Galatians 4
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
c. In their condition of minority the sons of God were indeed held as servants = were under the law; but with the sending of the Son fo God the time of majority, and therefore of the full position of sons and heirs, is come.

(Gal 4:1–7)

(The Epistle for the Sunday after Christmas.)

1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing [in nothing] from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2But is under tutors and governors [guardians and stewards]1 until the time appointed of the father. 3Even so we, when we were children, were [or were kept]2 in bondage under the elements [στοιχεῖα, rudiments]3 of the world: 4But when the fulness of the time was come [came], God sent 5forth his Son, made [born]4 of a woman, made [born] under the law, To redeem [That he might redeem]5 them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6And because ye are sons,6 God hath [omit hath] sent forth the 7Spirit of his Son into your [our]7 hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore [So then, ὥστε] thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ [heir through God].8


This section depends on the proposition which Paul announced at the close of the preceding one, that Christians are no longer under the νόμος παιδαγωγός, because they are sons of God, and heirs. It distinguishes, with a reference to Israel, which was God’s son, and yet was under the law, a twofold condition of the sons of God, the condition of minority, when they were still kept in bondage, and the condition of majority, when that bondage ceased, and therewith the proper position of sons first began.

Gal 4:1. Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child—“The heir”=the son, as the one who—by law and descent.—is heir, even though he does not until afterwards come into possession of the property. He is lord of all =has the right thereto; nay, if the father is dead, he is actual possessor, only he cannot enjoy it, cannot assert his character as master, so long as he is under guardians as νήπιος, a child, [an infant, a minor. LIGHTFOOT: “The minor was legally in much the same position as the slave. He could perform no act, except through his legal representative. This responsible person, the guardian in the case of the minor, the master in case of the slave, who represents him to the state—was termed in Attic law κύριος Prospectively, however, though not actually, the minor was κν́ριος πάντων, which the slave was not.”—R.] The most natural reference is to a child placed under guardianship, whose father is dead, especially on account of the expression κύριος πάντων; and this is favored by the direct application to the son, of the term κληρονόμος, heir. Some interpreters, it is true, cite the expression: “until the time appointed of the father,” as inconsistent with this, on the ground that the age of majority was legally determined; but this objection has too pedantic a character. [ALFORD: “The question, whether the father of the heir here is to be thought of as dead, or absent, or living and present, is in fact one of no importance; nor does it belong properly to the consideration of this passage. The fact is, the antitype breaks through the type, and disturbs it; as is the case wherever the idea of inheritance is spiritualized. The supposition in our text is, that a father has pre-ordained a time for his son and heir to come of age, and till that time, has subjected him to guardians and stewards. In the type, the reason might be absence, or decease, or even high office or intense occupation of the father; in the antitype, it is the Father’s sovereign will; but the circumstances equally exist.” So Ellicott and LIGHTFOOT.—R.]

Gal 4:2. Guardians and stewards.—Επίτροπος also usually signifies guardian. Here, as =he who counsels the ward, defends him, and directs him. It is distinguished from οἰκονόμος =agent, a steward of the estate. The twofold expression is meant to bring out more strongly the idea of dependence.—Until the time appointed of the father.—Προθεσμίαtempus præstitutum, appointed term, only here in N. T., but frequently in the classics, Philo and Josephus.” MEYER. [Objection is made to the view that the definite time was appointed by the father (MEYER and others), since the term was fixed by statute in Roman law. Some suppose a reference to some exceptional legislation as respected the Galatians. But this difficulty arises only on the supposition that the father is conceived of as dead, which is but a supposition. Besides it is unnecessary, as implied above, to press the illustration.—R.]

Gal 4:3. Even so we.—To be taken strictly = the Jewish Christians. They must be such as were “under the law” (Gal 4:5). [MEYER objects strongly to this limitation and with reason, urging 1) the sense of “rudiments of the world,” 2) that in Gal 4:5, where the first clause evidently refers to the Jewish Christians alone, the second, taking up ἡμεῖς again, as evidently refers to Christians generally, since Gal 4:6 addresses such, and 3) that οὐκέτι (Gal 4:7) and τότε (Gal 4:8), applied to the Galatians, refer back to the servile condition. ALFORD, ELLICOTT and others admit only a secondary reference to the Gentile Christians. This is perhaps sufficiently satisfactory, but the whole context seems to refer it to Jews and Gentiles alike (LIGHTFOOT).—R.] When we were children, νήπιοι.—The pre-christian state is regarded as a childhood in relation to the Christian state of the same persons, only the Christian state then is regarded as ripe age (the comparison is differently applied 1 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 4:13). In childhood a state of bondage existed [the perfect indicating a continued state.—R.]; the external position was that of a servant, not that of the free son. For we were yet ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, under the rudiments of the world.—For the different explanations which this difficult expression has received, see MEYER or WIESELER. According to my view the expression applies in any case only to Judaism, especially to the “law” (an Apostle Paul could not possibly comprehend Heathenism and Judaism under one idea, regarding them thus as virtually equivalent); and moreover στοιχεῖα, especially in view of 4:9, is to be taken in any case in a spiritual sense=beginnings of religion, elementary wisdom; for only with that do the expressions άσθενῆ καὶ πτωχά, “weak and beggarly,” agree. [Στοιχεῖα, originally the letters of the alphabet, as being set in rows. The question here is, has it a physical or an ethical reference. The fathers adopted the former view. The latter: “elementary teaching,” is now generally received, and is supported by its simplicity, its accordance with the idea of “minor” running through the context, as well as by Col. 2:8. See notes on that passage. Against the limitation to Judaism, see below.—R. ]

Τοῦ κόσμου is either general = Mankind; “the collective human world is conceived as an I individual subject, needing the Divine training, to which God, in its boyish age, lasting till the sending of Christ, gave the elementary instruction of the law” (WIESELER). It is true that the heathen world=this part of the κόσμος, had not these rudiments, but for that very reason does not here, where the object is the exposition of the Divine pedagogy, come into consideration. Or could “the world” be taken in a more specific sense, more fully characterizing the “rudiments” themselves = elements, which primarily belong only to the sphere of “the world,” of the visible, the external, and hence themselves having the like character, themselves external (comp. LUTHER), opposed to the higher stage, as pneumatic or heavenly? Comp. τὸ ἅγιον κοσμικόν, Heb. 9:1 (WIESELER). [The first view seems preferable, but without the limitation to Judaism, which grows out of Schmoller’s view of “we.” For there was a Divine pedagogy in heathenism also, under which most of these to whom Paul wrote “were kept in bondage.” Lexically such a limitation is highly improbable. MEYER refers “world” to non-Christian humanity, and “the rudiments of the world” would then mean, not anti-Christian teachings, but the rudimentary training of non-Christian, ante-Christian humanity, including both Judaism and the strivings of heathenism, which may indeed have generally taken the form of external ceremonies, but which were alike propædeutic, the one containing besides an element absolutely good, absorbed in the gospel, the other, an element absolutely bad, antagonistic to the gospel. The Christian view of Ancient History, now generally received, strongly favors this interpretation. See CALVIN, MEYER, and comp. Col. 2:8; also a thoughtful note of LIGHTFOOT, p. 170 sq., comparing the component parts of Judaism and heathenism.—R.]

Gal 4:4, 5. But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son. = When the measure of time was full: and this was full when the time appointed by God had elapsed. The time is conceived as a measure. [LIGHTFOOT: “It was ‘the fulness of time.’ First: in reference to the giver. The moment had arrived which God had ordained from the beginning and foretold by His prophets for Messiah’s coming. This is implied in the comparison ‘the time appointed of the Father.’ Secondly: In reference to the recipient. The gospel was withheld until the world had arrived at mature age; law had worked out its educational purpose and now was superseded. This educational work had been twofold: 1. Negative: It was the purpose of all law, but especially of the Mosaic law, to deepen the conviction of sin and thus to show the inability of all existing systems to bring men near to God This idea which is so prominent in the Epistle to the Romans appears in the context here, Gal 4:19, 21. 2. Positive: The comparison of the child implies more than a negative effect. A moral and spiritual expansion, which rendered the world more capable of apprehending the gospel than it would have been at an earlier age, must be assumed, corresponding to the growth of the individual; since otherwise the metaphor would be robbed of more than half its meaning.—The primary re ference in all this is plainly to the Mosaic law; but the whole context shows that the Gentile converts of Galatia are also included, and that they too are regarded as having undergone an elementary discipline, up to a certain point analogous to that of the Jew.”—R.]

Born of a woman.—Conveying no allusion to His miraculous conception, but simply an emphatic designation of the Incarnation, defining precisely “sent forth.” The reality of the Incarnation is emphasized, in order, in the first place, to bring fully into view the humiliation which God imposed on His Son, and to make this contrast felt: He humbled Himself—we were exalted. But this humiliation did not consist in the Incarnation alone, it was only the beginning; its full expression is found in born under the law, and the contrast becomes thereby still stronger: He was brought under bondage—we, into freedom. Yet of course the object is not merely to make the contrast sensible, but “born of a woman” and “under the law” is mentioned, because it was the means of attaining the end which was to be attained, namely, that he might redeem, etc.—i. e., primarily and principally the being “born under the law” was this means, but this again was only possible through His really becoming man.—Τενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον, probably simply=born under the law, not: brought under the law. The primary meaning of this is, in general, that by virtue of His Jewish birth, He, like every Israelite, was subordinated to the requirements of the law, and we are therefore to supplement “redeem them that were under the law” with ἐκ τοῦ νόμου, “from the law=that He might make those subjected to the law free from the law=that He might free them from the state of subjection under it, from their obligation to it, from the “bondage” just mentioned. The sense of “redeem” is given by the simple addition: ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσ.κ.τ.λ., = might translate us from the position of servants into the free position of sons. Primarily, only this is implied in the words, and the expression therefore is not immediately convertible with the narrower, more defined one in 3:13; although, indeed, if we look for the causal nexus between Christ’s being born under the law and His redeeming those under the law, we shall be led back to the thought expressed 3:13, as the connecting one, namely, that the one who stood “under the law” became by this law “a curse” =bore also the curse of this law, and thus freed the men who stood under the curse of this law from this curse of the law, and therewith from the law altogether, from dependence on it, since in the place of that dependence there now naturally came a believing self-surrendering to the Liberator. This filling out the thought by a reference to the death of Christ, gives moreover to “born of woman” also, its full significance; for only through this was death itself possible, as only through the being “born under the law” was it possible as a death under the curse of the law.

That we might receive the adoption of Sons.—Properly the position of sons [υἱο θε σία] as opposed to the position of servants. Even “under the law” they were in themselves ὑιοί , but as yet differing in nothing from servants; through Christ they first attained also to the position of sons, differed from servants.Υἱοθεσία There means then more exactly: the right of the free, major son. This may very well be designated simply as υἱοθεσία, since sonship de facto really begins with it, the son thereby first becomes properly a son.—That a sonship relatively to God is here treated of, is made apparent by the connection. [Schmoller evidently refers “we,” in this clause, to Jewish Christians alone; but the objections of MEYER and others to such a limitation (see on Gal 4:3), apply with great force here. That it breaks the force of the Apostle’s argument, and destroys the connection of the whole passage, to restrict it thus, is evident from the explanation into which Schmoller is forced in his remarks on the succeeding verse. It may be allowed that, in the previous clause, “those under the law” refers to Jewish Christians alone, but a wider reference of “we” to all Christians must be insisted upon.—R.]

Gal 4:6. And because ye are sons.—Remarkable is the abrupt transition into the address to the Galatians, whereas what preceded applied to the Jewish Christians; for these were “those under the law,” while the Galatians were, at all events, predominantly Gentile Christians. But through the sending of the Son the Gentiles also were to obtain the sonship with God, and they did actually obtain it through faith in Him. He can therefore naturally say to Gentile Christians also: Ye are sons,—and can appeal to the witness of the Spirit concerning this, which they have in themselves. And the discussion had properly direct reference to the Gentile Christians, the Galatians, to their freedom from the law; the remarks Gal 4:1 sq., were only as it were episodically woven in [?!], in order to explain the peculiar position of Israel under the law.—[Accepting the wider reference of “we” (Gal 4:6), we find here no “abrupt transition,” but a change to the second person, in order to apply to the Galatians, what had been affirmed of all Christians. Of course this obviates the necessity of such an explanation of the connection, as Schmoller makes.—R.]—With this sentence Paul wishes to confirm to the Galatians, in a way indisputable to themselves, that they actually have the position of sons and no longer that of servants; they also (he says) have this, as well as the Jewish Christians, as certainly as the Spirit also utters His voice in them. The primary purpose of the sending of the Son, stopped with this υἱοθεσἰα. That the purpose has been accomplished, is shown first in this, the Spirit’s witness of adoption. Gal 4:7 therefore contains the simple conclusion from Gal 4:6: Accordingly thou art, etc. [It is a question whether ὅτι should be rendered “because,” quoniam, or “that,” i. e., to show that ye are sons (ELLICOTT). Most commentators incline to the former view. Alford in his notes opposes MEYER, who adopted the latter view, which in his fourth edition, however, he characterizes as “harsh and unusual.” Still the. proof of sonship remains. He would not have sent the Spirit, if they had not been “sons.”—R.]

God sent.—At the regeneration of each of the readers, or what may here be taken as identical, at their baptism. Yet naturally a continuous sending from that time forward, is not excluded but included. [The aorist is used as in Gal 4:4, referring to a definite act. MEYER notes the similarity of form, as “a solemn expression of the objective (Gal 4:4) and subjective (Gal 4:5) certainty of salvation,” and also as indicating doctrinally “the same personal relation of the Spirit, which God has sent from Himself as He did Christ.”—R.]—Spirit of His Son.—A peculiar expression; not immediately convertible with the conception: spirit of sonship, but = the Spirit, which the Son of God has; plainly, moreover, which He has peculiarly as Son; hence, the Spirit, in which, with Him the consciousness of sonship relatively to God rests and expresses itself, and so = the Son of God’s Spirit of sonship. God gives the very same Spirit into the hearts of those whom He has accepted as His sons for the sake of His Son Christ; and therewith they also attain to the consciousness of sons relatively to God, so that they cry: Abba, etc.—Crying.—This strong word, κράζειν, doubtless expresses, first and chiefly, the assurance and the strength of the persuasion, the full undoubting faith of having in God our Father; also, however, as resulting from this, the fervor with which the soul turns to this Father, yet without, direct reference to a condition of trouble, in which a call is made for help.—Abba, Father!—“It is simplest to suppose that the juxtaposition of the two equivalent expressions is meant to emphasize more strongly the idea of Father.” WIESELER. MEYER with less probability thinks, that Ἀφφᾶ had become so settled and sacred a term, as an address to God in Christian prayer, that it had acquired the nature of a proper name, admitting thus the addition of the appellative ὁ πατήρ. The ancients found in it an intimation: quod idem Spiritus fidei sit Judæorum et gentium. [It seems best to regard this repetition as taken from a liturgical formula, which may have originated among the Hellenistic Jews, who retained the consecrated word “Abba,” or among the Jews of Palestine, after they became acquainted with the Greek language. The latter theory best explains the expression as used Mark 14:36 (LIGHTFOOT). There may be a reason for retaining “Abba” in its affectionate character, “My Father” (ALFORD). And the repetition may contain the hint, which the Fathers, LUTHER, CALVIN and BENGEL find, of the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ. Certainly an advance from the “Abba” of childhood to the “Father” of maturity, on the part of the believer, is not implied, nor is there a reference “to the fact that a freedman might by addressing any one with the title Abba, prepare the way for adoption by him,” since they are enabled thus to cry, “because ye are sons.”—R.]

Gal 4:7. So then thou art.—A progress in individualizing for a practical purpose; namely, to bring home fully to each one separately, what he possesses through Christ.—No more a servant.—This refers back to the being “in bondage under the rudiments of the world,” and applies to the Jewish Christians in its full sense, and then to the Gentile Christians also, in this respect, that in consequence of the sending of the Son, the necessity of giving themselves up to be held in bondage “under the rudiments of the world” was done away for them also; that in Christ these have lost their force. [In the wider view of “we” (Gal 4:3) this explanation is unnecessary.—R]. In what special, still more wretched sense, they too were actually slaves, and so the state of servitude was abolished for them, appears immediately after in Gal 4:8.—But a son.—The contrast between “servant” and “son,” as applied to the Jewish Christians, is limited to their being now in actual enjoyment of the son’s privileges; as applied to Gentile Christians it is without restriction.—And if a son, then an heir through God.—“Through God” makes prominent that the one character, as well as the other, proceeds from grace, as opposed to all desert of works. Because a son (sc of God), therefore according to the well-known hereditary right, also an heir, sc. of God. The controversy, whether Jewish or Roman right of inheritance is meant, may be called pedantic. Heir of God= to whom God’s possession appertains, eternal life. [The briefer reading, διὰ θεοῦ now generally adopted, is thus remarked upon by WINDISCHMANN: “It combines, on behalf of our race, the whole before-mentioned agency of the Blessed Trinity: the Father has sent the Son and the Spirit, the Son has freed us from the law, the Spirit has completed our sonship; and thus the redeemed are heirs through the Triune God Himself, not through the law, nor through fleshly descent.”—R.]—This gives another basis for “heirs,” 3:29, and the train of argument thus reaches its conclusion.


1. The rudiments of the world. Respecting the characterizing of the law as “rudiments of the world,” comp. the remark of LUTHER: Learn from this, when it concerns the business of justification before God, to speak of the law most contemptuously, following the Apostle. But when we are not treating of how a man may become acceptable and righteous before God, we are to reckon the law most highly and honorably, and with St. Paul, to call it holy, righteous, good, spiritual, and divine, as indeed it truly is.—St. Paul is alone among all the Apostles, in speaking so scornfully as it may appear, of the law. The other Apostles make it not their wont, so to speak. Therefore ought every one, who will study in the Christian theology, to take careful note of this diverse manner in St. Paul’s writings. He has been called by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself His chosen vessel, and therefore also He gave him an elect mouth, and a diverse way of speaking above the other Apostles, so that he, as chosen vessel [Rüstzeug, lit. weapon], might most firmly and most faithfully found the citadel of the faith, even the article which teaches how a man must become righteous before God, and might teach the same most perspicuously, and most clearly,

2. Law and Old Testament. “Law is not synonymous with Old Testament, gospel with New Testament; as if we could say: The law has been abrogated by the gospel, Christ is the end of the law, therefore for us Christians the Old Testament has no more validity. It is not so, but the Old Testament as well as the New, contains gospel promise of grace, and the New as well as the Old contains law Only that in the Old Testament the law, the schoolmaster unto Christ, prevails, the gospel, on the other hand, appears in the form of promise of the future salvation, and so is more veiled; but in the New Testament the gospel of the accomplished salvation strikes the key-note, and the law, as a threatening might, only opposes itself to the despisers of salvation, and is written in the hearts of believers. And since the gospel extends through the whole Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament, every Christian must necessarily count the Old Testament also honorable and holy. It is true here also: What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” ANACKER.

3. The fulness of the time. For a full historical demonstration of Christ’s having come in the fulness of time, see e. g., ANACKER. [SCHAFF: History of the Apostolic Church, and History of the Christian Church, vol. I. “It was a great idea of Dionysius ‘the little,’ to date our era from the birth of the Saviour. Jesus Christ, the God-man, the prophet, priest, and king of mankind, is, in part, the centre and turning point not only of chronology, but of all history, and the key to all its mysteries. All history before His birth must be viewed as a preparation for His coming, and all history after His birth as a gradual diffusion of His spirit and establishment of His king dom. He is ‘the desire of all nations.’ He appeared in the ‘fulness of time,’ when the process of preparation was finished, and the world’s need of redemption fully disclosed.”

“As Christianity is the reconciliation and union of God and man in and through Jesus Christ, the God-Man and Saviour, it must have been preceded by a two fold process of preparation, an approach of God to man, and an approach of man to God.—In Judaism the true religion is prepared for man; in heathenism man is prepared for the true religion. There the divine substance is begotten; here the human form is moulded to receive it. Heathenism is the starry night, full of darkness and fear, but of mysterious presage also, and of anxious waiting for the dawn of day: Judaism, the dawn, full of the fresh hope and promise of the rising sun; both lose themselves in the sunlight of Christianity, and attest its claim to be the only true and the perfect religion for mankind.”

“The way for Christianity was prepared on every side, positively and negatively, directly and indirectly, in theory and in practice, by truth and by error, by false belief and by unbelief—those hostile brothers, which yet cannot live apart—by Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, and by Roman conquest; by the vainly attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought, by the exposed impotence of natural civilization, philosophy, art and political power, by the decay of the old religions by the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age, and by the yearnings of all earnest and noble souls for the unknown God. ‘In the fulness of time,’ when the fairest flowers of science and art had withered, and the world was on the verge of despair, the Virgin’s Son was born to heal the infirmities of mankind. Christ entered a dying world as the author of a new and imperishable life.”—R.]

4. God sent His Son, born of a woman. In these few words we have the sum of the second article [i. e., of the Augsburg Confession]: “Jesus Christ, true God, born of the Father in eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” ANACKER.—If the preëxistence of the Son does not follow of necessity from the expression: God sent Him, it follows so much the more necessarily from the added clause: “Born of a woman,” i. e., from the fact that this is predicated of the Son as something peculiar. Paul cannot have been thinking of a man, to whom the character of God’s Son belonged only in some theocratic sense, who had been elevated to it by God: for why then the particularizing clause: born of a woman? It would be absolutely meaningless. It has a meaning only in the case of One, who in Himself was not one born of woman, who only became so, with whom this was something entirely peculiar. The peculiarity and note-worthiness of the fact, also, that the Son of God was born under the law, depended, in reality, upon this, that in His original state He had not human nature.—The supernatural conception, it is true, is by no means implied in the expression: born of a woman, in itself, as if by this the concurrence of the man were to be excluded. But if we take this expression together with “God sent His Son,” we are almost necessarily constrained to assume another than the ordinary origin through the generative activity of the man, an immediate activity, instead, of the God who purposed to send the Son.—The Divine Sonship of Christ is one belonging to Him in Himself, essential to His nature, so essential, that even by being born of a woman, and under the law, it was not nullified. It is on this account entirely different from our Divine sonship: this is an acquired, a mediated one; mediated through God’s Son Christ.—On the other hand in this passage the true humanity of Christ is most distinctly declared. He did not bring His body from Heaven, and did not pass with it through Mary quasi per canalem, nor did He merely assume a body like an angel. Either is excluded by the expression: born of a woman. And the tenor of the passage shows plainly that it is meant, not to declare His pre-existent being (this we can infer only by reasoning back), but precisely His true humanity, that God sent Him in such wise that He caused Him to be born and be manifested as man; it was precisely this which made it an actual sending, fulfilling the promise. But on the other hand this Man=God’s Son; for if not, the purpose would in this way have failed in accomplishment, since it was no other than His Son that God would send.

5. Born under the Law. By this is made prominent not the legal obedience which Christ rendered, or anything performed by Him, but something to which He subjected Himself, the dependence on the law, in which He was placed—according to the whole connection: a δουλοῦσθαι (comp. τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον), primarily dependence in general, and then as the culmination of it, the curse of the law, to which He subjected Himself. This passage therefore is no proof of the “active obedience of Christ,” as it is termed. Christ, it is true, was in such a sense under the the law that He observed it; He did not resist it; He was content with this dependence, and fulfilled the requirements of the law. But it is inappropriate to designate the obedience, which Christ indeed rendered in fullest measure towards His Father, as fulfilment of the law, and to designate the (active) fulfilment of the law as that which was great and meritorious in Christ. Christ’s obedience was an essentially free obedience of a child towards the Father, and thus far surpassing a bare law-obedience.—On the other hand, the statement of doctrinal theology, which in many quarters causes scandal, that Christ was in Himself not subject to the law, is in itself not incorrect. Only we must then take law in the entirely definite Biblical sense. The γενέσθαι ὑπὸ νόμον which was added because of transgressions, was of course something in itself wholly inadequate to His sinless being, wholly obedient as it was to God; He stood, as concerned Himself, in the Son’s relation to God, not in the servant’s relation, was no minor, needed no παιδαγωγός. This γεν.ὑπὸ̀ νόμου, therefore, was something in itself foreign to Him, imposed upon Him, and undertaken by Him, for the definite purpose of the redemption of those under the law. But He was the first one “under the law” who yet was sinless, obedient to God, and this availed to the good of the men who were under the law

6. Adoption and the consciousness of it. From the attainment of the filial relation to God [Gottes-Kindschaft] Paul distinguishes again the certainty of the same, so to speak, the conscious exercise of the privilege of children. Agreeably to this he distinguishes a twofold sending: the sending of the Son into the world and the sending of the Spirit of the Son into human hearts. On the first is grounded the attainment of the adoption of God’s children, inasmuch as the sending of the Son led to the ransoming of those under the law. This is the objective side. Yet this hardly denotes merely the redemptive act of Christ, but includes doubtless, even at this point, faith in this act, as without this faith there is not an actual adoption, a being a son (comp. ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί).But to this is yet added the sending of the Spirit of the Son into the hearts of the redeemed, or more specifically: His crying Abba in the heart. Primarily this serves for the sealing and making sure of the now established filial right (comp. Rom. 8:16). Yet it is not bare assurance that is wanted, but the exercise, the use of the right; and this first becomes possible by receiving the Spirit of Sonship, exclaiming Abba. “Should we wish to do it of our own desire and folly (namely, use such an heartily filial address to God), the word would die upon our lips; for we cannot make God our Father, only He Himself can do it.” It is this Spirit of adoption Himself, says Paul here, that cries Abba in us, of course, by uniting Himself with the spirit of the suppliant, and forming in it the language of filial address to God. Therefore Rom. 8:15: We cry Abba by this Spirit.

Paul distinguishes, as has been said, two stages, but yet plainly not in such a sense as if the first were something complete within itself, and the second added to it, as something distinct, but whoever is “son” receives eo ipso this Spirit, and if he did not receive it, the Apostle would not predicate the being a son of him. The receiving of this Spirit is for him, and is meant to be for the readers (on which account he alludes to it), the criterion of having become a “son of God.” He cannot conceive the being a son without this Spirit in the heart exclaiming Abba. Therefore he affirms it at once and in reference to all: “Because ye are sons, God sent forth,” etc. The same faith which translates us into the position of children, opens also the access to this Spirit. Yet of course this receiving of the Spirit of sons or children, is again somewhat successive, and Paul does not mean to say that this crying Abba takes place always with uniform strength and joyfulness; he will not deny that there come times of spiritual conflict; he only expresses what is normal.

7. Son, not servant. The idea of Divine sonship is a twofold idea, for the υἱὸς θεοῦ is first (υἱὸς) θεοῦ and then υἱὸς (θεοῦ) In Rom. 8:14 sq., the previous context shows the former to be the main idea, for “being a son of God” is opposed to living “after the flesh,” and is defined by “led by the Spirit of God.” In this passage the essential idea is the second one: the Son of God is son and no longer servant (with which we may also supply “of God”), or the filial relation of the Christian to God, as it is brought into effect by Christ, involves the idea of religious maturity. The Christian has through his faith come religiously to majority; he no longer stands to God in the relation of the minor son, still kept in bondage. This latter relation of man to God is also one in itself possible and relatively admissible. God Himself placed man in it by the law (Gal 4:3); Israel itself stood by God’s appointment in the relation to God of religious minority, was as yet “kept in bondage under the rudiments of the world.” This was at that time what was fitting and wholesome for the people of God. (And in a certain sense the man who as yet knows nothing of Christ, is, even now, in this relation to God, is the unfreed minor, kept in by legal restraints, at least by the inward law of the conscience. It is true this law is a far more imperfect one than the positive law of God. Therefore the natural man without Christ is far more a δοῦλος than Israel was—a δοῦλος rather to the σάρξ or the φύσει μὴ ὅντες θεοί than to God; and there is needed at first a special activity directed to the awakening of the conscience. See below.) It is otherwise with the Christian; he has gained through faith in Christ, or rather through the Spirit of Christ, the position towards God of the free major son: this position, because established through Christ, has its direct analogy in the relation of Christ to His Father. It is true there is in this no independent dignity [Selbstherrlichkeit]; but it is not so much that this is forbidden him, as that he himself is the farthest possible from wishing it, recognizing in it, as he does, an illusive image, knowing that thereby he would in truth lose his freedom, that true freedom consists in this very obedience of love towards God, in speaking nothing else than what He teaches, in doing nothing else than what He points out. Thus, although not living to himself, he is yet truly free, even towards God, as one of full age; is, sui juris, independent. For his conduct is not prescribed to him in legal injunctions, regulating even the outward life, and seeking in his way to conform the inner life to God’s will; he recognizes the “living to God” as his very element, the condition of his happiness. His obedience is not merely an obedience of law towards a ruler, but a life in trustful love to Him who is recognized as Father and sealed through the Spirit.

But especially does the maturity of the Christian consist in this, that he is heir, in possession of the paternal estate. For thus the minor is distinguished from the major son; for the former the inheritance is as yet administered by others, and he himself is not yet in enjoyment of it, but only, it may be, from time to time, receives out of it what is necessary for him, and on the other hand, may, on occasion, be kept in straits, or even subjected to punishment. So with man under the law; as he first sees in God One who commands and strictly regulates life, so also he sees in Him one who bestows good only according to desert, and who just as certainly, where punishment is deserved (as is more often the case), inflicts punishment, and instead of a blessing communicates a curse. It is otherwise with the son of full age and with the Christian. He is heir, is in possession and enjoyment of the paternal estate. This actual enjoyment of the inheritance he possesses in the first instance in justification and the state of grace connected therewith. As the major son freely disposes of the paternal estate, so also the Christian, in faith freely applies himself, as it were, when he will and as oft as he will, to his Father’s treasure, and takes from it whatever he desires. Only this possession and enjoyment of his is, as it were, still embarrassed by the “sufferings of this present time,” and the glory of the inheritance is still “to be revealed” (Rom. 8:17, 18), as indeed the major son also, who has come into possession of the paternal estate, has still to struggle with many inconveniences, and so cannot as yet give himself up to the undisturbed enjoyment of his estate, and yet is none the less the free son, of full age, and by no means any longer in his minority. From this the simple inference is: (1) That as the Christian may not deprive himself of his position as Christian, if he would not incur the reproach in Gal 4:9, so also he may not be robbed of this rank or denied it, he may not be again placed. under guardianship, and thus reduced from one of full age to a minor again, that therefore in particular the law may not be again imposed upon him, and his relation to God represented as conditioned by that; (2) that a Christian church, which does not regard her members as mature children of God, and train them to be such, but which instead retains them under the guardianship of the Divine law, or, more than that, of self-devised human ordinances, and accords to them only such a share in the benefits of Divine grace as suits her own discretion, if indeed, she does not wholly conceal them and set an inheritance invented by herself in their place—that such a Christian church misapprehends her most essential character (for Christ was no new lawgiver), and that therefore the Romish church, which does this, incurs this reproach, and that the evangelical church would incur the like reproach, so far as she imitated her in this, in a supposed pedagogic interest, or for the sake of discipline and order.9 She has simply to be God’s almoner by offering the means of grace which excite and strengthen faith, as the condition of adoption as God’s children, and what she ordains can lawfully have no other end than directly or indirectly to further such beneficence. True, individually as well as historically, the state of maturity, in the child of God, is preceded by that of immaturity; for just so certainly as a Christian is in the former state, just so certainly is he there no otherwise than through actual heart faith. But the true way, that agreeable to the Divine order in such a case, is (according to remarks on the foregoing section) to hold up the law for this end and this only, that the man’s conscience and with it the knowledge of sin may be awakened, that the law may prove itself in him also “a schoolmaster unto Christ.” Now this comes to pass only through the preaching of the word of God in its completeness, inasmuch as thereby the law also is set forth, but now, of course, only with the intention of leading to the Gospel and therewith to the condition of spiritual maturity.

8. Old Testament believers not of full age.—As respects Christians the believers of the old covenant were accordingly not yet in the full sense “sons of God,” i. e., “major sons.” “But how were then the holy prophets, the great heroes, the upright men of God, who lived from Moses until Christ, minor children, that must be kept under the figurative rudiments of divine instruction as under tutors and governors? Doubtless in a certain sense they were. It is true that in much they have surpassed us; but what was spiritual, heavenly, eternally permanent in the kingdom of God, what Paul ever calls ‘a mystery,’ was not revealed to them so plainly as to us” (Roos). In order to judge correctly, we must however, with the Apostle himself, distinguish the period before the law from that under the law. For example, the patriarchs, although in another respect also children, stood in immediate intercourse with God, were not in the position of servants. On the other hand there certainly was also in the believers under the law, in proportion as the promise of the new covenant was living in them, e. g., in the prophets, an anticipation, in a certain sense, of the position of major sons of God, although rather in some single moments of elevation.


Gal 4:2. STARKE:—Human ordinances, which are directed to the well-being of the commonwealth, are in themselves in no wise contrary to the Divine law.—When the Prince of Wales in his childhood once refused obedience to his governess, appealing to his dignity as heir to the throne, Prince Albert brought the Bible, read him this passage, and chastised him.

Gal 4:3. HEUBNER:—The human race has had authorized and unauthorized guardians. Moses was authorized, for God had appointed him, on the other hand the Pope and Mohammed without authority have endeavored to bring back the race, now free and of full age, to minority again. The authority of revelation does not retain us in minority; for the faith which it requires is no blind second hand piety, but first makes us truly free from all that darkens and binds.—SPENER:—God has His wise distribution of the measure of grace at various times, with which we must be content and learn to accommodate ourselves thereto. He has also His holy order, according to which He leads His children in conversion from the law into grace.—BERLENBER. BIBLE:—This guardianship was designed only for minors; hence it is all wrong when Christians allow themselves to be brought into bondage again under ordinances, which are urged upon souls as good and necessary to salvation, and made a burden, beyond and without God’s Word and revealed will, which therefore proceed not from nor are approved of Christ and His Spirit. O how many, that otherwise have a good degree of knowledge and personal piety, are in a pitiable bondage under such things! Either they are things which are counted as belonging to outward worship, or which should otherwise serve to make people pious. Now it is not indeed to be denied that some incitements in themselves innocent may help beginners somewhat. But so soon however as a rule and necessity, or it may be even a holiness, is make out of it, it is a yoke. But the main cause why such ordinances of men are a slavery of souls is, because men commonly therein seek and exalt themselves. Our crafty nature seeks with its tricks to maintain itself in its false life, and conceals itself behind outward observances and human usages. Meanwhile it secretly carries on its sins, as before, and will not drown and die in the death of Christ.—It is enough to suffer that other hard yoke, which presses the man at his first conversion. The law of God itself knows how to press him hard enough then, with its righteous judgments and requirements. Matters go laboriously and wretchedly enough with a young believer.

Gal 4:4, 5. For this fulness of the time the fathers and all believers in the Old Testament waited with great pangs and earnestness. Not less longingly then, even now, must he wait and look for this Deliverer, who feels his imprisonment. For the fulness of the time, which began with Jesus’ birth, continues ever from then on through all times, our own times among them.—As this took place as to the outward work, so does it now come to pass as to the inward, since the revelation of the Son breaks forth at the time which the Lord has decreed, and His government takes the upper hand in order to bring matters to that stage, to which under the drawing of the Father they could not attain. If thou therefore spyest in thyself a mighty drawing towards faith and hungering after Jesus, take heed that thou neglect it not. For this is even the fulness of thy time, when thy Saviour is about to be sent into thy heart by the Father. In the same hour learn thou to watch and pray, and to forget all else, that thou mayst win thy freedom.

LUTHER:—Hear thou, O law, thou hast no right nor might over me; therefore I concern myself nothing, that thou accusest and condemnest me long and much; for I believe on Jesus Christ, God’s Son, whom God the Father hath sent into this world, that He might redeem us poor, wretched sinners, who were in bondage under the law’s constraint and tyranny.—Christ hath redeemed us, in that He was made under the law. When He came, He found all of us together guarded and shut up under the law. What did He then? Because He is God’s Son and Lord over the law, the law hath no right nor power over Him, nor can it accuse Him. Now, although He was not under the law, yea, was its Lord, He nevertheless willingly subjected Himself to the law. Christ incurred no debt to the law, yet did the law nevertheless behave itself towards this innocent, holy One, &c, even so as towards us, yea, it raged much more and more cruelly against Him than it is wont to do against us men. For it accused Him as if He were the very worst blasphemer and mover of sedition, and pronounced that He was guilty of all the sins of the whole world, and finally it condemned Him by its sentence to death, and moreover to the most shameful of all deaths on the cross.—Because now the law has dealt so cruelly against its God, Christ now appears against the law, and speaks on this wise: Good mistress Law, you are indeed a mighty invincible empress and tyrant over the whole race of man, and have moreover a right thereto; but what have I done to you, that you have so cruelly and contumeliously accused and condemned me the Innocent? Then must the law, because it can by no means answer for this, nor excuse itself, suffer for it in turn, and allow itself also to be condemned and strangled, so that it may therefore retain no right, nor power, not alone against Christ, whom it hath so injuriously assailed, but also against all who believe on Him.—So has Christ now through this His victory chased the law away out of our conscience in such manner that it can no more put us to shame before God. This one thing it does yet, it still continues to reveal sin to accuse and terrify us; but the conscience lays hold against it of these words of the apostle: Christ hath redeemed us from the law, maintains itself thereon by faith and comforts itself therewith. Yea, so proud and courageous moreover does it become in the Holy Ghost, that it dares bid defiance to the law, and say: I care little for all thy threatening. For the victory, which Christ hath won of thee, He hath bestowed upon us; therefore we are now become free of the law unto eternity, if so be we abide in Christ. Therefore let there be praise and thanks to our dear God, who hath given us such victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Gal 4:4, 5. ROBERT HALL:—(1) The mission of Jesus Christ, and the manner in which He manifested Himself. The Son of God, “made of a woman, made under the law.” (2) The design of His mission; “to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (3) The fitness of that season which God in His infinite wisdom appointed for this purpose.—It was a most favorable time to prevent imposture in matter of fact; an age the furthest removed from credulity, an age of skepticism. The Infinite wisdom saw fit to select this time to silence forever the vain babblings of philosophy, to “destroy the wisdom of the wise.”—Because the fulness of the time was come, the event here referred to was the most important that had ever distinguished the annals of the world. The epoch will arrive when this world will be thought of as nothing, but as it has furnished a stage for the “manifestation of the Son of God.”—R.]

Gal 4:6. LUTHER:—When we stand in the midst and deepest in the terrors of the law, when sin as it were thunders over us, death makes us tremble and quake, the devil roars most cruelly, then begins the Holy Ghost to cry: Abba, dear Father! And this, His cry, is much mightier than the law’s, sin’s, death’s, and the devil’s cry, let it sound ever so loud and hideously, it breaks and presses with all might through the clouds and the heavens, comes before God’s ears, and is heard, &c.—Although I am on all sides in great terrors and distresses, and it seems as if I, Lord, were wholly and utterly forsaken by thee, yet am I nevertheless child, thou, Father, for Christ’s sake. I am to thee dear and pleasant for the Beloved’s sake. But for man in his heart to be able to utter the little word “Father” in time of temptation in true earnestness, there needs such a deep skill thereto, as truly neither Cicero, nor Demosthenes, nor any other accomplished orator has had; yea, should they even melt together all their skill in one heap it were not yet possible for them perfectly to utter forth what is meant by the Holy Ghost in the single word “Father” in believer’s hearts.—We ought to let go the injurious, damned doctrine (wherewith the pope hath denied all Christendom), that man cannot be certain whether he is in grace before God, or not, and hold for certain that we have a gracious and compassionate God, who has in us a gracious complacency, cares for us as His dear children in earnest and most heartily—for Christ’s sake; item, that we also have the Holy Ghost, which intercedes for us with crying and groanings unutterable.—In STARKE:—Behold the nature of ejaculatory prayers [Stossgebetlein], as they are called, wherein only the heart is lifted to God. In such a way can a believing soul very well pray without ceasing.—[BUNYAN:—O how great a task is it for a poor soul that comes, sensible of sin and the wrath of God, to say in faith but this one word, Father! The Spirit must be sent into the heart for this very thing; it being too great a work for any man to do knowingly and believingly without it.—That one word spoken in faith, is better than a thousand prayers in a formal, lukewarm way.—I myself have often found that when I can say but this word, Father, it doth me more good than when I call Him by any other Christian name.—R.]

Gal 4:7. LUTHER:—Because Christ has redeemed us, that were under the law, there is no servant any more, nothing but children; therefore can thy power and tyranny, good mistress Law, have no place upon the lordly throne where my Lord Christ is to sit; therefore now I heed thee not, for I am free and a child, that is to be subjected to no servant’s place.—The law may well rule and reign over the body and the old man; but the bridal bed, wherein Christ is to have His rest, it should leave unstained; that is, the law should leave the conscience at ease and undisturbed, for this is to reign alone with its bridegroom Christ, in the realm of freedom and of sonship.—“And if a son, then an heir.” No one through his works or merit succeeds in becoming heir, but birth alone brings it to him; even so do we also come to the eternal, heavenly possessions, such as forgiveness of sins, righteousness, the glorious resurrection, and eternal life, not through our cöoperation, but without any act of ours—we suffer them to be bestowed upon us, and receive them from God through Christ.—Whoever could believe without any doubt, that it were true, and certainly comprehend, how immeasurably great a thing it is, that one should be God’s child and heir, such an one would without doubt take little account of the world, with all that therein is esteemed precious and honorable, such as human righteousness, wisdom, dominion, power, money, possessions, honor, pleasure, and the like; yea, all that in the world is honorable and glorious, would be to him loathsome and an abomination.—How great and glorious a bestowment the eternal kingdom and the heavenly inheritance is man’s heart in this life can not understand, and still less express. We see in this life only the central point, but in the life to come, we shall see the whole infinite circle.

Gal 4:1–7. There are two degrees of the adoption of God’s children: the degree of minority, where one is rather servant than child, and the degree of majority, where one has the place of a child.—The bondage of the law the way to the full adoption of God’s children.—The relation of the law and of the gospel to adoption with God—The son, still a minor, must wait till God declares him of age; while the son of full age is not to abdicate the child’s place, else he makes a retrogression displeasing to God. Without Christ, under age, through Christ, of full age.—When Christ came, came the time of majority for the people of God; when He comes to thee, it comes also for thee, not earlier—but then, really.—GLÖCKLER: The wisdom and love of God in the sending of His Son: Wisdom: He came, when the time was fulfilled: Love: He came to bring redemption, and the adoption of children.—The true intent, virtue, and fruit of the incarnation of the Son of God.—When the time is fulfilled, God will send also to thee His Son, and His Spirit into thy heart; only wait and doubt not!—Every time, even the longest, has its fulfillment, for it is subject to God, in the service of His purpose.—KAPFF: The blessedness of the adoption of God’s children: It is (1) a condition of freedom, (2) of joyfulness in faith, (3) of heirship to God.—W. HOFACKER:—On the family or house of God, into which, to us as children, access stands open in Christ Jesus: 1) The house or the family of God: there is there a Father, God, a mother-free, unmerited grace, a first-born Brother; many brothers and sisters besides, and a ministering retinue in the holy angels. 2) The different relations in which we may stand to the household of God: a. there are some, and they are greatest in number, who stand in a far distant and alien relation to the family of God , b. a smaller, less considerable number stand to the family of God in a nearer, but yet not the nearest relation; c. the third class stands to it in the full, conscious relation of children, as Paul says, Gal 4:6. 3) The laborious [aufgabenreiche] and yet glorious condition of those, who walk as children of the house of God: a. the first task is, to learn more and more the true temper of children; b. the second, to show faithfulness and diligence in the daily work entrusted to them by the Lord; c. the third is, to wait in patience and hope for the promised inheritance.—MÜHLHÄUSER: The Abba cry: 1) a sign of being God’s child; 2) but only possible through the Spirit of God.—Christ the Redeemer from the bondage of the law, 2) the redemption itself, 3) the consequence of this redemption.—HESSE: In what does sonahip with God consist? 1) In the maturity of the spirit; 2) in the joyfulness of prayer; 3) in the certainty of salvation.—AHLFELD: Redemption through Jesus Christ. 1) From what has He redeemed us? From the law, from the constraint and from the curse of the law. 2) What does God offer us through our redemption? Sonship: the spirit of a child and the inheritance of a child.


[1]Gal 4:2.—[Ἐπιτρόπουςκαὶοἰκονόμους ; the first referring to controllers of his person, i.e, guardians, “the latter, to managers of his property i.e. “stewards.” See Lightfoot.—R.]

[2]Gal 4:3.—[Ἠμεν δεδουλωμἐνοι: the force of the perfect participle is more accurately expressed by “were kept in bondage.”—R.]

[3]Gal 4:3.—[“Rudiments” is preferable to “elements,” as bringing out more distinctly the ethical meaning. See EXES, NOTES.—R.]

[4]Gal 4:4.—[Τενόμενον must be rendered alike in both cases. “Born,” natum, is the interpretation now generally adopted. So Koppe, Schott, Meyer, and later English commentators.—R]

[5]Gal 4:5.—[“It seems more exact to indicate the repeated ἵνα by the same form of translation” (Elliott).—R.]

[6]Gal 4:6.—[On the exact force of ὅτι κ.τ.λ, see Exeg. Notes. “Sent forth” is the better rendering of the aorist.—R.]

[7]Gal 4:6—Elz. has ὑμῶν against preponderating authority. Altered to conform to the foregoing [Ἡμῶν, א.A. B. C. D. F , adopted by the best editors.—R.]

[8]Gal 4:7.—The reading κληρονόμος διὰ θεοῦ is with good reason approved by Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, Lightfoot.] א. has it. “It is commended also by its comparative difficulty.” The κληρονόμος θεοῦ δια Χριστοῦ of the Rec. has arisen from a wish to lighten the difficulty, and is founded on Rom. 8:17. So also the simple θεοῦ. The reading κληρονόμος alone is without any authority. [Wordsworth alone, among many recent English editors, adopts the longer reading.—R.]

[9][There is doubtless a polemical reference in these statements of Schmoller, of no special interest to the American reader. It need only be suggested that Lutheran antinomism sometimes seems (but only seems, it may be conceded; to verge on antinomianism.—R.]

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
C. Rebuke, passing over into Sorrowful Complaint

CHAPTER 4:8–18

1. Interrupting the doctrinal exposition, Paul rebukes the incomprehensible backsliding into which they are falling.

(Galatians 4:8–11)

8Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service [were in bondage]10 unto them which by nature are no [not] gods.11 9But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known [have been known]12 of God, how turn ye again [how is it that ye are turning again]13 to the weak and beggarly elements [rudiments], whereunto 10ye desire again [again anew] to be in bondage? Ye observe [carefully] days, and months, and times [seasons],14 and years. 11I am afraid of [respecting] you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.

2. In language agitated by sorrow, he complains of the equally ungrounded estrangement, they had suffered to grow up between him and them through the selfish intrigues of the false teachers

(Galatians 4:12–18.)

12Brethren, I beseech you, be [become]5as I am; for I am [also have become] as 13ye are: [.] ye have not injured me at all [ye injured me in nothing]: [yea] Ye know how through [that on account of]15infirmity of the flesh I preached the 14gospel unto you at the first [the first time]. And my [your]16temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; [,] but received me as an angel of God,even as Christ Jesus. 15Where is then [or What then was]17 the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own [omit own]18 eyes, and have given them to me. 16Am I therefore [So then, am I] become your enemy, because I tell you the truth [or by speaking to you the truth]? 17They zealously affect you, but not well [They pay you court in no good way];19 yea, they would exclude [desire to exclude] you,20 that ye might affect 18them [may pay them court]. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing [to be courted in a good way at all times], and not only when21 I am present with you.


Gal 4:8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God.—This sounds as if it continued the doctrinal development, but it takes a practical turn in the very next verse. “Now no longer a servant,” Paul had said,—but, he now continues, reverting to the former time, then were ye servants—when ye did not know God. Yet this is doubtless not merely a note of time, but a statement of the ground of the then existing bondage=as certainly as ye are now no longer servants, just so certainly was there a valid ground for your being formerly servants, when ye knew not God, namely, servants of idols. But comprehensible on this account as your earlier bondage was, equally incomprehensible is your present surrendering of yourselves into bondage again. For the “not knowing God” has ceased, hence with the cause, the effect also; they are, as already said, no longer δοῦλοι, and therefore a δουλεύειν in their case has no longer any justification whatever; their new bondage to the law is now as much without warrant as was their former bondage to idols.—Ye were in bondage to them which by nature are not gods.—This indicates more precisely the kind of bondage, in which the readers, as being Gentiles, formerly found themselves. From the fact that he so distinctly states of what kind their bondage was, it appears to be beyond doubt that he could not place them, as respected their pre-Christian state, in one category with the Jewish Christians as respected the pre-Christian state of these (Gal 4:3), nor comprehend them together under “those in bondage under the rudiments of the world.” Their bondage was, it is true, also bondage, but nevertheless an essentially different, more wretched one: they were not “kept in bondage” sc. by God Himself for a while, from pedagogic reasons, under a law, but it was a bondage resulting from their not knowing God, and being servants, moreover, τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσι θεοῖς= to those gods, which yet are in their real nature not gods, but are only so called; they are in fact according to Paul’s teaching elsewhere, demons. [Undoubtedly there is a “bondage” here referred to somewhat different from that of Gal 4:3, but the distinction seems to be, that in addition to the pedagogic bondage, in which all were held, these Galatians, or heathen, were in even a worse condition. The sense of the two readings must be noticed; that of Rec., τοῖς μὴ φύσει οὖσι θεοῖς joins the negative μὴ with φύσει; not gods in reality, only thought to be so; but the better sustained order, τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσι θεοῖς joins the negative with οὖσι, asserting that they were not gods at all, did not exist; whether 1 Cor. 10:20 justifies us in supposing that the implied antithesis is demons, is very doubtful. MEYER and ELLICOTT remark that this is a subjective negation.—R.]

Gal 4:9. Rather have been known of God.—A corrective climax, in order to give the following “how” still more emphasis. “This knowing on the part of God is of course not used of a theoretical knowing—for in that sense every one is an object of Divine knowledge—but of an affectionate, loving, interested knowledge; comp. 1 Cor. 8:3; 13:12, and in the Hebrew יָדַע as frequently used. The aorist points to an act of God in the past, which was the act of adoption.” WIESELER.—How is it that ye are turning again?—Πάλιν does not belong to “the rudiments” but to “turn” therefore not as if they had already before served the στοιχεῖα but πάλιν only affirms that a second, new turning [Umwandlung] was asking place with them first from idols to God, now from God to “the rudiments of the world”=how turn you again—namely, to the στοιχεῖα?—In ἐπιστρέφετε, moreover, there is not of necessity implied the idea of turning back, but simply that of turning away; although in the expression: “Conversion from idols to God” the thought of an original apostasy from God lies at the foundation, yet it lay being rather in the background; and as ἐπιστρέφετε has in itself an entirely general signification, it could very well be applied, even in a case where there was no reference to a turning back; indeed there was scarcely another word to express this turning away, this striking into a particular course. [Schmoller, having adopted WIESELER’S view of Gal 4:3, is of course, consistent in following out that interpretation here, but it is very evident that this interpretation is difficult to defend. Here, and especially in the final clause of the verse, there must be a departure from the more obvious meanining of the words, to admit the idea that they had not relapsed as well as lapsed by their apostasy, Πάλιν does not necessarily imply a turning back to the same things but to similar things, not retro but iterum, i.e., not again to heathenism indeed, but to Judaism, both of which are included in “the rudiments of the world.” SO MEYER, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, LIGHTFOOT and others. The present tense (ἐπιοτρέφετε) is used, for the change was Still going on. Comp. 1:6 (LIGHTFOOT).—R.]—The rudiments are called weak, because they have not the power to atone for sinful man, and by communication of the Spirit to transform him inwardly, agreeably to what Paul says of the law, e.g. Gal. 3:21; Rom. 8:3; comp. also Heb. 7:18. They are called beggarly on account of their relatively imperfect matter in comparison with the perfection and the riches of the gospel. WIESELER.—Whereunto ye desire again anew to be in bondage.—“Again” belongs to “serve,” not as if they had already once served “the rudiments” but they have already served, they have been δοῦλοι; and now they wish to be so again, although servants of another lord, and thus they wish to begin the δουλεύειν again ἄνωθεν, from the beginning, after it has scarcely as yet come to an end. [ELLICOTT’S statement is preferable: “They had been slaves to the rudiments in the form of heathenism; now they were desiring to enslave themselves again to the rudiments, and to commence them anew in the form of Judaism.”—R.]

Gal 4:10. Ye carefully observe.—Proof of the declaration first made: “Ye desire to be in bondage.” [The punctuation is a matter of dispute. An interrogation mark is placed at the close of the verse by TISCHENDORF, LIGHTFOOT, and others, but ELLICOTT, WIESELER, and more lately MEYER and ALFORD (both of whom formerly made the verse interrogative) adopt a simple period. This suits the transition to Gal 4:11 much better.—R.] “Παρατηρεῖσθε: to observe carefully, not to celebrate, or else the objects would have been σάθθατα, νεομηνίας, ἑορτάς. The Apostle means to say, that they were not only given to the celebration, but, precisely like the Jews, were already scrupulous also as to the correct reckoning of time for their holy days. Days, with reference to the Sabbath; months, probably with reference to the new moons, not, because certain months, the seventh especially, were regarded as peculiarly holy months; seasons, within the year, with reference to the feasts; years with reference to the Sabbatical year, not the year of jubilee, which was no longer celebrated.” WIESELER.—This passage shows how far and how far not, the Galatians had as yet been led astray. [Comp. Col. 2:16. ALFORD is scarcely warranted in saying that this verse is at variance with any and every theory of the Christian Sabbath, since the reference is evidently to Jewish observances, Jewish days, etc. WIESELER supposes that they were then celebrating a Sabbatical year, because the present tense is used, but this is pressing it too far.—R.]

Gal 4:11. I am afraid respecting you.—Not superfluously has Paul added the ὑμᾶς, but in the consciousness that it is not his own interest (as for instance his having labored fruitlessly, in itself regarded), but the readers’ that his anxiety respects. MEYER.—Luther aptly says: Lacrimas Pauli hæc verba spirant [These words breathe the tears of Paul].

Gal 4:12. Become as I.—The Apostle’s reprehension of their conduct naturally prepares the way for the admonition to a change of this. Yet he does little more than briefly indicate the exhortation, without continuing it, but goes on rather to make mention, with painful emotion, of his personal relation to the readers, as it had been and as it had now become.—The sense of the briefly expressed admonition is not quite evident: but probably=become like me in freedom from Judaistic observance; the motive to this is then added: For I also have become as ye are, like you Gentiles, through my ἐθνικῶσ ζῇν, comp. 2:14, and moreover the Apostle means, doubtless: when I brought you the gospel.—[Schmoller joins Brethren, I beseech you, with what follows, but the punctuation of the E. V. is better. The meaning of the first clause seems plain. In regard to the second, “two interpretations deserve to be considered: 1. ‘For I was once in bondage as ye now are.’ I once was a Jew, as ye now Judaize. 2. ‘For I abandoned my legal ground of righteousness, I became a Gentile like you.’ The latter sense is simpler grammatically, as it understands the same verb which occurs in the former clause, ‘because,’ not ‘was.’ It is also more in character with the intense personal feeling which pervades the passage. ‘I gave up all those time-honored customs, all those dear associations of race, to become like you. I have lived as a Gentile that I might preach to you Gentiles. Will you then abandon me, when I have abandoned all for you?’ This sense is well adapted both to the tender appeal ‘Brethren, I beseech you,’ and to the eager explanation which follows: ‘Ye did me no wrong’ ” (LIGHTFOOT).—Ye injured me in nothing.—The emphasis does not rest, on me, a mere enclitic in the Greek, as if implying that they had injured God and Christ. As the verb is aorist like those which follow, it seems best to refer this to that time of his first preaching. In that case the meaning “I have no personal grounds of complaint” (adopted by many from CHRYSOSTOM to LIGHTFOOT) is untenable. He begins with this clause to adduce their former treatment of him, as a reason for “becoming as he is.” The next clause is not strictly adversative.—R.]

Gal 4:13. Yea ye know that on account of infirmity of the flesh.—“The only correct, because the only grammatical explanation, is: On account of weakness of the flesh, so it appears from this, that Paul was necessitated, on his first journey through Galatia, to linger there, although properly it had not lain in his plan, and that he had during this compulsory sojourn preached the gospel to the Galatians. How and from what cause he was suffering, whether from natural sickness, or from injuries undergone for the gospel’s sake, we do not know. Paul does not, by the mention of a previously unintended activity among the Galatians, work against his purpose, but rather right in the line of his purpose, since the love which received him so heartily and joyfully, must have been so much the greater, the less it was founded on the duty of a thankfulness owing for a benefit previously intended for the receivers, and for efforts made strictly on their account” (MEYER);—or rather, perhaps; “the less he, considering the impediment of his bodily condition, could expect such a reception” (WIESELER). That is, we suppose, because, through his infirmity he was in many ways impeded in his public labors, because his preaching of the gospel was a variously marred, imperfect one. He means to say then, that he preached in a state of bodily weakness. But the words themselves are not to be so translated. [WORDSWORTH: “On account of the infirmity in his flesh and the consequent temptation to his hearers, he was naturally led—perhaps he was guided by the Holy Spirit—to shun in the first instance the more civilized population, of Asia and Europe, as to go rather to the despised Galilees of the world and then when his reputation was established, to proceed through Macedonia to Athens, and thence to Corinth and to Ephesus, and so finally to Rome.” But this learned author can scarcely be warranted in making this the implication in πρότερον, as he does, in order to deny a second visit to Galatia.—R.] Πρότερον apparently not=formerly, referring generally to time past viewed from the present; for the addition would then be entirely superfluous; but special=the first of two definite occasions. The second time of “preaching” is, however, not the present writing of the Epistle, for εὐαγγελίζω is invariably used of oral preaching; but there is a twofold presence of the Apostle among the Galatians presupposed, to the first of which the πρότερον refers. In fact, the book of Acts also mentions two visits of Paul in Galatia, Acts 16:6; 18:23. “Paul therefore adds τὸ πρότερον in order to designate with full distinctness the first visit, during which he founded the churches. At his second visit, also, the joyful experiences which he had had τὸ πρότερον were not repeated; the churches were already infected with Judaism” (MEYER).

Gal 4:14. With the reading πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν it appears best to set a period after ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου, and to connect the words with οἴδατε Gal 4:13=you know how you, through my bodily infirmity, and the hampering of my evangelical activity in consequence of it, were put on proof=experienced the temptation to think unfavorably of me. Unquestionably the connection is somewhat difficult. But plainly the connection with what follows is wholly inadmissible, although MEYER accepts it=you have not despised your trial in my flesh. But what is meant by despising the trial, &c.? Who could understand it at all? MEYER himself has to alter the expression somewhat, so as to mean : contemptuously repel. And besides what would be signified by the climatic expression with two words: ἐξουθενήσατε and ἐξεπτύσατε. This, however, manifestly constitutes the antithesis to the strong affirmative expression ἀλλ̓ ὡς ἅγγελον κ. τ. λ. The one as well as the other therefore refers to himself. He praises this in them, that they did not reject and even spit out him, as there was room to apprehend, but—the exact opposite—received him as an angel, nay, as Christ. [The reading ὑμῶν must be adopted, but this by no means compels us to follow the punctuation and connection just indicated. MEYER, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, WORDSWORTH, LIGHTFOOT and most editors reject Lachmann’s punctuation, which makes the latter part of the verse intolerably harsh and abrupt, and does little to remove the difficulty of the former part. As WORDSWORTH intimates “the teacher’s infirmity is the people’s trial.” Paul’s infirmity, whatever it was, put them on trial, was the thing which tried them (πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν), and yet they did not despise and loathe him on account of this infirmity, but received him, etc.—R.]

Gal 4:15. What was then [or where then is] the blessedness ye spake of? [The E. V. gives a sufficiently correct paraphrase, if ποῦ be read.—R.] WEISELER:= How highly blessed you pronounced yourselves, sc. that you were able to hear me? --Τίς=how great. Οὖν comes in somewhat abruptly, but is explained by the emotional character of the style. Paul transfers himself vividly into the time when they received him with such veneration, and exclaims: How was it then, what a boasting of blessedness then arose?—With that agrees, as a proof, what follows: For I bear you record.—MEYER: Of what character then was you boasting of blessedness?=how inconstant? More farfetched is the explanation: On what was your boasting of blessedness founded? Others supply ἐστί: What then is your boasting of blessedness?=it is nothing any longer; it is at an end, therefore somewhat in the sense of ποῦ But the following γάρ does not agree with this.

That, if it had been possible, etc.—A proverbial mode of speech, derived from the high value and indispensableness of the eyes. Puerile is the explanation: Paul had an opthalmia, and says here, that the Gailatians, if it had been possible would have given him their sound eyes. [The E. V. “your own eyes,” giving an emphasis, unwarranted by the Greek, favors this theory of “opthalmia.” It is well defended by DR. BROWN, Horæ Subscecivæ, yet scarcely sustained by this passage.—R.]

Gal 4:16. So then, am I become your enemy.—A sharp antithesis. The simplest sense: Since you were so minded towards me, can I be afterwards regarded as your enemy only because I tell you the truth (instead of speaking according to your fancy). The sentence is introduced somewhat abruptly, or the inference implied in ἕστε is not so very obvious. It may be explained, however, from the emotional character of the language. The emphasis lies on “tell the truth;” but in the first instance “enemy” (ἐχθρός), as. constituting a contrast, must be made prominent; it therefore stands first, and by placing ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν at the end, this also is emphasized. The Apostle had already told the Galatians the truth, rebuking their errors and short-comings, before the writing of his Epistle (for this they had not seen as yet), at a second visit in person among them. [The present form of the E. V. seems against this, but the participle means “by telling the truth,” which of course admits of a part reference. Wordsworth renders “being true,” to avoid the admission of a second visit.—R. ]

Gal 4:17. They pay you court in no honest way.—[So ELLICOTT. LIGHTFOOT: “As ζηλοῦν would seem to have one and the same sense throughout this passage, its more ordinary meanings with the accusative, as ‘to admire, emulate,’ must be discarded. It signifies rather ‘to busy one’s self about, take interest in,’ a sense which lies close to the original meaning of ζῆλος if correctly derived from ζέω.” So Schmoller liebeifern.—R.] “They also, it is true [sc. the false teachers; for we usually abstain from naming; those whose very names produce in us dislike and aversion (CALVIN)] will fain have an affectionate zeal towards you, and contend for the possession of you: but in view of the truth, that, while they will bring you out of affectionate zeal, is worse than what you already have, we must say; they are zealous for you to no good.” EWALD.—They desire to exclude you,—first from me, and thus from the pure gospel to them and their teaching.—“Iva, (that) with the indicative present is certainly harsh; but MEYER’S interpretation is altogether too forced. He feels himself obliged on account of this harshness to take” iva=ubi, in quo statu; whereby, by which exclusion, when it has taken place, you, with your zeal are directed to them as objects of your interest. [The final sense of ἵνα, i.e., they do it for this purpose, is preferable; the indicative being regarded by ALFORD and ELLICOTT as a solecism, though Lightfoot remarks that this usage, while quite unclassical, is often found in later writers. MEYER, insists very strongly however upon the local sense.—R.]

Gal 4:18. But it is good to be courted in a good way at all times.—The “courting” of which they are the objects, he has been obliged to censure, and accordingly he adds (turning to the readers themselves): It is indeed good (καλόν) to be an object of the affectionate zeal of others, good to be zealously loved—but only in a good thing. It, is only good to be zealously loved in a good laudable cause, and for the sake of it, but not as now, on account of an evil cause, namely, apostacy from the truth. This thought Paul completes by the addition: At all times it is good to be loved for the sake of a good cause. But (he says) more accurately considered, it is only good, when one is zealously loved at all times, for the sake of a good cause, and not merely for a while, or at certain times, i. e., when one is always worthy of zealous love (for the sake of a good cause). This thought however, Paul does not leave thus general, but suddenly—disturbing the concinuity of the discourse, though quite in congruity with the emotion expressed in the language of this section—gives it a definite application—not only when I am present with you.—Then you showed yourselves worthy of love, but, alas, not now, when I am not with you.—MEYER and WIESELER understand the beginning of the sentence thus: good it is, that zeal is shown, etc.; and not so that the Galatians are understood as the objects of the zed, but so that the zeal ἐν καλῷ is opposed to the zeal of the false teachers, which was ἐν κακῷ, But justice is not thus done to the passive infinitive. [This verse has caused much discussion. The following results seem clear: 1. That the verb ζηλοῦν is to retain the same meaning throughout. 2. That the last infinitive is passive, and the Galatians the object. But 3. the force of ἐν καλῷ is doubtful. It may be (a) merely adverbial (ELLICOTT). “It is a good thing to be the object of courting in an honest way (as you are by me, though not by them) at all times, and not merely when I happen to be with you.” (b) It may indicate the sphere, in contrast with that of the false teachers (ALFORD). It is a good thing (for you) to be the objects of this zeal, in a good cause, at all times and by every body, not only when I am present with you. I do not grudge the court that is paid you. Only let them do it in an honorable cause, (c) Or the phrase may be pressed, as is done by Schmoller, to imply a contrast between their present and their former state. LIGHTFOOT prefers a view similar to this, but, as he admits, it supplies too much. As (b) is entirely consistent with the requirements of 1, and 2, it seems preferable.—R.]

[Many commentators (including BENGEL, WORDSWORTH, LIGHTFOOT) put a comma at the close of Gal 4:18, thus joining the next verse most closely with this section. There is a sufficient change of tone and thought to justify a full stop, but it seems doubtful whether a new section or paragraph should begin with Gal 4:19. Most commentators, even those who separate Gal 4:18 and 19, begin the new paragraph with Gal 4:21; with more propriety apparently. Schmoller, however, joins Gal 4:19 with Gal 4:21, and divides the sections accordingly. While the matter is not of sufficient moment to warrant an alteration of his arrangement, the usual division presents the Apostle’s thought more satisfactorily. See EXEG. NOTES on Gal 4:19, 20 in the next section.—R.]


1. The characteristic of heathenism is, lack of the knowledge of God. A heathen was before his conversion an atheist (Eph. 2:12). True they had a certain religiosity, but “Knowledge of God” is for Paul at least, a very definite positive idea, essentially distinct from that religiosity. What the heathen worship are by nature not gods.—A hint not to overvalue in an unscriptural manner the religious feeling of the heathen world, which manifested itself in idolatrous worship; also not to see in it too readily anything positive, a prophecy of the true knowledge of God, something only different from it in degree. Rather, it is something negative, a having lost the truth, or at most an echo of that truth which in its main substance is lost. For, according to Rom. 1, the heathen also had indeed originally a knowledge of God, but this before they became heathen by their being servants to them which are by nature not gods; with the coming in of this servitude they lost the knowledge of God. Very different then was the standing of the Israelite from that of the heathen, i. e., although he was “in bondage under the rudiments of the world,” yes, “shut up under sin,” he was yet one “knowing God,” not “without God” (ἅθεος) in the world.

2. Confidence between teachers and hearers.—“There must be more depending on hearty confidence between teachers and hearers, than is commonly thought, because the Apostle so solicitously strives for it, and assures them he has not lost his affection for them, but is still mindful of their first love.” RIEGER.—The preacher, it is true, is in the first place only the bearer and bringer of the divine word, and it is primarily this itself, which opens and wins hearts. The man, compared with the word which he brings, falls entirely into the background, as appears from the very declarations of Paul in this section. Had not the word which he brought, in itself won hearts, had not these conceived confidence in the word as such, for the sake of its contents, Paul himself would have found no access among them; for in his personal appearance, in view of the weakness of the flesh, with which he came, there was at least nothing captivating to the hearts of men.—But on the other hand, simultaneously with the receiving of the word, there is also formed a personal relation to the bringer of it; he is not a mere instrument, but a personality, and in his bringing of the word comes into consideration as such. A bond of confidence and love is knit between the hearer and the teacher; to him who brings what searches the heart in its inmost recesses, who proclaims to us the word of salvation and eternal life, our heart must also necessarily turn in love, if it has suffered the word to gain any hold of it whatever. And on the other hand the personal bond which is formed, will then in its turn have an essential influence in promoting the reception of the word and steadfastness in faith. The preacher may also, as Paul shows, expressly appeal to this personal relation, may and should value highly the love which he experiences, may—not indeed affect an injured tone when it is withdrawn from him, but may well, when the Church has in any way gone astray, use the personal relation that has been formed, as a motive in his admonitions.

[3. Observance of days, etc. The scrupulous observance of “days and months and seasons and years,” is to the Apostle a token that his labor in the gospel has not resulted in appropriate effects. These things belong to “the weak and beggarly elements,” to which the Galatians were returning. That there is no allusion to the observance of the Lord’s Day is evident, for this cannot be classed among these “rudiments,” to which they desire to be again anew in bondage. It could not be classed among “heathen rudiments,” for they knew nothing of it; nor with “the bondage of the law,” for God’s Sabbatic law ante-dated the Mosaic law (comp. the fourth commandment, “Remember”). And whatever of legal bondage had been linked with the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was eliminated together with the change to the first day of the week. This at once removes the Lord’s Day from the category of “days” (Gal 4:10), and also of “weak and beggarly elements” (Gal 4:9). The mode of observance is learned from the Lord’s words: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” which at the same time imply, when rightly understood, the perpetual necessity for a Sabbath.—R.]


Gal 4:8. CRAMER:—“To reflect often on our former miserable condition of heathenism, serves to move us to thanksgiving for the benefit received.” LUTHER:—There is a twofold knowledge of God, a common and a special. The common all men have by nature, in that they know that there is a God, who has made heaven and earth, &c. But how our Lord God is minded towards us, what He will give us and do for us, that we may be redeemed from sin and be saved, of that men know nothing. They know not what pleases or displeases God, and so adore, instead of the actual God, something that their own heart has dreamed out and feigningly devised, but which, in very truth, is naught.—[BROWN:—In false religion in all its forms, nothing is more remarkable than its enslaving, degrading influence on the minds of its votaries.—R.]

Gal 4:9. LUTHER:—We are known of God, rather than we know Him. For what we do towards such knowledge is nothing else than to hold still, and let God occupy Himself with us, namely, by giving us His word, which we lay hold of through the faith which He also works in us, and thus to become God’s children.—We shall not fare better than the dear Apostles themselves fared, who in their lifetime had to see the congregations that had been built up through their office with much pains and labor, so sadly torn down, that for very pity their heart was ready to break.—It may easily and quickly happen, that one apostatize from the truth. For even Christians, who are in earnest as to sound doctrine, consider not sufficiently, how precious and most needful a treasure is the right and true knowledge of Christ. Besides there are exceeding few among those (hat hear the preaching of faith, that are tried by the holy cross and spiritual conflict, and that sometimes have with sin, death and devil a skirmish, but the greater part live on in all security, without all combat and strife. So long as they have sound teachers with them, they speak according to them; but when these their true teachers are away, and the wolves in sheeps’ clothing come creeping in, at once that takes place with them, which happened to the Galatians, namely, that they are soon and easily seduced and perverted.—When the foundation is destroyed, it is then all one, whether men turn themselves to the law, or to idols. Whoever falls from grace upon the law, has as hard a fall as he that falls from grace into heathenism, for out of Christ there, is nothing else than idolatry and a vain image of God.—“To the weak and beggarly rudiments.” When the law accomplishes its right and fitting work or office, it accuses and condemns men; then it is not a weak and beggarly element, but strong and rich, yea, it is an immeasurable, inviucible power and wealth, against which the conscience is indeed weak and poor.—It is most admirable that St. Paul speaks so contemptuously of the law. For he does it to this end, that they who will through the law be made righteous, may from day to day become still weaker and more beggarly. For they are of themselves weak and beggarly, i. e., by nature children of wrath and guilty of perdition, and lay hold then on that which also is nothing else than merely infirmity and beggary, whereby they will fain become strong and rich.

Gal 4:10. “Ye carefully observe days.” Here might some one say: If the good Galatians did so great a sin, in that they observed days, months, seasons, &c, how comes it then, that ye do not also sin, who yet do the like? Answer: in that we keep Sunday, Christmas, Easter, and the like days of solemnity or festivals, we do it with all freedom, we burden with such ceremonies no one’s conscience, nor teach, that men must needs keep them, in order to be thereby justified and saved, or to make satisfaction for sin. But on this account we keep them, that matters may go on in the church in good discipline and order, and that outward unity may not be sundered (for inwardly we have another unity). But the principal cause is this, that the ministry may remain in its full exercise, and that the people may have their certain appointed time, when they may come together, hear God’s word, and therefrom know God. Item, that they may take the sacrament, pray in common for all necessities of all Christendom, and may thank our dear Lord God for all His benefits. BERLENB. BIBLE:—In such things that is even against Christianity which is urged upon men over and above Christianity. He that can comprehend what mischief the evangelical spirit sufers from such patch work, has made great progress.

Gal 4:11. HEUBNER:—The teacher labors upon an uncertainty, knows not what he accomplishes, he sows upon hope.

Gal 4:12–20. RIEGER:—As much depends on such earnest remonstrances for opening the hearers’ hearts, as on the most convincing arguments.

Gal 4:12. SPENER:—A true pastor is sensitive in no particular, save in what is contrary to the honor of God, and the salvation of His flock.—LUTHER:—That he gives the Galatians so good words, is as much as to mix and temper the bitter wormwood drink so with honey and sugar that it may become sweet and pleasant. Even so do parents, when they have well flogged their children, give them good words, give them gingerbread, apples, pears, nuts and the like, that the children may take note and understand that their parents have at heart their good.

Gal 4:13, 14. It may well be that human reason stumbles and starts back, when it beholds the slight, contemptible and weak nature of the dear Christians, wherein there is so much of suffering, yea, the world has ever counted all God’s servants for great fools, who will fain comfort, help and counsel others, item, inasmuch as they boast of so great heavenly possessions and treasures, of righteousness, power, strength, victory over sin, death and all evil, of everlasting joy, &c., and are yet the poorest beggars, and moreover weak, troubled and despised.—STARKE:—True servants of the gospel are angels of God, as having the name of messengers and heralds of the divine will, even as also the invisible and heavenly spirits bear the name of angels from a like office.—LANGE:—If teachers wish to be looked on as angels of God, and in a certain sense as Christ Himself, they must also approve themselves as good angels, and not as Satan’s angels and servants, and discharge their office with such purity, as they have Paul for an example.—[BURKITT:—It is an high commendation to a people, when neither poverty nor deformity, nor any deficiency, which may render a minister of the gospel base and contemptible in the estimation of the world, can possibly diminish any thing of that respect which they know to be due and payable unto him.—R.]

Gal 4:15. HEUBNER:—Let the apostate reflect, when the was happiest, how blessed he was before he fell.—BERLENB. BIB.:—As indeed we are owing more than the eyes of the body, to those that have opened to us the eyes of the soul.—HEDINGER:—A beautiful proof of faith, to love those from the heart, that plant faith within us! O the horror, that some would gladly tear out tongue and eyes from those that teach us the word of the kingdom of heaven!—CRAMER:—It is everywhere the same, that new preachers are welcome, and soon get followers and a great concourse. While the sign is new, it is hung against the wall; but when it is old, it is thrown under the bench.—[BROWN:—When the gospel is remarkably successful, the danger is not of converts not being sufficiently attached, but of their being inordinately attached, to the minister who has been the instrument of conveying to them so great a benefit. The being greatly applauded, is scarcely any proof that a minister has been successful; the being highly esteemed and cordially loved, is a considerably strong presumption that he has; the being regarded with indifference and dislike, is a clear proof that he has not.—R.]

Gal 4:16. HEUBNER:—Him who tells us the truth, we ought to count for our true and best friend.—LUTHER:—In the world matters go altogether strangely and against reason, namely, he that speaks truth becomes an unwelcome guest, yea, is counted for an enemy; but this is not so among good friends, and still less among Christians.—STARKE:—He that bates any one, because he tells him the truth, such an one betrays himself very clearly as no child of God.

Gal 4:17. LUTHER:—This is the way of all false spirits, to put on a friendly behavior, and give people the best words, so as to get a hold. When they first come creeping in, they swear most fervently, that they seek nothing else than alone how they may further God’s honor and men’s salvation; they promise to those that receive their teaching, that they shall certainly be saved. And with such assumed appearance of godliness and sheep’s clothing, the ravening wolves do immensely great harm to the Christian church, where pastors are not active and vigilant and earnest to withstand them.—RIEGER:—Great pains given to any thing, great certainty assumed concerning it, is indeed something very taking to men’s minds; but zeal alone gives no certain proof of truth. The doctrine is not to be judged according to the zeal, but the zeal according to the doctrine. The zeal does not make the cause good, but the cause must make the zeal good.—[BUNYAN:—Zeal without knowledge is like a mettled horse without eyes or like a sword in a madman’s hands.—RICCALTOUN:—In reading the history of the church it is hard to say whether what has gone, and still goes under the name of zeal, has done more good or hurt to religion.—BURKITT:—The old practice has ever been amongst seducers, first to alienate the people’s minds from their own teachers, and next get themselves looked upon as alone, and only worthy to have room in the people’s hearts.—R.]

Gal 4:18. STARKE:—Zeal for good must be enduring.—This is a human feeling, which exists in many, even pious souls. They are zealous in good, when faithful teachers are present, but when they are absent, or it may be dead, they : slacken in their zeal.


[10]1 Gal 4:8.—[The idea of servitude rather than service is more accordant with the connection of thought.—R.]

[11]Gal 4:8.—Lachmann, Tischendorf read τοῖς φύσει μὴοὖσι θεοῖς, instead of τοῖς μὴ φύσει οὖσι θεοῖς. Rec. [The former reading is that of א. A, B, C, and modern editors generally.—R.]

[12]Gal 4:9.—[The tense here is the same as in the preceding clause, and the translation must conform.—R.]

[13]Gal 4:9.—[The construction is like 2:14.—The rendering above given retains the force of the present: ye are in process of turning.—R.]

[14]Gal 4:12.—[Τἰνεσθε—“become.” In the next clause the same verb is to be supplied. The better division of verses would join the last clause with Gal 4:13, as the better pointing transposes the period and colon.—R.]

[15]Gal 4:13.—[This rendering of διʼ ἀσθένειαν may now be considered as established.—R.]

[16]Gal 4:14.—The reading τὸν πειρ.ὑμῶν ἐν τῆ σαρκί μου is followed. So א [1A. B. D.1 F., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Bagge, Ellicott, Alford, Wordsworth, Lightfoot.—R.] Rec. reads τὸν πειρ. μου τὸν έν τῆ σαρκί μου; its, sense is: You have not despised my bodily temptation=me on account of my sickness, by which I was tempted of God. But M.S. authority is strongest for ὑ μῶν. Evidently this was not understood, and the Recepta is a conjectural emendation, based on a false interpretation. Πειρασμόν was understood as calamitas, as an infirmity in the body of Paul himself, because in Gal 4:13 this is spoken of; and so ὑμῶν had either to be entirely erased, or replaced by μου; and τόυ added to connect ἐν σαρκί μου with πειρασμόν. On the sense of the approved reading, see EXEG. NOTES. [Schmoller follows Lachmann’s punctuation, which puts a full stop after σαρκί μου, but this is objectionable, and not adopted by later editors. It is better to put a comma only after “rejected.”—R.]

[17]Gal 4:15.—There are three readings: 1) The Recepta, τίς οὖν ἧν ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν. 2) The same, only without ἧν. 3) Ποῦ οὗν ὁ μακαρ.ὑμῶν without ἦν which gives no sense with ποῦ. The last reading is well supported, and found in א., but seems to be a very old gloss; for a change of ποῦ into the more difficult τίς cannot readily be explained. Of the two others, 2) seems preferable, though we cannot definitely decide, [Ποῦ is adopted by Tischendorf. Alford, Wordsworth, Lightfoot; τίς, without ἧν by Ellicott. If we adopt 1) or 2), the E. V. must be altered: “What then was”—i. e. of what kind was, etc.—R.]

[18]Gal 4:15.—[“Own” is not warranted by the simple τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ύμῶν.—R.]

[19]Gal 4:17.—[On the alterations, Gal 4:17, 18, see EXEG. NOTES. Ellicott’s translation has been adopted only in part.—R.]

[20]Gal 4:17.—Ἡμᾶς [instead of ὑμᾶς.—R.] is an unnecessary conjecture [of Beza’s].

[21]Gal 4:18.—The reading ζηλοῦσθε is an unnecessary conjecture in all probability, though found in א. B. [Rejected by all editors of importance. Meyer, Ellicott, Wordsworth, read τὸ ζηλοῦσθαι; Lachmann, Alford, Lightfoot omit the article. It probably disappeared with the incorrect reading of the verb in some MSS.—R.]

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
D. Confirmation of the freedom of Christians, from the narrative of the Scripture concerning the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, by means of an interpretation referring it to the Jewish and the Christian Church

CHAPTER 4:19—30

(Gal 4:21–31. The Epistle for the 4th Sunday in Lent.)

19My little children22 of whom I travail in birth again [with whom I am again in 20travail] until Christ be formed in you, I desire [I could wish indeed] to be present with you now, and to change my voice [tone];23 for I stand in doubt of you 21 [am perplexed about you].24 Tell me ye that desire to be under the Jaw, do ye not hear25 the law? 22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman [one by the bondmaid, and one by the free woman 23]. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise [through the26 promise]. 24Which things are an allegory [are allegorical]:27 for these are the [omit the]28 two covenants; the one from the [omit the] mount Sinai, which gendereth to [bearing children unto] bondage, which is Agar [Hagar].29 25For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia [(For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia), or For the word Agar means in Arabia mount Sinai; or For this Hagar represents mount Sinai in Arabia], and answereth to [she ranks30 with] Jerusalem which now is [the present Jerusalem], and is [for31 she is] in bondage with her children. 26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all [and she is our32 mother]. 27For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children [many are the children of the desolate more] 28than she which [who] hath a husband. Now we [But ye],33 brethren, as Isaac was, 29are the [omit the] children of promise. But [still] as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir [shall in no wise34 be heir] with the son35 of the free woman.


Gal 4:19. My little children.—[LIGHTFOOT: “A mode of address common in St. John, but not found elsewhere in St. Paul. Here the diminutive expresses both the tenderness of the Apostle and the feebleness of his converts. It is a term at once of affection and rebuke.”—R.] It is more natural to make a break here (the very suddenness of the appeal implies this) and to join “my little children” with “tell me” (Gal 4:21). It cannot at all events be connected with the preceding context, but the connection with Gal 4:20 is only possible on the assumption of an interruption of the discourse (comp, δέ). [The presence of δέ in Gal 4:20 is urged as a reason for connecting our verse very closely with Gal 4:18, as is done by many commentators. The course of the thought would then be: “I have a right to ask for constancy in your affections. I have a greater claim on you than these new teachers. They speak but as strangers to strangers; I as a mother to her children with whom she has travailed” (LIGHTFOOT). But there is something so sudden in the address, that it is better to separate the verses (so MEYER, ALFORD, ELLICOTT).—R.] On the other hand the contents of Gal 4:20 fit very well into the discourse as a parenthetical remark. In the “am again in travail” the wish presses itself upon him, rather to be present with them—and this he then expresses—before going on, in Gal 4:21, to attempt to change the minds of his readers, as being his children, and to bring them back. It is true “tell me,” after this interruption, does not connect immediately with Gal 4:19; the “little children” receives a particular definition in “ye that desire to be under the law,” but this only indicates how far a travailing again is necessary, in order to prepare for a continuance of this ὠδίνειν through the following exposition, as indeed all that precedes had been nothing else than such a travail.

[This view of the connection of the passage is open to serious objection. Two vocatives are joined together, which are separated both in position and in tone. Gal 4:20 which contains the wish to be present is sundered from Gal 4:18, where the thought of his presence is introduced. The idea of travailing is joined to a passage of argument by illustration, and separated from the more personal part of the discourse. If there be a difficulty about. δέ (Gal 4:20) as introducing an “opposition,” and hence a parenthesis be deemed necessary, this “opposition” may be found (MEYER) “in the tacit contrast between the subject of his wish to be present with them, and his actual absence and separation.” It seems best then to connect Gal 4:19 and 20 together—detaching them as a burst of tenderness from both the preceding and subsequent context, though joined in thought more closely with the I former.—R.]

With whom I am again in travail.—i. e., the second time.—The labor of his spirit on the hearts of the readers he here compares with the travail of a mother (elsewhere with the begetting of the father), in which the point of comparison I is the activity directed to the coming of a child into the world; with the mother—of a natural child; here with the Apostle—of a spiritual child. This image is continued with the expression until Christ be formed in you.—It is a ripe, completely developed child that is in contemplation=in which the life has come to perfect manifestation. Such a child, and only such a one, renders a mother’s pangs of labor effectual, for only such a child lives, and therefore only in such a one has she a child. So long as the birth is not that of a perfect child, so long must she ever look forward to new pangs of labor, before she can have this, her wish granted. [ELLICOTT: “The idea is not so much of the pain, as of the long and continuous effort of the travail.”—R.]—With justice therefore is the complete formation of the child represented as the aim of the labor, and there is here nothing like an inversion of the physiological process, in which the formatio takes place ante partum. This is not here the point in question. The natural child is completely developed, in that the natural life, as it were the spirit of life, comes in it to perfect manifestion, gains an actual, corresponding form. What this natural spirit of life is in the natural child, Christ is in the spiritual child, as the principle of spiritual life, and hence the expression of the Apostle: Christ is μορφωθῆναι in them=the inward principle is to come with them to manifestation to gain a form in an established, assured, evangelical conviction of faith; only when this takes place, has Paul as spiritual mother actually a spiritual child. But since this is wanting, as is shown by their apostacy, he is therefore now bearing them once again, in the hope that this perfect formation may come to pass. (If it had not, he would have needed to travail in birth still again, but here, as is natural, he only speaks of a second travail.) That in nature a completely developed child is not hoped for from a second bearing of the same child, is a self-evident incongruity between the fact and the image, but it answers the purpose that the activity is the same—in both cases there is a travail of birth.36WIESELER incorrectly finds in πάλιν ὠδίνειν the doctrinal conception of the new birth, and takes πάλιν therefore as antithetical to the natural birth. In the first place the Apostle’s lamentation over the alteration that had taken place in the readers, brings almost necessarily to our thoughts the probability of a renewed activity among them; and secondly he could well designate the labor bestowed by him upon the Galatians as a bearing of spiritual children, but not as a regeneration in the doctrinal sense, for this appertains to God alone. Paul’s travailing in birth with them, it is true, had as its end, their becoming regenerate children of God, but the one is not therefore to be identified with the other.

Gal 4:20. I could wish indeed to be present with you.—[This rendering, though not literal, brings out the force of the passage, and the “tacit contrast” in δέ. See above.—&.]—And to change my tone.—This, in its immediate connection with a wish to be present with them, appears to signify: I should be glad to give my language such a form as suits with oral intercourse; from the written style, with its more formal, unpliable character, less suited to make an impression on the heart, I should be glad to pass over into oral discourse. But φωνὴν ἀλλάξαι does not on this account mean: to interchange discourse with any one=to converse together, as WIESELER singularly assumes. Why he should like to be with them, and to vary his discourse, he then expressly declares: For I am perplexed about you.—Ἐν, the perplexity has its ground chiefly in them, in their state of mind.37 He knows not with what arguments he can find access to them and dispose them to a return. Therefore he thinks now he could more easily accomplish something by oral discourse with them. MEYER understands φωνὴν ἀλλάσσειν of a wish of Paul, instead of the rigorous tone used in his last visit, to essay a milder tone. But this is far from evident.—RIEGER justly remarks that in a certain sense Paul does immediately after in Gal 4:21 what he wishes in Gal 4:20, namely, varies the form of his language, and speaks as if he were present with them: λέγετέμοι κ. τ. λ. [For the various interpretations of the phrase “change my voice” see MEYER in loco. The view given above seems tame, but the reference to the tone during his second visit is doubtful. So also the interpretation: “to modify my language from time to time as occasion demands.” Certainly it is improper to think of a desire to change his tone to a more severe one (in contrast with the mild τεκνία). On the whole it seems best to conclude 1) that the desired change was from the severe to the milder address; 2) that the severe tone referred to is that of the present Epistle (so ELLICOTT and many others).—R.]

Gal 4:21. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?—“Hear” is hardly to be taken precisely as implying that the law was publicly read by the pseudo-apostles among them, but generally: Do you not give heed to what is written in the Law? The second time νόμος, according to the Jewish use of תוֹרָה= the Pentateuch. From the law itself, on which you lay so much stress, you might discover that you are not, and are not meant to be under the law. [MEYER:—“At the close of the theoretical part of his Epistle, Paul now appends a very peculiar allegoric argument from the law itself, intended to destroy the influence of the false Apostles with their own weapons, and to root it up out of its own proper soil.”—R.]

Gal 4:22. For it is written.—Γάρ=I must inquire: do ye not hear the Law; for if you really heard the law, you would find in it that which might convince you how unsound and dangerous it is to “desire to be under the law.” That to which Paul refers the Galatians, as being found in the law, is the narrative in Genesis, of the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, the one by the bondmaid, Hagar, and the other by the free woman, Sarah. As is known, he had Ishmael first, and he is therefore mentioned first. They were therefore indeed both Abraham’s sons, but they had not merely different mothers, but mothers also of entirely different conditions; the one was the son of a bondmaid, the other of a free woman.

Gal 4:23. Yet even with that they might have been begotten in like manner, but (ἀλλά) this was far from being the case, the son of the bondmaid was begotten after the flesh, and the son of the free woman through the promise.—Κατὰ σάρκα = entirely in the ordinary way of natural generation, of carnal intercourse; διὰτῆς ἐπαγγελίας = formally also, it is true, in this way, but materially (by the side of which the other is a vanishing factor), by virtue of the divine promise, which Abraham had received, inasmuch as God in a miraculous manner, restored the long-lost capacity of Sarah to conceive, so that in truth the efficient factor was God. [The preposition διά denoting the causa medians (ELLICOTT).—R.]

Gal 4:24. Which things are allegorical, ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα.—Paul thus introduces his interpretation of the narrative which he quotes. He states what the Galatians might learn from it. [ELLICOTT has a valuable note on the distinction between ὅς and ὅστις. His view of ἅτινα is thus expressed: “all which things viewed in their most general light.” This wider meaning will guard against the assumption that the narrative itself was a mere allegory and not historical.—R.]—Ἀλληγορεῖν = ἄλλο ἀγορεύειν: to say something else than is expressed by the letter, to say something in figures; passively: to have a tropical sense, ἀλληγορούμενον εἶναι = to be something that has such a sense. That Paul understands what is related in Genesis of Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, etc., as history also, needs I no proof: but undoubtedly at the same time he sees in the history an intimation of something else, something higher, than the simple history relates. In what sense, see below, in the DOCTRINAL NOTES. [The precise meaning of ἀλληγορεῖν must be noted. It may be made to cover the thought: to be treated as having an allegorical sense, but here we must insist on the more definite and strict meaning: to have an allegorical sense. “Which things viewed in their most general light have an allegorical meaning;” this interpretation will guard against the assumptions and errors which are based upon a looser view. See DOCTRINAL NOTES.—R.]

To what the history points is then stated: for these are two covenants.—Αὐται seems not to refer immediately, i. e., grammatically, to the women, but, according to ordinary Greek usage, to stand for ταῦτα; it would be somewhat different if in Gal 4:23 the women were the subjects. Substantially no doubt it refers to the two women, in whom he sees types of the two covenants—not however in the twofold marriage covenant of Abraham with Hagar and Sarah (as JATHO assumes, who, in order to sustain this view, is obliged to give an exceedingly forced interpretation of “which is Agar”). It is peculiar, and renders the understanding of this passage somewhat difficult, that Paul, in the first place, designates the women and not the sons themselves as symbols, more particularly as prophetic symbols of the two covenants; and in the second place, it even more perplexes the matter, that he finds in them the two covenants == of God with men, which were typified or prophesied (that is, in general, the Old and the New Covenant), and takes these themselves as mothers, and then from these first passes over to the two diverse churches, whose motherhood appears more clearly when viewed in connection with their members. Of course, however, the covenants stand in intimate relation to the churches; it is not only they that confer on them their peculiar character, but also that properly constitute them; without the covenants the churches would not exist.—The one from Mount Sinai, etc.—A pregnant expression = the first covenant is that which originates from mount Sinai and bears unto bondage. Γεννῶσα, feminine, because it corresponds to the mother Hagar. The expression εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα is itself to be supplemented so that it=bearing, sc. children, as it were into bondage = and translating them into bondage, of course by subjection to the law, for the covenant from Sinai is the covenant of law.—Which is Hagar.—This is = this covenant is typified by Hagar, for she too as “bondmaid” bore children “unto bondage.” This is of course primarily the ground why he compares the Sinaitic covenant with Hagar; of both alike the bearing children unto bondage” was an attribute. But this abrupt assertion: the Sinaitic covenant is Hagar, or, Hagar signifies the Sinaitic covenant, because it as well as she “bore unto bondage,” is of itself too bold and startling, and Paul therefore in a parenthesis intimates that Sinai and Hagar, far apart as they might seem to be, yet even independently of this “bearing,” stand of themselves related to one another.

Galatians 4:25. The words setting forth this relation are, according to one reading: τὸ γὰρ Σινᾶ ὄροςἐσὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ: according to the other: τὸ δὲ [or γάρͅ] Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος, &c. Accepting the first reading, Paul points to the fact that Mount Sinai is situated in Arabia—that therefore the Sinaitic covenant has one home with Hagar, and so far a relation to her. Both originate from Arabia—are not at home in the Holy Land; while yet they both came in near relation to the people of God; Hagar to Abraham, bearing him a son; the Sinaitic covenant to Abraham’s posterity, raising up children to this; for Israel by the Sinaitic covenant first became an organized theocratic people, possessing the principle of self-preservation and hereditary continuance.—Accepting the reading: τὸ δὲ Ἄγαρ, κ. τ. λ. in which δέ is exceedingly well suited to introduce an elucidation, which indeed it properly is, rather than a demonstration [γάρ being however the more probable reading, on critical grounds, see critical note.—R.], the Apostle points out that even as to name there exists a relation between Hagar and the Sinaitic covenant,—that it is not therefore so arbitrary as might seem on his part, to interpret the former as a type of the latter; for that among the Arabians, Mount Sinai has just this name of Hagar, and that—as Paul undoubtedly assumes—after Hagar. It is true we have no other proof of Sinai’s having this appellation, and it would have to be assumed that Paul had learned, perhaps from his sojourn in Arabia, that Sinai bore this name also among the Arabs, which he referred back to Hagar. It is certainly probable, that the Arabs named Sinai Ἄγαρ; for this is = Rock, and so corresponds precisely to the character of this mountain chain, and probably also to the signification of the ancient name “Sinai” itself, which etymology renders by “Rock.”—Paul would then, only err in the reference of this name Ἄγαρ to the Hagar of the Old Testament, but at all events the name would be the same, and this, in the first instance would be the main thing. Yet this circumstance will always make this reading suspicious.

[In addition to these interpretations, which may be distinguished as I., II., another (III.) must be considered, viz., that of CALVIN, BEZA, ESTIUS, WORDSWORTH (and LIGHTFOOT, if the correctness of the Recepta be established): “For this Hagar (is) represents Mount Sinai in Arabia.”—I. is comparatively free from grammatical difficulty, forming a parenthesis, which introduces a geographical remark, the point of which is obvious, though on the whole it seems much tamer than the other views. Besides the critical grounds for preferring the longer reading (not the least strong being this absence of grammatical difficulties), it may be objected 1. That since a mere geographical remark would be unnecessary, the emphasis must lie on ἐν τῇ Ἀραβ.; but to convey such an emphasis, the Greek order should be ἐν τῇ Ἀρ. ἐστίν (ALFORD). 2. MEYER intimates that this view must press as the essential point, the fact that the mountain was “outside of the land of Canaan,” and yet this essential point is only implied. Still there is not much force in this objection, since the positive statement “is in Arabia,” the land of bondsmen, is after all the main thought, the other being a negative antitheses, that may well be omitted.—II. is adopted by MEYER, ELLICOTT, ALFORD, and many older commentators (CHRYSOSTOM, LUTHER, et al). This may be called the etymological view. Here the grammatical difficulties are not great, for it may readily be conceded, that τὸ Ἄγαρ means “the word Agar,” ἐστίν, “means”—and ἐν τῇ Αρ. either “among the Arabians” or “in the Arabian (supply διαλέκτῳ) dialect,” and the objection that “the word Agar” cannot properly be the subject of συστοιχεῖ is met by putting a semicolon at the end of this clause, or throwing it into a parenthesis. The real difficulties are far graGal 4:1. It is extremely doubtful whether “Agar” did mean “in Arabia, Mount Sinai.” The testimony of travellers is not strong, that of philology even less so. Granting that the Arabic word for “rock” is similar in sound, we are far from settling the question of identity of name. 2. “If in writing to a half-Greek, half-Celtic people, he ventured to argue from an Arabic word at all, he would at all events be careful to make his drift intelligible” (“LIGHTFOOT). Was it likely to be intelligible to them, when in these days of philological and geographical research, this interpretation is still doubtful? 3. The argument or illustration seems fanciful when resting on this identity of name, especially as Hagar had a meaning in Hebrew, and Sarah also, which meanings could well have been used here, were it a question of names.—III. “For this Hagar represents,” etc. This may be called the typical or allegorical interpretation, and for that very reason more likely to be correct in this connection. It avoids the objections against I. on the score of emphasis, and tameness; with II. follows the reading which seams more correct, but avoids the fanciful and doubtful features of that view. MEYER considers the neuter article an insuperable objection. But this may be met 1) as is done by WORDSWORTH, by joining the article with Σινᾶ ὄρος not with Ἄγαρ. He contends that this is allowable and that no other order was admissible. Still this seems unnatural. Or 2) by understanding τὸ Ἄγαρ, “the thing Hagar,” not the woman, for Gal 4:24 passes over into allegory, but the allegorical Hagar,—her position as set forth in Gal 4:24. This is less objectionable. As this is the only real difficulty (ἐστίν, “represents,” is of course admissible), we may adopt III. as perhaps the safest view, seemingly that of E. V. As regards punctuation, a comma then suffices after this clause, and Ἄγαρ is the grammatical subject of συστοιχεῖ.—R.]

Ranks with.—Συστοιχεῖ δέ might be connected with ἤτις (Gal 4:24) or back of that with μία, sc. διαθήκη. [SO DE WETTE, LIGHTFOOT.—R.] “For she is in bondage” is given as the proof of “ranks with,” and this evidently refers to “bearing children unto bondage” (Gal 4:24). The covenant “bearing children unto bondage” “ranks with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage with her children.” Συστοιχεῖν, to stand in one row with something else, to belong to the same species, to belong together with anything. The Sinaitic covenant, says Paul, and the present Jerusalem, although separated in time and place, yet belong essentially together; the former brought into “bondage,” the latter is in that very bondage. The object is to show that an internal relation exists between the Sinaitic covenant and the present Jerusalem. [This is certainly preferable to the view of CHRYSOSTOM and most of the Fathers, LUTHER et al., which takes Σινᾶ as the subject, and renders the verb either “is contiguous to” or “joined in a continuous (mountain) range” with Jerusalem. The thought is irrelevant, and we should then have Mt. Zion, rather than Jerusalem, following the verb. LIGHTFOOT thus shows the exact meaning of the verb: “In military language συστοιχία denotes a, file, as συζυγία does a rank of soldiers; comp. Polyb. X. 21, 7. The allegory of the text may be represented by συστοιχίαι thus:

Hagar, the bond woman.

Ishmael. the child after the flesh.

The Old Covenant.

The earthly Jerusalem, etc.

Sarah, the free woman.

Isaac, the child of promise.

The New Covenant.

The heavenly Jerusalem, etc.”

Accepting this meaning, it is necessary to take exception to embracing the idea of type in the word. Those in each list are σύστοιχοι with each other, but ἀντίστοιχοι to those in the opposite list.—R.]—It seems however more accordant with the context to make Ἄγαρ (Gal 4:25) the subject. For Hagar is a type of the present Jerusalem, “ranks with”—stands in the same row with it, or better, fits as a type to the antitype [?] Moreover Hagar was “in bondage with her children, just as the present Jerusalem.” Besides in this connection there is significant reference to the fact that “the present Jerusalem” corresponds to Hagar alone—and not to Sarah: the special proof of which is, what is affirmed of “the present Jerusalem,” viz.: “for she is in bondage with her children.” [So that not only the proximity of the word Ἄγαρ, but the closer correspondence also, supports the view that “Hagar” is the logical subject of the verb. See MEYER.—R.]

The present Jerusalem.—Jerusalem represents here as it always did in the Old Testament, the Jewish people; but this as a collective personality, and moreover a maternal one, the individual members of the people being viewed as children of this mother. Ἡ νῦν Ἱερουσ. is the present Jerusalem in contrast with the μελλ. Ἱερουσ. as it shall become through the Messiah, i. e., through faith in Him, the Jerusalem, which has not, and so long as it has not, received the Messiah. “The present Jerusalem” meaning thus the historical Israel, the Jewish people, its children are of course “born after the flesh” and Paul presupposes this as self-evident.—Is in bondage.—This cannot apply to the yoke of the Romans, for this has nothing at all to do with the Sinaitic covenant, but applies to the being in bondage under the Mosaic law. A state of bondage in this sense Paul predicates of the existing Jewish church without further proof, as something which the readers after the preceding exposition of the nature of the law (comp. 3:23; 4:3–7), must concede, and indeed that the Jews were strenuous observers of the law was a matter beyond doubt.

Gal 4:26. But Jerusalem which is above is free.—Paul does not continue the course of thought begun in Gal 4:24 with “for these are two covenants.” He names the first covenant only, not the second one also, but to make the contrast more palpable, opposes at once to the present Jerusalem, which is in bondage, another Jerusalem which is free. Now the present Jerusalem is in a condition of bondage because the first covenant, which is a covenant of bondage, came in her to manifestation. So the freedom, of the other Jerusalem would have its ground also in the character of the Second covenant, which comes into manifestation in her, and we have a right to find implied a second covenant bearing children unto freedom, which is typified prophetically by Sarah, just as the covenant of bondage by Hagar. If we inquire what this second covenant is, according to the previous context, the answer cannot be doubtful; over against the covenant of law stands a covenant of grace or promise. WIESELER’S parallelism goes too far, where he wishes to supply: δευτέρα δὲ (διαθήκη) ἀπὸ ὄρους Σιὼν, εἰς ἐλευθερίαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶ Σάῤῥα. τὸ γὰρ Σιὼν, εἰν ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ γῇ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ. ἐλευθέρη γάρ ἐστι μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς. [“The second covenant from Mount Zion, bearing children unto freedom, which is Sarah. For Zion is a mountain in the land of promise, and ranks with Jerusalem above, for she is free with her children.” This follows from his view of Gal 4:25, and is objectionable besides for the reason that it forces an allegory beyond the point to which it has been carried by the Apostle himself.—R.] Somewhat too definite also is MEYER’S view: The other covenant is the one established in Christ (see afterwards on ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ). Paul has not waited till now to give the proof that the covenant of grace is a covenant of promise, and that on this account Jerusalem above is also free. This is in part clear from what precedes and in part results from the nature of the case, since a covenant of promise given of grace, because it has nothing to do with any law, can have no connection with “bondage” either. In addition he now demonstrates to the Galatians this only, that they are children of that Jerusalem which is free, and that therefore it would be preposterous for them to wish to be under the law. “Free” of course =not being under the law.

The main question is, what ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσ. signifies. “Jerusalem” here also means a church taken as a collective personality, her individual members being conceived as her children. But ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσ. is of course not the “ancient” Jerusalem, the Salem of Melchisedek, nor yet the mountain of Zion, which in Josephus is called ἡ ἄνω πόλις. [LIGHTFOOT: “The Apostle instinctively prefers the Hebrew form Ἱερουσαλὴμ here for the typical city, as elsewhere in this Epistle (1:17, 18; 2:1) he employs the Græcised form Ἱερόσόλυμα for the actual city. ‘Ἱερουσαλὴμ Esther appellatio Hebraica, originaria et sanctior: Ιεροσόλυμα, deinceps obvia, Græca, magis politico,’ says Bengel on Rev. 21:2, accounting for the usage of St. John (in the Gospel the latter; in the Apocalypse the former), and referring to this passage in illustration.”—R.] On the other hand LUTHER is right in his decided protest against the reference to the ecclesia triumphans, for the Christians of this world are here designated by Paul as children of this ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ. (Only so much is correct, that with the παρουσία it is no other than this very ἄνω Ἱερουσ. that comes to perfection, so that the Church after the παρουσία is essentially identical with that before it. But the eye is not at all directed here to the παρουσία; and the very reason why the expression ἡ μέλλουσα Ἱερουσ. is not chosen is, that after Christ had appeared upon earth this must be referred to the παρουσἱα. WIESELER is therefore also incorrect in asserting not only that the church of the perfected is meant, but in insisting as he does that these are expressly comprehended.)—But ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσ. must at all events signify a Jerusalem that is above, an upper Jerusalem, and this “above” can only refer to Heaven. Here again LUTHER has a right understanding of it, in the main point at all events, when he remarks that this “above” is to be understood not of place but of character: “when St. Paul speaks of a Jerusalem above and the other here below upon earth, he means that the one Jerusalem is spiritual, but the other earthly. For there is a great distinction between spiritual and corporeal or earthly things. What is spiritual, that is above, but what is earthly, that is here below. Therefore says he then, that the spiritual Jerusalem is above, not that in respect to space or place it is higher than the earthly here below, but in that it is spiritual.” The upper Jerusalem would therefore = the spiritual Jerusalem. This explanation, it is true, does not appear to do full justice to the material idea “above,” but it leads in. the right direction for this, and needs only to be completed by including also the conception of space which is contained in ἄνω. That is, ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσ. is not= the Jerusalem that is localiter, externally situated above (this is refuted by LUTHER), but the Jerusalem, that as to its essential character is an upper, heavenly one, and therefore neither originates from earth nor belongs to earth, but originates from Heaven and belongs to Heaven, lot it be situated where it may, of which nothing is expressly said. (In reality Luther also means this and nothing else by his spiritual Jerusalem, and his explanation, therefore, only apparently incurs the reproach of spiritualizing.) Whether the expression is immediately founded upon the rabbinical doctrine of the ירוּשׁלים שׁל מעלה “which according to Jewish teaching is the archetype existing in Heaven of the earthly Jerusalem, and at the establishment of the Messianic kingdom will be let down from Heaven to earth, in order, as the earthly Jerusalem is the central point and the capital of the old theocracy, to be the same for the Messianic theocracy” (MEYER), cannot be affirmed with certainty; that Paul did not share the crude and sensuous rabbinical conceptions of this heavenly Jerusalem, but had a scripturally purified idea of it, is in any case clear; so that from the Jewish schools he only derives the expression rather than the substance of the idea. At the most he had only the fundamental conception, which was then essentially modified. [LIGHTFOOT: “With them,” i. e., the rabbinical teachers, “it is an actual city, the exact counterpart of the earthly Jerusalem in its topography and furniture: with him it is a symbol or image, representing that spiritual city of which the Christian is even now a denizen (Phil. 3:20). The contrast between the two scene?, as they appeared to the eye, would enhance, if it did not suggest the imagery of St. Paul here. On the one hand, Mount Zion, of old the joy of the whole earth, now more beautiful than ever in the fresh glories of the Herodian renaissance, glittering in gold and marble; on the other, Sinai with its rugged peaks and barren sides, bleak and desolate, the oppressive power of which the Apostle himself had felt during his sojourn there—these scenes fitly represented the contrast between the glorious hopes of the new covenant and the blank despair of the old. Comp. Heb. 12:18–22.”—R.]

And she is our mother.—If we seek to define still more distinctly the idea of the ἄνω Ἱερουσ., we shall find that here also LUTHER had the right sense of it, when he peremptorily declares, and in opposition to the transcendental fantasies, which overlooked the actually operative heavenly forces in the word and sacraments, so strongly insists that: “the heavenly Jerusalem, which is above, is nothing else than the dear church or Christendom, that arc in the whole world here and there dispersed, who all together have one gospel, one manner of faith in Christ, one Holy Ghost, and one manner of sacrament.” Only here again he makes the idea too special. The upper Jerusalem, which essentially springs from Heaven and not from earth, and belongs to Heaven and not to earth, is in the first instance nothing else than the true Church and people of God in its entire generality; for this has its constitution not in the covenant of law, but in the covenant of grace or promise, and its essential character may therefore with full right, nay must be denominated by Paul a heavenly one.—As certainly now as Paul dated back the covenant of grace as far back beyond the covenant of law as Abraham’s time, so certainly did this “upper Jerusalem” properly begin with Abraham himself, although at first indeed rather in the way of promise, in idea, as it were, but yet realiter, as certainly as God’s covenant of grace was one really concluded. This “upper Jerusalem” then, it is true, first came to full manifestation with the advent of the Messiah, as with this God’s covenant of grace first found its true actualization; and so far is the upper Jerusalem=Christendom, but yet even now it must not be identified with it. It is a higher, more general idea, precisely=God’s congregation [Gottesgemeinde] which the idea of the church does not altogether exhaust, but which continues to rise above it, lying at the foundation of the church, which is its concrete manifestation, but yet to be distinguished from it; and indeed this idea of the congregation of God will never attain its completely adequate expression in the church of this dispensation, but only with the παρουσία will such a complete coincidence of ideas and phenomenon be realized (as indeed on the other hand the present Jerusalem which is in bondage was also not absolutely coincident with the Jewish community, but many members of it raised themselves above this bondage, although no doubt in this case the coincidence was far more nearly complete). [MEYER’S interpretation: “the Messianic theocracy, which before the παρουσία is the church, and after it Christ’s kingdom of glory” is substantially correct, provided we sufficiently extend the meaning of 

the word “Church.” Our conceptions of her, “who is our mother,” must here be large enough to include all her children, in the Old and the New Dispensations, as militant and triumphant. See DOCTRINAL NOTES.—R.] What Paul now wishes to show is, that Christians are children of this true congregation of God, that is grounded upon the covenant of grace, and therefore of course is free, and not merely that they are children of the Christian community, which certainly would have needed no proof.—From the foregoing we see still more evidently (what has already been touched upon above), that the expression ἡ μέλλουσα Ἱερουσ., although it would have corresponded with ἡ νῦν Ἱερουσ., would not have been suitable here. On the other hand nothing stood in the way of designating the natural Israel as ἡ νῦν Ἱερουσ., inasmuch as every one would refer this expression to the right object; in this sense a κάτω Ἱερουσ. would have sounded strange, and would have been less intelligible, so that the want of correspondence in the expressions is not at all surprising.

Gal 4:27 and 28 contain the proof of the proposition that “Jerusalem which is above” is the mother of Christians,—in syllogistic form, only not quite exact, since ὑμεῖς is the more probable reading in Gal 4:28. Gal 4:27, major premise: To the “Jerusalem which is above,” although she does not bear, there are many children promised, who therefore, as Isaac, must have been born purely in virtue of Divine promise.

Gal 4:28, minor premise: But now are we, or rather, says the Apostle, with definite application to the readers, for whom particularly the proof is intended, ye are the children of promise, after the analogy of Isaac;—therefore (conclusion) ye are children of the Jerusalem above.

For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not, etc.—For the major premise Paul appeals to Isaiah 54:1. The theocratic nation is addressed during the Babylonian exile, and told that though aforetime in the bloom of Israel’s prosperity she was like a woman “who hath a husband,” who had by her husband numerous children, she now resembled a woman that is “desolate” = without a husband (for it had been repudiated by God), and in consequence—for στεῖρα is here to be taken in this sense—is “barren,” “not bearing,” “not travailing,” bears no children. (God is to be conceived as the husband, if this part of the figure is also to be interpreted, according to the familiar Biblical image of God’s marriage covenant with Israel.) But yet is she to rejoice, and loudly to express her joy (ῥῆξον sc. φωνήν, rumpe vocem, let loose the voice), for she shall become richer in children than before! This therefore not in the way of natural generation, but through the immediate extraordinary operation of God: they are therefore children not “after the flesh,” but born “through the promise.” (Only, so to speak, the natural, carnal relation of God to the people as begetting natural posterity, was dissolved; God yet remained, in the exercise of a higher energy, devoted to the people as His people, for the very end of bringing in something higher than before.) Evidently in this the image of Sarah hovers before the prophet, of that barren one who was “desolate,” that is, at least as “barren” could have no conjugal intercourse with her husband, and therefore was so far without husband, and who yet became a mother of a numerous progeny in virtue of the Divine energy. Thus even the prophet sees in Sarah a type of the theocratic nation—not, it is true, in her condition of freedom, but at least in her becoming a mother by promise, and therefore is she a type of the theocratic people, inasmuch as this increases not in the natural way=through natural descent, but through the addition of spiritual children.—Herein also is found Paul’s justification for referring this passage immediately to “Jerusalem which is above.” Primarily, indeed, it applies to the theocratic people as a whole. But even here, to the natural children,=to such as become members of the theocratic people by natural descent, are opposed spiritual children=such as become such in virtue of Divine operation, without natural consanguinity. The sense therefore cannot be merely: The now depopulated Israel shall again become populous, yea, even more than before, by renewal of the now interrupted conjugal intimacy; but from that people of God which increased by natural descent, there is distinguished the people of God in the higher, completely true sense, whose existence does not depend on natural descent, but on Divine operation, that is of course, the operation of the Spirit, inasmuch as God through His Spirit produces faith, and so raises up children to His people, regarded as mother, or to Abraham their first ancestor. There is thus contrasted with the natural, empirical people of God, the one ἔχουσα τὸν ἄνδρα, which is now continued in the present Jerusalem, a higher spiritual one, the one which is “barren, bearing not,”=not naturally maintaining and increasing itself, i. e., in short the “Jerusalem which is above.”—The fulfilment of the promise then, took place, i. e., numerous children, without being naturally begotten by the theocratic people, were born to it, in particular, through the appearance of the Messiah, for all, who came to believe on Him, became thereby, and not by natural descent, members of God’s people (comp. Gal 4:28).—But it must here be remarked in addition, that Paul’s design is not strictly to declare positively of the Jerusalem above (as even MEYER assumes), that it had first been barren, therefore first unpopulated, childless, and had then become the mother of children (with the origin of the Christian people of God); but he means thereby only to distinguish it from the theocratic people that is maintained and continued by natural means. In distinction from this the Jerusalem above is in its nature—and remains therefore barren, not bearing, not travailing, desolate, for she obtains children indeed, but by no means through becoming fertile, τίκτειν, ὠδίνειν = not by such natural processes, as if these had only failed for awhile, and had then again become operative; on the other hand the children are given to her in a way not to be naturally explained, not as bodily offspring, but spiritually by Divine operation; for she is and remains not “having a husband” (=who does not stand to God in this natural and carnal relation). [ALFORD:—The “husband” of the E. V. may mislead “by pointing at the one husband (Abraham) who was common to Sara and Agar, which might do in this passage, but not in Isaiah: whereas ἔχ. τὸν ἄνδρα means, ‘her (of the two) who has (the) husband,’ the other having none: a fineness of meaning which we cannot give in English.” This goes to sustain the view of Schmoller.—R.] We need not be perplexed because this would create a divergence from the type of Sarah, with whom certainly, after her barrenness, a bearing and travailing took place. But although Paul undoubtedly knew this well, he yet (Gal 4:23, 29) denies explicitly and roundly that Isaac was born after the flesh and vindicates to him only a being born through the promise, after the Spirit; and he can very well apprehend the contrast thus absolutely, because he looks only at the essential thing, the determining, generative principle, and this was purely “the promise,” “the spirit,” even though the act did not proceed without the medium of the “flesh.” Sarah, is his meaning, did not obtain her son Isaac, because from a naturally unfruitful woman she had become a naturally fruitful one; her obtaining the son was therefore only, as it were, formally, not essentially, a τίκτειν, &c. (see on Gal 4:23). But if Paul expresses himself thus even respecting Sarah, with whom nevertheless in a certain sense a τίκτειν, and the like, did take place, the same of course holds good in its full sense of the antitype, the true people of God, as Jerusalem above. This is precisely its specific quality, that it obtains children without “bearing” as “barren,” and in this very way approves itself as the true people of God, for which God begets children; therefore we have only: “many are the children of the desolate,” not: she will bear many children. Of course “barren” varies a little; at first it is one who cannot bear, because she is deprived of the husband; but from that it becomes one, who does not bear and is to bear, i. e., does not in this way obtain children, and is to obtain them, but in another way. But this variation is already implied in the original sense of the passage, which as it were says: “Barren hast thou become, that cannot bear; well, so shalt thou be and remain, but not to thy hurt, but to thy good,” &c.—Many are the children of the desolate more, etc.—MEYER rightly explains: not=πλείονα ἤ, which would leave the numerousness of the children wholly undetermined, but it expresses, that both have many children, but the solitary one, more=numerous are the children of the solitary, far more, than of her who hath her husband.

Gal 4:28 places the Galatians, as Christians, among the children of the Jerusalem above, promised her in Gal 4:27. As Isaac was.—Κατὰ Ἰσαάκ, in conformity with, according to the type of, even as Isaac. The antitype of the mother, Sarah, was named Gal 4:26; even so are Christians antitypes of her son, Isaac.—Children of Promise,—opposed to σαρκὸς τέκνα, therefore properly children whom the promise has born=who are born in virtue of the promise of God, not through carnal generation.—So was it with Isaac; he was born to Abraham as son in this way. Even so is it with you: you have in this way been born, i. e., become member’s of God’s people. This needs no proof, for on one side, it was certain that they as Christians were members of God’s people, and on the other side also, that they were not so by nature, by carnal descent, but in a spiritual manner, namely, through their knowledge of Christ, to which God had led them by His Spirit, thereby fulfilling His promise. It therefore follows from this, that they belong, because members of the theocratic people, and yet not such by natural descent, to “the children of the desolate” (Gal 4:27)=have her (to whom, although desolate, children are promised by God) as their mother, as was affirmed in Gal 4:26.

Gal 4:29. Still as then he that was born after the flesh.—Why will you nevertheless be under the law, and so in the condition of bondage? Paul had brought home to his hearers, You are like Isaac, not like Ishmael. This he had deduced from the manner of the birth of each. But now he adds—looking at the subsequent lot of each—a warning, that it is dangerous to place themselves in a position like Ishmael’s, for he had been shut out of the inheritance. Even so will it fare—Paul gives them to understand, with those that are like Ishmael=those that are under the law. Ἀλλά: for the thought which Paul first expresses, is in opposition to that in the foregoing verse, where he had described Christians as having a possession, as children of the free woman, because children of the promise. Yet Paul does not affirm this in order to frighten them back from the condition of freedom, as one of persecution, but on the contrary (ἀλλά, Gal 4:30) in order to set forth immediately after the evil lot of the children of the bondwoman, as persecutors, and thus to hinder the Christians from placing themselves, through bondage to the law, in a like position with them.

Persecuted.—In Gen. 21:9, Ishmael is mentioned only as a scoffer: Paul here then either uses διώκειν in a more general sense, or he follows a more developed tradition, traces of which are found in the Rabbins. [Διώκειν is a strong word, and we are not justified in altering or extending its meaning to meet a difficulty, arising from the interpretation of another passage. The question then is: Is this statement of the Apostle based only upon the Scriptural narrative (Gen. 21:9), or also upon some other reliable source of information, supplementing the Old Testament narrative. The chief objection urged by most modern commentators against the former of these views is, that there is no thought of “persecution” either expressed or implied in the passage referred to. It tells us of Ishmael’s “laughing” (מֵצַחֵק: which the LXX. expands into παίζοντα μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ αυτῆς”); this has been interpreted as in play awakening Sarah’s jealousy, and as in mockery, arousing her anger. Obviously the latter is more in accordance with the context and is a legitimate rendering of the Hebrew (see LANGE’S Com. Gen. in loco). But is it said that even this view of the narrative will not justify the assertion “persecuted.” WORDSWORTH, accepting the meaning “playing,” remarks: “The temper in which Ishmael played with Isaac, may best be inferred from the comment which Isaac’s mother made upon it. Sarah’s words interpret Ishmael’s act. If his play had been loving play, she would not have been displeased by it. It must have been the spirit of spiteful malice, made more offensive by its pretence to sportiveness and love,38 which extorted from Sarah the words which the Holy Spirit, speaking by St. Paul, here calls a verdict of Scripture. And Almighty God Himself vouchsafed to confirm Sarah’s interpretation of Ishmael’s play, by commanding Abraham, although reluctant, to hearken to Sarah’s voice in that matter.” It would seem that an inspired Apostle, reading the Old Testament narrative in the full gospel light, could interpret the spirit of that occurrence, without relying on tradition. If however the objection urged by MEYER, DE WETTE, JOWETT, and others, be deemed valid, as even ELLICOTT admits them to be, the following remarks of LIGHTFOOT may well be taken into account. “1) This incident which is so lightly sketched in the original narrative had been drawn out in detail in later traditions, and thus a prominence was given to it, which would add force to the Apostle’s allusion, without his endorsing these traditions himself. 2) The relations between the two brothers were reproduced in their descendants. The aggressions of the Arab tribes on the Israelites were the antitype to Ishmael’s mockery of Isaac. Thus in Ishmael the Apostle may have indirectly contemplated Ishmael’s progeny; and he would therefore be appealing to the national history of the Jews in saying ‘he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.’ ”—R.]

After the Spirit.—The one born according to the Spirit. The Spirit of God was the power by which the generation of Isaac took place. The Spirit however is here conceived not as the power, but as the norm, according to which the generation took place=he was begotten in the way and manner in which the Spirit begets. “After the flesh” is to be interpreted in the same way.

Even so now.—Those born after the Spirit =“the children of promise” are persecuted by those born after the flesh=the natural members of the theocratic people, the Jews. But the main point is not the suffering of persecution by the one, although the thought of it occasions the ἀλλά, but the persecution of the others. See Gal 4:30.—To what this specially refers, is hard to say: that there was no lack of persecutions on the part of the Jews, is indeed well known. That the plotting of the Judaizers against the Christians are also meant, is probable; for these Judaizers believed themselves to have a preëminence, precisely as those born after the flesh, and, as our whole Epistle shows, took a position, which though professedly in the interest of others’ salvation, was nevertheless really hostile towards those who were only “born after the Spirit,” or only set a value on this, and denied to them a title to membership among the people of God. A similar self-exaltation over others and a disposition to suppress them, took place also, he says, in the case of Ishmael with respect to Isaac. But it turned out the other way.

[WORDSWORTH: “St. Paul’s comparison here is peculiarly apposite and relevant to the subject before him. The Judaizers, with whom he is dealing in this Epistle, were like Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman Agar, the representative of the Old Covenant not spiritually understood. They professed friendship for the Galatian Christians, who were the spiritual Isaac. In semblance they were playing with the offspring of the free woman, but in reality they were persecuting him. The Judaizers were endeavoring to rob the Galatian Christians of their Evangelical inheritance derived from Abraham. Thus Ishmael pretended to be playing with Isaac, but was in fact persecuting him. The Apostle, therefore, who had just been comparing himself to an affectionate mother, comes forward as a vigilant. Sarah, and interferes to part, the Jewish Ishmael from the Christian Isaac; and to rescue the children of the promise and of freedom from the treacherous flattery and tyrannical sport of the children of the flesh and of bondage.” This beautiful comparison is of course marred by any reference to tradition in our verse.—R.]

Gal 4:30. Cast out the bondwoman and her son, etc—Paul here cites the words of Sarah Gen. 21:10 according to the LXX. only instead of μετὰ του υἱοῦ μου Ἰσαάκ, he substitutes, because the expression is severed from the context, μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἐλευθερας; therewith stating expressly the meaning of Sarah; for it is from this very point of view, namely, that her son is the son of the free woman, that she comes forward so decidedly against Ishmael, as the son of the bondmaid, declares that he is not entitled to be co-heir with her son, and demands his expulsion. It is not the personal behavior of Ishmael therefore which she urges against him, but his position, although, it is true, she is moved to do it by his behavior. As he is in himself not entitled to be co-heir, this right possessed against him is now urged—and as the narrative shows, made good. The application with an “even so now,” Paul leaves to the readers as being obvious, because through the whole argument he desires that they themselves may see the perverseness of the position which they are on the point of assuming. It would be thus supplied: Even so now—will it fare with the children of the bondmaid; they have as little right of inheritance as the son of the bondmaid had then, and this want of title will be brought into force against them on account of their persecution (so that in this particular also they will prove themselves antitypes of Hagar and Ishmael). The reference, to the expulsion of these does not as yet apply immediately to the readers, but if they suffer themselves to be made children of the bondmaid—and what that signifies is clear—by going over to the legal Jewish position, they lose at all events their right of inheritance, and are on the way to lose also the inheritance itself. Paul specifies the persecution primarily because the Divine exclusion from the inheritance was historically occasioned by that. A searching admonition, “to hoar the law better” (Gal 4:21)=to take better note of the intimations which are contained therein—and therefore not to place themselves under the law.

[LIGHTFOOT: “Shall in nowise inherit! The Law and the Gospel cannot coexist; the Law must disappear before the Gospel. It is scarcely possible to estimate the strength of conviction and depth of prophetic insight which this declaration implies. The Apostle thus confidently sounds the death-knell of Judaism at a time when one-half of Christendom clung to the Mosaic law with a jealous affection little short of frenzy, and while the Judaic party seemed to be growing in influence and was strong enough, even in the Gentile churches of his own founding, to undermine his influence and endanger his life. The truth which to us appears a truism must then have been regarded as a paradox.”—R.]

The course of thought begun in Gal 4:21, concludes therefore with our verse in a complete and satisfactory way: Take heed then to the law, and learn from it: (1) that ye are free as Christians and (2) that ye, if ye do not persevere in this freedom, forfeit the inheritance—so that necessarily the conclusion must be drawn with Gal 4:30, and Gal 4:31 cannot be viewed as an immediate deduction from what precedes, nor as a conclusion, but only as a sentence summing up once more the foregoing result and introducing a transition to what follows, on which account it is to be joined with it.


1. The personal relation between teacher and congregation. The significance which attaches to the personal relation between teacher and congregation (see on the former section, the first remark), comes most evidently to view in this, that the teacher must regard it as his commission, to beget spiritual children (and that truly living ones)—as father, nay, yet more: to bear them also—as mother. There is thus of necessity constituted an inner bond of personal fellowship between him and the souls on which he labors; but it is true, the existence of such a bond is not to be presupposed as a matter of course, or demanded even where the condition of such a loving labor of spiritual begetting and bearing is wanting.

2. “Christ is formed (1) in the understanding of man, when he receives a truly living and spiritual knowledge of Christ’s person, offices, and benefits; (2) in the will of man, when (a) in regeneration faith in Christ is not only kindled, but also attains to its fit form, so that he hangs simply and solely on Christ, which faith then in justification apprehends and puts on Christ, and unites itself inwardly with Him; (b) in renewal, when Christ’s Divine mind is daily more and more formed in men, so that the lineaments of Christ’s image become ever more discernible.—It reads moreover: Till Christ be formed in you, not, Till you or I form Him in you, because regeneration is no human work.”—STARKE.

3. The allegory. What view are we to hold of the interpretation of the two wives and sons of Abraham in this section? Is Paul a representative of that allegorical interpretation which presupposing a double, yes, multiplex sense of the Biblical text, long prevailed in the church, to the prejudice of the sound historical understanding of the contents of Scripture? The appearance is strongly for it, but in truth it is not so. Paul to be sure allegorizes here, for he says so himself. But with the very fact of his saying this himself, the gravity of the hermeneutical difficulty disappears. He means therefore to give an allegory, not an exposition; he does not proceed as an exegete, and does not mean to say—after the manner of the allegorizing exegetes—that only what he now says is the true sense of the narrative, conceded in the letter, the only sense really worthy of God’s word. The question then is only (1) whether this allegorical interpretation is merely a subjective fancy of the Apostle, or whether it is grounded in the actual facts; (2) what use he makes of this allegory. Commonly these two questions are not kept distinct from each other. Respecting the first, no one can speak of a mere arbitrary fancy (of a play of allegorical sharp-wittedness, rabbinism, and the like), who pays the least attention to the typical significance which according to Paul appertains to Abraham and his history,—and who allows any justice whatever in this the Apostle’s view of Abraham. We well know that for Paul Abraham himself is typical by his faith, and in immediate connection with that, Isaac is typical by his birth through the power of the Divine promise, and not of the flesh; he is the type of the true children of Abraham, i. e., of the true theocratic people, whose origin is not that of natural birth alone (comp. Rom. 9:16 sq.). This of itself then gives on the other hand the converse, namely, the typical character of the carnal son, Ishmael. But now, in this section, Paul goes yet a step further. To him not only the manner of birth of the two sons of Abraham is typical, but also the condition in which they were born: the bondage of the one and the freedom of the other. Isaac is thus the type of a theocratic people, that (1) does not become such by natural birth, but by Divine operation; (2) and is also in possession of freedom, is the spiritual and free Israel; on the contrary Ishmael is the type of a merely natural and enslaved theocratic people: that is, the natural people of God is enslaved by its being under the law, something which is not true of the spiritual, genuine Israel. Respecting the warrant for a typological apprehension of the Old Testament generally, WIESELER justly remarks: “Since the whole of the Old Covenant is a σκιά of the New Testament dispensation, the single facts, persons and truths have therefore a prefigurative character, according to the measure in which each has within this whole and in relation to the New Covenant, a conspicuous and central significance.” That this applies to the person of Abraham is clear, and equally to the manner in which children were born to him, for through Abraham’s children the progress of the history of redemption is determined. But if even with an Isaac it is primarily only the manner of his birth to which this signification attached, yet the condition in which he was born, was an inseparable element of that; for from the legitimate, and therefore free, wife of Abraham, came naturally also the legitimate son, the son of promise; the freedom of Isaac was therefore not an accidental but an essential quality of him who was born in virtue of a Divine promise, and so Paul has a right to attribute to the fact of his freedom also, a typical importance, and to attribute the same to the opposite condition of Ishmael. If this prefigurative character of Abraham and his sons is acknowledged, it is clear, that the Apostle’s allegory is not arbitrary or accidental, but that it has a point of attachment in the actual history. But—and this is commonly overlooked—the allegory is not on this account eliminated from the passage; the allegory has its ground in the typical relation of Abraham’s two children to the two congregations of God, but yet for all this it is in form allegory. For αὖται γάρ εἰσι δύο διαθῆκαι is allegory, not typology; the two women were certainly not prophetic types of the two covenants. Something like this might be said, that the two women are, as mothers of the two diverse children of Abraham, types of the two churches of God, the external and the spiritual, conceived as collective personalities, as mothers of their members, although even this would be strained; but to say outright that the two mothers are prophetic types of two covenants, yields no rational sense. Only by allegorizing can Paul see in the two mothers two covenants, but the allegory is taken from the facts themselves, inasmuch as it is the covenants by which the character of the antitypes of the sons of those mothers is determined. It is necessary to acknowledge this mingling of Type and Allegory, or the passage will not be rightly apprehended. We feel that it is not merely allegory, and look for the type, and again we feel that it is not purely type; the two, in truth, are interwoven with each other.

If we could venture to draw from our section a general conclusion, it would be this: (1) that allegorizing portions of Scripture is not forbidden, provided only that it is acknowledged as such, and not given forth as exegesis proper; (2) that it is warranted in proportion as it has a typological basis which itself is authorized. What this is may be judged by the remarks above.—While we should acknowledge, therefore, that our allegory has an objective foundation, that Paul does not interpolate something into the narrative of Genesis at his own fancy, it is not on the other hand (to coma to the second inquiry, as to the use he makes of it), correct to say that “he ascribes to it an objective value as proof.” For that he is too sober-minded, for he undoubtedly is, as was remarked, far removed from that allegorizing exegesis which bona fide declares: This and this is meant in the passage besides the letter [? See below.—R.]. and which therefore upon this assumption proves the “higher truth” by means of allegorical explanation from a Scripture passage. If we look more closely, we find moreover, that he does not at all argue his proposition of the freedom of Christians from the narrative of Genesis; he does not infer any thing like this: Sarah signifies the upper Jerusalem, Isaac the Christians, therefore Christians are the children of the upper Jerusalem; moreover Sarah is free, therefore the upper Jerusalem is free, and Christians are children of the free congregation, and therefore likewise free. On the other hand he asserts the freedom of the Jerusalem above as self-evident, and resulting from the previously assumed ground of the covenant of grace, on which it rests, as opposed to the covenant of works, and then first expressly demonstrates from a prophetical passage that Christians are children of the Jerusalem above, and so comes to the conclusion that they are free (see the exegesis above). If it is inquired: Why then is the narrative of Genesis adduced, a narrative of type interwoven with allegory? the answer is simple: in order, by reference to the simple relations of things in the beginning of the theocratic people, to illustrate the higher relations of the present, or better: in order to furnish a confirmation of the latter by pointing out the relation between type and antitype = see, at the very beginning it was the same! For that typology may serve, with or without the application of allegory, which of course makes no difference, but not for strict proof; and still less bare allegory, when and where it is acknowledged as such.—We cannot draw a different conclusion from the remark, Gal 4:21: Do ye not hear the law? The sense is simply: Do ye not then see that matters stood just the same with the ancient typical personages? The spiritually begotten Son was born in the condition of freedom and that should dispose you to give credit to my previous argument! Here the expression sounds, it is true, as if every reader of the law would be constrained to deduce this from the narrative in Genesis, as if this therefore simply signified the higher truth which is now under discussion, and merely expressed it under the veil of history; still whoever gives even cursory attention will not be tempted to press these words, but will recognize in them a rhetorical drapery.

4. [Paul’s treatment of the Old Testament narrative. A reference to the exegesis of Gal 4:24 will justify the following conclusions: 1) Paul does not regard the Old Testament narrative as in itself an allegory. He is careful to use a subject (ἅτινα) which is general enough to prevent our making such an unwarranted assumption. 2) His interpretation is not “subjective, fanciful or rabbinical.”39 The predicate ἀλληγορούμενα means “to have an allegorical meaning.” Hence the meaning inheres in the nature of the “things,” and does not depend on his acute speculation respecting them. On exegetical grounds, Schmoller is not warranted in affirming that Paul does not imply: “This and this is meant in the passage besides the letter.” In his proper anxiety to guard against “allegorizing exegesis” he gives some room for assumptions respecting the “subjective” character of this allegory of the Apostle. Against such attempts to represent the interpretation of St. Paul as subjective, i. e., to speak plainly erroneous, ELLICOTT properly remarks: “It would be well for such writers to remember that St. Paul is here declaring, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that the passage he has cited has a second and a deeper meaning than it appears to have; that it has that meaning, then, is a positive, objective and indisputable truth.”—3) This passage gives no countenance to “allegorizing exegesis” of the Scriptures. This error, once so common, may have a different origin from attempts to make the Bible narrative a mere allegory, but it tends in the same direction, destroys the true knowledge and perverts the true use of the Scriptures. He may properly allegorize, who has the inspiration Paul had, but only when that inspiration shows him that “these things have an allegorical meaning.” On this point CALVIN says: “As the Apostle declares that these things are allegorized, Origen and many others along with him, have seized the occasion of torturing Scripture, in every possible manner, away from the true sense. They concluded that the literal sense is too mean and poor, and that, under the outward bark of the letter, there lurk deeper mysteries, which cannot be extracted but by beating out allegories. And this they had no difficulty in accomplishing; for speculations which appear to be ingenious have always been preferred, and always will be preferred by the world to sound doctrine. For many centuries no man was considered to be ingenious, who had not the skill and daring necessary for changing into a variety of curious shapes the sacred word of God. This was undoubtedly a contrivance of Satan to undermine the authority of Scripture, and to take away from the reading of it the true advantage. God visited this profanation by a just judgment, when He suffered the pure meaning of the Scripture to be buried under false interpretations. I acknowledge that Scripture is a most rich and inexhaustible fountain of all wisdom; but I deny that its fertility consists in the various meanings which any man, at his pleasure, may assign. Let us know, then, that the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning; and let us embrace and abide by it resolutely.”40—R.]

5. The two covenants and their children. The fact that the Apostle recognizes a significance in the Scripture narrative of the twofold character of the wives and sons of Abraham, is a sign of his clear-minded way of viewing the Scripture; by the less reminded of the greater, in the germ already seeing the fruit. It is at the same time a sign of his pedagogic wisdom, that to those who boasted themselves of their descent from Abraham, he so simply discovers the insufficiency, and particularly the perversity of this boast, by referring to the twofold relation of sonship to Abraham, of which the one is so entirely destitute of ground for boasting. On the other hand, he shows here also again, as in chap. 3, his deep and clear view into the economy of salvation, and its guiding principles, in the first place by definitely distinguishing the two covenants in the history of redemption, and then by the way in which he characterizes them. There is a covenant of law and a covenant of grace; and both are mothers, that bear children, only in different wise and with different consequences. The first covenant bears children in the way of natural generation, for it finds its concrete manifestation in the carnal Israel and its members. All the natural children of Israel have part in this covenant; but it is simply a covenant which brings to the participants in it bondage and only that, for it imposes on them the law. It is widely different with the covenant of grace. This also has children, yea a great number of them, but these children God Himself brings to it through the operation of the Spirit (it does not obtain them, as it were, of itself), for this covenant finds its concrete manifestation in the spiritual Israel, which obtains its children in a spiritual way, and not by outward descent. This is the first covenant which brings to its members freedom, and does not transfer them into bondage under a law; for it does not make the attainment of God’s blessing dependent on the keeping of legal commandments and prohibitions, but secures it to its members as a pure bestowment of Divine grace. Intimately related therefore as Paul knows these two covenants and communities to stand to each other (for they are still like children of the one father), yet again he keep them sharply and clearly apart.—Especially noticeable is the conception of the upper Jerusalem, the signification of which has been explained above. In the first place, therefore, Paul distinguishes the spiritual from the carnal Israel, the ideal from the empirical. With the external Israel the idea of the theocratic people was as yet by no means realized as to its true substance; on the contrary this was a conception of much higher range. Therefore all vaunting by the Jews of their nationality, as alone entitled to be reckoned God’s people, is ungrounded. Above the theocratic people in its national manifestation within the Jewish community stood yet again the true people of God, that even in this community already found individual members, for under the Old Testament all were not children of Ishmael’s, and under the New Testament all are not children of Israel’s sort. And indeed from Abraham down, the true people of God was never quite extinct, but yet, so long as the covenant of law, and therewith the carnal Israel were in the ascendant, it could not yet come to developed existence. This it attained only through Christ. It is noticeable, secondly, that Paul in this conception of the Jerusalem above, has a conception, which stands still higher than that of the Christian body; the Jerusalem above is the mother, Christians are only the children. Unquestionably, however, they are actually the children, and so far even in this expression their rank is declared=they are children of no lesser one, and should therefore not forget what they owe to themselves and their rank, should not unworthily lower themselves. But on the other hand, they are only children, and are what they are, only through their mother. The Christian community is not of itself in its empirical manifestation already=the spiritual Israel, but has continually in this its spiritualis nutrix. We see how that which Paul expresses with his “Jerusalem above” is what dogmatic theology has endeavored to embody in its conception of an ecclesia invisibilis, by which it strives to guard the church against a false emphasizing of her empirical manifestation, and as it were to preserve to her her ideality. Only that the conception of the ecclesia invisibilis is in the first place a narrower one, limited more to the church since Christ, and still more, it is a secondary and negative one, first formed by abstraction from the mixed condition of the church on earth, while the idea of the Jerusalem above is a positive, primary one, grounded in the biblical economy of salvation itself.


Gal 4:19. LUTHER:—The Apostles, all devout preachers and also schoolmasters, are (in their peculiar way) also our parents. For like as we from our natural birth have from our parents the form of our bodies, so do these men help thereto, that our heart and conscience attain within us to a perfect form. Now the perfect form which a Christian heart should have, is faith, whereby we lay hold on Christ, cleave to Him alone and to no other thing besides.—BERLENB. BIBLE:—In nothing do more pangs of travail come to pass, than in the ministration of the gospel. The ministration of the law is a mere nothing compared with it. Evangelical preaching excludes all works accomplished in a merely outward way to which men nevertheless cleave.—“Until” points to a troublesome delay, that falls between the beginning and the accomplishment of a matter; not as if God would not at once proceed to the formation of us, but because on the side of man a bolt is interposed, and yet God does not give over.—LANGE:—Even, as in many men, especially in their outward habit, gestures, words and actions, we find such a fashion of the world, that as it were we see in them even personally the vanity, wantonness and folly of the world, and are inwardly troubled at it; so on the other hand, in believers who come to their proper vigor, the new birth from God appears in all about them, saving their yet remaining weaknesses, in such a manner, that we see in them a true form of Christ in their weakness, humility, simplicity and uprightness, and are moved to inward joy thereby.

Gal 4:20. LUTHER:—The living voice is to be counted as an empress. For this can amplify or condense the matter, and suit itself to all occasions of time, place, persons and the requirement of any necessity.

Gal 4:21. RIEGER:—The will has very great influence in the belief and unbelief of men. Even in falling back under the law, the will of the flesh seeks its advantage. The law is indeed the world’s crafty covering, under which it slinks away from the truth of Christ; which covering must be withdrawn from it.—FRANTZ:—In the law there is contained more than the commandments; more than the ways and usages, ceremonies and ordinances enjoined in the worship of the Jews. There is also more contained therein, than many after the letter read therein. There is contained therein also a revelation of the ways of God, which God hath chosen, to carry out His everlasting purpose among men. There is contained therein a history, which has come to pass from its beginning to its accomplishment on earth, that therein, as in a mirror, should be made known the thoughts of peace and salvation, which God has towards men and which in due time He will carry into execution.

Gal 4:23.—Nature assists us not to salvation, but grace alone. We are all according to our natural birth born flesh of flesh; but according to His promise hath God regenerated us through the bath of holy baptism.

Gal 4:24. RIEGER:—This example serves to guard us against dealing too slightingly with the history of the Old Testament.—BERLENB. BIBLE:—All that Moses has described are figures of the inner spiritual and genuine life in Christ.—SPENER:—“Bringeth forth unto bondage.” Those that will be saved by the law and its works and therefore reject the gospel, are not God’s children, nor heirs of eternal life, but at their highest are only servants and therefore under sin and the curse.

Gal 4:26. LUTHER:—The holy church bears and genders children continually, even to the last day, in that she exercises the ministry, that is, teaches and diffuses the gospel which is her manner of bearing. Now the gospel teaches that we are redeemed and become free from the curse of the law, from sin, death and all manner of ill, not through the law and works, but through Christ. Therefore is the holy church not subjected to the law or works, but free is she, a mother without law, without sin and death. But what she is as a mother, so are also her children.—“Free.”—Even the ten commandments have no right to accuse, nor to terrify the conscience, wherein Christ rules by His grace and moreover outwardly: the civil laws of Moses concern us no longer. Yet the gospel does not therewith make us free from all other civil laws, for so long as we are in this natural life, the gospel subjects us to the civil laws which the government of each land has. But since our mortal life must forsooth have some ceremonies, we can by no means dispense with them. Therefore the gospel admits that we may make in the Christian Church some special ordinances concerning holy days, times, places, etc.—but not in the thought that those who observe such order, should thereby merit forgiveness of sins.

Gal 4:27. Although the little flock, i. e., the dear Christian Church, that receives the doctrine of the gospel, and earnestly cleaves thereto, appears altogether unfruitful, forsaken, weak and despicable, and moreover outwardly suffers persecution, and is constrained to hear herself accused of teaching heretical and seditious things, she is nevertheless alone fruitful before God, and brings forth through the ministry innumerably many children, who are heirs of eternal life.

Gal 4:28. IN STARKE:—Natural birth has with God no preëminence; He chooses Abel before Cain, Jacob before Esau, Ephraim before Manasses, etc.; whoever feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted of Him, and whoever cleaves in true faith to the promise, is a child of one promise, and shall attain to the promised everlasting inheritance.—If we are like Isaac in his birth, let us also become like him in his virtues.

Gal 4:29. LANGE:—Whatever church oppresses and persecutes another in matters of faith, such an one is not the true apostolic church; therefore also she neither stands in the true filial relation to God, nor has part in the inheritance of eternal life.—LUTHER:—It is ever thus, that Ishmael persecutes Isaac, but on the contrary the good Isaac leaves Ishmael in peace. Whoever will be unpersecuted by Ishmael, let him profess that he is no Christian.—SPENER:—The church’s condition is in some particulars ever the same; it may always be said: As it was at that time so is it now.

Gal 4:30.—SPENER:—Persecutions harm in fact not the persecuted but the persecutors. To the persecuted there remains yet God’s grace, love and heaven, but the persecutors load themselves with God’s wrath.—BERLENB. BIBLE:—The whole natural man must, as a scoffer and wild man such as Ishmael was, be set aside from all righteousness of birth, and devices of his own through a renewed obedient will. And although that involves a dying and giving up, inasmuch as the false nature sinks into the death of its own desires and so becomes powerless, yet the new awakened sense makes no account of that, because it has a hatred against the old man, and renounces therefore courageously all impulses of nature, let them have as holy a seeming as they may. Thereby the scoffer becomes in his turn a scoffing before the new man.

Gal 4:21–30. Two sorts of children of Abraham: to which dost thou belong? To the children of the bondwoman or of the freewoman? Law or grace? Either–or? 1. The two stand indeed in relation to each other (one Father), but yet are 2. essentially distinct (two widely different mothers). a. Law–Flesh (= the lawman still the carnal man), Grace–Spirit (=the carnal man has no part in it); b. Law–Bondage, Grace–Freedom.—Christians are children, not of the bondwoman, but of the free woman. 1. Rejoice! 2. Consider well!—The Jerusalem above 1. a mother, 2. a mother through promise, 3. a free mother.—The covenant of law a fruitful mother. (Many depend on it, because the natural man remains thereby natural), but yet the covenant of grace has the promise of God.—Christians are children of the Jerusalem above. 1. How? Because children of the promise. 2. What do they obtain thereby? They participate in her condition of freedom.—The Jerusalem above free: 1) not bound to the law = not held to obtaining salvation by works of the law; 2) not obnoxious to its curse. The children of the promise, i. e., 1. They are members of God’s people not by nature but only through promise; 2. they attain heavenly inheritance‚ only in consequence of promise, not by their own works.—Christians have their type in Isaac; 1. Born as he through promise (see above); 2. Persecuted like him, by Ishmael, 3. but for all that children of the freewoman and therefore alone heirs.—Who obtains the inheritance? 1) not the natural man, but the spiritual; 2) not the son of the bondwoman but of the freewoman.—Human self-will (Hagar, Ishmael), divine counsel; 1) The latter permits the former, 2) but still gains the victory.


[22]Gal 4:19.—א. τέκνα [So B. F. G., Lachmann; but א.3 A. C. K. L. read τεκνία, adopted by Tischendorf and most recent Editors. Occurs nowhere else in Paul’s writings.—R.]

[23]Gal 4:20.—[Φωνήν, literally “voice,” but “tone” is a more intelligible rendering—R.]

[24]Gal 4:20.—[“Am perplexed”; so Ellicott, Alford, Lightfoot. Schmolier (with doubtful propriety) throws this verse into a parenthesis.—R.]

[25]Gal 4:21.—Ἀναγινωσκετε, an ancient gloss, [followed by the Vulgate, but rejected by all modern Editors.—R.]

[26]Gal 4:23.—א. omits τῆς. [Undoubtedly to be retained, and preserved in the English translation.—R.]

[27]Gal 4:24.—[Ἀλληγορούμενα, “allegorical” (Alford, Ellicott). Older English versions vary greatly. Against the meaning “allegorized.” see EXEG. NOTES.—R.]

[28]Gal 4:21.—Eiz. reads αἱ δυό, against decisive authorities. א.1 inserts, א.3 omits αἱ.

[29]Gal 4:25.—The Rec. reads: τὸ γὰρ ̓ìΑγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῆ Ἀραβία Besides this we find these readings: 1. τὸ γὰρ Σινᾶ ὄρος—2. τὸ γὰρ Ἄγαρ ὄρος—3. τὸ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος—4. τὸ δὲ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος κ. τ. λ. It is difficult to decide which is the correct reading, since the weight of authority is about equal for some of these readings. The Rec. is supported mostly by cursives. 1. is decidedly better sustained; א. has it, but with, an addition found in no other MSS. (ὂν before ἐν τῆ Αρ). 2. and 3. are very weakly supported; but 4. is well sustained. The choice then seems to be between 1. and 4.: τὸ γὰρ Σινᾶ and τὸ δὲ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ; and between these it is scarcely possible to make a positive decision. [It may be remarked that the readings Rec. and 4, differ only in the substitution of δέ for γάρ; since this can readily be accounted for (γάρ first, omitted because of the closely following Ἄγαρ, then δέ inserted for connection, or to correspond with μέν Gal 4:24), it is perhaps better to regard the choice as lying between Rec. and 1. The former is adopted by Tischendorf. Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, Wordsworth; 1. by Lachmann and Lightfoot among others. In favor of each, see the above-named commentators. Lightfoot has two valuable notes. p. 189 sq. 1. is certainly lectio brevior; Rec, lectio difficilior; Ἄγαρ may have been Carelessly inserted from ver 24, but it was even more likely to have been carelessly omitted after γάρ.—The exegetical difficulty is as great as the critical. Of the three English renderings given above, I. follows reading I., II. and III., the Rec. See EXEG. NOTES.—R.]

[30]Gal 4:25.—The readings συστοιχοῦσα and ἡ συστοιχοῦσα are not weakly supported, but still must be regarded as exegetical glosses; not without value in the exposition of the passage.—[If a comma be put after “Arabia,” it is unnecessary to supply “she.”—R.]

[31]Ver 25.—[Rec. δέ followed by Vulgate, E. V., but weakly supported. א. A. B. C. F. read γάρ; so modern Editors.—R.]

[32]Gal 4:26.—The better attested reading, μήτηρ ἡμῶν, is to be preferred, on internal grounds also to μήτηρ πάντων ἡμῶν. “Πάντων has come into the text, partly because of such parallel passages as Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:26, 28; partly because of the multitude of τέκνα in the quotation Gal 4:27 (Wieseler). [Πάντων Rec. א.3 A. C.3 K. L., many fathers, Wordsworth. Bracketted by Lachmann. Omitted in א.1 B. D. F. many versions and cursives; rejected by Tischendorf. Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot.—The E. V. “which is” is perhaps more literal, but Ellicott’s rendering, given above, is more forcible, and allowable with ἥτις.—R.]

[33]Gal 4:28.—“The reading ὑμεῖς—ἐστε is, with Lachmann, Tischendorf and others, to be preferred to the common text ἡμεῖς-ἐσμεν, since the latter appears to be a correction from ἡμῶν (Gal 4:26) and ὑμεῖς is more lively on account of its application to the readers” (Wieseler). א. however has ἡμεῖς. [Both are well supported, but ὑμεῖς is adopted by most Editors on internal grounds.—R.]

[34]Gal 4:30.—[Lightfoot follows א. B. D. in reading κληρονομή σει (apparently a correction from LXX).—The double negative οὐ-μή is rendered by Ellicott, “in no wise.”—R.]

[35]Gal 4:30.—Τοῦ υἱοῦ is omitted in א, but inserted by the corrector. [Instead of τῆς ἐλευθέρας we find also μου Ἰσαάκ (from the LXX).—R.]

[36][WORDSWORTH mentions a curious exposition and extension of this metaphor in the Epistle of the primitive churches of Gaul “who say that by means of the martyrs much joy accrued to the holy Virgin Mother, the Church of Christ, receiving back alive those whom she has lost as abortions, and also because through means of the martyrs, very many of her children who had fallen away by apostasy, were again conceived in her womb, and were being brought forth again to life.”—R.]

[37][Hence ἀποροῦμαι is to be taken, not as passive, with deponent sense (ELLICOTT), nor middle (LIGHTFOOT), but middle with passive signification (MEYER, ALFORD); “the condition of perplexity is conceived of as wrought upon, suffered by the subject.”—R.]

[38][AUGUSTINE: Sed lusum Paulus persecutionem vocat‚ quia lusio illa illusio erat.—R.]

[39] [Every proper theory of inspiration roust admit that Paul’s early education had its influence on his character as teacher. But the word “rabbinical” contains a moral or rather immoral implication, which cannot be allowed.—R.]

[40] [LIGHTFOOT gives Philo’s allegory of this same passage, and compares it with Paul’s: “Philo’s allegory is as follows. Abraham—the human soul progressing towards the knowledge of God—unites himself first with Sarah and then with Hagar. These two alliances stand in direct opposition the one to the other. Sarah, the princess—for such is the interpretation of the word—is divine wisdom. To her therefore Abraham is bidden to listen in all that she says. On the other hand Hagar, whose name signifies ‘sojourning‚’ and points therefore to something transient and unsatisfying‚ is a preparatory or intermediate training—the instruction of the schools—secular learning, as it might be termed in modern phrase. Hence she is fitly described as an Egyptian, as Sarah’s handmaid. Abraham’s alliance with Sarah is at first premature. He is not sufficiently advanced in his moral and spiritual development to profit thereby. As yet he begets no son by her. She therefore directs him to go in to her handmaid, to apply himself to the learning of the schools. This inferior alliance proves fruitful at once. At a later date and after this preliminary training he again unites himself to Sarah; and this time his union with divine wisdom is fertile. Not only does Sarah bear him a son, but she is pointed out as the mother of a countless offspring. Thus is realized the strange paradox that the barren woman is most fruitful. Thus in the progress of the human soul are verified the words of the prophet‚ spoken in an allegory‚ that ‘the desolate hath many children.’

But the allegory does not end here. The contrast between the mothers is reproduced in the contrast between the sons. Isaac represents the wisdom of the wise man; Ishmael the sophistry of the sophist. Sophistry must in the end give place to wisdom. The son of the bondwoman must be cast out and flee before the son of the princess.

Such is the ingenious application of Philo—most like and yet most unlike that of St. Paul. They both allegorize, and in so doing they touch upon the same points in the narrative, they use the same text by way of illustration. Yet in their whole tone and method they stand in direct contrast, and their results have nothing in common. Philo is, as usual, wholly unhistorical. With St. Paul, on the other hand, Hagar’s career is an allegory, because it is a history. The symbol and the thing symbolized are the same in kind. This simple passage of patriarchal life represents in miniature the workings of God’s Providence hereafter to be exhibited in grander proportions in the history of the Christian church. The Christian Apostle and the philosophic Jew move in parallel lines, or as it were, keeping side by side, and yet never once crossing each other’s path.

And there is still another point in which the contrast between the two is great. With Philo the allegory is the whole substance of his teaching; with Paul it is but an accessory, He uses it rather as an illustration than an argument, as a means of representing in a lively form the lessons before enforced on other grounds. It is, to use Luther’s comparison, the painting which decorates the house already built.”

The very pleasing character of Philo’s allegory is a warning against such interpretations. They always aim to be as captivating as his, and often succeed, only to be most unlike Paul’s “in tone and method.”—R.]

So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
E. Admonition to perseverance in Christian freedom—with a threatening allusion to the pernicious consequences of the opposite course

CHAPTER 4:31–5:6

31So then [Wherefore],41 brethren, we are not children of the [a] bondwoman, but 5 of the free. 1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free [Stand fast therefore in the liberty for which Christ made us free, or For freedom Christ made Us free. Stand fast therefore],42 and be not entangled again with 2[in] the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul43 say unto you, that if ye be circumcised 3[i. e., submit to circumcision],44 Christ shall [will] profit you nothing. For [Moreover, δέ continuative] I testify again to every man that is circumcised [who has himself circumcised], that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you [Ye are separated from Christ],45 whosoever of you are justified [being justified] by [in] the law; ye are fallen [fallen away] from grace. 5For we through 6[by] the Spirit wait46 for the hope of righteousness by [from] faith. For in Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus] neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by [working through] love.

F. Renewed lamentation over the apostasy of the Galatians. Sharp testimony against the misleading misrepresentations of his preaching on the part of the false teachers

CHAPTER 5:7–12

7Ye did run [were running] well; who did hinder47 you that ye should not obey 8, 9the truth?48 This [The] persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little 10leaven leaveneth49 the whole lump. I [I, for my part] have confidence in [as regards] you through [in] the Lord, that ye will be none [in nothing] otherwise 11minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And [But] I, brethren, if I yet [still] preach circumcision, why do I yet [still] suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased [the scandal of the cross done away with]. 12I would they were even cut off which trouble you [I would that they who are unsettling you would even mutilate themselves, or would even cut themselves off from you].50


Gal 4:31. Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman.—Paul, after the indirect warning in Gal 4:29, 30, sums up the contents of Gal 4:22 sq. once more, in an exact form, appealing to the Christian sense of dignity =you will therefore surely not suffer yourselves to be reduced to children of the bondwoman. [Notice the omission of the article: “not of any bondwoman,” Judaism or any form of heathenism (LIGHTFOOT, MEYER, ELLICOTT). This explanation is more striking and appropriate than that of ALFORD, who is disposed to think παιδίσκης is anarthrous, because emphatically prefixed to its governing noun.—R.]—But of the free,—therefore ourselves free. This Paul expressly states in the following sentence.

Gal 5:1, refers the freedom of Christians to Christ; yet the main idea is no longer the fact or method of their having become free, but the end, namely: τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, for freedom, for being and remaining free. Then follows the admonition itself; στήκετε, used absolutely, without any modifying clause=remain firm. [Schmoller follows Lachmann, in beginning a new sentence with στήκετε; of course if a different punctuation is adopted, the verb is modified by the preceding clause, without altering its meaning however. He also takes τῇ ἐλευθερία as dative commodi, “for freedom,” not instrumental, “with freedom” (so ALFORD). It must be remarked that this pointing makes the style very abrupt, and that since the stress in this interpretation rests on for freedom, the end of their being made free, so emphatic a thought would scarcely be expressed by a dative of doubtful force, for as LIGHTFOOT observes, the dative is awkward, in whatever way it is taken. Even MEYER explains the passage far more satisfactorily, on the theory that the other reading is correct. Following this reading, we render: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty for” or “with which Christ made us free.” The prominent dative then denotes “the sphere in which and to which the action is limited” (ELLICOTT); and the relative is either dative commodi (WINER, ELLICOTT) or ablative (instrumental, LUTHER, BEZA, CALVIN). MEYER thinks this latter usage is uncommon with Paul. The former is safer. The sense is then: therefore stand fast in that liberty (which is our state as children of the freewoman, and) for which, to remain in which, Christ made us free.—R.]

Be not entangled again.—As Gentiles they had not formerly been under the yoke of the Mosaic law, but for all that had certainly (see 4:8) been in bondage; having now become free from it by their faith in Christ, they ought not to allow themselves to be enslaved again by a yoke. [In the yoke of bondage.—“In” it, because the thought is of being ensnared; they were to stand upright, not to bow to the yoke (LIGHTFOOT); “bondage” was its predominant nature (ELLICOTT).—R.] All that preceded, doctrinal exposition and expostulation, pointed to this exhortation: to remain free. But just because this lies at the foundation of everything preceding, the brief, plain utterance in this verse suffices, and the Apostle at once turns to a warning menace in case the admonition should not be heeded, and the Galatians instead should go so far as to submit to circumcision.

Gal 5:2. Behold I Paul say unto you that if ye be circumcised.—Rousing personal attention with “Behold” and with the interposition of his personal authority,11 “I Paul,” he warns them against the final step, not yet taken by them, which would bring them completely under the yoke of the law, namely, the receiving of circumcision. [It is highly probable that some of them had been circumcised, and that the present points to the continuance of this course of conduct among them (ALFORD, ELLICOTT). He does not mean that the fact of a man’s being a circumcised man would prevent his being a Christian, but if after all this instruction and warning, they resorted to this rite as necessary to salvation, “Christ will,” etc.—R.] They would then have had no advantage of Christ, because they would have sought salvation, in circumcision and not of Christ.—Will profit you nothing.—The future is probably (as in Gal 5:5) to be referred to the παρουσία and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom. [So MEYER, who finds in this a reference to its nearness. But he is fond of such references. ELLICOTT with more propriety says: “it simply marks the certain result of such a course of practice; ‘Christ (as you will find) will never profit you anything.’ ”—R.]

Gal 5:3. Moreover I testify again.—Paul strengthens his warning by referring to a further consequence of receiving circumcision. It obliges to the observance of the whole law; “for circumcision makes one a full participant in the covenant of law, a proselyte of righteousness, and the law demands of the one that is held to it its complete fulfilment (3:10).” MEYER. At the same time Paul gives with this a more precise explanation of “Christ will profit you nothing” so much the more certainly will this be the case, because a man by receiving circumcision becomes a debtor to do the whole law, and therefore is not at liberty to persuade himself, that he does not mean to erect again the law as a whole, but only to accept one point. But all, who are “of the works of the law are under the curse,” 3:10.—In view of the solemnity of the asseveration we must suppose that the false teachers designedly concealed this perilous consequence of circumcision or sought to soften it. “Again” alludes to the earlier (second) presence of the Apostle.

Gal 5:4. Ye are separated from Christ.—“Paul by speaking asyndetically and recurring to the second person speaks so much the more emphatically and vividly.”—MEYER.—The verse expresses the consequence of becoming “a debtor to do the whole law” (for ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθαι is substantially identically with this). This is the καταργ. ἀπὸ τοῦ Χρισποῦ which completes the explanation of the declaration in Gal 5:2.—Καταργεῖσθαι ἀπό τινος, a pregnant expression = the connection in which one stands with any one is done away, and so one is loose from him.—Justification by the law and justification for Christ’s sake are mutually exclusive; whoever seeks the first falls out of fellowship with Christ. Justified, here of course an expression representing the view of the persons concerned, who think “through the law we shall be justified.”—Ye are fallen away from grace.—Here he expressly names the benefit the loss of which they suffer by “being justified in the law” and the resulting separation from Christ. A cutting contrast: they think that they are being justified, but by this very means instead they are fallen away from grace, so far is an actual justification from being possible in this way.12 Ἐκπίπτειν τῆς χάριτος opposed to ἑστηκέναι ἐν τῇ χάριτι (Rom. 5:2).

Gal 5:5. For we by the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness from faith.—“A justification of the judgment passed in Gal 5:4 upon those that seek to be justified through the law, drawn e contrario, i. e., from the entirely different manner in which Paul and those like him wish to be justified.” MEYER. [“We” i. e. those who have not sought justification in the law, and fallen from grace; the contrast is not very strongly marked in the subject however (δέ is not used), for Paul addresses the Galatians, not as those who had fallen, but were in danger of falling, and the subject “we” may include them also.—R.] Πνεύματι is used neither of the human spirit in itself, nor of the spirit of man enlightened by the Holy Ghost, but of the Spirit of God as the objective principle of the Christian life. As it is from the Holy Spirit working in believers, that the whole Christian life proceeds, so in particular the persevering Christian hope is thus wrought, of the fulfilment of which he also gives pledge (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5, Eph. 1:14; Rom. 3:11–23). So WIESELER and MEYER. But of course this hope of future righteousness proceeds from the Holy Ghost only so far as it rests upon a right basis. This basis is then stated in ἐκ πίστεως, which is meant to express that Christians ground their hope of future righteousness not upon the works of the law, but precisely on faith alone, that they hope to be justified not in the law but by faith. [Ἐκπίστεως does not therefore describe πνεύματι (LUTHER), but the latter sets forth the agent: “by the spirit,” the former the origin or source (Schmoller says with less exactness, the ground) of their hope. “By faith” cannot qualify “righteousness,” as the order of the E. V. seems to indicate.—R.] Δικαιοσύνη is here also of course, Righteousness before God = δικαίωσις. But this is here represented for Christians as something future; we are therefore not to understand it of that which takes place in time, but of the δικαίωσις which comes to completion only at the final judgment. But it is a difficulty that it does not simply read: ἐλπίδα δικ. ἔχομεν, but ἐλπ. ἀπεκδ. whereby the hope itself is presented in turn as an object of hope. Ἐλπίς is therefore here to be understood as the object of hope, res sperata, as in Col. 1:5; Tit. 2:13, and δικαιοσύνης as genitive of apposition. Ἀπεκδέχεσθαι is more precisely not = ἐλπίζειν itself, but = to wait for, to expect perseveringly (WIESELER). [This view of the passage, which is that of WIESELER, avoids the seeming pleonasm, “wait for the hope,” but is open to one serious objection, viz.: that the genitive is never thus used with ἐλπίς (MEYER). Besides ἐλπίδα ἀπεκδεχόμεθα is not pleonastic, but forcible and almost poetical, the accusative being cognate (ELLICOTT). The genitive may be regarded as 1) subjecti; the hoped for reward of righteousness, sc. eternal life (so Beza, Bengel and most older commentators). This avoids the seeming difficulty of every other interpretation, viz.: making “righteousness” future, but it is not in keeping with the context, as it introduces and gives prominence to an adjunct of “righteousness,” while the passage treats of “justification.” 2) It seems best then to take it as genitive objecti, i. e. the hope of being justified (so MEYER, ELLICOTT, ALFORD, also the versions of Tyndale and Cranmer). This is strictly grammatical and in keeping with the context. The objection that it makes “righteousness” future is easily met, see below.—R.] That Paul should here speak of the (complete and final) justification, as something to be expected first in the future, is entirely accordant with the context. In Gal 5:4 he speaks of such as, being already justified by faith, now turn to the law and thereby suffer the loss of grace. In order to illustrate the latter, he now enforces the truth, that a Christian must remain in faith, because only then can he have the hope of justification at the judgment; faith remains the condition of the state of grace, for even at the final judgment it is the condition of gracious acceptance. [This view contrasts Christianity with Judaism, and represents “justification as one of those divine results, which stretches into eternity, conveying with it and involving the idea of future blessedness and glorification” (ELLICOTT).—R.]

Gal 5:6. He now proceeds to justify the waiting “for the hope from faith” on the part of the Christian. For in Christ Jesus = for him that is in Christ Jesus, for the Christian, neither circumcision availeth anything = has no influence in the attainment of justification (in the sense of Gal 5:5), nor uncircumcision (while the Galatian false teachers laid so great stress upon this distinction); but faith working through love, faith which shows itself operative through love.—Ἐνεργεῖσθαι is always middle in the New Testament. The passive meaning given by many of the older Catholics, as BELLARMINE and ESTIUS, in the interest of the Catholic system, is therefore incorrect. Reference is made to this display of the activity of faith through love, in view of the following section Gal 5:13 sq., the theme of which is given in our verse. [LIGHTFOOT: “These words bridge over the gulf which seems to separate the language of St. Paul and St. James. Both assert a principle of practical energy, as opposed to a barren, inactive theory.” Against the use made of this passage by modern Romanist commentators who give up the passive sense, such as WINDISCHMANN, MÖHLER, Symbolik, see Alford and DOCTRINAL NOTES below.—R.]

Gal 5:7. Ye were running well.—Short, emotional, and therefore asyndetic propositions respecting the unhappy alterations which had taken place with the Galatians.—The comparison of the Christian walk to a race is, as is well known, a favorite one with Paul. The running well consisted in obedience to the truth, that is, in their going in the true=evangelical, way, seeking their righteousness in faith.—Paul asks in surprise: Who did hinder you?13

Gal 5:8. He here answers the last assertion to himself and them. Certainly, it is not God that has turned you away, has brought you upon this other way! The intriguing of the false teachers is represented as something ungodly. Ἡ πεισμ. κ. τ. λ., therefore, is to be translated; The persuading is not from your caller=God. The calling and the persuading are opposed to each other as distinct in character; the former is divine activity, the latter not, but essentially human with human intention, art, importunity (MEYER).—In itself “persuasion” could have also a passive signification=the being persuaded, disposition to follow; and so many interpreters take it here also=obsequiousness towards the false teachers. [In favor of the latter meaning we have the support of the Greek expositors, and perhaps the paranomasia (πείθεσθαι, ver 7). But MEYER, ALFORD, ELLICOTT prefer the active meaning, both because it is better established, and because it suits the active meaning of “calleth.” It seems to accord better with Gal 5:9 also.—R.]

Gal 5:9. A little leaven.—It is disputed whether this refers to doctrine or persons; a little leaven of doctrine, as a few bad men, false teachers. Manifestly the former. It is not the number of the false teachers that is of account, but the influence of their teaching, not the πείθοντες but the πεισμονή. Plainly nothing else is meant by “leaven” than the immediately preceding “persuasion,” for of this, “leaven” is an image. As the leaven works into the lump, so does the “persuasion,” the persuasive, seducing word into the soul (or into a whole community): therefore=even an influence in itself apparently insignificant, may nevertheless be ruinous to the whole man (or whole community of men). [The proverb (quoted also 1 Cor. 5:6) is undoubtedly true both of doctrines and persons. To which it refers here is extremely doubtful. In support of each view the best commentators may be cited, and the context is not decisive, for while Gal 5:8 may favor the former reference, Gal 5:10 with its individualizing turn, favors the latter. Leaven is, as usually, a symbol of evil.—R.] This of course contains a warning to be on their guard, and to turn back in time, and remove the leaven.—The Apostle, in order the easier to win them to him, expresses the confidence which he still continues to have in them.

Gal 5:10. I, for my part,—even though the false teachers believe you already won over to them.—He knows his confidence to be grounded in the Lord. The Lord will doubtless bring it to pass and give you the right mind—in the interest of His cause.—Οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε is best taken absolutely=that you will not be otherwise minded than hitherto, that you will not alter your conviction, will not apostatize. It is true, a giving way had indeed already begun; but it was as yet only in its incipiency; evidently Paul deals with them throughout as those that are yet wavering, and therefore it may well be hoped of them that matters will not come to an actual ἄλλο φρονεῖν=change of conviction. Up to the present time they are only, as is immediately expressed, “troubled.”—He that troubleth you=every one, who, &c. The supposition that the Apostle refers to a leader among his opponents well known to himself (ERASMUS, LUTHER, BENGEL and others), or even to Peter (JEROME), is supported by nothing in the Epistle. Therefore also whosoever he be ought to be understood as entirely general, and not referred to any eminent consideration enjoyed by the false teachers. Undoubtedly, however, Paul means to signify, that no consideration whatever could cause him to waver in this judgment.—Κρῖμα=God’s sentence of condemnation (e. g. Mark 12:40, Lc. 20:47; Rom. 2:3; 13:12); this is conceived as something exceedingly irksome, a burden, therefore βαστάσει.

Gal 5:11. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision.—Paul refutes moreover the pretence of the false teachers, invented to further their cause, that he himself elsewhere preached circumcision. They had probably appealed, in support of their charge, to the circumcision of Timothy, which had lately taken place, but which by no means took place on the ground of its necessity to salvation (Acts 16:3. See I moreover, the explanation of 2:4).—“Still” dates not from a period within his apostolic career itself, as though Paul as Apostle had yet at one time preached circumcision, which in view of the manner of Paul’s conversion and of his whole previous course is an unpsychological and unhistorical assumption, but it dates from his conversion. Why do I still suffer persecution.—This second ἔτι is a logical one: what reason remains, etc.?Then is the scandal of the cross done away with.—Apodosis of the conditional sentence, “if I still preach circumcision,” for the purpose of demonstrating the nullity of the protasis: he would no longer be persecuted.—Τὸ σκάνδ. τοῦ σταυροῦ more precisely—that, which is offensive in the preceding of Christ’s death on the cross, namely, that it is proclaimed as the only ground of salvation. Had Paul, with this or instead of it, still preached circumcision as necessary to salvation, the Jew would have seen his law maintained in authority, and would not have taken offence at the death on the cross, and especially the preaching of it.

Gal 5:12. Ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται.—The ordinary explanation is: Would that they would even have themselves made eunuchs, for which partly the middle signification of the future ἀποκόψονται is cited, partly the connection, which is thought to point (καί) to a play of words upon περιτομή. But, as this would be a bitter turn of wit, and as the assumption, that Paul means thereby to lash the sexual intemperance of the false teachers, is arbitrary, it is not pleasant to accede to this explanation. The lexical argument, which has the most weight, is the hardest to meet; it can only be said that the passive use of the future middle, even in the classics, is by no means unknown. On the other hand the connection, which is especially adduced in support of this explanation, has not a strictly demonstrative force, as WIESELER remarks. He, it is true, lays almost too much stress on the absence of an actual paronomasia; on the fact that Paul did not at least choose ἐκτείνειν, as being a very common word among the Greeks for castration, and the paronomasia with κατατομή (Phil. 3:23) proves at least so much as this, that Paul in opposition to such Judaizers, was not particularly tender in dealing with περιτομή, for this is a sarcastic allusion to περιτομή. On the other hand this remark of his particularly is correct, that we should then expect instead of ἀναστ. an allusion to περιτ., the more so, as in Gal 5:11 περιτ. is not at all alluded to in the light of a demand made by them. If we can therefore make up our minds to take ἀποκ. as passive, this would be in itself entirely suitable, especially for the final sentence: Would they were even hewn off=condemned by God (since the reference to excommunication is less congruous). Καί certainly is far from necessitating the reference to περιτ., as with either explanation it is alike a climactic particle. [It seems entirely incorrect to take the passive sense, for which there is no authority in the New Testament. ELLICOTT, preserves the middle sense, and yet avoids the seemingly coarse interpretation, which is usually given. He renders: “would even cut themselves off from you.” Unfortunately καί is a climactic particle, and this view gives us an anti-climax. In fact were there no question of taste involved, scarce a doubt would arise as to the Apostle’s meaning. Have we a right to adopt forced interpretations, to avoid a natural one, because it seems to us unrefined? As LIGHTFOOT remarks “If it seems strange that St. Paul should have alluded to such a practice at all, it must be remembered that as this was a recognized form of heathen self-devotion, it could not possibly be shunned in conversation, and must at times have been mentioned by a Christian preacher. The remonstrance is doubly significant as addressed to Galatians, for Pessinus, one of their chief towns, was the home of the worship of Cybele, in honor of whom these mutilations were practiced.” WORDSWORTH: “There would be more hope from their ex-cision, than from their circumcision. For then they would be excluded from the Jewish congregation, they would feel the rigor of the law, they would be ashamed of enforcing it on you. Then there would be good hope, that they also would joyfully hail and accept the gracious liberty of the gospel, and would be joined as sound members to the Body of Christ.”—R.]—Ἀναστατοῦντες, unsettling=to bring into tumult, stronger than ταράσσειν. WIESELER: To render seditious, namely, against the order of Christianity, or rather against its Lord and King, Christ.—[CHRYSOSTOM: “Well does he say ἀναστατοῦντες, for abandoning their country and their freedom and their kindred in heaven, they compelled them to seek a foreign and a strange land; banishing from the heavenly Jerusalem and the free, and forcing them to wander about as captives and aliens.” (From LIGHTFOOT.)—R.]


1. Christian Liberty. Respecting the idea of Freedom, which Paul in this Epistle maintains and vindicates for Christians with such decision (from 3:25 on, substantially this, but more on its negative side; in express words in this section), we are to consider that it does not primarily mean freedom from the accusations and the curse of the law (wrath of God, etc.), but, agreeably to the whole polemics of the Apostle, means freedom from the claims (requirements) of the law, from the obligation of attaching ourselves to it, in order by works of the law to seek salvation (to seek it through these conjointly with faith, yes, essentially to seek it through these). Too precipitately and too prevailingly does Luther, for example, take this freedom, which Christ has won, in the former sense, and in this sense eulogizes it as the most precious benefit. Undoubtedly, however, freedom in this sense stands causally connected with freedom in the other; in the first place by the very fact that only he who through Christ is delivered from the curse of the law, is a Christian, and only to him does freedom from the law itself accrue (although strictly speaking this does not belong here);—and secondly, inasmuch as only to him who does not give himself any more into bondage under the law, does freedom from its curse also remain assured, while conversely, whoever gives up the other freedom, loses also this, and thus comes into double bondage. Hence it is fully admissible to comprehend in the freedom which Paul claims for the Christian, his freedom from the curse of the law—not exegetically it is true, but at least in the practical application of the doctrine. Still more; in the reference to freedom from the curse of the law (wrath of God), an entirely just apprehension of the doctrine is involved, since Paul contends with such earnestness for the freedom of the Christians from the law, and against the imposing of the law upon them, and thus against their being brought upon the ground of the righteousness of works, for this very reason, that thereby we forfeit also our freedom from the curse of the law, and so come under this curse, losing thereby the advantage that we have in Christ, the certainty of the grace of God. His strong emphasizing of the freedom of Christians has its ground indeed not merely in an abstract pride of freedom, leading him to feel: Christians now have no longer need of allowing themselves to be held in bondage by a law, but it is grounded in the doctrinal knowledge of the loss of salvation, which would result from the giving up of that freedom.

2. Either the law wholly, or not at all; either Christ or the law. The Apostle presents two momentous alternatives and thereby sets himself against all half courses and their self-deceiving effect. The first is: “Either the law wholly—or not at all.” Whoever once places himself in one particular on the legal ground, cannot stop short with that one. For in the first place the law, although a whole consisting of many members, is yet a whole in which one member depends on another. And secondly for this very reason the blessing of God is not promised to the observance of one or the other part of it, but only to the observance of the whole; whoever therefore will become partaker of the blessing in the way of law, must observe the whole law. But if he shrinks from undertaking the whole, either because he recognizes much of it as abolished for the Christian, or because much of it is burdensome to him, or as he thinks of the impossibility of fulfilling all aright, and of the curse which is denounced against all short comings, then let him give up the legal position altogether. This suggests then the other alternative: “Either Christ or the law,” The two “do not match,” i. e. whoever will be justified by works of law, thereby renounces virtually, and ought therefore to renounce formally the consolations of grace in Christ; for in so doing he does not seek his righteousness in Christ, but rejects Him. Commonly however man would be glad to take the latter with the former, would at least, without building upon it, be well content with the free grace of God, as the complement of his imperfect righteousness of works; but in vain—the sentence is: Fallen away from grace!—“This text, Gal 5:2 and 4, is a true touchstone, by which we may securely and certainly judge all manner of doctrines, works and ceremonies of all men. Whoever now, be they Papists, Turks, Jews, sectaries,—or whoever they may be, teach, that anything is necessary to salvation besides faith in Christ, they hear in this place the sentence of the Holy Ghost pronounced against them by the Apostle, namely, that Christ profiteth them nothing. But if St. Paul can venture to pass so terrible a judgment against the law and circumcision, which God Himself has given, what kind of judgment would he utter upon the chaff and the dross of men’s ordinances? Wherefore this text is such a thunderclap, that by right the whole papal realm should be astounded and terrified thereat.” LUTHER.

3. “Waiting for the hope of righteousness.” Justification, on one hand, is a benefit to be obtained even now, but on the other hand, that which we now obtain is not yet the whole, not yet the consummation. But the justification of the Christian in the present is not on this account in any way an illusion, nor is the joyful certainty, which faith has, of being justified in Christ, prejudiced. On the contrary the believer knows very well that at first he can only have this benefit in a measure corresponding to the imperfection of the present dispensation. The joyfulness of faith would be beclouded if the hope of consummation in eternity, in spite of all present imperfection, did not essentially appertain to faith, as certain hope. Hoping and waiting include, it is true, a negative element, a not yet having; but they also include essentially a positive element, the certainty that what is not yet possessed will nevertheless be attained, and this positive element is derived from nothing else than faith. Hope is grounded in faith—but never in our works; faith is therefore not only necessary in the beginning, but remains so perpetually; if we lose it, we lose hope also.

4. Faith, Hope, Love. Faith, that has hope, is the one thing that characterizes the Christian, to which is added Love. As in hope faith becomes a waiting faith, πίστις ἀπεκδεχομένη, so through love does it become an active faith, π. ἐνεργουμένη, i. e., the ἐνέργεια does not first through love come into faith, but rather faith manifests in this love its own indwelling energy; had it no such ἐνέργεια in itself, there would be no such result as love, and where this energy is wanting to it, because it is a mere nominal faith, there is no such result. Even so the capacity of waiting does first come into faith, not through hope, but on the contrary, because this inheres in faith, from faith emanates hope.—The Catholic doctrine of a fides caritate formata, as the condition of justification, has of course not the least support in this passage; for the simple reason that “working through love” affirms something enirely different: “non per caritatem formam suam accipere vel formari fidem, sed per caritatem operosam vel efficacem esse ap. docet.” CALOVIUS. Nor can it be concluded from this passage that the Apostle would make love the principle of justification together with faith. See the EXEGETICAL NOTES above, but especially LUTHER, who has so truly apprehended the significance of our passage: “Paul treats not in this place of what Faith accomplishes before God, as how one becomes righteous before God; for this he has done at full length above; but he says just here at the end, as it were for a short conclusion, what is a true Christian life; in Christ such a faith alone avails, which is no feigned, hypocritical one, but a true living faith. Now such a faith is one that exercises itself and perseveres in good works through love. For this is nothing else than to say: Whoever will be a true Christian man and in Christ’s Kingdom, he must forsooth have a true faith. But now assuredly the faith is not sound, where the works of love do not follow after. Therewith he shuts out from the Kingdom of Christ all hypocrites, both on the right hand and on the left; on the right all Jews and work-saints, but on the left all slothful and secure folk, who say: If faith without works makes righteous, then God requires nothing of us than only that we believe, therefore we are permitted to do what we list.”

5. Love does not overlook perversion of doctrine. Certain as it is that faith, active through love, is part of the Christian life, yet over against those, who destroy faith by perversion of doctrine, indulgence for love’s sake, is not in place, but earnestness and severity (comp. the remarks of LUTHER upon this, in the HOMILETICAL NOTES, Gal 5:10).


Gal 5:1. LUTHER:—Let us learn to count this our freedom, most noble, exalted and precious, which no emperor, no prophet, nor patriarch, no angel from heaven, but Christ, God’s Son, hath obtained for us; not for this, that He might relieve us from a bodily and temporal subjection, but from a spiritual and eternal imprisonment of the cruellest tyrants, namely, the law, sin, death, devil, &c.—Those that will be secure and snore on without care, these will not keep this freedom. For Satan is to the light of the Gospel hostile above measure, i. e., to the doctrine of grace, freedom, consolation and life. Therefore, where he is aware that it is about to dawn, he keeps no holiday, but sets himself speedily with all might against it. [CALVIN:—He reminds them that they ought not to despise a freedom so precious. And certainly it is an invaluable blessing, in defence of which it is our duty to fight, even to death. If men lay upon our shoulders an unjust burden, it may be borne; but if they endeavor to bring our conscience into bondage, we must resist valiantly, even to death. If men be permitted to bind our consciences, we shall be deprived of an invaluable blessing, and an insult will be, at the same time, offered to Christ, the author of our freedom.—R.]

[COWPER:—This is a liberty unsung

By poets, and by senators unpraised;

Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers

Of Earth and Hell confederate take away:

A liberty which persecution, frand,

Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind;

Which whoso tastes can be enslaved no more.

’Tis liberty of heart, derived from Heaven,

Bought with HIS blood who gave it to mankind.

* * * The oppressor holds

His body bound; but knows not what a range

His spirit takes, unconscious of a chain,

And that to bind him is a vain attempt,

Whom God delights in, and in whom He dwells.—R.]

Gal 5:2. LUTHER:—Under the sun there is no more hurtful or poisonous thing, than the doctrine of human laws and works, that, are received in the imagination of thereby obtaining forgiveness of sins. For they take away in one heap the truth of the gospel and Christ Himself.

Gal 5:3. “A debtor to do the whole law.” If we overlook this chance, and Moses begins in one particular to rule over us, we must thereafter be wholly and entirely subject to his power, whether we will or not. Therefore, to be brief, we cannot, yea, ought not, nor will not suffer, that any one should hang any one fraction of Moses’ law [Gesetzlein Mosis] upon our neck.

Gal 5:4. “Ye are separated from Christ.”—How could one speak more powerfully against the law? What can or will any one bring up against this mighty thunderclap? It is not possible that the gospel and the law can dwell and rule in one heart at the same time with one another, but of necessity either Christ must yield to the law or the law to Christ. Therefore, when thou fanciest that Christ and confidence in the law might dwell together with one another in thy heart, thou art of a certainty to believe and know, that in thy heart not Christ, but the very devil dwells and keeps house, who under the form of Christ accuses and terrifies thee, and demands that thou through the law and thine own works shouldst make thyself righteous; for the true Christ has not that way.—Even as one that falls out of a ship, let it happen as it may, must certainly drown in the sea; even so can it not be otherwise than that whoever falls away from grace, must be condemned and lost.—If those fall away from Grace, that will be justified by the law of God, beloved, whither will those fall that will be justified through human ordinances, their vows and merits? Into the deep abyss of hell, to the devil.

Gal 5:5. SPENER:—Faith is not merely the beginning of our salvation, so that we must receive the first grace from God, and afterwards earn the rest ourselves, but all remaining gifts of grace and glory are alone expected and bestowed from faith.—LUTHER:—This is an admirable, noble consolation, wherewith all wretched, perplexed hearts, that feel their sin and are terrified thereat, are mightily holpen against all the fiery darts of the devil. For when the conscience has to wrestle and strive in such distress and perplexity, it becomes terrified and anxious, and the feeling of sin, of God’s wrath and of death is so great that it seems as if there were neither righteousness nor salvation to hope for. Then is it time to say: Dear brother, thou wouldst be glad to have such a righteousness, as might be felt, whereof thou mightest have joy and comfort, even as sin lets itself be felt and stirs up terror and despond; now that cannot be done, but do thou labor on, that the righteousness, which thou hast in hope, and which is yet hidden, may surpass the sin which thou feelest; and know, that it is not such a righteousness as lets itself be seen or felt, but as to which one must hope that in is time it will be reached. Therefore thou art not to judge after the feeling of sin, but according to the promise and doctrine of faith, through which Christ is promised to thee, that he may be thy perfect and everlasting righteousness.—STARKE:—Waiting comprehends in it; a believing assurance of certain attainment of the thing hoped for, a high estimation of the j same, a continual remembrance thereof, an ardent longing thereafter, a joy in the apprehension of future felicity, a patient expectation, an abstinence from all that stands opposed to the purity and steadfastness of such hope.—Those that will be righteous by the law have nothing more to expect of Christ but believers have yet glorious benefits to hope from him.

Gal 5:6. LUTHER:—St. Paul points out here what is the fashion of the Christian life, namely, that it is nothing else than, inwardly, faith towards God and, outwardly, love and works towards our neighbor, so mat a man becomes perfectly a Christian, inwardly by faith towards God, who does not need our works, and outwardly by works towards men, whom our faith can help nothing, but our works and our love.—Of faith, what it is, what its inward hidden nature, power, work and office is, has he treated above, where he says that faith makes us righteous before God. But here he conjoins it with love and works, i. e. he speaks of its works and office, which it outwardly and publicly accomplishes, that it is the stirrer up to good works and to love, yea not alone the stirrer up, but the true doer and workmaster of all good works.—There stands St. Paul and says outright, that faith, which worketh by love, makes a Christian, says not that cowls, fasts, distinct attire or genuflections make a Christian.—Anything else, be it called what it may, makes no one a Christian: only faith and love do so. See also above in the DOCTRINAL NOTES.

Gal 5:7. In STARKE:—Running in religion is good, running well still better, to accomplish the race best of all. To a Christian life there appertains standing and walking: standing, that one may not fall, walking, that one may not stand still, which is commonly linked with a going back.—LUTHER:—These words are very comforting, for Christians have ever this temptation, to imagine that their life is an idle and sleepy matter, it seems more a creeping than a running. But so far as they remain steadfast in the wholesome doctrine, walk in the Spirit and wait on their vocation, they should in no wise trouble themselves, although it seems as if their work and doing went slowly on, and crept rather than walked. But our master, God, judges far otherwise. What seems to us slow walking, seems to Him quick and swift running, item, what we count for mournfulness, suffering, death etc., that is with Him joy, laughing and blessedness.—“Who did hinder you?” And now they supposed, forsooth, that all their matters were going most prosperously and most swiftly along.—HEDINGER:—Have a care, pilgrim! on the way to heaven there are many stumbling blocks.—Hearest thou the sirens sing and the robbers whistle? Finish thou thy course with joy, let not the threatening and flattering of the world lead thee astray! The Lord is with thee!—LANGE:—Beware of all credulousness, especially in spiritual things, which concern the well-being of the soul! Let a doctrine wear ever so good a guise, it must nevertheless be tested by God’s word.

Gal 5:8. LUTHER:—The devil is a prince of persuaders. He can so blow up and magnify the very smallest sins, that he who is tempted, thinks nothing else than that they are so great and terrible sins, as are worthy the punishment of eternal death. Then is it high time that we comfort such a disturbed soul in such wise as St. Paul has here done, saying to it, that such persuasion is not of Christ, since it gainsays the word of the gospel, which depicts Christ to us, not as an accuser, but as meek and compassionate, a Saviour and Comforter.

Gal 5:9. HEDINGER:—The least particle of evil infects, a single spark kindles a forest. Away with it! But O ye careless! is it a small thing to you, to be corrupted through idle talk and companyings, through poison of lies against Christ?

Gal 5:10. LUTHER:—Has St. Paul done right in saying: I have a good confidence towards you, while yet the Holy Scripture forbids that we should have confidence in man? Answer: Faith and Love both believe, yet is the belief of the two not directed upon one thing. The faith is directed towards God, therefore it cannot be deceived: but love believes man, therefore is it often and greatly deceived. But yet the faith that love has is such a needful thing in this present life, that without it this life cannot at all continue. For if no man trusts nor believes another, what would this life upon earth become? Christians out of love believe people easier than the subtle children of the world are wont to do. For that believers trust people and expect good of them, that is beautiful fruit of the Holy Ghost and faith. But the Christian adds: In the Lord=so far do I trust you and expect good of you, as the Lord is in you and ye in Him, that is, so far as ye abide in the truth.—We must diligently distinguish doctrine from life. Doctrine is heaven, life the earth. In life there is sin, error, discord. Here love should pass by and overlook, should forbear; here should forgiveness of sins bear sway, yet so that one should not wish to uphold such sin and error. But with doctrine it is quite another thing, for it is holy, pure, ummixed, heavenly, divine; therefore can we not suffer it, that any one should distort it even in the least particular. Whoever will alter or adulterate it, against such a one there is neither love nor compassion.

Gal 5:11. St. Paul holds that for a certain sign, that it is not and cannot be the true gospel, if it is preached in peace and in quietness and is not gainsayed nor persecuted. On the other hand, the world, when it sees that from the preaching of the gospel great rumors, divisions, scandal and tumults follow, holds that for a certain size that such teaching is heretical and seditious.—To murderers, thieves and other evil-doers grace is shown; on the contrary the world deems that no more evil, mischievous people are to be found than Christians; therefore it also persuades itself that they can never have punishment and torment enough inflicted on them.—As long as persecutions and suffering endure, the state of the church is good. The church must suffer persecution, if the gospel is purely preached. For the gospel goes about to preach alone God’s compassion, grace, glory and praise, and on the other hand discovers the devil’s craft and malice. Where the gospel comes it cannot be otherwise, there must follow the scandal of the cross; where that does not come to pass, there certainly the devil is not yet fairly hit, but only a little grazed.—May God be surety that the offence of the cross do not cease, which would soon come to pass, if we only preached, what the prince of this world with his members would be glad to hear, namely, how to be justified and saved by one’s own works. [The offence of the cross. 1. It asks men to humble their pride and take salvation as a free gift; this is a great scandal. 2. It sometimes seems to cease: 3. It never does.—R.] The homiletical uses of the single verses, especially 1–9, are easily suggested by the sententious character of the greater part.

Gal 5:1–6 From LISCO:—The care taken by the Christian, to stand fast in the true freedom.

Gal 5:7–12. How are we to rescue those who stand in danger of apostacy? 1. By bringing to their minds their earlier life in communion with God: 2. by warning against the destruction to which they are hastening, Gal 5:9, 10; 3. by the testimony of our own walk and perseverance in fellowship with God through Christ, Gal 5:11. For Gal 5:1–6 at New Year. FRANTZ:—A good counsel at the New Year for all, who will strengthen their inward life: 1. Stand fast in the freedom, wherewith Christ hath made us free; 2. lose not Christ and fall not away from grace; 3. wait in the Spirit through faith for the righteousness that is to be hoped for; 4. walk in faith which worketh by love.


[11][WORDSWORTH finds here a reference to the false accusation (Gal 5:11) that he preached circumcision, and LIGHTFOOT thinks this is probably an indirect refutation of calumnies as well as an assertion of authority.—R.]

[12][LIGHTFOOT renders “are driven forth, are banished with Hagar your mother,” but white this meaning of ἐκπίπτειν is classical, it is not found elsewhere in New Testament and must not be pressed.—R.]

[13][The verb here used means “to break up a road,” so as to render it impassable. It originally took the dative of the person, but in the New Testament is followed by an accusative. LIGHTFOOT seems to think ἀνέκοψεν (Rec.) would suit the metaphor of the stadium better, its meaning being “to beat back,” to hinder with the further idea of thrusting back (ELLICOTT), but the other reading is too well supported, he also remarks that the transcribers seem to have taken offence at the word ἐγκόπτειν, since it is frequently altered, e. g. 1 Thess. 2:18; Acts 24:4.—R.]

[41] Gal 4:31.—א. διό. [So B. D1. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, Lightfoot. Ἄρα (Rec.) is feebly supported; as also ἡμεῖς δέ.—R.]

[42] Gal 5:1.—The correct reading is probably that of Lachmann: τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν. So א. which also begins chap. 5 with στήκετε. [This reading is supported also by A. B. C. D., and adopted by Usteri, Meyer (4th ed., Schmoller mentions the other reading as his) and Alford. Τῇ ἐλευθεριᾳ, ᾖ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν, στήκετε οὖν is supported by D.2 3 E. K. L., the great majority of cursives, many versions and fathers, and is adopted by Griesbach, Rückert, Tischendorf, Wieseler, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot (who differs in punctuation however), Between these two readings the choice is very difficult. The authorities are so equally divided, and as the verbal difference is slight, the critical question resolves itself into this delicate one: whether the transcriber was more likely to have omitted or inserted , because of ἡμᾶς immediately following. Meyer thinks it was inserted, others that it was omitted. The latter opinion seems more probable, and the second reading is preferable on diplomatic grounds. The renderings given above are in accordance with the two readings, but minor variations in interpretation are noticed in the EXEG. NOTES.

We find besides, οὖν placed after ἐλευθερίᾳ, but this is feebly supported; it is put after στήκετε in א. A.B.C.F. On this position of the particle, an argument for Lachmann’s punctuation is based, though it is not decisive. Χριστός is placed before ἡμᾶς in C.K.L.: after it in א. A. B. D. E. F. G.

Lightfoot not only begins a new sentence at δτήκετε, but, retaining , is forced to join the first clause directly with Gal 5:31, and to render: we are sons “of her who is free with that freedom which Christ has given us.” So Schott and Rinck. This seems forced, but Lightfoot’s note on the various readings is valuable.—On the other variations from the E. V., in this verse, see EXEG. NOTES.—R.]

[43] Gal 5:2.—א. omits Παῦλος, inserted however by the corrector.

[44] Gal 5:2.—[Both here and in Gal 5:3, the reference is not to the fact of having been circumcised, but now resorting to the rite as necessary.—R.]

[45] Gal 5:4.—[Schmoller renders: abgetrennt seid ihr von (der gemeinschaft mit) Christo. The construction is pregnant, and scarcely admits of a literal translation. Vulgate: evacuati estis a. Alford’s “annihilates from Christ” is objectionable. Ellicott’s paraphrase is good: “Your union with Christ became void” (so Meyer). It seems both more lively and more exact to retain the present in English, since “the aorists (κατηργήθητε, ἐξεπέσατε) represent the consequences as instantaneous” (Lightfoot).—R.]

[46] Gal 5:5.—א. has ἐκδεχόμεθα, א.3 ἀπεκδεχόμεθα.

[47] Gal 5:7.—[Rec. has ἀνέκοψε, but the correct reading is ἐνέκοψε (all MSS., most cursives, and modern editors).—R.]

[48] Gal 5:7.—Τῇ ἀληθείαμὴ πείθεσθαι is, without ground, deemed spurious by Semler and Kopp. [א. A. B. Lachmann, Lightfoot, omit τῇ; retained on good authority by Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott.—R.]

[49] Gal 5:9.—Δολοῖ is a gloss.

[50] Gal 5:12.—[See EXEG. NOTES, on the meaning of this verse.—R.]


Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Galatians 3
Top of Page
Top of Page