The introductory greeting. The style of this greeting, compared with those found in St. Paul's other Epistles, gives indications of his having addressed himself to the composition of the letter under strong perturbation of feeling. This transpires in the abruptness with which, at the very outset, he at once sweeps aside, as it were, out of his path, a slur east upon his apostolic commission, in protesting that he was "apostle, not from man nor through a man." It appears again in that impetuous negligence of exact precision of language, with which the mention of "God the Father" is conjoined with that of "Jesus Christ" under the one preposition "through," as the medium through which his apostleship had been conferred upon him. We cannot help receiving the impression that the apostle had only just before received that intelligence from Galatia which called forth from him the letter, and that he set himself to its composition while the strong emotions which the tidings had produced were still fresh in his mind. That these emotions were those of indignant grief and displeasure is likewise evident. He will not, indeed, withhold the salutation which in all Christian and ministerial courtesy was due from him in addressing what, notwithstanding all, were still Churches of Christ. But all such expressions of affectionate feeling he does withhold, and all such sympathetic reference to matters and individuals of personal interest, as in almost every other Epistle he is seen indulging himself in, and which are not even then found wanting, when, as in the ease of the Corinthians, he has occasion to administer much and strong rebuke. No such sympathetic reference, we observe, is found here. As soon as he has penned the salutation, itself singularly cold in respect to those he is addressing, he at once proceeds, in Galatians 1:6, to assail his readers with words of indignant reproach.
Paul, an apostle (Παῦλος ἀπόστολος); Paul, apostle. The designation of "apostle," as here appropriated by St. Paul in explanation of his right to authoritatively address those he was writing to, points to a function with which he was permanently invested, and which placed him in a relation to these Galatian Churches which no other apostle ever occupied. Some years later, indeed, when St. Peter had occasion to address these same Churches, together with others in neighbouring countries, he likewise felt himself authorized to do it on the score of his apostolical character ("Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ," 1 Peter 1:1); but there is nothing to show that St. Peter had any personal relations with them at present. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps best in translation to prefix no article at all before "apostle." This designation of himself as "apostle' St. Paul subjoined to his name in almost all of his Epistles subsequent to the two addressed to the Thessalonians. The only exceptions are those to the Philippians and to Philemon, in writing to whom there was less occasion for introducing it. He had now, in the third of his three great journeys recorded in the Acts, assumed openly in the Church the position of an apostle in the highest sense. In several of these Epistles 1Co 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1), to the designation of apostle, St. Paul adds the words," through (διὰ) the will of God;" i.e. by means of an express volition of God explicitly revealed. In what way God had revealed this to be his will is clearly intimated in this letter to the Galatians, in which the words," through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead," which take the place of the formula, "through the will of God," found elsewhere, indicate that it was through Jesus Christ raised from the dead that this particular volition of God was declared and brought to eft;set. The formula referred to, "through the will of God," was apparently introduced with the view of confronting those who were disposed to question his right to claim this supreme form of apostleship, with the aegis of Divine authorization: they had God to reckon with. The like is the purport of the substituted words in 1 Timothy 1:1, "According to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our Hope." Not of men, neither by man (οὐκ ἀπ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου); not from men, neither through a man. The preposition "from" (ἀπὸ) points to the primary fountain of the delegation referred to; "through" (διὰ) to the medium through which it was conveyed. The necessity for this twofold negation arose from the fact that the word "apostle," as I have had occasion fully to set forth elsewhere, was frequently among Christians applied to messengers deputed by Churches, or, probably, even by some important representative officer in the Church, whether on a mission for the propagation of the gospel or for the discharge at some distant place of matters of business connected with the Christian cause. St. Paul had himself frequently served in this lower form of apostleship, both as commissioned by the Church to carry abroad the message of the gospel, and also as deputed to go to and fro between Churches on errands of charity or for the settlement of controversies. In either ease he as well as others acting in the like capacity, would very naturally and properly be spoken of as an "apostle" by others, as we actually find him to have been; as also he would appear to have been ready on this same account so to designate himself,£ That he was an "apostle" in this sense none probably would have been minded to dispute. Why should they? His having, even repeatedly, held this kind of subordinate commission did not of itself give him a greater importance than attached to many ethers who had held the same. Neither did it invest his statements of religious truth with a higher sanction than theirs. This last was the point which, in St. Paul's own estimation, gave the question of the real nature of his apostleship its whole significance. Was he a commissioned envoy of men, deputed to convey to others a message of theirs? or was he an envoy commissioned immediately by Christ to convey to the world a message which likewise was received immediately from Christ? Those who disputed his statements of religious doctrine might admit that he had been deputed to preach the gospel by Christian Churches or by eminently representative leaders of the Church, while they nevertheless asserted that he had misrepresented, or perhaps misapprehended, the message entrusted to him. At all events, they would be at liberty to affirm that the statements he made in delivering his message were subject to an appeal on the part of his hearers to the human authorities who had delegated him. If he owed alike his commission and his message to (say) the Church of Antioch, or to the Church at Jerusalem, or to the twelve, or to James the Lord's brother, or to other leaders whomsoever of the venerable mother Church, then it followed that he was to be held amenable to their overruling judgment in the discharge of this apostleship of his. What he taught had no force if this higher court of appeal withheld its sanction. Now, this touched no mere problematical contingency, but was a practical issue which, just at this time, was one of even vital importance. It had an intimate connection with the fierce antagonism of contending parties in the Church, then waged over the dying body of the Levitical Law. St. Paul's mission as an apostle is most reasonably considered to (late from the time when, as he stated in his defence before King Agrippa (Acts 26:16, Acts 26:17), the Lord Jesus said to him, "To this end have I appeared unto time, to appoint thee a minister and a witness [ὑπηρέτην καὶ μάρτυρα: comp. αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται, Luke 1:2 and Acts 1:2, Acts 1:3, Acts 1:8, Acts 1:22] both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people [λαοῦ, so. Israel], and from the Gentiles, unto whom I myself send thee [εἰς οὕς ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω σε: thus L. T. Tr. Rev.; the Textus Receptus reads εἰς οὓς νῦν σε ἀποστέλλω]" (comp. Acts 22:14,Acts 22:15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). But though his appointment was in reality coeval with his conversion, it was only in course of time and by slow degrees that his properly apostolic function became signalized to the consciousness of the Church. Nevertheless, there is no reason for doubting that to his own consciousness his vocation as apostle was clearly manifested from the very first. The prompt and independent manner in which he at once set himself to preach the gospel, which itself, he tells the Galatians in this chapter, he had received immediately from heaven, betokens his having this consciousness. The time and the manner in which the fact was to become manifest to others he would seem, in a spirit of compliant obedience, to have left to the ordering of his Master. But by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead (ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν); but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. The conjunction "neither" (οὐδὲ), which comes before δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου, marks the clause it introduces as containing a distinctly different negation from the preceding, and shows that the preposition "through" is used in contradistinction to the "from" (ἀπὸ) of the foregoing clause in its proper sense of denoting the instrument or medium through which an act is done. St. Paul affirms that there was no human instrumentality or intermediation whatever at work in the act of delegation which constituted him an apostle. This affirmation places him in this respect precisely on a level with the twelve; perhaps in making it he has an eye 1o this. The notion has been frequently broached that the apostleship which St. Paul made claim to was conveyed to him at Antioch through the brethren who there, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, formally set him apart, together with Barnabas, for the missionary enterprise which they forthwith entered upon (Acts 13:1-44). But words could scarcely have been selected which should more decisively negative any such notion than those do which St. Paul here makes use of. One form of apostleship was no doubt then conferred upon Barnabas and Paul; but it was not the apostleship of which he is now thinking. In defining the precise import and bearing of the expression, δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου, "through a man," we may compare it with its use in 1 Corinthians 15:21, "Since δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου came death, δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου came also the resurrection of the dead;" where in the second clause the word "man," employed to recite the Lord Jesus, contemplates that aspect of his twofold being which places him as "the second Man" (1 Corinthians 15:47) in correlation to Adam, "the first Man." Similarly, the parallel with Adam again in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:15 leads the apostle to adopt the expression," the one Man Jesus Christ" (cf. also ibid. 19). In 1 Timothy 2:5, "There is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, himself Man [or, 'a man'], Christ Jesus," our Lord's manhood, in accordance with the requirement of the context, is put forward as a bond of connection linking him with every human creature alike. These passages present Christ in the character simply of a human being. But in the passage before us the apostle at first sight appears to imply that, because he was an apostle through the agency of Jesus Christ, he was not an apostle through the agency of a human being; thus negativing, apparently, the manhood of Christ, at least as viewed in his present glorified condition. The inference, however, is plainly contradicted by both 1 Corinthians 15:21 and 1 Timothy 2:5; for the former passage points in "the second Man" to the "Lord from heaven," while the other refers to him as permanent "Mediator between God and men," both, therefore, speaking of Jesus in his present glorified condition. To obviate this difficulty some have proposed to take the "but" (ἀλλά), not as adversative, but as exceptive. But there is no justification for this—not even Mark 9:8 (see Winer's 'Gram. N. T.,' 53, 10, 1 b). A less precarious solution is arrived at by gathering out of the context the precise shade of meaning in which the word "man" is here used. Christ is indeed "Man," and his true manhood is the sense required in the two passages above cited; but he is also more than man; and it is those qualities of his being and of his state of existence which distinguish him from mere men, which the context shows to be now present to the apostle's mind. For the phrase, "through a man," is not contrasted by the words, "through Jesus Christ," alone, but by the whole clause: "through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead." That is to say, in penning the former phrase, the apostle indicates by the word "man" one invested with the ordinary qualities of an earthly human condition; whereas the "Jesus Christ" through whom Heaven sent forth Saul as an apostle to the Gentiles was Jesus Christ blended with, inconceivably near to, God the Father, one with him; his oneness with him not veiled, as it was when he was upon earth, though really subsisting even then (John 10:30), but to all the universe manifested—manifested visibly to us upon earth by the resurrection of his body; in the spiritual, as yet now to us invisible world, by that sitting down on the right hand of God which was the implied sequel and climax of his resurrection. The strong sense which the apostle has of the unspeakably intimate conjunction subsisting. since his resurrection, between Jesus Christ viewed in his whole incarnate being and. God the Father, explains how it comes to pass that the two august Names are combined together under one single preposition, "through Jesus Christ, and God the Father." We shall have to notice the same phenomenon in Mark 9:3 in the apostle's formula of greeting prayer, "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;" on which see the note. We have the same conception of Christ's personality consequent upon his resurrection in the apostle's words relative to his apostolic appointment in Romans 1:4, Romans 1:5; where the Jesus Christ through whom "he had received grace and apostleship," in contrast with his merely human condition as "of the seed of David according to the flesh," is described as "him who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead." The clause, "who raised him from the dead," has a twofold bearing upon the point in hand. 1. It supplies an answer to the objection which may be believed to have been made to Paul's claim to be regarded as an apostle sent forth by Jesus Christ, by those who said, "You have never seen Christ or been taught by him, like those whom he himself named apostles." The answer is, "You might object so if Jesus were no more than a dead man; but he is not that: he is a living Man raised from the dead by the Father; and as such I have myself seen him (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1); and he it was that in his own person, and through no intervention of human agency, gave me both the commission to preach and the gospel which I was to preach" (see below, Romans 1:11, Romans 1:12). 2. It connects the action of God the Father with that of Jesus Christ in appointing Paul to be an apostle; for the things which Christ did when raised from the dead and glorified with himself (John 17:5) by the Father must obviously have been done from, with, and in God the Father. It would unduly narrow the pragmatism of the clause if we limited it to either of the two purposes above indicated; both were probably in the mind of St. Paul in adding it. The immediate context gives no warrant for our supposing, as many have done, that the apostle has just here other truths in view as involved in the fact of our Lord's resurrection; such e.g. as he has himself indicated in Romans 4:24, Romans 4:25; Romans 6:1-45.; Colossians 3:1. However cogent and closely relevant some of these inferences might have been with respect to the subjects treated of in this Epistle, the Epistle itself, as a matter of fact, makes no other reference whatever to that great event, whether directly or indirectly. Should δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου be rendered "through man," the noun understood generically, as e.g. Psalms 56:1, or "through a man," pointing to one individual being? It is not very material; but perhaps the second rendering is recommended by the consideration that, if the apostle had meant still to write generically, he would have repeated the plural noun already employed. Indeed, it may be thought a preferable rendering in the other passages above cited. The transition from the plural noun to the singular, as is noted by Bishop Lightfoot and others, "suggested itself in anticipation of the clause, 'through Jesus Christ,' which was to follow." In the expression, "God the Father," the addition of the words, "the Father," was not necessary for the indication of the Person meant, any more than in 1 Peter 1:21, "Believers in God which raised him from the dead," or in numberless other passages where the term "God" regularly designates the First Person in the blessed Trinity. It would be an incomplete paraphrase to explain it either as "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," or as "God our Father." It is rather, "God the primary Author and supreme Orderer of all things," or, as in the Creed, "God the Father Almighty." It is best illustrated by the apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 8:6, "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom [i.e. out of whom, ἐξ οὗ] are all things, and we unto him; "and in Romans 11:36," Of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things." The apostle adds the term in order to make the designation of the supreme God, who is the Source of his apostleship, the more august and impressive.
and all the brethren which are with me (καὶ οἱ αὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοί); and the brethren which are with me, one and all. The ordinary unaccentuated collocation of πάντες would be, πάντες οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ ἀδελφοί. Its position here, where, perhaps, it was thrust in by a kind of after-thought, marks it as emphatic; there is not one of those about him who does not feel the like grief and indignation as himself in reference to the news just now received. We have a similar collocation in Romans 16:15. Πάντες would be marked as emphatic also if placed last, as in 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Titus 3:15. Our attention is arrested by the absence of any name. A number of persons are named by St. Luke in the Acts (Acts 18:18-44), and by the apostle himself in his Epistles to the Corinthians and to the Romans, as about his person at different times during the latter part of his third journey; and it does not seem very likely that not one was now with him of those who had accompanied him, either in the first or in the second of his two visits in Galatia. The most probable way of explaining the entire suppression of names is by reference to the present mood of the writer; he is too indignant at the behaviour of the Galatian Churchmen to weave into his greeting any such thread of mutual personal interest. It is enough to intimate that all about him felt as he did. Unto the Churches of Galatia (ταῖς ἐκκλησίας τῆς Γαλατίας). The dry coldness of tone with which this is written will be best understood by the reader upon his comparing the apostle's manner in his other letters, in all of which he is found adding some words marking the high dignity which attached to the communities he is addressing. He is too much displeased to do this now. The plurality of the Galatian Churches, each of them apparently forming a distinct organization, is expressed again in 1 Corinthians 16:1, "As I gave order to the Churches of Galatia;" and agrees very well with what we read in Acts 18:23, "Went through tile region of Galatia and Phrygia in order (καθεξῆς), stablishing all the disciples." The leaven of Judaizing, whether imported by visitants from other regions or originating within these Churches themselves, appears to have been working very extensively among these communities, and not in one or two of them only. If the latter had been the case, the apostle would not have involved the collective Churches in the like censure, but, as in the case of Colossae, compared with the "Ephesians," have singled out for warning those actually peccant. This fact, of the general diffusion among them of one particular taint, warrants the belief that certain persons had been at the pains of going about among these Churches to propagate it. Who these persons were, or where they came from, there is nothing to show. It has, indeed, been assumed by many that, like those disturbers of the Antiochian Church mentioned in Acts 15:1 and Galatians 2:12, they had come from Judaea, or rather Jerusalem. But the Epistle gives no hint of this in respect to the Galatian Churches. What the apostle writes in Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:13 points rather to the surmise that this particular distraction was caused by some Churchmen of their own, who had given themselves to this heretical proselytizing in order to truckle to non-Christian Jews living in their neighbourhood. Compare tile apostle's foreboding respecting the future of the Ephesian Church, in Acts 20:30. (See note on Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:13.)
Grace be to you and peace (χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη); grace to you and peace. Here, as often, we have combined the form of salutation prevalent among Greeks, χαίρειν (found in its unaltered form in James 1:1, "wishing joy"), Christianized into χάρις, grace, which denotes the outpouring of Divine benignity in all such spiritual blessings as sinful creatures need; and the Hebrew greeting, shalom, which in its transformation into εἰρήνη may be supposed to have dropped in its Christianized signification some of its originally comprehensive meaning, which comprised all "health and wealth" as well as "peace," and to have generally expressed the more limited idea of that calm sense of reconciliation and that perfect security against evil which constitute the peculiar happiness of a soul which believes in Christ. It is nevertheless conceivable that εἰρήνη, as used in Hellenistic Greek, may at times have widened the sense proper to it in ordinary Greek into the more comprehensive import of the shalom, which it was regularly employed to represent. From God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ (ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρός καὶ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). These words regularly form a part in the apostle's formula of greeting. With slight variations they are found in all his Epistles, except, perhaps, the First to the Thessalonians, where, though read in the Textus Receptus, they are omitted by recent editors. "Our" is added to "Father" in at least seven of St. Paul's Epistles (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon). This warrants the belief that, when as in 1 Timothy, Titus, and here, he wrote "God the Father," he most probably did so with reference to God's fatherly relation to the members of Christ's Church. Tregelles and the margin of the revised Greek text, in fact, read ἡμῶν after πατρὸς here, omitting it after Κυρίου. Uniformly in this formula of greeting we find only one preposition, "from" (ἀπό), before the two names, "God" and "Jesus Christ;" as in the first verse in this Epistle there is only one preposition, "through," before "Jesus Christ" and "God." The apostle, looking upwards, discerns, as St. Stephen did, in the ineffable glory, the supreme God in whom he recognizes "our Father," and with him Jesus Christ, "our Lord;" that is, our Master, Head, Mediator, "through whom are all things, and we through him." Grace and peace coming down from heaven, must come from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. From the very nature of the case it is obvious that the blessings referred to come to us through Christ, though also "from" him; as also that St. Paul's delegation as apostle, spoken of in the first verse, originated from a volition and appointment of God the Father, as well as was brought about "through" the ordering of his providence. But in each case the preposition used by the apostle preserves its proper force, not to be confused by our thrusting into it another notion not just then in the writer's view.
Who gave himself (τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτόν). This is the strongest imaginable description of what Christ did to redeem us. The phrase occurs in 1 Macc. 6:44, with reference to the Eleazar who rushed upon certain death to kill the elephant which was carrying the king, Antiochus: "He gave himself (ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν) to save his people." It is applied to Christ also in Titus 2:14," Who gave himself for us;" and 1 Timothy 2:6, "Who gave himself a ransom for all." In the next chapter, verse 20, the apostle writes, "Who loved me, and gave himself up (πυραδόντος ἑαυτὸν) for me." Similarly, St. Paul writes in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not [i.e. 'kept not back'] his own Son, but gave him up (παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν) for us all." The addition, in Matthew 26:45, of the words, "into the hands of sinners," and our Lord's utterance in Luke 22:53, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," help to illustrate the exceedingly pregnant expression now before us. For our sins (ὑπέρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν). This is the reading of the Textus Receptus, retained by the Revisers. On the other hand, L. T. Tr., for ὑπέρ, substitute περί. These two prepositions ὑπὲρ and περὶ are, in this relation as well as in some others, used indifferently. If we follow the reading of Rec. L. T. Tr. Rev. (for very often the manuscripts oscillate between the two), we have ὑπὲρ in 1 Corinthians 15:3, "Died for our sins;" Hebrews 7:27, "To offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people;" Hebrews 9:7, "Blood, which he offereth for himself, and for the ignorances of the people." On the other hand, we find in the same authorities περὶ in Romans 8:3, "Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin;" Hebrews 5:3, "As for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins" (where, however, the Receptus has ὑπὲρ in the last clause, ("for sins"); Hebrews 10:6, "Whole burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin;" Hebrews 10:18, "No more offering for sin;" 1Jn 2:2, 1 John 2:10, "Propitiation for our sins;" 1 Peter 3:16, "Died [or, 'suffered'] for (περὶ) sins, the righteous for (ὑπὲρ) the unrighteous." The last passage (1 Peter 3:18) suggests the remark that ὑπὲρ is the more appropriate word before persons, and περὶ before "sins." We find, however, that, in the Septuagint, in the Pentateuch περὶ is used also before persons as it is in Hebrews 5:3; thus: Leviticus 5:18, "The priest shall make atonement for περὶ him concerning (περὶ) his ignorance;" in both cases rendering the Hebrew 'al. So Leviticus 4:20, Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35; Numbers 8:12. On the other hand, in Exodus 32:30 we have "I will go up unto the Lord, that I may make atonement for (περί, b'ad) your sin." The truth seems to be that ὑπέρ, which is more properly "on behalf of" often denotes "for," equivalent to "on account of;" as e.g. Psalms 39:11, Septuagint, "rebukes for sin;" Ephesians 5:20, "Giving thanks always for all things;" Romans 15:9, "Glorify God for his mercy." And this sense passes into "concerning," "with reference to;" as 2 Corinthians 1:8, "I would not have you ignorant concerning our affliction;" 2 Corinthians 8:23, "Whether any inquire about Titus." On the other hand, περί, which more properly denotes "concerning," "with reference to," passes into the sense of "on account of;" as Luke 19:37, "Praise God for all the mighty works;" John 10:33, "For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy;" 1 Corinthians 1:4, "I thank my God... concerning you;" 1 Thessalonians 1:2, "We give thanks to God for you all;" Romans 1:8, "I thank my God for [Receptus, ὑπὲρ] you all." The use of περὶ in the verse before us, and in the similar passages above cited, no doubt followed its use in the phrase περὶ ἁμαρτίας, which in the LXX. so commonly describes the "sin offering" of the Levitical institute. This phrase sometimes represents what in the Hebrew text is the simple noun (chattath) "sin," put for "sin offering;" as e.g. Leviticus 7:37, "This is the law ofthe burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering (chattath)," etc. (οὗτος ὁ νόμος τῶν ὁλοκαυτωμάτων καὶ θυσίας καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας, etc.). Sometimes it represents the same Hebrew noun preceded by the preposition 'al, for: "For the sin of such or such a one (περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ δεῖνα);" as e.g. Le 5:35, where the LXX. has, "The priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he hath sinned (ἐξιλάσεται περι αὐτοῦ ὁ ἱερεὺς περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἢν ἥμαρτε)." The precise force of περὶ in this phrase was probably "on account of sin," or "having reference to sin;" senses of περὶ which, as has been seen, are borne by ὑπὲρ as well. This view of the force of these two prepositions, as employed in this relation, seems to the present writer more satisfactory than that which refers it to the notion of protection, "on behalf of" or "for the good of" some one; though it must unquestionably be allowed that this is a notion which they both of them frequently convey. To this latter notion, indeed, we must in all probability refer the use of ὑπὲρ in Galatians 2:20, "Gave himself up for me," as well as in 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 3:6, for the unrighteous;" Luke 22:19, Luke 22:20, "Given for you," "Poured out for you," and the like; and also that of περὶ in Matthew 26:28, "Shed for many;" John 17:9, "I pray for them;" Colossians 4:3, "Praying for us." The result of this inquiry into the usus loquendi with reference to these prepositions appears to be this: in what manner the death of Christ affected our condition in those respects in which that condition was antecedently qualified by our sins, neither ὑπὲρ nor περὶ as prefixed to the noun "sins" enables us precisely to determine, further than as it recalls for illustration the "sin offering" of the Law. For the more complete development of the idea intended to be conveyed, we must look to other references made in Scripture to the subject, such as e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Gal 3:13; 1 Peter 1:19. Thus much, however, we may confidently assume: both ὑπὲρ and περὶ as so applied do alike warrant us in concluding, not only that it was because of our sins that Christ behoved to die, but also that his death is efficacious for the complete removal of those evils which accrue to us from our sins. That he might deliver us from this present evil world (ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ. Such is the reading of L. T. Tr. Rev.; while the Textus Receptus has ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ); that he might deliver us out of the present world, evil that it is. The verb ἐξαιρέομαι, originally "take out," renders the Hebrew hitztzil in 1 Samuel 4:8 and Jeremiah 1:8 in the sense of "deliver;" it points to "the present state" as one of helpless misery or danger. Compare the use of the verb, Acts 7:10, Acts 7:34; Acts 12:11; it is equivalent to ῥύεσθαι, as found in Colossians 1:13 and Luke 1:74. The participle "present" or "subsisting," ἐνεστώς, is found in explicit contrast with the participle "to come," μέλλων, Romans 8:38," Nor things present nor things to come;" and 1 Corinthians 3:22. We are, therefore, naturally led to suppose that the apostle means to contrast the "world" here referred to with a "world to come;" which latter is mentioned in Hebrews 6:5, and seems synonymous with the "world [literally, 'inhabited earth'] to come," οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα, of Hebrews 2:5. Compare our Lord's words in Matthew 12:32, "Neither in this world nor in that which is to come," and his contrast of "this world" with "that world" in Luke 20:34, Luke 20:35. The Greek word here employed, aion, like kosmos, is used with varying shades of meaning. The two nouns, used interchangeably in 1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 3:19 are, however, not altogether equivalent. The former originally denotes a mode of time; the latter, a mode of space. In particular, aion is never used in the Greek Testament to denote "mankind," as kosmos not unfrequently is by all its writers. In the Syriac Version, 'olmo represents both aion and kosmos in all their senses, with a slight variation in its form to represent aion in Ephesians 2:2, "The course (aida) of this world (kosmos)," as if it were "The worldliness of this world." Probably the same word 'olmo, in the Chaldean-Hebrew language current amongst the Palestinian Jews, was the term employed by them in all those connections in which either aion or kosmos would have been used by them if speaking in Hellenistic Greek; for it is to the Hellenistic dialect of the Greek language that both words as so employed belong. We never find aion at all in any of St. John's writings, except in the phrases, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα or εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, denoting "for ever." In other significations, when other writers of the New Testament might have used aion, St. John always puts kosmos. The word aion, denoting a cycle of time, is used also to signify a material world, as Hebrews 1:2; and, in particular, the state of things found existing in that cycle of time; and this as viewed in various aspects. In Luke 20:34, Luke 20:35 "this aida" contrasts the present state, as one of mortality and successive reproduction, with "that aion," viewed as one of immortality, in which processes of reproduction are found no more. But in Luke 16:8 "the children of this aion" are those who live after the world-loving, sinful fashion which characterizes mankind in general in contrast with "the children of light," who have been enlightened to recognize their relation to a spiritual world. In St. Paul, "the present αἰὼν" denotes the entire moral and spiritual state of mankind viewed in the aspect in which he contemplated it—a state wrapped in spiritual "darkness," pervaded by ungodliness and general immorality, and dominated by Satan; as Bengel puts it, "tota oeconomia peceati sub potestate Satanae" (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4); a state from which Christians ought to study to get wholly weaned in all their moral and spiritual habits (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-49). In St. John, the phrases, "the world (kosmos)," or "this world" are frequently employed to express the same idea; as e.g. John 12:31; Joh 16:11; 1 John 2:15, 1 John 2:16.; 1 John 5:19. Out of this "power, empire, of darkness," in which by nature apart from Christ's grace all men are hopelessly enthralled; out of the grasp, inextricable by any efforts of their own, with which Satan holds them,—the apostle recognizes Christ as alone able to "rescue" us; and even him only able to "rescue" us by virtue of his atoning sacrifice of himself Thus, in an eminently just application of the verb, he is said to "redeem" (λυτροῦσθαι) them from all iniquity, which expression includes, not only the idea of his paying down a ransom for their emancipation, but also the thought that, by the power of his grace, he makes the ransom effectual for the actual moral and spiritual deliverance, one by one, of those who believe in him: "he purifies them a people of his very own, devoted to good works" (Titus 2:14). The position in the Greek of the epithet "evil," standing in a peculiar manner without the article after "this present world" (τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ), is discussed both by Bishop Ellicott and by Bishop) Lightfoot in their respective Commentaries on the Epistle; the latter of whom takes it as equivalent to "with all its evils." It seems to the present writer that the syntax of the clause groups it with Ephesians 2:11," That which is called circumcision, in the flesh, made [or, 'done'] with hands (τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιητοῦ), where ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιητοῦ has no article, because it is a logical adjunct: the circumcision "which is made in the flesh with hands," is of course no real circumcision (cf. Romans 2:1-45. fin.), and therefore is only one so "called." So in the present passage the epithet "evil" is a logical adjunct: the state of the world being an "evil state," craved Christ's redemption, and this fact should make that redemption welcome to us. Similarly, in 1 Peter 1:18 the epithet" handed from your fathers (πατροπαραδοτοῦ)," added after "your vain manner of life," is a logical adjunct: the fact that it was ancient and traditional gave it so strong a hold upon them as to crave the intervention of a no ordinary ransom to redeem them from it. With the turn of thought, which according to this view is indicated by the epithet πονηροῦ having been added to the noun without the article, agrees likewise the emphatic position of the verb ἐξέληται at the Lead of the sentence. Christ gave his own very self for this end, that he might deliver us out of this wretched state of things to which we belonged. But the reactionary movement now showing itself among the Galatians would inevitably, the apostle feels (see Galatians 5:4), have the effect of making void this redeeming work of Christ, and of involving them afresh in their original misery. If we adhere to the reading in the Textus Receptus, τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ, we had best, perhaps, accept Winer's proposal ('Gram. N. T.,' § 20, 1 a), and explain the absence of the article by supposing αἰὼν πονηριὸς as forming one notion, as in the case of βρῶμα πνευματικὸν and πόμα πν. in the Textus Receptus of 1 Corinthians 10:3. But this reading, though grammatically it runs more smoothly than the other, is on that very account the less likely to have been the original one, and seems greatly to blunt the significance of the adjective. May we not detect in this epithet "evil" the sound of a sigh, drawn from the apostle's heart by this flesh worry and disappointment now cropping up for him and for all who cared for the success of the gospel? His feeling seems to be—Oh the weary evilness of this present state! When will it be brought to an end by the appearing of that blissful hope?. According to the will of God and our Father (κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν); according to the will of our God and Father. It is, perhaps, of no great consequence whether we understand this clause as pointing to the whole preceding sentence, "Who gave himself … world," or to the last clause of it, "That he might deliver … world." But the former is the more probable construction:
(1) there is no reason for restricting it to the last words;
(2) it is in perfect accordance with the apostle's usual reference of Christ's coming into the world and dying for us to the Father's appointment, that he should here too be understood as referring to this work of delivering grace also.
The feeling apparently underlies these words of the apostle, that the Judaizing which he has now before his eyes was both setting itself in opposition to the supreme ordering of "our God"—and his sovereign "will" who of us shall dare to contravene?—and also thwarting the operation of his fatherly loving-kindness. For the lack of filial confidence in God's love to us, and the slavish ceremonialism which characterized Judaical legalism, were both of them adjuncts of the unspiritual mind still in bondage to "the flesh" (cf. Romans 7:1-45. and 8.), and therefore part and parcel of "this present world." Comp. Galatians 3:3; Galatians 4:3, Galatians 4:8-48; and Colossians 2:20," Why, as living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, Handle not," etc.? As Professor Jowett observes, in this case as well as in the Epistle to the Romans, "The salutation is the proem of the whole Epistle." The expression, "our God and Father," is pathetic; it is an outcome of the deep complacency with which the apostle cherishes the assurance of God's fatherly love given us in the gospel—a sentiment of complacency stimulated into increased fervency by antagonism to the spiritual mischief confronting him. Of our God and Father. So Revised Version. This rendering appears decidedly preferable to that given by the Authorized Version, "of God and our Father," though grammatically this latter is confessedly not inadmissible. The like remark applies to all the other passages in the New Testament in which Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ is found followed by a genitive; namely, by πάντων (Ephesians 4:6); by ἡμῶν as in the passage before us (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1Th 3:11, 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Philippians 4:20); by τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Romans 15:6; Ephesians 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3); by τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ (2 Corinthians 11:31 [L. T. Tr. Rev.; Receptus has τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ]; and by αὐτοῦ (Revelation 1:6).
To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (ὧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων Ἀμήν). This doxology is not introduced as merely a reverential closing up of the greeting, before the writer hastens on to the subsequent words of rebuke. It is rather an indignant tender of homage to the Most High, flashing forth from a loyal, filial heart; confronting and seeking, so far as it thus may, to redress the wrong done to "our God and Father" by the Judaizing spirit uprearing itself among the Galatians. It is similar in tone to the indignant doxology in Romans 1:25. This view of its origin explains the fact that, as connected with a greeting, such doxology is found only in this of all St. Paul's Epistles. The indignation which pervades the tone of the whole passage favours the suppletion of ἔστω rather than of ἐστίν. Perhaps, indeed ἔστω is in general the more natural suppletion. In 1 Peter 4:11, where ἐστὶν is added by the writer, we have not so much a direct ascription of praise as an affirmation that to God belongs or is due the glory of our performing our several duties with reference to this end. In like manner in the (most probably interpolated) doxology at the close of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:13, "For thine is the kingdom," etc., the ascription of praise is not so much expressed as implied. Viewed in themselves, the words simply state the truth which constitutes the ground for our addressing to "our Father" our praises and our petitions. The article is most commonly prefixed to δόξα in such ascriptions of praise, whether δόξα stands alone, as Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:21; Php 4:20; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; 2 Peter 3:18; or in conjunction with other nouns, as 1 Peter 4:11; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 7:12. It is wanting in Luke 2:14; Luk 19:38; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25. When the article is added it marks the noun as expressing its notion viewed absolutely, in its entirety or universality: q.d. "Whatever glory is to be ascribed anywhere, be it ascribed to him." Thus ἡ δόξα is equivalent to "all glory." For ever and ever; literally, into the aions of the aions; apparently a form of expression adopted to denote intensification ,or superlativeness, like "holy of holies" (cf. Winer, 'Gram. N. T.,' § 36, 2). It is used where especial intensity is wished to be added to the notion of long undetermined duration; as Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 22:5, etc. The same notion is expressed, only with not the same passionate earnestness, by the phrase, "into the aions," in Luke 1:33; Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36, etc.; and by "into the aion," in Matthew 21:19; John 6:51, John 6:58, etc. Possibly there is a reference of contrast to" this present aion of John 6:4. This, however, is doubtful; for in John 6:4 aion points to a particular condition of affairs subsisting in this aion rather than to a mere mode of duration, which latter is alone in view here. The like observation applies to Ephesians 2:2 compared with Ephesians 2:7.
It is unnecessary again to remark on the disturbance of mind indicated by the abruptness with which the apostle plunges into the language of reproof. It cannot fail to strike every careful reader. I marvel (θαυμάζω); I do marvel. The verb is used here with reference to something disappointing, something felt to be painful as well as strange. So Mark 6:6 with reference to the unbelief of the Nazarenes. It is unjust to the apostle to take this "I do marvel" of his as a mere artifice of politic address: though unquestionably, as Chrysostom and Luther have well noted, it does soften his rebuke. The apostle was genuinely surmised; for he had had so much reason for thinking well of them (comp. Galatians 3:1; Galatians 4:14, Galatians 4:15; Galatians 5:7). How could converts, once so cordial and affectionate, have possibly been so misled? As he reflects on the case, whatever feeling of resentment mingled with his surprise turns off upon the pseudo-evangelists misleading them; and accordingly it is upon these that his anathema is pronounced, not upon them at all (cf. Galatians 5:9, Galatians 5:12). They, indeed, by listening to the false teaching, were in danger of falling from grace; but this he rather compassionates than angrily denounces. That ye are so soon removed (ὅτι οὕτω ταχέως μετατίθεσθε); that ye are so quickly falling away. This "quickly" has been taken by many as meaning "so soon after ye were called," and as consequently furnishing some ground for determining the time of the writing of the Epistle. But the comparison of the use of the same adverb (ταχέως) in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, "Be not quickly shaken;" and in 1 Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands hastily on no man," suggests rather the meaning, "so quickly upon being solicited thereto." The verb μετατίθεσθαι, to transfer one's self to a different course of thinking, acting, partisanship (cf. Liddell and Scott, 'Lexicon'), is used both in an unfavourable and in a good sense. Thus 2 Macc. 7:24, Μεταθέμενον ἀπὸ τῶν πατρίων νόμων "If he would give over following the laws of his country;" Appian, 'Bell. Mithr.,' 41: "Falling away, going over, from (ἀπὸ) Archelaus to Sylla;" Jamblich, 'Protrept,' 17, "Change from (ἀπὸ) a restless and profligate mode of life to an orderly one." The verb, being in the present tense, and not in the aorist or the perfect, suggests the idea of an action in its commencing stage, and not yet fully consummated; as Chrysostom observes: "That is, 'I do not yet believe nor suppose that the delusion has got to be complete'—the language of one who will fain win them back." From him that called you into the grace of Christ (ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ); from him that called you w be in the grace of Christ. The phrase, "he that called you," recites the personality of "our God and Father," spoken of in verses 3, 4. The calling of man into the kingdom of God is habitually ascribed by St. Paul to the First Person in the Trinity (cf. verse 15; Romans 8:30; Romans 9:24, Romans 9:25; 1Co 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15, 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1Th 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9). God's name is omitted, as in verse 15 (where it is wanting in the more recent texts), and Galatians 2:8, "For he that wrought for Peter." The apostle impressively, even startlingly, describes their defection from the truth of the gospel as no other than a defection from God himself; similarly to the strain of language pursued in Hebrews 3:12-58. "The grace of Christ" recites the state of acceptance with God into which Christians are brought by Christ through faith in him. So Galatians 5:4. "Fallen away from grace;" Romans 5:2, "Through whom we have also had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." The genitive, "of Christ," denotes the Author, as in" the peace of God" (Philippians 4:7); "righteousness of God" (Romans 1:17; Romans 3:21, etc.). There is a pathos in the word "grace," as referring to the sweet gentleness of Christ's yoke as contrasted with the yoke of ceremonial-ism which the Galatians were so foolishly hankering after. The construction, "Called you in the grace of Christ," is similar to "Called us in peace" (1 Corinthians 7:15); "Ye were called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4); "Called us... in sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The verb "call," implying as it does the bringing into a certain state, suggests the sense here given to the clause, in preference to our taking it as meaning "called you by the grace of Christ." Unto another gospel (εἰς ἐτερον εὐαγγέκιον); unto another (or, a new) sort of gospel. The adjective ἕτερον, as contrasted with ἄλλο used in the next verse, appears to intimate the changed quality of the object, its strange new-fangled character. The adjective does sometimes take this shade of meaning. Thus 1 Corinthians 14:21, Ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέροις, "By men of strange tongues, and by lips of strangers;" 2 Corinthians 11:4, Πνεῦμα επτερον … εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον," Different spirit … different gospel;" 1 Timothy 1:3, Ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν, "Teach a different doctrine." The reader will find a brief but instructive description of the difference at times observable between ἕτερος and ἄλλος in Bishop Lightfoot's note on the passage; who cites the Septuagint rendering in Exodus 1:8 of the Hebrew "new king," which it gives βασιλεὺς ἕτερπς: and a passage in Xenophon's 'Cyclopaedia,' 8.3, 8, "If you accuse me... another time when I serve you … you will find me (ἑτερῳ διακόνῳ) another sort of attendant.'' The phrase, "another sort of gospel," so far as giving the new form of doctrine the title of "gospel" at all, is paradoxical and sarcastic. The paradox is corrected in what follows. The substantive, "gospel." is borrowed, not without a tinge of irony, from the pretensions of the innovators; they, of course, would be ready to designate their mangled form of Christian doctrine as still "the gospel." The epithet which the apostle adds gives his own view of its character.
Which is not another (ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο). Already, in these very words, the apostle means to assert that essential unalterableness of the gospel, which, with solemn emphasis, he in the two following verses more fully affirms. Thus much seems plain. But, owing probably to the impassioned eagerness of tie moment, he here, as not unfrequently elsewhere from the like cause, expresses himself in language, the grammatical analysis of which is obscure and in some degree uncertain. For
(1) the relative "which" may be taken as reciting the term "gospel" only, that is, the gospel which is properly so called; in which case we may read the sentence thus: "But the gospel is not ['never can be] other"—other, i.e. than it is as already preached to you;
(2) the relative may recite the "other [or, 'new'] sort of gospel" of Galatians 1:6; and then we should have "But this other-fashioned gospel is not another gospel really," or, "is not the real gospel reappearing in another form." The former method presents undoubtedly, of the two, the harsher way of construing; but constructions as harsh do occasionally present themselves in the apostle's style when writing under strong emotion. The exact analysis, however, is merely a matter of grammatical nicety; the substance of the thought is quite clear. But there be (εἰ μή .. εἰσιν); only there are. This construction, of εἰ μὴ followed by a finite verb, is found also in Mark 6:5, Εἰ μὴ... ἐθεράπευσε, "Save that … he healed them." The force of εἰ μή, "except," in this passage as well as in some others, may be described as partially exceptive; that is, it denotes an exception taken, not to the entire foregoing sentence, but to part of it only. Thus in Luke 4:27, "There were many lepers in Israel... and none of them was cleansed, save Naaman the syrian:" where the pronoun "them" recites the "lepers in Israel," but the "save" refers to "lepers" only; Revelation 9:4, "That they should not hurt the grass, neither any green thing, neither any tree, save the men who," etc.: where the "save" points back only to the words, "that they should not hurt;" so again Revelation 21:27, "Save they which are written in the Lamb's book of life," points back only to the words, "there shall in no wise enter into it." In all such cases the rendering "only" or "but only" would exhibit just the amount of exception which appears intended. In the present instance the most probable explanation is this: the gospel can never be ether than it is; except that among (i.e. only among) those who proclaim it (i.e. profess to proclaim it) there are some who so misrepresent its import as to completely reverse its character. There be some that trouble you (τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς); there are certain who are disquieting you. The form of expression is the same as in Colossians 2:8, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you." The sentence as it stands differs from the supposable substitute, "certain persons are disquieting you," by directing attention me, re to the persons referred to than merely to their action viewed in itself; it marks them out as meriting strong censure, or (in Colossians, loc. cit.) as persons to be carefully guarded against. Who these troublers were and where they came from is uncertain (see note on Colossians 2:2). The verb ταράσσειν frequently means "to alarm" or "disquiet," as Matthew 2:3; Matthew 14:26; Luke 1:12; Luke 24:38; Joh 14:1; 1 Peter 3:14. And this is probably the sense in which it is used here and in the similar passages, Galatians 5:10; Acts 15:24. It describes the action of those who came to believers reposing in a sense of acceptance with God through Christ; and filled their minds with uneasiness and apprehension, by telling them that they were not safe as they were, but must do something else if they wished to really possess the Divine favour. Others, however, connect the verb with the notion of civil disturbance, as in Acts 17:8, and thus with raising seditions and shaking men's allegiance, in conformity with the metaphor of μετατίθεσθε in Acts 17:6. And would pervert the gospel of Christ (καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρώψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ); and would fain turn into its clean contrary the gospel of Christ. The verb μεταστρέφειν is an appropriate one to use with reference to such a misrepresentation of the gospel as the one now in the apostle's view; for this converted it from a doctrine of emancipation into a doctrine of renewed bondage (comp. Acts 5:1-44). So the verb is used in the only other passages in which it is found in the New Testament, Acts 2:20, "The sun shall be turned into darkness;" James 4:9, "Let your laughter be turned into mourning." So in Sirach 11:31, "Turning good things into evil." Liddell and Scott ('Lexicon') cite μεταστρέψας = "contrariwise," Plato, 'Gorg.,' 456 E; 'Rep' 587, D. In the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ, the addition of the genitive, "of Christ," with the twofold article, marks the words with a stately emphasis. It was no less than THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST that these men were tampering with. "The gospel of Christ" means here the gospel of which Christ is the Author, as in "the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). and which he had sent forth his apostles to proclaim. The peculiar emphasis and the connection forbid our taking the genitive as denoting merely the subject-matter.
But though we (ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς); but even if we ourselves. This "but" (ἀλλὰ) is strongly adversative. What those disturbers of the believer's peace would have been fain to do was a thing impossible. Heaven's gospel could not be thus changed. And the attempt to thus change it, being in effect to fight against God, merited God's curse. In the plural "we" the apostle intends principally his own self. A shrinking from unnecessary self-obtrusion, and tender respectful sympathy with his ministerial brethren, prompt him not unfrequently to veil his own individuality by associating in this way with himself those who were wont to share more or less in his evangelistic labours and sufferings, although in reality what he says may apply principally to himself and only in a very modified measure to them. A signal instance of this is furnished by that whole passage in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, which begins with the fourth chapter and goes on down to the eleventh verse of the sixth. Nevertheless, we should in all such cases imperfectly represent the spirit of his words, if we were to substitute the singular pronoun "I." In the present instance individuals of the evangelizing party which were wont to accompany him had, no doubt, been fellow-workers with him also in Galatia, and are therefore hero inclusively referred to. Compare the plural and the singular verbs in the next verse. The introduction of this reference to himself and his fellow-workers, as well as that to "an angel from heaven," seems meant to make his readers feel that this was no question of distinguished personality, as if it mattered who it was that taught a different doctrine; whether (suppose) it were a James or a Cephas, for those revered names were often used to cloak the designs of Judaizers; or whether it was one of the Galatian Churchmen themselves especially looked up to (cf. Galatians 5:10 and note). An anathema was his due, whoever he might be. In the manner of its introduction we cannot fail to recognize an underlying consciousness on the writer's part of the highly distinguished position which he himself held; but there is present the consciousness too that he was nothing more than the mere organ or channel of Christ's teaching; from that teaching he himself may not swerve without justly incurring the "woe" which he told the Corinthians he should have to fear in case he preached not the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16). Or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you (ἢἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται ὑμῖν παρ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν); or if an angel from heaven should set himself to preach unto you a gospel other than that we preached unto you. The construction of the entire sentence displays in the Greek a broken character not quite so apparent in our Authorized Version. The verb "should preach a gospel" is in the singular number (εὐαγγελίζηται); neglecting the "we," it attaches itself to "an angel from heaven," which latter, as being the higher, absorbs the previously named subject altogether, standing as sole subject, both in the hypothetical clause and in the concluding one, "let him be anathema.'' It is, of course, apparent that, if the sentence of anathema would in the supposed case be the only proper one to pronounce upon "an angel from heaven," it most certainly fastens upon any human being guilty of the same offence. The "angel from heaven" is like the "second man from heaven" in 1 Corinthians 15:47; the phrase," from heaven," denoting both coming down out of heaven and also the higher sphere of being to which the person spoken of appertains. Comp. also John 3:31, "He that is from earth … he that is from heaven." The force of the preposition παρὰ in εὐαγγελίζηται παρ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα may he illustrated by its use in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "Other foundation can no man lay than (παρὰ) that which is laid;" where it points to a new foundation, not to be by the side of, but to supersede, the former one. Taken thus, it would seem to follow up the before expressed notion of" another gospel" superseding, setting aside, the true gospel. This sense of the preposition readily passes on to that of "contrary to." which is profusely illustrated by Liddell and Scott ('Lexicon,' in verb. παρά, c. I. 1 Corinthians 1:4, b), and which we have in Acts 18:13, "Worship God contrary to the Law [of Moses];" Romans 16:17," Causing the divisions … contrary to the doctrine which ye learned;" Romans 1:26, "use which is against nature." It cannot be doubted that the apostle is here thinking of a (pretended) gospel which was incompatible with the true one, and not of merely additional elements of Christian doctrine which should take their place alongside of those which they had already received. Additional information, we may be sure, was quite as necessary or desirable for the Galatians as it was for either the Corinthians or the "Hebrews;" neither of whom had as yet, as was intimated to them (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 6:1-58. l), been fed with "solid food," but only with "milk," and whom it behoved to "go on to fuller maturity" of knowledge. The point in the apostle's view was this: what he had himself taught them was, so far, certainly true and to be depended upon, and could not without treason against Christ be set aside or superseded or essentially qualified; whereas the teaching which was now being foisted upon their previous convictions did infringe upon what he had taught them, seriously and even fundamentally. The tenor of the whole Epistle shows what were the especial features of this gospel which were now in question. The present question concerned the "good news" that God, through the cross of Christ, had emancipated his servants from bondage to ceremonialism; that God adopted them as simply believing in Christ to be his sons in full possession of his fatherly love; and that by the Holy Spirit he endued them with the consciousness of this adoption. There has been at times much discussion as to the bearing of the passage before us upon our controversy with Romanists respecting tradition. If what has been above stated is just, it follows that these words of the apostle forbid our adding, on any ground whatever, to the dogma or Church practice sanctioned by Scripture, any such dogma or Church practice as would transform or essentially modify the former, but, on the other hand, the addition of dogma or Church practice which is not out of harmony with that sanctioned by Scripture, these words do not forbid. Let him be accursed (ἀνάθεμα ἔστω); let him be anathema, that is, a thing doomed to destruction. The word ἀνάθεμα is originally identical with ἀνάθημα (anathema), a thing devoted, which in Luke 21:5 is rendered "offering;" but in Hellenistic Greek the former diverges from the latter by being ordinarily applied to "a thing devoted to destruction." In all languages it sometimes occurs that a word, one and the same originally, diverges into two slightly differing forms, used severally to express different phases of the original notion. Archbishop Trench, in his 'Study of Words,' p. 156, referred to by Bishop Lightfoot in his note on this passage, instances "cant" and "chant," "human" and "humane," and others. In the LXX. anathema is used to render the Hebrew word cherem, which in our Authorized Version is translated "cursed" or "accursed thing." Living things that were cherem were to be put to death; inanimate objects that were cherem were to be destroyed. Thus in Deuteronomy 13:1-5. directions are given as to what was to be done in the ease of an Israelite city which should have given itself to idolatry: the inhabitants and the cattle thereof were to be smitten with the edge of the sword; and the spoil of the city was to be brought together and burned, and the city itself" to be a heap for ever, never to be built again." And then (Deuteronomy 13:18), "There shall cleave nought of the cursed [or, 'devoted'] thing (cherem, ἀνάθεμα) to thine hand." Similarly, in Deuteronomy 7:26, of the idols and the silver or gold on them, of the Canaanites, "Thou shalt not take it unto thee, neither shalt thou bring an abomination unto thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing ['be cherem,' or 'be anathema,' ἔση ἀνάθεμα] like it; but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing (ἀνάθεμά ἐστι)." See also ibid., Deuteronomy 7:23-5; Leviticus 27:28, Leviticus 27:29; Joshua 6:17, "The city shall be accursed [or, ' devoted;' cherem, ἀνάθεμα], and all that are therein; only Rahab the harlot shall live;" Joshua 7:1, Joshua 7:12. In the New Testament anathema occurs in four other passages.
1. 1 Corinthians 12:3, "No man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema." Here the apostle, no doubt, refers to the manner in which the unbelieving Jews allowed themselves, already then, to speak of our Lord. Clearly they meant thereby more than merely "excommunicate," which palliated sense some have endeavoured to give to "anathema;" they cannot be supposed to have intended less than an object which merited that utter extinction to which he who was cherem was under the Law doomed: their blaspheming thought, no doubt, taking into its view not this world only, but that also which is to come.
2.Romans 9:3Romans 9:3, "I could pray that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake." The reader naturally casts about to find some qualification to give to an utterance which seems at first sight to express a wish such as one who loved Christ so ardently as Paul did could not possibly have entertained. Yet the' words, "anathema from Christ," can mean nothing less than being separated from Christ by a curse consigning him to perdition. The desiderated qualification must be sought in the phrase, "I could pray;" this renders an imperfect verb (ηὐχόμην), which expresses a turn of thought similar to that denoted in the (ἤθελον), "I could wish," of Galatians 4:20, on which see note. In each case the tense betokens a mere glance (so to speak) of wish which is instantly withdrawn.
3. 1 Corinthians 16:22, "If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema." Here, too, the notion of Church excommunication, whether by formal exclusion or by the withdrawal of brotherly recognition, is not satisfactory. The Israelite notion of being anathema, cherem, points to a no mere negation, but to a condition of positive accursedness linked with exposure to utter destruction. Moreover the apostle refers to a man's interior sentiments with respect to Christ—a matter not within the cognisance of human judgments. Who can in many cases, or perhaps in any, determine whether another loves Christ or not? It is in truth a warning against a soul's disloyalty to the Lord Jesus, clothing itself in the form of an execration—an execration which, it is true, is an impetuous flashing forth of the apostle's own flaming sense of what is due to Christ from every human being, but which is nowise chargeable with extravagance. Its perfect justness, as well as the verification which awaits it in the future judgment, is evinced, as by other considerations, so also by our Lord's own words in Matthew 25:41-40.
4.Acts 23:1-44Acts 23:1-44. Acts 23:14, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse;" literally, "We have anathematized [or, 'solemnly bound'] ourselves with anathema (ἀναθέματι ἀνεθεματίσαμεν ἑαυτούς)." They had sat, I, no doubt, some such words as these: "May we be anathema if we taste aught till we have killed Paul!" with which we may conjoin Mark 14:71, "He began to pronounce a curse (ἀναθεματίζειν) and to swear"—not, to be sure, pronouncing a curse upon Jesus, but wishing himself to be anathema if he knew that Man. There can be little doubt that the anathema in both these cases involved a reference to eternal perdition. That no less is intended by the term in the present verse and, therefore, also in that next to it, is further proved by reference to the hypothetical "angel from heaven" who should be found preaching a different gospel. Being anathema must involve for such a one excision from the kingdom of light, together with whatever destruction properly attends thereupon. What, it will be asked, is the precise force of the "let him be," both here and in 1 Corinthians 16:22? It cannot denote less than a complacent satisfied acquiescence. The apostle-prophet not only foresees that, at the final judgment, such will be the doom of the wilful perverter of the gospel, but foresees it with a mind at one with the Judge who shall pronounce it; he can himself desire, he does desire, no ether. It is his loyal sympathy with Christ as Saviour, as caring for the souls of men, that prompts him to proclaim aloud for the warning of the false teachers themselves as well as for the warning of those inclined to hearken to their false teaching, his own solemn Amen to the terrible sentence awaiting them. But if so, why not allow the imperative its full force, and understand the utterance as an imperative? It is granted that the apostle was apt at times to be carried away by the fervid impetuosity of his feelings, even when writing, to the utterance of words which in calmer mood he would be ready to a certain extent to retract. We have a clear example of such retractation in 1 Corinthians 6:4, 1 Corinthians 6:5 (see note below on Galatians 5:12). But, in the case before us, that the vehemence of the apostle's language is a deliberate vehemence, and no mere momentary outburst of excited feeling, is proved by the solemn measured iteration in the next verse. And if we suppose, what seems to be most probable, that that verse refers to a similar denunciation uttered among the Galatians a good while before, the proof is all the stronger that his language is no sudden exorbitancy of passionate emotion, but expresses an abiding sentiment. We are to remember that it is the very substance of the gospel which the apostle feels to be assailed. The gospel, he knew, both by inspired insight and by his own experience, to be "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. "Of this gospel Christ had himself declared that "he that believed it should be saved, and he that disbelieved it should be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Wherein does "being anathema" differ from "being condemned"? And if the disbelieving "shall be condemned," can a less guiltiness be supposed to attach to one who not only disbelieved the gospel himself, but was also plucking it out of the hearts of others and palming off upon them instead a false gospel which was no salvation? "But could St. Paul, being such a lover of souls as he was, imprecate a doom of perdition to fall upon any soul of man?" Absolutely, we may say he could not; but conditionally, he might, and that in perfect consistency with his usual habits of feeling—conditionally, on the supposition, that is, that the sin was not repented of and forsaken. It was his very love of souls that would impel him thus to speak, not only on behalf of the souls which the bringer-in of a false doctrine might destroy, but on behalf of the deceiver's own self. He pronounces the doom in order to deter and thus save. We have to remember, too, that the apostle is not, at the dictate of his own passionate zeal for the truth, constituting either a new sin or a new measure of penalty. He simply, as prophet and apostle, utters forth the mind of him who is Lawgiver and Judge. This last consideration suggests the limits within which only can the apostle's action in this matter be regarded as an example for imitation. It is lawful to us to recite, as the Church of England speaks in her Commination Office: "the general sentences of God's cursing against impenitent sinners gathered out of Scripture"—and by "general sentences" we are to understand sentences pronounced upon classes of offenders, not sentences upon individual persons, to whom we may conjecture them to be applicable. It is lawful also to us individually and right, that we should add to the utterance of each sentence our hearty "Amen," and thus take part with God and his Law, not only against sins committed by our neighbours, but most especially and above all against wilful transgressions of our own. But beyond this, none who are not special organs of inspiration may venture to go, whether acting individually or in any corporate capacity. An anathema is a bolt of doom such as the Almighty alone can fashion or make operative; and we are invading the Divine prerogative and working mischief and peril for ourselves if, on the one hand, we venture to enlarge and make more specific than he has done his "general sentences of cursing," or, on the other, dilute the force of these solemn warnings of his, and treat them with disregard.
As we said before, so say I now again (ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω); as we have said before, now also (or, and as now) I am saying again. The complexion of the sentence, especially in the Greek, a good deal resembles that in 2 Corinthians 13:2," I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand (προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω), as when I was present the second time, so now being absent." In this latter passage, the perfect, "I have said beforehand," points to the time indicated in the words," as when I was present the second time." The resemblance between the two passages, notwithstanding the somewhat different senses in which the verb (προλέγειν) is used in them, suggests the view that here likewise in the first clause the verb refers to some former occasion on which the apostle was personally present with those he is writing to. The Greek verb (προλέγειν), "say before," is sometimes equivalent to "forewarn," as 1 Thessalonians 4:6; Galatians 5:21; and 2 Corinthians 13:2 (twice). Sometimes it means "say on a former occasion," as 1 Corinthians 7:3, and most probably here. The first clause has by some been supposed to refer to the preceding verse. But recent critics generally agree in feeling that both the verb "we have said before" and the adverb "now" suggest the sense of a wider interval of time. The use of the verb in 2 Corinthians 7:3 has been cited on behalf of the other view. But even if the somewhat doubtful idea be admitted that 2 Corinthians 7:3 points back to the twelfth verso of the preceding chapter, it would still fail to furnish an adequate parallel. For not only is it parted from the earlier passage by the number of verses which intervene, but also by a succession of varying moods of feeling and diverse styles of address. Account has to be taken of the change of number between "we have said before" and "I am saying again." The only probable explanation is that the "we" recites the same persons as in the words "we preached" in 2 Corinthians 7:8; whereas Paul, as now writing (probably) with his own hand, presents himself individually as reiterating that solemn affirmation. The words, "now also I am saying again," as marking a time contrasted with that earlier one referred to, contemplate the asseveration made in the eighth verso as well as in this. In the "now" the apostle indicates, not so much the moment of his writing, as the just then subsisting juncture of circumstances in Galatia, which called for the renewal of his commination. Its earlier utterance referred to may have occurred either in the second visit to Galatia, mentioned in Acts 18:23, or in the first, mentioned in Acts 16:6. When taking leave of his disciples on either occasion he may have been led to thus emphatically insist upon the sacred, inviolable character of the gospel, by his observation on the one hand of the fickleness and impressionableness which characterized this people, and on the other by the frequency with which perversions of Christian doctrine were already seen to be infesting the Churches. Compare also the apostle's warning to the Ephesians (Acts 20:28-44). If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω); if any man is preaching unto you a gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. The verbal variations in these words, as compared with those in verse 8, are slight. One, however, deserves attention: "If any one is preaching" compared with "If... an angel should … preach." By this change in the form of making the supposition, the denunciation seems to come down out of the region of bare hypothesis to that of, perhaps, present reality. If so, the thunder of the apostle's anathema would be felt by his readers approaching nearer and nearer to the head of seine particular individual among themselves, towards whom their eyes would at once be directed with the feeling that it was, perhaps, his doom that the apostle was now pronouncing. The construction in the Greek of the verb "preach the gospel" (εὐαγγελίζομαι), with the accusative of the person to whom the message is brought, is found also in Acts 13:32; Acts 14:21. In sense there seems to be no appreciable difference between this construction of the verb and that with the dative as found in the preceding verse and often.
For do I now (ἄρτι γάρ); for at this hour. This "for" points back either to the fact of the apostle's having now so solemnly pronounced afresh the awful anathema which at some former time he had uttered; or which, in effect, is nearly the same thing, to the tone of feeling which he in so doing evinced, and to his method of apostolic action which he therein exemplified. The adverb ἄρτι, as used in the New Testament, is distinguished from the more common "now" (νῦν), as denoting that space of time which is most closely present. This shade of meaning is conspicuous, e.g. in the "Suffer it to be so just now" of Matthew 3:15, that is, during that brief, quickly vanishing moment in which the Messiah was by Divine appointment to appear subordinate in position to his forerunner. So Matthew 26:53, "Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall (ἄρτι) at this very moment send me more than twelve legions of angels?" John 16:12, "Ye cannot bear them (ἄρτι) just now;" in a very short while they would be enabled to bear them. 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Just now (ἄρτι) we see in a mirror, darkly;" words written under a vivid sense of how brief the interval is which separates the present state of things from that of the life to come. 1 Peter 1:8, "On whom, though just now (ἄρτι) ye see him not "—another outcome of the same feeling. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 8:7, ἔως ἄρτι means "until this very hour;" and, on the other side of the point of time indicated ἀπ ἄρτι is "from this very hour" in Matthew 26:64; Joh 1:1-51 :52. Many have supposed that the apostle is speaking of certain characteristics of his present course of behaviour as a believer and a servant of Christ, viewed in contrast with the life which he had once lived when an ardent disciple of Judaism. But the narrowly restrictive form of the adverb resists this interpretation, he could hardly with this reference in view have used the phrase "just now," or "at this very hour," of a tenor of life which he had been pursuing for now more than twenty years. Some eminent critics (Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Sanday) take this ἄρτι as pointing to the style of language which the apostle is "just now" adopting: "Now, when I use such uncompromising language;" or, "There! is that the language of a man-pleaser? Now do I," etc. It is an objection to this view that it gives the adverb a somewhat diverse sense to that which it bears in John 1:9; for whereas in John 1:9 ἄρτι, points to the circumstances of the present hour as prompting the apostle to the utterance of his anathema, according to the view referred to it here points to the present hour as exhibiting the apostle himself in a certain aspect. It is more obvious, and indeed gives the present use of the adverb more force, to take it in both verses with the like reference. In both the apostle refers to the present hour as a juncture in which he felt that it had become necessary to depart from his customary manner of using a winning style of address. At other times he will persuade and please; just now he cannot. Persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? (ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢτὸν Θεόν ἢζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν); do I persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? Expositors have endeavoured to establish, as one sense of the Greek verb rendered "persuade," that of "making So-and-so one's friend." No doubt it often means to prevail, or endeavour to prevail, upon others, by coaxing, persuasion, bribery, or anyhow, to go along with you in some particular course of thinking or acting indicated by the context; but it can nowhere. be shown to mean, when standing alone, "to win So-and-so's friendship." In Acts 12:20, "Having persuaded Blastus" means "Having got Blastus to concur with them." Similarly, Matthew 28:14, "We will persuade him," and 2 Macc. 4:45, "With a view to persuade the king." The verb is used here, in 2 Corinthians 5:11, "Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men." In that passage the apostle states it to be his practice to make use of all means of persuasion in order to induce men to accept the gospel message. He was not content with merely, as an ambassador, delivering the message and there leaving the matter; but made it his anxious concern to gain for the message acceptance, by the use of arguments addressed to the reason, and appeals addressed to the feelings, by putting himself, as it were, by the side of those he was addressing as one who sympathized to a large extent with their ways of thought, for the purpose of conducting them onward to concurrence with more perfect views. Among many examples which might be cited, illustrating his skill in persuasion, it will suffice to refer to the manner in which he dealt with the Athenians, with the Jews when speaking to them from the stairs, with King Agrippa (Acts 17:22-44; Acts 22:1-44; Acts 26:2, Acts 26:3, Acts 26:26, Acts 26:27), and to his Epistle to Philemon. Another feature, closely connected with the one now mentioned, and here likewise referred to, is the care which the apostle took to "please men;" such a care as produced a manner towards his fellow-men far exceeding the courtesy and shows of respectful consideration which the law of charity ordinarily prescribes. For example, instead of thrusting forward into notice, as the spirit of unsympathetic pride naturally prompts us to do, the points on which he differed from others, and in reference to which he knew himself to he standing on higher ground than they, he chose rather to make prominent any points of agreement which he could find already subsisting, conciliating their candid interest by thus fraternally putting himself on a level with them. If this did not suffice for the purpose of enlisting their sympathies on behalf of himself and his views, he did not hesitate, in matters morally indifferent, to mortify and snub his own tastes, and forego the dissenting judgments of his. own superior enlightenment, "to buffet his body, as he expresses himself in 1 Corinthians 9:27, "and bring it into bondage," by following, how ever distasteful to himself, such practices as should get those whose spiritual improvement he was seeking, to feel, so to speak, comfortably at home with himself. In writing to the Corinthians the apostle in one passage (1 Corinthians 9:19-46) dwells at stone length upon this feature of his ministerial conduct, not ashamed of it, but manifestly glorying in it as a triumph of Christ's grace in his soul. Presently after, at the close of the following chapter, he distinctly propounds himself, as in this respect a Christ-like pattern, for their imitation, "Even [he writes] as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved: be ye imitators of me, even as! also am of Christ." Both of these strongly marked features of his ministerial character were liable to he misunderstood, and by his detractors could be easily misconstrued as grave faults, lie was, in fact, accused of speciousness and insincerity, of double faced dealings, of simulation and dissimulation. We can easily understand how readily such accusations would be set on foot, and holy colourable they could be made to appear. That they painfully affected the apostle's mind is evidenced by the frequency of the references he makes to them, and by the earnestness and deep pathos of feeling which not seldom mark those references. It is to such sinister criticism that he alludes, when in 2 Corinthians 5:11, cited above, after saying, "we persuade men," he adds, "but we are become manifest unto God," meaning that, though he did make a habit of laying himself out to persuade, yet the entire sincerity of his action, however misconstrued by men, was patent to the Divine eye. Now, we have reason to believe that the apostle had been apprised, or at least that he suspected, that in Galatia also such misrepresentation of these characteristics of his ministry was rife. The Epistle supplies at least one token of such having probably been the case, We gather from Galatians 5:11 that he had been said to be still "preaching circumcision." They who said this did so apparently in the sense that his having hitherto kept back this point of his doctrine in preaching to them was only an artifice of "persuasion;" that, in order to prevail upon them to accept the Christian faith, he had thought it expedient not at first to press upon them the observances of Judaism, while nevertheless he knew them to be necessary and was prepared by-and-by to insist upon their being attended to. St. Paul is conscious, therefore, of the existence on the part of some of the Galatian Churchmen of unfriendly suspicions with regard to his straightforwardness and uprightness. It is this stinging consciousness that occasions both the substance and the sharp abrupt tone of what he here says. The substance of the verse may be paraphrased thus: "I have written decisively and sternly; for at such a critical juncture as the present is it men that I can make it my business to 'persuade,' as they sneeringly but not un-truly say I love to do? or is it God that I care, so to speak, to persuade, to wit of my fidelity to the gospel which he has committed to my trust? They scoffingly say I love to 'please men;' and I thank God I have been wont to 'please men' to the very utmost of my power for their good; but is it my work just now to be pleasing men by ways of sweet tenderness and forbearance? If at this time I were still laying myself out to 'please men,' these men, to wit, who are making havoc of the gospel message, and you who are ignorantly listening to them,—then were I no true servant of Christ." The interrogative form into which the apostle's language suddenly breaks is apparently, here also as in 2 Corinthians 3:1, due to his that moment bethinking himself of those malicious censurers of him. We have here an example of the form of sentence which the grammarians call zeugma; that is to say, "God" is named in conjunction with "men," as an object to the action of the verb "persuade," whereas this verb, suitable enough with relation to men, can only by a strain upon its proper sense be employed with relation to God. The sentence would possibly have expressed what appears to have been the apostle's real meaning with less ruggedness, but certainly with less intensity, if its second clause had been (perhaps), "or commend myself to God's approval? (ἢσυνιστάνω ἐμαυτὸν τῷ Θεῷ;)." (For other instances of zeugma, see Luke 1:64; 1 Corinthians 3:2.) The addition of the article before Θεόν, while it is wanting before ἀνθρώπους, gives the noun a more grandiose tone, as if it were, "Do I persuade men or GOD?" For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἄν ἤμην); if I still were pleasing men, I were no servant (Greek, bondservant) of Christ's. The received text of the Greek has "For if I still (εἰ γὰρ ἔτι);" but the "for" is omitted by recent editors. It makes no difference in the sense whether we retain it or not, for, retaining the "for," we should have to understand before it, "I trow not," or the like. The word "bondservant" here expresses the official relation of a Christian minister, one especially at his Divine Owner's beck and call. So Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1. The apostle means, "I were no servant of Christ in spirit and reality, whatever I might call myself." A good many expositors suppose the "still" to be said with reference to the time before the apostle's conversion: "I were no apostle or Christian at all." But
(1) there is no indication either in this passage or anywhere that the apostle regarded his life before his conversion as characterized by the desire to please men;
(2) with the sense thus given to it, the thought, as Meyer observes, seems excessively tame;
(3) as thus explained, it would not harmonize with the apostle's explicit and repeated declaration that, in the discharge of his high office, he did make a point of pleasing men.
But I certify you, brethren (γνωρίζω δὲ γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί) now (or, for) I make known unto you, brethren. The external evidence, as well as the judgment of critics, is so evenly divided between the two readings, γνωρίζω δὲ and γνωρίζω γάρ, that the decision as to which is to be preferred seems to lie with exegesis rather than with diplomatic criticism. On the one hand, the fact that the gospel which the apostle had delivered to the Galatians came to him by a direct revelation from Christ, would be properly viewed as a reason for regarding it as sacred and inviolable. Viewed thus, the reading, "now I make known to you," appears justified as introducing a plea warranting the anathema of verses 8, 9. On the other hand, there is a difference of tone perceptible between the previous context, which is strongly marked, as we have seen, by intense excitement of feeling, and the passage which commences with this verse. The relaxation in the latter of the stern, indignant severity of the former is indicated
(1) by the phrase, "I make known unto you," which, as well as the equivalent phrase, "I would not have you ignorant (οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν)," is with the apostle a customary prelude to a context of deliberate and measured statement;
(2) by the introduction of the word "brethren," even though, perhaps, holding the position in the sentence which it does here, this compellation has not the same pathetic affectionateness as marks it when heading a sentence; and
(3) by the strain of quiet narration which the apostle now enters upon. This change in the tone is somewhat adverse to the supposition that the two passages were, as originally written, linked together by the closely connective "for." It suggests to the careful reader the feeling that, after the apostle had somewhat relieved his spirit of the indignant excitement with which he at first addressed himself to the writing of the letter, he laid down his pen at the end of the tenth verse, which had introduced a topic of thought that threatened to lead him aside from his present business; and, after pausing to re fleet how he had best proceed, resumed his work with the purpose of calmly showing, from the very circumstances of his personal history, that the gospel which the Galatians had received from him had solely a Divine origin. This view of the passage likewise favours the reading, "Now I make known to you." For the conjunction δὲ has here that simply metabatic or transitionary sense which it often bears when the writer is passing on to a fresh section of discourse. Thus, in par-titular, the conjunction is found with "I make known (γνωρίζω)," in 1 Corinthians 15:7; 2 Corinthians 8:1; and with "I would not have you ignorant," in Romans 1:13; 1Th 4:13; 1 Corinthians 12:1. In fact, the direct purpose of the succeeding exposition would seem to be, not precisely so much to make good the particular point that the gospel which the apostle taught was sacred and inviolable, as to show that it was certainly true, and on that ground not to be departed from. The verb γνωρίζω cannot mean "draw attention to" or "remind you." Its only sense is "make known." Its employment here appears to indicate a feeling on the apostle's part that the point referred to had, perhaps, not as yet been made definitely clear to those, or at least to some of those, whom he was addressing. That the gospel which was preached of me (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ ἀμοῦ ὅτι); touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it. In the Greek, the noun "the gospel" is the accusative governed by "make known;" while in fact the object contemplated by the verb is, not the gospel itself in general, but certain circumstances relating to it expressed and implied in the following clause: "that it is not after man's fashion." This kind of construction is of frequent occurrence in Greek authors. Analogous examples are found in 1 Corinthians 12:13 of this chapter, and 1 Corinthians 3:20; 1Co 15:15; 1 Corinthians 16:15. The aorist tense of εὐαγγελισθὲν points to the same time as was referred to in "called you" (1 Corinthians 16:6) and "we preached" (1 Corinthians 16:8), which are both in the same tense. Is not after man (οὐκ ἔστι κατὰ ἄνθρωπον); is not after the fashion of man; that is, "is not to be estimated as a merely human thing." The clause does not immediately describe the origin of the gospel, which point is distinctly brought out in the next sentence; but rather the character which attaches to it in consequence of its origin. The sense of the phrase, "according to man," is illustrated by its use in 1 Corinthians 9:8," Do I speak these things after the manner of men (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον)?" i.e. "accord-lug to merely human principles of action." 1 Corinthians 3:3, "Walk after the manner of men." On the other band, in 2 Corinthians 7:10, "godly sorrow," literally, "the grief which is according to God," is a grief such as God inspires and approves; and in Ephesians 4:24, "The new man, which after God [literally, 'according to God'] hath been created," is "created in conformity with God's model or approval" The present tense "is" marks the permanent character attaching to Paul's gospel; it was "the faith once for all (ἅπαξ) delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it (οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην); for neither at the hand of man did I myself receive it or was taught it. The "for" introduces a consideration fortifying the foregoing affirmation, that the apostle's gospel was not in its characteristic complexion human; it was no wonder that it was not; for neither was it human in its origin. The "neither" (οὐδὲ) points forward to the whole subsequent clause, "at the hand of men did I myself receive it." In a similar manner does "for neither" (οὐδὲ γὰρ) point to the whole subsequent clause in John 5:22; John 8:42; Acts 4:34. The ἐγὼ ("I myself") is inserted in the Greek, as contrasting the preacher with those to whom the gospel had been preached (Acts 4:11), in the same way as it is inserted in 1 Corinthians 11:23, "I myself received (ἐγὼ παρέλαβον) of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." Some expositors (as Meyer, Alford) connect the "for neither" with the pronoun "I myself" only; as if the meaning were, "For neither did I, any more than Cephas or James, receive the gospel from men." This restriction of the "neither" to the noun or pronoun only which follows, is grammatically, of course, not inadmissible (comp. John 7:5). But there is nothing in the immediate context to suggest the idea that the writer is just now thinking of the other apostles, and the sentence is perfectly clear without our introducing it. It is quite clear that the apostle means in the words οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην to affirm that man did not teach him the gospel any more than deliver it to him. But the verb "was taught," taken by itself, does not convey the idea of merely human instruction, being used continually in the Gospels of our Lord's teaching, and John 14:26 of the "teaching" of the Holy Spirit. We must, therefore, conclude that the passive verb "I was taught it" is, in the writer's intention, conjoined with the active verb "I received it," as both alike depending upon the first words in the sentence," at the hand of man." If so, we have here another instance of the use of the figure zeugma (see above on John 14:10); for while the preposition παρὰ is used in its proper sense, when, as here, it is connected with παρέλαβον, it is only in a strained, improper sense that it could be employed, like ὑπό, with a passive verb, to simply denote the agent. Some difficulty is felt in determining in what way the writer regards the notion of "receiving the gospel" as distinguishable from that of "being taught it." It is possible that the latter is added merely, as Bishop Lightfoot supposes, to explain and enforce the former. But another view is descrying of consideration. We may suppose "the gospel" to be regarded, in the one case, as a kind of objective creed or form of doctrine,"received" by a man on its being put before him, in consideration of the authority with which it comes invested, as a whole and so to speak en bloc, before ever its details have been definitely grasped by him. But in addition to this, and subsequently to this, this same gospel rosy be regarded as brought within the range of the recipient's distinguishing consciousness, by means of a "teacher" from without, whether Divine or human, instilling into his mind successively the various several truths which compose it. Now, it was conceivable that the apostle may, in the sense above supposed, have "received" the gospel direct from God or from Christ, while, however, man may to a large extent have been the "teaching" instrument, through which its truths were brought home to his understanding. But in the present passage St. Paul affirms that in actual fact man had no more to do with his reception of the gospel in the latter sense than in the former. And this affirmation tallies closely with what we read in the sixteenth verse of this chapter, and again with the sixth verse of the next chapter, both of which passages were written, no doubt, with an eye to the very notion respecting the source of his knowledge of the gospel which he is here concerned to negative. Textual critics differ among themselves whether πὔτε ("nor") or οὐδὲ ("nor yet") should be read before ἐδιδάχθην. The only difference is that "nor yet" would of the two the more clearly mark a distinction subsisting between the notions expressed by the two preceding verbs. If we acquiesce in the reading of the received text, which is "nor," then, since the negative has been already expressed, the idiom of our language would here suppress the negative in "nor," and substitute the simple "or." But (ἀλλά); but only. The strongly adversative sense which marks this form of "but" requires that in thought we supply after it the words, "I received it and was taught it;" for which, in translating, we may put, as an adequate substitute, the word "only." Bishop Wordsworth translates this ἀλλὰ "except," citing in justification Matthew 20:23. But the grammatical construction of that passage is not sufficiently clear to justify us in giving to ἀλλὰ a sense which does not appear conformable with its ordinary usage. The apostle, then, affirms that it was not from or by man that he had received the gospel or been taught it. From whom, then, does he mean that he had received and by whom been taught it? Are we to say, God the Father? or, Jesus Christ? Just at present, it should seem, the apostle is not concerned definitely or contradistinctively to present to view either one of these Divine personalities. As has been re, marked above with reference to the words in Matthew 20:3, "from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," the two conceptions appear blended together to the apostle's view, when he thinks of the Source flora which spiritual gifts accrue to us. His immediate purpose is to assert that his gospel was in its origin Divine, and not human. For this it is enough to say that it came to him "through the revelation of Jesus Christ." But in preparation for the discussion of these words, it may be here remarked that the supreme agency of God the Father, as in all else, so also in particular in the communication to the world of the gospel, is an idea very distinctly put forth in a great many passages of the New Testament, and is in fact the dominant representation. As examples of this, we may refer to Colossians 1:26, Colossians 1:27; Eph 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 2 Corinthians 5:20; Hebrews 1:2. "The words" which "the Son spake" were those which "he had heard of the Father," as were also those which the promised Paraclete was to "speak." The first verse of the Book of the Revelation furnishes a striking illustration of this truth. It runs thus: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he [i.e. Jesus Christ] sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John." Of course, the verse refers to that disclosure of future events which forms the subject-matter of the particular book which it prefaces. Nevertheless, what is written here is no exceptional statement, but one simply exemplary; it is true in this particular reference, just because it is true also with reference to the whole of that disclosure of spiritual facts which through the gospel is made known to the Church. By the revelation of Jesus Christ (δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ); through the revelation of Jesus Christ. This genitive clause, "of Jesus Christ," has by most interpreters been understood subjectively; that is, as denoting the subject or agent implied in the verbal noun "revelation;" in other words, they suppose St. Paul herein presents Jesus Christ as having revealed to him the gospel This does indeed appear to be the meaning of the phrase, "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in Revelation 1:1, just now referred to. Taken thus, the words put before us explicitly the agency of only Christ in the revelation spoken of, leaving the agency of God without specific reference. None the less, however, does even in this case the thought of God's agency naturally recur to our minds as implied in connection with the mention of Jesus Christ, even as in the first verse of the chapter where it is explicitly named therewith. But we have to observe that in every other passage in which the Apostle Paul uses a genitive with the noun "revelation" (ἀποκάλυψις), the genitive denotes the object which is revealed. These are Romans 2:5," Revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" 8:19, "Revelation of the seas of God;" 16:25, "Revelation of the mystery;" and the passages in which he designates our Lord's second coming as "his revelation;" 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; with which comp. 1 Peter 1:7, 1Pe 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13. That in these five last passages the genitive is objective and not subjective, if it could otherwise be called in question, is indicated by the circumstance that in 1 Timothy 6:14, 1 Timothy 6:15; where the apostle uses the word "appearing"(ἐπιφάνεια) instead of "revelation," he adds, "which in its own times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate," etc., manifestly meaning the Father. One other passage remains to be mentioned, namely, 2 Corinthians 12:1, "visions and revelations of the Lord," which many critics take as meaning "vouchsafed by the Lord," and which in consequence is commonly referred to in support of a similar interpretation of the passage now before us. But it may be questioned whether the apostle does not there denote by "visions" (ὀπτασίας) a somewhat different class of spiritual phenomena from those denoted by "revelations of the Lord;" by the former intending such visions as those, e.g. in which he seemed to himself to be transported into Paradise, or into the third heaven; and by the latter, appearances vouchsafed to him of the Lord Jesus in personal presence. These latter, it is true, might be also fitly styled" visions" (ὀπτάσιαι), as, in fact, the most important of them all is styled in the speech before Agrippa (Acts 26:19); whilst on the other hand, the former may be justly supposed to be included under the term "revelations," as employed presently after in 2 Corinthians 12:7. But the addition, "of the Lord," has at least much more point, if we assume the above-stated discrimination to have been intended between the two classes of phenomena; if, indeed, it is not a quite superfluous adjunct on the other view; tot the "visions and revelations" referred to would be, of course, conceived of as coming from "the Lord," without the apostle's saying so. Instead of being available in support of the subjective view of the genitive before us, the passage 2 Corinthians 12:1 rather favours the other interpretation. And this interpretation of the words, "of Jesus Christ," as objective is favoured by the subsequent context. For comparing this twelfth verse with the five verses which follow, we observe that in this verse the apostle affirms that his gospel was not human in its character, because that he had not received it from man nor been taught it by man, but only "through the revelation of Jesus Christ." Then in the five verses which follow, to make this affirmation good, he states that up to the time of his conversion he had been wholly averse to the Christian doctrine and intensely devoted to Pharisean Judaism, and that when God, calling him by his grace, "revealed his Son in him that he might preach him among the Gentiles," he applied to no human being for mental direction, but kept himself aloof from even those who were apostles before him. Now, in setting the statement of 2 Corinthians 12:12 over against the professedly illustrative statement which follows, we observe that "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in the former occupies precisely the same position in the line of thought which in the latter is held by "God's revealing his Son in him;" for the apostle attributes his possession of the truth of the gospel in the one to "the revelation of Jesus Christ," and in the other to God's revealing his Son in him, and in each ease to nothing else. Surely it follows "that the revelation of Jesus Christ" which gives him the gospel in the one ease, is identical with "God's revealing his Son in him' which gives him the gospel in the other. Thus both the sense in which the genitive is ordinarily found when joined with the word "revelation," and the guidance of the context, concur in determining for the genitive in the present case the objective sense. This interpretation seems at first sight to labour under the inconvenience that, so construed, the sentence lacks the clearly expressed antithethon to the foregoing noun "man," which we might naturally expect to find. But in reality the required antithesis is quite distinctly though implicitly indicated in the very term "revelation; "for this essentially carries with it the notion of an agency not merely superhuman, but Divine. It would be an altogether contracted and indeed erroneous view of this "revelation'' to suppose that it means no more than the manifestation to Saul's bodily senses of the personal presence and glory of Christ. Beyond question this was of itself sufficient to convince Saul of the truth that Jesus, though once crucified, was now both living and highly exalted in the supersensuous world, and by consequence to furnish the necessary basis for further discoveries of truth. But more was required than the mere bodily sight of the glorified Jesus. This might confound and crush down his antagonism, but would not of itself' impart converting and healing faith. Men might "see" and yet "not believe" (John 6:36). There was required also the true and just perception of the relation which this exalted Jesus bore to individual human souls, in particular to Saul's own soul; and further, of the relation which he bore to the dispensations of God as dealing with his people, and as dealing with mankind at large;—a perception of these things which would then only be true and just when accompanied with a duly appreciative, satisfying, adoring sense of the infinite excellency of what was thus disclosed to him, and of its perfect adaptation to the wants of man as sinful. In short, this "revelation" to Saul "of Jesus Christ" involved that spiritual transformation which, in 2 Corinthians 4:6, the apostle describes in the following words: "It is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light [or, illumination] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." For in that passage, though in the form in which he clothes his thought he speaks as if conjoining others with himself, it appears almost certain that he is describing there, as further on in 2 Corinthians 4:7-47, his own personal experiences (see beginning of note on 2 Corinthians 4:8). and also that he is describing that first introduction into his own understanding and heart of the truths of the gospel, which qualified him thenceforward to fulfil his mission to proclaim it. This appears confessedly to have been in a very marked degree a miracle—a moral and spiritual miracle. In truth, the new birth of a human soul into the kingdom of God (John 3:8) must ever be such, coming we know not how. What, however, seems to distinguish this case from most others, even from that of those previously called to be apostles, is the rapidity with which was formed in Saul the mind of "an apostle of the Gentiles"—a mind, that is, distinctly and unhaltingly conscious of the "mystery" which in Ephesians 3:3 he says "was by revelation made known to him," the hitherto kept back "secret" of God's love in Christ to all the world, Gentile and Jew alike; of God's readiness and purpose to embrace and bless with all spiritual blessings, without any reference now to Mosaism, every human creature that simply repented and believed in Jesus Christ. As the proclamation to the world of this "mystery" was to be his great and pre-eminently distinguishing function, so at the very first he became fitted and qualified for its discharge by its impartation to his soul, not through slow processes of thought and reasoning, but by an inward manifestation of the Christ, the suddenness and vividness of which corresponded in no small degree to the suddenness and vividness of that outward manifestation of the Christ which was simultaneously made to his corporeal sense. This presents itself to us as, in the moral and spiritual sphere of our being, a miracle; and as such the apostle himself manifestly regarded it. It is hard to believe but that he would have repudiated with high disdain (1 Corinthians 2:15) any attempt to solve the marvellousness of the phenomenon in the alembic of rational explanation; any theory which should find the phenomenon to be satisfactorily accounted for by these or those conditions of his foregoing psychological history. These last may have prepared a favourable field of development; but he knew for a surety that the product itself was no natural offspring of any spontaneous operations of his own mind. The very phrase in the verse before us, "the revelation of Jesus Christ," as well as the comparison which in 2 Corinthians 4:6 he draws between his spiritual transformation and the supernatural operation of the Almighty's fiat, "Let there be light," plainly shows that he would have refused to allow the cause discoverable anywhere else save in the unexplainable operations of sovereign, almighty grace. And in all prudence we should be content to be herein not wiser than he.
For ye have heard (ἠκούσατε γάρ). This "for" introduces the whole statement which follows down to the end of the chapter; for the entire section is written with the view of substantiating the assertion in Galatians 1:12, that he had not received the gospel which he preached from man, but solely through illumination imparted immediately from heaven. "Ye have heard," i.e. have been told; as Acts 11:1; John 4:1, and often. "I am only stating what ye have already been apprised of, when I tell you of," etc. That the aorist tense of the Greek word does not limit the expression to any one communication, such e.g. as one made by the apostle himself, is shown by the use of this very aorist in blurt, John 5:21, John 5:33, etc.; Luke 4:23; John 12:34; Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 4:21; 2 Timothy 1:13; James 5:11. The apostle appears to have been himself in the habit of frequently telling the wondrous story of what he once had been and of the change wrought upon him. We have instances of his doing this in fill detail in his speech from the stairs, and in his defence before Agrippa (Acts 22:1-44; Acts 26:1-44.), and with less fulness in Philippians 3:4-50; 1 Corinthians 15:8, 1 Corinthians 15:9. It is therefore quite supposable that he had himself said as much also in Galatia. We observe, however, that the apostle does not say, "heard from me," as he might have done if he had himself been their informant: and, further, that the effect of the words, "ye have heard," does not, in point of construction at least, of necessity extend beyond the fourteenth verse. We are therefore at liberty to surmise that what he here refers to as having been told them relates simply to his life before his conversion; and that tile accounts which they had received of it bad come through unfriendly informants. These may have been either unbelieving Jews or Judaizing Christians, who wished by these statements to disparage the apostle's character as one who, if he really was not dishonest, was at all events capable of passing from one extreme of sentiments to their direct opposite with the utmost suddenness and levity, and therefore was not a man entitled to be regarded with confidence. Of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion (τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαΐσμῷ); of my manner of life formerly in Judaism. "The manner in which I once behaved myself as devoted to Judaism." The ποτε belongs to the action denoted in the verbal noun ἀναστροφήν, like ἡ τῆς Τροίας ἅλωσις τὸ δεύτερον, cited by Meyer from Plato ('Legg.,' 3:685, D). Ἀναστροφή, conversatio, which occurs repeatedly in the New Testament, is generally rendered "conversation" in Authorized Version (Ephesians 4:22; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 4:12; Hebrews 13:7). "Judaism" means "the religious life of a Jew," which distinctively was Mosaism. It occurs in 2 Macc. 2:21; 14:38; 4 Macc. 4:16. Ignatius ('Ad Magn.,' 8) speaks of "not living according to Judaism," as in ibid., 10, he uses the word "Christianism." St. Paul has the verb "Judaize" below, Galatians 2:14. On the objective accusative ἀναστροφὴν as defined by the following clause, "how that," etc., see note on εὐαγγέλιον in Galatians 2:11. How that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God (ὅτι καθ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ); how that beyond measure I was persecuting the Church of God. The imperfect "was persecuting," as well as the following, "was making havoc and was advancing," points to what he was doing when God interposed in the manner described in Galatians 2:15, Galatians 2:16. Compare the use of the aorist ἐδίωξα in 1 Corinthians 15:9, Where no such simultaneity required to be indicated. "Beyond measure" or "superlatively" (καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν) was, at least about this time, a favorite phrase with St. Paul. A less eager pen might have written "exceedingly" (σφόδρα). Cf. Romans 7:13; 1Co 12:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2Co 4:7, 2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 12:7. "Of God." This is added to "the Chinch" with pathos of strong self-condemnation, as it is also in 1 Corinthians 15:9. The apostle feels now that his violence against the Church was a kind of sacrilege. The sentiment is an echo of Christ's words to him," Why persecutest thou me?" And wasted it (καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν); and making havoc of it. The Greek verb (πορθεῖν) used again in this relation below, 1 Corinthians 15:23, is similarly employed also in Acts 9:21, "made havoc of those who called upon this Name." The verb properly denotes "devastate," "harry;" and in classical Greek is used with reference to towns, countries, and the like, being applied to persons only in the poetical style (Liddell and Scott). In the New Testament it is used only in relation to Soul's persecution, apparently marking its deadly effectiveness as well as Saul's determination if possible to extirpate the faith and its adherents. The expugnabam of the Vulgate would seem a fair equivalent.
And profited in the Jews' religion (καὶ προέκοπτον ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαΐσμῷ); and was going forward in Judaism; that is, was going on further and further in Judaism. The Greek verb (προκόπτειν) "to make way," "advance," is found also Luke 2:52; Rom 13:12; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2Ti 3:9, 2 Timothy 3:13. "In Judaism," i.e. in the sentiments and practices of Judaism. The particular kind of Judaism which he has in view was the Pharisean form of Mosaism. A "Pharisee and son of a Pharisee," a high-caste "Hebrew sprung of Hebrews" (Acts 23:1-44. Acts 23:6; Philippians 3:5), Saul had thrown himself upon the study and observance, not only of all the rites and ceremonies prescribed in the written Law, but also of the doctrines, rites, and ceremonies which rabbinical teaching and tradition added thereto; outvying in strictness those who were the strictest; never satisfied without adopting whatever fresh observances the authority of a Pharisean rabbin might commend to his regard. Above many my equals in mine own nation (ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς συνηλικιώτας ἐν τῷ γένει μου)"Above," beyond; the same Greek preposition as in Acts 26:13; Phmon Acts 1:16, Acts 1:21; Hebrews 4:12. Συνηλικιώτης, synonymous with συνῆλιξ, used in the Septuagint of Daniel 1:10, is equivalent to ἡλικιώτης or ἧλιξ, the σύν being prefixed merely to make the notion of parity more emphatic. Saul was then "a young man" (Acts 7:58); and the reference which he here makes to "coevals" of his, as sharing in his Judaistic enthusiasm, but outstripped by him therein, seems to point to the rising up at that time of a party, "a young Jewry," as we might nowadays style it. especially espoused by the more youthful "Hebrews," which devoted itself to the revival and consolidation of Pharisean Judaism in its most advanced form. We may cone,lye of them as actuated by antagonism, alike to the Gentilizing spirit of the Herodians; to the rigid hare form of Mosaism cherished by the Sadducees which rejected that development of spiritual doctrine which for many generations had been going on in many pious and thoughtful minds; and finally, and perhaps most specially of all, to the new but rapidly spreading sect of the "Nazarenes." "In my nation." The apostle says "my," as conscious of the presence of the Gentiles to whom he is writing. For the like reason uses the singular possessive pronoun, "my people (τὸ ἔθνος μου) in his address to Felix and in his defense before Agrippa, this king sitting only as an assesor by compliment at the side of the heathen governor. (Acts 24:17; Acts 26:4). Elsewhere also St. Paul uses the word γένος "nation" to denote the Jewish people, whence also he employs the phrase "my kinsmen" συγγένης μου when addressing Gentiles to denote a fellow-Jew in contrast to Gentiles (Romans 9:3, Romans 16:7, Romans 16:21). In the present passage, "among my countrymen" presupposes is founded on relation to country, whereas γένος denotes a blood connection, comprising Jews of whatever country. Being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers (περισσοτέρως ζηλωτὴς ὑάρχω τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων) The strong adverb here used, "more excessively" περισσοτέρως which frequently occurs in St. Paul's ardent style, always retains its proper comparative sense; as e.g. 2 Corinthians 7:15; 2Co 11:23, 2 Corinthians 12:15. It means, therefore, more excessively than they." The word ζηλωτής rendered "zealous," followed by the genetive "of the traditions," has much the same meaning as in the phrases, "zealous of spirits [or, spiritual gifts];" "zealous of good works;" "zealous of the Law" (1 Corinthians 14:12; Titus 2:14; Acts 21:20); in all which passages it is rendered in the Authorized Version as here. Its meaning is illustrated by use of the verb from which it is derived in 1 Corinthians 14:1, "Desire earnestly to prophesy;" denoting, as it should seem, "admire and long to possess" "aspire after" (see below, the notes on Galatians 4:17, Galatians 4:18). The clause may be paraphrased, "With more excessive fervency than they, affecting [or, being devoted to] the traditions of my fathers." The only remaining passage in the New Testament in which the Greek word occurs as an adjective in Acts 22:3 (ζηλωτὴς τοῦ Θεοῦ), "zealous towards God" (Authorized Version), "zealous for God" (Revised Version); where the sense is probably still that of fervent devotion, but implying also a palliating reference to the intense zeal which the Jews were then showing in vindicating the honour of God against a supposed insult. "Zeal towards" an object implies also a "zeal for it;" in other words, fervent attachment and devotion has also an outward-looking aspect of resentment and resistance against any who are regarded as disposed to assail what we love. And this latter element of thought, the vindicatory, is frequently the more prominent of the two, in the use of the word "zeal" and its derivatives, in the Hellenistical Greek of both the LXX. and the New Testament; while in some cases it is not clear which for the moment is the most in the speaker's mind The latter, no doubt, forms the principal notion of the name "Zealot" as applied in the closing decades of the Jewish commonwealth to a fanatical party, who felt they had a special vocation to vindicate the honour of God and his service by deeds of rancourous violence; to which party probably at one time belonged the Simon who in Luke 6:15 is styled "Zelotes," a word no doubt, synonymous with the Chaldeian word "Cananaean" found in Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:18. In the phrase, "the traditions of my fathers," the apostle has been supposed by some critics to allude to the circumstance that he was "the son of a Pharisee:" thus making it equivalent to "the traditions of my family. But the context shows that he is thinking of traditions observed likewise by those "coevals" of his to whom he refers; the "fathers," therefore, are the forefathers of the nation, equivalent to the "elders," in the phrase current among the Jews, "the tradition of the elders" (Matthew 15:2)., Comp. 1 Peter 1:18, "Your vain manner of life πατροπαραδότου handed down from your fathers." In the possessive pronoun "my" the apostle still speaks of himself as a born Jew, in contradiction to Gentiles such as he was addressing. If he had been addressing Jews, he would probably have written "our," or omitted the pronoun altogether, as in Acts 22:3; Acts 24:14; Acts 28:17. There seems to be a tone of mimesis in the phrase: q.d. "The traditions which I proudly and fondly cherished as those of my fathers." The adjective rendered "of the fathers" marks them as those who had transmitted παρέδοσαν those traditions παραδόσεις, not merely those who had possessed them. It has been questioned whether this phrase "paternal traditions" includes those transmitted religious maxims and observances which the Mosaic Law itself prescribed. Probably it does. The "customs which [the Jews said] Moses delivered παρέδωκεν to us" (Acts 6:14). as they appertained to "the fathers." at the same time, the apostle would hardly have written as he here has done, if he had had these alone in his view; he would rather have introduced the venerable name of "the Law." The expression appears chosen as comprehending, together with the prescriptions of the original Law, those transmitted maxims and usages also which are described in the Gospels as things said "by" or "to" them of old time, or as "the traditions of the elders;" the particular instances of such which are specified in the Gospels being only samples taken out of a a very large class (Mark 7:4). Our Lord himself, it is true, made a distinction between these two classes of religions doctrines or observances, rebuking specifically many of the latter class, and discountenancing the whole class in general when enforced on men's consciences as a religious obligation; in contrast with "the Word of God," these, he insisted, were "commandments" or "traditions of men" (Mark 7:7-41). But a Judaist would hardly have been disposed to make the same distinction, Rather, it would be the habit of his mind to blend and confound the two together as forming one entire system of formal religion; regarding those of the latter class simply as explanatory of the former, or as a fitting suppletion required to give to the former due coherency and entireness. He would be disposed to consider that portion of the whole tradition which in reality was of purely human device as invested with the like obligatoriness as that other portion which could truly plead the sanction of Divine authorization. It is plain that this was the case with those Judaists with whom, in the Gospels, our Lord is seen contending. And in all the references which St. Paul makes to Judaism, whether as part of his own former life, or as confronted by him in his apostolic agency, nowhere, either, is he found making any distinction between the two certainly distinguishable elements which composed it. There were, however, different schools of thought in Judaistic traditionalism, some stricter, some more lax. We must, therefore, further define our view of the particular branch of "paternal traditions" which the apostle here refers to by remembering that, as he said in his speech from the stairs (Acts 22:3), he had been "instructed according to the strict manner of the Law of their fathers;" trained, that is, to construe the requirements of the Law as these were interpreted by the strictest of all the schools; as he said before Agrippa, "After the straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee'' (Acts 26:5). Here the inquiry presents itself—In what way does the substance of these two verses (13, 14) help to bear out the apostle's statement in Acts 28:12, that the gospel which he preached was altogether derived from God's own immediate revelation to himself? The whole complexion of the passage shows that the point which the apostle is here concerned to indicate relates to the posture of his own spirit at the time of his first receiving the gospel. The Saul of those days, he says, was animated by the sentiment of bitter hostility to the faith; by a stern resolve—the dictate, as he thought, of conscience—if possible to extirpate the Church. Was it supposable that a mind possessed with such an abhorrence of the Nazarenes was nevertheless accessible to voices and teachings coming to him out of their society? Again, an earnestly religious man according to his lights, Saul's spirit was absorbed by devotion to Judaism—to the eager carrying out in practice, and to the vindication, of those modes of religious life which the revered and fondly cherished traditions of his people recommended to him. Was it credible that he could for a moment have given a favourable hearing to statements, whether of matters of fact or of religious belief, which proceeded from a sect of latitudinarians such as these, whose teacher had notoriously been foremost both in trampling down the fences of Pharisaism in his own practice and in loudly denouncing alike its principles and its representatives? Why, anything which those men could have said would to his view be at once self-condemned because simply of the quarter from which it issued. It may be objected that words which he had heard, we may confidently believe, from the martyr Stephen, who, in the controversy between Judaism and Christianity, may be regarded as in a certain degree Paul's own forerunner, and very supposably from many another confessor of the faith of less enlightenment than St. Stephen, though at the time repelled from his acceptance through his all-absorbing Pharisaism, may nevertheless have deposited in his mind pregnant seeds of thought and instruction afterwards to be fully developed. To this objection it appears a sufficient reply that the gospel of the grace of God to all mankind, untrammelled by any Judaical restriction whatever, which was the gospel entrusted to St. Paul, and which at this present hour of conflict in Galatia he was more specifically concerned to maintain, had at the time of his conversion been as yet most imperfectly disclosed even to the most advanced disciples of the faith. This more perfectly developed form of the gospel it was not possible that he should have heretofore heard from any Christian martyr or from any Christian teacher; for at float time it was still a mystery, not patent as yet to the eyes of even apostles themselves (see Ephesians 3:1-49).
But when it pleased God (ὅτε δὲ αὐδόκησεν ὁ Θεός); and when it was the good pleasure of God. The Authorized Version and the Revised Version have "but when." To determine the exact force here of the conjunction δέ, we must consider how the sentence it introduces stands related to what precedes. The main underlying thought of Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:14 was that the habit of the apostle's mind before his conversion was such as wholly to preclude the notion of his having known the gospel up to that hour. The main thought pervading Galatians 1:15-48, and indeed pursued to the end of the chapter, is that, after he had received from God himself the knowledge of the gospel, he had had no occasion to have recourse to any mortal man, apostle or other, for the purpose of further instruction therein. It follows that the conjunction connecting the two sentences is not adversative, as it would, of course, be taken if God's dealings with him, described in Galatians 1:15, Galatians 1:16, were the main point of this new paragraph, but is simply the sign of the writer's passing on to another thought—not one contrasted with the preceding, but merely additional. As examples of the use of δὲ as continuative and not adversative, comp. Luke 12:11, Luke 12:16; Luke 13:6, Luke 13:10; Luke 15:11; Acts 9:8, Acts 9:10; Acts 12:10, Acts 12:13; Romans 2:3; 1 Corinthians 16:15, 1 Corinthians 16:17. It may be represented in English by "and" or "and again." In the reading of the Greek text it is not certain whether we ought not to omit the word "God" (ὁ Θεός). If it is a gloss which has crept into the text, it is unquestionably a just gloss. Similar omissions of the Divine Name, as Bishop Lightfoot observes, are frequent in St. Paul (see 1Co 1:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Romans 8:11; Philippians 1:6). The verb εὐδοκεῖν properly exprcsses complacency; as e.g. Matthew 3:17, "In whom I am well pleased;" and often. And this notion may be commonly traced in its use even when followed, as here, by an infinitive. Thus in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, "It would have been a pleasure to us to impart," etc.; in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, "It was painful to us to be left alone, but under the circumstances we gladly chose to be so." When applied, as here, to God, the notion of the pleasure which he takes in acts of beneficence must not be lost sight of; "Was graciously pleased;" comp. Luke 12:32, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." In Ephesians 1:5 the noun "good pleasure" points to the act of "predestination" spoken of as a volition of his heart and not of merely his regulative wisdom. The apostle seems led to use the word here by the complacency and joy which he himself felt in having been made the recipient of this "revelation;" those sentiments of his own bosom are, to his view, a reflection of the Divine complacency in imparting it. At the same time, the reader must be conscious of the deep sense, in fact the supremely prevailing sense, which the apostle has just here, that the imparting of the revelation spoken of was the fruit solely of a Divine volition triumphing over extreme wickedness and infatuation on his own part. Compare, in this respect also, the passage Ephesians 1:5, just cited. It is this feeling which prompts the introduction of the deeply emotional parenthesis consisting of the two next clauses of the verse. Who separated me from my mother's womb (ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου); who set me apart from my mother's womb. The verb ἀφορίζω, set apart, separate, which is found used in other relations in Leviticus 20:26 (LXX.); Matthew 13:49; Matthew 25:32; Acts 19:9; Galatians 2:12, is employed here with an implied reference to a specific office or work. Such a reference is explicitly added in Acts 13:2," Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;" and in Romans 1:1, "Separated unto the gospel of God." There is this distinction, however, between the "setting apart" of the present passage and that of Acts 13:2, that, whereas in the latter it was one actually realized, here it is in the Divine predestination only, which last seems to be nearly the sense of the words, "whereunto I have called them," in the Acts. In Romans 1:1 the verb probably includes both senses. "From my mother's womb" means "from the time that I was as yet unborn;" not perhaps exactly "ever since my birth," as Judges 16:17; Matthew 19:12; Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8; comp. rather Luke 1:15, as illustrated by Luke 1:41. The addition of these words is designed to mark the purely arbitrary character of this predestination. Comp. Romans 9:11, "The children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand." Viewed thus, the clause appears as an utterance of adoring humility on the part of the apostle, combined, however, with the strongest possible assertion of the Divine origin of his mission. A similar statement of God's arbitrary selection of a particular human being for a particular function is found in Isaiah 49:1, "The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name; "ibid., Isaiah 49:5, "That formed me from the womb to be his servant;" and again, with yet more striking resemblance, in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (προφήτην εἰς ἔθνη)." It is difficult not to believe that this conviction of the apostle concerning himself as an object of God's predestinating purpose, and perhaps even the form of its expression—for compare the words in the next verse, "That I might preach him among the Gentiles (ἔθνεσιν)"—was very mainly derived from the Lord's words to Jeremiah, applied by the Spirit to his own particular case (comp. Acts 9:15). The apostle feels that all the while that he had been pursuing that career of persecuting impiety and passionate Pharisaism, the Almighty had kept his eye upon him as his predestined apostle, and been waiting for the fitting hour when to summon him forth to his work. And called me by his grace (καὶ καλέσας με διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ). As the "setting apart" mentioned in the previous clause unquestionably was a "setting apart" for the apostolic office, it might seen convenient to understand the "calling" likewise as a calling to be an apostle. So most probably we are to take the words κλητὸς ἀπόστολος in Romans 1:1 as meaning "called to be an apostle;" and in Hebrews 5:4 the verb "called" is used of one called to be a priest. But the prevailing sense of "being called," in St. Paul's writings, refers to the bringing of the soul to Christ and into his kingdom; and in this definite reference the apostle uses the verb no less than twenty-four times, three of them in this Epistle (Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 5:13). And this, the regular use of the term, is quite in place here. It was quite natural that the writer, after so vividly portraying his former life when unregenerate, should now distinctly advert to the moral transformation which by Divine grace he had been the subject of. The word "grace" denotes God's freely expanding unmerited goodness, not as existing in himself, but as energizing upon men. This is made clear by the introduction of the preposition (διὰ) "through" or "by." It is that "grace whose "reigning" power the apostle so exultingly extols in Romans 5:15-45 (comp. Ephesians 2:5, "By grace have ye been saved"). The notion of mercy shown to the utterly undeserving is a prominent element of the word, connected as it is here with the description of the writer's former wickedness (comp. the use of the verb "obtained mercy (ἠλεήθην)" in 1 Timothy 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:16). This clause, together with the preceding one, is not to be taken as a part of the historical statement in conjunction with the next verse, as if tracing the successive steps of the transaction, but as a periphrastic designation of Almighty God adapted to the circumstances of the case. The one article prefixed in the Greek to the two combined clauses shows this. We need not, therefore, perplex ourselves to determine the relation in point of time which the Divine acts here indicated bear to that described in the verse which follows. The tone of the verse is in a measure apologetic, rebutting the prejudice which, we may be sure, did in the view of many accrue to the writer from what he once had been. Thus: "Nevertheless, God had all along, even kern the dawn of his being, set him apart to be his apostle; God, by a marvellous exercise of goodness, had called him forth out of that evil state to be his own: unworthy, no doubt, he had proved himself to be of such mercy; but what God's grace had made him, that he was; for who should dare to contravene his hand?"
To reveal his Son in me (ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί). The rendering "in me," i.e. "in my soul," or, in the idiom of the New Testament, "in my heart," is quite borne out by the use of the same preposition in numerous passages; e.q. John 2:25, "Knew what was in man;" John 4:14," Shall become in him a well;" Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you the Hope of glory;" Romans 7:17, Romans 7:20, "Sin which dwelleth in me;" Romans 8:9," The Spirit of God dwelleth in you;" Romans 8:10, "Christ in you;" Philippians 2:13, "God which worketh in you" (comp. also Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29). Chrysostom writes, "But why does he say, 'To reveal his Son in me,' and not 'to me'? It is to signify that he had not only been instructed in the faith by words, but that he was richly endowed with the Spirit; that the revelation had enlightened his whole soul, and that he had Christ speaking, within him" ('Comment in Galatians'). This exposition tallies remarkably with the description which the apostle in 2 Corinthians 4:6 gives of the process by which he had received the "treasure" of the gospel: "Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light [or, illumination] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The "veil" which, while he was yet in Judaism, "had been upon his heart," was taken away; "with face unveiled" he was enabled to "behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:15-47). This account of his spiritual illumination, written near about the same time as the passage before us, shows the manner in which at that time the transaction presented itself to his mind. This revelation of God's Son to him involved, we may feel certain, the revelation of him in the relations which, as the once crucified and now exalted Christ, he bears to all mankind, Gentiles as well as Jews, and in the relations which he bears to his Church. "Christ Jesus" was then (to use the apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 1:30) "made unto him Wisdom from God, both Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption;" and what Christ was then of God made to be to Paul himself, that also, as the joyful recipient of the revelation at the same time learnt, Christ was through the recipient's own preaching of the Word to be of God made to all who should receive his rues. sage. The view of. the passage above given is required by the tenor of the context. If it is not admitted, there is nothing in the whole passage to make good the apostle's affirmation, in 2 Corinthians 4:12, that he had received the gospel, not from man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. If after the analogy of such passages as 1 Timothy 1:16, "That in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his long-suffering;" Romans 9:17, "That I might show in thee my power;" 1 Corinthians 4:6, "That in us ye might learn;"—we were to take the present clause to mean "To reveal to men the wonderful grace of his Son by what he did in my case," the words would merely point to Christ's mercy shown to him as a sinner; they would supply no statement of the fact of the apostle's having been furnished with the knowledge necessary in order that he might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles. In other words, the clause would neither satisfy the requirement of 1 Corinthians 4:12 nor that of the dependent clause which follows. If, again, after the analogy of the words, "Ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me," in 2 Corinthians 13:3, taking this to mean "Christ that speaketh by me;" or if the words in Acts 17:31, "he will judge the world in righteousness by [Greek, 'in'] the Man whom he hath ordained," we propose to understand the meaning to be "Reveal his Son by me," i.e. by my preaching, we are met by the objection that the clause would anticipate the thought expressed by the following words: "That I might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles," which, however, stand as expressing their dependent consequence. Here the important question arises how the reference which the apostle here makes to the revelation of Jesus Christ made "in him" stands related to the accounts repeatedly given in the Acts of the personal sight of the Lord Jesus accorded to him at his conversion—accounts which are confirmed in the Epistles by the apostle's own words in 1 Corinthians 9:1, "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" To harmonize the two, some have been led to do violence to the phrase, "reveal in me," so as to make it in some way or ether to mean "reveal to me," and thus render it possible to make the words refer to that personal manifestation made to Soul's bodily senses. Others have had recourse to the yet more violent and indeed utterly destructive expedient of inferring from this phrase that the revelation of Christ made to the apostle at his conversion was altogether and exclusively spiritual; and that the spiritual sight of our Lord had been so realizing and vivid as to have been even mistaken by the apostle himself for a manifestation actually made to his senses. We are relieved of the necessity of adopting either of these methods of criticism by the consideration that, in the course of the argument which the apostle is now pursuing, there is nothing to lead him to speak at all of the outward circumstances accompanying his conversion. All that he now has occasion to refer to is the fact that at that time God Almighty did himself give to his soul so clear a view of his Son as qualified him at once to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; so clear that, not needing further illumination, he had in fact sought none of any mortal man. This is all that the line of argument requires the apostle now to refer to. A reference to the actual personal sight which he then had of the Lord Jesus would in no way have served his purpose. Such reference would not have even involved by inference, much less have definitely slated, the point which he now is concerned to state. This point is, plainly, the communication to his soul of the full knowledge of the gospel, and nothing else; and accordingly it is this alone that he now makes mention of. It has been questioned at what precise juncture in the narrative of the ninth chapter of the Acts the revelation here spoken of should be supposed to have taken place. Our Lord's personal manifestation of himself to Saul on his road to Damascus, involving as it did the complete instantaneous overthrow of all his previous views, relative alike to "Jesus of Nazareth" and to the idea of the expel, ted "Messiah," must have been an all-important preparation for that full disclosure of the truth to his soul which is here indicated; but there is no sufficient reason for identifying the one with the other. The history of the Acts (Acts 22:18) and the Epistles (l Corinthians Acts 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1, 2 Corinthians 12:8) make mention of several occasions on which our Lord appears to have shown himself to St. Paul and made important communications to him; and the incidental manner in which these have come to be mentioned suggests the belief that they may have been only a few out of many similar instances, others of which have lain unmentioned. There may very supposably have been such taking place (we will say) presently after Saul's baptism, and pointed forward to by our Lord in his words to Ananias," I will show him how many things he must suffer for my Name's sake" (Acts 9:16). It is very possible that we do not commonly bear enough in mind how little, in fact, it is that the record tells us of this most interesting event; and, in particular, that we do not adequately realize the frequency and the intimate character of the communications to which this "choice instrument (σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς)" of Divine teaching would seem to have been admitted by his Master. And who may venture to determine what part the Lord Jesus took personally, that is, by personal intercourse, in the process of illumination of which the apostle here declares himself to have been the subject, or how much of it was effected by the agency of the Third Person of the holy Trinity, cooperating with the intense action of Saul's own earnest, questioning, light-imploring mind, especially during those three days spokes of in Acts 9:9? "For, behold, he prayeth!" (Acts 9:11, Acts 9:12). It seems only reasonable to believe that the revelation of his Son which (the apostle says) God vouchsafed to him, preceded his very first public appearance in the synagogues of Damascus as an evangelist, and that this revelation was not deferred, as some imagine it was, until after his withdrawal into Arabia. Indeed, that it did precede it appears to be conclusively established by the statement of the verse now before us and the next following; for the course of action described by the writer, both negatively and affirmatively, in the words beginning with, "I consulted not," is represented as ensuing "immediately" upon the "revelation in him of God's son." That the locality where this revelation was made was Damascus or its vicinity is indicated by the words, "I returned to Damascus," in Acts 9:17. This circumstance betokens the consciousness in the writer's mind that the story of his conversion was not unknown to his readers. That I might preach him among the heathen (ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν); that I might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles. In this instance, as well as perhaps in some others, the Authorized Version falls somewhat short of representing the exact force of the verb εὐαγγελίζεσθαι by rendering it "preach," which more nearly answers to κηρύσσω. In Luke 8:1, where in the Greek we have the two verbs together (κηρύσσωυ καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενος), our translators were compelled to use another term; and accordingly they render ἐυαγγελαζόμενος, "showing [Revised Version, 'bringing'] the glad tidings of [the kingdom of God];" which shade of thought was what the evangelist intended to suggest. The verb surely always retains some tinge of its original element of "glad tidings," though this may often have been more or less attenuated, as in the case of the word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel, itself, by its becoming a set term. In the present instance, the apostle's posture of feeling at the time when the "joyful tidings" were first brought home to his own heart seems to suggest a return, at least here, to the original import of the word. The present tense of the Greek verb (εὐαγγελίζωμαι) points to the continuous character of the service; as if it were," That I should be a shower-forth of the glad tidings." The aorist would have recited the entire service as one whole. "Among the Gentiles." Dean Howson very justly observes, "We should mark how emphatic in all accounts of the conversion is the reference to his work among the Gentiles. Thus, 'The Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light,' are named by Christ himself in the first communication from heaven (Acts 26:17, Acts 26:18). To Ananias the direction is given, 'Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my Name before the Gentiles [and kings, and the children of Israel].'... To which we may properly add what was said to him at Jerusalem, when he first went thither from Damascus, 'Depart; for I will send thee far off to the Gentiles' (Acts 22:21) ('Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.). Immediately (εὐθέως). The construction of the sentence imperatively requires us to connect this adverb with the two affirmative clauses which the writer adds to the two negative ones which he first interposes, and not with these two negative clauses alone, while, however, its import is felt to attach itself to these also. The turn of thought seems to be this: "I felt at once that I needed not to advise with any mortal man; no, not even with the older apostles; and accordingly I abstained from doing so; I immediately went away into Arabia, and then forthwith came back to Damascus." I conferred not (οὐ προσανεθέμην); I consulted not. The use of the Greek verb constructed with a dative as meaning "advise with," "seek counsel in personal intercourse with," is well illustrated by several passages cited by the critics: Diod. Sic., 17:116, "Consulting the soothsayers con-coming the sign;" Lucian, 'Jup. Trag.,' § 1, "Consult with me; take me as your adviser in business;" Chrysippus (ap. in Suidas, sub verb. νεοττός), "Consulting a dream-interpreter." Bengel takes the preposition πρὸς in the compound verb as meaning "further, i.e. the Divine revelation was enough for me." But the instances just cited of the use of the verb render this doubtful. On this point, see Ellicott's 'Commentary,' in loc. In Galatians 2:6 the verb requires to be taken differently (see note). With flesh and blood (σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι). The phrase, "flesh and blood," occurs in four other places in the New Testament:
(1) 1 Corinthians 15:50 "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption;"
(2) Hebrews 2:14, "Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood [the Revised Greek text reads 'blood and flesh '], he also himself in like manner partook of the same;"
(3) Ephesians 6:12, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places;"
(4) Matthew 16:17, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." In the first two of these passages the phrase denotes the bodily nature of men viewed as subject to mortality; which is the turn of thought also in Ecclus. 14:18, where the human race is styled a "generation of flesh and blood." In the other two it denotes human beings themselves, described by their material nature, but with reference to their comparative inefficiency as viewed alongside, in
(3) with purely spiritual agents; in
(4) with God. In precisely the same way as in the last-cited passage, the apostle uses the phrase here. Knowing that God had himself revealed in him his Son, in order that he should proclaim him among the Gentiles, he at that crisis of action felt any reference for teaching or practical direction to mere men to be in his case altogether unnecessary. As the next clause specifies the older apostles, who are mentioned as being at that time at Jerusalem, it may be that the phrase, "flesh and blood," in its most immediate scope, contemplates believers or elders (for probably there already were Christian elders there) of Damascus. Ananias is the only Damascene believer named in the history, though it speaks of others (Acts 9:19); he was a man of remarkably high estimation even amongst the unbelieving Jews (Acts 22:12), and he had been honoured by Christ with a special vision, and sent by Christ on a special mission to Saul. If Saul had felt it to be incumbent upon him to advise with any servant of Christ, whether as to what he should believe or as to what he should do, surely to Ananias he would naturally have looked. But not even to an Ananias would Saul refer for guidance at this juncture. The sense which has frequently been given, to the phrase," flesh and blood," as meaning "the dictates of one's own fleshly nature," is neither favoured by its use in any other passage (although "the flesh," standing alone, might have admitted of such an interpretation), nor is it in any way suggested by the tenor of the context. The apostle is here dealing solely with his relations to other men.
Neither went I up to Jerusalem (οὐδὲ ἀνῆκλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) neither went I up (or, away). This "neither" negatives one particular instance of the general notion of "consulting flesh and blood," in reference to which an exception might else have not unnaturally been supposed likely. It forms a sort of climax to the negative. So Romans 9:16, "Not of him that willeth, neither of him that ranneth." It is uncertain whether "went up" or "went away" is the true reading of the Greek text. If the latter, the verb is repeated after the following "but" (ἀλλὰ), as Romans 8:15, "Ye have received;" Hebrews 12:18, Hebrews 12:22, "Ye are come." To them which were apostles before me (πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους). For this "before me," comp. Romans 16:7. Every reader must feel the consciousness of official parity with the twelve which transpires in this expression of St. Paul's. The like consciousness is apparent in 1 Corinthians 15:5-46, strongly as the writer there expresses his sense of comparative personal unworthiness. Why, it may be asked, does the apostle thus particularly refer to the "apostles before him"? The probable answer seems to be, for the purpose of more forcibly illustrating the assured conviction, which from the very first he entertained, of the sufficiency and Divine authority of the gospel which he had already received. But I went into Arabia (ἀλλ ἀπῆλθον εἰς Ἀραβίαν); but I went away into Arabia. It is impossible to determine what was the precise locality to which St. Paul then went. "Arabia" was in those days a geographical term of very wide significance. Damascus itself appertained to Arabia; so Justin Martyr writes "that Damascus was of the Arabian country (τῆς-Ἀραβικῆς γῆς), and is, even though now [probably, Bishop Lightfoot suggests, by Hadrian's arrangement of those provinces] it has been assigned to what is called the Syrophoenician country, none even of you are able to deny." So Tertullian, 'Adv. Mare,' 1 Corinthians 3:13; 'Adv. Judaeos,' 9. At the time of St. Paul's abode at Damascus the city was subject to an "ethnarch of Aretas" (2 Corinthians 11:32); and "Aretas," the King of Petra, is in the case of several successive princes, styled "the King of the Arabians" (2 Macc. 5:8; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:1, 4; 'Bell. Jud.,' 1:6, 2; 'Ant.,' 16:10, 8, 9). The apostle's words may, therefore, describe a withdrawal into some district, whether inhabited or uninhabited, not far distant from Damascus. On the other hand, in Galatians 4:25, the apostle refers to "Arabia" in connection with Mount Sinai; so that Arabia Petraea may possibly have been the country visited. And here the imagination is tempted by recollections of Moses and the giving of the Law, and of Elijah, to indulge in speculations with reference to the especial appropriateness of that vicinity for being Saul's place of sojourn at this crisis of spiritual illumination and call to apostleship. But all this is conjectural: there is no solid ground whatever for our believing that it was thither flint his steps were at this season directed, And we cannot but recollect, with reference to the Lord Jesus, that when, after his baptism, "the Spirit drove him forth into the wilderness,'' with a view, as we may in all reverence believe, to his preparing himself for his high ministry as the Christ, no one imagines that it was into the wilderness of Sinai that he was led. And this suggests the remark that, at this particular juncture in especial, Saul's movements were directed by heavenly guidance. This we seem warranted to infer from our Lord's words to him, "Rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). At such a season, indeed, the unceasing cry of his whole soul—a cry at, rely not unresponded to—must have been, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" For further description of the geographical question,see Conybeare and Howson, Galatians 3:1-48.; 'Dictionary of the Bible' articles "Arabia" and "Aretus;" Lightfoot's 'Galatians: Excursus,' pp. 87-92, 6th edit. And returned again unto Damascus (καὶ πάλιν ὑπέστρεψα εἰς Δαμασκόν). That is, "without going elsewhere or to any place where I could meet with men who could be my instructors in the gospel." This must be supposed to be implied; otherwise the narrative would be illusive. As above stated, the "immediately'' appears intended to qualify this clause as well as the preceding. The evidential value of this reference to Damascus, by implication indicated as the scene of his previously mentioned conversion, is strikingly illustrated by Paley in his 'Heros Paulinae (Galatians), cited by Dean Howson, in loc. "A casual expression at the end, and an expression brought in for a different purpose, alone fixes it to have been at Damascus. Nothing can be more like simplicity and undesignedness than this." At the risk of repeating some remarks already made, I venture to propose the following as a just paraphase of the whole passage, beginning with verse 12. "My gospel which ye are swerving from I did not in any degree receive from men, but solely through the revelation of Jesus Christ which God himself made to me. It is evident that before I knew Christ, during the time that I was persecuting God's own Church with fanatical fury, my whole heart and soul devoted to the strictest Judaism of the Pharisees, I was removed poles asunder from all possible sympathetic contact with this doctrine. That God's love was ready to embrace every believer in Christ, whether obeying Moses' Law or not obeying it,—this was a truth that in those days could not possibly have gained access to my mind. And after this, when God graciously illuminated my soul with the sight of his Son, in order that I might become the joyful herald of his grace to the Gentiles, to no mortal man, whether at Damascus or elsewhere, did I apply for further light; neither did I even repair to Jerusalem to seek instruction from Christ's own former apostles: I at once departed in a direction which took me where I was still far away [or, perhaps, "which took me farther and farther away"] from Jerusalem, into Arabia: and who should teach me this doctrine in Arabia? And then, forthwith, I came hack straight to Damascus, Damascus being my first appointed sphere of labour."
Then after three years (ἔπειτα μετὰ τρία ἔτη). The apostle's object is to illustrate the independent source of his doctrine as not derived from men. This he does here by indicating how long an interval elapsed after he first was made acquainted with it before he ever got to even know Peter. By this he gives his readers to feel how strongly assured from the very first was his conviction of the sufficiency and certain truth of those views of the "gospel" which had been divinely communicated to him. The obvious inference from this view of the writer's present purpose is that, in his reckoning of time, the terminus a quo in this verse is the era of "God's revealing his Son in him," which in effect was that of his conversion. There are two modes of computing time employed in the New Testament—the inclusive and the non-inclusive. According to the former, just as "after three days" in Matthew 27:63 and Mark 8:31, means in fact "on the next day after but one;" so in the present instance, "after three years" may denote a not greater interval than "in the next year after but one." Compare the "by the space of three years" (τριετίαν) of Acts 20:31, taken in conjunction with "for the space of two years' of Acts 19:10. On the other hand, according to the non-inclusive way exemplified in the "after six days" of Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2 (compared with the "about eight days" of Luke 9:28), the interval denoted may have been no less than three whole years. Since it is to the interest of the apostle's argument to mark the interval at its greatest, the reader will probably be of opinion that, if St. Paul had had in his mind a space of time which was not in reality less than three years, he would have used a form of expression more clearly marking this, and not one which might be easily taken as meaning less; and therefore that the phrase, "after three years," means in reality no more than "in the year after the next, not before." I went up to Jerusalem (ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα). The apostle writes "went up" with a Jew's instinctive feeling of Jerusalem being the capital and centre of his nation and its religion; a feeling which would be all the stronger through the consciousness that it was as yet the capital and centre also of Christendom itself. To see Peter (ἱστορῆσαι Κησᾶν [Receptus, Πέτρον); to acquaint myself with Cephas. As the Greek verb here used—which is found nowhere else in the New Testament, and not found at all in the Septuagint—has been often misunderstood, it seems desirable to give a somewhat full account of the manner in which it is employed in other writers. The verb ἱστορεῖν, derived, through ἵστωρ or ἴστωρ, knowing, learned, from the conjectural root εἴδω, in the older Greek most commonly means "inquire of some one about some person or thing," and is constructed like ἐπερωτᾷν and other verbs of questioning. Thus, Eurip., 'Phaen ,' 621, Ὡς τί μ ἱστορεῖς τόδε; "Ask me this question;" Soph., 'OEd. Tyr.,' 1156, Ον οὗτος ἱστορεῖ, "Whom this man is inquiring about." So in Herod., Mark 2:19. But sometimes, still in the older Greek, it means simply "knowing" or" personally knowing," with no associated notion of asking questions; as e.g. AEsch., 'Pers.,' 454, Κακῶς τὸ μέλλον ἱστορῶν, "Ill apprised of the future;" 'Eum.,' 455, Πατέρα δ ̓ ἱστορεῖς καλῶς, "My father thou knowest well." In the later Greek it frequently denotes personally acquainting one's self with some object, whether a person or a thing. Here again, as in its use just exemplified from AEschylus, the notion of asking questions is altogether absent. Thus, Josephus, 'Boll. Jud.,' Mark 6:1, Mark 6:8, Ἀνήρ ὃν ἐγὼ κατ ἐκεῖνον ἱστόρησα τὸν πόλεμον, "When I got personally to know;" ' Ant.,' Mark 8:2, Mark 8:5, Ἱστόρησα γάρ τινα Ἐλεάζαρον, "I have in person Seen Eleazar, releasing demoniacs," etc.; 'Ant.,' Mark 1:11, Mark 1:4, Ἱστόρηκα δ αὐτήν, "I have myself been and seen it (i.e. the pillar of salt);" Plutarch, 'Thes.,' 30, Τὴν χώραν ἰστορῆσαι, "See, inspect the country;" 'Pomp.,' 40, Ἱστορῆσαι τὴν πόλιν, "See, or inspect the city." The result of this evidence is that, in all probability, the apostle means that he went up to Jerusalem to acquaint himself with Cephas. That in the present instance the verb was not at all meant to suggest the notion of questioning, either directly or by implication, though no doubt in the older form of the language it often means questioning, appears from two considerations:
(1) The words, "I went to question Cephas," with no indication added, either specific or general, of the matters to be inquired about, would present a very bald and imperfect sentence;
(2) it would seem strangely incongruous that the apostle, just when concerned to give point to his affirmation that he received not his gospel from men, but fully and completely from God, should tell his readers that two or three years after his conversion he went up to Jerusalem to make inquiries of Cephas. Neither would the general use of the verb warrant us in understanding St. Paul to say that his object in making this journey was to "see Cephas" in that sense in which we sometimes employ the English verb, to denote a friendly visit; nor again would it justify us in interpreting it to mean "to put myself on a footing of acquaintanceship and friendship with him." No instance has been adduced in which the word has either of these two turns of meaning. Its import in the present instance appears to be this: St. Paul was hearing continually in all quarters a variety of statements respecting Cephas, the leader of the apostles, Cephas's doctrine, Cephas's manner of conduct both personal and ministerial,—statements, we may be sure, not always agreeing together. He knew the great importance of Cephas's position in the Church, not only with reference to the Jewish section of it with which that apostle was the most immediately associated, but also with reference to Gentile believers, he having been first of all the apostles divinely commissioned to open the door to the Gentiles. For the prudent shaping, then, of his own course in the prosecution of his ministry as apostle, it was of deep moment for St. Paul that he should have a more exact understanding of Cephas's personality, and of Cephas's principles of conduct in dealing both with Jews and Gentiles, than he could possibly gain from mere hearsay. He therefore resolved, most assuredly under Divine guidance, himself to repair to Jerusalem, to apprise himself by personal observation and intercourse of the true character of this most highly gifted and most influential leader of Jewish Christendom. Thus much, and so far as I can perceive no more than this, does the usage of the verb in the Greek of the time warrant us in finding in St. Paul's use of it in the present passage. And this view of it is confirmed by its singular appropriateness, when thus understood, to the connection in which it stands. No term could have more significantly implied the feeling which the writer entertained of the independence of his own position as a messenger of Christ to the world. Cephas's own self, he intimates, was the object which he sought by that journey to get to know. That is, there is not the faintest suggestion in the phrase employed of his having felt his own knowledge of the gospel to he imperfect, and that he wished to confer with Peter for the purpose of integrating his views. While, however, with the apostle the ruling motive in taking that journey may be supposed to have been as now stated, we are still at liberty to surmise that there were other accessory inducements. If St. Paul felt that it was urgently needful for him, in the prosecution of his great mission, to know Cephas well, he could not but have also felt that it was of importance for the success of the great cause that Cephas should by personal intercourse be enabled to appreciate more certainly and distinctly than was otherwise possible what manner of man Saul himself now was, and should begin to recognize the gifts and calling which their common Lord had conferred upon him. Further, it is impossible not to believe that Saul would welcome with joy the opportunity which this visit would afford him of obtaining, from the lips of one who was a very principal eye-witness and minister in the matter discoursed on, more precise and more reliable accounts than it is probable he had as yet received, of many particulars appertaining to Christ's sojourn upon earth. And what a story Cephas had to tell him! With what ravishment of listening attention would Saul drink in at his lips the marvels of that Divine life and death, which it had been his privilege so closely to observe! And, on the other side, what joy on earth had the elder apostle greater than that of pouring into a truly sympathetic bosom those precious treasures of reminiscence. His two Epistles, written long after, evince clearly the profound, sweet complacency with which his mind was wont to dwell upon them. If, in Plato's immortal 'Phaedo,' a disciple of the martyred Socrates, when invited by a fellow-disciple, who by accident had not been at Athens at the time, to tell him the particulars of his master's death, would comply with alacrity, "for that to him nothing ever was so sweet as to be remembering Socrates, whether telling of him himself or hearing another do it", how much more might not Cephas feel thus in transmitting to his attentive auditor those leaves of the tree of life which are for the healing of the nations! Nor can we doubt that Cephas would rehearse to him the particulars of the Lord's dealings with his own individual spirit: his own first interview with its then mysterious word, "Thou shalt be called Cephas!" the summons, "Follow me;" the restoration to health of his fever-stricken wife's mother; the miraculous draught of fishes, with the outcry, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man 1" and the gracious response, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men;" the walking on the sea, with its "Lord, save me!" the confession of his faith, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," with the presently ensuing shrinking from the predicted cross, and the merited rebuke, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" the beatifying sight of the Transfiguration; the confident "Though all should deny thee, yet will I never deny thee," so soon rebuked by the triple denial, and the Lord's glance of reproving love; the appearing of the risen Christ to him individually on Easter Day; the morning scene by the margin of the Sea of Tiberias, with its triple confession of love and its triple charge; the closing scene on Mount Olivet; his wondrously blessed discourse on the day of Pentecost; his great work again with Cornelius, so full of in-retest for the newly constituted apostle of the Gentiles now hearing it. The story, told, we may be sure, with quivering lips, with streaming eyes, with features kindling with a rapture of holy, heavenly joy, unfolded a marvellous record of the redeeming Master's love and wisdom and power in dealing with that human soul; a Saviour's work, such as might even in some respects match that which Saul had himself to record. And this no doubt mutual interchange of spiritual experience would reveal each to the other, so as they never could else have been revealed. Saul had come thither for the purpose of acquainting himself with Cephas's personality; he went away knowing something of the weaknesses of his temperament, as well as able to love and admire his loyalty of soul and straightforwardness in action, his zeal, the warmth, the impetuosity even, of his affections, his tender entire devotion to his Lord. It is interesting in this relation to remark that when, in writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul recites historical proofs of Christ's resurrection, the five appearances of the risen Christ specified by him which were antecedent to the one vouchsafed to himself, are those which he was likely to have been told of on the occasion of this visit, when, as he states, he saw, together with Cephas, also James the Lord's brother. Of those five appearances, that to "James" the Lord's brother in all probability is not mentioned in the Gospels at all; that to St. Peter only in the way of most cursory allusion by the Pauline evangelist St. Luke. It would seem as if thus early was stamped on St. Paul's mind a form of historical recital available for customary use ever after. The certain truth of these appearances he then got to be assured of through personal testimony borne to himself by Peter and by James. And abode with him fifteen days (καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε); and I tarried with him fifteen days. The use of the preposition here rendered "with" is illustrated by 1 Corinthians 16:6, 1 Corinthians 16:7; Matthew 13:56; John 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:5. Since in the midst of a populous city the propinquity and (probably) association expressed by the preposition is referred to the one individual Cephas, the phrase, "I tarried with him," is with the greatest probability taken to indicate a sojourn at St. Peter's house. Else, why did not St. Paul write, "I tarried in Jerusalem"? And this circumstance the apostle, as it should seem, indicates, with a latent reference to its significance. The fact was significant in various ways. It testified most openly and emphatically to a wondrous transformation in the mutual sentiments with which the two men regarded one another. It was but a short while ago, only some two or three years more or less, that Saul was viewed by St. Peter with repugnance and dread, as the bitter and influential persecutor of that flock of Christ which the Lord had so pointedly committed especially to his affectionate tendence. Even personally on his own behalf Peter "must have feared him, perhaps even have hidden himself from him, when he forced his way into Christian homes". Only quite lately had the scattered members of the Church ceased to fear fresh onslaughts of the persecution which Saul had so eagerly pressed forward, and begun once more to openly assemble at Jerusalem. Yet now there were here to be seen, on the one side Cephas, forgivingly, affectionately welcoming Saul to his house; and on the other, the late scornful and hostile Pharisee submitting to be beholden to Cephas for hospitality! to Cephas for public recognition as a brother in Christ! That it was with a lively recollection of that newborn mutual brotherliness that the apostle penned this brief record of his visit to Cephas, dry and colourless matter-of-fact as it at first seems, we cannot doubt when we look back upon the highly coloured picture of his previous animosity against the Church of God, and his intense Pharisaism, and also observe that immediately after he brings directly into view the sentiments of wonder and adoring gratitude to God with which the Churches of Judaea beheld the change which had taken place in him. His mind is too intent upon the pressing business of the hour to allow itself in melting mood to loiter upon mere reminiscences of the past; it takes in, nevertheless, with however rapid a glance, the remembrance of those days; how strange, and withal how affecting, his position bad then been felt to be! We are not, however, to suppose that St. Paul devoted this most noteworthy fortnight altogether, or perhaps even principally, to fraternal intercourse with Cephas and James and the other newly found brethren in Christ residing in the capital. We learn from the history of the Acts that, after the misgiving, which not unnaturally bad been at first felt by even the leaders of the Christian community, as to the reality of his conversion to the faith, had been overcome through the interposition of the generous-hearted Barnabas, his ardent zeal thrust him forth without delay upon giving public proof of his consecration to the cause of Christ. He owed it to that cause that, in the place where he had so grievously and publicly sinned against it, he should try what he could to undo, if only he might, the mischief which when last at Jerusalem he had but too well succeeded in effecting. For this end he addressed himself to that very portion of the population amongst whom in those days of sin his hostility had been so conspicuously shown. He sought out the Hellenist Jews, whom he had then been so active in hounding on to their assault upon the holy Stephen, eagerly striving now by exhortation and argument to win them to believe. The endeavour was, however, fruitless. The evil which he had wrought in the past it was not given him in this field to repair. Christ himself, appearing in vision, warned him to desist. Earnestly he entreated to be permitted thus to plead for him; but his Master peremptorily commanded him to leave the city. "Depart quickly: they will not receive of thee testimony concerning me" (Acts 22:18). The wish was natural, and to his honour; but it was not for this that his steps had been directed to Jerusalem. He should work for Christ extensively elsewhere, and not ineffectually; but here he was forbidden to stay. The eager, and for himself fearless, champion obeys, curbing his resolute spirit to compliance with the arrangements which the brethren at Jerusalem made for his safe transmission to Caesarea, from whence he sailed for Tarsus (Acts 9:1-44.).
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother (ἔτερον δὲ τῶν ἀποστόλων οὐκ εἶδον εἰ μὴ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ Κυρίου); but no one besides of the apostles saw I, unless it were James the Lord's brother. The words," unless it were," are here proposed as a rendering of εἰ μή, as betokening a certain degree of hesitancy on the apostle's part as to the perfect justness of the exception which he makes. The reason of this will appear if we consider that "James the Lord's brother" was not really one of the apostles; but nevertheless, through the position which he held in the Church of Jerusalem, and through various circumstances attaching to him, stood in general estimation so near to the revered twelve, that St. Paul felt he was required, in connection with his present statement, to make this reference to him, when affirming so solemnly that Cephas was the only apostle that he then saw. For a fuller discussion of the personality of "James the Lord's brother," the reader is referred to the additional note at the end of this chapter. How it came about that St. Peter was the only one of the twelve that St. Paul then saw, there are no certain grounds for determining. The intimation in Acts 8:1 that, in the persecution which ensued upon the martyrdom of Stephen, the apostles still remained at Jerusalem when they of the Church there were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, relates to a period two or three years previous. The state of things was no doubt now quite different; the Church had come together again; but the apostles may for the most part have been absent in the country, engaged in their apostolic labours, as St. Peter himself is soon after described as being (cf. Acts 9:31, Acts 9:32). The surmise that this was the cause appears more probable than the view which supposes them to have continued distrustful, now that the two great leaders, Cephas and James, had been won over to frankly and publicly recognize the new convert. A difficulty has been thought to result from a comparison of these words of St. Paul with St. Luke's statement in Acts 9:15, Acts 9:16, that Barnabas took and brought him to "the apostles," and that he "was with them" going in and out at Jerusalem. That he was not with them for long was a fact not unknown to St. Luke, as we may, gather from what we read in Acts 22:18. There is, therefore, no discrepancy in that respect between the two representations. But is there no discrepancy between St. Luke's mention of "the apostles" as then admitting Paul into partnership with them in public work, and St. Paul's so emphatically affirming that it was Cephas alone of the apostles that he saw? We must acknowledge that there is—the same kind and the same amount of discrepancy as e.g. obtains between St. Matthew saying that those who were crucified with Jesus reviled him, and St. Luke specifying that one did so, but that the other rebuked him. In all such cases, the more vague and general statement must in all fairness be accepted, but with the modification supplied by the one which is the more particular and definite. It seems to the present writer that there is a way of quite naturally accounting for the form in which St. Luke states the circumstances. It is as fellows. St. Paul had been two years in imprisonment at Rome when St. Luke compiled the Acts; that is, St. Luke wrote the book about a.d. 63 or 64, twenty-two or twenty-three years after St. Paul made this first visit of his to Jerusalem. Barnabas appears in the story as a disciple (Acts 4:1-44., fin.) some years apparently before even the conversion of Saul. Considering, therefore, the lapse of time, it would seem a not at all improbable supposition that, when the Acts was written, he was no longer alive. And the tone in which he is spoken of in the book, whose author, as we know, was in close association with St. Paul, and no doubt both drew from the apostle's inspiration many of the particulars he relates and reflected his feelings, is generally so kindly and respectful as to accord well with the supposition of Barnabas's decease, and even of his then recent decease. The pensive, touching reference to his character in Acts 11:24, introduced in the narrative in so unwonted a manner as it is, betokens this. Carefully does the historian indicate that Barnabas was the new convert's sponsor with the at first distrustful brethren at Jerusalem; also that it was he that went and fetched Saul from his distant retirement at Tarsus to co-operate with him at Antioch; also that he linked him to himself in the eleemosynary journey to Jerusalem, and again under Divine direction in their great evangelistic tour in Asia Minor,—in both of which expeditions Barnabas at the first appears as the leading figure of the two; after which comes the mournful disruption recorded at the close of the fifteenth chapter, the last reference to Barnabas in the Acts.£ That, however, this interruption of their brotherly attachment did not last long is shown by the respectful and sympathetic manner in which St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians (9.), six or seven years after, speaks of the oneness in sentiment subsisting between Barnabas and himself in labouring for the gospel at their own charges. Since the time that St. Paul sent that letter to the Corinthians as well as this to the Galatians, some five years had elapsed when St. Luke wrote the Book of the Acts. All these considerations taken together agree perfectly well with the conception that Luke had heard his master, perhaps repeatedly, make pensive reference to his old relations with Barnabas now gone to his rest. "When the apostles at Jerusalem," he might say, "looked upon me coldly and distrustingly, he it was that took me by the hand [the reader will note the pathos in the expression, ἐπιλαβόμενος αὐτὸν ἤγαγε] and led me into their presence, and told them what the Lord had done with me!" What more natural than that Luke had heard Paul speaking thus, Barnabas's dear venerated form looming in the far past before the apostle's view as the principal object just then of reminiscence, the surrounding figures in the scene more indefinitely realized! But when, years before this, the apostle, Barnabas being still alive, had been writing to the Galatians, and with solemn carefulness as speaking in the sight of God, had set himself agonistically to state the facts in their very exactness, of course there would result a precision which in those tender reminiscences uttered to his bosom associate was not to be looked for.
Now the things which I write unto you (ἂδὲ γράφω ὑμῖν); now as to the things which I am writing to you. The looseness in the Greek of the connection of this clause with the words which follow is similar to what we find in the ease of the clause, ταῦτα ἂθεωρεῖτε, in Luke 21:6. The particular things meant are those which are affirmed in Luke 21:15-42 and to the end of the chapter; points which the Galatians would hardly have become apprised of except upon the apostle's own testimony. What preceded in verses 13, 14 they had become acquainted with before, on the testimony of others ("Ye have heard," verse 13). Behold, before God, I lie not (ἰδού ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι); behold, before God, verily I lie not. The use here of ὅτι, which in "verily" is paraphrased rather than translated, in this as well as in several other passages of solemn asseveration (2 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 11:10; possibly Romans 9:2), savours strongly of Hebraism, being very probably identical with its use for יךִּ, the Hebrew "that," in the Septuagint, e.g. in Isaiah 49:18, Ζῶ ἐγώ λέγει Κύριος ὅτι πάντες αὐτοὺς ὡς κόσμον ἐνδύσῃ. So in St. Paul's inexact citation in Romans 14:11. On this use of the Hebrew conjunction, see Gesenius, 'Thes.,' p. 678, B, 1, n, who observes that in such cases there is an evident ellipsis of some such verb as "I protest," "I swear." The apostle was frequently led by the gainsaying of adversaries vitally affecting his official or personal character, to have recourse to forms of the most solemn asseveration. In addition to the passages cited above, see 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Timothy 2:7. If, as Alford in effect observes, a report had been spread among the Galatians that, after his conversion, he had spent years at Jerusalem, receiving instruction in the faith at the hands of the apostles, the facts which he has now stated would have seemed to his readers so astoundingly in contradiction to the impression which they had received, as to require a strong confirmatory asseveration." In the present case," as Professor Jowett remarks, "it is a matter of life and death to the apostle to prove his independence of the twelve." And his independence of them is strongly evinced by the fact that, for several years of his Christian life, during all which he was preaching the same gospel as he now preached, he had not even seen any of them except Peter and James the Lord's brother (if James could be reckoned as an apostle), and these only during a short visit of a fortnight at Jerusalem some three years after his conversion.
Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (ἔπειτα ἦλθον εἰς τὰ κλίματα τῆς Συρίας καὶ τῆς Κιλικίας); then I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. St. Luke tells us (Acts 9:30) that "the brethren brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus." The verb "brought down" of itself indicates that the Caesarea here mentioned was Caesarea Stratonis, the seaport of Jerusalem, and not Caesarea Philippi towards Damascus (see Bishop Lightfoot on Galatians 1:21). When, later, Barnabas required Saul's help at Antioch, it was to Tarsus that he went to seek him. It is, therefore, probable that, in mentioning "Syria" with "Cilicia" as containing "regions" (cf. Romans 15:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10) in which, after this departure from Jerusalem, he was actively engaged in ministerial work, he is thinking of the northern part of Syria, as in "Cilicia" he is thinking of the eastern portion of Cilicia about Tarsus; northern Syria and eastern Cilicia having a great geographical affinity. It thus appears that the Epistle is in perfect harmony with the Acts. To the apostle's labours during this period that he was making Tarsus his head-quarters, was most probably due in no small measure the founding of the Churches in Syria, and especially in Cilicia, which are referred to in Acts 15:23, Acts 15:41.
It is somewhat difficult to determine, and when determined to make evident in translation, the precise flexure in the intonation (so to speak) of these verses. So far as the present writer can see, it is this: the δὲ in Galatians 1:22 is slightly adversative to the foregoing sentence; as if it were, "During that time the people of Syria and Cilicia saw a great deal of me, hut the Churches of Judaea did not see me at all." The δὲ in Galatians 1:23 introduces a contrast to the foregoing "unknown by face;" as if it were, "They knew me not by face, but only by report." The rendering to be now given will endeavour to represent this view of the whole passage.
And was unknown by face (ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ); but I was all the while unknown by face. The dative τῷ προσώπῳ, "by face," or "in person," marks (see Winer,' Gram. N. T.,' § 31, 6, a) the sphere to which a wider term is restricted, as ταῖς φρεσίν (1 Corinthians 14:20). Its addition prepares the reader for the subsequent intimation that, though unknown by personal presentment, he was not unknown by repute καρδιᾳ). The widened form of the verb, ηπμην ἀγνοούμενος, instead of ἠγνοούμην, intimates the long-continued period, represented by the words "all the while" in our rendering, for which the statement held good; which observation applies also to the ἀκούοντες ἧσαν of Galatians 1:23. The word "still," introduced in the Revised Version, imports, as I humbly venture to think, on idea not actually expressed in the Greek. The apostle states no more than that the Churches of Judaea had at that time no opportunity of coming to know him personally. There is no ἔτι, They had, that is (for this is what seems intended), no opportunity of knowing him in his new character as a disciple of Christ. Whether or not they had known him in the terrible aspect of an unrelenting persecutor, is a matter which for the present lies out of the field of view. The period to which the apostle means this remark of his to apply may be assumed to be the whole time between his conversion and the close of this stay of his in "Syria and Cilicia." This, as we learn from the Acts, terminated with Barnabas's fetching him to join him in his work at Antioch. After this he did become known to the disciples of Judaea. Unto the Churches of Judaea which were in Christ (ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ). This honorific form of designation, "which were in Christ," breathes a feeling on the part of the apostle of reverential respect for those Churches, as already organized communities vitally united to Christ, while he was as yet only beginning his Christian life (comp. Romans 16:7, "Who were also in Christ before me"). This ceremonious respectfulness is the more in place, inasmuch as the apostle had reason to know that the doctrinal position which he fell himself set to defend, in reference to obedience to the Mosaic Law, was generally distasteful to Jewish believers. Grateful is it, however, to his own feelings to recollect, and now thus publicly to recognize, the kindness and devout thankfulness which in those early days of his Christian career they had evinced with reference to him (see note on verse 24). At the same time, his entire independence of the whole Jewish community when first beginning to preach is plainly indicated. It was from no Judaean Church any more than from Jerusalem and its apostles and elders that he derived the gospel which he had then and ever since been proclaiming. If we take the bearing of the clause, "which were in Christ," as above proposed, we have no need of
; and they only from time to time heard say. They did not see him in person, but only heard about him. The dilated imperfect, ἀκούοντες ἦσαν, applying to the whole space of time here referred to, suggests the insertion in the translation of the words, "from time to time." The ὅτι is inserted after the Greek idiom in introducing the very words spoken in oratio directa, as in Matthew 7:23; Mark 2:1; John 1:40; John 4:1, etc. That he which persecuted us in times past (ὅτι ὅ διώκων ἡμᾶς ποτε); he that once was persecuting us. The διώκων is in the procter-imperfect participle, of which we have examples in Τυφλὸς ὤν ἄρτι βλέπω, John 9:25; Οἵ ποτε ὄντες Ephesians 2:13; Τὸ πρότερον ὅντα βλάσφημον, 1 Timothy 1:13. Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed (νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει); now preacheth the faith which once he was making havoc of. The use of the term "faith" is the same as in Acts 6:7, "Were obedient to the faith," which is equivalent to the "obeying the gospel" mentioned Romans 10:16. The object to the verb εὐαγγελίζομαι is always something which is announced, never a thing which is required (cf. e.g. Luke 2:10; Acts 5:42; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 3:8); so that "faith" here cannot mean the faith which men are to render to Jesus, but the doctrine which they are to believe, to wit, that Jesus is Christ the Saviour. We have here the early beginnings of that objective sense in which afterwards the word got to be so commonly used in the Church to denote the Christian doctrine. In the second clause, "which he was sometime making havoc of," the "faith" is identified with the Church which held it (comp. Romans 10:13). We may heartily accept Estius's comment, cited by Meyer, "Quia Christi fidelibus fidem extorquere nitebatur," while we still think it intolerably harsh to understand "faith," as Meyer does, in a subjective sense.
And they glorified God in me (καὶ ἐδόξαζον ἐν ἐμοὶ τὸν Θεόν); and they were glorifying God in me; that is, for what they recognized as God s work in me and through me; in my own conversion, and in my effective ministering of the gospel to others. The ἐν denotes the sphere in which they found occasion for praising God. Instances of a somewhat similar use of the preposition are 1 Corinthians 4:2, Ζητεῖται ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις: 1 Corinthians 4:6, Ἵνα ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε: 1 Corinthians 9:15, Ἵνα οὕτω γένηται ἐν ἐμοί. The sentence is not essential to the line of thought in 1 Corinthians 9:21-46. The apostle was probably prompted to add it by the complacency which he felt in the interest and sympathy which in those days the Jewish Churches showed towards him—sentiments which afterwards faded too much away into those of suspicion and alienation (comp. Acts 21:21). He rejoices to remember, and he will have the Galatian Churchmen know, that once the believers of the circumcision were proud of him, and were satisfied that he was preaching the true gospel of Christ. And his preaching was the same now as it had been then.
The purpose of St. Paul's journey into Arabia. The paraphrase given above in the Exposition explains why it is that the apostle mentions his going into Arabia. It is because, at that juncture, he left Damascus to go nowhere else, and because this was a country where there was no man to teach him the gospel. It explains, I say, why St. Paul mentions the journey into Arabia; the journey itself it does not explain. But thin is a point which now claims consideration.
1. By ancient commentators it was generally supposed that the apostle hastened into Arabia in order at once to begin "preaching the Son of God among Gentiles,'' in conformity with the Divine purpose in calling him to be an apostle, stated in Galatians 1:16. To this view there are three objections.
(1) If this had been his object in taking that journey, the apostle might have been expected to have added to the statement," I went away into Arabia," some hint of such evangelizing work, e.g. "preaching the Lord Jesus," or the like. Such an addition would have told most forcibly for his argument, as showing, by his proceeding at once to preach the gospel which he had received from God, that he had considered himself as already then equipped with the requisite knowledge.
(2) The apostle had no occasion to hasten away into Arabia to find Gentiles to evangelize. Damascus itself was a Gentile city, in which Jews, though forming so numerous a settlement there as to have more than one synagogue (Acts 9:2), were, however, only alien dwellers.
(3) It appears doubtful whether it was the Divine will that St. Paul should exercise his ministry among Gentiles immediately and in the first instance. In narrations of his ministerial work, especially in its earlier stages, whether as related by St. Luke or as sketched by St. Paul himself (see Acts 9:20-44; Acts 26:20), the apostle is exhibited as addressing himself in the first instance to Jews and to those Gentiles who were found attaching themselves to the Jewish worship, and only subsequently turning to the uncircumcision.
2. A different view has found acceptance with most recent expositors, namely, that he went away into Arabia with the view of withdrawing himself from all human society; alike breaking himself off from his old Pharisean associates among the non-believing Jews, and detaching himself even from those Christian Jews who had been constrained to own him as "brother" (Acts 9:17); in order that, by uninterrupted devotion to prayer, by meditation and study of the Holy Scriptures unbiassed by any extraneous human influences, and, above all, by laying himself open to supernatural communications from the Lord Jesus, and to the informing operation upon his soul of the Holy Spirit, he might win his way into more perfect at-oneness with the facts, principles, and schemes of life, all hitherto so strange to him, which had been just now presented to his soul. It will readily occur to the reader's mind how analogous such a feature in St. Paul's history would appear to that six weeks' retirement of the Lord Jesus himself which intervened between his baptism and his entrance upon his public ministry, to which reference was made above. If, in the case of the guiltless and holy One, such a period of devout seclusion was deemed meet, how much more was it meet, and even above all things necessary, in the case of one both in nature weak and sinful, and with habits of thought and feeling up to that hour so alien to the work to which he was now being summoned! The apostle's statement would doubtless have been more clearly suggestive of this view if he had written, "I went away into the wildernesses of Arabia." But if the paraphrase above offered interprets his tenor of thought justly, it did not lie within his present scope that he should indicate the purpose of his journey at all; it sufficed that he should specify the locality as being one which withdrew him away from all who might have been supposed his possible instructors in the gospel. Moreover, this view furnishes the most satisfactory explanation of any that has been offered, of the omission of this particular in St. Luke's history. Such a retreat from the world needs not to be supposed to have been long protracted. The wonderful vivacity and quick versatility which characterized both the intellect and the feelings of the apostle rendered him capable under the Divine grace of a spiritual transformation vastly more rapid than with most men would have been possible. A period of (say) forty days, such as that during which Moses, Elijah, and the Lord Jesus were severally withdrawn from human association, in order to be brought into closer communication with the spiritual world, may perhaps have sufficed in this case also. And as the word "immediately" shows that the departure into Arabia was the first course of proceeding adopted by the apostle after his illumination, it is a highly probable supposition that it took place directly after his baptism, mentioned Acts 9:19. Upon returning to Damascus, he would naturally at once attach himself, in the way that St. Luke in the verse just cited makes mention of, to the society of the "disciples" among the Jews, and proceed without delay in the synagogues to "proclaim Jesus, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). Such being the conditions of the case, it is quite supposable that St. Luke, though perhaps aware of this journey into Arabia, might not have felt that there was any occasion for referring to it; not only because it occupied so brief a space of time, but also because it formed no part of that public life of St. Paul which was the historian's proper concern. He was not likely to have never known of it, seeing that it had been stated in this Epistle.
"James the Lord's brother." This verse has been the subject of much discussion. Many have considered the turn of expression used by the apostle to imply that the James here spoken of was himself one of the original apostolic body to which Cephas belonged. And from this it has further been inferred that the passage favours the notion that "James the Lord's brother" was identical with "James the son of Alphaeus"—the word "brother" being interpreted to mean "near kinsman," and taken in the present ease to describe one conceived to have been in reality a first cousin. But there are so many serious difficulties and precarious assumptions attaching to this theory, that students of the sacred history have of late shown an unwillingness to acquiesce in the above-mentioned identification. They are struck by observing that, so far as has been shown, the notion that "James the Lord's brother" was in reality only his cousin was never heard of in the Church till it was broached by Jerome very near the end of the fourth century; and further, that in the New Testament the term "brothers," when used to describe family relationship, is always used in its usual and obvious sense of persons who were regarded as being children of the same father or of the same mother. When mention is made of James (the son of Zebedee) being the brother of John, or of Andrew being the brother of Simon Peter, the reader never stops to consider whether they might not have been cousins, but at once assumes that they were brothers in the ordinary acceptation of the term. In reference to the ease now before us, some in ancient times, as for example Helvidius—against whom Jerome wrote the controversial treatise in which the theory of cousinship is first found stated and argued for—and some also quite recently, have supposed "the Lord's brothers" to have been later children of his mother Mary, born of her union with Joseph. But, apart from any repugnance that has been felt to this view which has its origin in sentiments of pious reverence, not to speak of mariolatrous fanaticism, there is another hypothesis which seems to fit much better in with all the circumstances, namely, that which regards our "Lord's brothers" as children of his adoptive father Joseph, whom everybody regarded as his father—children born to Joseph in a former marriage. This view has been proved to have been, with only doubtful exceptions,£ the one generally accepted in the early Church for more than three centuries (see Bishop Lightfoot, 'Galatians,' Dissertation it., "The Brethren of the Lord"). This is scarcely the place for discussing at length the details of the critical controversy. I cannot, however, forbear drawing attention to one aspect of the question, which, so far as I am aware, has not been sufficiently considered. For the purpose of the present Commentary it has the recommendation of involving no subtleties of disputable interpretation, but of making its appeal at once to the common instincts of human feeling. We have the express testimony of St. John (John 7:5) that, down to within a few months of our Lord's death, "his brothers did not believe on him." In the history of the Acts, indeed, immediately after the Ascension, we find them associated with that innermost circle of believers who, with the eleven, were devoutly waiting for "the Promise of the Father." But on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles in the previous autumn, they had not as yet professed themselves to be Jesus' disciples. This statement of St. John's is made of them as a body. No hint is given of any exception, either by St. John or by the Synoptists. Ingenious combinations of various extremely questionable premisses would fain interpolate into the evangelist's statement at least one exception; but none presents itself upon the face of the story. There the brethren of the Lord stand before us as unitedly holding aloof, and as even inclined to treat his claims with derision. Which of those two hypotheses which we are now comparing with each other, as to the nature of their brother-ship to our Lord, is the one which the better agrees with this unquestionable fact? Let us first consider the one which supposes his brothers and his sisters to have formed an elder branch of Joseph's family born of a former marriage. There must have been at least six in number living at the time of our Lord's ministry (Mark 6:3), and there may have been more than six then; and there may, again, have well been some others besides, then deceased. It is therefore probable that some of them—James, for example, the eldest apparently of the brothers were adolescent, or even quite grown up at the time of their father's second marriage. Judging front the ordinary experience of human households, what would seem likely to have been the attitude of feeling animating this whole group of brothers and sisters, and in particular animating James—who would, of course, take the place of their representative and domestic champion, and who is shown in the Acts and by his own Epistle to have been a person of singularly grave, taciturn, and magisterial temperament—both towards their probably youthful stepmother from the time of her marriage with their father, and towards the Lord Jesus himself during the period of his boyhood, youth, and early manhood? May it not be probably assumed that it was apt to be at least unsympathetic—reserved? We know from the "Fear not" of the Divine message recorded Matthew 1:20, that the circumstances attending on our adorable Lord's incarnation well-nigh proved a stumbling-block even to the just-minded, pious, Heaven-directed Joseph. Is it conceivable that, in so small a town as Nazareth, misjudging gossip did not make itself during those months only too busy with a theme, the real character of which men could not possibly understand, and which yet was so sure to attract attention—distressfully busy, both for the holy Virgin herself and for her affianced husband? And would none of that malign whispering percolate to the ears of the older members of Joseph's family, depositing in their minds almost ineradicable seeds of prejudice against their stepmother and against her offspring? Shame and sorrow invested our Redeemer's decease from the world; shame and sorrow overclouded also even his entrance into it; by the necessity of the ease, all, whether old or young, who after the flesh were then brought into close connection with him, were also brought into fires of temptation. out of which only much especial interposing grace could rescue them unscathed. At all events, the new brother whom Joseph's already numerous family were called upon to accept must have been to their feeling no own brother of theirs; his mother was not their mother. This was a super-engrafted scion, half alien to the original stock to which they belonged. In ordinary domestic experience is not this usually of itself a source of jealousy and estrangement? We can well believe that, in course of time, the beauty of their stepmother's character would be certain to win their esteem and their confidence. And that it really did so seems betokened by what we read in the evangelical history some thirty years after their father's union with Mary, when he had himself, for some while apparently, departed this life; the mother and the brethren of Jesus, though not as yet knit together by mutual faith in him, are, however, seen acting in unison, as if swayed by their mutual feeling of family connection. It is, however, questionable whether the stainless purity and the exalted moral excellence which characterized their stepmother's Son would in an equal degree draw their hearts to him. Of old, Joseph the son of the patriarch Jacob was isolated flora his elder half-brothers by the very virtues which exalted him. They hated him, if in part for certain other causes of offence, yet no doubt mainly for this, that they felt that in moral quality he was not of them. But the contrast which obtained between the moral being of the Lord Jesus and his adoptive half-brothers must have been incomparably greater than that which made Joseph the "separated kern his brethren." He was altogether "holy and harmless," and therefore altogether "separate from sinners." True, his human nature and his human life touched theirs in a thousand ways; but none the less must they have been conscious that, in moral and spiritual temperament, he was not one of themselves. Must not this consciousness have been a source of inward annoyance?—of an annoyance all the more fretting because they would, of course, be so wholly unable to understand how it was that such a difference obtained? Would not they too be not seldom "moved with envy" against this new Joseph? In intellectual gifts, and especially in the faculty of moral judgment and spiritual intuition, the youthful Jesus was, in the judgment of all around, and doubtless to his brethren's own consciousness, incomparably their superior. Could such superiority have been acquiesced in by them easily and patiently in the case of one so much their junior, who in fact was at the best only half their brother? His views and conceptions of religious truth when be was twelve years old were such as astonished the doctors of the Law at Jerusalem; we therefore cannot but feel sure that, even in those earlier years of his life, his thoughts and reasonings were wont to move amongst the intensely loved revelations of God's Word with a freedom wholly alien to their habits of mind; neither shackled by Judaical legalism, nor regardful of rabbinical hair-splitting, nor disposed to respect the traditions and dicta of the elders. To the James and the Jude, whose natural mental physiognomy, though in its now renewed Christianized aspect, is conspicuous to us in their Epistles, the strain of religious thinking and utterance which we may reverently believe to have been familiar with the youthful Redeemer must in the days of their as yet carnal and unripened religiousness have seemed alike repugnant and unintelligible. Granted, however, that they could neither appreciate nor comprehend, yet, as being so much older in years, they may well have deemed themselves authorized, by virtue of their domestic relation, to censure and rebuke. And supposing that they did undertake by argument to gainsay words of his which more especially offended them, how could it have been possible for them to stand their ground in encounter with One who in after years was seen in the supreme arena of the nation, confuting and putting to silence, and sternly rebuking, the most powerful reasoners in Jerusalem itself? Had he no occasion in those youthful days to employ against them similar implements of both intellectual and moral correction? And since they would not submit to be taught by him, would they not perforce resent their defeat? Under conditions such as these, is it not quite easy to imagine that, when the hour came for Jesus to be manifested to Israel, it found James and his brothers altogether unprepared to attach themselves to him as disciples; that they would be much more ready to stand aloof from him as at least an enthusiast—nay, by-and-by to openly pronounce, as in fact they did, that he must have gone clean out of his mind? This commends itself to our acceptance as a perfectly self-coherent hypothesis. Let us next turn our attention to the other interpretation of the relation, namely, that the brethren of the Lord were his own uterine brothers. A moment's reflection shows how different the conditions would have been. On the supposition that they were his younger brothers, sons of his mother, then we may consider that, from their earliest years, they had been trained, and would naturally be disposed, to regard him with the profound deference which in a Jewish household was instinctively accorded to the firstborn. This natural sentiment of deference we must in all reason believe to have been intensified by their consciousness of his extraordinary mental gifts, both intellectual and moral, as well as by the estimation conceded to him by all around; while this sentiment would be sweetened in its tone by their sense of the fairness and the affectionateness with which he had always treated them, even when, as elder brother, and especially after their father's death, he may have had occasion to control or reprove them. The high estimation with which their neighbours as well as their common mother regarded him would, in this case, have been no occasion of offence or jealousy; he being in blood-relationship one of their very selves, their representative, respect shown to him would have been rather a cause for pride: who (they would feel) should be so loved and honoured as their dear Jeshua? With such habits of willing affectionate deference, might it not be reasonably expected that, when he issued forth as the religious Teacher of his countrymen, his brethren would be found among his most cordial adherents? In that lower sense in which we are wont to employ the expression with reference to one another, they had always believed in him; they knew and therefore loved him too well not to do so: would it not have seemed strange if this constant attitude of their minds towards him had not now at least helped them forwards towards that higher faith which the evangelist denotes by the term? But they, one and all, did not believe in him! 'The moral probability, that is, the probability founded upon the consideration of the natural effect of environing circumstances upon human character and action, affords an argument in favour of the former hypothesis which, to the present writer, appears of exceeding great weight, and in fact decisive. James must have been a son of our Lord's adoptive father. But if the person here cited by the name of James was our Lord's brother in the sense now given, he could not have been one of the twelve. How, then, are we to account for his being mentioned in this passage in a way which certainly does, prima facie, favour the supposition that he was an apostle? A solution has been sought in tile consideration that, in various places in the New Testament, the designation of "apostle" is applied to others besides those who were apostles in the highest sense. There were in truth apostles in a secondary sense; in that sense of ecclesiastical delegates which the reader will find discussed in the dissertation on the subject of "Apostles," in the Introduction. But this will not help us here. For
(1) James the Lord's brother cannot be shown to have been an apostle in this secondary sense.
(2) On the other hand, Barnabas both. was such and is so designated. And Barnabas net only was at Jerusalem at the time here referred to by St. Paul, but was the very person that introduced Saul to "the apostles" as a true convert (Acts 9:27). The following seems to the present writer a more satisfactory explanation:—From the time of the Ascension, the "brethren of the Lord" held, in the general estimation of believers, a position peculiar to themselves. This is evidenced by the manner in which, in Acts 1:14, St. Luke refers to them. After enumerating the eleven apostles by their names, he connects with them, as forming with them an interior circle of disciples, "women"—wives, we may suppose, or near relatives of apostles, perhaps also some other most zealous female associates with the sacred body—"and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren." Further on in the history, in the account given in the fifteenth chapter of the conference of "the apostles and elders," the manner in which James, the eldest of those brothers, is presented to the reader when assuming the initiative in proposing the final decision, gives the impression, which has been almost universally acquiesced in, that he spoke as a presiding officer would speak who felt it his place authoritatively to slate the judgment which he anticipated the meeting would adopt. This impression tallies perfectly with the tradition of Church history—a tradition which there is nothing in the New Testament to discountenance, but much to confirm—that James was the presiding elder or bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. That he should by general consent have been called to occupy this position was very natural. He was distinguished by venerable family connection, being not only through his father a descendant of David's royal lineage, but also the eldest "brother" of the Lord Christ. He had been especially honoured by Christ's appearing to him singly after his resurrection. In personal character he is shown by his Epistle, as well as otherwise, as a man singularly remarkable for gravity, for habits of devotion, for intense single-minded earnestness, for magisterial prophet-like decisiveness of intellect; while, lastly, he was fitted by strictness of Mosaistic observance to be eminently acceptable to the Israelitish sentiments of the members of this particular Church. Altogether, it seems perfectly natural that he should have been called to preside in it; to be, at least in effect, "Bishop of Jerusalem," whether this particular title of "bishop," as afterwards currently understood, was in his lifetime accorded to him or not. At all events, it had then come to pass, and probably in the way now described had come to pass, that "James and Cephas and John" being "pillars" of were recognized as Christendom. The conference just referred to took place, it is true, some eleven years after that first visit of St. Paul's to Jerusalem which he is here speaking of. In the account, however, given in the twelfth chapter of the Acts, of events occurring six or eight years before the conference (the precise dates of these events are assigned differently by different chronologers), and only three or four years, possibly less, after this visit, we have an indication afforded us that James held this leading representative position even then. We are told that St. Peter, on the night of his miraculous release from prison, in view of himself withdrawing for a time from the neighbourhood, bade the believers whom he found assembled at the house of John Mark's mother, to "announce these tidings to James and the brethren." This putting forward of his name, coupled with what we read further on, gives us a glimpse of James the Lord's brother as even then a foremost figure in the rulership of the believers of Jerusalem—the very foremost figure, it should seem, among Christians next to the august twelve. Such being James's position, we can understand how it was that St. Paul felt that, though his having seen James was not precisely the same thing as seeing another apostle, yet it was tantamount thereto in its bearing upon the autobiographical statement which he is now making, and that therefore it was a fact that as much required to be taken account of as if he had actually been an apostle. If he had said, "Other than Cephas saw I of the apostles none," without mentioning James, the statement, though in strict literalness true, would none the less have conveyed a false impression, and been as an argument illusive. He therefore, as a sort of after-thought—for the sentence without the addition is grammatically already complete—adds the words, "unless it were James the Lord's brother." Attention was drawn above, in the note on verse 7, to the occasional use of εἰ μὴ as "partially exceptive." It is in this way only that St. James is here by implication grouped with the apostles. He shared certain qualities attaching to them which were so relative to the matter in hand that the writer could not in this reference pass him by without mention. It is in a somewhat similar way that "the brethren of the Lord" are grouped with apostles in 1 Corinthians 9:5. One remark more on the words, "the Lord's brother." They have been commonly supposed to have been added for the purpose simply of making it clear what particular individual among several bearing the name of "James" the writer is referring to. This view of their bearing seems open to question. There was only one man whom the recital of the name "James" would naturally and of course at once recall to the minds of St. Paul's Gentile readers—the prominent leading figure in the Israelite Church at Jerusalem. Accordingly we find that when elsewhere St. Paul has occasion to refer to him, he feels no need of appending a defining description, but simply gives the name. So Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:7. Similarly, St. Luke, when referring to plainly the same person, not once in the Acts thinks it necessary to explain what James it is that he is speaking of (see Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18). He adds a further description of the individual intended, only when it is not the Lord's brother, as in Acts 12:2. Similarly also Jude, in his Epistle, when marking his own personality and therewith his claim to attention, designates himself as "Jude the brother of James," taking it for granted that his readers would understand what James was meant. St. Paul's purpose in adding the words seems rather to be this: he wishes to indicate why this James, not being an apostle, yet needs to be here brought forward at all. Viewed in this light, the clause tells against the supposition of his being one of the twelve rather than in its favour.
The inspired authority of the apostle.
The first line of the Epistle is designed to settle the question of his authority and independence as a teacher of the Church. The truth of the gospel, as he phrases it (Galatians 2:5), was involved in this merely personal question.
I. THE NECESSITY FOR VINDICATING HIS AUTHORITY. Emissaries of the Judaistic party, who had obtained access to the Galatian Churches, sought to undermine his doctrine by denying or minimizing his apostleship. They limited the term "apostle" almost exclusively to the twelve, and were thus enabled to assert
(1) that he was not an apostle in the highest sense, as he was not a personal disciple of Jesus Christ, and therefore could not claim the inspiration of those on whom he breathed the Holy Ghost (John 20:22);
(2) that, in any case, he stood in official subordination to the twelve, and was not, therefore, to be followed where he diverged from their teaching; and
II. HIS COMMISSION AT ONCE ORIGINAL AND DIVINE. "An apostle, not from men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead."
1. He was a true apostle. He emphatically asserts his independent apostleship, placing his official title in the very forefront of his Epistle. He affirms that he was an apostle before he had any intercourse with the twelve (Galatians 1:17, Galatians 1:18), and that on three different occasions the apostles recognized his full apostolic standing (Galatians 1:18, Galatians 1:19, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:10, Galatians 2:11-48). He was, therefore, no delegate of the twelve, and had no secondary or intermediate place of authority under them. He was, as he described himself to the Corinthians, "a called apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God."
2. His commission was not "from (ἀπὸ) men, nor by (διὰ) man." The false teachers might have suggested that the pro ceedings at Antioch implied a purely human commission. But he had been called to the apostleship long before his designation at Antioch to a special missionary work (Acts 26:16-44). His calling was neither that of Matthias nor of Barnabas. He was called neither by a body of men nor by an individual representing the authority of such a body.
3. His commission was entirely Divine. "By Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead."
(1) It was by Jesus Christ; for his commission dated from the day of his conversion on the road to Damascus. "The Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee" (Acts 26:17). He speaks elsewhere of his having seen the Lord, as a token of his apostleship (1 Corinthians 9:1). He was directly and immediately called by Jesus Christ.
(2) It was by "God the Father, who raised him from the dead"—acting in and through Christ; the reference to the resurrection making it plain that Jesus could call him, though he had not called him when he called the twelve, and that the apostleship was one of the gracious gifts conferred upon the Church by the ascended Redeemer (Ephesians 4:11). Thus the apostle was not self-called to his high office, and does not even now refer to the source of his calling from vanity or self-assertion, but from a supreme regard to the welfare of his converts.
The apostle's companions in the gospel.
"And all the brethren which are with me." It was after his manner to associate brethren with him in the inscriptions of his Epistles.
I. WHO WERE THESE BRETHREN?
1. They were not the Christian people among whom he resided; for it was his habit to distinguish between "the brethren which are with me" and "the saints" (Philippians 4:21, Philippians 4:22). Besides, in that case he would rather have spoken of the brethren as the persons with whom he was.
2. They were his colleagues in gospel work and gospel travel, including probably Timothy and Titus, who had accompanied him in his first visit to Galatia, and who had rejoined him there (Acts 18:5), and perhaps Erastus, Trophimus, and others.
3. They were very numerous. If the Epistle was written during the apostle's three months' visit to Corinth, toward the close of a.d. 57, he was now accompanied by a larger number of brethren than at almost any other time.
II. WHY DOES HE IDENTIFY THESE BRETHREN WITH HIMSELF IN THE EPISTLE?
1. The concurrence of such brethren as Timothy and Silas, with whom the Galatians were personally acquainted, might have the effect of conciliating their affection and abating the bitterness of their opposition.
2. His emphatic reference to "all the brethren" seems to show that there was no singularity in his views; that he was supported by the best and the wisest of the Church's leaders, and that the Galatians, by repudiating Pauline teaching, were really severing themselves from the recognized guides of visible Christianity.
The Churches of Galatia.
Probably in the towns of Ancyra, Pessinus, and Tavium. It is interesting to mark that we have not in the New Testament a single name of a place or person, scarcely a single incident of any kind, connected with the apostle's preaching in Galatia. He had paid two visits to Galatia before this time.
I. THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE GALATIAN CHURCHES. The members belonged, as their name signifies, to the Celtic race, and differed in character and habits from all the other nations to whom Epistles were addressed. "It is the Celtic blood which gives a distinctive colour to the Galatian character." We hardly needed the authority of Caesar to know that instability of character was the chief difficulty in dealing with the Galatians, and that they were prone to all sorts of ritualistic observances. Thus they received the apostle with true Celtic heartiness at his first visit; they "received him as an angel of God, even as Christ." The Church was mainly Gentile, but gathered round a nucleus of Jewish converts. The fact that this Epistle was addressed to Churches over so extensive a tract of country would imply the wide prevalence of the Judaistic heresy. Yet the apostasy was as yet only in its incipient stage. It is a characteristic fact that false teachers never appear except in Churches already established. They seldom attempt the conversion of either Jew or Gentile, thus carefully avoiding persecution; but wherever they scent a work of grace from afar, they gather in eager haste to pervert the gospel of Christ.
II. THOUGH THE GALATIAN CHURCHES WERE IN ERROR, THEY WERE STILL TRUE CHURCHES OF CHRIST. They were not guilty of idolatry or of total apostasy, but they were stained by serious doctrinal corruptions and grave moral disorders. Yet the apostle owns them as true Churches of Christ. The lesson is a rebuke to the unchurching spirit so often manifest in Christian history.
III. THE APOSTLE'S ADDRESS TO THEM WAS CHARACTERISTIC. He addresses them simply as "Churches of Galatia," without one word of commendation or familiar greeting or kindly remembrance, such as we find in his addresses to other Churches. He does not address them as "faithful brethren," as "the saints in Christ Jesus." There is something suggestive in this method of prefacing the Epistle. He ends it with a perceptible softening of tone, his last word being "brethren."
The apostolic benediction.
"Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ." This benediction is a proof of the hearty love of the apostle, as well as a mark of his unswerving loyalty to the doctrine of salvation by Christ only.
I. THE BLESSINGS WISHED FOR. "Grace and peace." Nearly twenty times in Scripture are these two graces linked together, but never so significantly as at present, when the Galatians manifested a disposition to return to the Law with its terrors and disquietudes.
1. Grace is free, undeserved love manifesting itself in a free gift. (Romans 5:15.) It is the foundation of our redemption. It is also an operation of that free love in our hearts—grace, quickening, sanctifying, comforting, strengthening. It is the first blessing the apostle asks for; it is what we all need; it is but the beginning of blessings innumerable.
2. -Peace is not peace with God (Romans 5:1), but the peace that springs from it. The true order of blessing and experience is not peace and grace, but grace and peace. Grace is the root of peace; peace is the inner comfort that springs from grace. The apostle desires that the Galatians may not only share in Divine grace, but possess the assurance of it. Without peace, thousands are unhappy, and the desire of it causes many a pagan to bear labour and pain in the vain effort to enjoy it. The worldly man longs for peace without grace. But the two are inseparably linked. Without it there is no progress in religion, and no real test of the value of a man's religion. Luther says, "Grace releaseth sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet. The two fiends that torment us are sin and conscience." Another says," If you have peace, you are rich without money; if you have it not, you are poor with millions."
II. THE SOURCE OF THESE BLESSINGS. "From God the Father, and from cur Lord Jesus Christ"—from God the Father as Fountain, and Jesus Christ as the Channel of conveyance to us. The highest blessings of the gospel, as well as the appointment to apostolic office, spring alike from Father and Son. They are here both associated as objects of Divine worship, and as the sources of spiritual blessing. This proves Christ's Deity. "The living fountain of grace which ever flowed and never ebbed in the bosom of our God has been gloriously opened to a thirsty world in the bleeding side of Christ."
The sum and substance of the Epistle.
He here declares the true ground of acceptance with God which the Galatians practically ignored by their system of legalism.
I. MARK THE SELF-OBLATION OF CHRIST. "Who gave himself for our sins." Our Redeemer was not killed by the hand of violence, though "by lawless hands" he was crucified and slain; he spontaneously offered himself, and his offering was not the impulse of mere excited feeling. The expression, "gave himself," always points to the free surrender of his life ([ Ti Galatians 2:6; Titus 1:14; Matthew 20:28). It accords with his own language, "I lay down my life of myself" (John 10:17); "How am I straitened till it be accomplished!" The Father is elsewhere described as providing the sacrifice, and delivering him up for us all (Romans 8:32), but the text describes his own priestly act in accordance "with the Father's will." It is needless to say that the phrase does not point to his incarnation, but to his death.
II. THE RELATION BETWEEN HIS DEATH AND OUR SINS. "Who gave himself for our sins." Some divines connect Christ's death, not with the pardon of sin, but with our deliverance from its power. They regard sin as a disease rather than as an offence, a calamity rather than a crime against God; they represent the difficulty as not on God's side, but on man's, so that forgiveness is sure to follow upon spiritual recovery. In other words, they place life first and pardon next, basing our acceptance, not upon Christ's death, but upon the possession of the Divine life. The Bible sense is that "his blood was shed for the remission of sins." The life is regarded as the effect or reward of the Crucifixion. There is a direct causal connection between Christ's death and the pardon of our sins. The reason why he gave himself is here assigned. Our sins were the procuring cause of his death. This is the plain teaching of Isaiah 53:5; Romans 4:25; 1Co 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18. Besides, it would be tautology for the apostle to refer here to mere human improvement, since the design of the sacrifice is to accomplish this very improvement, as we see by the terminating clause. It would be absurd to confound the means and the end, the cause with the effect.
III. THE ETHICAL RESULT OF THE SACRIFICE. "That he might deliver us from this present evil world." This shows the truly sanctifying result of Christ's death. This marks out the gospel as an instrument of emancipation from a state of bondage. It strikes the key-note of the Epistle. As the oblation is perfect, so the deliverance secured by it is perfect; there is, therefore, no compatibility between obedience to the Mosaic Law and faith in Jesus Christ. The deliverance is from "this present evil world;" not from the Jewish dispensation, which is nowhere called evil in itself, though it became so through a grave misapplication of its principles—besides, the Gentiles had not by Christianity been delivered from it; nor is it deliverance in the sense of an abandonment of our place and duty in the world; but it is the world as it is, without religion, under curse, transitory, corrupt, and doomed. It was deliverance from the corrupt course of this world which was under bondage to gods (2 Corinthians 4:4), from that world which was crucified to Paul and he to it (Galatians 6:14). It is deliverance from the power of that world which has its threefold seductiveness "in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." Thus provision is made in the atonement for the sanctification as well as the justification of sinners. Christ is become to us "Sanctification" as well as "Righteousness."
IV. THE ORIGIN OF THE WHOLE WORK OF CHRIST. "By the will of God the Father." It was the Father's appointed work. It was an act of obedience on Christ's part to his Father's will. "For this cause came I into the world, that I might do the will of my Father." Christ's sacrifice was thus in no sense a human plan, nor dependent upon man's obedience; it was the effect of the commanded will of our Father wishing to win back his lost children. Therefore let us not attempt to overturn or neutralize the system of grace by our legal obedience.
V. THE DOXOLOGY. "To whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen."
1. The glory of salvation being due, not to man, but God, for its initiation, for its execution, for its bestowal, it becomes our duty to give him glory in all our worship and in all our duties (1 Corinthians 10:31).
2. The doxology is an implied reproof of the Galatians for attempting to divide the work of salvation between God and man.
3. The praises of the redeemed, though begun on earth, will continue through all eternity.
The sad defection of the Galatians.
The apostle enters at once upon the business in hand, and calls them to account for their incipient apostasy.
I. MARK THE APOSTLE'S SORROWFUL SURPRISE. "I marvel that ye are so quickly turning away from him who called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel." The Celtic heartiness with which they received him at the first, "as an angel of God, even as Christ," might well excite his wonder at their rapid defection. He understood human nature, but there was something in their conduct which baffled ordinary calculations. His surprise is tinged with sorrow, disappointment, perhaps the least touch of anger, and has, unhappily, to occupy the place usually assigned in his Epistles to thanksgivings for the gifts and graces of his converts. Yet there is a tender and cautious tone in the rebuke, as if to imply that his indignation was directed rather against their seducers than against themselves. It does not exclude the idea that they might yet be recovered from their error.
II. THE RAPIDITY OF THE DEFECTION. "Ye are so quickly turning away." So soon after their conversion, or so soon after their hearty reception of him (Galatians 4:14, Galatians 4:15). How fickle and changeable the Celtic temper! Caesar says, "The Gauls for the most part affect new things." "Giddy-headed hearers have religionem ephemeram, are whirled about by every wind of doctrine, being "constant only in their inconstancy" (Trappe). "They had itching ears; they had heaped to themselves teachers according to their own lusts" (2 Timothy 4:3); that is, they liked to taste the humour of teachers who would not disturb them in their sinful ways, and used "feigned words (πλαστοῖς λογοῖς)," rather, words fashioned so as to suit the humour of their disciples. There are men who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18). And the devil is always at hand to corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). The Galatians had begun to grow weary of sound doctrine—perhaps from the rooted enmity of the carnal mind to spiritual things, and error once received into a mind that has departed from the freshness of first love, takes firmer root than truth, because it is more in affinity with our lower moods. Besides, there is something in error to recommend it to the curiosity, or pride, or superstition of unstable natures.
III. THE SERIOUS ASPECT OF THE DEFECTION. It was not only in its incipiency, as the apostle signifies, but it was in real process of development. It had a double aspect.
1. It was defection/tom a person. "From him who called you." This was not the apostle himself, for he does not usually give prominence to his own labours, but rather ascribes the successes of the gospel to the grace and Spirit of God. It was a defection from God the Father, to whom the calling is uniformly ascribed (Romans 8:30; Romans 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9). As such, the apostasy had all the character of ingratitude. But this apostasy, in its completed aspect, is a crucifying of Christ afresh, a fresh immolation of the Redeemer.
2. It was defection from the system of grace. They were called "into the grace of Christ." They had their standing in the dispensation of grace: for the call of God works only in that sphere (Romans 5:15), and the Judaist emissaries sinned by attempting to draw them off from their true standing-ground (Romans 5:2). Thus the Galatians made a double mistake, pregnant with the worst results—they forgot that conversion is God's work, not man's, and that the covenant under which the blessing is realized is not of works, but of grace.
IV. THE "TERMINUS AD QUEM" OF THE DEFECTION. "TO a different gospel." The apostle does not concede that the Jewish teachers taught the gospel, even in a perverted form, though it might be called a gospel by its teachers. Luther says, "No heretic ever cometh under the title of errors or of the devil." The apostle's phrase, ἕτερον, points to a difference in kind which is not involved in ἀλλὸ. The gospel, in fact, lost its true character by the perverting additions of the Judaists.
V. THE DANGER OF APOSTASY. The forcible language of the apostle implies the fearful risks involved in the perversions of the false teachers. Of all falls those of apostates are the most melancholy. They fall from a great height of privilege. They lose all their past pains and sacrifices in the cause of religion. They deliberately part with all the hopes of mercy and glory in the world to come.
The true character of the perverters.
The apostle says that the "different gospel" to which they were verging was really not another (ἀλλὸ)—not a second gospel. He abruptly corrects his phraseology so as to forbid the idea of the possibility of another gospel. There is only one gospel—"the gospel of Christ." The gospel of the Judaists, though it formally accepted Christianity, revealed a different way of justification. If it is a gospel at all, it is only in this sense, that it is an attempt to pervert the gospel of Christ. The passage suggests—
I. THAT THE PERVERTERS WERE WELL-KNOWN PERSONS. "Certain persons." The allusion is not to their fewness or their insignificance. He speaks of them in this manner without conferring any celebrity upon them, or exciting personal animosity against them. They may well rest in oblivion.
II. IT SUGGESTS TWO CHARACTERISTIC QUALITIES IN THEIR CAREER.
1. Their unsettling influence. "They trouble you." They disturbed the minds of quiet and honest Christians by unhinging doubts. They disturbed the peace of Churches by the cleavage of new doctrines. They created schisms and rivalries that led to the weakening of Christian love, and ultimately made way for Christians "biting and devouring one another" (Galatians 5:15).
2. Their downright perversions of the gospel. "They would pervert the gospel of Christ. So far as the Galatians were concerned, it had not become a case of actual perversion. But there could be no doubt about the tendency of the Judaist teaching. It was a reversal of the gospel, not merely by mingling law and gospel, but by practically neutralizing all the merit of Christ which is the great characteristic fact of the gospel.
The apostle's anathemas.
The severity of these sentences is directed against the Judaizing teachers, not against the Galatians, whom he evidently regards as influenced by others. There is great mildness in his method of reproving the Galatians. The apostle first puts a hypothetical case, applicable to himself and his colleagues in the gospel, even to angels in heaven, and then he deals with an assumption of fact—fact that had actually occurred and was now occurring—that a gospel had been preached different from that they had already received, and, in both cases, he ends with an anathema.
I. HERESY IS A VERY SERIOUS THING. It has power to damn the soul. It is a sin against God, against the soul, against the truth, against the Church, against the world. It is the habit of modern times to regard error in religious matters as in no way endangering the salvation of man. A flippant infidelity denies that a man is responsible for his beliefs. There is a spirit abroad that leads men to think that everybody is right, that nobody is wrong, that nothing but an evil life will bring retribution hereafter. By men of this spirit the apostle would be regarded as cruelly illiberal and narrow. Yet we must hold that there are fundamental doctrines in religion which are essential to salvation. The apostle regarded heresy as a serious thing when he attached a curse to it. And if the anathema would fall upon an apostle like himself, or upon an angel from heaven, it would be much more likely to fall upon men neither apostles nor angels.
II. THE CHURCH HAS NO POWER TO ADD DOCTRINES TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. It is bound to discover the whole truth contained in the gospel, to exhibit it in all its relations, and to adapt it to the various exigencies of human speculation and the various needs of men. But it has no power or authority to invent a new doctrine. Thus the apostle condemns the Church of Rome in decreeing new articles of faith, not only not found in Scripture, but altogether inconsistent with it. The gospel will tolerate no rival; it will allow no alien elements; it will admit no additions that would undermine its essential principles. All things necessary to salvation are to be found in the Word of God.
III. APOSTLES ARE NOT ABOVE THE GOSPEL. The false teachers may have sheltered themselves under the authority of great names, probably the apostles at Jerusalem. But not even an apostle may publish anything contrary to the truth of the gospel. Even an angel in heaven, representing the highest created authority, dare not oppose the gospel. There is a disposition sometimes to excuse the heresies of zealous teachers on the ground of their great zeal or their pretension to godliness. But the truth is not to be measured by any standard of mere human excellence. We must always remember that Satan can at times transform himself into an angel of light. Think of the fearful responsibility of a teacher! We must hold hard by the truth of the gospel if we would not imperil the souls of men or diminish the comforts of believers.
IV. THE APOSTLE'S ANATHEMA. It is not to be traced to personal annoyance at men who slighted or denied his authority as an apostle; for he was willing to involve himself in the curse if he taught anything wrong. This anathema was not excommunication; for an angel could not be affected by such a thing; but the very curse of the living God. Whence, then, did the apostle derive the authority to pronounce it? God only can inflict it. The apostle did it by the same authority that sent him to preach the gospel—the authority of that Lord who has the keys of hell and death.
The apostle's explanation of his severity.
"For do I now conciliate men, or God? or do I seek to please men?" Let them judge after his anathemas whether he would make concessions to please or conciliate the Judaists.
I. IT IS WRONG TO BE MEN-PLEASERS. Perhaps the apostle had been charged by his enemies with a too accommodating spirit in being a Gentile to Gentiles and a Jew to Jews. He says, "I please all men in all things" (l Corinthians 10:33); but this referred to circumstances in which he sought "the profit of men that they might be saved," and in which there was no principle involved. The true principle is," Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification; for even Christ pleased not himself." But corrupt men-pleasing is that sinful complaisance to the humours and prejudices of men which sacrifices truth, righteousness, and honour. This sentence of the apostle is a rebuke to time-serving ministers who attenuate the claims of the gospel or conceal its doctrines to avert the displeasure or catch the applause of their hearers.
II. THE SERVICE OF CHRIST DEMANDS A COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE. "For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." The friendship of men would be dearly bought at the cost of the Lord's friendship. "No man can serve two masters." To Christ he owes obedience, reverence, diligence, faithfulness; for he bore the "brands of his slavery." Therefore his subjection to him implied the rejection of all human authority in matters of faith. Yet it was not inconsistent with his being "a Jew to Jews," and" all things to all men," so long as he refused to compromise the truth of the gospel. The teacher who gives evidence that he pleases God rather than men, gives evidence likewise that his teaching is just and pure.
The true origin of the apostle's gospel.
Here he begins the apologetic portion of his Epistle, vindicating his independent apostolic authority. The phrase with which he prefaces his statement, "I declare unto you, brethren," is at once solemn and emphatic, as if he could allow of no misunderstanding affecting "the truth of the gospel," and is a sign that, in spite of their aberrations, the Galatians are still dear to him. He calls them "brethren" after his first grave censure, as if he indulged the hope of winning them back to the truth.
I. HIS GOSPEL WAS NOT HUMAN IN ITS CHARACTER. "The gospel which was preached of me is not alter man." He refers here, not to its origin, but to its character.
1. It is not discoverable by man. Human reasoning or human intuition could not have discovered its facts, its truths, its blessings.
2. It is not constructed on the principles or ideas of human wisdom, which is carnal in its instincts, and therefore it is a "foolishness to the Greeks" of speculative thought.
3. It is unchangeable in its great principles; unlike the systems of men, which are constantly varying with the spirit of each age.
II. HIS GOSPEL WAS NOT HUMAN IN ITS ORIGIN. "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it."
1. He did not receive it from man, any more than the twelve. Men receive most of their knowledge from one another, yet he was no more man-taught than Peter, or James, or John. He received exactly what they received—he by apocalyptic communications, they by personal communications in the days of Christ's life.
2. He was not taught the gospel by man, much less by any apostle. In that case the fact of his agreement with the other apostles proved that his knowledge of Divine truth was in no sense derivative. It might be urged that Ananias gave the apostle full instructions at his baptism. But there is no evidence that Ananias gave him any instructions; his errand was that Saul should receive his sight and receive the Holy Ghost. Saul had, in fact, before this time, received his instructions on the way to Damascus (Acts 26:15-44).
3. In matters of religious moment especially affecting the foundation of a sinner's hopes, human teaching, human traditions, and human authority, are of slight importance.
III. HIS GOSPEL CAME TO HIM BY DIVINE REVELATION. His gospel was not human, but Divine, for he received it by revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had, therefore, a Christly origin. The revelation is not to be identified with the visions of 2 Corinthians 12:1-47., nor with the appearance of the Lord to him in Acts 22:18, nor with the period of the sojourn in Arabia; but with the appearance of Christ, as the Son of God, on the way to Damascus, as "the fundamental central illumination," which was followed by a progressive development. The apostle might, therefore, well describe his gospel as not of man. We know nothing of the mode of the Divine communications; the actual results are contained in the writings of the apostle. Thus it was that he spoke of "his gospel," which exhibited, as no other inspired writer did, "the mystery hid from generations," which forms the distinguishing glory of the Ephesian and Colossian Epistles. He sees in the gospel a Divine plan of salvation, whose centre is Christ, and whose end is the revelation of God's glorious perfection (Romans 11:36). The revelation from Christ was thus a revelation of Christ. He was at once the Source and Subject of it.
A retrospect of his career as a Jew.
This would be the best proof that he had not received his gospel from man.
I. HIS ENMITY TO THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. "I was beyond measure persecuting the Church of God, and destroying it." His past career was notorious. "He persecuted unto death" (Acts 22:4), "beyond measure"—by no feeble or spasmodic effort, limited to one spot, but by a persistent scheme of violence wrought with a fierce energy that knew no weariness. He could not then have been learning the gospel of the very saints he was hunting to death; there could he no possible association between the persecutor and his victims that would allow of his learning the gospel. On the contrary, at this time he cherished the strongest prejudices and the fiercest hatred against Christianity.
II. HIS INTENSE ZEAL FOR THE JEWISH RELIGION. He could appeal to the Galatians themselves as having once heard "of his conversation in time past in Judaism," and how he "was making progress in Judaism above many of his contemporaries in his own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers."
1. His zeal was manifest in his earnest study of Judaism. He studied it under Gamaliel, with the best advantages of instruction, and he excelled many of the young Pharisees of his own age in the ardour and in the results of his studies. He could not have made progress without study.
2. It was still more manifest in his extraordinary devotion to the traditions of his fathers. This was the natural token of an enthusiastic Pharisaism. "He was a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6).
(1) The traditions in question were not the Mosaic Law, but the interpretations of that Law, which found their true place afterwards in the Mishna. They were, in a word, "the traditions of the elders," which our Lord so severely condemned. They were traditions, strong in the letter, weak in the spirit, strict in trifles, lax in weighty matters. They made void the Law on some of the plainest questions of duty. So is it with Roman Catholics in the matter of their traditions, which are either opposed to Scripture or unnecessary additions to it.
(2) It is not unnatural to find unconverted men very zealous for ancestral traditions; more concerned, in fact, that they should be found to come from the Fathers than from God. Zeal of this sort is often strong in proportion to its ignorance of the truth. The zeal of his countrymen the apostle readily concedes, but charges it with being "a zeal not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). It is in such an atmosphere that the persecutor is bred.
(3) Zeal is not religion: Good intentions will never make anything really good with God. Zeal can never make the false true, nor justify any in persecuting the truth. Christians ought to imitate the zeal of false teachers, and to manifest its pureness by jealousy for God's honour, by abundance of labours, and by ardent love to Christ.
III. A BELIEVER OUGHT NOT TO BE ASHAMED TO CONFESS HIS SINS. The apostle makes an almost remorseful confession of his crimes against the Church of God. Once and again the dark recollection of ',his mad violence against the saints comes up in the midst of his grateful remembrances of God's forgiving mercy. But all that wild persecution only too clearly proved how little he was indebted to apostle or saint for the gospel he gave to the Galatians.
After his conversion he took no counsel with men as to his doctrine or career.
The apostle is most emphatic in asserting his independence of man. Mark—
I. HIS HIGH DESTINATION FROM BIRTH. "Who separated me from my mother's womb." Here is an instance of prevenient grace. From his very birth, and therefore before he could have any impulses or ideas of his own, God destined him to apostleship, no matter how wayward or inconsistent may have been the career of his youth. Looking back now upon his full history, we can see the marks of that momentous "separation." We see the working of prevenient, formative, restraining, preparatory grace. We see it:
1. In the splendid intellect with which he was endowed. God did verily prepare this large brain to be touched in his own time with heavenly fire.
2. In his education. He was a pure Jew, not half Greek, half Jew, but thoroughly versed in all the traditions of the Jews, and so trained in rabbinical traditions that he could afterwards thoroughly understand and confront the Judaist spirit everywhere, while he was led through inward struggles and fightings out of the darkness of Judaism into the full light of the gospel.
3. In his thoroughness of character. He could be nothing by halves; as a sinner, he was the very chief of sinners. Conversion made no change in his temperament and in the force of his character.
II. HIS CALL TO GRACE AND APOSTLESHIP. "And called me by his grace." In evident allusion to the scene on the way to Damascus. The call of the Redeemer was in the same moment a call to conversion and to apostleship (Romans 1:5). That call was not on the ground of his Pharisaic strictness and fastings and prayers; much less on the ground of his mad violence as a persecutor. It had its origin wholly in grace, It was of grace, not of works,
III. THE REVELATION OF GOD'S SON IN THE APOSTLE. "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me."
1. Revelation is here opposed to the method of patient and prolonged study.
2. The gospel is a revelation of the Son in his person, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It reveals him to poor sinners as "Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption."
3. It is a revelation in individual lives. "In me." God revealed his Son to Paul and in Paul as "the Hope of glory," showed him what is "the riches of the glory of this mystery." It was a wonderful thing that the apostle should have all his fixed ideas unhinged in a moment, all his deeply rooted prejudices destroyed, and the most comprehensive views of a singularly glorious system established in his soul, not by a process of gradual inquiry or slow conviction, but instantaneously by the revelation of the Son in him. It was this revelation which enabled him ever afterwards to hold forth the Son as the one transcendently glorious and loving Redeemer.
IV. THE DESIGN OF THIS REVELATION. "That I might preach him among the Gentiles."
1. It was not for his own individual salvation, but that he might be able to make known to others what had been so graciously conveyed to himself.
2. It was the Son who was to be preached to the Gentiles, not the Law, or circumcision, or holy days; not the righteousness of works, but "the righteousness of faith." This was the true scope of his apostleship.
V. THE MOVING CAUSE ALIKE OF CALL AND REVELATION—THE GOOD PLEASURE OF GOD. "It pleased God." We see in his career, first and last, the sole agency of God, and therefore there could be no dependence upon man or self for either call or apostleship.
VI. THE PROMPTNESS AND INDEPENDENT ACTION OF THE APOSTLE AFTER HIS CALL. "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." He took no counsel with mortal man; he did not take the usual methods of men in determining their conduct in critical eases; therefore there was no reason for the Judaists to affirm that, after he had received his revelation, it underwent modification at the hands of men. There are times for thoughtful and even prolonged consideration, but where God's will is perfectly clear there is no need to consult man. Our first duty to Christ is a prompt obedience.
Proofs of his entirely independent course after conversion.
The apostle adduces three or four separate facts to prove his independence of the apostles and of Judaic influence.
I. HIS FIRST JOURNEY AFTER HIS CONVERSION WAS NOT TO JERUSALEM. "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me." It was very necessary for him to show that he received no instructions from the apostles at the commencement of his ministry, for the Judaists were saying to the Galatians," Ye are the disciples of the apostles; so is Paul; therefore he has no superiority over us." But he did not go to Jerusalem to rehearse his experience or to receive either instruction or authority from them. When he did go, it was not by command of the apostles, but entirely of his own accord, in his reference to them he sets himself strictly by their side, conceding to them no superiority except upon this one point of priority of calling—they were "apostles before me."
II. HIS FIRST ACT AFTER CONVERSION WAS HIS WITHDRAWAL INTO ARABIA. "But I went into Arabia."
1. This fact showed that he had at once placed himself completely beyond the reach of human influence. It was a proof of his statement that he did not confer with flesh and blood.
2. His retirement to Arabia—that is, to the Sinaitic peninsula—was evidently for the purpose of solitary communion with God. There would be a natural yearning, after such a scene as broke his life into two widely sundered parts, to be for a time alone with God, that he might receive in his heart the healing of those wounds which the hand of Divine mercy had inflicted, as well as to learn by revelation the glories of the gospel which was entrusted to him for promulgation among the Gentiles.
3. This mysterious pause at the beginning of his career lasted a considerable time. It is not possible to say whether it was the whole of three years; for the text merely asserts it was three years from the date of his conversion till his first visit to Jerusalem, and we know that after his conversion he stayed a few days (ἡμέρας τινάς) with the disciples at Damascus, and returned again from Arabia to Damascus. Yet it is probable that he was the most part of three years in Arabia, as a sort of substitute, we may suppose, for the three years' personal training of the other apostles under Christ, This period of lonely thought and meditation was as prolific of mighty results as the year's solitude of Luther in the Wartburg, or as the imprisonment of Huss in the castle on the Rhine.
III. HIS FIRST APPEARANCE IN PUBLIC LIFE AFTER THE ARABIAN SECLUSION WAS NOT AT JERUSALEM, BUT AT DAMASCUS. "I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." It was natural that his career as an apostle should begin at the scene of his gracious call, and nowhere else. That ancient city, with its unbroken history of four thousand years, standing on the great road of communication between Eastern and Western Asia, was a fitting starting-point for the career of one who was to embrace both East and West in the amplitude of his apostolic labours.
IV. HIS FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM AFTER HIS CONVERSION. "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days." For three years, at least, his course was perfectly independent; but his stay was so exceedingly short that there were few opportunities for his receiving instruction from the apostles. He did not see the twelve apostles, only Peter, and James the Lord's brother. The other apostles were probably absent at the time. He naturally sought the acquaintance of Peter, because he was the oldest and most distinguished of the apostles—one, in fact, of "the pillars" (Galatians 2:9); but the language of Paul does not imply that he went to consult him or to receive instruction or authority in regard to his work, but rather, we may suppose, that the two apostles might come to an understanding with regard to the future spheres of their apostolic labour. Peter could influence him but slightly in the matter of Gentile liberty, for he was not himself very clear or decided on the subject. In fact, Peter was not at this time (Acts 9:29)very clear about a commission to the Gentiles at all. The apostle's interview with James, who was supposed to represent a strongly Judaic tendency, could not be supposed to bias him in favour of Gentile liberty. The fortnight's sojourn in Jerusalem was long enough to enable Peter to know Paul and to ascertain the true character of his gospel. But the visit was abruptly ended by a plot against the apostle's life (Acts 9:29) and by a vision from heaven (Acts 22:17-44).
V. HIS NEXT MOVEMENT CARRIED HIM FAR FROM JERUSALEM. "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia." This shows how he left Palestine altogether and passed beyond the reach of Judaean influence. There were Churches in these Cilieian and Syrian regions at a subsequent period; probably founded by the apostle at this very time (Acts 15:23, Acts 15:41).
VI. HE WAS PERSONALLY UNKNOWN TO THE JUDAEAN CHURCHES, AND ONLY KNOWN BY FAME AS A CONVERTED PERSECUTOR. "And was unknown by face unto the Churches of Judaea which were in Christ. But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which he was once destroying. And they glorified God in me."
1. He was a stranger to the Judaean Churches; for, in travelling from Damascus to Jerusalem, after his Arabian seclusion, he visited none of the Churches by the way, but went straight to the metropolis. Then he was so suddenly hurried away from the city that he had no time to become known to the Judaean Churches, while, in any case, he may have thought that, as the destined apostle of the Gentiles, his way did not lie through the Churches of the Jews. He must have become well known to them if he had stood in very intimate relations with the apostles.
2. Yet he was not a stranger by character and repute; for the Judaean Churches had already heard of his conversion with joy.
(1) The conversion of Saul the persecutor was a widely known event. "They kept hearing." Christian love made it impossible that they should be indifferent to anything that concerned so remarkable a man.
(2) It is the duty of Christians, not only to receive a converted persecutor, but to glorify God "in him;"
(a) because his talents were no longer perverted to evil;
(b) because they were now employed to build up the faith be was once trying to extinguish in blood;
(c) because nothing but God's grace could change the career of one who was pre-eminently a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious.
(3) The conversion of Paul—what an event to the world, to the Church, to theology!
(4) The grateful joy of the Judaean Churches over such a conversion was a rebuke to Judaists who aimed to destroy his influence and undermine his authority.
VII. MARK THE SOLEMN ASSEVERATION OF THE APOSTLE AS TO THESE FACTS. "But as to what I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."
1. The necessity for such a strong declaration shows how unscrupulous were the calumnies of his Judaist enemies. As there could be no witness to most of the facts hereinbefore recited, he can only appeal direct to God.
3. As there are exigencies in life to justify a direct appeal to God, it is well that we should be able truthfully to call God to witness upon our conduct.—T.C.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
The gospel of self-sacrifice.
In sending an Epistle to an apostate people, Paul does not indulge in unmeaning compliments. These Celts in Asia had been showing some of their proverbial fickleness, and going back from the doctrine of justification by faith to a ritualism whose development must be self-righteousness. It is needful for their recovery from apostasy that the authority of the apostle and the truth of the gospel should be put before them in unmistakable terms. Hence we find Paul plunging at once into the needful expositions of his own apostleship and of the gospel of Christ with which as an apostle he was charged. In this salutation we have the following lessons distinctly taught:—
I. PAUL'S APOSTLESHIP WAS RECEIVED DIRECTLY FROM JESUS CHRIST. (Galatians 1:1.) Doubtless he had merely human hands laid upon his head at Antioch (Acts 13:3), but the imposition of the hands of the brethren was not the conveyance of authority, but simply the recognition of authority as already conveyed. The "ordination" at Antioch was the recognition by the Church of' authority and mission already conveyed by the Lord to the apostle. Accordingly in this instance before us Paul claims an apostleship directly from the hands of Christ. He was an apostle "not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead" (Revised Version). No intermediate hands conveyed the authority to him; he was conscious of having received it directly from the fountain-head. This gave him confidence consequently in dealing with the Judaizing teachers. It mattered not to him what parade of authority these teachers made; he stood as a rock upon his own commission with all its hallowed associations. And should this not instruct every true teacher as to the source of his authority? It is a mistake to imagine that men can do more than recognize God-given authority. It is from Christ directly we must each receive our office. Church officers, in putting their imprimatur upon any of us, merely recognize a Divine work which they believe on due evidence to be already there.
II. THE DESIRE OF THE APOSTLE FOR THE GALATIANS' WELFARE. (Galatians 1:2, Galatians 1:3.) The deep longing of Paul and those associated with him in his captivity for these apostate Galatians was that grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ might be theirs. "Grace," the gratuitous, undeserved favour which wells forth from the Divine heart, when it is received into the sinner's soul, produces "peace which passeth all understanding." It was this blessed experience Paul desired for the Galatians. They may have traduced his office and his character, but this did not prevent him entertaining the deep desire that into "truths of peace" they, like himself, should be led. And indeed we cannot wish people better than that grace and peace from heaven should be theirs. To live in the felt favour of God, to realize that it is at the same time quite undeserved, produces a peace and a humility of spirit beyond all price!
III. THE GOSPEL PAUL PREACHED WAS THAT OF THE SELF-SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, (Verse 4.) Jesus, he asserts, "gave himself for our sins." The foundation of the gospel is self-sacrifice. But we must always remember that self-sacrifice, if for the merest trifle, may be moral madness. In self-sacrifice as such there is no necessary virtue. A man may lose his life in an utterly unworthy cause. Hence the necessity for the self-sacrifice of Christ must be made out before its real virtue is established. This necessity appears when we consider that it was "for our sins ' he gave himself. For if our sins had been removed at some meaner cost than the blood of the Son of God, we should be disposed to say that sin is after all a light thing in God's sight, a mere bagatelle to him. But inasmuch as it required such a sacrifice to take away sin, its enormity is made manifest to all. Christ laid down his life, then, in a noble cause. Surely to take away sin, to remove from human hearts their heavy burdens, to bestow on men peace and deliverance from all fear, was a worthy object in self-sacrifice. We stand before the cross, therefore, believing that the sacrifice upon it is of infinite value and efficacy. He was no martyr by mistake as he died upon the tree, but the most glorious of all heroes.
IV. CHRIST'S AIM IN SELF-SACRIFICE WAS OUR DELIVERANCE FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD. (Verse 4.) The world is the totality of tendencies which oppose themselves to God. To love such a world is incompatible with love to God the Father (1 John 2:15). It is, moreover, made up of "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). Now, it is to this world that the ritualist falls a prey. This was the danger of the Galatians. The revival of rites and ceremonies, which had been fulfilled and therefore done away in Christ, pandered to the lust of the eyes and to the pride of life. Hence Paul proclaims at the outset that one purpose of the gospel of self-sacrifice is to deliver its recipients from the power of this present evil world which is constantly trying to bring us into bondage. The religion of Christ is freedom. He means to deliver us from bondage. It is our own fault if we are not delivered.
V. THE FINAL END OF THE GOSPEL IS ALWAYS THE GLORY OF THE FATHER. (Verse 5.) Hence the doxology with which the apostolic desire closes. It is with doxologies that the dispensation of grace must end. Heaven itself is the concentration of the doxologies which have been gathering upon earth; the full concert after the terrestrial rehearsals. And it is here that the safety of the whole dispensation may be seen; for if the glory of some imperfect Being were contemplated, his designs would of necessity run contrary in many cases to the real good of others. But God the Father is so perfect that his glory always consists with the real good of all his creatures. Doubtless some of his creatures will not believe this, and will insist on suspecting and hating his designs. In consequence they must be exposed to his righteous indignation. But this is quite compatible with the fact that the Divine glory and the real good of all are meant to harmonize. Happy will it be for us if we join in the rehearsals of his glory here, and are promoted to the chorus full-orbed and like the sound of many waters above. But even should we insist on discord, our own discomfort alone shall be secured; discords can, we know, be so wedded to harmony as to swell and not diminish the effect of the full orchestra. And God will secure his glory even in our poor despite.—R.M.E.
Paul's intolerance of any other gospel
After the usual apostolic greeting, Paul proceeds, not to congratulate or compliment the Galatians in any way, but to reprimand them for turning away from the gospel to ritualism. Their idea of salvation through becoming Jews was subversive of the gospel of grace, and so the apostle shows himself intolerant of the false doctrine which was so mischievous. So sure is he of his position that he does not hesitate to denounce with the curse of God any, be they men or angels, who would preach a different gospel from that gospel of Christ's self-sacrifice which he preached. Moreover, if they imagined that to be popular he would trifle with principle, he gave them to understand that he would never, to propitiate public opinion, violate in the least degree his obligation as the slave of Christ.
I. IT IS MARVELLOUS HOW ATTRACTIVE RITUALISM IS TO FICKLE MINDS. (Verse 6.) Now, by ritualism we mean a plan of salvation by rites and ceremonies. The principle is the same whether the rites and ceremonies are Jewish or mediaeval. It is a substitute for the gospel of grace. 1%w, Paul marvelled that these Celts in Asia so speedily turned away from the gospel of grace to a gospel of ritual. He wondered at their fickleness. And yet, when we consider the sensationalism which underlies every ritualistic system, we can understand the hold it has upon those constitutionally fickle. Whatever is showy, palpable, and helpful to self-esteem and pride secures the homage of shallow minds. But the sad aspect of this tendency is that it removes souls from God. Every rite and ceremony which is interposed as essential between man and God creates a sense of distance between those whom the gospel would bring nigh. Instead of ritualism tending to intensify communion with God, it can only intensify the superstitious feeling which puts souls at a distance from him.
II. RITUALISM IS A PERVERSION OF THE GOSPEL. (Verse 7.) For Paul would not admit that the ritualism imported by the Judaizers into Galatia was another gospel; in his view it was no gospel, but a perversion of it. For if I am told I can be saved only by becoming a Jew, by being circumcised, and keeping the Old Testament ritual, and that I cannot be saved by faith alone, I am deprived of the glad tidings which Christ's gospel gives, and projected upon a path of real self-righteousness. It is the same with modern ritualism. Salvation by ceremonies is the antithesis of salvation by grace. It is a perversion of God's good news to man and must result in disappointment.
III. WE OUGHT, LIKE PAUL, TO BE S0 SURE OF THE GOSPEL WE PROCLAIM AS TO BE INTOLERANT OF ANY OTHER. (Verse 8.) Paul had got such a grasp of the gospel of grace, the self-sacrifice of Christ was so sure and so sufficient a foundation for man's hope, that he could not tolerate any other message. Even should he himself change his views in the course of years and come to Galatia with another gospel, or should an angel from heaven with an aureole of light proclaim another gospel than the one Paul had at first proclaimed, then is the apostle ready to call down upon his perverted self or the perverted angel the curse of God. Now, this intolerant side of truth really springs from the sure grasp we have of it. It is inseparable from intense conviction. Of course, it is quite distinct from the intolerance which dictates persecution. Paul would not persecute; but he would leave the perverts in the hands of God that he might deal with them. Persecution is devoting men to the curse of men; the true intolerance contents itself with leaving the offenders in the hands of a holy and just God.
IV. THE BEING WHO MISLEADS HIS FELLOWS ABOUT SALVATION DESERVES THE CURSE OF GOD. (Verse 9.) Paul has not been rashly betrayed into intolerance of spirit. He had expressed himself to the same effect on a previous occasion, probably during his second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). He is now prepared to stick to his anathema. He feels in his heart of hearts that the person who trifles with the eternal interests of others and proclaims a false method of salvation deserves the Divine curse. The gospel Paul had preached was the gospel of free grace. No simpler terms of pardon and acceptance can be imagined than are offered in the gospel; it is only devil's work which those persons manage to perform who complicate salvation with rites and ceremonies, making it less easy than God intends. Having regard, then, to the eternal interests at stake, it must be admitted that the deceiver of souls deserves the curse of Heaven. How solemn a responsibility it is to guide men to God! How clear and unmistakable should the plan of salvation be made! How deep the guilt and how dire the doom of those who pervert the gospel!
V. THE SLAVE OF CHRIST WILL NOT BE THE SLAVE OF PUBLIC OPINION. (Verse 10.) Paul was undoubtedly a man of great breadth of view and sympathy. It was a principle with him to please his neighbour for his good to edification (Romans 15:2). He was ready to become all things to all men in the hope of saving some (1 Corinthians 9:22; 1 Corinthians 10:33). And the Judaizers thought that this pleasing of men on Paul's part would lead him to accept of their ritualism and give up his gospel if their policy was once thoroughly popular. In short, their notion was that Paul was so enamoured of popularity that he would bow to public opinion at all hazards. Now, this is what he repudiates in this last verse. "Do I now," he asks, "win over to myself men or God? Or am I seeking to be an object of man's good will? No; and there is a decisive reason against any such efforts. If I were still pleasing men, if I had not resigned the hope of human favour and of human approval, I should not be the slave of Christ." This leads us into the wide subject of our attitude towards public opinion. Now, our danger undoubtedly is in over-estimating it. Our safety lies in being slaves to Christ. His opinion is to be our one simple concern, and public opinion may coincide with or differ from his, but we must hold firmly by our obligations to the one Master, and all other things will range themselves rightly around us. The uncompromising slave of Christ will be found to be after all the most considerate servant of men.—R.M.E.
Paul's personal grasp of the gospel.
Paul, as we have seen, is so certain of the gospel of grace being the only gospel for sinful men, that he is prepared to pronounce an anathema on all who preach any other gospel. Lest it might be supposed that he took up this intolerant position rashly, he now proceeds to give us a short autobiography, in which he shows how he had received the gospel, and what a hold it had upon him. Let us notice the salient points in this narrative.
I. HIS LIFE AS A JEW. (Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:14.) Paul, before his conversion, was the most zealous persecutor of Christianity. A strict Pharisee, he added to his self-righteousness an uncommon zeal for the old religion, and hesitated not to persecute to the death those who had embraced the new. He was zealous, but not according to knowledge.
II. THE REVELATION OF JESUS TO HIM AND IN HIM. (Galatians 1:11, Galatians 1:12, Galatians 1:15, Galatians 1:16.) It was Jesus himself who undertook Saul's conversion. There was no intermediate instrument. On the way to Damascus Jesus appeared to him in dazzling, overwhelming radiance, and compelled the persecutor to recognize, not only his existence, but his sovereign authority. That manifestation of Jesus to him revolutionized his life. Henceforth he could have no doubt regarding the reign of Jesus Christ. This was the revelation of Jesus to him—the historic interview which made Paul's career so different and so glorious. But next there was the revelation of Jesus in Paul. This was by the Holy Spirit entering into him and giving him Christ's mind, Christ's heart, Christ's compassions, so that Paul became a revelation of Christ to other men. Henceforward he was a "Christophor," carrying Christ in him, not only as his Hope of glory, but as his animating, regulating, ruling power. Paul was from that hour" possessed," but it was by the Spirit of Christ. His personality became a new centre of spiritual force and power.
1. He became independent of popular opinion "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" Now it must have been very trying to surrender all his hopes as a Jew. The fact is, he was the foremost man of his nation just when Jesus converted him. The nation would gladly have followed his leadership. There was no man who had so much weight and force of character as Saul. To renounce all these hopes, and the friendships of his early years, and to face the world a lonely man was trying. Yet he was enabled by God's grace to do so. He made no truce with flesh and blood, but renounced all for Christ.
2. He felt independent of apostolic recognition. He never thought of hurrying off to Jerusalem to stand an examination at the hands of the apostles, and receive their imorimatur. He dealt at first hand with the Fountain of authority. Hence he passed to Arabia soon after his conversion, and in the solitudes of the desert, in the places associated with such master spirits as Moses, Elijah, and Christ, he communed with Christ, and pondered and laid the foundations of his theology. He called no man master; he felt that he had but one Master, and he was Christ. Now, this independence of character is what we should all seek. It can only be secured when we have renounced self-confidence and betaken ourselves to the feet of our Lord. There at the fountain of life and power we can rise up our own masters and his faithful servants, prepared to do battle, if need be, against the world.
IV. PAUL'S INTERVIEW AT JERUSALEM WITH CEPHAS AND JAMES. (Galatians 1:18, Galatians 1:19.) While Paul was properly independent in spirit, this does not imply that he was in any way morose or unsocial. His internment in Arabia, his earnest study of the whole plan of the gospel, only made him long for an interview with Cephas, the recognized leader at Jerusalem. Hence he passed from solitude to society, and had an interview of fifteen days with the apostle of the circumcision. James, who had ministerial oversight of the Jerusalem Church, shared his society too. It must have been a blessed meeting between the two mighty apostles. The meeting of two generals before some important campaign was never so momentous in its consequences as the meeting of these two humble men, Saul and Cephas. They were set upon the conquest for Christ of the world. Now, we have every reason to believe that the interview was simply one for conference. It was not that Saul might receive any authority from the hands either of Cephas or of James. He had his authority directly from Christ.
V. HIS EVANGELISTIC WORK. (Verses 20-24.) Perhaps through mutual agreement with Peter, Paul leaves Jerusalem and Judaea and confines himself to the districts beyond. Syria and Cilicia, territories beyond the bounds of Palestine proper, where the apostles were operating, were selected by the apostle to the Gentiles for his first evangelistic efforts. He did not seek the acquaintance of the Churches in Judaea. He kept to his own province. They heard gladly that the arch-persecutor had become a chief preacher of the once despised faith. They accordingly praised God for the monument of his mercy he had raised up in Paul. But his knowledge of the gospel and his authority in proclaiming it were not, he wishes these Galatians to understand, derived from men. We should surely learn from this autobiography of Paul the secret of personal independence and power. It consists in going to the sources themselves. If we refuse to depend upon men and depend on the Lord only, we shall secure a grasp of his holy gospel and an efficiency in proclaiming it which are impossible otherwise. What the world needs now is what it needed then—men pervaded like Paul by the Spirit of Christ, and so radiating the true ideas about Christ all around.—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
The tone of this Epistle is decidedly controversial. In the first and second chapters the writer establishes against Judaistic assailants his apostolic authority. This, however, is only subsidiary to his main design, which is in the third and fourth chapters, as an accredited servant of God, to establish the gospel of Christ, or justification by faith against Judaism (a different gospel), or justification by the works of the Law. The fifth and sixth chapters may be said to contain the application. There is thus the same central thought in this Epistle that there is in the Epistle to the Romans. Here there is the thought as it flashed out against Judaism as it threatened the very existence of Christianity in a very interesting circle of Churches, and while the writer's feelings were still keen. In the later Epistle there is the thought as it shaped itself against Judaism, when there was time to look at it calmly and in its widest aspects. It is worthy of being remembered that an historical interest attaches to this Epistle. The Romanism with which Luther was confronted bore a striking resemblance to Judaism. On that account he was led to make a special study of this Epistle. "The Epistle to the Galatians," he said, "is my Epistle. I have betrothed myself to it; it is my wife."
1. The writer. "Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)." Paul's apostleship was not without relation to men. It was directed to men, and intended for their benefit. His appointment to office was announced to him by a man (Ananias). But the authority under which the appointment was made was not derived from men. Nor was it through man as the medium that it was communicated. It was communicated through Jesus Christ. The Lord said by Ananias, "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my Name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel." When afterwards he essayed to preach the gospel at Jerusalem, he was overruled. While praying in the temple he fell into a trance, and saw Jesus, who said unto him," Depart; for I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles." The authority under which Paul acted as apostle was ultimately derived from God. That is not the form in which it is put here. For the same preposition is used in connection with God as with Christ, as if God were in himself both the Medium and the Source of authority. And, in keeping with that view, one of the forms in which Ananias announced to Paul his appointment to apostleship was this: "The God of our fathers hath appointed thee to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth." Authority was communicated to Paul only through God as the Father, i.e. as acting through his Son Jesus Christ. This great Agent the Father raised from the dead. In the corresponding place in Romans the raising of Christ is also introduced: "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship." The thought there is that, as divinely attested in his resurrection, he could appoint to apostleship. The further thought is suggested here that, as raised, he could appoint him to apostleship. He was not among those who received appointment from Christ when he was in flesh; but the risen Christ had appeared to him, and, without any elective body of men coming between, without any action of the Church as in the election of Matthias, had immediately appointed him to apostleship.
2. Those associated with him. "And all the brethren which are with me." However high ground Paul took as to his apostleship, that did not separate him from his brethren. He even courted their Christian sympathy and support. He was open with. his companions in travel, and divulged to them his thoughts, read to them his letters. On this occasion he could say that they were at one with him. In the whole of his warm remonstrance against giving way to Judaism, there was not one expression which they wished him to tone down.
3. The Churches addressed. "Unto the Churches of Galatia." At the dawn of history the home of the Celtic race, known to the Greeks as Galatians, and to the Romans as Gauls, was the continent west of the Rhine, with these adjoining islands. In their migrations hordes of Celts poured into Italy. They also followed the course of the Danube, turning southward into Greece. Three tribes of them, crossing the Hellespont, after wide devastations, were confined in the heart of Asia Minor. The tract of country which they occupied, about two hundred miles in length, and watered by the Halys, was called after them Galatia (land of the Celts). The head towns of the three tribes were Tavium, Pessinus, and Ancyra. The original inhabitants were Phrygians, and in later times there were additions of Romans and of Greeks and also of Jews. But the predominant element was Celtic, and the Celtic language was spoken along with Greek. To peoples, then, with more or less of a Celtic origin this Epistle to the Celts is invested with special interest. Paul came into contact with this new race in his second missionary tour. There is a singular meagreness of information regarding his visit. All that is recorded is that, being overruled as to his intended route, he passed through the region of Phrygia and Galatia. As meagrely it is said, in connection with his third missionary tour, that he passed through the same region in order, stablishing all the disciples. The result of his evangelizing was the formation of several Churches. They are (as was pointed out by Chrysostom) addressed here without title. What there is of characterization is thrown into the salutation.
II. SALUTATION. Notwithstanding what he refuses to them at the present juncture, he heartily wishes them well.
1. Blessing invoked. "Grace to you and peace." He invokes grace on them, or the bestowment of the Divine favour, not because of merit in them, but because of merit obtained for them. As the result of grace, he invokes peace, or the absence of inward misgiving, and as far as possible the absence also of disturbing influences from without, Judaism included.
2. From whom invoked. "From God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." He first invokes blessing from God the Father. He goes to the very fountain-head. The fatherhood of God is the ultimate reason for our being blessed. It is impossible to go higher than that. Where is there hope for the child who disobeys his father's command? The hope lies in what the father is. He naturally pities his child, and desires to bless him. So where is there hope for us in our state of disobedience? The hope lies in what God is. He is the Fountain of all fatherly feeling. As the Father, he was moved with compassion toward us, and desired to bless us notwithstanding all our unworthiness. It was the fatherly feeling that moved to redemption. It is the fatherly feeling that moves to bless in connection with redemption. This, then, is the height to which we must lift up our eyes, from whence cometh help. He also invokes blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ. As the Father was formerly bound with Christ by the preposition "through," so now Christ is bound with the Father by the preposition "from." Such freedom is significant. He who is the Channel is also the Source of blessing. He is Jesus, the higher Joshua, who saves his people from their sins. It was through him that effect was given to the fatherly feeling in God, and that the Father approaches man with blessing. He is the Christ who was anointed of God for this end. He is our Lord, as the successful Accomplisher of salvation placed over the house of God, to whom it belongs to dispense blessing. It is to him, then, as sovereign Dispenser of blessing that we must look. Central truth made prominent by being thrown into the salutation. "Who gave himself for our sizes, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father." The language has evidently a sacrificial colouring. The worshipper came with his sins before God. The oblation he presented to God was an animal. With his sins taken over, the animal paid the penalty in its death. So the oblation which Christ presented to God was himself. With our sins taken over, he really and fully suffered the desert of them in his death, especially in the hiding of the Father's countenance. What gave this self-oblation infinite value was the dignity of the Sufferer; and also his perfect trust in God, and all-absorbing love for men, and never-failing hope for their salvation in the mysterious forsaking which made trial of him. The object with which Christ gave himself Was, not only that he might deliver us from the guilt of sin, but also that he might deliver us from the manifestation of sin in this present evil world. This world is thought of, not as it might have been, but as it actually is. It might have been a good world; it is instead an evil world. Its evil character consists, not only in its opposing itself in its opinions and practices to men's good, but especially in its opposing itself to God. It is a world that, in its wickedness, forgets God, casts off God. "The Lord shall not see;" "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?" Now, Christ died that we might be delivered from this tyrannous world, and introduced into the liberty, if not at once of a perfect form of society, yet of a personal condition, and Church condition too, in which God has something of the place to which he is entitled. And all this is to be thought of as according to the will of our God and Father. The Father has the primacy throughout. It was in his will that salvation originated. It was his will that was carried out by Christ. "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy Law is within my heart." The outcome is the doing of the Father's will by man as it is by the angels.
III. DOXOLOGY. "To whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen." The foundation of the ascription of glory to God is the glory displayed by God in salvation. There was a glorious display of wisdom in the planning of salvation. There was a glorious display of justice in the satisfaction made for sin. There was a glorious display of power in the overcoming of sin. There was especially a glorious display of love in its overflowing on sinners. In view of such a display it becomes us to ascribe glory to God. We cannot take it to ourselves. Our language must ever be, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us." In what God has done for our salvation there will be found subject for our doxologies to the ages of ages. To every ascription of glory it becomes us to add our "Amen." May our "Amen" become ever deeper, and may the circle of such "Amens" evermore increase.—R.F.
Occasion of the Epistle.
I. THE APOSTLE EXPRESSES AMAZEMENT AT THE CHANGED BEARING OF THE GALATIANS TOWARDS THE GOSPEL. "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ? Only in this Epistle are wanting prefatory words of acknowledgment. In the case of the Corinthians he has words of warm acknowledgment, because, notwithstanding irregularities, they were in the main attached to the gospel. But all of attachment to the gospel that the apostle had formerly been thankful for in the Galatians was now so endangered that he can only approach them with a feeling of utter amazement.
1. The fundamental nature of the change. They were removing from him that called them in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel. If this was a different gospel, then we have a description of the gospel of Christ going before. It is the grace of Christ. It is the good offer of pardon and salvation, not on the ground of our merits, but purely on the ground of the sacrifice and merits of Christ. That gospel had been preached in Galatia, and in and by it God had called them unto himself, unto fellowship with himself, unto holiness and happiness. But now they were moving away from him that called them in that gospel unto a different gospel. The difference was that it was no more the pure grace of Christ, but a mixture of grace and works. Their departure from the gospel was not completed, the process was still going on; but it was so fundamental a departure that the apostle marvels at their guilt.
2. The suddenness of the change. They were removing so quickly from him that called them in the gospel unto a different gospel. From the point of their being called up to the present point, their Christian career had certainly been short. But that does not seem sufficient by itself to account for the abruptness with which the apostle breaks in here. God had called them in the gospel, and they had continued in the gospel up to a certain point. From the experience of his second visit, and from information received, he was thinking hopefully of them; when all at once he is informed of apostasy in rapid progress. They were acting with characteristic Gallic mobility. Fickleness is the name applied to it, when the form is evil. A Gallic tribe might be to all appearance contented and prosperous, when, suddenly impelled by the love of change, it would move away to another locality. "Almost all the Gauls," says Caesar, in his account of his Gallic wars, "are given to change." The Galatians themselves were a striking example of this love of change. This characteristic would be in favour of their reception of the gospel at the first. But would they not as easily move away from the gospel? In view of Gallic mobility, the apostle of Christ needed to be as vigorous as the Roman captain was.
3. The unsatisfactoriness of the change. He had said "different gospel" with a certain accommodation. It professed to be a gospel, and he objected to it that it was another kind of gospel. That, however, might seem to contain an admission by him, which he does not wish to make, of there being many gospels, among which a selection might be made. So he hastens to deny that this other kind is a second gospel. He lets it be known that there is only one gospel of Christ. What was being palmed upon them was only misnamed gospel. It was not improving the gospel to add circumcision to it. It was only perverting it, making it no more the gospel of Christ. And this perversion was being palmed upon them by men who had not their real good at heart, whose real character was that of troublers, harassers. They would put upon them a yoke which Christians did not need to bear. And they were men who followed in the track of the preachers of the gospel to break the unity of the Christian communities.
II. THE APOSTLE PRONOUNCES AN ANATHEMA ON PERVERTERS OF THE GOSPEL. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." Anathema is a thing devoted to destruction, or on which a curse is laid. An animal laid on the altar was anathema, i.e. doomed to death. Christ was anathema for us, i.e. given over, and the curse of God fell on him. He supposes two cases: it is implied that they are not actual. The first is the case of a genuine preacher of the gospel—himself or any of his associates. He (others assisting) had preached the gospel among the Galatians. He had been the instrument of God in their conversion and in forming them into Churches. He had given them many proofs of his earnestness. If he—which God forbid!—should be so far left to himself as to turn his back on his previous history as a Christian teacher, if he should profess to have got new light, if he should say that they could be saved on any other ground than the grace of Christ,—then (protecting their liberty even against himself, and protecting the interests of Christ) his feeling with regard to himself, acting in the way supposed, would be, "Let him be anathema." The second is the ease of an angel from heaven. This calls up an image of extraordinary saintliness, greater than that of any of the best men, who are all compassed about with infirmity. What an influence is here supposed to back up a message] If an angel should come among them, fresh from the presence of God, with the atmosphere of heaven around him; if by the saintliness of his life he should succeed in establishing himself beyond all parallel in their affection and confidence; if in this position he should teach that they could be roved on any other ground than the grace of Christ;—then (protecting their liberty, and protecting the interests of Christ) he would say, "Let him be accursed." It might seem that this is asseveration made strong as strong can be; but its strength is yet added to. Reaffirmation of a former anathema. "As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema." At a former time others had joined with him in pronouncing an anathema which only differs from the foregoing in three minor particulars.
1. It is put in the most general form. "If any man."
2. An actual case is supposed. "If any man preacheth." Wherever they had the opportunity, Judaizing teachers were doing what is denounced.
3. They had affixed their seal to the gospel. It had not only been preached to them, but also received by them. They had from their own experience of it known what it was. The anathema in this form the apostle for himself reaffirms. Being substantially the same as the foregoing, it is thus brought about that a threefold anathema is uttered against perverters of the gospel. Nor is there anything in this inconsistent with good feeling. Let us suppose that one man has in his power the lives of a thousand persons. By applying a match he may be able to throw away all these valuable lives. Better tar that he himself should perish than that by his wickedness a thousand persons should perish. It was not dissimilar in the case of the Galatians. A good work had been going on among them. By the preaching of the gospel many had been brought to the Saviour. If this good work went on, many more, from time to time, would be added to their number. But if these perverters of the gospel succeeded, then all that good work would be spoiled. Better far that they themselves should be wrecked in their interests than that by them hundreds should be wrecked in their interests. There is a solemn warning here to all perverters of the gospel, of whom there are not a few in our day. The curse of God rests on the man who would displace the grace of Christ as the sole ground of a sinner's salvation.
III. THE APOSTLE TURNS HIS USE OF STRONG LANGUAGE INTO AN ARGUMENT AGAINST HIS BEING A MAN-PLEASER. "For am I now persuading men, or God? or am I seeking to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ." His opponents warned men against his persuasive powers. He could make the Jews believe one thing and the Gentiles another. He could prove that circumcision was right and that circumcision was wrong, as it suited him. Against this charge he here, by the way, points the Galatians to the strong language which he has just used, and has not used for the first time. Could it be said in view of that language that he was making it his highest object to persuade men, i.e. without reference to truth, without reference to Divine ends? Was he not rather making it his highest object to persuade God, i.e. so to speak to men as to have the Divine judgment in his favour? His opponents said more widely that he was a man-pleaser, that he sought by unworthy methods to ingratiate himself into men's favour. The strong language he had used could not be construed into man-pleasing. He had got beyond human good will in becoming a servant of Christ. And as a servant of Christ he had known not a little of what it is to want the good opinion and good will of men.—R.F.
"For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me." To the remarkable outburst of feeling with which the apostle approaches the Galatians, succeeds affectionate, calm statement. He addresses them now as brethren. His object in writing to them is not to excommunicate them, but to bring them back from their error. Against the misrepresentations of the Judaists he wishes to make known to them as his brethren his exact position, touching the gospel which was preached by him. The gospel points to a system of ideas by which men are to be enlightened. It also points to a number of institutions by which men are to be moulded. It principally points to a method by which men are to be saved. Paul was not simply an utterer of thoughts, nor a setter-up of institutions, but he was in the first place a proclaimer of the way of salvation. He preached with a view to his hearers taking action in a matter of infinite moment. Threefold exclusion of man from connection with the gospel as preached by the apostle.
1. He did not preach a man-made gospel. "That it is not alter man." If a division of the realm is disaffected, measures must be adopted to cope with the disaffection. Such measures may be described as after man; they are the result of human counsels. There cannot be claimed for them perfection. The gospel is not after man; it has not been devised by a man or by a body of men. It is free from imperfections that attach to human methods.
2. The gospel was not delivered to him any more than to the other apostles by man. "Neither did I receive it from man." There is not particularized the supposition of it being his own invention. We may conclude, therefore, against that being the form which the representation against him took. On the supposition of it not being a human invention, this exclusion relates to the mode of delivery. The I is emphatic. He did not receive it, any more than the other apostles received it from man.
3. He was no pupil of the apostles. "Nor was I taught it." On the supposition of it being no human invention he did not receive it in a particular form, which may therefore be concluded to be the form which the representation against him took. He was not taught it,—by whom is left indefinite. As it is unqualified, part of the idea must be that he was not taught it by the apostles. The exclusion then comes to this in the end, that he was no pupil of the apostles. What is included in the gospel as preached by the apostle. "But it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ." On this too the former language, by its indefiniteness, has a bearing. The twelve enjoyed three years of teaching under Christ on earth. It was true that he was not taught in that way. The substitute for such teaching, apart from subsequent meditation, was that he was supernaturally furnished by Jesus Christ with the contents of the gospel Historical proof to show that he was no pupil of the apostles.
I. THE JUDAISTIC PERIOD OF HIS LIFE. "For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews' religion." He recalls the fact that they had heard, viz. from his own mouth, when he was with them, of his manner of life in Judaism. This Judaism was a good thing in its right conception and time. There were human adjuncts of it which were not good. It was intended that Judaism should be carried up into Christianity. To adhere to it, then, after Christianity had come, was to go against the Divine intention. This was what Paul did.
1. Outstanding feature of his Judaism. "How that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and made havoc of it." The Church of Christ is named, from his later point of view, the Church of God. He now realizes it as the painful element in his guilt, that he persecuted the Church of God. He was beyond measure a persecutor. It would appear, from the language which is used in one place, that at his instance Christians were put to death: "He persecuted this Way unto the death." As a consequence, he made havoc of the Church. He had put the Church at Jerusalem into confusion, and he was on his way to exterminate, if he could, the Church at Damascus.
2. Spirit by which he was animated in Judaism. "And I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." He was brought up in a Hebrew home in Tarsus. Amid Gentile influences he would feel free in the world of Hebrew memories and hopes. We can think of him as showing forwardness beyond many of his own age while yet at the Hebrew school. The strong impression of his forwardness may have led to his being sent on to Jerusalem for wider opportunity. In the city of his fathers there was everything that was fitted to excite his youthful imagination, to fire his youthful enthusiasm. At the feet of Gamaliel he would come to a more intelligent appreciation of the traditions of his fathers, i.e. of the Law, with its historical accompaniments, and especially with its traditional interpretations. Here, too, we can think of him as showing forwardness beyond many of those who were receiving instruction along with him. While yet a young man he seems to have become a member of the Sanhedrim, or assembly of elders. For it is recorded of him that he gave his vote for the death of Stephen. Where he was during our Lord's ministry we have not the means of knowing. But in the subsequent development of events he very soon appears as a chief actor. It was here that he showed forwardness in Judaism beyond many of his own age among his countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of his fathers. He was zealous beyond his own master, Gamaliel, who, against manifestations of zeal, advised that, if Christianity were not of God, it would come to nought. There was this to be said for Paul, that he had a keen perception of the situation. He saw that Judaism, which he mistakenly but fondly cherished, was threatened at vital points by the forces which were at work in Christianity. He saw that, with its doctrine of a Messiah in heaven and the Holy Spirit from heaven, with the patient bearing of its adherents, and with the progress it was making, it was formidable. Either Judaism must destroy it or it would destroy Judaism. Therefore he was exceedingly zealous beyond many for Judaism.
II. THE CRISIS OF HIS LIFE.
1. His predestination to apostleship. "But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb." This is the only mention that Paul makes of his mother. We can believe that the kind of mother he had was connected with his separation to apostleship. He was separated from his birth. Being separated so early, there is precluded the supposition of human agency, his own or that of others. The separation was the act of God.
2. His call to apostleship. "And called me through his grace." This was on the road to Damascus. It was through no meritorious doing of his own, but evidently through Divine grace. He was engaged at the time in the persecution of Jesus. He had a vivid impression of a Jesus who was dead and buried, whom his disciples spoke of as alive, who was so strongly moving their hearts as to make him fear for Judaism. But now, by a supernatural intervention, he got a vivid impression of Jesus as the Messiah. In the actual appearance of Jesus the fact was given him in a way which, notwithstanding all his prejudices against it, he could not deny that he was risen and living. And making a total surrender, from that moment the authority of Christ was laid on him.
3. His qualification for apostleship. "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles." In connection with his call there was given the fact of the Messiahship of Jesus, but there was also needed the expansion of its meaning. So it was the good pleasure of God, Dot only to give him an outward appearance, but an inward revelation. The revelation of God's Son here is to be identified with the revelation of Jesus Christ in the twelfth verse. It probably succeeded, as it was based on, the appearance of Jesus. It was not a natural excogitation, but a supernatural communication to his mind of the great truths about Christ. It was this, that he might be fitted for preaching Christ among the Gentiles.
III. THE PERIOD FOLLOWING THE CRISIS OF HIS LIFE. "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus." So satisfying were the communications made to him by God that he needed nothing from man. Immediately (made emphatic by position) he conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went he up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles (as though he needed to get authority or instruction from them); but he went away into Arabia. The retirement is mentioned to show that, during a most important period, he kept away from Jerusalem. His first attempts at Damascus seem to have convinced him of the need of lengthened preparation for his work. In silent communion with God he sought what the other apostles got in a three years' course of training under Christ. He had to adjust himself to the new situation; he had to recast his thoughts. The contents of the gospel, which had been supernaturally communicated to him, had in a natural way to be examined and inwrought with his own thoughts. The facts connected with the earthly manifestation of Christ had to be gone over and assigned their place in his thoughts. If we are to suppose him drawn to the scene of the giving of the Law (as is suggested in the fourth chapter), he would be helped thereby to read the old in the light of the new. He had withal to brace his own soul in the new truth against all contingencies connected with his work. After his retirement he returned to the Christian circle at Damascus, only, however, to be compelled to leave it after a brief experience of preaching.
IV. THE PERIOD OF HIS FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM. Four facts to which he attached importance as showing that his independence was not compromised by this visit were these.
1. He did not visit Jerusalem till three years after his conversion. "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem." He was converted at the age of thirty. At that time his powers had been matured. He had been accustomed to look closely into the nature, drift, causes, worth of things. Three years of his application would suffice to achieve his independence as a Christian thinker, so that it could not be disturbed even by Peter.
2. He visited Jerusalem then to make the acquaintance of Peter. "To visit Cephas." It was not of purpose that he kept away from Jerusalem. It was simply that, in the satisfying call and communications, he felt no need to draw to the senior apostles. He freely recognized the work done by Peter, and, when the opportunity offered, he was moved to pay him a brotherly visit. Beyond that his visit had not significance.
3. His visit extended over no more than fifteen days. "And tarried with him fifteen days." As his object was to visit Peter, he stayed with him. He recalls the precise length of his stay. He had not set that as the limit beforehand. But he had to make a hurried escape from Jerusalem. And he recalls it now as a singular providence, inasmuch as it took away the appearance of his being a pupil of the Apostle Peter.
4. His visit brought him into contact only with one man of note besides Peter. "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." James was labouring with Peter in Jerusalem; the other apostles were labouring elsewhere. This James was not of the number of the twelve. The reason for mentioning him is that, though not an apostle (in the strict sense which is necessary for the argument here), he was the Lord's brother. He was brother in the sense of having the same mother as our Lord. The perpetual virginity of Mary is not to be thought of. Our feelings are no more shocked in thinking of James as her son than in thinking of her as the wife of Joseph. The difficulty is that our Lord at the last committed his mother to the care of the Apostle John. But the difficulty to a large extent remains on the supposition of James being only her stepson. Why pass over one who in that relation (whatever he was at the time) had the making of such a man in him? The conclusion to be come to is. not that James was no son of Mary, but that we are left in ignorance of the reason of his being passed over. Attestation of the foregoing facts. "Now touching the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not." The language approaches to oath-taking. The facts were so important, as affecting his independence as an apostle, that he gives them his most solemn attestation.
V. THE PERIOD FOLLOWING HIS FIRST VISIT TO JERUSALEM.
1. Unknown by face unto the Churches of Judaea. "Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face unto the Churches of Judaea which were in Christ." So far from being sent out by the twelve, the sphere of his labour during this period was far away in Syria and Cilicia. If we are to understand the Churches of Judaea as distinguished from the Church of Jerusalem, it does not exclude visits by Paul to Jerusalem during the period in question. And it appears that there was one visit by Paul during this period, viz. with contributions for the relief of the brethren in Judaea. The reason for it not being mentioned here is that it was aside from his purpose. It was a visit connected with his work in Syria and Cilicia. It did not affect his relations to the twelve; for it was during a time of persecution, when he only came into contact with the elders, and would have to make a speedy departure. It was still true that he was unknown by face unto the Christian communities of Judaea.
2. What they heard say. "But they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; and they glorified God in me." It was only in this way that they had knowledge of Paul. The great condition of salvation is used as an equivalent for the religion of Christ. It shows how largely faith bulked in Paul's preaching. The Churches of Judaea (and they were under the influence of the Church of Jerusalem) ascribed glory to God on account of the marvellous transformation wrought on Paul. It showed the good feeling of the twelve towards Paul, so different from the feeling of the Judaists. And it showed also how these Churches rose above Paul to God.—R.F.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
St. Paul opens the Epistle to the Galatians with an unusual assertion of his own authority. Generally he describes himself as "the bondservant" of Jesus Christ, and addresses his converts with affectionate gentleness. But something almost stern marks the beginning of this Epistle, and indeed characterizes the whole of it; and the writer at the outset sets forth the highest claims of apostolic rank. This was necessary because disloyalty to the authority of St. Paul had been used as one of the strongest encouragements for unfaithfulness to the fundamental principles of Christianity. It is very difficult to know when self-assertion is a duty, and more difficult to perform the duty with modesty. Yet there are occasions—for most of us rare occasions—when the cause of truth and righteousness requires the firm, dignified claim of one's lawful position. This is perfectly consistent with unselfishness and humility if the motive is some interest outside ourselves. Herein is the important point, namely, that the self-assertion is not to be for our own honour, but for the glory of God, or the good of man, or the maintenance of right.
I. THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS CONFERRED. It does not originate in the man who possesses it. He is "one sent," a messenger, a missionary, an ambassador. As the prophet is the man who "speaks for" God, the Divine spokesman, so the apostle is he who is sent by his Lord, the messenger of Christ. Thus the apostolic authority is very different from that of the philosopher which depends entirely on his own intellectual powers, and that of the religious founder which grows out of the man's own spiritual ideas, and all purely personal authority. It is derived from the authority of Christ. Natural gifts can no more make a man an apostle than they can give a free-lance the right to command a national army.
II. THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS INDEPENDENT OF HUMAN INFLUENCES.
1. It is not derived from a human origin. It is not "of men." No man and no body of men can create an apostle. To attempt such a creation is to put forth forged credentials; it is like the act of a man who engraves his own notes and passes them in currency as though they had been issued by a bank.
2. It is not derived through a human medium. It is not "through man." Matthias was thought to be appointed by God since he was chosen by lot after prayer for Divine guidance; but he certainly received his apostleship, such as it was, through men, for the election of him was arranged by the Church (Acts 1:23-44). This was not the case with St. Paul. The highest authority is independent of all ecclesiastical arrangements and of all official management.
III. THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY COMES DIRECT FROM CHRIST AND GOD. The sovereign commissions his own ministers. The office derives its high influence from this origin.
1. It is from God. Therefore the apostle is divinely inspired. The Church order that he establishes and the doctrinal truth that he preaches have both claims upon our reverence, because they come through him from God.
2. It is also from Christ. It is "through" Christ as being received immediately from him, but it is also "through" God, for no distinction is here to be made. Christ, however, is personally concerned. The apostle is a Christian officer. His work is not to serve the general religion of faith in God and providence and natural revelation, but to promote the special faith of the gospel.
IV. THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS DEPENDENT ON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, God is named as "the Father, who raised him from the dead." St. Paul alone of all the apostles received his commission in the first instance from the risen Christ. But the other apostles were also especially endowed and sent forth by Christ after the resurrection (Matthew 28:16-40). Apart from the importance that attaches itself in many ways to the resurrection of Christ as the proof of his victory, the assurance of our future, etc., there is this particular point here of significance that Christ still lives, that the apostle is not merely faithful to a memory, but serves a living Lord, that he is not the successor of Christ, but the servant who carries out the fresh mandates of the living and reigning King.—W.F.A.
Christ's sacrifice for our deliverance.
The salutation is more than a kindly expression of good will; it is a true benediction based on the grand assurance of grace and peace that grows out of a right understanding of the sacrifice of Christ. St. Paul describes the bearings of that wonderful sacrifice in order to give support to his benediction. But it is clear that he does this with great fulness and distinctness for a further purpose. He wishes at the outset to set forth the fundamental principles of that gospel which the Galatians are forsaking for "a different gospel, which is not another gospel." We have here, then, St. Paul's compendium of the gospel which, for force and terseness, will even bear comparison with St. John's—the most perfect of all compendiums of the gospel (John 3:16). The two do not cover exactly the same ground, for the gospel is so large that no sentence can comprehend even its leading truths, and so many-sided that no two minds can see it in the same light. Consider the main points of the one now before us.
I. CHRIST VOLUNTARILY SACRIFICED HIMSELF. In the passage just referred to St. John tells us how God gave his only begotten Son on our behalf, now St. Paul reminds us that Christ also freely gave himself. It was of his own will, subject also to the will of his Father, that he lived a life of humiliation. He could have escaped the cross by abandoning his mission. He went right on to death clearly knowing what was before him, able to deliver himself at the last by calling legions of angels to his aid (Matthew 26:53), yet willingly submitting to death. The self-sacrifice of Christ was distinct from suicide in the fact that he did not seek death, and only met it in the course necessary for the carrying out of his life's mission. It is important to bear in mind that the essence of the sacrifice of Christ lies in this conscious, willing surrender of himself. It is not the mere tortures he suffered, nor the bare fact of his death that gives a value to his endurance. If he had died of a natural disease after bearing worse pain he could have made no atonement thereby. The willing "obedience unto death" gives a sacrificial value to his death.
1. This only could be a "satisfaction" to God.
2. This only could be a claim upon our faith and love.
II. THE OCCASION OF THE SACRIFICE WAS OUR SINS. We cannot say that God would not have become incarnate if man had not fallen. But if the happy event at Bethlehem would still have taken place, the awful tragedy at Calvary would have been spared. It is not only that the sin of the world directly caused the rejection and killing of Christ; his submission to death was occasioned by sin; it was to save us from the power and curse of sin.
1. Sin alienated us from God and occasioned the need of a reconciling sacrifice.
2. Sin cast us into bondage and created the necessity for a redeeming ransom.
III. THE OBJECT OF THE SACRIFICE WAS TO DELIVER US FROM THE PRESENT EVIL WORLD.
1. It was not to deliver us from God, as false notions of the atonement have almost suggested, but the very opposite, i.e. to deliver us from that which is most opposed to God.
2. It was not primarily to deliver us from the future evil world, from the pains and penalties of sin there to be endured. A most degrading view of redemption is that which regards it as having little effect on our life now—as chiefly a means of escape from future suffering.
3. It was essentially deliverance from the dominion of the evil present, of our own bad habits, of the corrupt customs of the age.
IV. THE DELIVERANCE THUS EFFECTED WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WILL OF GOD.
1. The object was in accordance with the will of God. He was the first to desire the deliverance of his poor lost children. When they are delivered they are brought out of conflict into harmony with his will.
2. The method of the deliverance was also in agreement with God's will. It was God's will to send his Son. What Christ did was accepted by God as well-pleasing in his sight. The whole sacrifice of Christ was an obedience and submission to God's will. Herein lay its value (Hebrews 10:9, Hebrews 10:10). The fact is here declared by St. Paul. He offers no theory to account for it. Theories of the atonement are after-growths of theology, and valuable as some of them may be, they are not of essential importance. The fact is the one ground for our faith.—W.F.A.
The duty of intolerance.
The frightful excesses of unchristian intolerance that disgrace the history of the Church have led to a revulsion of feeling in which indifference is honoured with the name of charity. The advocate of any kind of intolerance is regarded with aversion as a bigot and a persecutor. But the duty of intolerance at the right and necessary time needs to be more clearly discerned.
I. THE GROUNDS OF THE DUTY OF INTOLERANCE.
1. The exclusive claims of the gospel. There is but one gospel; a rival is a counterfeit. There is room for but one; a rival is a usurper. For:
(1) The gospel of Christ is a declaration of facts, and facts once accomplished cannot vary; it is a revelation of truth, and truth is intolerant of error; the highest truth, too, is one.
(2) The gospel of Christ is the most perfect satisfaction of our needs. Another gospel could not be a better one, for this is all we want. Nothing can be better than forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Christ.
(3) The gospel of Christ is the only possible gospel. God would not sacrifice his Son to death if redemption were to be obtained at a less cost. The gospel is the expression of the love and will of God. As such it is the eternal voice of an immutable Being.
2. The honour of Christ. He who proposes another gospel than that of Christ crucified and Christ risen, directly insults the Name of our Lord. Loyalty to Christ compels intolerance for all enmity to him. That is no true Christian charity which has no regard for the rights of the Lord, who should have the first claim upon our love.
3. The good of men. The gospel offers the highest blessings to men in the greatest need. It is the one anchor of hope to the despairing, the one comfort to the miserable, the one salvation for the test. If it be true, we cannot permit so precious a boon to be lost through the usurpation of a false gospel. The charity that would do this is like that which would allow multitudes of sick people to perish through the maltreatment of a quack, rather than be so unkind to him as to show the least intolerance of his delusions.
II. THE LIMITS OF THE DUTY OF INTOLERANCE.
1. The rights of the gospel, not the claims of the preacher. St. Paul has just been asserting his claims. Here, however, he entirely subordinates them to iris message. Intolerance commonly springs from personal jealousy or party spirit, and therefore it is generally so evil a thing. We are not to be intolerant for ourselves, only for the truth. The truth is infinitely more important than the teacher. The rank, the character, the ability of the man should count for nothing if he is unfaithful to the Christian truth.
2. The gospel itself, not minor accessories.
(1) Great liberty must be left in regard to details, both because these often lie on debatable gourd and because they are less important than charity. There is a point beyond which more harm will be done in disturbing the peace of the Church and wounding our fellow-Christians than good in establishing minor truths against all opposition.
(2) Account also must be taken of varying views of the gospel. Even the apostles did not state it in the same words; Peter and Paul, John and James thus vary, though with unbroken loyalty to the central truth as it is in Jesus. Language, habits of thought, aspects of truth from different standpoints necessarily present great variety. Let us see that we do not condemn a man for his clothes.
3. Spiritual intolerance, not physical persecution. St. Paul pronounces a curse on the enemy of the gospel. But he does not draw the sword upon him. He leaves him with God. There if he have erred, he will be rightly judged. We have no excuse, then, for the exercise of violence against those whom we regard as the enemies of Christ, but only for bold testimony against their errors—leaving all else in the hands of God.
In conclusion, see that
(1) we receive the one true gospel, and
(2) faithfully declare it, and
(3) firmly resist manifest perversions of it.—W. F. A.
The destiny, call, and mission of St. Paul
I. THE DESTINY. St. Paul feels that from his birth he was set apart for the great apostolic work of his later years.
1. There is a destiny in every life. God has his purpose of calling us into being.
2. This destiny is determined for us, not by us. We do not choose the circumstances in which we are born, nor our own gifts and dispositions. We can with difficulty escape from our surroundings, and we can never escape from ourselves. Whether a man will see the light as a prince in a palace, or as a beggar under a hedge, is entirely beyond his control, and it is equally impossible for him to determine whether he will have the genius of Newton or the inanity of an idiot. Yet how largely do these differences effect a man's necessary future!
3. We may be long unconscious of our destiny. St. Paul never dreamed of his while he sat at the feet of Gamaliel nor while he was harrying the Christians. It is a secret of providence gradually revealed.
4. It is our duty to work out our destiny by voluntary obedience to the will of God revealed in it when once it is revealed to us. To resist it is to kick against the pricks. We can do this, for, though set apart for a work, we may refuse to follow it by our free-will, but at our great cost.
II. THE CALL. In the Acts of the Apostles the external details of the call of St. Paul are described; here he gives us only the internal experience. He only could give this, and this was the really important thing. The flashing light, the arrested journey, the audible voice, the blindness, were all accessories. The one important thing was the inward voice that brought conviction to the heart of the man. Every apostle needed a call from Christ to constitute him such. But every Christian has some Divine call. We have not the miracle to convey the call, and we do not want it. By the manifest claims that present themselves to us, by the discovery of our own powers and opportunities of service, by the promptings of our conscience, Christ calls us to our life's work, To see a work for Christ needing to be done, and to be able to do it, is a providential call to undertake it. It is a disastrous superstition that keeps us back while we wait for a more articulate voice. God's will is manifest in the indication of what is right. To know God's will is to be called to his service.
III. THE MISSION.
1. Its object. The revelation of Christ. St. Paul was to make Christ known. He was not to spread his own religious notions, but only to reveal Christ. He was not to teach a doctrinal Christianity so much as to show Christ himself. This was to be done, not only by his words, but also by his life. He was so to live Christ that men should see Christ in him. Thus Christ was to be revealed in him. Before he could preach Christ in words he must have the revelation of Christ in his own person. If we do not reveal Christ by our lives, all our words will count for little, being belied by our glaringly inconsistent conduct. If we act like Christ, the silent influence of our living will be the most clear and powerful setting forth of Christ.
2. The scope of the mission. St. Paul was to preach Christ among the Gentiles. His own special gospel was the message that God's grace in Christ extended to the whole world. It was not for his own sake nor even for the glory of Christ alone that he was called to his great mission. The highest missions are unselfish and beneficent. We are all called in some way to minister to others. We can do it in no way better than by revealing Christ to them in our actions as well as in our words.—W.F.A.
God glorified in man.
I. THE CHURCH SHOULD HEARTILY WELCOME NEW CONVERTS. St. Paul proves conclusively that he obtained neither his Christian faith nor his apostleship from the Church at Jerusalem. But in doing so he gives little ground for the view of those who hold that he was in direct antagonism to that Church. On the contrary, he distinctly asserts that the Jewish Christians welcomed him and praised God for his conversion. This was an act of large-hearted confidence.
1. It shows a genuine Christian spirit to honour ungrudgingly a spiritual work in which we have taken no part. There is always a temptation to slight such work and to regard the fruits of it with suspicion.
2. The beauty of Christian charity is also seen in the warm welcome of one who had been an enemy. The persecutor preaches what he had opposed. That is enough for the Church at Jerusalem. If we had more faith in such conversions we should encourage them more readily.
3. The breadth of this charity is still further noticeable in readiness to welcome as a brother a man whose views and habits differ from our own. From the first St. Paul's Christianity must have borne a different colour from that of St. James. But the common faith in Christ united them.
II. THE GLORY OF CHRISTIAN GRACES IS DUE TO GOD. They are "graces:" and gifts, not attainments which a man acquires for himself. The wonderful change of the zealous persecutor of Christianity into the equally zealous preacher is wholly attributed to God. It is not St. Paul who is glorified by the Church at Jerusalem. We make the mistake of unduly praising the character of a saint without recognizing sufficiently the source of his saintliness, or we make the equally foolish error of honouring the preacher for the fruit of teaching which would never have been reaped but for the Divine power of which the man was only the conductor.
III. GOD'S GLORY IS NOWHERE SHOWN MORE RICHLY THAN IN THE WORK OF CHRISTIAN GRACE. It flashes from the face of nature, glowing in the broad heavens, smiling on the beautiful earth. It breaks out through the course of history in grand indications of providential justice and mercy. It gleams in wonderful truths revealed to the eyes of seers who speak it forth in articulate prophecy. Above all, it shines most brightly in the life and person of Christ. But as Christ is full of grace and truth, every Christian has some measure of the same blessings, and according to his measure manifests the glory of them. God may be glorified in a man. Man often dishonours God. He may also reveal God's glory. Just as the brightness of the sun is not seen in its beauty till it is reflected from earth, or sea, or sky, the glory of God must be shown on some object. Shining on the face of a Christian, it is revealed. It is well to recognize this. Our religion is too selfish, and therefore it is too gloomy. We often pray when we should be praising. We seek good things for ourselves unceasingly when we should be losing ourselves in the contemplation of the glory of God. We cannot add to that glory; yet we may and should glorify God by joyously declaring the works of his grace.—W.F.A.