AWAY FROM THE
Judaizing teachers had persuaded the Galatians that Paul had taught them
the new religion imperfectly, and at second hand; that the founder of
their church himself possessed only a deputed commission, the seal of
truth and authority being in the apostles at Jerusalem: moreover, that
whatever he might profess among them, he had himself at other times, and
in other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. To refute
this, he appeals to the history of his conversion, and to the manner of
his conferring with the apostles when he met them at Jerusalem; that so
far was his doctrine from being derived from them, or they from
exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to
what he had already preached among the Gentiles, which preaching was
communicated, not by them to him, but by himself to them
an apologetic Epistle could not be a later forgery, the objections which
it meets only coming out incidentally, not being obtruded as they would
be by a forger; and also being such as could only arise in the earliest
age of the Church, when Jerusalem and Judaism still held a prominent
1. apostle--in the earliest Epistles, the two to the
Thessalonians, through humility, he uses no title of authority; but
associates with him "Silvanus and Timotheus"; yet here, though
are with him, he does not name them but puts his own name and
apostleship prominent: evidently because his apostolic commission needs
now to be vindicated against deniers of it.
of--Greek, "from." Expressing the origin from which his mission
came, "not from men," but from Christ and the Father (understood) as
the source. "By" expresses the immediate operating agent in the call.
Not only was the call from God as its ultimate source, but by Christ and the Father as the immediate agent in calling him
(Ac 22:15; 26:16-18).
The laying on of Ananias' hands
is no objection to this; for that was but a sign of the fact, not an
assisting cause. So the Holy Ghost calls him specially
(Ac 13:2, 3);
he was an apostle before this special mission.
man--singular; to mark the contrast to "Jesus Christ." The opposition
between "Christ" and "man," and His name being put in closest connection
with God the Father, imply His Godhead.
raised him from the dead--implying that, though he had not seen Him in
His humiliation as the other apostles (which was made an objection
against him), he had seen and been
constituted an apostle by Him in His resurrection power
Ro 1:4, 5).
Compare as to the ascension, the consequence of the resurrection, and
the cause of His giving "apostles,"
He rose again, too, for our justification
thus Paul prepares the way for the prominent subject of the Epistle,
justification in Christ, not by the law.
2. all the brethren--I am not alone in my doctrine; all my
colleagues in the Gospel work, travelling with me
Gaius and Aristarchus at Ephesus:
Sopater, Secundus, Timotheus, Tychicus, Trophimus, some, or all of
these), join with me. Not that these were joint authors with
Paul of the Epistle: but joined him in the sentiments and
salutations. The phrase, "all the brethren," accords with a date
when he had many travelling companions, he and they having to bear
jointly the collection to Jerusalem [CONYBEARE and
the churches--Pessinus and Ancyra were the principal cities; but
doubtless there were many other churches in Galatia
He does not attach any honorable title to the churches here, as
elsewhere, being displeased at their Judaizing. See First Corinthians;
First Thessalonians, &c. The first Epistle of Peter is addressed to
Jewish Christians sojourning in Galatia
among other places mentioned. It is interesting thus to find the
apostle of the circumcision, as well as the apostle of the
uncircumcision, once at issue
co-operating to build up the same churches.
3. from . . . from--Omit the second "from." The
Greek joins God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in closet
union, by there being but the one preposition.
4. gave himself--
unto death, as an offering. Found only in this and the Pastoral
Epistles. The Greek is different in
for our sins--which enslaved us to the present evil world.
deliver us from this--Greek, "out of the," &c. The Father
and Son are each said to "deliver us," &c.
but the Son, not the Father, gave Himself for us in order to do
so, and make us citizens of a better world
The Galatians in desiring to return to legal bondage are, he implies,
renouncing the deliverance which Christ wrought for us. This he
more fully repeats in
"Deliver" is the very word used by the Lord as to His deliverance of
an undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke.
world--Greek, "age"; system or course of
the world, regarded from a religious point of view. The present
age opposes the "glory"
of God, and is under the authority of the Evil One. The "ages of ages"
are opposed to "the present evil age."
according to the will of God and our Father--Greek, "of Him who
is at once God [the sovereign Creator] and our Father"
(Joh 6:38, 39; 10:18,
end). Without merit of ours. His sovereignty as
"GOD," and our filial relation to Him as
"OUR FATHER," ought to keep
us from blending our own legal notions (as the Galatians were doing)
with His will and plan. This paves the way for his argument.
5. be glory--rather, as Greek, "be the
glory"; the glory which is peculiarly and exclusively His. Compare
Note, see on
6. Without the usual expressions of thanksgiving for their faith,
&c., he vehemently plunges into his subject, zealous for "the glory" of
which was being disparaged by the Galatians falling away from the pure
Gospel of the "grace" of God.
I marvel--implying that he had hoped better things from them, whence
his sorrowful surprise at their turning out so different from his
so soon--after my last visit; when I hoped and thought you were
untainted by the Judaizing teachers. If this Epistle was written from
Corinth, the interval would be a little more than three years, which
would be "soon" to have fallen away, if they were apparently sound at
the time of his visit.
Ga 4:18, 20
may imply that he saw no symptom of unsoundness then, such as he
hears of in them now. But English Version is probably not
correct there. See see on
If from Ephesus, the interval would be not more than one year.
BIRKS holds the Epistle to have been written from
Corinth after his FIRST visit to Galatia; for this
agrees best with the "so soon" here: with
"It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not
only when I am present with you." If they had persevered in the faith
during three years of his first absence, and only turned aside after
his second visit, they could not be charged justly with adhering to the
truth only when he was present: for his first absence was longer than
both his visits, and they would have obeyed longer in his
"absence" than in his "presence." But if their decline
had begun immediately after he left them, and before his return to
them, the reproof will be just. But see on
removed--Translate, "are being removed," that is, ye are
suffering yourselves so soon (whether from the time of my last
visit, or from the time of the first temptation held out to you)
[PARÆUS] to be removed by Jewish seducers. Thus he softens the
censure by implying that the Galatians were tempted by seducers from
without, with whom the chief guilt lay: and the present, "ye are
being removed," implies that their seduction was only in process of
being effected, not that it was actually effected. WAHL,
others take the Greek as middle voice. "ye are removing" or
"passing over." "Shifting your ground" [CONYBEARE and
HOWSON]. But thus
the point of Paul's oblique reference to their misleaders is lost; and
the Greek is used passively, justifying its being taken so here.
On the impulsiveness and fickleness of the Gauls (another form of
Kel-t-s, the progenitors of the Erse, Gauls, Cymri, and Belgians),
whence the Galatians sprang, see
and CÆSAR [Commentaries on the Gallic
from him that called you--God the Father
1Th 2:12; 5:24).
into--rather, as Greek, "IN the
grace of Christ," as the element in which, and the instrument
by which, God calls us to salvation. Compare Note, see on
"the gift by (Greek, 'in') grace (Greek, 'the
grace') of (the) one man." "The grace of Christ," is Christ's
gratuitously purchased and bestowed justification, reconciliation, and
another--rather, as Greek, "a second and different gospel,"
that is, into a so-called gospel, different altogether from the only
7. another--A distinct Greek word from that in
Though I called it a gospel
it is not really so. There is really but one Gospel, and no
but--Translate, "Only that there are some that trouble you," &c.
(Ga 5:10, 12).
All I meant by the "different gospel" was nothing but a perversion by
"some" of the one Gospel of Christ.
would pervert--Greek, "wish to pervert"; they could not really
pervert the Gospel, though they could pervert Gospel professors (compare
Ga 4:9, 17, 21; 6:12, 13;
Though acknowledging Christ, they insisted on circumcision and Jewish
ordinances and professed to rest on the authority of other apostles,
namely, Peter and James. But Paul recognizes no gospel, save the pure
8. But--however weighty they may seem "who trouble you." Translate
as Greek, "Even though we," namely, I and the brethren with me,
weighty and many as we are
(Ga 1:1, 2).
The Greek implies a case supposed which never has occurred.
angel--in which light ye at first received me (compare
and whose authority is the highest possible next to that of God and
Christ. A new revelation, even though seemingly accredited by miracles,
is not to be received if it contradict the already existing revelation.
For God cannot contradict Himself
The Judaizing teachers sheltered themselves under the names of the
great apostles, James, John, and Peter: "Do not bring these names up to
me, for even if an angel," &c. Not that he means, the apostles
really supported the Judaizers: but he wishes to show, when the truth
is in question, respect of persons is inadmissible [CHRYSOSTOM].
preach--that is, "should preach."
any other gospel . . . than--The Greek expresses not so much "any
other gospel different from what we have preached," as, "any gospel
BESIDE that which we preached." This distinctly opposes the traditions
of the Church of Rome, which are at once besides and against (the Greek includes both ideas) the written Word, our only "attested
9. said before--when we were visiting you (so "before" means,
Ga 5:2, 3, 21.
Translate, "If any man preacheth unto you any gospel
BESIDE that which," &c. Observe the indicative,
not the subjunctive or conditional mood, is used, "preacheth,"
literally, "furnisheth you with any gospel." The fact is
assumed, not merely supposed as a contingency, as in
"preach," or "should preach." This implies that he had already observed
(namely, during his last visit) the machinations of the Judaizing
teachers: but his surprise
now at the Galatians being misled by them, implies that they had
not apparently been so then. As in
he had said, "which we preached," so here, with an augmentation of the
force, "which ye received"; acknowledging that they had truly
accursed--The opposite appears in
10. For--accounting for the strong language he has just used.
do I now--resuming the "now" of
"Am I now persuading men?" [ALFORD], that