Galatians 4:17
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.

New Living Translation
Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them.

English Standard Version
They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

Berean Study Bible
Those people are zealous for you, but not in a good way. Instead, they want to isolate you from us, so that you will be zealous for them.

Berean Literal Bible
They zealously seek you, not rightly. But they desire to isolate you from us, so that you might be zealous after them.

New American Standard Bible
They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.

King James Bible
They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

Christian Standard Bible
They court you eagerly, but not for good. They want to exclude you from me, so that you would pursue them.

Contemporary English Version
Those people may be paying you a lot of attention, but it isn't for your good. They only want to keep you away from me, so you will pay them a lot of attention.

Good News Translation
Those other people show a deep interest in you, but their intentions are not good. All they want is to separate you from me, so that you will have the same interest in them as they have in you.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them.

International Standard Version
These people who have been instructing you are devoted to you, but not in a good way. They want you to avoid me so that you will be devoted to them.

NET Bible
They court you eagerly, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly.

New Heart English Bible
They zealously seek you, but for no good purpose; they desire to alienate you, that you may be zealous for them.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
They imitate you, not for what is excellent but because they want to oppress you that you would imitate them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
These people [who distort the Good News] are devoted to you, but not in a good way. They don't want you to associate with me so that you will be devoted only to them.

New American Standard 1977
They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out, in order that you may seek them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
They are zealous after you, but not for good; they would exclude you from us, that ye might be zealous after them.

King James 2000 Bible
They are zealous of you, but not for good; yea, they would exclude you, that you might be zealous of them.

American King James Version
They zealously affect you, but not well; yes, they would exclude you, that you might affect them.

American Standard Version
They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them.

Douay-Rheims Bible
They are zealous in your regard not well: but they would exclude you, that you might be zealous for them.

Darby Bible Translation
They are not rightly zealous after you, but desire to shut you out [from us], that ye may be zealous after them.

English Revised Version
They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them.

Webster's Bible Translation
They zealously affect you, but not well; for, they would exclude you, that ye may affect them.

Weymouth New Testament
These men pay court to you, but not with honourable motives. They want to exclude you, so that you may pay court to them.

World English Bible
They zealously seek you in no good way. No, they desire to alienate you, that you may seek them.

Young's Literal Translation
they are zealous for you -- yet not well, but they wish to shut us out, that for them ye may be zealous;
Study Bible
Paul's Fears for the Galatians
16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17Those people are zealous for you, but not in a good way. Instead, they want to isolate you from us, so that you will be zealous for them. 18Nevertheless, it is good to be zealous if it serves a noble purpose—at any time, and not only when I am with you.…
Cross References
Galatians 4:16
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

Galatians 4:18
Nevertheless, it is good to be zealous if it serves a noble purpose--at any time, and not only when I am with you.

Treasury of Scripture

They zealously affect you, but not well; yes, they would exclude you, that you might affect them.


Galatians 6:12,13 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain …

Matthew 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea …

Romans 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according …

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly…

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and …

2 Corinthians 11:3,13-15 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through …

Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

2 Peter 2:3,18 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise …

exclude you. or, exclude us.

1 Corinthians 4:8,18 Now you are full, now you are rich, you have reigned as kings without …

(17-20) All this eagerness to court your favour springs from an interested motive: they wish to make a sect of you, in which they shall be masters and courted in their turn. Not but that it is a good thing for teachers and taught--you and I--to seek favour with each other, so long as it is done disinterestedly, and that, too, when I am absent as well as when I am present. My heart yearns towards you. I cannot forget that you owe your life, as Christians, to me. Now, once more, it seems as if all that long travail has to be gone over again. You must be re-fashioned in the likeness of Christ, as the infant is fashioned in the form of man. Would that I could be with you and speak in a different tone, for how to deal with you I do not know.

(17) They zealously affect you.--"Zealously affect" is a single word in the Greek, and means "to show zeal towards," "to court," "to curry favour with," "to canvass eagerly, so as to win over to their side." The subject of this verse is the Judaising teachers.

They would exclude you.--They desire to separate you from the rest of the Gentile churches, and to make a sect by itself, in which they themselves may bear rule. All the other Gentile churches had accepted the freer teaching of St. Paul; the Judaising party wished to make of Galatia an isolated centre of Judaism. They did this with personal motives, "not well"--i.e., from honest and honourable motives--but with a view to secure their own ascendancy.

That ye might affect them.--The same word as "zealously affect" above and in the next verse. They expect to have all this zeal on their part returned to them in kind. With them it is the proselytizing zeal of the faction leader; from you they expect the deferential zeal of devoted followers.

Verse 17. - They zealously affect you, but not well (zhlou = sin u(ma = ou) kalw = ); they admire you in no good way. Of the several senses of the verb ζηλοῦν, those of "envy," "emulate," "strive after," are plainly unsuitable in this verse and the one which follows. So also are the senses "to be zealous on one's behalf, to be jealous of one," which in Hellenistic usage crept into it, apparently from its having been in other senses adopted to represent the Hebrew verb qinne, and borrowing these from this Hebrew verb. The only phase of its meaning which suits the present passage is that which it perhaps by far the most frequently presents in ordinary Greek, though not so commonly in the Septuagint and in the New Testa ment, namely, "to admire," "deem and pronounce highly fortunate and blessed." When used in this sense, it has properly for its object a person; but with a suitable qualification of meaning it may have for its object something inanimate. Very often is the accusative of the person accompanied with the genitive of the ground of gratulation, as Aristophanes, 'Ach.,' 972, Ζηλῶσε τῆς εὐβουλίας "I congratulate, admire, you for your cleverness;" see also 'Equit.,' 834; 'Thes moph.,' 175; 'Vesp.,' 1450; but not always; thus Demosthenes, 'Fals. Legat.,' p. 424, "(Θαυμάζουσι καὶ ζηκοῦσι) they admire and congratulate and would each one be himself the like;" 'Adv. Lept.,' p. 500 (respecting public funeral orations), "This is the custom of men admiring (ζηλοὐντων) virtue, not of men looking grudgingly upon those who on its account are being honoured;" Xenophon, 'Mere.,' 2:1,19. "Thinking highly of themselves, and praised and admired (ζηλουμένους) by others;" Josephus, 'C. Ap.,' 1:25, "(ζηλουμένους) admired by many." It thus seems to be often just equivalent to ὀλβίζω or μακαρίζω, with the sense of which latter verb it is brought into close neighbourhood in Aristophanes, 'Nubes,' 1188, "' Blessed (μάκαρ), Strepsiades, are you, both for being so wise yourself and for having such a son as you have,' - thus will my friends and fellow-wardsmen say, in admiration of me (ζηλοῦντες)." Probably this is the sense in which the apostle uses the verb in 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς Θεοῦ ζηκῷ, "I rejoice in your felicity with an infinite joy;" referring to the intense admiration which he felt of their present felicity, in their having been betrothed a chaste maiden to Christ; not till the next verse introducing the mention of his fear lest this paradisaical happiness might be darkened by the wiles of Satan. It is in a modified shade of the same sense that the word is employee - where it is rendered "covet earnestly" in our Authorized Version in 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1, 39. In the passage now. before us, then, ζηκιῦσιν ὑμᾶς probably means "they admire you," that is, they tell you so. They were expressing strong admiration of the high Christian character and eminent gifts of these simple-minded believers; the charisms which had been bestowed upon them (Galatians 3:2); their virtues, in contrast especially with their heathen neighbours; their spiritual enlightenment. No doubt all this was said with the view of courting their favour; but ζηλοῦτε can hardly itself mean "court favour," and no instance of its occurring in this sense has been adduced; and this rendering of the verb breaks down utterly in ver. 18. The persons referred to must, of course, be understood as those who were busy in instilling at once Judaizing sentiments and also feelings of antipathy to the apostle himself, as if he were their enemy (ver. 16). The Epistle furnishes no indication whatever that these persons were strangers coming among them from without, answering, for example, to those spoken of in Galatians 2:12 as disturbing the Antiochian Church. It is quite supposable that the warning which, not long after the writing of this Epistle, the apostle addressed to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20:29, 30), when putting them on their guard against those who "from among their own selves should rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them," was founded in part upon this experience of his in the Galatian Churches. Galatian Churchmen it may well have been, and no other, who now (as the apostle had just been apprised) were employing that χρηστολογία καὶ εὐλογία, that "kind suave speech" and that "speech of compliment and laudation," which in Romans 16:18 he describes as a favourite device of this class of deceivers, to win the ear of their unwary brethren. "In no good way;" for they did it insincerely and with the purpose of drawing them into courses which, though these men themselves knew it not, were nevertheless fraught with ruin to their spiritual welfare. Yea, they would exclude you; or, us (ἀλλὰ ἐκκλεῖσαι ὑμᾶς θέλουσιν); nay, rather, to shut you out is their wish. The reading "us," noticed in the margin of the Authorized Version, is probably a merely conjectural emendation made in the Greek text by Beza, wholly unsupported by manuscript authority. The ἀλλὰ is adversative to the οὐ καλῶς, the secondary thought of the preceding clause, in the same way as the ἀλλὰ in 1 Corinthians 2:7 is adversative to the secondary negative clauses of ver. 6. The verb "shut out," with no determinative qualification annexed, must have it supplied from the unexpressed ground for the "admiration" denoted by the verb ζηλοῦσιν. The high eminence of spiritual condition and happiness on the possession of which these men were congratulating their brethren, they would be certainly excluded from if they listened to them. Compare the phrase, "who are unsettling you," driving you out of house and home, in ch. 5:12, where see note. That ye might affect them (ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε); that ye may admire themselves. The position of αὐτοὺς makes it emphatic. We may paraphrase thus: that, being detached from regard to my teaching, and made to feel a certain grave deficiency on your own part in respect to acceptableness with God, ye may be led to look up as disciples to these kind-hearted sympathetic advisers for instruction and guidance. The construction of ἵνα with ζηλοῦτε, which in ordinary Greek is the present indicative, ζηλῶτε being the form for the present subjunctive, is precisely similar to that of ἵνα μὴ with φυσιοῦσθε in 1 Corinthians 4:6. When it is considered how punctually St. Paul is wont to comply with the syntactical rule with reference to ἵνα, and that these two remarkable deflections therefrom are connected with contract forms of verbs in -όω, Ruckert's suggestion seems to be perfectly reasonable, that the solecism lies, not in the syntactical construction, but in the grammatical in flexion, contracting -όη into -οῦ instead of into-. This form of contraction may have been a provincialism of Tarsus, or it may have been an idiotism of St. Paul himself. Other expedients of explanation which have been proposed are intolerably harsh and improbable. They zealously affect you,.... Or "are jealous of you"; meaning the false apostles, whose names, in contempt, he mentions not, being unworthy to be taken notice of, and their names to be transmitted to posterity. These were jealous of them, not with a godly jealousy, as the apostle was, lest their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity of the Gospel; but they were jealous, lest they should love the apostle more than they, and therefore represented him in a very bad light, and expressed great love and kindness for them themselves:

but not well; their zeal and affection were not hearty, and sincere, and without dissimulation, but were all feigned, were only in word and in tongue, not in deed, and in truth: this zealous affection neither proceeded from right principles, nor with right views; they sought themselves, and their own carnal worldly interest, their own pleasure and profit, and not the good and welfare of the souls of these Galatians:

yea, they would exclude you; that is, either from the apostle, from bearing any love unto, and having any respect for him. What they were wishing and seeking for was to draw off the minds and affections of these persons from him; or they were desirous of removing them from the Gospel of Christ unto another Gospel, and did all they could to hinder them from obeying the truth; and particularly were for shutting them out of their Christian liberty, and bringing them under the bondage of the law; yea, were for separating them from the churches, that they might set up themselves at the head of them. Some copies read "us", instead of "you"; and then the meaning is, that they were desirous of excluding the apostle from their company, and from having any share in their affections, which makes little alteration in the sense: and others, instead of "exclude", read "include"; and which is confirmed by the Syriac version, which renders the word "but they would include you"; that is, either they would include, or imprison you under the law, and the bondage of it; or they would monopolize you, and engross all your love to themselves; and which is also the sense of the Arabic version:

that you might affect them; love them, show respect to them, be on their side, follow their directions, imbibe their doctrines, and give up yourselves wholly to their care, and be at their call and command. 17. They—your flatterers: in contrast to Paul himself, who tells them the truth.

zealously—zeal in proselytism was characteristic especially of the Jews, and so of Judaizers (Ga 1:14; Mt 23:15; Ro 10:2).

affect you—that is, court you (2Co 11:2).

not well—not in a good way, or for a good end. Neither the cause of their zealous courting of you, nor the manner, is what it ought to be.

they would exclude you—"They wish to shut you out" from the kingdom of God (that is, they wish to persuade you that as uncircumcised Gentiles, you are shut out from it), "that ye may zealously court them," that is, become circumcised, as zealous followers of themselves. Alford explains it, that their wish was to shut out the Galatians from the general community, and attract them as a separate clique to their own party. So the English word "exclusive," is used.4:12-18 The apostle desires that they would be of one mind with him respecting the law of Moses, as well as united with him in love. In reproving others, we should take care to convince them that our reproofs are from sincere regard to the honour of God and religion and their welfare. The apostle reminds the Galatians of the difficulty under which he laboured when he first came among them. But he notices, that he was a welcome messenger to them. Yet how very uncertain are the favour and respect of men! Let us labour to be accepted of God. You once thought yourselves happy in receiving the gospel; have you now reason to think otherwise? Christians must not forbear speaking the truth, for fear of offending others. The false teachers who drew the Galatians from the truth of the gospel were designing men. They pretended affection, but they were not sincere and upright. An excellent rule is given. It is good to be zealous always in a good thing; not for a time only, or now and then, but always. Happy would it be for the church of Christ, if this zeal was better maintained.
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Alphabetical: alienate are be but commendably eagerly for from good is may no not out over people seek shut so that them they Those to us want What will win wish you zealous

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