and secondly, the fact that the dying Saviour committed His mother to another than these brethren, a strange fact, were they her own sons. Still these are not insuperable objections. The whole question is an open one, and it was only necessary to discuss it here so far as to decide upon the meaning of this particular passage. The reader is referred to LANGE’S Commentary, Matthew, p. 255 sq., where LANGE defends the modified cousintheory, and SCHAFF advocates at length the first view stated above. Also to LANGE’S Commentary, James, p. 9 sq.; SCHAFF, Monograph on James, Berlin, 1842; ALFORD, Prolegomena, Epistle of James. Comp. the authorities quoted by these writers. The best classification and history of opinions will be found in LIGHTFOOT, Dissertat. II., p. 247 sq., which has been freely used in the above remarks. He, however, defends the second theory. As regards this passage, it seems on the whole best to consider this James—1. as not identical with the son of Alpheus; 2. as not an Apostle. Both points are involved in the exegesis of the passage, but as εἰ μή is susceptible of either interpretation, these results must be reached on other than grammatical grounds. The grounds for the above opinions cannot be stated at length, but may be found in the more extended discussions.—R.]
[WORDSWORTH: “Paul’s meeting with Peter ana James. Peter cordially received him.—‘Fifteen days;’ ample time for Peter to have seen what I was, and to have proclaimed me to the world as a deceiver, if the Gospel which I preached was not consistent with his own. Therefore they who cavil at me involve Peter also in the charge of conniving at error and delusion.” But thus indicating his respect for Peter and James,“he wisely guards himself against any imputations on the part of his Judaizing adversaries, that he, a new Apostle, was liable to the charge of disparaging the original Apostles of Christ. And he prepares the way for what he is about to say in the next chapter concerning his resistance to St. Peter.”—R.]
Gal 1:20. Now the things which I write unto you.
Gal 1:20 contains a solemn asseveration, which has its ground in the importance of the account just given for the Apostle’s purpose, namely, to prove his own apostolic dignity.
[Gal 1:21. Into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;—No mention is made of his going into Syria in the narrative in the Acts, but he is said to have been brought down to Cesarea, and sent forth to Tarsus (in Cilicia), where Barnabas afterwards went to seek him (Acts 9:30; 11:25). There is no discrepancy. Paul may have gone to Antioch on his way to Cilicia, or returned that way in his labors before Barnabas came for him; or the expression here may be indefinite, since “Syria and Cilicia” appears in history almost as a generic geographical term, the more important district being mentioned first. Comp. CONY. and HOWSON. I. pp. 104, 105. LANGE’S Comm., Acts, p. 182.—R.]
Gal 1:22. And I was unknown.—This remark also belongs to the proof that he bad not been a disciple of the Apostles, for had he stood in near connection with them, he could not but have become known to the churches of Judea.—The churches of Judea, i.e., outside of Jerusalem. [The phrase which are in Christ Jesus, doubtless means “which are incorporated with Him who is the head” (ELLICOTT), yet it is also used to distinguish the bodies of believers from other bodies, of Jews, for example. ALFORD: “By thus showing the spirit with which the churches of Judea were actuated toward him, he marks more strongly the contrast between them and the Galatian Judaizers.”—R.]
Gal 1:23. Is now preaching the faith.—Πίστις here also not=Christian doctrine [it being very doubtful, as ELLICOTT remarks, whether πίστις ever has in the N. T., this more distinctly objective sense, so frequent in ecclesiastical writers. See also the valuable note of LIGHTFOOT, p. 152, sq. on the word “faith.”—R.], but=Faith; he preached that men should believe, as well as, of course, what they should believe. Formerly he sought by persecution to hinder men from believing in Christ, that is, he was destroying it; i.e., Faith.
Gal 1:24. In me.—Paul is not only regarded as the occasion of the praise, but as the foundation on which their faith rested. “With this impression which Paul then made upon the congregations in Judea, the hateful plotting of the Judaizers in Galatia against him stood in striking contrast. Therefore the added clause.” MEYER. [ELLICOTT: “The preposition in such cases as the present, points to the object as being, as it were, the sphere in which, or the substratum on which the action takes place.”—R.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. How Paul was taught. A right understanding of Gal 1:12, according to which Paul here denies only that his calling and preparation to be an Apostle (a preacher of the gospel) was through men, is by no means inconsistent with assuming, as in any case is necessary, that Paul learned the historical particulars of the life of Jesus not by immediate intuition, but through the testimony of men, as indeed the Apostle in other passages unhesitatingly expresses the traditional character of his historical knowledge, as in 1 Cor.15:1; 9:14; 7:10, 25; also 9:23. Comp. on this the instructive article of PARET, “Paul and Jesus.” Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie B. 3, H. 1,1858. “The passage in the Galatians,” remarks PARET, “becomes, in fact, first fairly intelligible by assuming as above. Just because Paul was remitted, in respect to particulars, to the testimony of others, could his opposers make the attempt to represent his whole knowledge and teaching, and ultimately his faith in Jesus itself, as something merely derivative, to construct the whole man, as it were, out of purely external Christian influences, human in immediate origin, and thereby to depress him in the esteem of his churches below the Apostolic elevation, to place him on one level with common Christians, and to dispute his right to make valid decisions in the domain of doctrine and discipline. If his antagonists thus made this one side prominent, in a one-sided, unintelligent way, Paul was constrained, accordingly, to bring the other side forward in the strongest light: to show that it was not from men or through any man that he from a persecutor had become an Apostle, but through Jesus Christ Himself, whom he had seen alive; that his gospel was not a school task got by heart, but rested upon a revelation of Jesus.” But according to the representation of the course of events in our chapter, according to which Paul for three years did not come at all, and then came only for a very short time, into contact with the senior Apostles, we must assume that he did not derive even his knowledge of the historical particulars of the life of Jesus from these, but from other Christians; possibly from Ananias. In view of the attack which his apostolic rank suffered, compared with that of the senior Apostles, even this circumstance is of moment to him, although it was not from the beginning precisely the result of design.
[It will appear from the exegetical notes on Gal 1:12, how labored an effort is required to support the view, that Paul does not intend to assert here that he had learned his gospel through revelation from Jesus Christ. Of course on any theory of inspiration, save that mechanical one, which ignores the human element, it will be admitted that Paul learned the facts of the life and death of Christ from human lips; but that must be a narrow view of the gospel as Paul preached it, which could limit his “being taught it” to such human statements.“Paul does not mean here the outward historical information concerning the life of Christ, but the internal exhibition of Christ to his spiritual sense as the Messiah, and the only and all-sufficient Saviour of the world, and the unfolding of the true import of His death and resurrection; in other words the spiritual communication of the gospel system of saving truth as taught by him in his sermons and Epistles” (SCHAFF). It is more in accordance both with Paul’s argument here, and with the actual phenomena of his history to believe that after the revelation on the way to Damascus there were “subsequent special disclosures of the Spirit, respecting single points of Christian doctrine and practice; for we are to conceive the inspiration of the Apostles in general as not merely an act, done once for all, but a permanent influence and state, varying in strength as occasion required” (SCHAFF). ELLICOTT very judiciously remarks: “On the one hand we may reverently presume that all the fundamental truths of the Gospel would be fully revealed to St. Paul before he commenced preaching; so, on the other, it might have been ordained, that (in accordance with the laws of our spiritual nature) its deeper mysteries and profounder harmonies should be seen and felt through the practical experiences of his apostolical labors.”—R.]
2. The Revelation from Jesus Christ. Paul has been called by the Lord Himself to the apostleship, as well as the other Apostles, with the single exception that they were called by the Lord in His state of humiliation, he by the Lord in His state of exaltation; this is the fundamental truth, which stands to the Apostle immovably firm, and on which he founded the whole proof of his apostolic parity. There can therefore be no doubt that he was conscious of an objective appearance of Christ, in the well known occurrence on the way to Damascus, and we have in the decision with which Paul himself in this doctrinal treatise, in opposition to hostilely disposed antagonists, asserts this immediateness of his calling through Christ, the simplest and surest proof for the historical character of the narrative respecting the conversion of Paul contained in the Acts. For, as has been already remarked in the exegesis, we are of course not to think of a merely internal vocation—a calling in spirit. Such a notion would take away from the proof which Paul is setting forth its very ground and foundation. It is true that in it a spiritual operation, an operation of the Spirit of God upon the mind of the Apostle, also took place (“to reveal within me”), but only in consequence of the objective outward appearance of Christ. This itself was, first of all, the deciding and penetrating power; upon it all turned. And very naturally. That Christ had risen and was living, became by means of this at once a certainty to Paul. This, however, involved almost necessarily that total revolution of all his views and of the direction of his life, which followed. For Paul was a man who even previously stood upon the foundation of Israelitish faith, and whose faith in the Messiah was in itself steadfast, and who had even been misled by this to take his hostile position against Jesus and His cause, under the delusion that the dignity of Messiah was claimed for Him presumptuously. So much the more overpowering must the impression of the actual appearance of Christ, who was thereby manifested as risen and exalted to Heaven, have been upon him. This was a sudden collapse of the system held fast with so much zeal, a sudden conviction of the nothingness of that persuasion to which he had so energetically clung, and, moreover, a conviction through fact, against which therefore there was nothing more to object. As it would have been almost incomprehensible if that effect had not followed, which did follow, so on the other hand this effect presupposes the definite cause which is related in the Acts, and indicated by the Apostle himself in this passage. [That the conversion of Paul must necessarily follow the actual appearance of Jesus Christ to him, is not to be assumed in order to establish the fact of such appearance; for as in the narrative prominence is given to the actual revelation to Paul, here the stress is laid by the Apostle himself on the other fact, the revelation of Christ within him; both facts are essential in accounting for the conversion of Paul, and for Christianity itself.—R. ] That the Apostle in this passage by“revelation from Christ,” “to reveal His Son within me,” means primarily only the external revelation at his conversion is, of course, not inconsistent with his having received subsequent revelations, such as that mentioned in Acts 22:17, which, however, as an εἶναι ἐν ἐκστάσει, appears to be distinguished from that first fundamental one, or such as are alluded to in 2 Cor.12, and besides immediately afterwards in this Epistle 2:2. (Comp. 1 Tim. 1:13).
3. The calling of Paul. The conversion of Paul according to his own representation is to be viewed essentially as a call to the apostleship. Although at the same time his conversion was of course for him personally, of the greatest moment, and undoubtedly the condition of his apostolic activity (comp. 1 Tim.1:14), yet strictly speaking the appearance on the way to Damascus had as its end the calling to the apostleship as well, and not merely his personal conversion to Christianity. Indeed, according to the Apostle’s own conception, the eighth chapter of Acts would be better entitled: the Calling of Paul. In this relation of the event to the whole church—inasmuch as it specially concerned the calling of an Apostle, that which is extraordinary in it, namely, the revelation of Christ finds its explanation. This event appears also as a call to the apostleship according to the representation of the Apostle in Acts 9:15; 22:15; 26:17, that is, it was first made known to Ananias, but in immediate connection with the wonderful scene, so that the purpose of the latter cannot be mistaken, and Paul, before Herod Agrippa, Acts 26:17, could speak of the message which was communicated to him by the mouth of Ananias, as an immediate message of Jesus to himself. The definite direction to preach the gospel among the Gentiles, Paul first received, according to Acts 22:21, during his first visit to Jerusalem. Yet even the first commission he received, pointed in a very distinct manner to the Gentiles, so that from the very beginning his call as Apostle of the Gentiles, in distinction from the other Apostles, was firmly established. So far, therefore, Paul is not to be reckoned with them, as thirteenth or indeed as twelfth (if the choice of Matthias be considered a premature one), but he stands beside them, in a certain measure over against them, with a special calling; only in the originality of his apostleship he is not inferior to them, but fully their peer. Comp. 2:7, 9. Futhermore, the special purpose of his calling stands certainly in a causal connection with the manner of the calling. “The Paul who through so unexpected a mercy of God was brought to the knowledge of His Son, was well fitted for the preaching of the same among the Gentiles, called as they also were out of God’s unlooked for mercy” (RIEGER). The very manner of his calling, out of pure grace, passing thus a sentence of condemnation upon the legal position, caused him to know that to the Gentiles also, who, are ἄνομοι, the way to salvation of grace most stand open. Comp. also for 2 and 3, LANGE’S Commentary, Acts, p. 165 sq.
4. Paul set apart by God. Paul cannot regard himself otherwise than as destined by God Himself, even in his mother’s womb, for what he now is, separated to the peculiar calling of the apostleship (an analogy, as it were, to the Nazarite’s vow, by which the child was dedicated, even from the womb, to be a Nazarite). His life up to his conversion, Paul then of course regards as standing in opposition to this, his divine destination; and therefore a special vocation was necessary. This vocation, however, has its root in the elections and as this, of course, was an entirely free one, founded on no manner of merit (as being entirely predent to the whole course of his life), the calling, therefore, was a pure act of grace (“by his grace”), on account of the opposition in which the previous life of Paul stood to his destined work. In the connection of this particular passage Paul contemplates his previous life from no other point of view, and certainly therefore does not designate himself as one set apart even from his mother’s womb, because he thought that before his conversion he possessed qualities for the sake of which God had called him. It is true his natural gifts and his acquirements of knowledge served to capacitate him for his vocation; and it was doubtless providential that even before his conversion he was the person that he was; and this natural adaptedness itself had its root in the divine destination of the man. And negatively, beyond question, the legal zeal by which Paul was animated, bringing as it did his subsequent evangelical position into so much more decided contrast with it, was advantageous to his apostolic activity, as in general the zeal with which Paul acted—at first, it is true, in the interest of the law, turned afterwards to the good of the gospel. Otherwise, however, his religious character, as a blindly legal, Pharisaical one, resting on the righteousness of works, stood in decided opposition to his destination. “ ‘He has called me,’ says the Apostle. But how? For my standing as a Pharisee? For my holy and blameless life? For my admirable works? No; I trow! Still less, then, for my blasphemy against God, my persecution and mad rage. How then? Through his pure grace.” LUTHER.—[CALVIN:—He intends to assert that his calling depends on the secret election of God; and that he was ordained an Apostle not because by his own industry he had fitted himself, but because God had counted him worthy to undertake that high office, and because, before he was born, he had been set apart by the secret purpose of God. The Apostle had most explicitly attributed his calling to the free grace of God, when he traced its origin to his separation from the womb. But he repeats the direct statement (“by his grace”) both to take away all grounds of boasting by his commendation of Divine grace, and to testify his own gratitude to God.—R.]
5. Paul’s walk in Judaism. “His former walk Paul calls a walk in Judaism: if it had been a walk in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham, it would have led him to faith in the gospel. It was, therefore, a walk in the Judaism that was tending towards apostasy, that, under pretext of the law, would defend itself against the faith in Christ.” RIEGER.—Judaism of course here means the Jewish religion in its then form, when the soul of the Old Covenant, by which it pointed beyond itself, and in general its character of promise, was more or less overlooked. Or at least the legal sense in which the whole divine revelation was then apprehended, took away the right understanding of this character of promise. Hence the incapacity to understand Him in whom the fulfillment came. On this account proficiency in Judaism and persecution of the Christian church could go hand in hand with each other.
6. Paul’s solemn oaths. The solemn asseverations which Paul more than once utters (in Gal 1:20, Rom. 1:9; 9:1; 2 Cor. 11:31), would of themselves sufficiently show how little the passages, Matt. 5:34 sq., James 5:12 sq., are meant to forbid swearing in itself and totally, and how unwarranted it is to limit lawful oaths to oaths required by the magistrate, while on the other hand we certainly cannot be too strongly warned against all lightness in the taking of an oath. It must ever, as here, have respect to a weighty matter. [WORDSWORTH from Augustine: “An oath which cometh not from the evil of him who swears, but from the unbelief of him to whom he swears, is not against our Lord’s precept: ‘Swear not.’ Our Lord commands that as far as in us lies we should not swear; which command is broken by those who have in their mouths an oath as if it were something pleasant in itself. As far as in him lies, the Apostle swears not. He does not catch at an oath with eagerness, but when he swears it is by constraint, through the infirmity or incredulity of those who will not otherwise believe what he says.”—R.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Gal 1:11. RIEGER:—In the address he has omitted the customary appellations: saints, beloved of God, etc.; after the first rebuke, however, he now adds, as the mollifying ointment, the name of “brethren.” What we cannot always do in unimpaired love, may yet be done at times in hope.
Gal 1:12. LUTHER (who emphasizes this so expressly in remarking on this passage):—Human teaching, human tradition, though it come down from holy fathers and teachers, from the holy Church herself, is in itself nothing; for in all this there may be error, just because it is human. And hence we must not let any one scare us by appealing to never so great human authorities; over against all this the only concern is, to abide simply by the Word of God.
SPENER:—Such as should be true, enlightened preachers, must have learned the Gospel through revelation from Christ; not immediately, to be sure, but so that, having been instructed by men, Christ’s spirit by means of such instruction having become a power in their hearts, they truly have a divine light in their souls, from which they then enlighten others.
The gospel no work of man: 1. as a word of doctrine, not sprung from men, nor taught by men, but by Christ Himself (who brought it Himself and through whom alone His people have it); 2. as a word of comfort, only through Him can we commit ourselves to it; 3. as a word of power, in which there should be no change, from which no departure.
Gal 1:13. RIEGER:—Oh, how often and how toilsomely do we gather much that in the right light must be counted harm and dung, and cast from us.—QUESNEL:—A man may make his past sins known out of pride, but also out of humility. Whoever does not boast himself of the same, but humbles himself therefor before God, and willingly bears the shame of them before men, not relying upon himself, makes a good confession, but one not needful to be uttered before every man, as sometimes it would bring more scandal than benefit.—From STARKE:—God is wise, permitting some things to be accomplished even by His enemies, that in His time He will direct to His own honor, to which before they were quite opposed. Paul studied in the law, and in his ancestral institutions, that he might thereby the better withstand the Christians. This afterwards served to enable him to dispute all the better with the Jews in favor of Christianity, as thoroughly understanding their side.
Gal 1:14. BERLENB. BIBLE:—Even unconverted men may be exceedingly zealous for ancestral traditions, traditional doctrines.—[Yes, the might of traditions, because received from “my fathers,”—whether from God or no, not being taken into the account,—is often in proportion to the ignorance of real Christianity. How conservative, yet often how contracting and how cruel the zeal for “the traditions of my fathers!” True in every age.—R.]—STARKE:—Good intentions do not of themselves make a thing good before God. Many a one means well in his conduct, and see, he still is doing a sin; yes, out of good intentions the most cruel actions may sometimes arise. Such sins, however, are much less heinous than those which spring from real godlessness and malice.
On Gal 1:13, 14.—Judaism and the Old Testament are different from one another: 1. the former closes the sense for Christ; 2. the latter opens it.—Persecution of the Church of God 1. takes place so easily in false zeal; 2. is so evil, therefore, take good heed!—When against others, so zealous; when for them, so lukewarm!—Take heed: is not thy progress, in reality, a retrogression?—Zeal for ancestral traditions 1. in itself good, but 2. no proof of a converted heart.—Condemnation of the perverseness of a former walk: 1. It must take place within, as a sign of a converted heart; 2. it may also become necessary before others, yet so that it is always done in humility.
Gal 1:15. WÜRT. SUMM.:—Behold the Fatherly Providence of God, who careth for us and marks out the course of our life from our mother’s womb. Think not that God hath passed thee over, and that thou must care for thyself. Fear God and trust Him, for what He has designed for us from our mother’s womb will be sure to come, and no one shall divert it from us.—BERLENB. BIBLE:—As Paul here does, so should we look back and behold God from behind, as God says to Moses. God gives preintimations, which are forgotten. But then men should wake up when the work of God is fulfilled, and bethink themselves. His work is nothing uncertain and doubtful, although we cannot constrain others to believe it. Nevertheless we yet ourselves may know well enough how we are to look upon it.
[BUSHNELL:—Every man’s life a plan of God. Go to God Himself, and ask for the calling of God; for as certainly as He has a place or calling for you, He will somehow guide you into it. Do you call it success, that you are getting on in a plan of your own? There cannot be a greater delusion.—R.]
Gal 1:16. SPENER:—To the rightly profitable administration of the preacher’s office, there is needful the revelation of God in us, that we should have a living knowledge of that which we are to declare to others. Without this, the word preached retains, to be sure, its power, if it is left pure and unadulterated; but such people cannot well leave it pure, or set it forth worthily; they understand not to apply it rightly, and destroy much of its power with the hearers.—BERL. BIBLE:—The true work of God is done within, albeit He uses all manner of means thereto. The hurt is within; therefore, must the enlightenment also have place within. God must come and take away the veil. There needs then a heavenly illumination. This is the crown of conversions, that the Son becomes right plainly known to a man. But there are many veils between, and one after another is taken away, till one comes at last into the knowledge of God and the Son.
RIEGER:—The Son of God is still the pith and kernel of all revelation to be wished for in the heart.—LUTHER:—If the gospel is a revelation of the Son of God, as Paul declares, it is then certain that it does not accuse poor consciences, nor terrify them, but of Christ alone does it teach, who is no law nor work, but our righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption.—The gospel is a divine word, that comes down from Heaven, and is revealed by the Holy Ghost, yet so that the outward word goes before. For even St. Paul himself first heard the outward word from Heaven: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Not till then did he have secret and hidden, inner revelations.—Among the Gentiles, therefore, should be preached no law, but the gospel; no Moses, but God’s Son; no righteousness of works. but the righteousness of faith. This is the right preaching, whereto the heathen have claim, and which is apt for them.—STARKE:—Paul was chiefly a teacher of the Gentiles, and that of divine purpose. Therefore we act not against God’s counsel if we keep especially to Paul’s writings (not excluding the other apostolical books), because in these we find most distinctly and most expressly what suits our condition, and is needful for us to know.—[WORDSWORTH:—A striking contrast! He who had been stricken with blindness as a persecutor, has now Christ, the Light of the world, revealed in him as a preacher. He who was himself dark, has become a light to others, a light revealing to them Christ.—R.]
On Gal 1:15 and 16. The grace of God, as free (without any merit of ours) as it is mighty in working—it can change the hearts so fully, that the man throws himself into the directly opposite course.—It is God, who defines our life’s course: therefore, courage!—All depends on this, that the Son of God be revealed in us.—The revelation of Christ in us: 1. wherein it consists; 2. how it is brought to pass (only through God’s grace); 3. whereto it helps.—Christ, the marrow 1. of all Christian knowledge, 2. of all Christian testimony.—God reveals His Son in the hearts of believers, that they may preach Him among the Gentiles. The former attains its purpose only in the latter; the latter has its foundation only in the former.—Every Christian, even without a special call to the ministry, is yet called to preach Christ among the heathen, that is he is called to a steady testimony in deed (and more or less also in word), against all heathen living, to call men back from dead idols to serve the living God.
Gal 1:16. LUTHER:—Herein the Apostle did right. For it would, indeed, have been a godless thing, if he would have had the divine revelation Strengthened by man’s counsel, like one who doubted thereon.—STARKE, after the Berlenb. Bible:—Yet the meaning is not, that we may not hear other people’s opinion, yet we are not to give it the præ, the upper hand, where God has given His testimony. If the will of God is plain, and if the matter is plain in God’s word, there is no need to ask other men for counsel. But if the will of God is yet doubtful, we may well ask good friends for advice; only these advisers must be such as possess the fear of God and wisdom.—RIEGER:—Now, as then, the surest course for every one who will find the way of life is, to look alone upon God’s commandment, to make the testimonies of the Lord his counsellors, and to hasten thereunto. Without this faithfulness in that which is hidden, the best advice of another may become a temptation and a snare.—HEDINGER:—Much doubting and long considering spoils matters. The good will, which God creates, goes to work and does not stand hesitating long.
Divine guidance and human counsel in their right relation to each other.
Gal 1:17 sq. RIEGER:—God foresaw all that would afterwards be brought against Paul, therefore He so ordered his ways that men could not say: he received his authority from the chief Apostles at Jerusalem; nor yet on the other side: he does not presume to go to Jerusalem; he joins himself with no one. God’s good Spirit always brings us out into a plain way.
Even the apparently slight, accidental circumstances of our lives stand under God’s direction; if we know it not at the time, yet afterwards we do.
[Gal 1:18. BURKITT:—Ministers ought to maintain correspondency and familiarity with each other, in token of their harmony. But though this visit was in the most delightful and desirable, yea most profitable company, yet it was but for fifteen days. After the short time spent in visiting, we must return to our business, and mind, above all things, our ministerial charge.—R.]
Gal 1:20. STARKE:—God is a witness of the truth, and a righteous judge of all lies. Can you in all that you say, call on God as the witness of its truth? In all cases this ought to be possible, although it is seldom needful or proper. Gal 1:21. It is excellent, when any one, having left his country and his friends, a wicked man, returns back to them again a true child of God. Universities should especially serve this purpose, that those who went to them unconverted youths, should return home converted ones. Gal 1:23. It is of God’s grace, when from a persecutor and misleader a man becomes a true teacher and confessor. O wonder! Is not that as much as if a dead man were raised to life? And it serves to the praise of the Divine compassion, that the Lord does not destroy His enemies, but wins them over and converts them to his service.—RIEGER:—The glory redounding to God from his conversion has wiped out much of the harm of his former course.
When Jesus, here and there again,
His time of grace declares,
That mercy count as thine own gain,
Which others find as theirs.
2. In a subsequent conference in the mother church, he had most definitely guarded the Gospel liberty over against the demands of false brethren; while the Apostles had been fully convinced of his divine mission to preach to the Gentiles, and hence in an entirely free and peaceful agreement a division of the field of labor had been decided upon, and the Gentile world committed to him, without any obligation (respecting doctrine) to the mother church.
Gal 1:11.—The Recepta γνωρίζω δέ is well attested, adopted by Lachmann and latterly by Tischendorf. [Alford retains γάρ on the authority of B. F. and a few others; δέ is adopted by Wordsworth, Ellicott and Lightfoot, on the authority of א, A. D23. K. L. and most versions. “Now I declare unto you” is taken from E. V., 1 Cor. 15:1, where the Greek is the same.—R.]
Gal 1:12.—[Ellicott’s rendering given above, is an alteration made to retain the emphasis on “I,” and to indicate that the first negative is not strictly correlative to the second. “From” instead of “of,” in conformity with modern usage.—R.]
Gal 1:12.—[The genitive Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a subjective genitive. See EXEG. NOTES.—R.]
Gal 1:13.—[Ἰουδαϊσμῷ is better rendered literally. So in Gal 1:14.—R.]
Gal 1:13.—[The sense of the imperfect, ἐπόρθουν, is best expressed thus. Schaff renders: “labored to destroy.” The same change in Gal 1:23.—R.]
Gal 1:14.—[Schaff thus renders it. The E. V. is unusually unsatisfactory here; the ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, συνηλικιώτας means “contemporaries.”—R.]
Gal 1:15.—Ὁ Θεός of Rec. is rejected by Tischendorf, and bracketted by Lachmann. א. has the words [so also A. D. K. L., many cursives and versions; retained by Ellicott, Wordsworth. There are paradiplomatic reasons for retaining it, but if a gloss, undoubtedly a correct one.—R.]
Gal 1:15—[“Separated” has a local sense not intended here.—R.]
Gal 1:17.—Of the two readings ἀνῆλθον (Rec.) and ἀπῆλθον, about equally attested, the second is decidedly preferable on internal grounds. Not only does the latter give a more formal and sharper antithesis; οὐδὲ ἀπῆλθον—ἀλλὰἀπῆλθον, but the former betrays itself as a correction from the fact that ἀνέρχομαι or ἀναβαίνω is generally used of the journey to Jerusalem, as in Gal 1:18. Wieseler. א. has ἀνῆλθον, [adopted by Tischendorf, Wordsworth. B. D. F. have ἀπῆλθον; adopted by Lachmann, Meyer, Wieseler, Alford, Ellicott; Lightfoot is doubtful. “Went away follows the latter reading.—R.]
Gal 1:18.—Instead of Πέτρον (Rec.), Κηφᾶν is to be read, as also in 2:9, 11, 14. So also א. The Hebrew name was suppressed by the Greek gloss, hence in 2:7, 8, where Paul himself wrote the Greek name, the variation Κηφᾶς; is not found [So all modern editors. Ἱστορῆσαι means more than to see, “to visit, to make the acquaintance of.”—R.]
Gal 1:23.—[The English text has been amended to bring out the force of the Greek imperfects.—R.]